Developer: Fully Ramblomatic
Publisher: Fully Ramblomatic
The third game in Yahtzee Croshaw’s Chzo series, this game brings back Trilby himself but in a slightly different manner than in 5 Days a Stranger. The results are mixed, but it’s a refreshing change of pace and a solid entry for fans of the series.
The conceit here is that Trilby’s notes have been found, and the narrator watches what had previously happened via reading Trilby’s journal. Trilby had recently taken a job with a special government task force (to avoid jail time) to investigate all things Defoe and scary idol related; here you wind up at a hotel where some of Defoe’s artifacts are going to be sold by a dealer. The narration takes place on a literal notepad, though you do manually control Trilby entirely. Another change from the previous two games is that the point’n’click interface has been eschewed for a text parser, and it completely fits with the game’s theme. The parser itself won’t blow you away, but most actions are obvious and most synonyms are implemented. I never felt frustrated by typing, though one puzzle in particular (in the boat flashback) would have been less aggravating with icons.
The storytelling device is strong. You find yourself able to switch between two worlds, a light and dark version of the same hotel. At least one puzzle uses these transitions well, though I wish there had been more that took advantage of it. As you slowly learn more about the history of the idol and Czho mythos, interactive flashbacks slowly dole out more of the mystery. I wasn’t particularly enamored with the mythos itself, and the game had a lot of text dumps that felt less like horror and more like a history lesson. Otherwise, the music sets a good mood and the game is creepy at first; but with some notable exceptions, the gore and horror is overly present and I developed a tolerance for it.
The final puzzle rocks, probably because I figured it out without hints.
As with the other games, I paid for the director’s cut (now free) that has commentary, an extended ending sequence, full soundtrack with composer notes, and Books of Chzo in word format. Croshaw can be lauded for continuing to up his efforts and keeping the series fresh. I just wished I was more moved by it all.