5 Days a Stranger

Moby ID: 11795
Special Edition

Description

The freeware horror-themed point-and-click adventure 5 Days a Stranger is the first part of the The Chzo mythos. It tells the story of a cat burglar named Trilby who sets out to steal the family valuables from the manor of the recently deceased Sir Roderick DeFoe. But once Trilby gets inside, all the doors and windows are locked, and he cannot get out.

Soon he realizes that four other people are trapped in the house as well and the house has a reason for keeping them there - a truly sinister one. Together with scavenger Philip Harty, TV reporter Simone Taylor, the youngster Jim, and the secretive AJ, Trilby has to delve into the family history to solve the secret the manor is hiding.

The game is controlled through five mouse-controlled actions: walk, look, use, and talk. These can be selected from the bottom of the interface, from the inventory screen, or by cycling through them with the space bar. The entire game takes place over the course of five days, introducing a whodunnit theme when some characters go missing. Most puzzles are inventory-based, but some also rely on conversations. It is also possible to die during certain sequences if the player does not react quickly.

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Credits (Windows version)

Programmer
Designer
AGS Engine

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 81% (based on 9 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 51 ratings with 7 reviews)

Amateurish at its best

The Good
Well, it's crappy and short, but it does have a heart. There is a sincere attempt to surprise and entertain the player despite the technical limitations.

The sound effects work fine for me and if you are not picky you might consider the graphics to be just adequate. The pacing of the story is kind of engaging, I was hooked and also, to my surprise, a little shocked (the dream sequences worked very well, I was impressed). The characters have enough presence to make you care about their roles and agendas. There is also enough humour that fits with the tone of the game.

The Bad
It's too short. It can be way too easy. The possibilities of exploration are little. The big secret of the manor is as trite as it is predictable. The graphics are crappy and with little attention to marginal details. And, it's also terribly overrated.

The Bottom Line
Overrated independent adventure game with a heart.

Windows · by Czar Husk Qi (27) · 2007

The Tale of DeFoe Manor

The Good
Tribly is a gentleman thief, a master chief when it comes to robberies. Today, he'll search the DeFoe Manor, whose owner just deceased. But he doesn't know that once he'll put a foot into the mansion, he'll never go out of it. He doesn't know that there are four others prisoners: Philip Harty, the treasure hunter, James "Jim" Fowler, a teenager, Simone Taylor, a BBC journalist and A.J., a mysterious man. He doesn't know that something will make the five following days bloody time...

5 Days A Stranger is a free game made with the AGS Engine, released in 2003 and made by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, the developer behind the Rob Blanc Trilogy and the Trials of Odysseus Kent. It's also the first "chapter" in the Chzo Mythos Quadrilogy (with 7 Days A Skeptic, Tribly's Notes and 6 Days A Sacrifice). As for the AGS Engine, it's also the engine behind Yahtzee's games but also the Ben Jordan series, Larry Vales or Barn Runner.

The storyline isn't weak, twists are present and well, the history behind DeFoe Manor is also interesting but you can only guess the events when you find Sir Roderick and Matthew Defoe's diaries and there, you can have an idea of what happened between the father, first owner of the manor and his son of fifteen. Fate can be cruel sometimes.

The gameplay wasn't changed by Yahtzee and will be the same for the rest of the quadrilogy except with Tribly's Notes but that's a story for another review. It's a point and click game. Players take control of Tribly and can make him interact with his environment. For making him move, they had just to select the "walk" action and then click on where they want to see him. He can also talk, observe or pick up objects by doing the same scheme: choosing the action and then clicking on the chosen person or object. Tribly can also combine objects in his inventory. For making the menu with icons appear, you have to move your cursor at the bottom of the screen. However, I found one problem during my play.

As for enigmas, they're simple to solve: using common sense is what I advise you to do. Don't forget to observe your environment, you can find the key to your problem by doing so. However, I found two tricky parts that I'll explain later.

Don't read me wrong, it isn't because I found, in my opinion, three negative points that 5 Days A Stranger doesn't have an efficient gameplay. No, it's easy to understand how to control Tribly and you don't have to do some complicated manipulations in order to advance. I'll even say that if you're used to play the AGS games like Ben Jordan for example, you'll be in your shoes.

As you can imagine, AGS Engine isn't the best engine in terms of next-gen graphics. Yes, it's "pixelised", yes, it's an old-school adventure engine but still, the graphics are good. Details are present even if the green wall on the second floor is... disgusting for me. Too much green for my eyes... But still, the engine is well-used. Don't forget that it's an horror game, so, some representations can be shocking... even if I don't find any shocking scene. The game is rated on Abandonia Reloaded as 18+ but for me, it should be 15+, after all, with all the games or the movies much gore than 5 Days A Stranger, I don't see why this little free game can be so shocking, even for 2003.

I wish that the soundtrack was present all the time. It's so good that I wanted to hear it. It's only present during important (and dramatic) sequences. Yet, the absence is contributing to maintain a certain ambiance and the music is announcing something bad that you'll fear what will happen (well fearing isn't really the word if you're used to games like Resident Evil, Doom 3, FEAR or other Dead Space).

The replay value can be high because you want to know all the secrets, if you missed something, like in Simone and Tribly's discussion at the beginning of day five but keep in mind that 5 Days A Stranger lasts no more than 2 hours (more if you're not used to that kind of games, but it can't be more than 3 hours), after all, the days are really short except for the second and third days but it's only for a couple of minutes.

The Bad
As I've said, I've found three little problems in terms of gameplay/enigmas.

It's in the menu appearing at the bottom of the screen that difficulty can be present. Indeed, I've had an hard time to change action. I mean, my cursor was an eye for the looking action and I needed to change for the interacting action or if you prefer, the hand. Well, it wouldn't change. I assure you, I needed to change by the menu/inventory by right-clicking. Fortunately, it wasn't during all the game. But I can say that when it's happening, it's very frustrating. Choosing action via the menu/inventory can be tricky: move your cursor out of the interface and it's gone.

The first flaw for the enigmas is about the pool. If you don't look at it during the second day, you couldn't know that something was in it and that you needed to drain it for closing the day. It would have been nice for players to have Tribly made the comment by a script, as he did when looking to the map and noticing that there was one more room.

The second flaw is the "search a person with one of his possessions". If the concept is great, the problem appear twice because well, you need to do it twice. When you're in the right room, where the corpses are hiding, the problem is that you need to follow the indication of southeast, etc etc. Well, it's hard to locate it. It can be a matter of millimeters. It can be frustrating sometimes.

The Bottom Line
Bottom line is that I wanted to play it since my first Ben Jordan experience in april/may 2008 but never got the courage to download a mythic game in the AGS universe, fearing to be deceived by it and fearing to be so easily killed. Well, it's not the case, so I'm happy to have play it. Little did I know that it will Tribly's Notes that will deceived me by its gameplay. That's another story though. Anyway, 5 Days A Stranger is a game that you have to download because of its quality, its storyline and its soundtrack.

Enter DeFoe Manor for a bloody trip... if you aren't afraid of it.

Windows · by vicrabb (7272) · 2008

In the spirit of classic adventure games and survival horror games

The Good
The story (and how it ties in with the other games in the series), the horrifying atmosphere, the puzzles are hard but not nonsensical, the main character is quite a chap

The Bad
The graphics are below par of course (this being an indie title) and the game length is a tad short (short and sweet though)

The Bottom Line
The Trilby Trilogy is a freeware adventure game designed by Ben Crosshaw. The first chapter pits you in a mansion, where you are faced with the mansion's dark and gruesome past which unfolds and replays in front of you, taking one victim after another, always being hot on your own heels.

The game can be quiet creepy, considering the relatively "low" (by no means bad) graphic standards (think classic Lucasarts). The game is not very long and not ultimately hard, simply because the scope is not too big and you will never have too many options in terms of where to go or what items to use anyway. The story is a big payoff however and (in case you are interested) ties in very nicely with the other titles in the series.

Windows · by Ravenhoe (13) · 2013

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Trivia

July 28th

The later games of the DeFoe series occur on (at least in part) the date of July 28th frequently, as that is the date when the links between the real work and the world of magic are weakest (for a variety of reasons).

However, in 5 Days a Stranger the date for when this occurrence takes place is not July 28th but is instead June 28th!

This inconsistency is retconned in Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice, where John DeFoe's fate and the events of the first game are both respectively moved forward one month later to the proper date.

Lockpicks

The lockpicks Trilby uses have the identical appearance as those used by Garrett in Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age. These two games are among Croshaw's favourites.

Music

The game's music is taken from RPG Maker 2000.

Awards

  • AGS Awards
  • 2003 - Best Game Created with AGS
  • 2003 - Best Gameplay in an AGS Game
  • 2003 - Best Dialogue Scripting in an AGS Game
  • 2003 - Best Puzzles in an AGS Game
  • 2003 - Best Scripting in an AGS Game

Additional information contributed by Jeremy Johnson and Sciere

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  • MobyGames ID: 11795
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zack Green.

Additional contributors: Indra was here, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added January 25, 2004. Last modified December 5, 2023.