This article originally appeared in Dev.Mag Issue 21, released in April 2008.
One hundred and ninety six years ago, cat burglar Trilby escaped the horrors of DeFoe Manor, only to discover an even greater danger. One hundred and ninety six years from now, an unwitting starship crew will stumble upon a remnant of his attempts to avert that danger. And now, at the exact midpoint between those two events, a hero will rise. Yea, for Theodore DeCabe, Municipal Inspector extraordinaire, is going to tell the leaders of that fad religion exactly what his employers think of their constructing building extensions without a permit!
Yes, it’s just a regular building inspection, at least until one of those crazy Optimologists decides to shove him down an elevator shaft…
So begins 6 Days a Sacrifice, the fourth and final game of the Chzo Mythos series. Don’t let the fact that it takes place before 7 Days a Skeptic fool you, it really is the grand finale, and be forewarned: don’t even try playing it before having completed the rest of the series. This isn’t so much an issue of spoilers as it is of comprehension, because 6 Days takes all the loose plot threads of the entire series and marries them into a single epic climax, with the full assumption that you already know what’s going on. That established, 6 Days is doubtless the most cinematic of the series, handling multiple plot threads through excellent exposition and pacing. As with its predecessors, events start out relatively normally, but quickly spiral into something much more sinister. One really has to play the game to appreciate how well the story has been constructed and told this time around, and it serves as a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the saga.
Of course, the quality of the plot means nothing if the game is frustrating to play. Rather than reusing the text parser from Trilby’s notes, 6 Days a Sacrifice returns to a fully mouse-driven interface. 7 Days’ right-click verb coin/inventory menu makes a welcome return in this instalment, which is no disaster given its effectiveness. But it isn’t alone. To bolster his Arsenal of Interaction, Theodore has at his disposal a journal and a cell phone, both of which can be accessed at any time. The journal has no real practical application in the game, but is excellent in that it allows you to reread at your leisure all those little bits of exposition that you need to understand the story. The real stroke of genius, however, is the phone. Asides from its use in one or two puzzles, the cell phone allows you to communicate with the primary NPCs from any location, which saves you a lot of tedious walking around if all you need is a single clue or a reminder of what to do.
The puzzles in the game are a definite improvement over the sometimes nebulous ones in the previous Chzo games. Not to say that they are easy though – the later puzzles in particular require slightly more abstract thinking to solve. However, they remain logical throughout, with the solutions easily arrived at after a little skull sweat and observation. It also wouldn’t be a Chzo game without some perilous life-and-death situations, but fortunately Yahtzee seems to have overcome the compulsion to kill the player out of the blue, which weeds out a lot of the frustration factor of previous games (7 Days, I’m looking at you).
All in all, 6 Days a Sacrifice is a fine plot-driven adventure game, with very little to fault it for. If you’ve played through and enjoyed the rest of the Chzo Mythos, and are itching to find out how it all ends, you shouldn’t hesitate to play it. In fact, why aren’t you downloading it already?