Uninvited
System: NES Publisher: Kemco-Seika Developer: ICOM Simulations
Genre: RPG Type: Point-n-Click/Text RPG Circa: 1991
A mysterious mansion (that looks like a prison) lies before you......Yeah, we've got her attention, allright!

Following in the footsteps of Shadowgate and Deja Vu, Uninvited was the last of the text adventure-style RPGs that Kemco made for the NES. While it doesn't quite live up to Shadowgate, it is still an entertaining game, nevertheless. If you liked Shadowgate and/or Deja Vu, then this is a game you don't want to miss. In case you've never played this kind of game before, let me explain how they work. You are given a picture of your surroundings, and a text description at the bottom of the screen. There are several commands to choose from, such as "look", "take", "open", "move", and "hit". You can use these commands to move around the game environment, manipulate objects, interact with characters, and solve puzzles. The entire emphasis of this kind of game is on story and puzzle-solving. There is no action at all. You must use the right objects in the right situations in order to progress and eventually win the game. These games can be fun for some, but they aren't for everybody.
GRAPHICS: 6.5/10
Whether or not people like the graphics of these kinds of games seems to be a matter of personal preference. Some people don't like the fact that there is little to no animation. Some people don't like having only a small portion of the screen dedicated to actual game graphics, while the rest is all text boxes. Others, however, seem to like the artwork, details, and bright colors. I tend to fall in with the latter. The Kemco text-adventure games have an art style all their own that I find quite appealing. The highlight of Uninvited's graphics are the many "death scenes" that can occur if you make the wrong move. Whereas Shadowgate only had one death scene for every situation, Uninvited will usually give you a closeup of the monster(s) right before your game ends. Overall, Uninvited's graphics don't seem quite as good as Shadowgate's. There isn't as much detail, and since the game takes place in a house, rather than a castle, you mostly just explore normal-looking rooms. The enemies aren't as well-drawn as the enemies in Shadowgate, either. For example, the dogs don't look very "vicious" to me, and that blue ghost in the Magisterium looks as though it came out of a Ghostbusters cartoon. Although they seem a bit "rushed", for the most part, Uninvited's graphics are pretty decent and they get the job done.
Trust me, you'll soon be seeing things more awe-inspiring than an abandoned church...It's a game room, and he likes playing games with you!
SOUND: 5.5/10
Something just went wrong here. The music is nowhere near as good as Shadowgate's music, although it sounds very similar. The only music I really like in this game is the ominous theme that plays when you're standing outside. But from there on, it's mostly downhill. The music heard when exploring most rooms in the mansion is too simplistic and it gets annoying real quick! The music in the labyrinth is so annoying, I had to turn it off while going through that part. I do like how the music can change to warn you of danger, though. The sound effects are exactly the same as they were in Shadowgate. Overall, the music is moody, but not excellent.
CONTROL: 6.5/10
Again, something went wrong here! The only thing you control in this game is a hand-shaped cursor that you use to point at objects and commands, then click on them. Sounds simple, right? Well, basically it is, but the problem is that the hand moves much slower in this game than it does in Shadowgate! It also seems to "bounce" around a little too much, especially when you're trying to navigate in the "Move" box below the scenery window. Also, when looking through your inventory, the item list pages turn much slower than they did in Shadowgate. I don't know the reason for all this slowdown. Perhaps I'm comparing this game to Shadowgate too much, but Shadowgate did set the standards for this kind of game, so I don't understand why Uninvited would have these kinds of flaws. However, the slowness can easily be overcome. It's more of an annoyance than a hinderance.
Um...I'm more concerned about what's right in front of me...Decisions, decisions!
STORY/ATMOSPHERE: 8.5/10
The story and atmosphere is where Uninvited really begins to shine. Be forewarned! This is not the kind of story like you would expect to find in traditional role-playing games, such as the Final Fantasy series. Uninvited's story is much more focused on one event, and it has an air of pure mystery. Without revealing any spoilers, it all begins one day when the main character (you) is driving with his/her sister. Suddenly, they see a figure in the road, swerve to avoid it, and crash into a tree. When the hero comes to, the sister is nowhere to be found. The hero gets out of the car and sees a huge mansion on a hilltop. Could this be where the sister has gone? Little do you know what horrors await you inside...As it would turn out, the mansion is haunted, and you must defeat many creatures and solve many mysteries on your quest to find your lost sister. Much of the game's backstory is revealed by reading clues, diaries, speaking to creatures you meet, and examining objects, everywhere. The story is a little deeper and mysterious than Shadowgate's "find and defeat the Warlock Lord" plot, but it seems to lack the pure atmosphere of that game. Uninvited also has one of the most "mature" stories on the NES, especially with its sometimes grisly descriptions of the death sequences.
CHALLENGE: 6.5/10
Uninvited does not challenge your reflexes, timing, or hand-eye coordination skills. What it does challenge is your ability to think and solve problems. Some of the puzzles in this game are very obvious and easy to solve. Others take quite a bit of piecing together clues. Unfortunately, this makes the game somewhat lopsided in this category. The easy puzzles are too easy to solve, and the ones that are harder would be almost impossible to figure out, unless you just try everything. Every one of the puzzles in Shadowgate had some sort of clue or logic to it. But there are puzzles in Uninvited that you are given no clues for, and the solutions don't seem very logical, such as one case in which you must defeat a servant ghost in a rather unconventional manner. Another issue is replay value...Once you've solved this kind of game, it has almost NO replay value. The only way you could get replay value out of this kind of game is to put it away for several years, then play it again and see if you remember everything. This game is also a little on the short side, especially if you map out the labyrinth.
FUN: 7/10
The fun of a game like Uninvited comes from exploring the rooms, solving the puzzles, and making things happen! Sometimes, it can be fun to just experiment with different objects and creatures, just to see what kinds of results you can get. (Even if it doesn't help you progress.) I always encourage people to not use walkthroughs for these games, no matter how stumped you may get, because it's always a great feeling when you finally solve that puzzle and watch the game's reaction! Besides the mansion, your explorations in this game will take you to a church, labyrinth, greenhouse, and Magisterium. All of these areas are haunted, so expect to come across lots of undead monsters. My only other complaint about this game is that it seems to have some wasted space. There are several rooms that have absolutely no purpose, whereas in Shadowgate, almost every room had some puzzle to solve, clue to find, monster to defeat, or item to take. This is just my nitpicking, again, though. What there is of the game is great, I just wish that it was longer and there was more to do.
Brilliant! I say, brilliant!...Dracula?

Uninvited is a very fun game while it lasts. It's not quite as good as Shadowgate. The only area it really improved on was story. But still, there are so few of these kinds of games for the NES, and if you really like them, you won't want to pass this one up! It is a very unsung and underappreciated classic.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 7/10

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