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Showtime at the Gallows Reviews
Author: The Dominant Species (TDS)
Date: 2005

Reviewed by Robert Street (Reviews Exchange 7)

Showtime at the Gallows is another horror game written by TDS. The horror is a lot more graphic than his other game Can It Be All So Simple? and I wouldn't recommend it to people who dislike gory violence. Personally, I have never been a fan of this kind of horror, so I didn't find the game as interesting as other people may.

The writing is well done, but I found that the puzzles and story weren't quite as good. There weren't many real puzzles, and when there were puzzles, I had to resort to the hints a surprising number of times, as I just couldn't figure out what command was needed and I kept on dying. This is probably because I just didn't connect with the player character or storyline very well. A few mazes were also included, and although they were easy to progress through, they did not really add anything apart from bulking up the size of the game. A lot of the game did feel like filler, as there wasn't a huge amount of story. The game was more just a collection of horror scenes, which if you like horror it would be fine, but I prefer more story. 

Overall, I didn't find the game hugely interactive. Mostly you could not move off the rails, and generally all you had to do was wait for scenes to end. However, every so often something came up where you did have to react, which I sometimes did not realize as I assumed that there was more waiting involved. A plus point to this game was that I didn't really find any bugs or errors, so the game was technically done well.

Showtime at the Gallows is good for what it is, but unfortunately I personally did not enjoy playing it that much. Don't take this review as being too definitive, as I am sure that other players will enjoy this game far more than me, if they like this kind of horror.

SCORE - 5/10

Reviewed by David Whyld

I liked the author's first game (Can It Be All So Simple?) so I was expecting to like this one as well. But five minutes into playing the game and I found myself becoming more and more disillusioned with it.

It's a horror game which flits from scene to scene so rapidly that you barely have time to appreciate the scene you're in before it's over and you're plunged into another one. I did a similar thing with one of my games once, but I'm sure hoping I didn't confuse people to the extent that this game confused me. Part of the confusion arose out of the fact that, for the most part, I didn't really have a clue what I was supposed to be doing. A scene would begin, I'd play for a few moves, and then the scene would end, often without any kind of conclusion or climax that I was aware of, and I'd be dumped in another scene, usually without an explanation for why I was there or what was going on. This other scene would be pretty much the same as the previous one, leaving me with a feeling, after half an hour's play, that while there was a neat idea employed here, I wasn't understanding a bit of what was going on and not liking it at all.

There are few actual puzzles in the game (aside from a remarkably unfair one which I'll come to in a minute). Most of the game consists of the player simply tapping out WAIT time and again and the game unfolding. Often you don't need to take any kind of action to move the game on to the next scene. Sometimes, in fact, the game won't let you take any action (nothing you do in the first two scenes makes a blind bit of difference so you might as well just hit WAIT again and again until you're moved to scene three) and instead you'll just quickly realise that the only thing you can do is wait around for something to happen. There are other times when trying an action once won't result in anything happening, yet trying it again provokes the necessary result. Frustrating just doesn't describe it well enough.

The unfair puzzle I mentioned earlier? Well, without spoiling it too much for anyone who still wants to play the game after this less than glowing review, it simply involves waiting around for the opportune moment to slip past a killer. Any attempts to deal with said killer end in the player meeting a grisly end, as do any attempts to flee the scene prior to the required time... although how you're supposed to figure out the required time without first getting killed several times is beyond me.

The general tone of the game is adult, with repeated swearing and adult references seemingly thrown into just about every scene for no other reason than the writer fancied writing an 'edgy' game. Personally, I don't think he succeeded particularly well. The result might well be edgy, but it's not a very playable game and nor is it a whole lot of fun to play. Fortunately the game comes with a walkthrough which allowed me to see how it ended. It was confusing there as well. In a way, it makes a kind of sense, but Showtime At The Gallows just wasn't a game that held any kind of interest for me by that point. Can It Be All So Simple? impressed me; this one just let me cold.

Game one was good, game two was bad, hopefully three will show the writer's potential in a more favourable light.

3 out of 10

Reviewed in Independent Adventuring March 2006

Texas Chainsaw Massacre never read so good. You play a washout everybody used to make fun of because he was always scared of everything. But when faced with a real maniac who just took apart our friend limb by limb, you must pull yourself together in order to survive. This is an extremely well written adventure, which suffers from only one problem: the majority of the time you will be waiting. This is not a big deal, though, as you’ll keep being entertained by the text, as it scrolls by. With the exception of a few over the top clichés (abusive father whom your mother later killed), the story is very gripping, and won’t let you go until you die. Or maybe make it out alive, after several attempts.

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