From Virgin and Trilobyte
There are three very distinctive parts to 11th Hour. The first are the puzzles, which are a lot like those in 7th Guest. The second element is a hunt. You are given cryptic clues to solve that will lead you to one item in the house. Once you have found an item, you may be able to play a new video sequence in the gamebook which is the third element in the game. After a certain number of puzzles and treasure items, you play a game against Stauf. When you win, you get a longer video piece with the short segments you've seen placed in a bigger context.
I thought 7th Guest left you feeling a bit disjointed with the video sequences following each puzzle. This is worse, since solving a physical puzzle opens new areas of the house or let's you touch items that were previously untouchable (for the hunt). Solving one of the cryptic clues gives you a new video to view in the gamebook.
Having played with this for a while now, I'm just getting more annoyed with the game. In 7th Guest, on a very few occasions, I had to consult with the book to find hints. So far, I've only attempted a few puzzles, and of those, I find hints to be necessary just to find out what is to be done. I did prefer 7th Guest where comments from Stauf and Ego helped you learn the game. In 11th Hour, it almost necessary to use the hints. Perhaps I just have the wrong attitude to such things, I think the gamer should be given a fair chance to solve a puzzle with no hints. But games that include "You have seven moves." then "The move concludes when you choose a new item." is one that is very difficult to work out why Stauf laughs at you.
Sound affects, movements and puzzles make for a bad combination. As in, "If that horse whinnies one more time, I'm going to shoot someone." As in, "Does it have to take 2 minutes to complete one move on this puzzle?" Can't we have a fast mode where the pretty effects (or sound effects) are left behind so we can get on with the puzzles? The first time or two, it isn't bad, but when you're stuck on a puzzle, it can be maddening. Two puzzles that really grew tedious due to length of time the movement takes is the mouse maze and the train puzzle. The train puzzle was actually easy enough, but I think on my machine, it took an hour to solve, mostly waiting for those oh-so-cute animations.
A set of general rules for solving the cryptic puzzles might have been nice. I have been able to do them in the past, and did solve a few of these at first glance. But in general, I'd say that having a little list of samples might have been nice.
A little too much of the music was lifted straight from 7th Guest. It is *very* good music, but I've heard it for much too long now. Can't we have something different?
The acting. One game box I've looked at has the phrase "Live action actors." This one could use the phrase "Dead action actors". Some of the acting reaches the heights of OK. Most of it is wooden and unrealistic.
After two months of having it on my computer, it isn't finished. Because I fail to care about the game, the fate of what's-her-name, or even if I can get Carl killed if I went onward. Oh, no, they had to do it! They put another of those bloody puzzles on it. The microscope puzzle in 7th Guest was OK. But this game has another of the same type and I've had *enough* of it already!
The graphics are nice, the videos are beautiful, the puzzles can be interesting. The cryptic treasure hunt is annoying. I find the story line too disjointed to be of any interest at all.
Actually, I think I'm going off games with mechanical puzzles in them. I'm getting tired of them, I suspect because there is a limited range of new things that you can do with them. Plus, after a while, they all start to feel like time-fillers (gosh, don't let them finish the game too quickly or they'll be disappointed.)
If you loved 7th Guest, you probably already own this too. If you love puzzles, this may be more to your taste than it was mine. If you're vaguely thinking about buying it, wait until you can do so cheaply. Very cheaply.
CD-ROM Today voted this the Best Graphic Adventure (Live Action) for 1995 I will admit, this game has some of the best looking video sequences I've seen on an adventure game. For my money (literally), Gabriel Knight II: Beast Within or Frankenstein would rate much higher (both released in 1995). Then again, both these games, you are working toward a goal. As in, you need to do x because it will let you do y. Not solve this puzzle, and for being good, you can see another video. I wouldn't class 11th Hour as an adventure game at all. Exactly what one should call it...
Runner-up for this category was Phantasmagoria, which is very interesting, since I have the issue where Phan. and Frankenstein were described and rated. Frankenstein rated higher in that issue but lost in the Best of category?
Back when my computer had 8 Meg of RAM, I occasionally needed a bit of fiddling with the system to get something to run. With 16 Meg, it has been ages since it was difficult to get a piece of software up and running. 11th Hour was difficult. It failed to recognise the Diamond Stealth video card, and locked the computer. It took several reboots and going carefully through the trouble-shooting guide and the manual for my video card. Who really wants to know what chipset family their video card belongs to and why should *I* have to look up the ramDAC? Even then, it locked the computer one last time because I had not hardware page flipping off. What this process must do to the timid computer user ...