Another game using the graphical adventure interface found in Déjà Vu and Shadowgate, Uninvited comes with a "horror" theme.
While driving on a lonely road at night, a strange figure blocks your vision causing you to swerve and crash your car. When you regain consciousness, you find that your brother is missing (in the NES-Version it's your sister who is missing). The only place he could have gone is a creepy old mansion which looms in front of you. With nowhere else to go, you enter the mansion in search of your brother. It turns out the mansion once belonged to an old wizard and his apprentice, and somehow it has become infested with the Undead.
Uninvited is a horror adventure game released in 1986 and is a hybrid between interactive fiction and a point-and-click game. It uses the same graphical interface as Déja Vu: A Nightmare Comes True and Shadowgate. This interface allows the player to select an action from a set of commands instead of typing it. Furthermore, these commands are applied to objects found either on the main screen or in your inventory. A nice thing to mention is that you can interact with everything using only the mouse; no typing is needed at all.
Thanks to its innovative gameplay, very similar to what we will later enjoy in Legend Entertainment's adventures (the Spellcasting series, Gateway series, etc.), Uninvited became a relatively well-known game. As a result, it was ported to multiple platforms, including the NES (1991) and Windows (1993). Out of all the original versions, you're now looking at the worst one: the DOS port. The developers will later redeem themselves with a Windows version in 1993 which, besides running in Windows, had the best graphics. But that will be the subject of a different review.
Uninvited is one of the first true horror games, with a believable setting and recognizable objects, but anyone can immediately notice the developers' naive concept of how a horror game should feel and be played. Because of this, the further you get in the game, the harder it is to take it seriously. The CGA graphics don't help either. Even at the beginning you're given the impression that you're in some 80s horror show. The greeting message says: "Good morning! You have been summoned as the Uninvited." But that's not all. Did you know that the mansion where the game takes place is owned by a certain Master Crowley and has the address of 666 Blackwell Road, Loch Ness, Scotland? Scary indeed...
Actually, the introduction is very similar to a much later game which dared to defy Resident Evil's domination in the survival horror subgenre - Silent Hill. Indeed, together with your kid brother (in SH it's your daughter), you're driving your car towards an unknown destination when suddenly a dark figure appears in the middle of the road. You're forced to avoid it and crash into a nearby tree. A few hours later, you regain consciousness and find yourself alone, with your brother missing. In front of you - a creepy old Victorian mansion often struck by violent bursts of lightning. From this point on everything is different, since Silent Hill takes place in an entire resort town (no mansions) and has a much more complex storyline.
You need to search for your missing brother and hope nothing terrible has happened to him. Along the way you uncover this mansion's dark secret. There are not many characters with whom you can talk (max 2-3), and not all of them are even human (alive, anyway). That's why you'll discover the past mostly after reading the letters and journals scattered around the mansion. As you can see, not much has changed in 20 years, since isolation is still an important factor in today's horror games.
Despite how attractive it may seem, I don't advise dawdling during exploration, because your time is limited; with every click, you're closer to Game Over. But then again, without consulting the walkthrough, I'm quite sure you're not going to finish the game in time on your first tries. It's possible the developer wanted you to explore first, and only after countless attempts would you have all the knowledge to finish it. But that's frustrating too. There are plenty of obscure puzzles pulled out of a madman's fantasy. Add the non-linear surroundings and eventually the unforgettable maze, and you're bound to take a peek at the walkthrough.
And I won't blame you if you do. The DOS port is the worst one. The CGA graphics killed the entire atmosphere, as there are almost no sounds except some event-related ones that should be convincing enough to lower your volume. Gameplay-wise, I found an annoying problem, especially when you consider you can't click as many times as you want: you can't interact with an entire object. When you try clicking an object's edge, it interacts with the background instead. You need to carefully place your pointer, or else you're going to waste a lot of valuable clicks.
Mouse-based control is a welcome feature, though. You can drag and drop objects, click on the map to move between rooms, or do the same thing by double-clicking on entrances in the location screen. A gift given by God for those who can't be bothered to type whole words.
There's a lot to explore despite the game being centered on the mansion: besides the rooms, you'll visit outdoor locations, including a chapel, an astronomical observatory, and a labyrinth.
Uninvited is a good game, but this port makes it seem mediocre. The obscure puzzles encouraged me to further lower the score. Not to mention that there's a high probability you're going to ask yourself after the ending if this was truly a horror game or just a tale about magic and wizards.
To bring up the main menu where you can save/load your progress, you just need to right-click wherever you want on the game screen.
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