Does anyone here remember The 7th Guest? The somewhat experimental 1993 interactive movie/puzzle-solving adventure that was one of the first games to be shipped only on CD-ROM, and in some respects is a progenitor to today's walking simulators? If you don't, that won't exactly surprise me. Although it was a huge hit – selling upwards of 2 million copies, even in what was essentially the early days of PC gaming – it was largely missed by younger console gamers who were too wrapped up with the likes of Sonic and Mario to be bothered with a PC game.
Nevertheless, it was a big success, and that's because the game was largely considered the emergent CD-ROM's "killer app." The first graphic adventure to use 640x320 256-color graphics, its combination of live action and pre-rendered 3D scenes looked quite stunning at a time when comparable live action games on Sega CD and the like were still exceptionally grainy and felt low-tech.
But what really made the game a success was its content. Taking place in a creepy mansion, the game presents a set of logic puzzles for the player to solve, connected by series of pre-rendered live events that essentially tell the story. It was easy to play - making it accessible for many non-gamers - and its adult themes resonated with the older PC audience. Sure, it was ultimately rudimentary and, by today's standards, quite primitive in terms of its design, but there was nothing else like it at the time, and it pushed the boundaries of gaming by showcasing something new. Myst did something similar later on that year.
Why am I banging on about this game? That's because a fan-made sequel, The 13th Doll, will soon be getting underway. Currently on Kickstarter, and having already hit its modest $40,000 goal with two weeks to go, the project has been officially blessed by the newly-reformed Trilobyte Software, creators of the original 7th Guest.
The biggest change-up for the game is that it's being created in Unity3d, making it a fully realtime adventure. That means players will be able to explore Stauf's mansion and properly take in the environment, rather than watch pre-rendered events like in the original title. The game will feature 26 puzzles, which are based on the style of the original game – so expect things like logic tests, chess challenges, card games and other visual puzzles.
So far, it's looking interesting, with a retro-90's feel that echoes the visual style of the original 7th Guest. We'll keep you posted on more news as the development of the game progresses.