The 7th Guest is an adventure game developed by Trilobyte and originally released in 1993 for the PC. As an early game designed specifically for the fledgling CD-ROM format, the game demonstrated the advancements that CD media had over previous formats with elements such as full-motion video as a major element of its presentation.
Ports of the game to Windows and Philips CD-i were later released, each with minor changes from the original. Both featured reduced difficulty, and the CD-i version omitted one of the word puzzles. Another port, this time for the iPhone and iPad, was released on December 15th, 2010. This version has three of the original twenty-two puzzles cut, due to various technical issues.
The game was followed by one sequel entitled The 11th Hour.
The game takes place sometime in the past, and is told through a series of ghostly flashbacks. The player character, known only as "Ego" unexpectedly finds himself to be the invisible observer during a party hosted by toymaker Henry Stauf. Once a vagrant with a murderous past, Stauf became possessed by visions of toys that the public would find irresistible. Following his visions, Stauf managed to amass a great fortune, and built a foreboding mansion filled with diabolical traps and puzzles. Six guests, all socialites from the community, are invited by Stauf to take place in a puzzle-solving scavenger hunt on the grounds of the estate, with the promise that the winner's every wish would be granted. However, the night quickly turns macabre when it is revealed that Stauf's motives are of a more sinister nature. A neighbor boy named Tad crashes the party on a dare, and becomes trapped in the house, now a target of Stauf's murderous desires. The guests begin to turn on each other, and a series of grisly murders are committed. As Ego struggles to uncover the secrets of the Stauf mansion and help Tad escape the clutches of Henry Stauf, more of the backstory of the guests and the nature of Stauf's business are revealed.
Additional background material told through newspaper clippings was presented in a scrap book feelie included with the game.
The 7th Guest is played entirely from a first-person perspective, and is a point-and-click adventure in the style of Myst. The mansion is presented as a series of intricate 3D renderings of the interior, with pre-rendered animated transitions between locations. Likewise, the puzzles all consist of detailed 3D objects with pre-rendered animations for object manipulation. Unlike traditional adventure games, the player has no inventory, and limited ability to interact with the environment. Along the way, the player will watch non-interactive in-game cutscenes, which use full-motion video (FMV) superimposed upon the backgrounds. Puzzles range from simple wordplay to geometric puzzles, to the famously diabolical game of reversi played against a relentless AI. For players who are stumped, the game offers an integrated hint system, which allows players to skip a few puzzles of their choosing without affecting the story.
Featuring a Redbook-audio soundtrack by The Fat Man (George Sanger), The 7th Guest was also one the first games to come with an on-disc soundtrack, playable by any CD player. Disc two of the game has installation information on the first track, with tracks after that being reserved strictly for audio. George Sanger independently released the music to 7th Guest and 11th hour on the album 7/11.
The game's visuals were modeled and rendered using Autodesk 3D studio. A proprietary engine for displaying non-interlaced FMV at full-screen was developed internally by Trilobyte, and was considered well ahead of its time. Remarkably, the engine allowed for smooth video playback and screen scrolling at SVGA resolution on relatively modest hardware, at a time when competing engines were struggling to display extensively interlaced and highly-compressed VGA video. The ghost effect is due to the designer filming with a blue screen instead of a green screen, the ghost effect was not the original intention.
Some of the puzzles from the 7th Guest appeared in the compilation title Uncle Henry's Playhouse which famously sold fewer than 30 copies in the United States.
A sequel entitled The 11th Hour was released in 1995. Featuring a darker and more "mature" story, the game's development was plagued by internal strife at Trilobyte. Upon its release, the game sold relatively poorly, believed to be due, in part, by the popularity of Myst, but also due to its initial lack of support for Windows '95.
A third game in the series in currently in development.