This year will mark the tenth year anniversary from when the first part of the four parter Chzo Mythos was released. Titled 5 Days A Stranger, we are put into the role of a gentleman thief, who after breaking into the DeFoe residence, who’s owner has recently died and left behind a fortune, and turning up with nothing he discovers the windows and doors are shut tight, wall impossible to climb over and four others who find themselves in the same situation.
The game is a point and click adventure, a rarity in today’s gaming market as they enjoyed their golden age on the pc yet strangely, these games normally tell the best of stories, seeing as these games rely on text and the plot to move them forward. This game works as a detective slash mystery slash horror game seeing as moments throughout are horror. Now some may be put off by the raw graphic design but I think it manages to create a feeling of nostalgia and is the game’s charm and while some of the animations are crude, the game works well and besides a few instances of a button not working or difficulty at first in navigating around, the game should be appealing to most of the genre.
The gameplay mechanics aren’t too difficult to get a hold of. There’s all the basic to the bottom left of the screen, to use, walk to, talk to and look at. These actions will all have to be used throughout each room or place in the house to learn as much as you can or recover as many items as you need in order to progress. All four manage to balance each other out and you’ll need to use all your wits as well as your common sense to progress through the plot. There may be a couple of times where you may find yourself wondering how to progress but if you pay enough attention and remember to use in any way all your items available in your inventory, they should lead you to your next objective and everything should add up.
Talking about adding up, as you progress your constantly trying to piece the pieces of the puzzle together, wondering who could have imprisoned you, wondering whether one of these other so called prisoners isn’t indeed responsible for all this mess and along the way you’ll uncover more and more on the house, leading to a fast paced and revealing few stages. As said before you’ll meet three other prisoners and they all have their personalities to hostile, to apathetic to helpful, it’s an interesting combination and a realistic one at that, due to the feeling of your average person put into a supernatural situation works well and is believable.
The writing is sharp and witty and that’s how the world and the situations feel so real, as each character is brought to life and many of Trilby’s comments are funny, as well as how characters interact with one another. Of course the writing for the plot is equally as important in a game such as this one and I found that the game worked well in telling you just enough, while witholding the information which would explain everything. While after one revelation another mystery normally takes its place, it never gets too much for its own good and you’ll never find yourself with a headache trying to remember it all.
The sound is very retro but besides some cutscenes, there is only the sound of feet as you walk around the house during the first part of the game which ultimately works against itself as you never feel truly immersed with only two sounds playing over and over. A creaking floorboard and another slightly unnerving one, especially with headphones on, in which you hear people whispering which gets clearer and clearer as you progress, yet Trilby shows no signs of hearing them whatsoever. In the end the game isn’t relying on sound, instead relying more on your eyes and mind to enjoy the experience, hoping you make it out alive through these 5 days.
P – Interesting and engaging plot, story written and worked well, good balance of tasks, characters feel real.
C – Sound minimal (not in a good way), not always clear what to do or where to go next, might not appeal to a wide group of gamers.
Fear – Not too much, though you are constantly wondering for how it can all be explained.
Sound – Lack of music kept to only a few ambient sounds and cutscene scores, which work well but too little.
Horror – Trapped for reasons unknown with four others, constant new revelations and new mysteries as each day passes
World – Characters are believable and come to life, good balance of the supernatural and investigations which don’t ruin the experience.
5 Days A Stranger is now ten years old and is a game genre which is as rare as ever to come by, despite the fact that a game like this can provide a relatively good amount of fun and detective experience in a believable world, though the slower pace of a game as this one as well as needing to solve without any hints puzzles can be a put off to many. If you can look past that, enjoy the first in the Chzo Mythos and once you’ve finished this story, move onto the next one.