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Anchorhead

by Michael Gentry profile

Lovecraftian
1998

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Number of Reviews: 22
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful:
A truly engaging and satisfying experience!, November 10, 2010
by Lipa (Slovenia)
It took me quite some time to pick up this title, despite its high ratings and numerous recommendations. In fact, I think that the reviews sort of scared me away. I read about situations in the game where you can lock yourself out of a winnable position (which I generally donít like at all), and also about some very tight time limits. However, there was also talk about great story and superb atmosphere, and I think this (combined with the sheer popularity and almost cult-like status of Anchorhead) finally convinced me to dive in.

And this was probably one of the best decisions of the year! Anchorhead, indeed, is more than a game. Itís another reality, a second life, just waiting to be explored, with all its secrets and dark history. It is truly easy to get immersed in the experience, and by the end of day two I felt like Iíve been a part of this town forever. The story is fascinating and unfolds at an exactly the right pace, letting you slowly amount more and more knowledge about the past events and whatís going on. I must admit that I had little knowledge of the Cthulu Mythos prior to playing the game (though I vaguely remember the premise of the adventure game ďThe Shadow of the CometĒ which I played ages ago), and maybe this is also the reason why I was even more drawn to the story, hungry for more information. In the end, everything fell into place, the story masterfully unfolded, and all the loose ends were tied.

And what about the difficulty which I feared? It is true that there are some tight time limits and unwinnable situations, however I realized in the end that their importance seems to be a bit exaggerated in the reviews. If playing sensibly, keeping track of the story and trying to hold on to your belongings, unwinnable situations can be avoided almost completely. As to the few time limits, they turned out to be so brief that itís fairly simple to undo and try another approach, and the solutions are usually quite logical too. All in all, I only got stuck once at the end of day two, and I could probably solve even this puzzle without consulting the walkthrough, if only I werenít as impatient to see the rest of the story unfold.

I truly recommend this game to everyone looking for a good story-driven IF with excellent atmosphere, relatively large world to explore, and logical puzzles to solve. I think the memory of this game, the town of Anchorhead and its troubled populace will stick with me for a long time to come, and the overall experience definitely ranks at top three of my gaming history. Thumbs up, way up!

Comments on this review

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chairbender, November 30, 2015 - Reply
You could probably beat it without a walkthrough if you put enough hours into it, but I'm not entirely sure all those hours would be very enjoyable. The fact that you, me, and many other players felt they had to use a walkthrough should make you seriously reconsider giving this game even four stars. Good games shouldn't require flipping back and forth between a game and a text file.
Lipa, April 14, 2017 - Reply
I believe this comment is a bit unfair. Like I said, the need for the walkthrough was ignited by my impatience to proceed with the story, and it only happened once. And I don't consider myself an especially clever player, not at all. On the other hand, the fact is that you *need* to have puzzles in this kind of games! This prolongs your engagement with the game, and often makes you think about it even when you're not at the computer. Imagine if INFOCOM would sell games that would be solvable immediately in 15 minutes. That just wouldn't work, people would feel robbed somehow, and there wouldn't be much sense in buying the games... So anyway, the puzzles are IMO necessary, as long as they are logical and fair. Both of which is absolutely the case in Anchorhead. So the five stars remain.
Danielle, November 10, 2010 - Reply
I'm glad your review addresses some of the difficulty issues that might scare off other players!

I tend to get more scared off by length than difficulty (I hate sitting down expecting an evening-length game and getting, you know, THE MULLDOON LEGACY), so I'm grateful when reviewers address components that concern me. I know your review will help others!
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