Best Setting: The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure
Designing the setting for a horror story is a challenging task. It has to be not only eerie and daunting, but also coherent and realistic. It must be ordinary enough for the player to feel at home and yet subtly harrowing and open to the influence of the inexplicable. As Stephen King once said, “The good horror tale will dance its way to the center of your life and find the secret door to the room you believed no one but you knew of.” Jonathan Boakes’ The Lost Crown succeeds in powerfully opening that secret door and releasing the horrors behind.
This stylish adventure is frighteningly atmospheric, mainly thanks to one of the most intriguing sets ever seen on PC monitors. A seemingly peaceful village in Eastern England appears at first to be a rural paradise, but a closer look reveals the dark secrets hidden by the white walls of its houses. Pestilent marshes, abandoned and dusty mansions, underground crypts and ghastly cemeteries are just a few examples of the uneasy locales Nigel Danvers has to explore to unearth the mystery of the Lost Crown of Anglia. Adding to this haunting ambience, each and every one of these locations is depicted in black and white, with just a few brushes of color to make them even more frightening. There’s a real sense of danger while walking around in Saxton; the perception of something wicked happening in the village. Without ever resorting to gore or cheap scare tactics, the setting is so disturbing that sometimes you will feel the urge to turn on the light, which is surely the greatest possible achievement for any horror story.
Runners-Up: Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals, Sam & Max: Season Two
Readers’ Choice: The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure
What is it about frightening ourselves that we find so irresistible? Are we masochists? Well, we do love adventures, so maybe that's true. In any case, it seems we aren't alone in favouring the haunting environs of Cornwall in The Lost Crown, though the equally haunted locations of A Vampyre Story and Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst made a strong case for themselves.
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