Release: 2003, Freeware
Created by: Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Next in the series: 7 Days a Skeptic
Homepage: Link opens in a new window
Description: A nameless cat-burglar thinks he's in for a smooth get in-take all job in an abandoned mansion when the window suddenly locks behind him. He soon realises he's locked in with 4 others - who one by one starts to show up dead.
Before becoming well-known for his game review series on The Escapist Magazine, Zero Punctuation, Ben Croshaw aka. Yahtzee was best known for creating freeware video game titles and releasing them on his homepage, Fully Ramblomatic. Arguably his most popular games were the "Chzo Mythos" games, a series of lovecraft-esque horror adventure games, mostly centered around the concepts of helplessness and seclusion. 5 Days a Stranger is the first in the series, sharing it's gameplay and graphics engine with the adventure games of the early 1990's released by Sierra and Lucas Arts.
5 Days is one of those horror stories that by-passes limitations with it's creepy atmosphere and keeps your attention with a well-written mystery. The murderer could be anyone, and the eerie sense of looming danger that the seemingly harmless mansion manages to create is something that should be taken note of by any aspiring horror writer. What exactly is going on, and why everything is happening the way it is turns out to be more complicated than it seems to be initially and in spite of the low resolution graphics, your suspension of disbelief will kick in quite quickly. This isn't a game that abuses the jump scare tactic like most modern works, in fact I'd argue that there really is only one and that one is set up so well that critics of the technique won't have anything to complain about.
Of course the game does have it's shortcomings, though they are few and far inbetween. The most obvious one would be the lack of voice acting, though I would argue that the silence the game has throughout most of it (There is little to no music in this game outside of events or the title screen) manages to emerge you in the seclusion, your footsteps on the floor being one of the only sounds when you make your way through the mansion. I simply cannot recommend this game enough, if you feel you have trouble with the low-resolution graphics I strongly suggest giving it a try and playing through it anyway. It will give you the same feeling as a novel would give - the writing is certainly just as good. I'm sure you will have chills down your spine as you explore the dark history of the old house and it's surroundings.
As I mentioned, 5 Days a Stranger is a freeware title, meaning the original creator has made the game for free use by anyone who want to. Therefore you can get your fingers on the title RIGHT HERE.
And sweet dreams.