The Chzo Mythos

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After playing Trilby: The Art of Theft, my interest was piqued when I heard that Ben Croshaw had made several other games, some of which were quite good. After a bit of searching, I found that he had made a series of point-and-click adventure games dubbed the Chzo Mythos.

The Chzo Mythos consists of four games: 5 Days a Stranger, 7 Days a Skeptic, Trilby's Notes, and 6 Days a Sacrifice. Trilby, the main character from The Art of Theft plays a major role in the games, as he is the player character in 5 Days a Stranger and Trilby's Notes, and is an important part of 6 Days a Sacrifice.

5 Days a Stranger
The main hall of the manor in 5 Days a Stranger.

The storyline is quite epic, though it has simple roots. In 5 Days a Stranger, the plot revolves around several people trapped in a abandoned manor who are slowly being killed off, one by one. You play the role of Trilby, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now must deal with the mysterious killer. 7 Days a Skeptic takes place 400 years in the future, on board a deep space exploration starship, with the main character being the ship's psychologist. Once again, a killer stalks the halls and your job is to stop him. Trilby's Notes takes place a short time after 5 Days a Stranger, and follows Trilby as he tries to find out more about the mysterious events that took place in the mansion. Finally, 6 Days a Sacrifice finishes off the series by wrapping up the story and tying up the loose ends.

Each story in itself is quite interesting, and the writing improves as the series goes along. However, it's the overarching plot that connects all the games together that is the most interesting, and it can hold its own against some of the more professionally written game storylines out there.

Although each game follows the usual point-and-click adventure layout, they each have their own touches, and the interface improves as the game goes along. 5 Days a Stranger admittedly has the weakest interface, but a lot of it is hotkeyed, making it easier to run through. 7 Days a Skeptic makes the game entirely reliant on the mouse, improves the hotspot sighting, and is a lot easier to play. Trilby's Notes is a departure from the usual mouse scheme, instead relying on the arrow keys to move, and commands to be issued by typing them out. (It's almost like Zork with graphics.) It's definitely a jarring change, and takes some getting used to, but in the end it makes the puzzle solving more dependant on you thinking out the solution rather than randomly clicking on hotspots with items as you try to guess your way around. It also allows you to take various actions to solve puzzles that wouldn't be possible with the regular interface. And finally, 6 Days a Sacrifice returns to the same interface as 7 Days a Skeptic, though with some more polish.

7 Days a Skeptic
The game room on board the spaceship in 7 Days a Skeptic.

The graphics for all the games are the simple, pixelated retro look of the old DOS adventures. (Very similar to the Art of Theft graphics.) Though the art in 5 Days a Stranger isn't anything special, each game improves upon the graphics of the previous ones, especially Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice, where the color palettes are well themed, and the locales generate the proper atmosphere for the games. There are some parts in these later games that have some nifty graphical tricks that Croshaw put in that no doubt take the AGS engine to its limits.

Another area that improves noticeably throughout the series is the sound. 5 Days a Stranger and 7 Days a Skeptic both used some of the stock midi music from RPG Maker, so sometimes they feel out of place. However, when it comes to Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice, Croshaw actually had a friend create an appropriate set of soundtracks, both of which mesh nicely with their games. As for sound effects, all 4 games are very effective in conveying what's taking place and setting a creepy atmosphere. (But, of course, Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice do it best.)

6 Days a Sacrifice
The security room in 6 Days a Sacrifice

Each game of the Chzo Mythos has its own charm, and together they make up one of the more epic adventure series I've played. For indie adventure games, they can certainly hold their own against many of the commercial adventure games we've seen throughout the years. The short length of the individual games keeps them from being too daunting, and the rivetting story keeps you coming back to play each subsequent game. Even if you aren't a fan of horror games, this series is definitely worth a try.

And once again, this being an AGS-based game, it should run fine in Linux under Wine. As with Trilby: The Art of Theft, I did have some issues getting the sound working, but as I said before, my Linux sound setup does have some minor issues.

The games can be found on Croshaw's website,
5 Days a Stranger
7 Days a Skeptic
Trilby's Notes
6 Days a Sacrifice
Croshaw's website. (His other games can be found here.)

Highly Recommended