Sunday, 5 February 2012

Game 9: Uninvited - Won!

Journal Entry 3: “The nightmare is over! I’ve rescued my brother and escaped the haunted mansion, destroying the evil Dracan in the process. There are still so many things that don’t make sense to me about the last few days, but I figured out enough to finally get the key off the demon that has mocked me since my arrival here, to gain access to the cave system where I could end the life of Dracan, and to locate the hidden room where my brother was held captive. My ordeal didn’t end there though, as my brother had been possessed by some sort of malignant spirit, which I subsequently forced out of his body. I never thought I’d see daylight again, let alone be able to enjoy it with my sibling! I guess we’ll hitch a ride home now, but I’ll be taking this cross and amulet with me...just in case!”

If you’d asked me a few days ago whether I thought I’d ever finish Uninvited, I would have said “highly unlikely”. I was getting stuck at just about every point in the game, unaware of what I was supposed to be doing or how to achieve it. If it wasn’t for this blog, I almost certainly would have given up, or at least gone to a walkthrough numerous times just to see what happens. I feel a real sense of achievement for actually getting through it, and while I did get a few hints from readers, the majority of the success came down to sheer perseverance, and a lot of trial and error. At the end of my last post, I was trying without luck to enter the correct combination for the safe in the Magisterium laboratory, and as most of you would know, I was annoyingly close to figuring it out. My lack of experience with safes in general can probably be blamed for me typing 794780 and never trying 79-47-80, but it’s testament to how exacting the game is that I couldn’t use either. Thankfully, apart from one section I’ll talk about later, the rest of the game was solved fairly quickly.


I successfully solved the riddle, but still didn't know the answer

Once I opened the safe and found a jar that was sealed shut, it only took me a few minutes of trying items on it to realise the solution was hitting it with the axe. Inside was a cookie, and remembering the hints the game had been giving me about the mocking demon being hungry (plus Amy K.’s hint about needing something from the Magisterium to get the key), I immediately placed the cookie on the ground to see whether he would take the bait. He did, and consequently ran away for good, leaving the key behind. I knew exactly where the key would be needed, and headed through the trapdoor in the laboratory into the underground caves. It’s here that things get strange (as if they weren’t already)! I ran into a robed man (which I can only assume is “The Master”) in an icy cavern who said “You’ve come. I’ve been waiting for you...for you!” and then he disappeared. With absolutely no hints as to how to progress, I began using all of my items on the ice to see if anything would happen. When I tried Dracan’s star, I got a message telling me “You place the brass pentagon in a nook in the ice” and a fiery creature melted it away. As you can see below, there is nothing on the wall to suggest you should use the star, so this was blind luck.


My character can see the nook. Is it too much to ask that the player can see it too?

The robed man reappeared briefly to tell me to hurry up and get rid of Dracan, so I moved into the next cave section. To my surprise I found Dracan lying frozen, but rapidly thawing. You basically get the chance to try one or two actions before he thaws out completely and kills you, so I tried using a few items on him without success (ie. I died a few times) before having a good look at the cavern itself. As it turned out, the solution was really very simple, as there’s a bottomless pit right next to where he’s lying. I simply moved his body over it and dropped it, then listened to his scream as he fell to his death.  It’s here that you need the demon’s key, as there’s no way out of the caves without it. On exiting the caves into the study, I was alerted of screams coming from upstairs that sounded like my brother. Feeling I was on the cusp of completing the game, I rushed up there to see if I could find him. The screams got louder, and when I entered the bathroom off Dracan’s bedroom, the door slammed behind me and wouldn’t open. It’s in this bathroom that I would spend the next half an hour, trying to figure out what it was I was supposed to be doing in there!


There's also a frozen evil sorcerer, but there soon won't be

I figured out pretty quickly that the solution had something to do with the round light fitting, as its description stated that it seemed to have been designed to be gripped, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get to it. Every time I tried I was informed that I couldn’t reach it, so I began thinking of ways that I might be able to reach higher. My first thought was that I could flood the room, but turning on the sink tap didn’t achieve anything and there seemed to be no way to turn the bath tap on. Clicking on the hot and cold knobs was hard enough, given how tiny they were and the lack of cursor accuracy, but then selecting operate after I highlighted one didn’t do anything. I began to wonder whether there was an item I was supposed to have on me prior to entering the bathroom, such as a chair, but had no way to exit the room (apart from restoring). I certainly wouldn’t put it past the game to create a dead end, given that the whole thing is completely unfinishable if you don’t open the mailbox before entering the house. Anyway, I couldn’t think of anything anywhere else in the house that might allow me to reach the light, so started looking at the bathtub again.


I haven't spent that long in a bathroom since the day after my bucks night. There were screams that day too, believe me!

Given the success I’ve had in the game by just trying random things, I clicked one of the knobs and instead of pressing operate, pressed open instead. There may be some types of baths out there that require you to “open” the hot and cold knobs rather than turning them, but I certainly haven’t seen any. Regardless, I was stoked to find the water running and the bathroom flooding as I’d hoped it would. I drowned about ten seconds later! The water rises in level each time you try an action and you’ve got about four actions before the room is full and you die. Clicking on the light on any of the first three water levels results in the same old “you cannot reach the light” messages, but on the second last one it opens, allowing you to climb through the hole just before the room is full. I figured this out after around my 972nd death since starting the game, and eventually found myself in a secret room, with the brother I’ve been looking for sitting in front of me. The description suggested that he was possessed by some sort of demon, so it seemed fairly obvious that it was time to use the cross I took from the chapel. I used it once to cast the demon out and again to send him running.


The only time I was ever certain of what action was the correct one, the game suggests I was guessing.

There you have it! A blow by blow description of the closing moments of one of the more challenging adventure games you’re likely to find. When I finished Déjà Vu, the first ICOM MacVenture game, I felt great satisfaction when I received my Ace Harding School of Investigation certificate, which I earned over a few challenging days. But the feeling I had then didn’t come close to how I felt when I got my Master of the House of Abraxas certificate! I’ve endured over ten hours of bewilderment, trial and error, and illogicality to get that baby and I feel like getting a shirt that says “I Saved My Brother From Abraxas”. There’s very little doubt that the PISSED rating system is going to be harsh on Uninvited, but I really do think that if the puzzles had made more sense (and been a little less obtuse), the game would have actually been pretty good. The atmosphere, and to some extents the story, are effective, and it’s no surprise that more successful adventure games down the track would use the haunted house as their basis (from Maniac Mansion to The 11th Hour). For now, I’m pretty happy to take a step away from the horror and into the sleazy world of Leisure Suit Larry.


Another one for the pool room


15 comments:

  1. I suppose it's a good thing for you to get used to stupid/crazy solutions to puzzles, because there are going to be plenty more as you go through the list of games!

    It's been a good read though, and I hope you enjoy Larry as a little bit of a rest after that!

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  2. Congratulations! As Master of the House of Abraxus, the first thing I would do is go to town with a wrecking ball!

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  3. Congratulations! While this game may have been arduous to play, I think this was easily your best review so far: I really got a feel for the game and the type of puzzles in it.

    I *really* can't wait for us to get base the CGA era through!

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  4. So you know, the next game on your list is out for ScummVM: http://wiki.scummvm.org/index.php/Leisure_Suit_Larry and http://www.scummvm.org/screenshots/agi/lsl/

    This would allow very easy comparison of the different versions, as "Game is completable
    - DOS, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIgs versions are supported by this target
    - Apple IIgs version has no sound" I think this also adds the easy ability to use multiple save slots and such. Both the AGI and SCI versions are supported as well.

    Screenshots are Alt-S in it, and you can switch graphics and music settings through the GUI quite easily.

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  5. I know you don't want to mess around with a lot of emulators, but I agree with Canageek that you should try using ScummVM for any games that are compatible. It's very easy to set up, and the features are well worth it. Also they have full freeware downloads of three games on your list: Beneath a Steel Sky, Lure of the Temptress, and Flight of the Amazon Queen.


    My favorite feature of ScummVM is the HQ3x graphics mode that smooths out the edges. When these games first came out, we played them on RGB CRT monitors that helped blur the blocky graphics. On a modern LCD monitor, the pixels are so perfectly square that it just doesn't look right. HQ3x mode really makes them look great, and I don't think it takes anything away from the true classic feel of the games.

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  6. Actually DOSbox also has the same scaling features.

    Also your description isn't quite right. HQ3x adn advmame3x are algorithms to scale everything to be 3x larger without getting horribly pixilated. The square->rectangular pixle correction is another option that ScummVM can also do (and DOSbox as well I think)

    Also I personally prefer the advmame3x (Advanced MAME 3x scaling) to HQ3x, but this is a personal preference.

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  7. Glad you're finally through it! To be fair, there was a hint somewhere about the star that it burns in ice and freezes in fire. Some of these other puzzles you mention though are just crazy. I think it's fair to warn you that Leisure Suit Larry has a time limit... Good luck!

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  8. @Canageek: I'm glad you're enjoying my posts more now. I've definitely started to include more details as I go along. I'm still learning what makes an interesting post / blog, so all feedback is useful (especially negative).

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  9. @Zenic: Yeah, I do remember reading that note somewhere, so that certainly makes sense. I guess by that stage of the game it was easier to try all my items before using my brain! ;)

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  10. @Canageek and Chumazik: I torn between trying to make the game look as nice as I can and experiencing it exactly as it was back when it first came out. Either way, I need to figure this Scumm thing out as there are likely going to be games soon that I need it for.

    Maniac Mansionfor example. I take it ScummVM is the way to play that?

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  11. That is what ScummVM was made for. I'd say if you are doing every game ever then sure, stick with DOSBox. If you are just playing the fun ones then go ScummVM. Or you could try each game in each (it isn't much work, just a screen or two) and see how they compare? That might get you past issues like that serial mouse one.

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  12. Wanting to experience the games as originally intended is a great idea, but difficult to follow through with. For example Deja Vu and Uninvited were clearly designed for the Macintosh. Kings Quest was designed for the PCjr and Maniac Mansion was originally written for the Commodore 64. Tass Times, I don't know, but it feels like an Amiga or Atari ST game to me.

    Of course most of these games were ported to the other systems with varying degrees of success. How people remember these games is totally dependent on which system they owned. I went the C64 -> Amiga route so looking at your screenshots makes me feel like I'm looking at a bad port of a good game.

    That being said, I really think you should stick with DOSBox and also give ScummVM a try. With the exception of Shadowgate, I think you are mostly past the putrid cyan/magenta hell of CGA graphics.

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  13. You can play Maniac Mansion with ScummVM or DOSBox. I recommend ScummVM for that game, myself. The emulator started out as a modern port of the engine used to create Maniac Mansion. "Scumm" stands for "Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion," which is the name of the original engine. Tag a VM ("Virtual Machine," natch) at the end, and then you're talking about the emulator that, well... emulates that engine. It's since gone on to emulate other similar engines, but that's where it started. If you look it up on Wikipedia, there's a nifty list of the games you can play on it. There's a link to the official website there too, which may contain more up-to-date info. :)

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  14. "The only time I was ever certain of what action was the correct one, the game suggests I was guessing." Sigh...I hate when games do that. But I'm glad you finished the game, and I agree with Canageek that this is a pleasant amount of detail.

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