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7 Days a Skeptic (Windows)

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Written by  :  jTrippy (63)
Written on  :  Jan 24, 2010
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars
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Summary

Big on atmosphere, short on gameplay

The Good

Continuing in the vein of its predecessor 5 Days a Stranger, Skeptic transposes the slasher flick vibe to a sequel -- IN SPAAAACCEEE. I'm not sure why it was necessary to pick up the same storyline 400 years in the future, but it makes for a really cool Alien-esque setting. Except instead of an Alien it's an aptly malicious and scary space-Jason.

Even (or especially) in the adventure gaming heyday of the early- to mid-90s, there were very few decent horror/suspense games, so it's cool that the designer made an effort to right these past oversights. The ship is a fun setting, and the sparse music combined with ambient sound effects, particularly the use of bipedal pitter-patter, adds immensely to the creep factor. Throw on top of that an inexplicable murder mystery wherein everyone, including the main character, is suspect.

The tension and suspense is really palpable, and the puzzle design is remarkably logical for an adventure game. Every problem has a sensible solution, a relieving change from most fanmade retro games which feature puzzles designed by level 5 sudoku masters who spent too much time playing King's Quest 6.

The Bad

Obviously a retro-style amateur game should be held to different standards than a pro-game. It's free, so that said, there's only so much to complain about but...

..for starters, it's short. Maybe too short. As a side effect of logical puzzles, you can work through the game in pretty short order. There are no alternate solutions, so you're following a very linear path. The limited scope of gameplay means you're essentially playing a movie, but it's in 16-bit and you could be watching Alien instead.

The explorable areas on the space ship are pretty limited and the prop-ish rec room could have done with some functionality for at least the illusion of more open-ended gameplay.

I understand the limited scoring was done for dramatic effect, but honestly a bit more music would have really added to certain segments.

The story itself is a little want for detail. Flashbacks, hallucinations and dreams all add to the atmosphere, but they don't really explain what's going on. The gruesome revelation toward the climax is more for shock value than exposition, and it still leaves tons of loose ends. The Twilight Zone hook at the end is kind of baffling and cheap.

The Bottom Line

It's free, it's fun and it's short. You can't go wrong if you're an adventure gaming fan and you're not expecting a masterpiece of the genre. If you like slasher flicks and suspense games, 7 Days is your man.