On April 28, 1993, Trilobyte Games released the PC version of an interactive, puzzle game that would pave the way for computer games in the future. That game was The 7th Guest. If you were a 90s kid, you’ve probably heard of or even played this game.
The idea for this game came from developers Rob Landeros and Graeme Devine who worked for Virgin Interactive Entertainment. After presenting their idea for The 7th Guest to the company, they were “fired” and Virgin Interactive helped them start Trilobyte Games. There was concern that if this game ended up being a failure, it would sully the reputation Virgin had built. Robert Stein III joined the team to create the 3D graphics and animation and Matthew Costello was brought on as the writer. The game also featured full motion video (FMV) with live actors to narrate the story as you played. The 7th Guest ended up taking over two years and more than half a million dollars to create. Instead of being released on a floppy disk, as all games were at that time, The 7th Guest was released exclusively on CD-ROM drives due to the incredible amount of storage space the game required.
Before you get into the actual gameplay, there is a flashback to the origin story of Henry Stauf. He kills a woman for her money and is then tormented by visions which lead him to start making dolls. He becomes a successful toymaker and moves into a mysterious mansion secluded from the rest of the town. Soon after, several children who bought Stauf’s dolls die from a peculiar illness and he is never heard from again.
The game begins from a first-person-perspective as an amnesiac called “Ego” who wakes up in Stauf’s mansion with no recollection of how he got there. As you begin to wander the house, you see ghostly remnants of six other “guests” who had been invited to Stauf’s mansion. These characters are forced to solve a series of puzzles, which you now have to complete as well. As you progress in the game, Stauf’s true intentions for inviting everyone are revealed. There is a 7th, uninvited guest at his home: a young boy named Tad. The other six guests had been invited to capture the child and bring him to Stauf. The player begins to witness the guests die by the others turning on them or from one of Stauf’s traps. After solving all of the puzzles in the mansion, the player makes their way up to the attic where they discover that…well, I won’t spoil the ending.
The 7th Guest was a unique game in the early 90s, incorporating elements players had never seen before into its gameplay. This point-and-click adventure is a fantastic early example of a virtual escape room: solving puzzles to get from room to room all within an overarching storyline. The game is available to download on Steam or you can find your own CD copy from Amazon if you’re really looking for a blast to the past.