White gloves, fine suit, cleanly shaven. There was always something suspiciously precise about your butler, lurking just beneath the surface. A feeling that there might be something of pure evil just beneath the veil of lies. Something surreptitiously slinking submerged by the subservience. If you're the kind of person who has nightmares about, of all things, a potential butler, I'm afraid this game isn't going to provide you with much reassurance!
As you probably have guessed from the introductory paragraph, The Butler is a horror game. Without much rhyme, reason, or backstory, the upshot is that you are somehow trapped in a spooky house. And while those questions are likely to remain unanswered for the time being, there is one thing that you know quite definitely: you want to get out of there as soon as possible! Of course, if you don't believe in haunted houses, there is no issue: simply pick up the key and be on your merry way to enjoy the rest of your night.
Unfortunately for you though, the house is haunted, or at the very least, you've got a strange sort of company with you. The butler's idea of fun is to play a game, toying with you and your freedom, while all the while seeking you and taunting you, ready to snatch it away if he encounters you in the halls. And what's more, the path to unlocking your freedom rests not on finding a single key and jamming it into a lock as fast as your twitching fingers will let you, but seeking out an even dozen of them before you can sprint out as fast as your legs will carry you!
The Butler uses only a few simple mechanics, but still proves to be an interesting, challenging puzzle by building them in with broader themes. The basis of this is the butler's almost incessant curiosity to pepper you with questions regarding your whereabouts. Some might call this cheating, but it's just his idea of hide and seek. This, though, is where the interesting twist comes in: you have a choice of whether you will answer his questions faithfully, or give him an answer that is somewhat less than the truth.
Of course, you might be a bit afraid that telling a less-than-friendly figure your exact location might lead to some unpleasant consequences. Not to fear though - as a matter of fact, the butler chooses to reward you for your truthfulness! He'll go so far as to kindly light up an object that will help you in your search for freedom if you grant him the correct information. On the other hand, if you decide to try and deceive your would-be assassin, he will not be pleased with you. By angering him, he'll teleport you exactly where you claimed you were instead, making your statement true! A third option is to not answer at all - in which case, he'll simply slow down your movement, even though he was faster than you to begin with.
It's not necessarily always a bad thing, though, as it can handily transport you to a certain room you haven't yet checked or move you across the house faster than you can navigate on your own, saving you valuable time in your quest to find the keys. The combination of these mechanics make for an interesting - and difficult - puzzle to try and solve before you run smack into the butler. In some twisted sense, this is a "fair" challenge in your adversary's mind, and it's up to you to see if you have what it takes. You've also got one or two cues, like that ominous whistling soun-ahhh, look behind you!!
To play The Butler, use arrow keys or [WASD] to move around. Use [Enter] to start the game and scroll the mouse around to control the little light you have and illuminate a bit of your surroundings as you search for the keys. Press [Q] or [E] to answer yes or no when the butler prompts you with a question. In the upper-left corner, you'll see text that displays how many keys you have left to find. Good luck - unlike your Butler "friend," I hope you don't get trapped in the house forever!
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