vicrabb's Trilby's Notes Review
In terms of timeline, Trilby's Notes are relating events happening after 5 Days A Stranger, leading it to the second "chapter" of the Chzo Mythos Quadrilogy. But in terms of release, it's the third game, so, I recommend you to play it after 7 Days A Skeptic.
We're in 1997. Trilby has been haunted by the fear of seeing the one he named John DeFoe, the youngest child of Sir Roderick DeFoe, the one to have been jailed for fifteen years because his father was considering him as the responsible of his wife's death during childbirth..., well, Trilby was fearing that his murderous spirit was still alive.
Four years ago, our gentleman thief had escaped the DeFoe Manor after having destroyed the body of John DeFoe. The spirit wasn't letting five people out of the mansion and after having murdered two of them, the three others found a way to stop the nightmare.
DeFoe Manor still lingered in their hearts. All three were living with shadows, with fear, with no real hope to see the light again. Simone Taylor took the bottle and disappeared from TV, Jim Fowler was expelled from school for truancy and Trilby... Trilby was caught by the police. However, he was working for the government, in the Special Talent Project.
Trilby's fears were confirmed in 1997. Simone Taylor has been killed in a similar fashion as the murders in DeFoe Manor. And Trilby discovered that the idol containing John DeFoe's soul was retrieved from the ashes of DeFoe Manor. It was localised in the Claybornwyn Hotel, on a island, in the possession of Abed Chahal, a professor.
So, here is our hero, trying to get an hold on the idol. But there is much more than the young DeFoe's wrath... There is also another reality, a bloody one. And there is also the tale of the cursed wood of the idol... The shadows are coming back for Trilby. Will he survive it?
Trilby's Notes, as I've pointed it, is the third game in the Chzo Mythos Quadrilogy, after 5 Days A Stranger and 7 Days A Skeptic. It's always a game made by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, always with the AGS engine and still a free game you can download, even if a special edition was released... but you'll need five dollars for it.
The storyline connects the plots of the two previous games: 5DAS was telling the destruction of DeFoe's body and 7DAS the destruction of his soul. But Trilby's Notes isn't about the destruction of his mind. It's only telling the story of the wood in which the idol was carved, and connected to it, the Tall Man's story and the why he's appearing every the 28th July when the wood is used for something. You can even control characters from the past in the events involving the wood, like Matthew DeFoe the night of his death for example. You have to touch an object connected to the events for living them. For Matthew, his painting wasn't destroyed in the fire, so, you can find it in the hotel and live what happened in 1821 and what will somewhere leads to the events in 5DAS.
It's only telling how Trilby has come to send in space the idol, recovered nearly 400 years later by the Mephistopheles in 7DAS. It's also the game that introduced Chzo, a little late, probably because Yahtzee didn't think that 5DAS and 7DAS would have been huge success and that the fanbase would have asked another Trilby's game at that time. Anyway, it's a deeper universe that Yahtzee has created.
The gameplay has been changed. It's not anymore a point-&-click game, it's a typing command game. I'm explaining it. Players take control of Tribly or when it's a flashback, of the character about whom the flashback is (Matthew DeFoe, Mbouta, Jack Frehorn, Owen Somerset and Boyle). For walking, you have to press your cursors keys. For making Tribly stop to move, press again the cursors keys.
It's somewhat very frustrating to use this gameplay for moving because you're used to always press the key for moving when playing games. And sometimes, it's hard to stop at the right place because you're just pressing the wrong button. Even after having played a third time the game, I still wasn't used to it.
For interacting with the environment, looking objects or talking to people, you have to write the command. For example, for getting pliers, write "get pliers". If you want to use them on nails, write "use pliers on nails". So, here we are for my big complaint. I'm not an English-native speaker. So, you can understand that the right word isn't coming naturally. I know that a lot of non-English speakers are avoiding games that aren't in their language, I mean, I understand it, I'm also used to play games in my language. But I also know that I love to play also in English. So, you can understand that a game where I have to tape isn't really the kind of games I love to play and that I prefer a point-&-click one. That's why I'm thanking the guys who wrote the guide for this game because I would never have survived it.
Anyway, after this first point about the typing gameplay, if you remember correctly my 7DAS review (and also a Ben Jordan one), you know that I play with an AZERTY keyboard and not a QWERTY one. Having a typing game with an engine running only in QWERTY isn't really the great thing. If the first commands didn't need me to check my keyboard (knock on door, open blind, look body), when you have to write "ask abed about DeFoe Manor" or "look wall", you can understand that I need to check my keyboard for getting the right command. I need to write "qsk qbed qbout defoe ,qnor" or "look zqll".
That's why I'm very disappointed by Trilby's Notes. The gameplay isn't suiting to AZERTY keyboards and to non-English speakers (reading is something, writing is another thing). I know that the game is structured as a "book", after all, Trilby is telling what happened in the hotel and is writing it for the STP. So it's normal to have a gameplay with typing. Unfortunately, it wasn't the good idea, it's only reducing the audience to a "selected" audience, the one who can understand English and write it without problem and having a QWERTY keyboard. I know that I can change my AZERTY to a QWERTY with a manipulation but hey, do you really think that I'll do for a game?
As for the graphics, they have improved. Light effects are more present and are really good, the alternate hotel is really bright and bloody, very scaring in a sense, flashbacks are only in white and black, only blood isn't in these colors, making the scene more dramatic with this only touch of red and well, the normal hotel is very... red. Yet, it's reassuring but somewhere, it's a little too much. Anyway, of all the Chzo Mythos games, I find Trilby's Notes the most beautiful.
For the soundtrack, it's always the same: you can hear your own walk but you don't have music playing during all the time, only during important moments. And as for the previous games, the music is pleasant to hear, so, I'm content with what Yahtzee did.
There are also some connections to previous games. As I've said, it's connecting the events of 5DAS and 7DAS. But it's not about that I want to speak. In Trilby's Notes, you'll find some connections to 5DAS: Simone's death, Matthew's painting, some objects from the manor. But also to 7DAS: Abed Chahal is carrying the same name as the captain of the ship, Barry Chahal. The two of them share similar facial features. Perhaps Abed was Barry's ancestor like William Taylor from 7DAS was a confirmed descendant of Simone Taylor (Yahtzee said it). Also, Owen Somerset, one of the characters you control, shares the same name as "Jonathan" Somerset, the hero of 7DAS (even if he's an impostor, he's still belonging to Somerset family).
Anyway, the replay value can be high because you can miss some dialog or some easter eggs, so, it's with pleasure you'll play it again... if you're equipped with a QWERTY keyboard. Otherwise, you'll be so frustrated that you will not wish to play it again. In terms of lifetime, it can take hours to finish it, some actions not really obvious.
Trilby's Notes is a game that... I recommend despite the gameplay because it's giving a new meaning to 5DAS and 7DAS. The storyline is strong enough for making a new universe, the graphics are worthy and the soundtrack is good. If you're not afraid of a QWERTY game if you're an AZERTY user, it will be a good experience. I enjoyed the game most for the universe, the graphics and soundtrack. But unfortunately, the gameplay played a lot in the final note of 6/10.
You've survived DeFoe Manor and the Mephistopheles, you can survive a reality shift, flashbacks.. and the Tall Man, who is not someone who spares easily his preys.