Lighthouse: A Dark Being

Sierra On-Line

to view advertisers
Click on image to visit site

As a writer looking for a break from the city and all its distractions, you've rented a summer cottage on the Oregon Coast. It's a perfect little place for a writer to get away and concentrate. It's got lots of picture windows and a wonderful view of the ocean. The nearest town is five miles away and there is a stretch of sandy, pebbly beach not far from the house. The peaceful seclusion is just the thing you wanted. An old lighthouse stands about a mile further along the coast and provides a nice focal point for the view out of your window. Who knows, it may also provide inspiration for your writing. The people in the area are friendly but they tend to keep to themselves.

After settling into a routine and getting some good work done on your story, the surroundings impress themselves and you begin to notice that the old lighthouse must still be in working order as you've seen it lit from time to time. While on one of your frequent walks along the beach, you run across the owner of the lighthouse. He and his baby daughter live there and he runs the light on stormy nights. He strikes you as a professor of some sort. Your paths cross when shopping in the little town and are able to strike up short conversations with him on those occasions. Solitude may be good for the writing, but it's nice to talk to someone from time to time.

One night during a particularly awe-inspiring storm, you see the lighthouse being struck by lightning which leaves behind an odd bluish glow up where the light would normally shine. You make a note to ask the professor about this next time you see him. Although, as fate would have it, your next meeting will be under very unusual circumstances.

Upon returning from a walk one stormy evening, you notice your message light blinking on the answering machine. The first message is your mother trying to convince you to come to your senses and return to the safety of the city. The second is from you editor. You've run into a dry spell writing your story and he's looking for something from you to justify sending you another advance. The third is something totally unexpected. It's from the professor and he needs you to go to the lighthouse urgently. It would seem that he has somewhere to go and he needs someone to look after his young daughter. He also mentions that something terrible might happen if he doesn't act soon. With terror in your heart, you dash off to the lighthouse to see what it is you can do.

Needless to say, the makers of this game have done a much better job of creating suspense than I have with the above. Upon starting a new game, a short intro movie leaves the player inside the interior of the beach house in question above. The music, the setting, the view outside the windows, the diary entries and the message all combine to create a sense of urgency and suspense that is rarely seen in most games.

Upon arrival at the lighthouse, it soon becomes clear that something more is going on when the professor is nowhere in sight and the baby soon begins to cry. Once inside, and yes getting inside is one of the puzzles, one soon discovers who the Dark Being is and just what is going on, thanks to the professor's notes scattered throughout the house. It then becomes imperative to follow the professor and effect a rescue. At the end of this adventure, writer's block will no longer be a problem.

This game can be played in a non-linear fashion, despite the fact that most of the events are easier to accomplish if done in some sort of order. There are six major areas to explore, so it's probably easiest to try to finish in one area before moving on to the next. Travel from one area to another can be accomplished in a number of ways. You'll find two different flying machines, and a submarine as well as two other ways of getting around. I'll leave those up to you to discover. As with most games of this type it's just a matter of finding the things you need to solve the puzzles to get further ahead. Saving frequently is also a good idea and the makers of this game have provided lots of room to save as many games as needed.

One interesting feature of this game is that your inventory is carried in a handbag. I would bet that most people would also be a little surprised at just how bottomless this bag is, despite just how much one can get into an average handbag. At any rate, four inventory items are available for immediate use at any time with others available by clicking on your handbag. A lighthouse icon gives access to system features for saving, loading, starting a new game, quitting and a brightness control. A game patch available from Sierra, see the link below, adds a few features to the game and makes solving the game puzzles a little easier.

Despite the fact that this game doesn't feature a full 360 view, as do most games of this type, the designers have done a wonderful job of creating scenes and views that are spectacular nonetheless. Highly detailed art creates an atmosphere that is realistically believable in every scene. Visually captivating is probably the best way of describing what one will see. The animated sequences are more like watching a move than playing a game and add greatly to the atmosphere being generated. Even the "static" scenes have much to see. Any water views feature moving waves accompanied by the sound of the surf and the night sky is filled with lightning flashing over the ocean off the coast.

Background music accompanies most of the scenes and only adds to the atmosphere that is being created with the visual aspects of the game. Particularly well chosen is the music in the animated sequences. With the possible exception of a mercifully brief piano riff, all of the music fits very well and is never annoying as with some games these days. Sound effects are equally well matched and add a realism that is sure to capture even a seasoned player.

Disk swapping is kept to a minimum in this two CD game which is quite the achievement considering that a player is free to roam at will from place to place.

The game interface is also standard for the genre. A changing cursor indicates various directions and the player is left to click on anything that might be interesting or potentially useful. The patch referred to above also includes an option for highlighting the cursor when it passes over something selectable. Using inventory items is also very simple with the added bonus that if an item can be combined with another, a small window opens to a close-up of the item. Another item can them be selected to use with the first item.

The puzzles can be difficult at times which is probably why the highlighted cursor was added to help identify items and situations that might otherwise be missed. The answers, although sometimes hard to spot, are always fair leaving a player kicking himself for not having thought of them. A little creative thinking is all it takes to solve most of the puzzles.


An excellent production. The suspense created right at the beginning of the game lends it a realism that is rarely achieved in most games of this genre. The animated sequences in particular link the different areas seamlessly adding to the overall mood and making this an easily enjoyable game. Nothing is lost in this game not having a full 360 surround view which makes me wonder if such a thing is really necessary. The story is well written and self-consistent with a number of possible endings. All in all this game ranks in the upper echelons of the genre. A good quality product worth the purchase price in all respects.

Written by Glenn Soucy

Click here for screen shots.



System Requirements:

486 DX2-66 Mhz or faster,
Windows 95 or MS-DOS 5.0 or later,
Min 12MB memory (Win 95), 8MB (Windows 3.1/DOS),
Hard disk,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
1Mb SVGA video graphic card capable of displaying 640 x 480 with 256 colors,
Microsoft mouse or 100% compatibles,
Windows 95 compatible sound card (Win 95) or Soundblaster Pro or 100% compatibles (DOS).

Developers & Publishers

In North America:

Sierra On-Line Inc.,
P.O. Box 85006,
Bellevue, WA 98015-8506.

Technical Support:206-644-4343 Monday to Friday 8:00am - 4:45pm PST
Fax Support:206-644-7697
BBS Support:206-644-0112
Hint Line:1-900-370-5583 $.75 per minute
Canadian Hint Line:1-900-451-3356 $1.25 per minute

Web site: Sierra On-Line

In Europe:

In UK:

Sierra On-Line Ltd.,
2 Beacontree Plaza,
Gillette Way, Reading,
Berkshire, RG2 0BS.

Technical Support:+44-(0)118-9209111 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm GMT
Fax Support:(+44)-(0)118-9875603
Hintline:(0)891-660-660 45p per minute cheap rate, 50p per minute at other times

Web site: Sierra On-Line UK

In France:

Coktel Vision,
Velizy Zone d'Emplois,
Immeuble Le Newton,
25, rue Jeanne Braconnier,
92366 Meudon La Foret.

Technical Support:(+33)-(0)1-46014650
Fax Support:(+33)-(0)1-46317172
BBS Support:(+33)-(0)1-46324290
Hintline:08-3668-4650 2.19FF per minute

Web site: Sierra On-Line France

In Germany:

Sierra-Coktel Deutschland,
Robert-Bosch. 32,
63303 Dreieich.

Technical Support:(+49)-6103-994040
Fax Support:(+49)-6103-994035
Hintline:0190-515616 0.23DM per 12 seconds

Web site: Sierra On-Line Germany

In Spain:

Sierra-Coktel Espana,
Calle Tomas Redondo 11F,
Edificio Indo Building, Luarca,
28033 Madrid.

graphic line

[Main][Back issues][Feedback]

All content Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 Coming Soon Magazine, Inc. All Rights reserved.