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7 Days a Skeptic

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Ben Croshaw

GAME DEVELOPER:Freeware

GAME PUBLISHER:Freeware

Copyright 2004, Ben Croshaw

7 Days a Skeptic is an excellent sequel to 5 Days a Stranger, a fun freeware horror adventure game reviewed elsewhere on this site. Although it is not as scary or captivating as the original, it is still an excellent thriller that will compel you from start to finish. The setting is four hundred years after the “DeFoe Manor Incident” depicted in the first game. You play Dr. Jonathan Somerset, psychiatrist aboard a scouting spacecraft assigned to map out the Caracus galaxy. The game begins “…just a few days into the assignment, [when] the crew… discover an unknown artefact floating unprotected in deep space: an ancient metal locker. Ignoring advice from the Federation to leave it for a research vessel, the captain brings it aboard and prepares to lift the lid…”

Anyone who has played 5 Days a Stranger will know what to expect from this sequel: a gripping tale of horror that escalates in intensity over several days. Although it is set hundreds of years after the first game, I recommend that you finish 5 Days a Stranger first to understand the full story behind the tormented, scary perpetrator. True to the author Ben Croshaw’s track record, the writing in 7 Days a Skeptic is excellent: well-written dialogues bring out the unique character of each of the six crew members, and the pace of the game is well scripted. The focus is on thrilling action rather than plot this time around, though – you will spend a lot more time running away from possessed crewmates and worse than reading the story. This is not necessarily a bad thing – it makes the game better as a “survival horror adventure” – although I wish the designer had added some new revelations and plot twists to make the mythos more complex. Fortuately, the excellend ending does hint at several exciting possibilities regarding… well, play the game to find out ;)

The puzzles, on the whole, are much easier than 5 Days a Stranger. Similar to what I said earlier, this is not necessarily a “bad” thing: easy puzzles allow the pace to quicken much more smoothly and naturally than if the game were difficult. Still, expert adventurers should be warned in advance that they won’t find the game challenging at all, and will be able to finish it in one sitting (I finished the game in less than one hour, and that includes pixel-hunting time and cutscenes). On the upside, the masterful plot development and pace that rivals commercial games will keep you riveted until the end. Also, the user interface is much more streamlined – a major improvement over 5 Days a Stranger. Similar to Full Throttle, you can right-click on any hotspot to open a pop-up menu that includes both commands (LOOK, etc.) and inventory items.

Whether or not you like horror games or point-and-click adventures in general, 7 Days a Skeptic is well worth your time. It may not be challenging, but it is a well-written, well-directed thriller that will give you a scare or two before the end. The first release of the game has many bugs, but most of them have been fixed in this download version. Two thumbs up, way up!



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