Wake up buddy! You've just crashed into a tree and your brother is missing! Perhaps he went into that creepy looking mansion in front of you, hmmm?
Looking for an adventure game with some Halloween fun? Uninvited has just what you need: an intriguing haunted house story, sarcastic wit, and loads of excellent puzzles. Like Maniac Mansion, the adventure is purely graphical, with no typing required (except for spells - more on that later). It veers from Maniac Mansion in a number of areas, however. Most importantly, you experience the visuals first hand 'Myst' style, rather than seeing your character on screen.
The game starts with a spooky mansion silhouetted against a wasteland. You and your brother are driving along when a mysterious figure crosses the road in front of your car, causing you to swerve and crash. When you wake up, your brother is missing! Through the cracked windshield you can make out a creepy mansion. As with other Icom games, it is the story setup that shines. There's also another deeper mystery going on in the house that you learn by reading old books and journals - another similarity to Myst.
This was the 2nd game from Icom, the first being the excellent Deja Vu, which was released for many other platforms, including the Nintendo Entertainment System. It uses the same game engine as Deja Vu, which is just about the best way to interact within a graphical adventure. It's not perfect though. For some reason the Icom games ("Deja Vu" included) only use 4 colours (white, black, blue and brown). This seems strange, considering the capabilities of the Commodore 64, but it might be because these games were originally done on the Macintosh, which often used Black and White, or the IBM in EGA.
A cool feature of game play is the ability to find books and scrolls that contain spells. When you want to use a spell on something, you simply click Say and the item you want to cast it on, then type in the spell. Very cool!
One major shortfall of the game is that it lacks characters the way Maniac Mansion had them. Dr. Fred, Dead Cousin Ted, Crazy Nurse Edna, Wierd Ed, a crazed meteor and a couple of tentacles (not to mention a hampster) inhabited Maniac Mansion, but this house doesn't contain anyone nearly as memorable. There's a somewhat cute, abstract creature running around the house waving a key that is sort of funny, which had me intrigued about how I was going to get that key. There's also a vision of a man with a skull face who keeps appearing... spooky. Then there's the Scarlet O'Hara ghost that freaked out so many gamers back then, and a headless ghost upstairs. The characters are quite generic and unmemorable for the most part, however.
If you are used to playing modern adventure games where you can't die, can't get stuck, and can play from start to finish with only one save game slot, you'll have to use a different strategy. I recommend first wandering around and mapping all the rooms. Also, take note of the objects you find lying around as there are a lot of them. You'll probably get killed here and there, but its no biggie since the game area allows quick movement around the corridors. Once you have things mapped, restart the game and try solving the puzzles. It will be so much easier now that you know where to find the objects in the house, and how to get from point A to point B.
As a side note, it looks like the opening to this game might have been influential enough to inspire Silent Hill for the Playstation. Read the following, taken directly from the Silent Hill summary: "Harry Mason is travelling with his daughter Cheryl on their summer vacation. A ghostly figure appears in front of the car and Harry swerves to miss it. Harry then finds himself in Silent Hill and Cheryl is gone. Upon searching for Cheryl, many strange things happen." Sound familiar? Uninvited was previously ported to the NES, which used your sister as the missing person instead of your brother, so it looks like someone in Japan must have been highly influenced by this game.
|GRAPHICS - 7/10|
|Well defined images and good style, but the limit of 4 colours per scene makes things a bit dreary. But maybe dreariness fits this old mansion.|
|SOUND - 2/10|
|Music and sound are almost non-existent. Occasionally you hear a sound such as a smash or explosion, which are not terribly well done. There is also a generic March of the dead tune when you die, which you've heard a million times before in early 80's games.|
|PLAYABILITY - 8/10|
|Excellent puzzles, lots of objects to collect and manipulate, and even some spell casting.|
|OVERALL - 7/10|
|A spooky little retro game with a gripping mystery and a good writing. Highly recommended if you like this sort of thing.|