DC design by MerikallioTitle picture
Compared to the huge number of designs made for FRUA, the number of DC designs is really low. The ultimate DC designs thread in the FRUA forum lists eleven, and among these, there are only a few designs which can be considered more than a demo. One reason for this lack of DC designs is probably that people still wait for DC version 1.0 to be ready.
Therefore, every new DC design should be appreciated. And so should “The House” be, the first design by Merikallio. His short description: “Your party accidentally discovers the dark past of some noble family and struggle for survival in hostile place.”
And this is indeed what your party has to do. The party is spending their evening in an inn, but suddenly a mysterious chain of events places them in a most unpleasant situation: Trapped in a spooky park next to a mysterious house. The only chance of leaving the cursed(?) area is to throw some light on the dark secrets of the house and its inhabitants.Gameplay and story (6/10)
You start the design with four pre-generated characters (interestingly, not created via the NPC-editor), showing different personalities from time to time, which makes the game more interesting.
“The House” is a short game. Although I am generally a slow player, I played through the game within thirty minutes. I felt well-entertained during these thirty minutes, even though “The House” tells a horror story, something I generally not enjoy. Merikallio did a good job in increasing the tension from event and event, and after a while I really wanted to know all the secrets of the “The House” and of the strange royal family you meet.
One thing which disturbed me, though, was the linearity of the game. Furthermore, it lacked interaction: For example, you can find a dead person in one of the rooms, but are not allowed to examine the corpse or something like that. However, after visiting other locations and returning to the corpse, it becomes quite important for the story. A little bit more freedom to examine things would have been nice, especially in such a short design. Furthermore, I think that some events (e.g., transfer units and some of the interaction events like question lists) could have been handled better.
However, the story is really the strong point of the game. I assume that some elements will be familiar to horror story fans, but I found some turns surprising and original.Screen layout, font, English (no rating)
“The House” uses the “classic” 640x480 resolution with default frames and default screen layout. Merikallio chose Bookman Old Style, a well-readable font, but unfortunately it is not so well suited for DC, e.g. because questions list with 5 options are partly displayed outside the text section. Screen layout and font
There are some minor errors concerning the language (as far as I can tell as a non-native speaker), but I think the English is generally correct, and the texts are well-written. (Impressive, since I assume Merikallio is also not a native speaker... Polish, perhaps?)Graphics (3 of 10)
Merikallio took graphic files from different sources which quite often do not fit well with each other or even look like graphic errors (e.g., chests appearing “inside” walls). This hampers the (otherwise nice) atmosphere built-up. One thing that really annoyed me was the use of backgrounds. The same moon appearing in all 4 directions? Roads suddenly disappearing from one step to another, or turning together with the party? Such things can be avoided with only a little effort. Merikallio’s selection of small pics however was good and fit well with the mystery/horror story of this design. Two 3d viewsSounds (5 of 10)
I don’t know if Merikallio did the sound effects himself or took them from other sources (there is no source mentioned in the design description), but some of them contribute very well to the dark atmosphere of the design and compensate a little bit for the weak graphics. Conclusion
As I stated above, I enjoyed playing “The House” and invite everybody to give it a try. Considering that this is Merikallio’s first design and that he did not spend too much time in creating it, I am looking forward to what he comes up with in the future.Overall rating: 5 out of 10