During a camping holiday with your family, your wife and two young children vanish into the darkness without a trace. With no help on offer you head towards the only source of civilization for miles around – a mysterious old mansion nestled at the edge of an equally mysterious lake.
Once you find your way inside the mansion you’ll find a series of characters, all of whom seem to have secrets they’re not particularly eager to share. From there it’s the age-old adventure game story of talking to everyone, picking up anything that’s not nailed down and trying to figure out what the hell is going on while crossing your fingers that your family will eventually show up.
Presented in first person in a detailed yet low resolution pixelated style, the game reminds me of the classic horror adventure Shadowgate, only without the horrendously unfair deaths. With no avatar to slowly plod across the screen towards an exit, it’s simple to flick backwards and forwards between the various rooms of the mansion and surrounding grounds in order to try out ideas or search for clues. As a result, you’re rarely stuck for particularly long.
Perhaps as a result, experienced adventurers will find little here to tax them for too long as the puzzles on offer are fairly simple. There are no objects without purpose or locations that aren’t required and as a result you may find yourself breezing through the game in just a couple of hours. That’s certainly not to suggest that I was at any time bored by the experience – the atmospheric art, mysterious locations and wonderfully dark soundtrack by Eric Galluzzo manage to be devilishly sinister and haunting throughout.
Although TCW is a rather short game, the atmosphere more than makes up for the brevity of the experience. Whilst I definitely wish the game had been longer, I’m certainly contented with the experience I got.
Verdict: On Target
Platforms Available – Steam, Itch.io
Platform Reviewed – PC
Review based on Steam copy provided by developer. Please read this post for more on our scoring policy.