Choose-your-own-adventure Goosebumps novels were so frustrating. Some fancy has me kicking open the locked door (it was locked for a reason) only for a thrashing beast to tear me down. Flip back to page 37. But the relief of finding the truest route was worth every false start. Today, I played a classically-styled horror text-adventure game like that: The House Abandon.
In The House Abandon, an ancient computer sits on a desk, offset to the left. A keyboard and a few framed pictures are nearby, standing out against a retro wood-paneled wall. The computer turns on.
“You pull up to the driveway of the family holiday home and park the car. It’s dark, but it’s as idyllic as you from from all that time ago.” A prompt appears with a colon. Typing in “use,” “look around,” “look at” and “go to,” I navigated the house’s yard, hallways and stairs before entering my childhood bedroom. There, I found a Futuro 128k +2 computer, a dinosaur of a technology, with a copy of The House Abandon, the game’s namesake. Then, things get meta.
The House Abandon is a prototype developed in just 3 days at the Ludum Dare game jam. No Code Studio describes it as a “psychological horror, by way of 80s TV horror.”
The House Abandon’s genre isn’t what brought me back to devouring choose-your-own-adventure Goosebumps novels under the bedsheets. At first, I was frustrated by the limitations of the text adventure: If I typed “turn on the computer,” it wouldn’t turn on. If I typed “use the computer,” the Futuro 128k remained stubborn. At first, it was immensely frustrating. But that’s when I realized, like I did over a dozen years ago with Give Yourself Goosebumps, that successfully navigating a horror adventure is all about noticing the small things. Look around.
I won’t spoil it, but the horror text adventure certainly bleeds out. It only takes 30 minutes to play, so I’d suggest giving it a whirl.