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The Charnel House Trilogy Review

The Charnel House Trilogy

Release: April 16, 2015
Publisher: Mastertronic
Developer: Owl Cave
Genre: Adventure, Indie, Retro


Rent it About Rating
6.0 - Gameplay
6.0 - Video
7.0 - Audio

The Charnel House Trilogy Review

Death, loss, fear, and hatred are all emotions that surround the dark and unforgiving world portrayed in The Charnel House Trilogy. A 2D point and click adventure with a retro look, Charnel House has the charm of a small developer’s game, but the ambition of something much larger. Very quickly into launching the game, you become enveloped in the world it offers, dying to know more information that then increasingly vague answers given to you. This 3-part story published by indie game company Owl Cave is short, but sweet and wastes no time easing you into anything. Managing a powerful atmosphere and some truly scary moments in a simplistic art style and short playtime, Charnel House is a game not to be missed.

All Aboard the Train

Spanning three chapters (Inhale, Sepulchre, and Exhale) our story starts off in the apartment of newly jilted and listless young woman named Alex Davenport. Alex, through player interaction tells us of her recent break-up, her caring neighbor, her difficult relationship with her mother, and her struggle with asthma all within just a few minutes. The dialogue used in The Charnel House Trilogy is smooth and intricately placed so the story can be told without feeling too forced. Alex grabs train tickets to head to the ominous island Augur Peak where she is to meet up with a friend and start anew, on her way to the train she meets a fellow passenger and offers to give him her copy of a book called ‘Charnel House Burial’ by Louis Cassell, which he politely accepts.


This other passenger is a sweet but quiet archeologist named Dr. Harold Lang, headed for Augur Peak to lead an expedition with Alex’s friend. The two never quite realize they are destined to meet until being informed of each other’s presence by other train staff and never have a chance to speak. Dr. Lang and Alex wake separately in their train cars and begin to explore the locomotive, named Old Gloria. They each discover odd passengers, hallucinate those from their life, and have different experiences with the train’s seemingly only two workers: a Ticketmaster named Dom and a bartender named Floyd.  

Telling the Story

A pixelated 2D side-scroller with some point-and-click adventure aspects, Charnel House leads players through a story not filled with puzzles or challenges. It is clear the player is meant to simply go along fo the ride and be able to focus solely on the dense, intricate, and beautiful symbolisms and themes featured in the story. Charnel House is a short, but very well-thought out game that offers players some ideas to think on after the credits have rolled.

As the player guides Alex and Dr. Lang through the mystery train, more secrets about the pair’s lives come unraveled, with each needing to address their many skeletons. It soon becomes clear that the passengers and staff of the train are not what they had seemed, and through dark and in some cases dangerous encounters they start to learn more about the presences around them. The Charnel House Tribology, now available on Steam is a beautiful and creative game that evokes emotional reaction. 



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