A long time ago, in a galaxy… uh, exactly like this one, actually, text-based adventure games were the extent of the world’s interactive entertainment possibilities. There were no such things as high-definition graphics, procedurally-generated everything, or decent animation, really. If you wanted to experience a story, you had to click through screens of semi-descriptive text and essentially create that story yourself, imagining the environments and the characters that occupied them. Halloween Scream 21 ($1.00) is a throwback to that bygone era.
Nothing ‘screams’ excitement like a visit to a stuffy museum.
And it probably should have stayed there. Halloween Scream 2 is all-text on repeating stock photo backgrounds, a ‘choose your own adventure’ game without the ‘choose your adventure’ part. The story— a continuing yarn about a girl vampire seeking to end the curse on her family’s bloodline— is a mostly linear one. Her travels to find an ancient amulet and avoid a mysterious foe take her through the heart of Europe, with stops in England, France, and Germany.
Breaks for puzzles typically ask you to find a certain item or tool, or click through an old-school, North / East / South / West-type exploration segment (you may even need to draw your own map on notebook paper to keep track of things; how older-school is that?). Those same bits may be the cause of some frustration. While the route you need to take to progress the story isn’t exactly hard to see, the clues and conditions that need to be met may not be as obvious. If you’re not the patient sort, this’ll likely devolve into clicking on every available option until you hear the requisite ‘chime’ of an important detail being discovered.
You’ll notice ‘A bit of enjoyment’ isn’t part of this inventory.
That linear format and the ‘only one solution’ gameplay don’t help matters, as the only branching paths lead to some sort of end, with you returning you to the last checkpoint (and possibly having to run through a puzzle or item sequence again). And while the story in Halloween Scream 2 isn’t half-bad in summation, a handful of spelling errors and story inconsistencies (a French-speaking desk clerk in a German hotel, for instance) may take you out of the narrative.
Even that’s less likely to bother you, if you have any interest in what Halloween Scream 2 is selling. It’s clearly a niche game for a niche audience, meant for those strange connoisseurs of text-heavy passages and trial-and-error puzzle-solving. For the majority of us, however, this trip down Gaming’s memory lane to ‘the simpler times’ would be better off left in the past.
- Yeah, little early for the holiday, I know. Hey, not my fault. I didn’t release the game in July! Take it up with management! ↩