Anchorhead is a rare achievement in interactive fiction, a well-designed puzzle-rich game that nonetheless leaves you mostly remembering the story.
Michael Gentry's game is based on the locations and ideas of H. P. Lovecraft, but the result has its own unique vision and integrity.
There is a foreboding, beautifully-realized setting, in which
townspeople go about their business, weather changes, and secret, horrible things are found. There is the character of your husband, whose behavior becomes harder and harder to explain. There are numerous research and exploration puzzles, pitched at just the right difficulty level to keep you making progress.
The opening phases of the game are almost leisurely, as you explore on your own time. But days pass as you solve the major puzzles, the dangers become clearer and more pressing, the pace picks up, and the final stages become a desperate struggle to hold on to life, sanity, and family.
Anchorhead also offers -- along with the superb pacing, writing, and design -- the kind of immersive effect that comes only from many hours of engaging game-play. Walkthroughs are readily available and may be tempting, especially when the difficulty ramps up towards the end of the game, but it's worth playing without one for as long as you can. This is a nightmare you'll be sorry to wake from.
N.B.: Anchorhead was built using the Z-machine, an interactive fiction engine originally created by Infocom. To play the game, you need to install a Z-machine interpreter on your machine, and download the game file. We link to Z-machine interpreters for PC, Mac, and Linux above--you can probably find them for other devices, too.