“The House on Sycamore Lane” is a classic parser-based horror game focusing on exploration and puzzles.

Gameplay: The game begins with the narrator about to leave school. There initially aren’t any clear goals for the character; after solving a few simple puzzles to try to outmaneuver some bullies, though, he winds up hiding inside a haunted mansion. The rest of the game involves solving more puzzles to pacify or exorcise the spirits in the mansion by solving a series of adventure-game-style puzzles. There’s not much connection between the two parts of the story, even thematically, and the introduction is probably unnecessary. 5/10.

Mechanics: The puzzles fit the theme of the game, and I found them to be mostly solid, if not particularly memorable. The ones in the first part of the game are strongly clued; those in the second are more complicated but still reasonable overall. 6/10.

Presentation: In addition to the numerous spacing issues and missing punctuation, there are other typos throughout the text: “A spectacles,” “You open bike lock,” “growing at your viciously,” “vision flashes before you’re eyes,” etc. Genuine horror (as opposed to parody or light comedy) is a difficult genre for in interactive fiction, and the game never finds the tone it’s trying to achieve. 4/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You like classic horror games.

Score: 5

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