Jimmy Maher mentions in the comments to my last post that “If nothing else, Mystery Mansion is very important for being the first non-fantasy IF.”
The genre is specifically a blend of mystery and horror and fantasy, and it’s rather confusing how they relate:
The “Fantasy” Part
There’s a maze with a dwarf found either by wandering in the woods or by going down a “dark pit” in the basement of the mansion. There’s also a garden with “witching wells” and magic words that teleport the player. There’s two talismans (although I haven’t figured out what they do yet).
The “Horror” Part
There’s a vampire you run into from falling down some floorboards, and a werewolf. There’s a weirdly oppressive atmosphere, including a “haunted hallway” and random screaming and various rooms are dark unless a curtain is opened but sometimes the curtain can close itself again (?).
The “Mystery” Part
Overall, Mystery Mansion is kind of like Clue. You gather information from a message on a wall:
THERE ARE MANY BONES SCATTERED ABOUT, SOME OF WHICH LOOK HUMAN. THERE IS A MESSAGE WRITTEN IN BLOOD ON ONE WALL THAT SAYS THE MURDER WAS COMMITTED WITH THE CLUB
and questioning suspects.
YOUR QUESTION IS ANSWERED WITH A HESITANT:
I THINK THE MURDER WAS COMMITTED IN THE BELL TOWER
Once you have the murderer, the weapon, and the location of the murder identified, an in-game note explains–
THE NOTE SAYS: IF YOU HAVE THE MURDER WEAPON AND CAN GET THE MURDERER TO RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME WITH YOU, YOU WILL SCORE POINTS
SIGNED: A FRIEND
I think now (although the game is too confusing to entirely know) that a corpse is around before you get to the house (which makes sense) but beyond that I’m a little puzzled. At one point the curtain closed on a room with a corpse causing the lights to go out, and when I reopened the curtain the corpse was gone: what was going on there? Why is there screaming at random points — are people discovering the body? Why are sometimes the weapons where they normally are and sometimes not? Why do characters sometimes follow me?