Some are not aware that Yahtzee Croshaw of The Escapist fame was somewhat famous as a developer before his venture into journalism. I myself am still a fan of his for his work making games instead of his deconstruction of them. And that’s mostly because of the Chzo Mythos Quadrilogy, a series that works as a homage to slasher horror films from the 70s and 80s, as well as an independent horror tale with firm Lovecraftian roots and damn good story.
In the first game, the more famous 5 Days a Stranger, you control Trilby, legendary gentleman thief named after a hat. Breaking into a mansion on top of a hill, a fine place to rob as horror tales go, Trilby finds that the window he entered through is inexplicably sealed. It is un-unlockable. It has become unbreakable. It is now thoroughly impassable. Even worse, he finds nothing of value, aside from four other prisoners of a strange house, equally confused with the situation.
Needless to say, people start getting murdered, it becomes a great deal of stress to the survivors as the mystery begins. Who is killing these people? How is this house so hermetically sealed? And we know why Trilby is there, but what about the others? Dream sequences start muddling into reality in-between the twists and reveals in this murder house. What they discover is strange enough to last for three other games.
Made with AGS (Adventure Game Studio) in 2003, 5 Days a Stranger is a refreshing attempt of rescuing the genre, popularized by Sierra and LucasArts with titles such as Leisure Suit Larry and Monkey Island. It’s an excelent adventure game in its own right, being by the time of its release Yahtzee’s most competent game in terms of art, and from a game design standpoint, very well thought, aside from a few pixel hunt sequences which can annoy its player into resorting to a walkthrough, though that was long common in adventure games anyway. 5 Days a Stranger went on to win several awards as an indie adventure game. This, in 2003, was quite an achievement
Inspired by eerie hentai visual novel Nocturnal Illusion (very horrorific in its own right, pornography aside) and classic horror movies like Friday the 13th, 5 Days a Stranger is part of what ascended Yahtzee into internet fame. And besides all that, eleven years ago, it was evidence of how adventure games, which had fallen so high, could still thrive. An amateur game that served as an influence to many others adventure titles released in the last few years. Also, it’s free to play. A gem of the internet, indeed.