The Empty Chamber review

I was seriously disappointed with this game; it was over far to quickly!

Already from the opening introduction I was feeling very hopeful, anticipating some properly stimulating problem solving. Typing the recommended help command only served to intrigue me further:

The intriguing output of the help command (not really a spoiler)

This is a story set inside one room, which you can regard by typing look (or simply l). There’s no need to move around, but there are plenty of things to examine (x), to touch, and even to smell, and various fixtures to open or close. You won’t find any items to pick up - this is a crime scene, after all - but Celia always carries her lockpick, just in case she needs to unlock something.
Typing map (m) will show you the room layout, while deduce will trigger the ending sequence - note that you can do this at any time. You may also want to ask land about relevant topics, such as the victim, or Celia herself.

I really enjoy one-room puzzlefests, and this was almost one of the better ones, had it only been longer. The protagonist is cool (and played in third, not second, person!) and while the two side characters are stereotypes, they work really well in this setting. Speaking of the setting, it’s lovely too, though limited by the constraints of the game.

After about one hour of fun, intensively looking for clues and connecting dots, I was feeling properly stuck. I decided then to try the deduce command, which triggers the ending, and discovered that I had, well, discovered everything and solved the game. I hadn’t even found the bullet (I assume it went out the window, but couldn’t see where it ended up), let alone understood why Hackett decided to end his life.

I really hope we’ll see a longer version of this game, or more parser IF from the author!

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Most interesting! I also managed to solve the mystery, but, based on what you wrote in the spoiler block, I think I’ve reached a different conclusion. Here’s what I think happened. Many spoilers inside!

Hackett was building a death trap in his room. I don’t know the exact details of his plan, but the goal might have been to commit suicide and frame Martin Wilson for his murder. The planted cufflink and the case full of bank notes suggest this, and there’s something fishy with the diary entries. There’s no mention of Alice, and the date of the concert appears to be wrong.
The reason for committing suicide would have been Alice’s letter of rejection, dated Sep 8, found in the locked safe deposit box under the bed (the combination is on the back of the photo).
But something went wrong with the plan. Recall that Mrs Bradfield heard two shots, but the Inspector says they only found one bullet.
Hackett tries to tell Bradfield something by pointing to the window. If we open the window and wait a couple of moves, it slams shut, and Bradfield jumps at the noise. That, I deduce, was the first “shot”. She goes up to investigate, opens the door with the master key, and unknowingly triggers the mechanism.
It still feels like there are some loose ends. What have I missed?

I’m also left with the feeling that there were some loose ends. I did not notice the fishiness with the diary you mention though; it’s an interesting observation.

Judging from the deduction score it was clearly a suicide, and it makes sense, as you say, that he wanted to frame Wilson for it. I initially thought he didn’t care who would come and release the trigger, but it may very well be that he expected Wilson and not Bradfield to open the door. The letter I never thought gave sufficient motivation for suicide, but that might have been an erroneous assumption on my part.

I can’t remember any pointing to the window though. How did that happen?

Bradfield mentions that he was pointing to the (closed) window when she found him. I think it’s mentioned in ASK BRADFIELD ABOUT VICTIM.

On the actual review topic, I’m enjoying this game a lot, though I haven’t finished it yet. My only annoyance so far is that DEDUCE involves a lot of guess-the-noun. For example:

When asked where the death happened, I tried BEDROOM, FLOOR, ROOM, BED, HOUSE, HOME, and so on (all the nouns I thought it might recognize), but Land just told me to give a real answer. It took me several tries to figure out he wanted HERE.

I agree, this is a good game! One of my personal top three of the Spring Thing.
Regarding guess-the-noun, I had some trouble with the time of death. It needs to be specified in the right format, which is an integer immediately followed by am or pm.

I wouldn’t say that the deduction sequence confirms intentional suicide. The Inspector interprets your answer in that way, but he’s not infallible. He can be equally enthusiastic about certain wrong answers that the game recognizes.
I had another idea about the mystery: Hackett was going to move in with his sister, so he could have been setting a death trap for the next tenant, a random person (how perfectly antisocial). The cufflink and diary would have been hidden in the room for the police to find, framing Wilson for the attempted murder of Hackett, who would nevertheless be alive and out of town.