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The Lurking Horror (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Terrence Bosky (5234)
Written on  :  Aug 14, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

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Summary

Lovecraft-lite

The Good

Lurking Horror is an interesting game that is both well written and poorly designed. LH takes a Lovecraftian motif and combines it with a university setting. There is a mixture of cosmic horror and bureaucratic university banality that tips this game into the William Browning Spencer end of the Cthulhu spectrum and during gameplay it becomes readily apparent that Lurking Horror would have made an excellent and hilarious Lovecraft parody.

There are several readily identifiable puzzles. Some involved bribing a hacker with a perfectly heated meal and others involve using items to outwit adversaries. Largely these puzzles are well-explained and logical, although occasionally they become confusing. SPOILER A particularly ingenious puzzle, which I think is equal to the infamous Babelfish one, involves using an elevator to tear down a wall. END SPOILER.

There are few characters and interaction with them relies more on scripted events than on conversation. There are also a limited number of locations to explore (due to bad weather).

Finally two tips: have a good light source and the means to stay awake.

The Bad

Several things:

1. Lurking Horror isn't scary. This really isn't as bad as a comedy that isn't funny, but it would have been nice.

2. Too many red herrings. I wasted a lot of time searching for a nonexistent item, I was led to believe was vital.

3. While the story is interesting, there were several moments when I wasn't sure what to do. The game's motivation was to have me search all areas while my character's motivation (and thus mine) was to complete a term paper.

Another tip: keep saving in multiple locations, often I found myself without a needed inventory item and was forced to restart.

The Bottom Line

I think this is one of the few Interactive Fiction games which describes a Windows environment. There is something wrong with having to type: CLICK ON PAPER. Anyway, this is a fun IF game based on Lovecraft style horror. Not scary but interesting. Not terribly dated either. I would suggest to fans of Lovecraft, Spencer and Neal Stephenson's The Big U.