Friday, 6 July 2012

Game 20: Manhunter 1 - Keeping Up With the Joneses

Manhunter Journal Entry 3: "I know who the killer is! My third day on the job has been just as action packed as the first two, starting with a visit to Greenwood Cemetery where I discovered a murdered orb. I tracked the suspect firstly to the Times Square Cinema where I found a locked safe, and then later to Abdul's Pawn Shop. I managed to gain entrance to the underground from the shop, where I passed numerous tests and discovered yet another body with a P carved into its forehead. Fortunately I was able to get a name for the victim this time, which was Harry, and using information gathered from the cinema and the cemetery, was also able to figure out that his surname was Jones. Before I could go to Harry's address, I was confronted by the murderer himself and forced to fight one on one. I managed to get in a good hit, which forced him to flee, leaving behind the code I needed to open the safe in the cinema. Opening the safe gave me another code, while searching Harry's house revealed another module. I ended the day by going over all the information I've collected in the last three days, and finally finding the answer I've been looking for all along. The murderer's name in Phil Cook! I quickly searched his house and used his computer, before the orbs sent me home to await further instructions."

Another day in paradise

Once again, day three started with me waking up and being given an incident to investigate. An orb had been found dead in Greenwood Cemetery. Watching the tracker revealed that whoever killed the orb then made their way to Times Square Cinema for a brief stop before visiting a pawn shop where they disappeared. I closed the MAD and went straight to the cemetery to check out the gory scene. The orb had been skewered on a large metal spike, but despite some significant pixel hunting, I couldn’t find anything at the scene to investigate. I thought perhaps the names on the gravestones might be important, but when I looked up Tim Jones, Joe Green and Olive Cole on the MAD, they all came back with nothing. I decided to move onto the suspect’s next location, the Times Square Cinema.

Surely being an eyeball would be one of the most painful experiences imaginable, even when you haven't been skewered.

The cinema also didn’t bring much in the way of information or items. I could see from the tracker recording that the suspect entered an office and stood in front of a particular part of the room, before leaving. That particular part of the room turned out to be a safe hidden behind a painting on the wall, but since I didn’t have any idea what the code might be to open it, I stored it to memory to come back to later. It was at this point that I remembered the tattoo I witnessed at the end of day two that clearly represented the candles in the church I visited on day one. I decided my next location would be the church, where I would finally find out what the fifteen candle setup was all about. Who knows, perhaps I would retrieve the safe code from there somehow?

A bit of interior decorating wouldn't go astray!

I made my way over to the Trinity Church, lit the three candles as represented on the dead man’s tattoo, and was rewarded with a small compartment opening up. This revealed Module A, which I immediately added to my inventory (I’d already recovered Module B from the National Museum). At this point I had no idea what the modules might be for, and since they were unlikely to help me open the safe in the cinema, I located and travelled to Abdul’s Pawn Shop, the third and last place the suspect visited before somehow avoiding the tracker’s radar. It’s here things got a little strange for me, and I have to admit that the pawn shop represents the part of the game where I started to solve puzzles through trial and error rather than actual logic.

Oh joy! Another module for which I can find no purpose!

Abdul displayed a board containing numerous badges, many of which took on fairly recognisable shapes and symbols. At first I wasn’t sure whether he was trying to sell me something, which would have been awkward since I had no money, or whether it was some sort of test. The latter turned out to be true, as choosing the incorrect symbol resulted in Abdul pulling out a sword and cutting my head off! The handy thing was that if I selected a wrong badge, I was immediately decapitated, meaning I could easily figure out which of the three badges I was supposed to choose through trial and error. I guessed the first two very quickly, as they were both religious symbols (the cross and the pentagram), but the third one took a few goes. Later on when looking at screenshots, I noticed two of the correct symbols above the candles in the church, so I’d like to think that I might have found this clue if guessing hadn’t been so straight forward.

Yes, that's my head about to hit the ceiling. Yes, I'm a bit upset about it.

Once I’d chosen the correct badges, I was allowed access to an underground area. Down there I found a sign saying “Danger is here, death is near. The buttons to choose? It’s easy to lose. The picture will tell, if you check it well.” Next to this sign were a locked door and a picture with ten numerical buttons at the bottom. It was pretty clear that I would need to figure out which numbers to press by studying the picture, which would in turn unlock the door. As soon as I looked at the picture, I saw an upside down four in the shadows. Taking this as a cue, I looked at the rest of the shadows and found what could be a considered to be a one. I pressed the number 1 button, as that was the first of the two shadows, only to have a large rock crush me and the Murry family tell me that obviously wasn’t the right button. I tried again, this time pressing the 4 button. Nothing happened, so I figured that must be correct. I then pressed the 1 button, and the door opened!

Well, there's a 4...and there's a 1...hey this is really easy!

Through the door was an identical scenario, but with a different picture. This time it was a witch with skulls, spiders and other creepy Halloween stuff. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find any numbers anywhere in the picture, nor could I see any sort of patterns that might assist. I therefore set about clicking buttons from left to right, figuring it would only be a matter of time before I got the combination. Many, many deaths occurred, but I eventually unlocked the door with the numbers 1031. In hindsight, this is obviously a reference to the date of Halloween, being the 31st of October. Unfortunately, over here in Australia, we don’t use that date format and instead would represent this as 3110, so it’s not surprising that I didn’t clue on to the answer after the first couple of numbers. I wasn’t at all surprised to find yet another room with a locked door and picture on the other side!

OK, so it's not exactly simple, but that one was unfair!

This third picture seemed to be a mathematical equation of sorts. Given that maths is something I pride myself on, I was determined to try to figure this one out before playing the trial and error game. I tried. I really did! I could see that there were two threes on the screen and that the crucifix symbol behind them could function as a minus and plus sign. Yet somehow, despite seeing that, I couldn’t find anything that worked. In the end I had to resort to trial and error, and the result was 264. Straight away I can see that this number is made up of 2 (3-1), 6 (3+3) and 4 (3+1), but I still can’t see how anyone could deduce that from the picture. I’ll give 10 CAPs to anyone that can explain to me how you get 264 from that picture.

Shut up! Who asked you!

There was yet another picture in another identical room once I got past the maths equation. This fourth picture was a vase containing a plant. To be honest, given my failure to figure out the last two pictures, I didn’t even try on the fourth one. I now know the answer is 425 through trial and error, but can’t see an obvious way to get that number. Thankfully, this was the last of the picture tests, and through the door was another dead body with a P engraved into its head. There was one difference with this body though. His cloak had the word Harry written on it. Just around the corner from dead Harry I was confronted by a man with a knife. I assume this is the guy that killed the suspect along with the others that I’ve come across so far. He immediately attacked me and I was forced to duck and jump his attacks, similar to the knife throwing gang members in the alley behind the nightclub. This time however I only had to successfully punch him once to win the fight. I succeeded on my second try, which caused him to run away, leaving an item behind. Picking it up, I was excited to find that it was a code!

Who's that guy with the P on his head? Whoooh whoooh!

There was only one place where I knew I needed a code. The safe in the cinema! I raced back there and entered the code, fully expecting that whatever I found there would open up the second half of day three. Inside the safe was…another code. UCUCC. What the hell was I supposed to do with that? I wracked my brain, but couldn’t come up with anywhere else that UCUCC might be useful. I watched the tracker recording over and over, but couldn’t come up with any other leads at all. It suddenly dawned on me that the name Harry must be somehow involved in my next step. Just like when I figured out the Anna Osborne name on day two, there must somewhere be a hint that would let me know what Harry’s surname was. But where? I revisited several locations but came up empty handed. Eventually I was forced to put in a Request For Assistance for the first time while playing Manhunter.

Yes! This is the UCUCC I've been looking for. What good fortune!

As is often the case, it was Lars-Erik that responded to my request. His first hint was “where have you been that may contain names?” I looked over all of the locations on the map and the most obvious place was the cemetery. I paid it another visit to see if I missed something the first time around. There were three names there, all of which I’d looked up previously on the MAD with no results. Tim Jones, Joe Green and Olive Cole. For the first time I noticed that the orb on a stick was actually stuck directly into the grave of Tim Jones, a detail that had avoided me previously. I had no idea why it would work, but I tried typing Harry Jones into the MAD. It did work, and I was given an address to visit! Confused, I tried to make sense of it. “Here lies Tim Jones, 1988 – 2004, he died for his father” Hang on a second…what were those photos in the cinema all about? They were described as “a picture of a boy dated 1988” and “a picture of a 14 year old boy dated 2004”. So Tim Jones was Harry Jones’ son!

I really should have paid more attention to these little suckers.

In hindsight I can see what I was supposed to think here. I was supposed to make the connection between Harry collecting something from the safe in the cinema to the photos on the wall. Then I was supposed deduce that Harry had killed the orb out of revenge and stuck it on a spit right in front of his dead son’s grave. I totally get it, but man, that’s not very obvious when you don't already know it, especially when you consider that it’s not certain that Harry was the man that left the murder scene and went to the cinema in the first place. How are we to know that it wasn’t the murderer himself? I think the main reason I’d started to have trouble at this point of the game was because I hadn’t really understood the motives of any of the characters so far. There had often been multiple figures showing up on the tracker and it wasn’t always clear which one it was that ended up dead. Was it the suspect I was following that ended up dead, or did they commit another crime during their escape? I was starting to figure out that the suspects were indeed rebels against the orbs, and they were being picked off one by one by a human murderer.

Harold "Vigilante" Jones - It's always the quiet ones!

So…if the human murderer was working with the orbs, perhaps the message I received on the data stick earlier in the game might be the key to figuring out his identity! I re-read the message from the stick: “Phil is trouble, he’s a double. He’s an eye, that’s no lie!” Is the murderer’s name Phil? If so, what’s his last name? Now that I had the address of Harry Jones, I figured the answer to the question might very well be at his house. I made my way there, but was surprised to find the only item in the room I could investigate was a radio. Turning the radio on very cutely played the Manhunter theme song, but I figured there must be more to it than that! I looked at my inventory and thought I would just try using the crowbar on it. It worked! Feeling pretty happy with myself, I eagerly picked up the item hidden within the radio. Unfortunately, it was just another module!

Well honestly, the theme song was pretty annoying

So now I had modules A,B and C in my inventory, but I had no idea what they were for. I also had no further leads, so was forced to hunt through screenshots to try to figure out what the last name of Phil might be. I did notice the screenshot where the dead man had written the word “cool” on the rock, but when Phil Cool didn’t come back with anything on the MAD, I let it go. I already knew from the comments on my last post that Charles had majorly struggled to complete day three, and I assumed I was now at the exact same point he was when he requested assistance. I dejectedly decided to read the hints that he used. One of Ilmari’s hints was “the guy has "signed" his victims with the letter P. Have you seen any names beginning with P?” So I knew I was on the right track, but I needed more than that. One of his other hints was “it is a common trope to write the name of your killer with your blood. Could the last letter be somehow incomplete?”

I still had this "hint" in mind, but hadn't been able to figure out it's purpose

This was all I needed to figure out the answer. In fact the first name I tried was Phil Cook and it was successful. But…well…does anyone else think that’s ridiculously difficult? From what I understand (and correct me if I’m wrong Charles), but both Charles and I failed to figure this out. If the word on the rock hadn’t actually formed a word, it might have been more obvious that it was simply incomplete. Since it was not certain that the game could only be progressed at this stage by figuring out the murderer’s full name, the fact that I was even trying to was lucky in itself. I’ve since read Ilmari’s spoiler which mentions a comment made by the Murry’s as the player arrives at Prospect Park (“don't get your goose cooked”), but surely that’s not enough for anyone to figure it out by that alone. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll talk more about this after I complete the game, so I’ll move on for now.

Phil Cook: I thought he would be Cool, but I was wrong.

With Phil’s address discovered, I travelled there with great anticipation. I already knew the game would go into a fourth day, but surely I was close to finding out something important. It turned out that Phil lives in the Empire State Building. He wasn’t home, but I was able to use his computer to connect to several sites in the city. From there I could turn on or off certain security measures, but since I didn’t recognise the majority of the images, I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing. One thing I did recognise is the guard droid in the hospital, which I could force to go elsewhere. That would allow me to access more of the hospital, so that seemed to be my next location. It was here though that the orbs once again intervened and demanded that I go back to my apartment and await further instructions. They also asked me for a name again and this time I was able to give them Phil Cook. No idea what that achieved, but I guess I’ll find out on day four!

I'm sure my selections in here will affect day four. Time to save!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. Re 264:

    That's the result when you "evaluate" the three non-numerical symbols in the picture, top to bottom.

    pink arrow: decrement 3 = 2
    green (elongated) plus sign: add 3 and 3 = 6
    purple arrow: increment 3 = 4

    At least that's my hindsight theory. (You could have really busied your readers if you had said "The solution turned out to be 7092. How on earth do you get that from the picture?!")

    1. Oh, and from the "Google makes omniscient" department, the solution of the vase puzzle:

      4 twigs - 2 twigs - 5 twigs

    2. Errr, you are supposed to put such things in ROT13.

    3. Well, that one isn't a spoiler. Trickster trial-and-errored "425" already. I only handed in the logic behind it.

    4. Wow, the twigs... that's another one I had little chance of figuring out. The AGI chunkiness didn't help at all, either. At least it was easy to guess!

    5. I think koreagolfer is right with both of these, but I think they're both terrible puzzles that leave players with little choice but to guess. For example, how are we supposed to know that the arrow means we should add or deduct 1 from 3. An directional arrow has no limit, so we might as well have added or deducted 2 or 3 or 100.

      Anyway, 10 points to koreagolfer to be added at the end of the game!

    6. Yes, you are probably right but you should at least tried +/- 1 solution, don't you think? Well, if you insist that there are too many numbers that can be added and deducted, I would like to point out that you can use only three of them: 1, 2 and 3. Deducting higher number then 3 from 3 results with negative number. Please note, that you can’t enter „minus”. In addition there is no reason to add and deduct two different numbers.

      The game is tough, really tough and I hope that difficult riddles do not affect a rating in a negative way (did not read the summary post yet).

      BTW: Hi, everyone!

  2. Yay! Day 3 is behind. Time to offer my comments.

    - I was on a roll with this one from the start, until I hit the Phil Cook puzzle. I saw the symbols on the church hidden panel and figured out the cross correctly (it was featured on the front side of the panel door anyway), so getting past Abdul was easy.
    - The pictures below posed only a mild challenge. I correctly entered the first number and Halloween's date after the Murrys' hint (switching the date/month format like you Trick). However, I had to brute-force my way through the last two. Like you, I arrived at the same conclusion with the 3+3 picture: if I close an eye and bend backwards while standing on one foot I can maybe see it... but not quite. Whereas with the plant I simply have no clue. I found the digits playing the Simon-like game until one final number worked.
    - I even guessed Harry's last name in the "right order": first I had seen (and noted down) the dates on the pictures in the Theater office. Knowing that Harry had the code to the safe in that room, I figured the pictures depicted his son. I compared the dates with the gravestone and it clicked. It actually bothers me a bit that this clever little puzzle can be guessed easily without even making the connection with the info on the Theater room :-)
    - It would've been the easiest chapter for me had it not been for the Phil Cook "puzzle". I feel bad for losing the opportunity of a "perfect solve" and using a hint, but realistically there was no way I could have guessed that one. Partly it's my fault, for two reasons:
    a) I didn't realize that "Cool" could mean Harvey's killer's name, although as Ilmari notes it's a very common trope. I even thought it we might have been looking at it wrong and that it could be just another code, like "C001".
    b) I basically ignored the Murrys' comment about the goose when it came up while I was looking at the park sign, and promptly forgot about it. It just sounded like another attempt at humor or reference I didn't get, like "keep f***ing that chicken"... Big mistake! The sudden appearance of the Murrys had to have some meaning.
    In retrospect, however, the game has to take most of the blame. Not only was this a puzzle that relied completely on guesswork, but also the only clue to its solution was provided by the game's Chorus, it was non-repeatable, and was tied to a seemingly random location (until you knew better) -- a departure from previous puzzles. So I'd say it was rather unfair.
    - I'm not entirely sure I'm following the plot either. If Phil is working for the Orbs, why would they ask you for his name at the end of each day? Isn't he another Manhunter? Has he maybe gone rogue? I don't even know who killed Reno or blew up the station.

    I've only started with Day 4 and already I'm having trouble getting out of a particular situation. We'll see how it goes...

    1. You know I never even considered that Phil might be a manhunter, even though that would have made total sense!

      I can very happily announce that I've finished the game and needed no assistance for day 4. The majority of it was made up of mazes and mini-games, although I did struggle at the very last hurdle for a good half an hour.

      Won! post should arrive within the next 24 hours. :)

    2. Why on earth are the orbs objecting to the rebels being killed is my question!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I'd say the Orbs are not interested of who killed the resistance members, but of who's doing all the "terrorist attacks" against them - remember, you are told to investigate a hospital bombing, theft of a robot and a murder of an Orb. So, at the end of each day, they are asking the names of the resistance members, not Phil's name. Phil appears to be above regular Manhunters in the command structure (he's described as a public servant, his signal in MAD looks different and cannot be tagged, he has a high level security computer in his home - actually I don't understand how Orbs let any humans have such a computer). I cannot really say whether Phil is working for the Orbs in killing the resistance members or whether he has just gone haywire - the evidence could point to both conclusions.

      But don't worry if you are still confused about some aspects of the plot at the end of first Manhunter, you'll probably be even more confused after the second game.

    2. Oh, that makes sense. Someone else has just gotten to your targets before you!

  4. Uh, Ilmari, maybe you could ROT13 that last phrase? I didn't know that Cuvy jnf fgvyy nyvir naq nebhaq sbe Znauhagre 2.

  5. Yeah, that was a bit of a spoiler Ilmari, although given your impeccable record, I won't hold it against you. ;)

  6. Curses, should have realised it! "Well, nobody's perfect."

  7. New Adventure Game Kickstarter! Traditional point-and-click this time, $150,000 goal, 30 days to go (Today is the 1st or 2nd day):
    AR-K: A Dark Acid Adventure Comedy

    Ar-K is a point and click adventure, in a classic style. We always loved good stories and good characters, like the Secret of Monkey Island, Full Throttle or Space Quest, and we wanted to create our own adventure. We got it!

    Alice is a journalism student that wakes up with a terrible hangover, a blank night and the remember of that misterious object. She wants to remember who was the man she slept with last night, and why the object is still torturing her memories.

    This is the beginning of the first episode of Ar-K, an episodic adventure with the first one in the market, translated to English, Spanish and Italian, and dubbed in Spanish and English. The second one is almost finished and two more are designed.

    Will this one make the sidebar?

    1. Yes, that one fits the bill nicely! My first thought was $150000! You've got to be kidding me! But it look pretty promising!

      Points to follow Canageek. Oh...and the next Manhunter post will be up tomorrow morning Australia time (so in about 12 hours).