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7 Days a Skeptic
Developer:Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Publisher:Fully Ramblomatic
Release Date:2004
Article Posted:October 2006
System Requirements

It is pretty much inevitable. When something, anything, be it a movie, a book, or a game, is successful, chances are there is going to be a sequel. After being greeted as one of the best independent adventure games of 2003, and winning several awards in the process, 5 Days a Stranger was almost guaranteed to have a sequel. But sequels are a risky business as there seems to be an unwritten rule, a curse if you will, which says that they are never to reach the quality of the original. Perhaps with that in mind, the creator Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw decided to place 7 Days a Skeptic in a whole new setting and a completely different era.

It has been almost four hundred years since the gentleman thief, Trilby, decided to enter the DeFoe mansion and uncovered its dark secret, his story now pretty much forgotten. The setting this time is more fitting to the new era, a spaceship called the Mephistopheles, deep in outer space, filled with only a skeleton crew of six members. But if entering an old and abandoned mansion is ill-advised, being aboard a spaceship called the Mephistopheles is just asking for it. So it is not entirely surprising when bizarre killings start taking place aboard the ship, but not before the crew retrieves a mysterious relic floating in space. This is where the skeptic of the title comes in, Doctor Jonathan Somerset, a psychiatrist and the counselor of the ship, the person to which the rest of the crew turn to when things start becoming insane.

During the seven days that the game and the crew's predicament last, the story again unfolds like a good scary movie. Although, it has to be said that this time around you are more likely to have figured out who the killer is, even though his or her motives are not that clear at first. Due to the radical change in setting, the game has been likened to Jason X, a Friday the 13 sequel with pretty much the same premise yet a very different setting than the original movies. But that is where the comparisons end. Jason X is more of a self-parody of the franchise and... not that good to begin with, while 7 Days a Skeptic remains true to its prequel and retains the same level of seriousness.

The supporting characters are developed a lot better than in the first game, and we get to interact with them more, although a few of them (or perhaps all) do meet an untimely end before long. Still, that is to be expected, given that 7 Days a Skeptic is a "slasher" film in game form.

Generally, the game's story is enjoyable and suitably gory, complete with an almost inevitable plot twist at the very end, that you will either love or hate. Sadly, some of the atmosphere of the original game was lost during the transition to the new setting, given that a spaceship, even in the middle of nowhere, is not as eerie as a tried-and-trusted mansion. Still, there is a lot more gore and violence than in the first game, so that may make up for the lack of atmosphere, at least as far as fans of the horror genre are concerned.

From a technical point of view, 7 Days a Skeptic is very similar to its predecessor. The graphics are still functional, if a bit unspectacular even for an independent game, although the animation is noticeably better. The music and assorted sound effects are taken from other sources, and for that reason feel generic and do not complement the game very well. One really nice touch to the sound however, is the part where Dr. Somerset is outside the ship, in outer space, and the only thing audible is his own breathing. The interface is also similar to that of the first game, so it is simple and practical but also more flexible this time around. While on the subject, something that many miss while playing the game for the first time is that you are able to look at inventory items, even though it may not be that obvious at first, all you have to do is right-click on them.

This brings us to the gameplay, which is sadly one of the weaker parts of the game. That is not to say that it is unplayable, far from it actually, but it feels inferior to 5 Days a Stranger. In the previous game, the puzzles were logical and you usually had a good idea as to what you are supposed to do next. In 7 Days a Skeptic, you will often find yourself wandering around unsure what to do, and puzzles in general are less logical.

Moreover, the parts where it is possible to die in this game, such as certain chase scenes, seem a lot more unfair this time around. This happens because it is not always clear what you are supposed to be doing in order to survive, not to mention that the time you are given to react is limited. All the above make some parts of the game frustrating, and you may find yourself trying them over and over again. Still, a few clever puzzles here and there do make up for these annoying parts.

In the end, it seems that despite Yahtzee's efforts, 7 Days a Skeptic did not manage to escape the curse of the sequels, as it ends up being inferior to its predecessor. It is still an enjoyable game, and if you enjoyed the first part you should definitely play this one as well, but be prepared for some frustration. As with 5 Days a Stranger, there is a special edition of 7 Days a Skeptic available for 5 dollars, offering several extras such as a commentary track and a new warning system for the chase scenes.

The game can be downloaded at www.FullyRamblomatic.com/7Days and is only around 1.3MB and thus easy to download even for modem users.

The final grade is: 71/100.


PC System Requirements:
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Pentium 600MHz
128 MB RAM
Video Card Capable of 320x200 in 16-bit Color
Windows Compatible Soundcard
Keyboard, mouse, speakers
(Note: This game may well run on slower machines than listed above)