Key & Compass presents:
The Empty Chamber
by Tom Sykes

The Empty Chamber is a Glulx interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2019 by Tom Sykes. It was a participant in the Main Festival of Spring Thing 2019 where it was awarded Audience Award ribbons for Most Promising Game Mechanics, Best Classic Whodunnit, and Best Parser Game.

In this one-room mystery, you play as Miss Celia Swift. Since you are regarded as some sort of genius at solving mysteries, you have been invited by Inspector Land to the boarding room of the late Frederick Hackett who was shot behind his locked door three days ago. Can you figure out who shot him and how?

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the game.


NoteL The verb UNDO is disabled for this game.

The EmptyChamber

The Empty Chamber

> help. x me. i. x lockpick.

Start with what Inspector Land can tell you so you're not starting completely in ignorance:

> x Land.

> ask Land about victim.

> again. (Two shots, the second as the landlady opened the door.)

> ask Land about Wilson. again. ask Land about cufflink.

> ask Land about Mrs Bradfield. (Learn the INVITE command.)

> ask Land about Celia. ask Land about Bennett. ask Land about club.

Check out the bed and bedside table:

> x bed. x pyjamas. look under bed. (found a safe deposit box)

> x box. (need a 4-digit number)

> x table. x water. smell water. (gin?)

> ask Land about gin.

Check out the desk and chair:

> x desk. x chair. x diary. read diary.

> open drawer.

> x pamphlet. read pamphlet.

> x Radio Times. read it. (too many radio stations)

> x wireless. (tuned to the BBC Home Service)

> x toolbox. open it. x screwdriver. x stationary. x bits.

Check out the wardrobe:

> x wardrobe. x back panel. move it.

> x picture frame.

> look in wardrobe. x hangers. x suitcase.

> x tag. read tag.

> open suitcase. x book. read it. x clothes.

> x timetable. read timetable.

> open frame. x photograph.

> read photo. ("My darling Alice - Southend, 09-07")

Return to the safe deposit box:

> turn lock to 0907. (It opens!)

> read white envelope. open it. read white letter.

> read cream envelope. open it. read cream letter.

> ask Land about Alice. ask Land about Eileen.

Check out the chest-of-drawers and the cor anglais:

> x chest. open it.

> x bible. read it. (Note falls out.)

> read note.

> x bottle. smell it. read it.

> x stand. x cor.

Check out the musical instrument case:

> x case. open it. (locked)

> unlock case with lockpick. open it. x bank notes.

> ask Land about notes. ask Land about Oxford.

Check out the window:

> x window. x street.

Check out the door:

> x door. x knob. x keyhole.

> lock door. unlock door. smell knob.

Check out the floor, walls, and ceiling:

> x floor. x floorboards. x rug. x blood.

> x wall. x hook. x ceiling. x bulb.

Ask Land some more questions:

> ask Land about factory. ask Land about boss.

> ask Land about LVO. ask Land about church. ask Land about note.

> ask Land about murder. ask Land about gun. ask Land about knob.

Invite Mrs Bradfield in and question her:

> invite landlady. ask Mrs about knob.

> ask Mrs about gin. ask Mrs about Fred.

> ask Mrs about radio. ask Mrs about sister.

> ask Mrs about time of death. (Seven o'clock.)

> ask Mrs about horn. ask Mrs about gun. ask Mrs about door.

> ask Mrs about room. ask Mrs about Bill. ask Mrs about bible.

> ask Mrs about window. ask Mrs about frame.

> ask Mrs about Eileen.

One last little loose end. The first shot that the landlady heard was very probably from the war drama on the radio:

> read Radio Times.

You have sufficient information to solve the case.

> deduce. deduce.


> say Fred Hackett

> say here

> say seven o'clock

> say Mrs Bradfield

> say doorknob


> say score

*** Thank you for playing! ***






From the response to CREDITS:

Thanks to Graham Nelson, Emily Short, David Kinder, and Eric Eve for Inform and its extensions (I used Eric Eve's Conversation Nodes, and Basic Screen Effects by Emily Short), and to James Sykes for testing. I used Aseprite to draw the cover image, and Eeve Somepx's Compass font for the small cover art.


The game won't let you pick up anything. At best, you can open a few things, move other things out into the open for your inspections, and turn the radio on and off. You do, however, have one item you brought with you.


At game's end, you can say score to find out how many of your deductions were correct You are not told which deductions were correct, however.

The possible responses to say score are:

To manage a score of one, I suggested to Land that Martin Wilson was the murder victim. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an incorrect answer to the location question that the inspector would accept and was thus unable to obtain a score of zero.