While waiting for a developer friend of mine to get me an ad-hoc copy of one of the games he was working on, he sent me a promo code and said “Here, give this a try. It’s an adventure game a friend of mine wrote.” I didn’t know the name or anything, but I trust his judgment (and I’m not known for turning down a free game), so I popped the code into iTunes and the screen came up letting me know I had redeemed a code for The Secret Of Grisly Manor. Sounds cool enough, I thought. I had no idea.
You start out receiving a package from your grandfather telling you to come find him at his manor. Once you arrive you must solve one puzzle after another to find your grandfather and the secret his is trying so desperately to hide. There really aren’t any instructions to the game, but anyone that’s played a point and click adventure game in the past 20 years will feel right at home before long.
There are several rooms within the house to explore, and you’ll even journey out to the shed and an old tree stump in the back yard. Given that the house was just a decently sized structure and not a sprawling mansion, the developer did a good job of making sure there were enough puzzles to keep you busy. On the plus side some of the puzzles did make you think, but there really wasn’t a time where my brain-wheels were spinning like crazy trying to solve something.
As a result, the overall game is not very long, especially if you’re a seasoned puzzle solver / adventure gamer. As luck would have it, however, the game length is considerably extended due to the fact that you have to traipse back and forth between some rooms several times before solving a puzzle. Well, there’s that and the fact that it feels like you’re constantly waiting for scenes to load. Despite these issues, I was drawn in from the beginning and didn’t want to put the game down until I had completed it. The only other drawback was that the ending, while somewhat interesting, was kind of a letdown given all you had to do to get there.
This is a straightforward adventure game with no mini-games to be found. That basically means everything is a “tap to operate” type affair, so you won’t have any issues controlling the game. There also aren’t any twinkles or real hints as to what you can interact with, which means in a couple of cases you end up “hunting and pecking” your way through a scene, though once again it’s not as bad as it sounds. There is no concept of a hint system in the game, though it doesn’t really seem to need it.
The graphics in Grisly Manor are wonderful. Everything is nicely detailed, and while there’s not a whole lot going on in this manor outside of you, there is some animation when appropriate. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of an intro / ending, maybe done up in a comic panel style format, but what’s there is very nice visually. The sound effects enhance what they’re sounding off about, but nothing really stands out. Hearing the grandfather’s voice at the beginning and end would have been nice. The music is actually really good, and definitely gets you in the mood for exploring the manor.
This game was a surprise, but ended up being one of the good kind of surprises. Despite its short length and load times, it’s an enjoyable old school adventure with plenty of puzzles and enough mystery to keep you hooked until the end. If you’re an adventure game fan, this is one you don’t want to miss.