Brrrriiing! The sound of the phone cuts in sharp and intrusive over the persistent patter of the rain pelting the roof and the occasional angry growl of thunder rolling through the night. For a moment it's possible that the phone will go unanswered. Nights like these are perfect for turning off the lights, curling up in some blankets and watching a scary movie. They are not for listening to your mom ramble on about how you never call, or the rapid-fire pitch of a telemarketer. It is only the threat of more ringing that keeps the call from being relegated to the answering machine.
The voice on the other end is panicked. It's Sarah, barely able to get out the words between terrified gasps. Someone broke into their house. Someone armed. The power's out and she and Scott are hiding, but she doesn't know how long before they are discovered. You're the only person she trusts to come and save them from the Intruder.
Now the fate of your friends rests squarely on your shoulders, in this short and scary point-and-click adventure. Using your mouse, navigate your way into and throughout the darkened home. Keep your eyes peeled for anything that can be used to defend yourself and try to get to your friends before the intruder does.
As you work to save your friends, don't forget that the intruder is not likely to look kindly upon your presence either. Keep quiet and don't alert him, or he'll come after you, bringing up a "Think Fast" scenario in which you'll have mere seconds to make a decision that could save your life, or end it. You won't be much help to your friends if you wind up dead, will you?
Analysis: Intruder might be relatively old in the world of online gaming (okay, maybe it's the casual gameplay equivalent of a senior citizen), but it still stands as an example of good horror done right in Flash. There is no shortage of horror games available on the internet, but Intruder remains in the small company of those that are actually scary.
The success that Intruder enjoys on the horror front stems directly from the care it takes to establish a nearly perfect atmosphere. Most of the game takes place in grainy black and white with a few colors sparingly added at key moments. Deep, dark shadows that could be hiding anything dominate the game. Occasionally a burst of lightning will rip through the atmosphere, sending some shadows dancing malevolently against the walls while painting everything else in split seconds of glaring white. This gives you precious few moments to spy out lurking dangers before they are again concealed by the darkness.
For the most part, Intruder is a fairly conventional point-and-click game. But one innovation, the "Think Fast" sequences, is a brilliant device that heightens the suspense even more. It forces you to make quick decisions under duress, and does a fairly good job at simulating the kind of stresses you might feel in a real life situation.
There are only a handful of puzzles, not too difficult to get through, and there are only a few items to pick up during this short game. You have three life hearts, which means that you can make several bad decisions before your game is over. That will be a relief for those who aren't adept at this style of game, but may make things a little too easy for those who are. Also, due to the grainy black and white quality of the background, there may be some hotspot hunting in your future, which is rarely a good thing. Intruder manages to compensate for that in two ways. First, there is passive text at the top of the screen that automatically changes whenever you hover the cursor over anything of interest. Usually if you've done everything you can in a room, the room's base text will say something to that effect. Also, the game has a built-in strategy guide that gives helpful hints from room to room. In short, Intruder doesn't have many challenges, and jumps through hoops to help the player overcome the ones that do exist.
It should also be mentioned that the plot is not exactly air tight. It strikes me as a little strange that you are the person the captives trust to save them. Call me crazy, but there are people who get paid to take care of things like that. What are they called? You know the ones that wear the blue uniform? Oh, right, the police! Further, the intruder's motivation is hinted at, but never fully explored. This is a small disappointment, but an ultimately forgivable one. A good horror story doesn't need to be void of plot holes, it just needs to have enough of a plot to get the audience to the scene of the scares, which Intruder does.
For its modest ten to fifteen minutes of gameplay, Intruder manages to cram in scares of both the subtly eerie, and jump and scream varieties. So you know what to do by now. Turn off the lights, crank up the volume, and prepare to share a pitch black house with a murderer.