You are Rinaldo di Gorgonzola, a spoiled fop living in Renaissance-era Italy. With the plague shutting down most of the country and with you needing money to pay your rent, you accept a bet. All you have to do to win is spend the night in the deserted castle of a recently deceased nobleman.
The main challenge of this Interactive Fiction game is to figure out how to get to sleep. Getting in the caste is easy. Since there’s only three rooms in the castle, finding the bedroom is easy. Once you figure out that the command is “enter bed” and not “lie on bed,” getting on the bed is easy. It’s getting to sleep that’s the hard part. Not only are there things you have to do — like get undressed, eat, and read — before you can go to sleep but you also have to deal with a series of memories. This game is unique in that your inventory includes memories that have to be examined before you can go to sleep. Each memory leads to another memory until you finally reach one memory that will not go away. The solution for getting rid of that memory is so simple that I’m worried that it took me so long to solve the puzzle. I might not be as good at these games as I think I am.
The game doesn’t end once you fall asleep. There’s some other things that you have to deal with. You didn’t think that spending the night in a dead nobleman’s castle would be easy, did you? But those puzzles are considerably easier to solve than the puzzle of how to get to sleep in the first place.
Six Gray Rats Crawl Up The Pillow is a well-written and atmospheric game. There’s a lot of unexpected wit to be found in the game. At one point, I grew so frustrated with trying to figure out how to go to sleep that I commanded the game “shoot shelf,” just to be reprimanded for always thinking about myself. Another entertaining thing to do is to try to pick up the corpse of the nobleman. (Yes, it does seem that the body was just left in the bedroom.) I liked the way the game incorporated memories into the inventory, though I think some of the memories could have been combined to help the game flow better. It took me about 40 minutes to play the entire game. Someone who is actually good at this will probably be able to do it in 10. It can be downloaded from here.