Happy birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

Born on January 19th, 1809, the dedicated disciple of all things Gothic would've turned 209 years young today.

Poe is commonly credited with inventing detective fiction, and was one of the earliest influencers for the science fiction genre. But of course, it was the man’s deliciously dark style of writing that sealed his legacy…Poe’s bloodcurdling tales of mystery and the macabre remain widely celebrated to this day.

(Heck, even The Simpsons offered a nifty nod to the birthday boy.)

When not writing about the effects of decomposition, reanimation of the dead, or concerns about premature burial, it would appear Poe spent a great deal of time planning his own suitably enigmatic demise: On October 3rd, 1849, the writer was found deliriously stumbling around the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and in need of immediate assistance.”

Wearing clothes that were not his own and lacking the coherence to explain his ghastly condition, Poe perished on October 7th, 1849. He repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” the night before his death, but no one has a clue as to whom this referred. Poe’s final words are believed to be “Lord help my poor soul.” His death certificate, along with related medical records, swiftly vanished, leaving the exact cause and circumstances surrounding the poor bloke’s passing a mystery to this day.

Fitting, then, that in 1995 the now-defunct software company Inscape used Poe’s writings as inspiration for The Dark Eye, one of the freakiest, most disturbing games ever made. Don’t believe me? Check out this video sample.

Curiously, the point-and-click game received little in the way of attention from either game players or critics upon release. Apparently 3-D graphics, stop motion animation and video segments weren’t enough to captivate the PC-gaming community. Nor was the appearance of author William S. Burroughs as a voice actor!

C’mon, 1995 PC owners. The 80-something-year-old spearhead of paranoid fiction narrating a twisted horror game didn't sufficiently entice you? Damn. And there was me thinking today’s gamers are fickle…

The Dark Eye’s characters—distorted, skewed, and bearing clay-modeled faces—contributed to the game’s intense and uncomfortable atmosphere, along with its oddball interface and storyline. Next stop: Uncanny Valley! Along with providing the voice for the character of Edwin, Burroughs narrates the short story “The Masque of the Red Death” and poem “Annabel Lee” amidst creepy visual-filled slideshows.

As for the plot? Well, players spend their time switching between a “realistic” and “nightmarish” mode, the latter of which features reenactments and narrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories.

To add to the eeriness, players tackle three of the game’s stories ("The Cask of Amontillado", "The Tell-Tale Heart", and "Berenice") from the perspectives of both murderer and victim.

Topping it all off is the game's batshit bonkers conclusion: The Burroughs-narrated ‘Edwin’ character spirals into a fit of insanity thanks to a woman breaking out of her coffin and gouging out her eyes.

Somewhere amidst the unknown plains of the afterlife, Edgar Allan Poe is applauding heartily, weak at the knees with fiendish admiration…

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