In keeping with the horror theme of Halloween, I am posting a review of the Chzo Mythos, or "John DeFoe Tetralogy," created by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, known for his snarky, yet somehow enlightening, Zero Punctuation column.
The Chzo Mythos is a series of four adventure games, 5 Days a Stranger, 7 Days a Skeptic, Trilby's Notes, and 6 Days a Sacrifice. Each game uses a slightly different interface, but at the core, they're all adventure games reminiscent of games such as Hugo's House of Horrors or Strongbad's Cool Game for Attractive People. You move the protagonist around and interact with objects or people, hopefully to find a new way to interact with other objects or people and continue the story. The games are still a bit of a mixed bag, however. 5 Days a Stranger was mostly puzzle solving with one "action sequence," 7 Days a Skeptic had some creepy slasher chase scenes, Trilby's Notes goes back to 5 Days' puzzle solving, but with a text parser interface like in an interactive fiction, and then 6 Days a Sacrifice goes back to 7 Days' interface, but with less incentive to run away from things.
The graphics are simple and old school, but serve their purpose well enough. The game has a downright creepy atmosphere. Aside from an odd moment in Trilby's Notes where I could not find the noun for a pixellated object* until one of the characters pointed it out, the graphics conveyed the situation and mood very well.
The story is interesting, but you can tell Yahtzee was just making things up as he went along. Without going into too many spoilerific details, there's an evil slasher with a machete called John DeFoe going around killing people. He's eventually defeated by the protagonist, Trilby the Gentleman Thief, and sent into space where he then proceeds to go on a killing spree in a spaceship instead during the course of 7 Days a Skeptic. We then go back to before the space spree and suddenly discover that a Lovecraftian elder god called Chzo is behind everything and the series unfolds in a more linear fashion after that. The story as a whole makes sense, and yet, still feels rushed and pulled out of nowhere in parts. Still, way better than most stories you'll see in games popular these days.
My favorite moment in the series was in the second game, 7 Days a Skeptic. There's a sequence where you have to run away from a possessed corpse, and every time he's about to appear, the game gives you the message "You hear footsteps." and the killer would appear out of whatever door you entered the room from. So, obviously, I would just quickly run into the next room whenever receiving that message. Well, later in the game, you're running away from John DeFoe with his typical welding mask and machete. Well, I entered a room and got the footsteps message, so I did my usual thing and tried to run to the next room. As I fumbled with the interface to try and get the door open, the killer appeared from the door in front of me and chopped me in half, giving me a nice scare.
The Chzo Mythos is an entertaining and scary series that any fan of horror or just Zero Punctuation should give a spin. It can be downloaded for free at Yahtzee's website, so you'll definitely get more than your money's worth.
Final Rating: 8/10
Download Page - http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/games.htm
* It was, apparently, called a shingle. Looked like a shield to me. Must be a British thing.