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The Lurking Horror

Rating: 5/10. But a shadow of what it could have been.
Spoiler filled maps of The Lurking Horror

Infocom's attempt at Lovecraftian horror, The Lurking Horror fails to scare or even spook. The game starts promisingly enough; while working on your homework your files get corrupted with data from the Department of Alchemy. It's strange, but you need your homework back. Maybe a visit to the Department of Alchemy will help? Unsurprisingly, things get worse from there.

The game is full of in jokes that aren't particularly funny and detract from what horror is present. The horrific elements feel randomly assembled. Instead of feeling that there is some singular, powerful evil presence, instead it's a potpourri of evil. At the end of the game there is a primary horror to be defeated, but it doesn't seem connected to anything.

The puzzles themselves feel extremely arbitrary. In more than one occasion you'll be forced to do something completely out of character for a poor student trying to recover his homework. At one point you'll encounter a seemingly innocent but annoying janitor who blocks you way. So you get him out of the way by breaking his floor waxer? Ultimately you're playing because you know you haven't finished the game, not because it you are following the character's motivations.

Ultimately The Lurking Horror is disappointing. If you want a good horror interactive fiction game, go play Anchorhead.

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