The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana is a throwback to the early computer puzzle games like The 7th Guest, Shivers and Jewels of the Oracle. I was very influenced by these types of games and used them as inspiration throughout this project. Puzzle games seem to have become a thing of the past, and that’s really unfortunate because they’re very fun and challenging. I felt compelled to resurrect this classic genre, so we embraced the idea of creating an old-style puzzle game and ran with it. We specifically designed The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana to have a very retro look and feel within a simple framework with minimal mouse controls. The end result is an effectively moody and entertaining game that evokes a haunting sense of nostalgia.
The concept for the game began as a feature I created for Dark Realms magazine back in 2000. The feature was called The Cabinet of Doctor Arcana, based on the title of the classic silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. In each issue, the condescending Doctor Arcana presented puzzles for the readers to ponder, then insulted the integrity of anyone who correctly solved them. This jeering humor carries over into the game as well. Players are subjected to taunting remarks from Doctor Arcana throughout their adventure and lost souls who consult the in-game walkthrough, aptly named The Cheater’s Compendium, will be scolded and ridiculed for doing so.
I developed the Doctor Arcana idea further on the Nox Arcana album, Theater of Illusion. The story centered around a secret society of magicians who possess actual magical powers and lurk in the hidden shadows of our world. I’ve always loved magic and magicians—the darker and creepier, the better. The concept seemed like a natural backdrop for an eerie adventure shrouded in mystery. In the game, players must explore this shadowy realm of magic and illusion and resolve a variety of devious puzzles to unlock Doctor Arcana’s darkest secrets. The gauntlet of confounding conundrums consists of more than 50 logic puzzles, word puzzles, mazes, riddles and codes. For those seeking something more mentally stimulating than the usual arcade game or hidden object adventure, this is the game for you.