It's been more than two decades since the launch of Trilobyte's FMV puzzler The 7th Guest, but the ghosts of Stauf's haunted mansion still have unfinished business after all this time. Fortunately, both for them and for adventure game fans, at long last the mansion is opening up once again in The 13th Doll, which just successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign.
Set immediately after the 1930s events of The 7th Guest, this game also stars Tad, the break-and-enter protagonist of the original. Having barely survived the toymaker Stauf's many sadistic puzzles to gain his freedom the first time around, Tad naturally feels unhinged afterwards and is locked up in a mental institution. There he meets Dr. Richmond, who believes that a "cathartic trip" back to the mansion would do Tad a world of good. Tad believes the same thing, though for much different reasons, as he plans to "defeat Stauf once and for all, and rescue those he left behind." Players can control Tad or Dr. Richmond, with "either option representing unique storylines that intertwine and affect each other in mind-boggling ways. Ultimately, the two characters become entwined in solving a mystery that may prove that they are both pawns in a larger story of murder, lies, and betrayal."
The 13th Doll will feature the familiar formula of its predecessor but be updated for modern audiences. The sequel will once again feature plenty of full motion video sequences to watch and puzzles to solve (26 in total), along with a "plethora of interactive objects and peculiar personages" (including Stauf himself) to interact with throughout the mansion. This time around, players can explore the "three spacious, fully navigable environments, comprised of over 25 smaller locations" in real-time 3D, though a more traditional point-and-click option will be included as well. Either way, you can still only progress room by room, as each one contains a puzzle that will unlock new "nightmarish locations" once solved. Who you control and how you play will help determine which of the five possible endings you experience.
The road back to Stauf's mansion has been a rocky and unexpected one. The 13th Doll actually began many years ago as a fan-made freeware adventure that never got completed. After several failed attempts to revive the series (and one early successful one in the form of psuedo-sequel The 11th Hour), Trilobyte agreed to fully license the franchise to Attic Door Productions for a commercial sequel so long as it could successfully be funded. And so it was, thanks to a recently completed Kickstarter campaign that contributed over $60,000 to production.
If all goes well in the next few months of development, we could be seeing The 13th Doll released for Windows, Mac and Linux in the first quarter of 2016.