The Haunted Palace: We Shall Leave This Evil House Together   11 comments

Cover to the manual.

The manual kicks off with Lord Stuart’s diaries.

Curiously, this game gives no year. Based on other factors I’m guessing early 19th century, and it does give the date the body is first found: Wednesday, November 27. I will hence assume 1839 (where that date fell on a Wednesday) which also happen to be when Edgar Allan Poe was publishing.

In the morning, the butler Charles had found the a body charred in the furnace; Elizabeth had already (allegedly) left for Boston when all this occurred.

A search of the house reveals a mysterious “blue scarf” that is beneath Lord Stuart’s night clothes; the body is never identified. By December Lord Stuart starts to hear footsteps and scratching. The family cat, Herman, goes missing.

On December 13, Lord Stuart writes:

1:00 P.M. Today, in the old library, I made quite a find. In the old house plan there are quite a few rooms in the palace that were apparently sealed up when it went through reconstruction 60 years ago after the fire. I remember Edgar, my grandfather, was quite a miser. Perhaps, there is some of the old family wealth hidden in one of the old rooms. After the servants are asleep, I think I will do a little treasure hunting myself tonight.

There’s some other fragments of interest; he knows that his steward Michael has been skimming off his cash; Sybil (the steward’s wife and another playable character) never liked Elizabeth and seemed pleased when she left. The Lordship’s inheritence is going to Elizabeth and his butler (for his long servce); nothing is going to Michael or Sybil.

There’s literal fragments mentioned later in the manual, as “scraps of paper found in the trash bin by the furnace”.

… and my lord I mean to inquire about your maids daily purchase of 30 lbs of raw entrails. It is beyond my comprehension how you … the Butcher

… your Butler Charles has been seen boasting in the pubs that he has newly come into a great sum of money … paying in gold coins and raising quite a riot in the city …

… would like your help and cooperation in this matter. Seven of the townspeople have disappeared in the last month and were last seen in the vicinity …

… saw your wife Elizabeth just recently in the company of …

There’s a letter from Lord Stuart to Elizabeth, which seems to be written close to the start of the game; he mentions how most of the staff has left, how “at night the house seems alive”, that the family cat somehow still is crying at “the North Wing upstairs”, and that

When it is all over I shall send for you and we shall leave this evil house together to start a new life somewhere near London. I count the days until we shall be together again and the curse that seems to have fallen on this house is lifted.

There’s a schedule of the maid, Mary, showing when candles are lit, when breakfast is prepared, when things are cleaned, when candles are snuffed. Curiously, “Search for Herman” (the cat) is explicitly listed at 8 AM.

Courtesy of the head steward, there’s a complete (?) listing of rooms at Stuart Palace. There are a full 12 floors, all the way from a torture chamber at the bottom and “Guard Dining” at top. There’s also a listing of “objects” immediately after.

Based on the voting, Frederick the gardener narrowly won over the butler. People seemed to think the butler did the killing. Given the supernatural elements, it is faintly possible that the player could be unawares that they committed some horrible crime. If you’re actually thinking the butler is the full instigator, when he’s a playable character, that would be unique indeed. I’m not sure how that’d even work game-design wise, since every character starts the same way (outside the Palace, then you go in and start investigating, with no more info than what was given above) and with the same goal (solving the mystery).

In his youth, Frederick was distinguished as a war hero. His knowledge of weapons and arms is extraordinary. He is of moderate physical strength and intelligence. His [sic] of the Palace is fairly limited. He is 44 years old and is missing his left arm.

The stats are

LUCK: 25

RICHES, ARMOR, and WEAPONS all start at zero. If the manual isn’t lying, then our character will have some skill multiplier when they get a weapon.

Dexterity is moderate, not terrible (maybe it would have been higher but, well, left arm; our hero is still clearly athletic). The wisdom and intuition are trash compared to Sybil’s (she gets 101 and 102). The manual hints at hidden passages and the like and I’m guessing we’ll just have to find them ourselves rather than have our character pipe up for us.

We start with a HAMMER. This works as a weapon (if we USE WEAPON it gets wielded, and you’ll see a combat a little bit later). The Lord of the House incidentally starts with a KEY, the Butler has some MATCHES, Michael starts with a BOOK, the Maid has a KNIFE and Sybil has … TUPPERWARE. (Given she has the power of divination, perhaps it’s the best start of all; you need to carry some holy water you find, maybe?)

Let’s concentrate on the first floor. Unfortunately the map is confusing enough I haven’t quite gone through everything yet.

This is designed sort of a hybrid between a typical 3D-map dungeon crawler game and a regular adventure game. Sometimes objects and rooms are repeated, but there are enough unique elements you have to map everything carefully. The only way to proceed is for each spot on the map to look all four directions; that is, press N L E L S L W L (turn and look) as sometimes things are only visible from certain angles. Additionally, you can’t fully trust the graphics you see. This is especially true of the passages and hallways; for whatever curious reason the game has many ways to render a “wall”.

I had to simply shut off the Wizardry portion of my brain which reflexively wanted to map using the distance to walls on-screen. It just isn’t dependable enough to figure out. Rooms are a little more consistent; here’s three views of a leather-working room (notice how all the views show different items).

Sometimes the objects are just scenery (like the table), sometimes they can be interacted with (like the chest).

Some rooms have a “clue”. In one case this was clearly a “note”; in other cases I’m not sure where the clue comes from at all. Hearing things in your head? The Palace whispering its secrets?







Virginia is Lord Stuart’s first wife, who allegedly committed suicide 10 years ago. I’m wondering if we’re playing a higher-attenuated character if we’ll get more clues, or maybe some of the clues on different levels will be harder to hear without a higher intuition.

One last thing to mention, although I implied it last time: the game has combat.

The ghoul is text-only. I also ran into some maggots in a hall that did actually display, so it seems to vary based on the enemy.

It is possible to run away, but since I had the hammer with me, I decided to engage.

I managed to score a hit of 126 (I assume 201+ would mean I won) but was slain by a hit back.

Note the “did you learn enough” message here — just like many of the other Crystalware games, this one had a contest with it; $500 for the first to send a correct entry form:

Play the game and explore the mansion until he or she feels they have solved the mystery. It is not necessary to win the game to enter the contest.

The fact it mentions winning the game means there is a way to also win. This matches with Fall of the House of Usher, where you can get information to work out the resolution to the mystery. Incidentally, the House of Usher also has a Virginia and an Elizabeth. I don’t know if this is intended to be sort of a remake, but this does have more characters, so this might have a slightly more complicated plot.

Posted May 19, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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11 responses to “The Haunted Palace: We Shall Leave This Evil House Together

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  1. No comment on the weirdly semitic font (and the accompanying gruesome image) used on the cover art?

    • It spoke for itself

      There’s an “inside cover” which is weirdly pastoral but I will put that up on a later post

      • Having looked at the booklet on Mocagh, it does seem to give the impression that the artwork has just been grabbed from various other sources.

        (This one seems to have missed being included on CASA… presumably a decision was made in the past that it didn’t quite meet the criteria.)

      • btw, Deathmaze 5000 and Labyrinth (Med Systems) aren’t on there either, even though the two Asylum games are

        This game is obscure and only-preserved-recently enough that I could see it just being missed, rules or not; I think Inferno from 1981 (which I know you added after I posted) was dumped roughly the same time

        The other Crystalware game that probably uses the same engine is Glamis Castle, but it isn’t preserved anywhere so I can’t check. (Howard Feldman has a copy for Atari but hasn’t been able to extract it yet.)

    • I’m surprised someone noticed that. Seems subtle enough to me that it just reads as a subtly spooky font.

  2. The presence of Tupperware suggests the game is set in the 1940s or later (when Tupperware was invented), but perhaps that’s just an anachronistic error by the developers.

  3. I like how someone went to the trouble of counting the books, the gold and the matches, yet it’s basically “some coal”, and “some food stuffs, maybe more than one, maybe just one, you’ll have to grok that on your own”.

    And ah, nothing like some early adventure game combat to get the blood pressure up. I wish you luck there.

  4. quick note just in case anyone was still wanting to take Voltgloss’s suggestion and try a different character:

    USE WISDOM and USE INTUITION are both valid commands and will “check the area” (this doesn’t work with any of the other stats)

  5. Really interesting game sor far. Alone in the Dark – Pilot Episode ! vibes.

    People using adventure game engines to do RPG are like people using RPGMaker to make wargames – you may be the best designer in the world, it is going to be clunky.

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