Mystery House

An adventure game designed by Roberta and Ken Williams. Although the game itself is entirely text based, it was the first adventure game to feature graphics. The game places players locked inside a mansion, tasked with finding a way out.


Mystery House is historically notable for being the very first computer adventure game to use graphics rather than purely textual descriptions. It is also the first adventure game created by Roberta Williams, who, with her husband Ken, founded On-Line Systems, later known as Sierra On-Line, and currently known as Sierra Entertainment.

The game starts out as a treasure hunting game, but the protagonist's fellow treasure-seekers start dying, and players must figure out who the culprit is.

Japanese Adaptations

There were several different games called "Mystery House" that were released in Japan during the 1980s:

  • Star Craft's Mystery House for the FM-7 and PC-6001 was an official port/remake of On-Line Systems' game released in 1983. The cartoonish graphics were redrawn to be more realistic, which was possible due to the higher resolution of Japanese computers.
  • Micro Cabin's Mystery House was not actually related to the game, but simply borrowed the name, and had a different plot altogether.
  • Micro Cabin's Mystery House II is the sequel to their unrelated Mystery House game mentioned above, rather than a sequel to the original Mystery House.

Sales & Legacy

The game sold 80,000 units worldwide. The majority of those sales came from Japan, where it sold 50,000 units.

The game was responsible for laying the foundations of the point & click graphic adventure game genre. In addition to its impact on Western adventure games, Mystery House was also partly responsible for introducing the adventure game genre to Japan, influencing visual novel writers such as Rika Suzuki.