William S. Burroughs, like Christopher Walken, has one of those voices that casts anything he reads in a new light. No matter who the author, if Burroughs reads it, the text sounds like one more missive from the Interzone. In 1995, Burroughs took on the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, reading “The Masque of the Red Death” and the poem Annabel Lee for a little known PC game called The Dark Eye.
Ignored during its release, the game has since gained cult status, and playthroughs can be found on YouTube (see below). Similar in style to Myst, players point and clicked their way through three narratives based on Poe stories, with little interaction. In the end it was more about mood and design, and the creep of Burroughs’ drawl. (He also voiced the old man character in the game.)
Accompanying Burroughs’ reading was a slideshow that popped up in the middle of the game, with art directed (and possibly drawn) by Bruce Heavin, best known these days as the co-founder of Lynda.com. Thomas Dolby composed the gloomy soundtrack. The Dark Eye was the second game from Inscape, which debuted with the equally ambitious Bad Day on the Midway, a game featuring weird music giants The Residents. Two years after The Dark Eye, the sort of CD-ROM games the company made fell behind due to advances in technology, and the fall of the house of Inscape came inevitably in 1997.
The Internet continues to excavate what’s left of these boundary pushing games, and for those who want an audio version of “Masque”, an mp3 can be enjoyed here.
via WFMU blog
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.