Ghostscape 2: The Cabin
Hey, you! Turn that frown upside-down! Halloween isn't over yet, and what better nightcap than a point-and-click adventure from Psionic In this stylishly scary follow up to the original, Ghostscape 2: The Cabin sends you all alone, deep into the woods, investigating rumours of paranormal activity. Who is the old man who lives all alone amidst the crumbling old grave sites? And, more importantly, what is that strange shadow that seems to be following you?
The game is played by using the arrows on the screen to navigate, and clicking on objects to pick them up or interact with them. You can see what your current objectives are by clicking on your inventory icon (the large letter "I" in the right-hand corner), but for the most part you'll simply be exploring. Unlike other point-and-click titles, The Cabin doesn't offer a lot in the way of puzzle solving, instead sending you out to snap photos of paranormal activity in the area and granting you a score based on how much you discover. While you can breeze through the game fairly quickly by ignoring the strange things you'll see in the woods, your end result will be better if you take the time to snap photos at every opportunity and leave no stone (or pile of dirt) unturned.
You're not the first person to come nosing around the area, as the diaries you'll discover among the moldering ruins will tell you. Will you be luckier than others have been? Or will you feel a cold hand drop on your shoulder when the shadows fall after dark?
Analysis: Yes, like its predecessor, The Cabin is pretty cool, and pretty creepy. It's creepy cool! While there are several loud scares, The Cabin relies a lot more on fostering a sense of wrongness to make you uneasy. From the strange doll waiting to play with you in the cellar to the unearthly sounds you'll hear from uncomfortably close by, it's incredibly good at making you feel unsettled. The game even asks for your name in the beginning, and then continues to address you directly afterward. It's a small touch, but a nice one.
But while the moody black-and-white design does add to the atmosphere, it also adds to the frustration. Your major "quest" winds up being something akin to a scavenger hunt, and unfortunately a lot of the seemingly unrelated items can bleed into the background. The narrative is also extremely loose, so the game winds up feeling more like a hike through the woods than a cohesive story experience. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially for those of us who enjoy exploration. But players looking for a solid, structured story may feel a bit frustrated.
Still, for a Halloween treat (or even just a quiet evening alone) The Cabin manages to provide a short but satisfying bit of spooky entertainment. Drawing on the sense of unease that comes from hearing similar old legends and bits of folklore, it's an excellent way to set the mood for an evening of frightening festivities. Just be careful the next time you take a picture of someone. You never know what you'll find looking back at you through the lens.