7 Days A Skeptic is the second game in the Chzo Mythos series, but the last game chronologically. It was developed by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw using Adventure Game Studio and was released on July 22, 2004. Taking place nearly 400 years after 5 Days A Stranger, it chronicles the story of psychiatrist Jonathan Somerset and the other five crew members of the spaceship Mephistopheles as they face the same being that haunted the characters of 5 Days A Stranger.
The controls of 7 Days A Skeptic are similar to its predecessor. One major improvement to the interface is the ability to choose how to interact with an object after right-clicking on that object. This eliminates the need to switch between the look, walk, touch, and speak icons in 5 Days A Stranger. Movement is achieved by left-clicking.
The story is spread out over seven days in an identical fashion to 5 Days A Stranger. Dream sequences make a reappearance. According to Yahtzee in the author commentary of the special edition, seven days may have been stretching the plot a little thin. Overall length of the game is comparable to 5 Days A Stranger.
Another gameplay feature not present in 5 Days A Stranger is the actual presence of surviving. At some points of the game, Barry and the Welder will chase Malcolm, and when on close proximity, he will be killed, without any option to continue except by loading previously saved games, prompting the players to save often, while adding psychological horror and challenges. In addition, Malcolm may be killed by other scripted events, for example, thrown into the space.
The year is 2385. Man has long since left Earth to explore the stars. In an attempt to preserve resources, the Earth Federation Navy has retrofit the scout ship Mephistopheles, first built in 2328, to return it to active duty. It is assigned to chart the Caracus galaxy under the command of Captain Barry Chahal as his last act of service before retirement. The crew is minimal, comprised of only 5 other individuals besides the captain: counselor/psychiatrist Johnathan Somerset, doctor William Taylor, engineer Lieutenant Adam Gilkenny, Communications Officer Serena Langley, and First Officer Angela Garrett.
The game opens with John listening to the concerns of William. Worried about being on his first assignment, William describes nightmares he's had recently of being stared at and told he does not belong. Jonathan suggests he try to relax, as William is not expected to do anything more than his duties, of which he is certainly capable. This appears to reassure William, who thanks Jonathan and takes his leave.
Soon afterwards the entire crew is called to a meeting. Captain Barry notifies the crew that a strange metallic box has been found floating adrift, and has already contacted the Earth Federation Navy about it. The Navy recommends that a beacon be dropped at the location of the discovery site so that be box can be picked up and investigated by a more thoroughly equipped research vessel. Since this is not a direct order, Barry decides to bring the box abroad the ship. Johnathan, Barry, Angela, and Adam gather in the cargo bay to examine the box. When their scanners show the contents of the box to be free of any known hazards, the group prepares to open the box. However, John notices a plaque on the side of the box, which is dated from 1997, that says "John DeFoe is finally at rest, do not disturb his sleep." The crew then decide to the leave the box alone and retire for the day.
John wakes up from a nightmare where he dreamed something coming out of the box. That morning, he then sees that the elevator is not functioning and the engines are dead, leaving the ship at a standstill. He eats breakfast with Adam, then goes into the maintenance shaft to try to repair the elevator, where he finds a machete jammed into the elevator's motor. He gets it out then proceeds to the operations deck, where Serena and Angela inform him that the captain has gone missing and the comm lines have been jammed by some physical blockage. John then tries to ask Adam to head outside the ship to investigate, but Adam refuses, and instead gives John his card key to access the airlock to handle the maintenance. John notices on his way to the airlock that the mysterious box is now open. Investigating the blockage, John finds that Barry's body has been skewered by the antenna masts.
John informs the rest of the crew that the captain is dead, shows them the machete he found, and informs them that the box is now open. Though John is quick to suspect that the box is somehow responsible for the captain's untimely death, the other crew members quickly dismiss this idea, as the idea of a lifeform capable of murder inside a box drifting about in space is absurd. William, overwhelmed by the idea that a killer is among them, angrily retreats to his room. Adam, still refusing to go outside, suggests that someone retrieve Barry's body, as communication lines still need to be restored to send a distress signal. John volunteers to do so but then he finds that the captain's body has now mysteriously vanished. When he informs Serena over radio, he hears a brief noise of a struggle, then the radio cuts off. He returns to the operations deck, where he finds Angela looking for Serena. Angela is unconcerned, believing Serena to be in the bathroom, and asks John to locate the communication handbook, which has the information necessary in order to send a distress signal. Angela successfully radios for help, who tell them that help will arrive in 5 days. Suddenly, Adam barges in claiming that he saw the Captain walking around the engineering deck, though covered in blood. John is suspicious, but Angela believes this to be a hallucination, as Barry is already dead. John escorts Adam back to their room, where he also agrees with Angela on the sheer impossibility of what Adam saw. Adam then ominously says that the captain is alive, but not as the same person. A figure wearing a bloody apron, welding mask, and wielding a machete then enters the room and attacks them, though these last few sequences are shown to be just John's nightmare that evening.
The next morning, Serena is still missing at the group meeting. As John is the last person to have spoken with her, William is quick to suspect him, and tries to implicate him by stating that it was suspicious that John was the one to have found Barry's body as well. Adam, however, quickly shuts William down by providing evidence that John had most definitely been outside at the time of Serena's disappearance. William, clearly distressed, apologizes for being out of line while the group splits up to search for Serena. On the way out of the meeting room, John sees Serena enter the elevator shaft, seemingly alive, but Serena does not respond to any of John's attempts to speak with her. John then notes that he hasn't eaten in the last two days and goes to get lunch from the dispenser. He is then shocked to find that there is blood on the tray with his lunch. He then tries to find the cause by opening a panel on the dispenser console, and dislodges a severed human hand from the machine. Noting a lack of a blood trail, John takes the hand to William for advice. William tells John that, due to the ship's self cleaning walls, blood will not remain visible, but can be still be unveiled by a UV light. William provides John with a portable UV lamp for his investigation. John tracks the blood trail to the maintenance panel on the upper level, where he finds Serena's severed torso hidden within. Serena seemingly appears from the meeting room behind John but again quickly disappears, then Angela walks in on the confused John with the torso.
The next morning, Angela, believing John to be responsible, locks up John in the holding cell at gunpoint. Again, Angela refuses to hear John's theory on how an outsider has boarded the ship through the box and is responsible for their current predicament. Then, despite John's warning, Angela gets murdered by the undead Barry. Barry then moves to kill John, but John quickly runs off, and knocks the undead Barry down the engine room's reactor pit. William and Adam, who had been hiding in fear from Barry earlier, meet with John on the operations deck. Knowing that what they're dealing with is no oridinary lifeform, John, William, and Adam agree to leave the ship via escape pod immediately, using William's escape pod key. Since preparing the escape pod would require a few hours, John suggests that they turn in for the evening, believing that they are, at least, temporarily safe from whatever is threatening them.
The next morning, William is late to the escape pod bay. John goes to retrieve William and his escape pod key. However, inside William's room was a wild assortment of severed body parts, some of which are stitched together, and blood everywhere. A terrified John retrieves the key then goes back to Adam. John insists that there exists a supernatural evil in the box, but Adam disagrees by accidentally revealing that, several nights earlier, he was responsible for opening the box, and found only the following: a welding mask, machete, bloody apron, an African idol, and a letter. Adam explained that a nightmare compelled him to open the box to ensure that its contents were not dangerous, and had held onto the letter, and shows it to John. The letter is from Trilby from the first game. In the letter, Trilby explains the box's contents, his role in the DeFoe Manor incident nearly 400 years earlier, and the incalculable danger the wraith from the first game, now named John DeFoe, presents to humans. Trilby had chosen to not destroy the idol, the source of the wraith, believing that the evil would persist in the ashes and spread over a wider area. Trilby then urges whoever finds the letter to eject the box and its contents back into space, as he himself had sent the contents into space in the first place to keep the wraith as far away from humanity as possible. John then asks Adam why the latter didn't eject the box after reading the letter. Adam said he simply did not believe it to be real, like any other rational person would have. John then decides that the box would have eventually opened on its own somehow and does not blame Adam for their current disaster. Adam then opens the airlock to the escape pod, only to find that it opens directly to space. Adam is quickly sucked out of the ship and is thus killed. John, manages to grab onto the control panel and closes the airlock, then faints from the effort.
John wakes up the next morning to find that he has been restrained to a chair in the med bay. William, clearly possessed, tells John to forgive him. In order to save himself from his constant nightmares, William has agreed to make a new body for John DeFoe, by putting together pieces from his deceased comrades, and that John's body parts were needed. William also reveals that he had messed with the controls on the escape pod console so that it showed a false positive for the escape pod being there, and thus would kill at least one of them when John and Adam tried to access the escape pod. William then proceeds to grab tools for John's fatal procedure, while John tries to fight back against his restraints. He eventually frees one hand, steals a scalpel, then stabs William in the leg before managing to free himself and fleeing.
The next day, John rests in the maintenance shaft, lamenting how he's the only one left. He then exits the shaft to find William, who is now missing his eyes. William, now free from possession, says that John DeFoe took his eyes to complete the body, and apologizes for his role in the deaths of the others. He then pleads for John to destroy John DeFoe before help arrives and plagues more innocents, suggesting the use of the radio masts to disable the body of the wraith. John then uses a timed withdraw on the radio masts from the captain's quarters, and leads the wraith outside, where he is shocked to find out that the wraith has no trouble moving through empty space unprotected and unaffected by the lack of gravity. He then leads John DeFoe to where the radio masts are. The latter gets skewered and drops the cursed African idol. John takes the idol and drops it in the path of the ship's engine exhaust, incinerating it. A scout ship arrives, presumably the help requested 5 days earlier, but as John returns to the cargo bay, he finds that it is actually off-world security instead.
Off-world security reveals that the real Johnathan Somerset is 65 years old and was killed by an unknown assailant 6 months earlier. This reveals that the protagonist known throughout the whole game as John Somerset is actually Malcolm Somerset, John's only son. Malcolm, a college dropout who was unable to become a fully certified psychiatrist like his father, only wanted to go to space. He had murdered his father, who was asked to serve on board the Mephistopheles, just to take his place by assuming his identity, Malcolm admits to this, but claims that he just wanted to go to space and didn't mean to kill his father. Malcolm is now arrested by off-world security, who will also implicate the deaths of all crew members on him since he is the only survivor and already convicted of one murder. One officer looks inside John DeFoe's box before leaving and notes that it's empty. However, as the officers leave, something appears to crawl out of the box.
In addition to the normal edition, which is distributed free of charge, there is also a special edition of 7 Days A Skeptic, along with others games in the series, available only by donating. However, after sometime, Ben Croshaw released it free.
In addition to the features found in the normal edition, it also contains:
- Author commentary
- Access to the "Birthday" easter egg
- In-game music MIDI provided in the download
- Warning when chase sequences are going to happen
Birthday Easter Egg Scene Synopsis
Johnathan Somerset performs a therapy session with John DeFoe. Somerset asks DeFoe to talk about his relationship with the latter's late father. DeFoe said that nothing he ever did was ever good enough for his father. He had once tried to create a sculpture out his boogers to give to Roderick as a birthday gift, only to be kicked back down the dungeon stairs. He then prompts Somerset for a diagnosis, only for Somerset to say that he is not really a psychiatrist. DeFoe grumpily wishes he had known that before having paid Somerset for 18 sessions.