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Video Game / The 7th Guest

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"Old Man Stauf built a house, and filled it with his toys
Six guests were invited one night, their screams the only noise
Blood inside the library, blood right up the hall
Dripping down the attic stairs — hey guests, try not to fall
Nobody came out that night, not one was ever seen
But Old Man Stauf is waiting there — crazy, sick, AND MEAN!"
— Children's rhyme heard around the town of Harley, New York

The story of the 1993 horror-themed puzzle-adventure game The 7th Guest begins during the Great Depression: wandering drifter and thief Henry Stauf kills an old woman on her way home from choir practice, sinking to a new low even for him. That same night, he has a dream about a beautiful doll, a replica of which he carves the next day and offers to a local barkeep in exchange for room and board. Stauf continues to make dolls and other toys based on his visions; when they become a high-demand item, Stauf becomes a very wealthy man.

Then, at the height of Stauf's success, a mysterious illness soon kills many of the children who own his toys. Stauf builds a remote mansion based on another dream, near the town of Harley (also called Harley-on-Hudson), New York, then moves into it and retires from society for good. The years pass on, and when nobody knows for sure if Stauf is still alive, he invites six guests to his mansion for a dinner party. The invitation promises to grant the wishes of whoever solves all of his mansion's puzzles. But the puzzles themselves are little more than a means to an end—clues to what Stauf wants and what he wants the guests to do for him.

The player controls an unremarkable amnesiac who wakes up in Stauf's mansion, which is the setting for the entire game, and tries to figure out how he ended up there. As this character wanders the mansion and solves logic puzzles (some of them suspiciously illogical) to advance the story, Stauf becomes an ever-present menace by taunting the amnesiac with clues and expressing displeasure when a puzzle gets solved.

The 7th Guest was one of the first games to make use of CD-ROM technology, which gave it a reputation as a technical marvel for its day. Critics and fans considered the prerendered CGI graphics and Live Action Cutscenes as state-of-the-art technology for a videogame; computer manufacturers frequently used the game to show off the capabilities of a CD-ROM drive. 7th Guest has a fairly complex plot sitting underneath all the technical wizardy and its non-linear gameplay, but without a FAQ of some kind that details how to trigger events in a logical progression, the average player could believe the game doesn't have much of a plot at all. The game offers a hint book in the library of the house that offers clues on how to solve the game's next puzzle. When it is used for a third time, it completes the puzzle for the player so they can continue the game. (The game's manual says "consequences" could occur for using the hint book, but a player can use it without penalty for all but the last puzzle.)

The 7th Guest was successful enough to receive a sequel in 1995. The 11th Hour takes place sixty years after the events of its predecessor and follows the story of reporter Carl Denning, who visits Stauf Manor to look for his lost producer and soon becomes another victim of Stauf's wicked schemes. 11th Hour plays exactly the same—wander the mansion, solve puzzles, and watch scenes that advance the plot—but features multiple endings as opposed to the first game's sole ending.

Another planned sequel, The Collector—which would have featured Stauf as a museum curator—vanished when developer Trilobyte went out of business. Before Trilobyte closed its doors, it published a Gaiden Game to the series, Uncle Henry's Playhouse, that compiled puzzles from The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour, and spiritual sequel Clandestiny. That game was sold only through mail-order; it sold only twenty-seven copies in the US and 176 total copies worldwide.

Fifteen years after the original game's release, Trilobyte Games rose from the grave and ported both 7th Guest and Rob Landeros' Interactive Movie-meets-Psychoanalysis Session Tender Loving Care to the Apple iOS. After solving the problems with porting to newer hardware, The 11th Hour also became available for purchase. A remastered version of the game was released for the Switch on April 7.

In March 2013, Trilobyte co-founder Charlie McHenry announced a new sequel and plans to release it across multiple platforms in 2014. In an attempt to secure funding for the sequel (titled The 7th Guest 3: The Collector), Trilobyte kicked off a Kickstarter project on Halloween 2013, but the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.

A paperback novelization of the original game's backstory was shipped with the 7th Guest CD; it is now available on Amazon Kindle.

In the summer of 2015, Trilobyte once again announced a new sequel, The 13th Doll. This game was originally a fan creation by Attic Door Productions; they have now partnered with the original Trilobyte team to make it an official sequel. Tad never recovered from his experiences in Stauf's manor; as an adult, he remains confined to a mental institution. His new doctor thinks he needs to return to the manor to confront his demons once and for all. But the doctor doesn't realize just how real those demons are.... The game was released on Steam on Halloween 2019.

In 2023, Vertigo Games announced a remake of the game for the PlayStation VR 2 and Meta Quest which substantially changes the puzzles and objective, with the player character being introduced rowing towards the house and seemingly guided by one of the ghost children inside. Watch the trailer here.

The 7th Guest and its sequels provides examples of:

  • Accent On The Wrong Syllable: Ego oddly misemphasizes words sometimes, most commonly "Which way do I go now?"
  • Alien Geometries:
    • The Art Gallery is completely isolated from the rest of the house, to the point that Ego effectively warps to get there. Edward Knox and Martine Burden (per the novel), including Carl navigates a hidden passage in the grandfather clock to reach the same room, but the latter leaves through the same painting that Ego used.
    • The whole house is this. Compare the floor plans for each floor to each other, and then to the outside of the house. And that's not counting all the weird shortcuts through walls, drains, etc. which logically shouldn't be able to fit a full-sized adult through them. Then again, since you're a ghost, maybe this isn't as impossible as it seems.
  • All There in the Manual: The game comes with a case book filled with newspaper articles and excerpts from other publications that outline the game's backstory.
  • Amnesiac Hero: The very first line the protagonist speaks in the first game says it all: he can't remember anything, including how he got there. He eventually figures out why he can't remember, though: it's Death Amnesia, and he's been stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop that only ends once he solves all the puzzles.
    Ego: How did I get here? I remember... nothing.
  • Anachronic Order: Ego can view the events of the past out of order, making it difficult to decipher the exact details of Stauf's get-together, especially since the characters are explicitly shown to be ghosts. The first cutscene you see is all of the guests arriving, but beyond that, solving the puzzles and seeing what happens next is all up to the player.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The hint book in the library is there in case you're having too much trouble solving a puzzle. Using it once gives a hint on how to solve the most recent puzzle you visited, using it a second time gives more detailed instructions, and using it a third time completes the puzzle for you. In all three cases, the book will then transport you right back to said puzzle so you don't have to walk all the way back. The hint book can be used on every puzzle in the game except the last one. And while the game's instruction manual warns players about consequences for using the hint book too often, the only downside to skipping a puzzle is that you also skip the cutscene that plays after completing it.
    • The microscope puzzle gained one of these as an Author's Saving Throw. The puzzle is a game of strategy against an enemy AI that runs on processor speed. Not a problem in 1993, but the AI opponent is all but unbeatable on computers even from the early 2000s. The first few Updated Rereleases gave you the option to skip this puzzle with the hint book, while later ports simply omit the Microscope puzzle entirely.invoked
  • Another Side, Another Story: In The 13th Doll, once Tad and his doctor arrive at Stauf's home, the player will decide which of the two will be the active character. Tad and the doctor have their own unique storylines and puzzles.
  • Arc Symbol: The House itself. Every time a puzzle (in the first game) resets or is completed, an outline of the Stauf Mansion appears and returns it to its original state. This is most likely to keep the original backgrounds intact.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The first clue to the microscope puzzle reads "This game can be infectious. If your blue blood cells are effective, they should outnumber my green viruses by mutation in the end." Most viruses are too small to be seen under a microscope, let alone as large as blood cells. Mutation also has nothing to do with the game; it is likely that they used the word 'mutation' to mean mitosis. However, this is still wrong, as viruses don't replicate via mitosis. All in all, the 'viruses' behave much more like bacteria than actual viruses.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The music accompanying the Train puzzle in 11th Hour is a rock combo of the first and second games' leitmotifs.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The rug with the map of the maze on it. The way Elinor clearly draws your attention to the maze on the rug when you first enter her room and the camera angle used to present it strongly implies that you are going to solve the maze right there. However, clicking on the rug will instead start the much more difficult Bishop puzzle.
    Stauf: Don't you just love surprises?
  • Balloon of Doom: The Monster Clown cut-scene in the game parlor with said clown asking an unknown party: "Want a balloon sonny? Here's a nice one..."
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The Heart Puzzle is based around this. Ironically though, the heart itself does not beat at all after you click on it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Stauf shows each of the six guests visions of what they wished for. Of course, being Stauf, he can't help showing how these wishes could go awry. This doesn't seem to faze four of his guests, who decide that the risks are worth it, and that the ends justify the means. The one guest who actually completes Stauf's "quest" asks for her wish (to be young again)...and gets melted by a puddle of acid that Stauf spits instead. Not exactly wish fulfillment there.
  • Berserk Board Barricade: Carl enters Stauf Manor, then finds the entrance boarded up behind him.
  • Blood Bath: In The 11th Hour, the bathroom contains this. With a skeleton still in it.
  • Book Ends:
    • The 7th Guest starts and ends with a book that Ego reads in the library.
    • The 11th Hour opens with Carl watching a report talking about Robin's disappearance. If the player selects the Robin ending, another television report closes out the game, covering Carl's death following their recent marriage, leaving everything to Robin...including the Stauf Broadcasting System.
  • Bookcase Passage: Or, rather, a plant passage, a bathtub drain passage, a weird warp-through-a-floor-panel-and-Stauf's-head get the picture. 11th Hour played it straighter, as Carl was shown walking through hidden passages inside the walls. There was even meant to be an actual bookcase passage in the first game's original script.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The CD-i version of 7th Guest changed the spiders on the front door's puzzle into worms for no discernible reason.
    • In the original script of the game, alternate "squeaky-clean Nintendo dialogue" is presented in brackets next to any lines that might be objectionable, just in case they had to do this to the end product (they didn't).
  • Canon Discontinuity: The ending of 7th Guest implies that Tad was able to Go into the Light thanks to the player; however, in the 13th Doll he's all grown up and somehow fled the mansion and got help at a mental hospital.
  • Chess Motifs: Several puzzles in both 7th Guest and 11th Hour utilize chess pieces, usually requiring the player to swap the white and black pieces' positions.
  • Claustrophobia: The basement labyrinth. If you've got a fear of small enclosed places, it borders on horror. Bonus terror comes from Stauf's commentary whenever you hit a dead end.
    Stauf: Feeling... lonely?
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In the Music Room in the 11th Hour, someone had etched "HELP ME!" into the front of the fireplace mantle.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • George "The Fat Man" Sanger, who wrote the soundtrack for the game, has a portrait of himself in the Art Gallery.
    • The Connect Four clone in The 11th Hour is played over a cake which is in the shape of a trilobite, a reference to Trilobyte. Stauf even lampshades this.
      Stauf: Now what the heck is a trilobite?
  • Creepy Cathedral: The hidden chapel on the second floor definitely counts as one. Dimly lit, gargoyles on the columns that come alive, a skeleton organ player, axes and swords on the walls....and it's accessed from Dutton's closet.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Temple might be a goofy looking stage magician, but he still has the strength to crack a man's skull against a stone casket, as seen when he saves Tad from Edward and Martine.
  • Dead All Along: In The 7th Guest, everyone's already dead by the time you arrive, from the party guests to Stauf himself. All you get to see are their ghosts. And, as you learn from the ending of the game, you were also dead the whole time.
  • Dead to Begin With: The entirety of 7th Guest takes place long after the depicted events have already occurred.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Definitely Stauf, seeing as how he's been trying to collect souls to gain immortality. When protagonist Ego breaks the "Groundhog Day" Loop he finds himself in Stauf also doesn't get the souls he needs, and he's Dragged Off to Hell.
    • Robin in The 11th Hour. By the time Carl finds her, she's already accepted Stauf's deal to have her own television network.
  • Defector from Decadence: Elinor and Temple resist Stauf and ultimately team up to help Tad and thwart Stauf, while all the other guests give in to Stauf's temptations.
  • Door to Before: The clue book in the library can teleport you back to the last puzzle that you visited after giving you a hint on how to solve it.
  • Death Amnesia: The player character is a ghost and none other than Tad as an adult. Ego only figures this out upon seeing the final cutscene, but by then, he's broken the manor's curse, allowing himself and Tad to escape.
  • Death by De-aging: As revealed in the novelization, Heine was not killed by the acid Stauf spewed and instead transported to her room to recieve her wish. The cutscene of her turning into a baby really happened and she continued to de-age until she became a fetus, as she never specified how young she wanted to be.
  • Developer's Foresight: Zig-zagged with the grate puzzle. From a story standpoint, placing the grate with the top half of the hole in the top-right position and leaving the empty space over the bottom-right position would technically allow Ego to pass through without properly solving the puzzle, but a set of retractable spikes will emerge from the floor to block your path. However, if you try the opposite configuration (placing the grate with the bottom half of the hole in the bottom-right position and leaving the empty space over the top-right position), nothing stops Ego from crawling through the hole, except the technicality of not solving the puzzle correctly.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Breaking the "Groundhog Day" Loop in the first game does this to Stauf. By solving all of Stauf's puzzles, Ego figures out that he's Tad and breaks free from the loop. As such, Stauf doesn't get the last soul he needs, the Deal with the Devil he made is broken, and his soul is claimed instead, being pulled down into a pit of flame.
  • The Dragon: Heine becomes one to Stauf in the first game. She's willing to help Stauf get what he wants for her heart's greatest desire. However, once he decides that Heine isn't needed anymore, Stauf dissolves her in acid.
  • Enfant Terrible: Marie in The 11th Hour, conceived from the rape of Eileen by the Genius Loci.
  • Event Flag: A rather annoying one separates the first and second halves of the game. After completing the initial available puzzles, the player needs to go to the library, unprompted, to watch a scene of all the houseguests talking amongst themselves, which will open the remaining rooms up to exploration.
  • Everytown, America: Harley-on-the-Hudson acts as a fundamental setting of the story. It is featured in greater depth in The 11th Hour through cutscenes, featuring amenities like a diner and motel.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Stauf and the Woman in White in The 13th Doll. The former is obviously evil and manipulates Richmond just like he did his guests in The 7th Guest, but the latter does look like a genuinely nice person to Tad until the final decision.
  • Fan Disservice: Both games contain rather uncomfortable sexual encounters: Martine and Edward in The 7th Guest, and Carl and Marie/Stauf in The 11th Hour. Carl and Robin can count, too, depending on how you feel about either character. The hint book for The 11th Hour included the complete script for the cut-scenes, including a love scene between Chuck and Marie that was partially censored in the final product.
  • Fan Sequel: As noted above, The 13th Doll started out as this, but is now an official licensed product.
  • Fate Worse than Death: While fun is different for everyone, being trapped in the strange mansion forever and having his soul occasionally chewed on by Stauf is probably not particularly fun for Tad/Ego.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Averted; while the player doesn't know anything about Ego until the very end, this is because of Ego's own amnesia. We learn that he's actually Tad as soon as he does.
  • 15 Puzzle: The infamous bedroom mirror. The grate puzzle in the first game also counts, but that one is significantly easier.
  • Full Motion Video: The first game is one of the earliest progenitors of it. The cast are all full-motion actors, rendered as ghosts in the various backgrounds that the player comes across.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Carl can still hear the rules of the final game from Samantha.
  • Genius Loci: Stauf Manor itself. "There are clues throughout this house as to what must be done. The house... is alive with clues."
  • Get Out!: Samantha tells Robin this three times when the latter tries to interrogate her about the Stauf Mansion. Robin responds at the last minute with, "It's been 20 years, Samantha. It's time you told the truth."
  • Ghost Amnesia: What Ego suffers from. He's the young boy named Tad, and he's been trapped in the Stauf manor until he breaks the curse.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: This is part of what brought Robin to Stauf Manor in The 11th Hour in the first place. It's also why she becomes The Dragon to Stauf: she wants her own TV network, and she's willing to make a Deal with the Devil to get it.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The whole reason for Stauf's game might have been to get one more soul in order to become something even worse than he already was.
  • Greasy Spoon: Robin's first stop in Harley-on-the-Hudson. While her choice of food doesn't fly there, the waitress, Eileen Wiley, is her first lead on the Stauf Mansion case, prompting Robin to drop by again a few times for more info.
  • The Great Depression: The whole reason Stauf makes a Deal with the Devil is because he's fallen on such hard times.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The story in 7th Guest eventually reveals that everything the player has seen has already happened in some form or another—no one is actually there, and Ego can't interact with any of the people. In the original version of events, Stauf got to Tad, but something prevented Stauf from completing his Deal with the Devil, and everyone—Stauf, Tad, and the six other guests—were then doomed to repeat the events of that fateful night. Tad's spirit was somehow split off into Ego; by solving the puzzles and reuniting with his actual self at the crucial moment, Ego changed the night's events, passed on to the afterlife, and doomed Stauf to Hell.
  • Guide Dang It!: All of the puzzles in the games are present just for their own sake, because Stauf developed puzzles in his job as a toymaker. You're not even given context for the majority of them; you need to consult the library book or Carl's GameBook to learn the rules you need to follow to solve them.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: COME BAAAAAACK! shouts Stauf as you quit the game.
  • Harmful to Minors: 7th Guest had several scenes of infants in dangerous situations, not to mention the backstory of a mysterious virus killing children who owned Stauf toys.
  • Hellhound: Once you get into the attic in the original game, a ghostly Cerberus traps you inside if you try to leave. Plus the door itself is boarded up for good measure.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hamilton Temple, although it turned out to be somewhat senseless.
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: After Carl pays Stauf to see what's behind the final door and sees Robin, she talks about how glad she is to see him, and then says that she loves him in a very restrained fashion.
  • Hide Your Children:
    • Inverted; Tad is in several cut scenes in the game, and he's eventually killed and eaten by Stauf.
    • Stauf makes toys that carry some kind of fatal virus, which in turn allows him to eat the souls of the infected children.
  • Hint System: The library book in the first game, Carl's GameBook in the sequel.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: How many of the characters die in the first game.
    • Brian Dutton ends up stabbed repeatedly by the dagger Stauf gave him.
    • Temple finds himself strangled by the Indian Wire Trick, courtesy of Julia.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Samantha's "tele-psychic" ability, complete with Rapid-Fire Typing almost every time she's on-screen.
  • How We Got Here: The cutscenes in 7th Guest gradually reveal what happened to the guests, while those in 11th Hour mainly revolve around showing Robin's investigation prior to Carl's arrival. Only a few cutscenes in the latter occur in the present time.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Stauf is all about this, but a moment in 11th Hour when the evil ghosts decide to kill dumb, hapless Chuck sticks out.
    Julia: How about... a Chuck roast?
    Stauf: A Chuck steak!
    Soup-Based Skull: Chuck 'im into the soup!
  • Identity Amnesia: Ego doesn't remember that he's Tad, thanks to Death Amnesia. He does figure it out as the story goes on, though.
  • Idiosyncratic Menu Labels: The quit function is titled "Exit This Reality".
  • I Love the Dead: A rather disturbing cutscene implies that Hamilton Temple is a necrophiliac.
  • Infinite Flashlight: The one Carl carries around.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The Stauf nursery rhyme paints him as mean, but not a guy who made a Deal with the Devil to become an Eldritch Abomination.
  • I Want My Mommy!: While in her guest room, Julia muses in the the mirror about wanting to be young again. The mirror shows her having become young again, but continues to grow younger as she cries out for her mommy. The last we see of her in this cutscene is her as a baby wailing and crawling away.
  • Kick the Dog: Julia Would Hurt a Child by bringing Tad to be sacrificed to Stauf. She ends up Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves by getting melted in acid.
  • Kill It with Fire: In The 11th Hour, Stauf Manor burns down in the best ending.
  • Klotski: The furniture puzzle in 11th Hour.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much all of the 7th Guest cast seem to have made a bet to see who could overact the most. As the man tasked with playing Stauf, classically trained actor Robert Hirschbeck likely won such a bet. He looks and sounds like he's having the time of his life with every single line.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Ego starts with memories of his origins repressed but remembers his English language skills just fine.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Used in The 11th Hour.
  • Late to the Tragedy: By the time you start The 7th Guest, all of the guests have already died, and it's way too late to save any of them. Well, sort of. Ego can save his previous self Tad from Stauf just before his soul would be sacrificed, which allows them to pass on to the afterlife.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Samantha is looking for Carl within Stauf Manor on her security cameras, it's represented by gameplay from The 7th Guest.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Woman in White in The 13th Doll.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: The ghosts.
  • Locked Doors: The game is built entirely around solving puzzles in order to unlock them.
  • Magical Security Cam: How Samantha is able to view the house on the inside, and she sometimes relays the feeds to the GameBook. It also must have a Magical Microphone, since when Carl tries talking to Robin through the GameBook, she can hear him where she is.
  • Meaningful Name: "Stauf" is an obvious play on "Faust".
  • Melting-Film Effect: In Martine's sole appearance in the 11th Hour, her body slowly turns monochrome with film lines, before disappearing altogether. Even the music turns distorted during this.
  • Metaphoric Metamorphosis: Edward is briefly turned into a foolish goat while succumbing to Martine's seduction.
  • Minigame Game: The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour feature puzzles scattered across the house, solving each one unlocks more rooms or a piece of the story.
  • Monster Clown: "Red ballooooooon!"
  • Multiple Endings: The 11th Hour has three endings; which one you see is dictated by a single choice Carl makes in the finale: Does he save Robin, Marie, or Samantha?
    • Ending #1: Carl saves Marie only because she claims to be willing to do whatever he wants. The two end up in bed together, and while they're having sex, Marie reveals that she and Stauf are one and the same. Oh, and that she's eating ribs—Carl's ribs, specifically.
    • Ending #2: Carl chooses to save Samantha. Touching the television screen she's displayed on teleports both of them out of the mansion, and they watch it burn together, ending Stauf forever.
    • Ending #3: Carl saves Robin, just like he set out to do. A few weeks later, Robin watches a report on Carl's death; the two of them got married after escaping the mansion, but Carl disappeared during their honeymoon, and his body washed up in a river days later. His death makes Robin the new president of the Stauf Broadcasting System.
    • The 13th Doll has five possible endings:
      • Richmond's Ending #1: Richmond kills Tad, and Stauf grants his wish for fame... but it turns out to be an illusion and Richmond ends up confined to the same mental institution where he worked.
      • Richmond's Ending #2: Richmond stabs Stauf, who is consumed by the souls of the kids he had imprisoned inside the dolls, and Richmond and Tad escape the mansion.
      • Tad's Ending #1: Tad stabs the 13th doll, destroying the Woman in White. He then tries to release the souls of the children imprisoned inside the other dolls, but is attacked by Richmond, who is controlled by Stauf.
      • Tad's Ending #2: Tad kills Richmond, then performs the ritual to release the souls of the imprisoned children... but the ritual was a lie invented by the Woman in White, and she manages to return to life while Tad's soul becomes imprisoned into the 13th doll.
      • Tad's Ending #3: Tad kills Richmond, but decides to throw himself into the attic window instead of completing the ritual, killing himself and preventing the Woman in White from returning.
  • Nasty Party: This is how Stauf lured the six adult victims into his manor house in 7th Guest.
  • No Ending: Carl must choose one of three doors at the end of The 11th Hour before the clock strikes twelve. Not choosing results in this, with the game just cutting to credits.
  • Novelization: A couple years after the game's release, the game's script-writer Matthew Costello wrote a novelization. Rather than be a direct word-for-word retelling of the game, though, the first dozen chapters delve into the lives and tragic backstories of the guests and of Stauf himself.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Once you solve the final puzzle of a chapter of 11th Hour, all of your collected cutscenes play back-to-back and include new footage to provide additional context to what you already saw before. Plus, once the game's finished, in the bonus section, clicking on the logo of the game plays the entire movie beginning to end.
  • One-Steve Limit: One of the little girls killed by Stauf's virus was named Samantha. 11th Hour features a second, adult Samantha who assists Carl on his mission to find Robin and who was also raped by the house like Eileen; she had the resulting pregnancy aborted, leaving her paralyzed.
  • Ontological Mystery
  • Ouija Board: The first game's main menu, known as "The Sphinx", complete with a Freemason-style divining glass as its cursor, and the traditional alphanumeric layout for saving and loading.
  • Pet the Dog: Edward, Martine, Julia, and someone implied to be Brian, still haunt the house in the second game, while Elinor and Temple are nowhere to be seen. It's implied that the latter two were spared because they didn't side with Stauf, allowing them to pass on.
  • The Plague: The fatal virus spread by Stauf's toys.
  • Player Nudge: In the 11th Hour, after a riddle is shown, Stauf's taunts sometimes change into subtle hints toward its solution.
  • Pungeon Master: Stauf.
  • Queens Puzzle: The "eight Queens" variation in the games room on the second floor, coupled with some way-too-frantic music.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: One of the riddles in The 11th Hour results in Carl being nearly run over by a toy train when the player zooms close enough to the tracks.
  • Rape as Backstory: Appears in The 11th Hour; Samantha and Eileen were assaulted by Stauf Manor itself.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Originally, the events of The 7th Guest were meant to play out as they happened. However, the limited technology of the day caused ghostly auras to appear around the chroma-keyed actors when the footage was inserted into the game. The dev team ran with it, altering the plot so that the scenes the player character witnesses firsthand are the ghostly afterimages of events that actually occurred several years in the past.
  • Reality-Changing Miniature: Moving the piano off the board in the Furniture Puzzle causes the real piano to vanish from the Music Room.
  • Recurring Riff: "The Game"; could be called a leitmotif if you consider it the Stauf Manor's theme song.
  • Recursive Canon: Several copies of The 7th Guest appear in 11th Hour; a T7G CD is even the solution to one of the fetch quests.
  • Red Herring: You really think that's Stauf's skeleton hanging out in the upstairs bathroom?
  • The Renfield: In The 11th Hour, it's revealed that the murders associated with the mansion are being committed by Chuck, a corrupt local businessman who was seduced by Marie into "feeding" the mansion innocent victims in exchange for business success and sexual favors. One possible interpretation of Robin's ending is that she's taken Chuck's place as the mansion's Renfield as part of her bargain with Stauf.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: Averted. In addition to the mobile ports, Trilobyte also released an interactive Book of Secrets app to help players through the trickier puzzles—and released it for free.
    • Played straight: The Microscope puzzle didn't make it into the port, but Trilobyte released it as a standalone app designed specifically for tablets—for an additional cost.
  • Scare Chord: There are two in The 7th Guest. One is a sting that accentuates some of the scarier moments in the game (e.g. hitting a dead end in the labyrinth). The other is composed right into the background music of the labyrinth: near the end of the minimalist and unsettling track, a violin solo starts playing, only to be interrupted by what sounds like someone pounding random keys on a piano. Possibly jarring the first time hearing it, but not so much subsequently since you know when it occurs.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: Martine seducing Edward; neither party benefits from the arrangement, unless you count Edward getting laid.
  • Schmuck Bait: Marie being a choice at the end of 11th Hour.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Inverted; Ego is freed from his circumstances only when the player beats the game properly.
  • Sequel Hook
    • At the end of the first game, when the camera pans out from the storybook to reveal, "The 7th Guest, Vol. I" at the bottom.
    • The only ending for Uncle Henry's Playhouse is a teaser for the unreleased "7th Guest III".
  • Series Continuity Error: All involving Stauf Manor. The first game clearly placed it by itself at the edge of a precipice. The 11th Hour manages to screw this up twice: the house is situated in a large field of grass up from a gated fence with some trees nearby in live action footage, while it's out in the middle of nowhere on a large dirt plain during the CG cutscenes. Perhaps the "house on a precipice" is meant to be metaphor that the developers liked better as box art, but it was also included in CG cutscenes in The 11th Hour for some reason.
    • In The 7th Guest, all of the backgrounds and shots of the house were pre-rendered CGI, with the actors performing in front of a green screen. This allowed them to make the outside of the house look however they wanted. In 11th Hour, though, because they filmed all the cutscenes movie-style, they used the actual Nunan House (the manor house that Stauf's mansion is based on) for the exterior shots.
    • More of a Retcon, but the toy room puzzle in 7th Guest implies that the house itself is already a ruin by the time of the first game. In the sequel, it's obviously intact.
    • On top of that, in the first game you can clearly see trees through the house's windows, even though none are present on the cliff.
  • Set Piece Puzzle: Every room in the house has one.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: In the first game, if the player clicks on Martine's bed, the player will hear the sound of her groaning and the bed creaking.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the top of the grand stairway, there is a painting that can be clicked on. A pair of hands press out, stretching the painting, much like Freddy Kruger does in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • The Monster Clown in the game parlor with a red balloon bears more than a passing conceptual resemblance to Pennywise.
    • In 11th Hour, one of Stauf's generic taunts is him doing a Darth Vader impression.
      Stauf: (Huff...huff... ) Even Obi-Wan can't help you with this one, Carl. (huff...huff...)
    • Another of his taunts in said game paraphrases the Scarecrow's song from The Wizard of Oz:
      Stauf: Dee dedee dedee dedee dee...if you only had a brain.
  • Significant Anagram: "Stauf" for "Faust", which is the solution to the train puzzle in the second game. Also, the Toy Block Puzzle, as well as most of the Fetch Quest clues in 11th Hour.
  • "Simon Says" Mini-Game: Playing several notes of "The Game" using the music room's piano.
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: Near the climax of 11th Hour, Carl loses the ability to save when Stauf cuts his connection with Samantha.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Starting with the Trope Namer (the soup cans puzzle in the pantry), 7th Guest lets you know as early as possible that the puzzles will be anywhere from difficult to mind-numbingly frustrating. The game lives up to this promise with several puzzles throughout the game, although which puzzles may be subjective. Thankfully, the eponymous puzzle can now be brute-forced with an anagram engine. Although every puzzle but one can be skipped with no ill consequences, the game wants you to think overusing the hint-book could mess up the game. But the only consequence is being unable to see the cutscene that plays after the puzzle you're on.
  • Sounding It Out: Ego will frequently comment on the status of any given puzzle, as a means of providing the player with a clue regarding the solution. For example:
    Two skulls and two stones... The rest is just icing.
  • Stage Magician: Hamilton Temple is this by trade, and he wants to know if real magic exists.
  • Take That!: In the Chapel in The 11th Hour, there's a bowl off to one side with a skeleton in it. Zooming in closer reveals a burned piece of paper with the word "MISSED" written on it, in the exact same font of the referenced game's title.
  • Title Drop: Hamilton Temple drops the title once he meets Tad. The notes Stauf left for the partygoers indicate that he actually invited seven guests, not six, and that the final guest had yet to arrive when the party started.
    Hamilton Temple: I know! I know who you are—you're the seventh guest!
  • Tomato Surprise: The first game ends with one. Ego is the young boy Tad, and the titular seventh guest. The reason he couldn't remember it is Ghost Amnesia.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Temple, particularly when discussing Rrrreal magic!
  • Tutorial Failure: Part of what made The 7th Guest so cryptically difficult at the time of its release is that none of the puzzles explain their rules when you find them, excepting perhaps a very vague taunt from Stauf. You need to attempt the puzzle blind once, and then check the hintbook in the library in order to learn your actual goal is. The 11th Hour lets you check your GameBook while in the puzzle to have Samantha explain the rules right away.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • The mirror puzzle in 11th Hour can (and will) start out unwinnable 50% of the time. The fact that it's a slider puzzle is already irritating enough to begin with.
    • Similarly, the Stauf Mansion picture puzzle on the second floor in 7th Guest can also start off unwinnable, and the only way to know for certain is to try and get all 9 pieces to be identical. Its tendency to crash the game either during the puzzle or shortly afterwards when playing from the optional Windows executable didn't help matters, either.
    • On more modern systems (ie. anything clocked faster than 66MHz or so), the microscope puzzle is impossible in the original game. This is because the computer's turn is calculated based on clockspeed. The faster your machine is, the more time it gets to pick out an ideal move. It will only make the best possible moves on faster systems as a result. Half of the AI games, including the Honeycomb game, which is a clone, also suffer from this in the second game. Fortunately this particular bug was addressed in the seperate handheld app.
  • Updated Re-release: The 7th Guest: 25th Anniversary Edition brings the game to proper widescreen, smoothes out several of the interstitial animations, offers subtitles for the voice acting, and the option to skip cutscenes.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Samantha in 11th Hour is always able to send relevant information to Carl's GameBook.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Martine Burden is the only guest whose fate we never see (unless the acid bath scene actually happened).
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Carl gets into Stauf Manor at 7 PM. He has until the clock strikes midnight to find Robin and escape.
  • Who Even Needs a Brain?: The ghost patient in Stauf's hidden Mad Scientist Laboratory.
  • Wicked Toymaker: Stauf earned a reputation as a toymaker, creating dolls from his strange dreams that serve as a means of killing several children. And it only goes downhill from there...
  • World of Ham: Everyone, but no one more than Stauf.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • If you pay attention, it's indicated this is why at the end of the final confrontation Stauf gets Stripped to the Bone and Dragged Off to Hell. Stauf made a deal with the infernal powers to collect the souls of a specific number of children, and was one soul short. By failing to collect Tad's soul at the last minute due to Ego's intervention, Stauf failed in his task and is immediately punished for it. Though the sequels suggest this was less than permanent.
    • Stauf turns Martine into a... distorted reptilian thingy... after she and Edward fail to capture Tad.
    • In The 11th Hour, Stauf kills his The Renfield Chuck, for accidentally killing the police chief instead of Robin, who was the person Stauf wanted dead.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: The first game starts out this way, with Ego reading an animated book that tells the story of Stauff's rise to fame and the construction of the mansion he moved into and that you explore. Ego's memories are dormant and he remembers nothing about his origins.

No one knows what happened next. There's no one left to say.
But if you should see Old Man Stauf, get on your knees and pray.

Alternative Title(s): The Eleventh Hour