Five Days a Stranger
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  • Freeware
  • Ben Croshaw
  • Adventure - Maze/Puzzle/Explore (example - Zelda,Tomb Raider)
  • 2003
  • 1
  • hard drive
  • 2
  • ?
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8  |  Five Days Amazing
Darryl B. , 11/22/2006 10:01:47 PM
Wow. It's hard to describe the twists, turns and ideas that goes on in this very surprising, horror movie of an adventure/puzzle game, but I'll try...

Five Days is a fine representation of a near-dead gaming genre known as the point and click adventure: you pretty much go into a room or area, look at and pick up anything that you can and possibly do a few things here and there to get through the game. Usually there will be something to trip you up so you can't figure out or beat the game any time too soon, and the games are usually not satisfying in the end, with pretty much no replay value.

I'll explain my views/opinion of the game later, but first, onto the show...

The game starts off with a cinematic bit with a person known only as Trilby giving a narrative background as he drives up to an old house. A contact of his (known as a "fence", for those of us who aren't familiar with that underground term in the underworld of theft) has informed him that the DeFoe manor's last owners died and there are no more heirs. Being a cat burglar, this is prime time for Trilby to break into the house, swipe whatever he can, and enjoy a plane ride to some exotic location while sipping champagne with some James Bond-type babe in tow (well, that's what *I'd* do, anyway...well, minus the champagne part, since I don't drink).

So, Trilby enters the house through a second story window via Batman-like device that shimmeys him up. (Cool, I could use this for a girls' college dorm house...) Things immediately seem kind of off, as he can't open the door of the room he's in.

Then he can't get out the window that he just entered, either...oh wait, the door opened...which some guy with a typical Horror Movie Freakout Persona starts screaming at him in the hallway to get away from him, then runs.

Uh...isn't the house supposed to be abandoned?

Yep, things aren't as they seem. Especially when you read the instructions in the Five Days readme file:

Get in, get the loot, get out... that's how it usually goes for master cat burglar Trilby. But after he breaks into the supposedly vacated country manor erstwhile of the aristocratic DeFoe family, he quickly finds that things are not that simple. Together with a group of strangers, he finds himself imprisoned by some invisible intelligence. A force prepared to do anything to keep them there. Up to and including murder...

Oh lordy. What will we get next, a manic, pixelated Captain Kirk-type character who gestures wildly while screaming "you're the killer! You did it! But you can't get me! You can...TRY...can...Khan...KHAN!", etc.? (Oh, maybe he was the guy who screamed at Trilby, come to think of it.) Sounds a tad goofy -- and, yeah, Star Trek-ish -- but it's anything but that, and really ropes you in as you progress through the game.

Before I get to more of the game, though, like I said, being a point and click adventure, you guide Trilby through the house by several simple commands (selectable by cycling through them by either the spacebar or F keys one through four), such as walking, talking, looking at something, or using an object you have at hand. As you walk around the house, look at everything; you never know when a word will pop up on the screen indicating that there's something you can look at, take, and/or use later (seems Trilby has in invisible backpack, or a lot of hidden compartments in his suit to store stuff in), which that menu is brought up by the right mouse button. After all, the game will only let you take things that you will actually NEED later...

So, you wander around and talk to the other people that are also trapped in the house to find out that there is no way out that anyone knows of: all windows and doors are jammed tight, and the backyard has not only an unclimbable wall, but a long fall down a ravine after that (oh, how conVEEEEENient). You find this out at a meeting, called by one of your fellow victims:

*Jim - he's the youngest, who got into the house as a dare from a schoolmate, and now he's trapped. (Damn kids.)

*Philip - Constantly Pissed Off Guy Who, If He Doesn't Get Killed Later, Deserves To Die. Also a thief, or a "treasure hunter", as he tells Trilby. Mmmm hmmm...

*Simone - argues with Philip (actually, he makes life hard for everybody). She's a hotshot tv reporter, which she's quick to tell anyone that (repeatedly)...until Trilby flattens her ego when he tells her he doesn't watch much tv (hah!).

*A. J. - not at the meeting, no one knows anything about him, and currently M. I. A. (That was the guy who Trilby scared off at the beginning, in the hallway.)

Everyone goes to sleep after that, since it's late, and then a murderous scene occurs...which takes us into day two.

I hate to freakin' admit that I got to this point and abandoned this game for nearly a year before going back to it recently, as the first day is mostly in regards to talking to people, looking at things, and not getting past any locked doors of any kind, much less do anything. Well, hang in there, it suddenly gets better by day two, complete with murder and twists and turns of all kinds.

By freeware standards, the graphics in this game aren't bad -- although I saw a space shooter once (based on Gradius, I think) that looked like it could have belonged in the 16 bit world, like for the Genesis -- but compared to anything else, they're only a little better than the point and click adventure games from over 20 years ago (like the ones Dynamix were coming out with left and right, like Space Quest)! However, the creepy atmosphere can still draw you in; I actually got a few chills down my spine when, in certain rooms on day two, footsteps and doors creaking open could be heard, yet none of the other people in the house seemed to hear them. The controls are also nearly perfect -- although trying to figure out how to get down the damn stairway was (pardon the pun) murder at first (put the walking icon at the bottom right of the staircase, in the dark area), and sometimes Trilby will walk the long way around objects to get to them, wasting time -- although the game loads and saves instantly, and there isn't a lot of sound going on, although that's also made up by having certain...events happening, at times, and a musical score will start up, which is a nice touch.

A lot of other nice touches include something changing with a certain thing in the house (I don't want to give it away) on a day-to-day basis, an object surprisingly being moved and popping up in the back yard one morning (a la The Blair Witch Project movie, which the creator of this game, Ben Croshaw, was influenced by several movies), a certain, very old, well worn-out plot device still working effectively (another thing I don't want to give away), and various other twists and turns. Pretty nifty for a game package (a few game and a readme file[s]) that weighs in well under TWO MEGS.

There's also a special edition of this game available by Croshaw (if you send in some money to his site) with some additions to it, as well as the sequel of Seven Days a Skeptic, but I've yet to try that out, and this would be pretty cool if a game company bought the rights to it and released three versions of it on one cd: this original game (with personally only a few minor changes, in my opinion, like omitting "Jesus Christ!", which was exclaimed in fright several times by several people in the game, which could offend game players with religious beliefs [but then, what the hell would they be doing playing a Teen- or Mature-rated game anyway?]), a re-imaging with the exact same game, only with today's photo-realistic graphics with all the cool shading, shadowing and all, and maybe even an expanded version with many more things to look at and explore and all; a totally new game, perhaps. After all, with the dated Sega CD player boasting that it had the storage capacity of 500 Genesis cartridge games, this is very possible nowadays, if not back then, even. It also won numerous awards upon it's release, and deservedly so.

This game also had a strange effect on me, as at first I thought I would apologetically only rate this a 5 out of 10, saying sorry, this is well-written and -presented, but point and click adventures aren't really my thing...but then the story really started going, bumping it up to a 6, and now it rests (in peace, ha ha) at 8 out of 10. Only thing dragging down it's rating is that the game doesn't really have much replay value (there's supposedly no secrets in it, which makes sense after you solve it why they would be out of place), and you probably won't be able to get through the blasted thing without taking one or more peeks at it's walkthrough (at http://www.gameboomers.com/wtcheats/pc0-9/5daysastranger.htm), but it also has a pretty good, although brief ending, but it's way better than a lot of crappy endings for my Genesis, Sega CD and 32X games, for crying out loud!

Lets see any million-plus dollar games being developed nowadays top that.

So download the game already and give it a try, in the dark of night.

Although you might want to leave the lights on. 8/10

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