There are many times where I feel like I’m the only mainstream gaming journalist in the United States that covers point and click adventure games for the PC. Sure there are great websites like Gameboomers, Just Adventure and the like that specifically only cover adventure games, but they are preaching to the choir. In this day and age where only Telltale releases are known to the rank and file playing third person shooters or extremely buggy western RPGs, it’s a bit disheartening to know that the average gamer has never played, or even heard of games like Grim Fandango, Manic Mansion, Syberia and the like. Because so few other sites give the point and click genre the respect it deserves (and once had), it’s all the more important that I continually look for what might be the next big sleeper hit in the genre. It give you, the reader, the chance to discover a game you might otherwise never hear about.
Case in point: The Second Guest by developer Twice Effect. This comedy-horror adventure game first caught my attention during a random search of adventure game websites. As soon as the music for the site hit, I was instantly captivated. It sounded like something from a Danny Elman score and the visual style was so unique, I knew this would be a game that I wanted to experience firsthand. Because I wanted to learn more about the game, and yet there was so little information about it available, I knew The Second Guest would make for a great little interview feature on the site. The problem was that Twice Effect was a German company and although I can get by in four languages, German wasn’t one of them. So I ended up going through Highwater Group, the PR firm for Meridian 4, the US publisher for The Second Guest (along with a lot of other great adventure games). Highwater ended up coordinating an interview for me with David Frentzel, the found and owner of Twice Effect Games. David was happy to answer all my questions about The Second Guest and I think you’ll find after reading this interview that we’ve gone from knowing next to nothing about the game, to having a very solid idea about what we’ll be seeing when the game is finished.
Diehard GameFAN: Tell us a little about the plot of The Second Guest and some of the characters we’ll encounter in it.
David Frentzel: One day our protagonist, Jack, receives a letter inviting him to tiny Averton Island. He’s to attend the reading of the last will and testament of the recently deceased Lord Averton. Although Jack doesn’t know the lord, he’s curious enough to head off to the craggy coast of Cornwall. Just before he arrives, the lawyer who sent him the invitation is discovered on the island, murdered. Jack decides to investigate and soon finds his life is in danger too.
During his investigation, Jack meets not only the family of the late lord but also the island’s other inhabitants…
DHGF: The Second Guest is a point and click adventure game for the PC? What made you decide that this genre was the best format for telling the game’s story?
DF: Because I love that style of storytelling. Despite all the advances that we’ve made in computer games in the last years, it’s still all too often the case that actually telling a story falls by the wayside.
As I developed the concept for The Second Guest, it quickly became clear that I needed to choose a platform that made it as easy as possible for players to immerse themselves in the story. On the other hand, I didn’t want to make an interactive film that reduces players to mere spectators. Point- and-click was the logical choice. The platform offers everything one needs to tell a good story and really get players involved in it.
DHGF: With murder, mayhem and a spooky castle, The Second Guest looks to be a rather morbid affair. But in fact, the game promises a good deal of humour as well. How hard was it to blend the dark aspects of the game with the light hearted one?
DF: It’s really like walking a tightrope. On the one hand, we’re trying to get across the really dark stuff from Lovecraft and on the other hand we want to sell the dark humor. That’s one reason why I was adamant that the voice actors actually act out their roles in the studio instead of just reading their parts behind microphones. For the German version we got the actors who do the German dubs for Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, Liam Neeson and Ian McShane because they’re not only good voices, but also good actors, and can really get the right mood across at the right moment.
So, to come back to your question…yes, there’ll also be a lot to laugh about…
DHGF: The Second Guest takes place in the United Kingdom during the 1920s. What about that location and time period appealed to you?
I’m a great fan of the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Almost all of his stories take place around 1920 or so, in the time period in which he lived. I also find the atmosphere of the 20s especially appealing.
I chose Scotland because it’s just the perfect location for a crime thriller in an old castle. If you think of England or Scotland, then almost everyone automatically thinks about dark old haunted castles and manors.
DHGF: From watching the trailer, a book with a famous cephalopod ‘s head on the cover appears to be a prominent part of the game. Am I going out on a limb to assume some characters from the Cthulhu Mythos may make an appearance in the game?
DF: Several elements from Lovecraft’s universe will make an appearance over the course of the five episodes. The core of the game’s story is itself based on Lovecraft’s “The Case of Charles Dexter
DHGF: The Second Guest is going to be released in episodic format with the first release featuring the first two episodes. What made you decide to do an episodic style game as opposed to a “full” release like The Whispered World?
DF: Mainly for financial reasons. Since it wasn’t possible for us to secure financing for a full-price title, we decided to work with an episodic format…
DHGF: About how long will each episode take to complete?
DFThat’s something that always depends on the player and how he or she plays the game. Each episode should offer at least four hours of gameplay, though.
DHGF: Tell us about some of the puzzles we’ll encounter in The Second Guest.
DF: It was important to us that the puzzles be logically comprehensible. We also consciously avoided abstruse block-pushing puzzles. Instead, there are puzzles where the player has to, for example move a stone slab with the help of a windmill…
DHGF Although The Second Guest is influenced by Tim Burton and Lovecraft, have you gotten a lot of people asking if it’s related to The 7th Guest by Trilobite because of the name?
DHGF: Oddly enough, it’s a question that I’ve been hearing a lot. No, The Second Guest doesn’t have anything to do with The 7th Guest. It’s a completely independent and self-contained game. To my shame, I have to admit that I’ve never played The 7th Guest. Since the question’s come up so often, though, I actually picked up a copy of it and will give it a play through this weekend.
DHGF: Are there any plans to bring The Second Guest to a console or portable gaming system?
DF: At the moment, there are no concrete plans. Sometimes things change unexpectedly quickly, though.
DHGF: The Second Guest is going to be released in Europe in early 2012. Are there any plans to release the game in North America?
DF: Our publisher, Headup Games, intends to bring the game out in North America as well. They’ve got a
good, reliable partner in Meridian4 who will take care of the North American release of The Second Guest.
So there you go. Europe will get the game a little earlier than us, but rest assured The Second Guest is coming to North America as well. For those that want to learn more about The Second Guest, you can visit the game’s official website. There’s also a Facebook page for the game, but it’s entirely in German. Once the game is released in English, we’ll definitely have a review of the game up here at Diehard GameFAN, so check back once that has happened. The German release of the game is scheduled for January 26th of 2012, so hopefully the English version will follow shortly thereafter.