It’s difficult to judge a game like The 7th Guest with the benefits of hindsight. Although critically acclaimed upon its release in 1993, the game is part of a genre that simply doesn’t exist anymore. Full motion video (FMV) of live actors is now only used by games that revel in their cheesiness, and the allure of 3D graphics, which at the time couldn’t be rendered in real time, is now entirely mundane. Still, for many, The 7th Guest stands alongside classics like Myst, and this new version does a great job of showing why.
The 7th Guest is a point-and-click adventure game, set in a spooky mansion that is haunted by the ghosts of six affluent guests, with the player in the shoes of the seventh. The player navigates the mansion simply by tapping around the environment, finding ghostly visions and puzzle screens along the way. Unlike the Sierra and Lucasarts adventure games whose puzzles focused on finding items and using them in the proper places, The 7th Guest’s puzzles are puzzles in a more traditional sense, confined to a single screen.
The puzzles are wide ranging, but generally well designed. One tasks players with assembling a sentence from letters connected like stars in a constellation, while another requires them to place eight queens on a chessboard without any being in range of the others. Tutorials are either non-existent or presented as cryptic voiceover, but they are usually easy enough to figure out. If the player is stumped, they can visit a hint book that will offer two hints before skipping the puzzle entirely. It’s a remarkably modern convenience, especially compared to the impenetrable Myst.
This remake preserves the game largely unchanged. The FMV is still melodramatic and low quality. The midi music is well composed, but time has not smiled on the sound of computerized horns. The pre-rendered graphics hold up quite well, granting the mansion an almost Tim Burton-like style, but it won’t blow anyone away today.
The most notable change is in the load times, which plagued CD games of the time. Movement through the environment is perfectly smooth, in a way that almost opposes the design of the game. It’s a welcome fix, but every inch of the game, from the puzzle animations to the pacing of cutscenes, seems like it was simply made to run slower. Still, the result is much better than the original, and cutscenes can be fast-forwarded to move things along.
The gripes that I have were there from the beginning, and they never stopped The 7th Guest from becoming a classic. This version is really the best one could hope for, and I would recommend it to nostalgic players and curious newcomers alike.
Though dated in many ways, this is the ideal way to revisit a classic.