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The Sisters

by revgiblet profile

Horror
2006

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Number of Reviews: 5
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Spookin' it up with mystery and exploration at the ol' spook place., January 11, 2011
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: ADRIFT 4, ADRIFT, horror
The Sisters is a mystery-horror adventure set in an apparently deserted mansion in the wilds of Sussex. If you're into ghostly horror tales, you will have a lot of fun recalling all of the different stories and styles the game draws on or evokes; in books, Stephen King and James Herbert. In films, there's plenty from the "scary little girls" subgenre and even a touch of Don't Look Now. In gaming, the opening recalls Silent Hill, and The Sisters's method of revealing backstory through written materials like diaries and letters is typical of survival horror.

The game's story is considered, but the dynamic of how much you learn and when (Spoiler - click to show)(50% of the information is revealed as you explore 90% of the game, then everything else leaps out in the last five minutes) makes the outcome a little unsatisfying. The journey is what is important, because the mansion is big and absolutely crammed with examinable decor and objects, all of them contributing to the atmosphere, many of them filling in pieces of story. This is a great example of story being gleaned from the environment.

There is a catch: The repetitive nature of the locations makes it hard to stay vigilant in your searchings. You're in a multi-storey mansion of similarly laid out floors. There are many bedrooms, many tables, many desks, many wardrobes. Descriptions of even sparse locations can be 70 words long on average, and the average non-corridor room will have at least five things you can examine. This adds up to a tremendous amount of detail, but only a handful of objects you will find during your rummagings are needed to complete the game.

If you reach the end and discover that your score seems relatively poor and you care about this kind of thing you will need to do a reconnaissance replay in which you doublecheck every furnishing in the house, because particular objects lead into particular point-generating puzzles. But after your fourth bed, fifth table or sixth desk, you will realise how you managed to miss so many things in the first place.

The Sisters is at its best as a spooky and suspenseful exploration game. The mansion is a terrific setting, an integral part of the unfolding mystery and elaborate with atmospheric detail. But the score system and denouement are inevitably a bit disappointing. Too many of the points are attached to optional puzzles which are easy to miss, and the outcome is like a jack in the box opening in your face after the slow piecing together of the past that made up the bulk of the game. The parser has its bumpy moments and the fourth wall is broken unnecessarily a few times with jokes. The mansion is the star, though, and it is definitely worth visiting.