Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / The Lurking Horror

Go To
Infocom's 1987 entry into the horror genre opens in the computer lab at G.U.E. Tech. You've braved a snowstorm to finish an important assignment, but find your work interrupted by strange nightmares. When your paper vanishes from the server you find yourself exploring the campus for answers.

The Lurking Horror is one of Infocom's easier text adventures, but has some very creative puzzles and great writing and atmosphere.

This game contains examples of:

  • Closed Circle: You're forced to spend the night in the computer lab by a blizzard.
  • Copy Protection: Your user name and password are found in the feelies (but not the manual.)
  • Darkness Equals Death: There's one room-worth of grace when entering a dark room. Going further (or turning off the flashlight) causes a creature to grab the player from behind.
  • Expy: G.U.E. Tech for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Have a Nice Death: There's fewer deaths compared to other usually snarky Infocom games, but there's still a post-death comment about wondering if it was just a dream, but it's real because a creature is nibbling on one of the random body parts.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Professor is attempting to summon a dark creature for use in your being sacrificed for some "Elixir of Life"; but if you play the cards right and exit the pentagram, then he'll end up getting sacrificed by the very dark creature he has summoned.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The monsters are terrifying, but for all the Lovecraftian trappings it's more general horror than a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Mad Scientist: If you consider alchemy a science.
  • The Maze: Past the muddy tunnel, there's a series of Wet Tunnels. They're homogeneous with no room description, have invisible walls, and are asymmetric. It's a total of 12 rooms, although one object will guide you to the destination (but not the way out).
  • Mundane Utility: The disembodied hand is used to scare someone.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Of the soda type: you get a two-liter bottle of Coke from the fridge and save it for when you're becoming very tired and about to fall asleep on the job.
  • No Name Given: None of the in-game characters have names, not even the Featureless Protagonist. The feelies included name a few partners that you work with.
  • Oven Logic: The microwave heats up food in this fashion. There are four power settings on the microwave, providing one internal-temperature unit to anything inside it - that is, 20 turns on warm is identical to 5 turns on high.
  • Press X to Die: "Die", which implies the player character committed suicide after a disturbing scene but doesn't elaborate.
  • Shown Their Work: The G.U.E. tech is based on the M.I.T. Institute (the place where Dave Lebling and his team were working from the 1970s to the 1980s) and its real-life experiences and rooms inside and outside. More info can be found here.
  • Summoning Ritual: The professor has you enter a pentagram, and wait there, while he summons an entity that takes you away. The puzzle in that room is to escape, and you have exactly enough moves to perform the necessary steps.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The final monster you face is described in these terms.
  • Time Marches On: Much of the premise relies on 1980s computer networking technology, enough so that at times the game feels like a Period Piece.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The game falls under Tough on Zarf's scale. The first instance is overcooking food in the microwave, which is needed for the master key.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: There are quite a few examples in the game, like when you want to heat up the Chinese food for the hacker to eat ("set microwave to 5 minutes", "set timer to 5 minutes", "set microwave to 60 seconds", "turn on microwave", "program microwave", etc. don't work; the solution would be to "press 5", "press 0" x2, "press hi", and finally "press start"); or when you want to put the ladder down from the top of the dome (not "drop ladder to floor below", not "put ladder on floor", etc., but "lower the ladder").