Society of Curiosities – Winchester Mystery House: The Glasshouse Ghost [Hivemind Review]

Winchester Mystery House: The Glasshouse Ghost is a point-and-click game created by Society of Curiosities.

Interface played over zoom with the Winchester Mystery House Historical Records.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Web-based inventory system
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • Accessible for newbies
  • Fun for any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: about 60 minutes

Price: $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

This game has a web interface that allows viewing documents, sending text messages to an in-game character, and interacting with one prop.

While not an audio game, there were audio components, though transcripts of these were available.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Winchester Mystery House: The Glasshouse Ghost takes place in the legendary Winchester Mystery House, a 24,000-square-foot mansion in San Jose, California with a fascinating history and a reputation for being haunted. The game centers around peculiar happenings in the mansion and it is your job to learn the truth and appease the restless spirits! The story had depth and I really felt for the characters and their tragic past. The puzzles, though thematic, were not too challenging and we breezed through most of them. However, one puzzle required multiple hints, as the cluing was confusing and the feedback we received didn’t make sense. There were several features of the actual house sprinkled throughout the game, but some of the more well-known aspects were surprisingly left out. Play this game if you want a beginner-friendly ghost hunting experience, but true fans of the Winchester Mystery House will want something more.

Title card for Winchester Mystery House, The Glasshouse Ghost.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

There were many strengths to The Glasshouse Ghost. The story was intriguing; the interface was reasonably well designed. My critiques of the game are minor and not meant to dissuade folks from playing. I found the voiceover to be very professionally produced but tonally off. What was meant to be a creepy or unsettling moment would be jarred by a very upbeat vocal performance. I liked the overall story, but I wished that there had been even more ties back to the oddities of the house. There were some notes at the end about factual elements, but it would have been nice to see more of the eccentricities of this fascinating place included in the game. The puzzle elements were not overly challenging and would be well suited for beginner-intermediate level players. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and worth a playthrough.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + Clear goals, with good in-story reasons for them
  • – Voice acting is high quality, but is a bit too emotionally monotone
  • – Scaling setting on my monitor (125%) made graphics unaligned and unusable – resetting it to 100% scaling resolved the problem
  • – A red herring date plus a misbehaving parser led to minor confusion
  • + Polished and attractive graphical interface
  • + Puzzles are on the easier side, and with some hand-holding in the interface, appropriate for the 10+ age range it is targeting
  • + Provides text transcripts of audio segments
  • + Uses actual historical information as key parts of the game

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

The Glasshouse Ghost was designed in a distinctively Society of Curiosities style, though it was a notch more accessible than many of their other creations. I enjoyed playing it solo, and I’d recommend that enthusiasts play as no more than a duo.

The Winchester Mystery House is already a wondrous building, and The Glasshouse Ghost organically extended the hidden properties of the space in delightful ways. I love this approach to narrative: starting with a real building and real history and then imagining “what if everything were actually a puzzle?” Given this blurring of reality and fiction, I especially appreciated a post-game debrief document that explained which historical elements were real and which had been added for the game.

The game was presented through a cleanly designed web interface, beautifully produced drawings and documents, an automatically managed inventory system, and a chatbot. The puzzles were quite light overall and may not be to all players’ taste, but I found that they worked well in context as they prompted a range of novel interactions around the Winchester Mystery House space.

The chatbot was generally smooth, though its responses when it didn’t know how to respond weren’t up to the level I’ve come to expect from Society of Curiosities games. In these scenarios, a non-response of “***” felt impersonal, unhelpful, and mildly immersion-breaking. And there were a few cases where seemingly valid synonyms weren’t accepted. As Society of Curiosities has worked extensively on their chat AI, I hope these minor issues are symptomatic of The Glasshouse Ghost being recently released when I played, and I suspect the text responses will learn and improve over time.

The Glasshouse Ghost was a strong, beginner-friendly entry point to Society of Curiosities distinctive reality-blurring games. I look forward to seeing what other secrets The Winchester Mystery House has to offer in future games in this series.

Disclosure: Society of Curiosities provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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