Fans of FMV adventure cheese have a treat due this Halloween: The 13th Doll is a sequel to the 7th Guest series, officially licensed but developed by a crew of fans who grew up playing the originals. It promises all the hammy acting, obvious CGI scenery and logic puzzles you’d expect, and they’ve even managed to bring back one-time actor Robert Hirschboeck to reprise his role as the series’ ghostly villain Henry Stauf.
Originally slated for a January 2016 release after a successful Kickstarter funding drive, The 13th Doll has technically been in development on and off since 2004, making it a real passion project. Set a decade after the original 7th Guest, players alternate between the roles of traumatised original protagonist Tad and his psychiatrist, who has brought Tad back to Stauf Manor in order to prove to him that it’s safe, not haunted, and definitely not packed to the gills with bizarre and arbitrary logic puzzles; the scariest thing of all.
As much love and respect as I have for amateur productions (some of which I’ve seen well surpass the games they’re based on), it feels a bit of a misnomer to call this a fan game, even though that’s the term they use to describe the project. I’d personally liken this to the Halo series now being developed by 343 Industries, a team largely consisting of folks who grew up playing and loving the XBox original.
The original 7th Guest has a somewhat longer legacy, however. Released in 1993, it, (along with the likes of Star Wars: Rebel Assault) went and drove sales of the first generation of PC CD-ROM drives, ushering in a brief era where game storage space was padded with extraneous video footage or uncompressed CD audio, before massive high-resolution textures took over and bloated things up through the DVD era and into our current age of 70gb+ games.
Those feeling confident in the game after that admittedly impressive trailer can put $15 down on the official site now for a discounted copy of the game when it launches this Halloween. While the logic-based nature of 7th Guest puzzles makes this less of a crap shoot than most FMV adventures, it still might be best holding off to see whether old-school puzzlers run screaming from this one.