Stray Souls is a horror story-HOG with an interesting story line and superb graphics and music to get you quaking in your boots. Although a bit on the short side, this adventure is exceptionally atmospheric. You play as newly wed Danielle whose husband, Sam, has been abducted and you embark on a frantic adventure to save him. You are immediately plunged into a sordid, creepy town where your husband apparently grew up and you will discover secrets from Sam's past as well untangle the mysteries of the present. All along as you get immersed in the plot you are admonished to hurry, hurry, as Sam is in danger of being murdered by his abductor. Everywhere is decay, crumbling staircases, broken windows, slimy looking cobblestones, the works.
An interesting and unique feature is a dollhouse from Sam's childhood and you will be gathering various dolls as you progress in the game. As you find each doll denizen of the little house and place him in the proper room, you will learn more about Sam's past, which includes an orphanage and a murderer. The hint mechanism is controlled by a knitted character who looks like a voodoo doll and when you press him he'll throw a miasmic green ball at a hidden object you can't find, revealing its hiding place.
As in all HOG games, you have to be an expert handyman and you'll be running around hither and yon gathering stuff and finding where to use it. All the objects make sense, a bucket of water to put out a fire, a crowbar to remove a boarded- up door, nails and a hammer to build a ladder, a thick metal pipe to keep a really awful guilotine -like door from skewering you and much more. In fact you are going to be frantically finding stuff and frantically trying to figure out where to use it and often you will have several activities going at once. You'll be visiting the same areas two or three times, the sparkling stars telling you that these are hidden object areas, and although it may annoy some players to back track in this way, it didn't bother me at all as the hidden object environments are seething with everything but the kitchen sink and you need sharp eyes to locate the needed tools.
Interspersed in the game are astonishing cut scenes that will suddenly confront you, practically making you jump right out of your computer chair as they flash before you without warning, accompanied by shrill eerie sounds. The surreal puzzle games are above average but not too hard and one towards the end is a marvelous RubeGoldberg- like creation very reminiscent of those in Ravenhearst.
Stray Souls excels in all three important areas: story, music and graphics. And if it seems to be short, it's better to be short and sweet than long and boring! Perhaps a bit sordid and scary for children, older HOG-adventure aficiandos will relish this plunge into a strange and creepy world. Highly recommended!