JACK IN THE DARK / Infogrames / PC
 
 
 
 
This little promotional freeware game was released in advance of Alone In The Dark 2 as a replacement for the standard playable demo of the time. I never encountered it in the wild back in the day, but apparently it was mailed out to those who took the time to register their copies of the first game.

It stars Grace Saunders, the little damsel-in-distress of AITD 2. In this one, she's out trick-or-treating on Halloween when she (for whatever reason) decides to knock on the door of a closed toy store. In Stauf Manor style, the door opens on its own then shuts her in. While at first you're just confined to the storefront and concerned with escape, you'll eventually open up passage to the stockroom in the back and find out Santa has been cruelly caged up there as well.
 


Unlike the mainline AITD games, there's no fighting whatsoever. It would be a major disappointment if demonic toys DIDN'T attack at some point, however. So the way this works is that the toys politely refrain from attacking until you've found the object you need to defeat them. This makes the whole thing quite easy and obvious, though there are a couple of tricky bits in getting the positioning right to fend off an attacking toy that might prove to be confusing. Fortunately, Grace is a surprisingly durable thing -- she can take 20 hits before she ends up in the cage with Santa, and you also quickly unlock some sweets which can be eaten to replenish health.

Given all that, and the fact that there is a book behind the counter that basically spells out how to solve every puzzle, this really only meets the most basic technical requirements to be called a "game." It's more of a tech demo meant to be blown through in 15-20 minutes as it shows off the then-impressive graphics, as well as establishing reciprocity with potential buyers. It is neat and atypical in that it's a full self-contained original game with original environments and characters rather than the usual demo just giving you a playable chunk of the opening area, and it's also the only game I can think off offhand that somehow manages to mash up Halloween and Christmas!
 
 
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