|The 11th Hour is the long awaited
sequel to The 7th Guest. As was the case with its predecessor, The 11th Hour
is a graphical tour de force and contains yet more mind melting puzzles, which, if you do
not use the help feature, will keep you thinking long and hard. THE GOOD
There is quite a bit which we found to be good, if
not great, about this game. The easiest to comment on is the graphics. All frames within
the game are beautifully rendered 640x480 works that are a sight to behold. Being four
CD's in length, there is plenty to look at. There are approximately 20 rooms in the game
(all with multiple 'areas'), many minutes of digital video and music, and all sorts of
The acting was actually very good. The only cheese factor was Stauf and his spawn Marie. However, she definitely got her part across: evil slut with bad teeth and all. I was charmed that they presented Carl (the character you are in the game), not as a knight in shining armor, but as a jerk who is trying to make up with his missing girlfriend. The introduction scene really explains his bizarre relationship with Robin and how they split on bad terms right before she left to check out the Stauf mansion and disappeared. Beautiful graphics and a wonderfully comprehensive intro make the beginning of this game not only impressive but intriguing as well. The puzzles were, for the most part, interesting and difficult. Matching your wits with Stauf can easily be frustrating; the computer doesn't forget things as a human opponent would. Some of the puzzles sparked little thought processes in my brain that had at least a quarter inch of dust on them. The help function, or psycho\technic ally as it were, is a lifesaver. She reveals rules to the puzzles as well as cause and effect of moves, etc. She will also move for you or even solve the puzzle if your head is spinning from the effort. As for the treasure hunt clues that Stauf sends, her help is invaluable. God bless the ">>" button. As wondrous as the graphics are, it is delightful to be able to fast forward through the lengthy process of looking at everything and get to wherever it is that you are going. Ahmen. THE BAD The movement through Stauf's house could definitely be improved upon. If you have already seen a room in the mansion and simply want to go back to check out an item, you are forced to go back, inch by painful inch. Again the >> button is a life saver. It would make more sense if you could merely click, in the map, on the room to which you want to return. I almost finished the game but could not because I could not find my way to the nursery. The map indicated that I had already been there (I'll eat my hat if we actually had), but when called upon to find it by searching every single room three times over, I simply gave up after spending fruitless hours at the task. And I was not going to call the help line again. Which brings us to the next bad aspect.
The clues were by and large either inane or really stretching it. Talk about grasping at strings, how about this clue? "fruit loop on stove". Would you believe that the answer to that whooper is "orange"?! According to my psychic ally, loop is round and therefore indicative of an O and another word for stove is range. Ohhh, it makes perfect sense now, not!!! (The chef in me is screaming about the stove and range bit). There were inscription codes which I did not even bother with, I just let my "ally" figure those out for me. To be honest, I only figured out a quarter of those clues on my own. Most of them were just way to far out in left field for my puny, insignificant brain to grasp. The "Spooky Mode" sucks. Period. You have an option when you start the game to use it and when I tried it I thought my video card had gone the way of the great white whale. It simply presents everything in black and white. Dull and not very scary, except for that initial shock of thinking that you may have to buy a new video card. Now that frightened the dickens out of me! The last of the bad before we go on to the truly ugly. The game was unnecessarily gory. I'm not saying it was as bad as Phantasmagoria but it certainly made an effort. I have a delicate stomach and although I never actually lost my lunch it did make me think about it a time or two. But hey, if you're into that sort of thing put this comment on the "good" list.=). THE UGLY I experienced some nasty bugs in the game. Two were there throughout the whole game. The first was a video bug that that ran about one half inch wide and across the entire bottom portion of the screen. It resembled a static or "snow driven" television set. Only when you moved or when there was motion on the monitor somewhere did it activate. It got worse when any sort of sound was played. The music was garbled and distorted as well. Conversation was interesting to listen to and try to decipher. The puzzles were intriguing but to move a single piece took about as much time as it does to chew a mouthful of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yes, I realize that Trilobyte wanted to show off all of its wondrous graphics and that they must be very proud and all, but wouldn't it be better to make us want to play the game rather than skip over the puzzles? I let my techno ally finish many of the puzzles simply because they were so tedious to do on my own.
What I found to be almost the most annoying part of the game was the fact that you cannot fast forward through the "Let's pat ourselves on the back and make you watch the intro every, single time you restart the game". Beautiful it was, but after having watched it at least thirty different times I desperately wanted to skip the minute, minute and a half introduction. Last, but not least, how in the nine hells do you get to the #$@!*%#!! nursery!!!! SUMMARY As much as I enjoyed playing Connect Four with Stauf on a slug shaped cake with bonbons as pieces, not to mention little slurpy noises every time you moved, I think that this game could be improved upon. Namely, there should be clues with a little more logic (Spock would have been stumped by a number of them), puzzles where the pieces did not take an eternity to move into their positions, a movement system which showed you where you were on the map, as well as the "point and click" idea to allow you to move from room to room, escape through the intro, bug fixes, and detailed instructions on how to get to the #$%@%#$* Nursery!!! Boy, that was a long sentence; make of it what you will. We give The 11th Hour a tentative thumbs up...
--Kevin & Jennifer