Man Week finally draws to a close as we take a look at ICOM Simulations' Ghost Manor, which kind of has the word "Man" in it, kind of. ICOM's best known for their MacVenture series of early point and clicks: Deja Vu, Shadowgate and Uninvited. So this should be a fairly cerebral, fairly story-based, fairly unfair adventure game based on the developer's history, right? It's probably not an abjectly awful and completely inscrutable Castlevania knockoff. Surely.
Holy Shit I'm Finally Acknowledging That It's Halloween Month
I don't much care for Ghost Manor. It evokes for me a great number of LJN games where the low quality wasn't simply reserved for its graphical and sound presentation, or even its inaccurate and awkward combat and platforming, but rather the complete lack of any purpose, sense or context for what's going on. I know I'm meant to be heading to the eponymous building via a "back way" through the forest, but beyond that there's no clear indication of what I'm meant to do or where to go. My singular weapon can actually run out (and quite easily), enemies either punch you off platforms or are revealed to be helpful spirits despite looking as nefarious as anything else and exits have to be specially sought out by checking every area of darkness to see if it's actually a doorway to a new area. Actually, I'd say the game Ghost Manor reminds me the most of is Young Merlin, because that game had all of the above problems with inscrutability and poor design as well as another unlikeable hero with an awful mullet.
Anyway, Ghost Manor is one of those games where you can instantly recognize the poor craftsmanship and that sort of puts a damper on trying to figure out what the hell it wants from you. You realize intuitively that whatever prize awaits those willing to puzzle out its bizarre mechanics is probably not going to be worth it. This may end up gripping horror fans like our own Patrick Klepek with the same grim fascination that they might reserve for the NES Friday the 13th game, yet somehow I doubt it'll inspire the same level of self-destructive dedication.
On a final note, ICOM would also go on to create a very badly received psuedo-sequel to Shadowgate named Beyond Shadowgate for the Turbo-CD. Might have to pencil that one in for next year, while I still hold some affection for that series which can then be summarily squandered away.