This story starts with me down at a car boot sale. This is something I did every other Sunday morning, as I would sometimes purchase some very interesting stuff at very cheap prices. My attention is usually drawn to old video games since you can buy some real classics at a very cheap price. So, as I walked around the car boot sale, I came across a stall that sold a selection of video games. I rummaged through the games to see what I could find.
Eventually, I came across a blank C.D. Well I say it was blank, but it had the word "svengali" written on it in red marker. I asked the person that ran the stall what it was. The owner replied that he didn’t know what it was because it came from their attic in a box full of junk, and mentioned that I can have the game for 20p. Before I inquired about the disk, I had no intention of actually purchasing it, but as they said it would only cost 20p, I thought, "Hey what the hell? I might as well buy it." So I purchased the game for the small price of 20p.
Eventually I got home and put the disk into my computer. I was really intrigued as to what it could be. The game loaded up fine, but the first odd thing that I noticed about the game was that there was no opening menu, the game simply loaded up to the starting point. The game started at nighttime in first person view, and I was stood outside a tall building. My first thought was that I was standing outside of a hotel. What led me to this theory is that I was stood at the bottom of steps that led up to the building. These steps were covered in red carpet and led to a big wooden door. On either side of the steps were two lampposts. So this kind of gave me the impression that I stood outside a hotel. But I wasn’t 100% sure on this theory.
The graphics also led me to believe that this was an old game as the graphics were poor and the game looked poorly designed, but fortunately I could still work out what everything was. I tried walking to the left, and after a few steps, I was just led into darkness. The same happened when I walked to the right. So it was obvious that going through the doors was my only option. Upon coming up to the doors, I noticed a sign. I couldn’t read what the sign said, as the graphics were poor. But the game gave me an option to click on the sign. When I clicked on the sign, subtitles at the bottom of the screen read, "Come in to see Svengali, the world’s greatest living dummy!" So I walked forward through the door.
As soon as you touch the door, you are transported into what looks like a theater. The seats were all red and some people were sitting on them. Although the graphics were poor, the people that were sat in the seats all had their own facial expression; some were happy, some were sad and some didn’t have any expression at all, as if they were being possessed or taken over. There was also a stage at the front of the theater with a red curtain at the very back.
Nothing happened at all during this part of the game, but I could hear voices in the distance. The voices sounded like people talking and people laughing. The noise level eventually grew, but not enough for me to understand what they were saying. The sound effects on this game were quite poor, so even if the noise was louder, I still wouldn’t be able to make out what the people were saying. I also noticed at this point that I couldn’t move the player that I was playing as.
The game then turns to darkness. After about 5 seconds of darkness, I was back in the theatre, but this time I noticed something on the stage. I tried to move my character and nothing happened. After a few seconds, a low quality sound clip played, saying, "Can I please have a volunteer?!" This sound was very creepy, and I really started to feel uneasy about this game. But I wasn’t sure why I felt like this. So I tried to move my player around again. I was then able to move my player around. The game was so badly done that I was just able to walk straight through the seating area, and down past the front row of seats.
This, therefore, meant I now stood at the bottom of the stage. The sound effects then started again, and just like last time, it was low quality, but I could make out that it was the sound of people clapping.
I tried getting onto the stage by walking straight into it, but nothing happened. So I moved my player around trying to find a way to get on. Upon walking to left of the stage, I noticed a small flight of stairs, which I walked up. I was now on the stage. I then walked up to the doll called Svengali. It looked like some kind of ventriloquist doll of a child, and was sat on a small stool.
The doll had blond hair and dark blue eyes. The doll also seemed to be dressed in old fashioned clothing, which appeared to me to have been from the Georgian era. I actually started feeling anxious and very sick at this part of the game. I decided to turn my character around to face the audience because, although the graphics were poor, the doll was really creeping me out. As I turned to face the seating area the people were still sat down in the seats. This also made me feel very uneasy as the people in the seating area looked... so lifeless. The best way I could describe it is that they were being taken over or hypnotized. I was really stuck at this part of the game and didn’t know what to do, so I decided that I would walk straight into the doll.
When I did this the screen faded to black. When the screen reappeared I was back on stage with Svengali looking straight at me. At this point a low quality sound clip played again. I couldn’t really hear what was being said but then subtitles appeared at the bottom of the screen, saying, "Let Svengali take you". Now, at this point the game wasn’t horrific, but it was very, very creepy and I felt very uneasy whilst playing. Again, I didn’t know what to this at this stage of the game, so I walked into him again.
The exact same thing happened as last time. The screen faded to black, when it reappeared Svengali was looking straight at me, and the low quality sound clip played again. I continued to do this process over and over until eventually something different happened. This time I was sat in the seat that Svengali was sitting in and was unable to move the player I was playing as. I also noticed that there were no spectators watching from the seated area. A high pitch noise was then played and the game crashed. When this happened, I immediately removed the game and I was so creeped out by this that my hairs were literally standing on end.
Since playing this game, I have searched all over the internet to try and find some information about it. I found nothing about the game, literally nothing. It’s as if it was never released. But I did eventually find out some information about the mysterious doll, Svengali. I found out that there was a doll Svengali, that would perform in Hungary in the 18th century. During his performances, Svengali would appear to possess members of the audience… But what most intrigued his spectators was that Svengali was not made of flesh and blood, he was a doll made of wood…