Review: The Lurking Horror

The Lurking HorrorThe Lurking Horror is an H. P. Lovecraft inspired text adventure game by Dave Lebling, the author of Zork. Published by Infocom in 1987, it’s a spooky text-based look at college life. This is a no-spoiler review of the Amiga version.

The game begins with the player confined to an almost eerily empty campus encased by a brutal snowstorm. After rushing to a computer lab to complete an assignment due the next day, you receive help from a frazzled computer expert who partially guides your actions.

The college campus is a fun space to explore and the puzzles are intuitively easy. The game comes with useful feelies that include a map and student id. Background music uplifts the story during action scenes.

Controls are immersive but frustrating. Early on I had to look through spoilers to determine how to interact with a microwave using terms the game could recognize. Navigation is also problematic. It’s not always obvious where entrances and exits are even after close examination of a room or area.

Despite the controls, I enjoyed the sparse characters that inhabited the creepy and desolate campus. Their movement patterns and behavior reminded me of Oblivion, sans graphics. I was even chased outside by one until I ended up in the snow (the character patiently waited for me to freeze to death at the campus entrance).

The Lurking Horror doesn’t include much lurking or horror, but I enjoyed the Amiga version of the game. The brief reminder of wandering around campus during my own college days more than made up for it.