Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Game 24: Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess - Tyoo tor real

Raven Journal Entry 1: “Zorq has returned! The day we all hoped for has become a nightmare, as our unpleased god has gone on a rampage, imprisoning the people as his slaves within the Temple of Zorq under the watchful eye of the Protozorqs. I of course rebelled against this carnage, using my tuner powers to destroy any Protozorqs that stood in my way, but now my friend Sci Fi has been captured, so I had no choice but to let myself be captured also. I now find myself within the walls of the temple, tasked with completing the Five Ordeals and therefore collecting the five Vort Skulls. I have not yet succeeded in finding any, yet I cannot rest with only one hour to complete my task! Hold on Sci Fi...I am coming!"


Bubble on the Brain? What game am I playing?

I knew this game was going to be strange! The background documentation was truly bizarre, and the company behind it had a lot to do with that other French oddity, Captain Blood. Knowing it was going to be strange didn’t really prepare me for just how strange The Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess really is though! You just wouldn’t see a game like this today, with game companies always playing it safe and copying tried and tested formulas. To even begin to describe the game is quite daunting to be honest, and I’m really going to have to run a bit of a tutorial to begin with so you know what the hell I’m talking about. Bear with me folks...and prepare to enter the Temple of Zorq!


Aren't the Vorts the result of the people's failed experiment? Zorq's experiment ate themselves!

The Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess began with a bit of a presentation. I was given a quick run through of some of the important characters that I was likely to come across. Seven Protozorqs (at least I assume they are all Protozorqs) are displayed, along with some Vorts, with a short description of each. For those of you that didn’t read the background, here’s a summary.  Zorq (a God of sorts) came to “the people” (aka Offa) and impregnated a woman. The woman gave birth to children that ate themselves, and then Zorq flew away and left the people to choose a “Protizim” to rule until his return. The people selected a Protizim (Krill) and then another (Prass) after he died, and it was Protizim Prass that took it upon himself to create a new race to “obliterize” all other peoples. Needless to say, that didn’t go too well either, and the useless Vorts were the resulting offspring. Now Zorq has returned, and gone on a destructive rampage, turning the people into his slaves. Got it?


Wow! Ash has his arm back! Groovy!!!!

After the presentation, I found myself in The Master’s Orbit, confronted by The Master of Ordeals. I was tasked with passing the 5 Ordeals, and by doing so collect the 5 Vort skulls. I know from the manual that I have one hour to achieve this goal, and that I then have to put the skulls into something called The Changer. If I can manage it, I will become a Divo, will receive “the Egg”, and then be required to report to the “Chamber of Dreams”. The Master of Ordeals gave me a dagger, telling me that I would find the item useful “beyond the door called The Wall”. I was then left to figure out the interface, which I will briefly describe before getting on with the show.


So you're imprisoning me...and now you're helping me...hmmmm....

Let me start with the weird little pink creature in the top left corner. Looks like a foetus right? That’s because it is! His name is Gauss (or simply Foetus), and he’s a Hitachi-Gauss Amplifier, my telepathic link to the “tuner network”. He gives me hints as to what to do next, yet he does so in a rather cryptic way. It’s not unusual for him to say things like “sit you ation evolve ing norma lee” (situation evolving normally) and “sumbod een icefor wunss” (somebody nice for once). It’s a neat touch to be honest, with small hints available while still making me work for it at least a little bit. It does use up some Sci Energy to speak to Gauss though, which is vital for success in the game. What’s Sci Energy I hear you ask?! Well let me explain that next.


Gram ar andspel lingprob lemms canbee fixed withed youcasion

On the right hand side of the screen is a bar of icons, which are from top to bottom: Objects in the Room, Sci Powers, Possessions, Sci Energy Level, Wait, Load Game, Save Game and Time. The last four probably don’t need any explanation, but I’ll quickly run through the top four. It’s a sign of the game’s graphical limitations that an Objects in the Room button is required. Basically if there is any item anywhere in my current room, a red light shines on this icon. When I click on the icon, I can then see what the item is and interact with it. The object itself cannot be seen in the actual play area, which is pretty damn lazy, but probably for the best given how bad pixel hunting would be otherwise.


Well, having an Objects in the Room button sure solves the pixel hunting dilemma!

There are a total of eight Sci Powers available to be used at any time. They are: Solar Eyes (see in the dark), Sticky Fingers (climb on walls), Know Mind (read someone’s mind), Brainwarp (cause temporary stupidity in target), Zone Scan (reveal hidden items in a room), Sci Shift (move items with mind), Extreme Violence (go completely nuts on a target) and Tune In (getta hintfrom the effort less lee crypt ticgauss). At first I wondered how much use these were really going to have, but I soon found them to be critical to success. Basically I now enter any room and see what I can do in there unassisted, before seeing what information Gauss can give me, checking out the items I have that might help, before finally turning to the remaining Sci Powers as a last resort. It certainly gives me a few options to turn to when attempting to find a solution.


It's time for a bit of the old extreme violence!

The Possessions icon is basically my inventory, and I can click on any item within it and then choose an option from an alien looking menu system. Those options include things like Put In, Throw Away, Inspect etc. It’s crude, but it works. Finally there is the Sci Energy Level icon, which produces a beating heart that represents how much energy I have left. I haven’t yet got to a stage where I have no sci energy available, but then I’ve not been playing the game for very long. I don’t even know yet whether the energy recharges or once it’s gone, it’s gone, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough. Right, that should be enough explanation for you to have some idea what I’m talking about when I plunge you into the various temple rooms and start collecting skulls.


Apparently my sci powers are driven by my heart. Don't ask why!

So, I have a dagger that I need to use in a room called The Wall. Before I tried finding The Wall, I thought I should do what I’ve needed to do in every adventure game on the list so far. I’ll have a bit of a chat to the inhabitants and see what information I can get out of them. It quickly became apparent that these guys really didn’t want much to do with me. They all seemed to begrudgingly tell me that I needed to complete the five ordeals, but any further questions resulted in violence. I could kill one or two of them, particularly if I used the Extreme Violence sci power, but it always ended with me dying and having to start over again. Interestingly, every time I started again I was given a different item that would assist me in a different room!


No you die, mutant son of ape!

That piece of information is both a positive and a negative. It’s a positive because it means I can get a real sense as to how certain puzzles are solved (i.e. what item I might need) every time I restart. There seem to be four different items on offer, which are a dagger for The Wall, a goblet for The Twins, a rope for De Profundis, and a fly for The Scorpion’s Presence.  The negative is that it’s pretty much impossible for me to blog my exact experience through the game when I keep dying and starting again with a new item. I’ve decided the best way to approach Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess is to focus on each item individually and the rooms they assist with. I assume that if I can figure out the secrets to each room, I might be able to figure out the correct path through them at a later stage. Speaking of rooms, here’s a map of the Zone of Ordeals to help you know where I am.


The Goblet


You wouldn't happen to have two goblets would you?

The second time I started the game I was given a goblet, which is apparently of use through the door called The Twins. Rather oddly, I was suddenly transferred to The Twins, without even having to find it. Within the room were a couple of serpent heads sticking out of a well and three doors. The door on the right apparently led to the Master’s Orbit (the starting room), the one on the left to The Source, and the one on the back wall to something called Who Will Be Saved? I decided to see what Gauss might have to say, but all he offered up was the word Inskripshun (Inscription). I couldn’t see any other items in the room that I could interact with, nor could I see anything that might have an inscription on it, so I focussed on the serpents.


The hand puppet show was just getting good when Gauss started banging on again!

My options available for each serpent were Inspect, Take, Shake and Open. Inspecting them resulting in “a beautiful bronze serpent with moving jaws”. Neither taking nor shaking them achieved anything, so all I was left with was “open”. I opened both the serpent mouths, then immediately wondered what I might need to put in them. The goblet suddenly sprung to mind, but since I had no liquid in it, I figured I’d probably have to hunt for something elsewhere. Intrigued by the strange name of the door in front of me, I tried entering Who Will be Saved?, only to be informed that “the door won’t open”. There was no point going back to the Master’s Orbit, so I entered The Source.


The synchronised serpent dying scene was a worthy climax!

Within the source was a serpent headed fountain in a bath, a plaque on the ground in front of it, and an inscription on the wall behind it. The “eureka” part of my brain started firing madly! Here was the inscription that Gauss had mentioned in The Twins, and there was also a bath containing liquid I could fill the goblet with and then pour into the serpent heads. The inscription said “one will drink, the other eat. And the passerby passes.” So it seemed pretty obvious that I was going to need to put liquid in one serpent head and some form of food in the other. What food though, and in which goes which? Before I tried filling the goblet, I investigated the plaque. I could touch, walk on, hit, lift, inspect or jump on it, so I tried all of them. Apart from discovering that the plaque is “really most lovely”, nothing happened.


So do I need to find beans, cabbage or onion?

I tried filling the goblet, and was surprised to find that “there’s no liquid here!” My options with the fountain were Take, Polish, Inspect, Talk, Smash and Climb On. When I inspected it I was told that “the eyes look worn out”. None of the other actions seemed to do anything, although polishing it resulted in “good”. I’m not certain whether it was inspecting it or polishing it, but all of a sudden I had the option to Press the Eye! Pressing it caused some liquid to flow from the serpent mouth into the bath, and I was then able to choose the goblet from my possessions and fill it up. I still couldn’t enter the Who Will Be Saved? room which also had a doorway from The Source, and I also had no idea what the plaque was for or what Gauss’ “inorder” comment might be about, so I went back to The Twins.


Some host you are!

I quickly emptied the goblet into the left serpent head and felt pretty satisfied when it filled it to the brim. Not only that, a small die appeared floating on the surface of the water. Before I could do anything, it disappeared down the serpent along with the water. I went back to the fountain to collect more water and when I returned and filled the serpent, this time I was ready to take the die as soon as it appeared. Awesome, I had a die!!! What the hell was I supposed to do with that? I threw it and it kept coming up with the number 2, but that didn't help. I eventually (after visiting other locations mind you) tried feeding the die to the second serpent, and was stunned that this was actually the solution! Once down, the door to Who Will Be Saved? unlocked!


The Dungeons and Dragons weekend came to a premature and traumatic end!

Obviously I haven’t taken you guys very far into the game yet, but I’ve spent so much time explaining the bizarre story and just as bizarre game mechanics, that I have to stop this post here. You’ll only need to wait a day or two to find out what was waiting for me in Who Will Be Saved?! I’m going to put my game time down as one hour, although I’ve actually spent closer to two exploring the various rooms so far. Writing the posts on the game this way will probably make me focus more intensely on each room instead of jumping about the way I was when I first started playing around. I really can’t comment on how I feel about the game just yet. I will say that there’s something oddly satisfying about the puzzles, but then some of it makes little sense at all. Only time will tell what the overruling level of enjoyment is.

Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours 00 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!

12 comments:

  1. Good idea of focusing on the ordeal rooms! I had wondered how you would handle this extremely non-linear game.

    And oh the very hazy memories those screens bring. Curiously I must have played this game before any other in this year or the previous one's lists. Also I don't see it mentioned, but does the game feature any animation at all? I seem to remember annoying the guards and getting an animated panel of their attack, but I may be imagining things. I also have the name "De Profundis" imprinted in my memory for some reason.

    Glad you're not hating it outright!

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    1. There's definitely a fighting animation, which is a bit corny, just like the ending animation. Yes, just got through the game today, and I felt the ending was plotwise a bit of a letdown.

      Apart from Gauss, I also found Zone Scan to be at times a pretty helpful source of hints. And I must say that the "bubbles in the brain" -interface sometimes gives away the solution too easily - when in interacting with an object you get "inspect", two or three actions that sound ridiculous, and one plausible action, you don't need to be Einstein to figure out what to do.

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    2. Are you perhaps remembering "De Profundis" from the Psalm? (it's been used as a reference a lot, according to wikipedia)

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  2. I'm yet to read this post (which looks fascinating) but I was wondering if you hadn't forgotten my answer to your riddle in your last post Trick? There was a few CAPs involved. Did I get it right? ;)

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    1. You did get it right Alfred! Well done!

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    2. Yay! I was quite happy to see that there was not already ten answers when I stumbled upon your riddle, so I'm definitely pleased of getting it right ;)

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  3. Interesting puzzles so far, and certainly a lot more approachable than Captain Blood (although you can see certain similarities!).

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  4. So, how much acid do we think they were on when they made this game?

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    1. I'm thinking they had some sort of special blend of hallucinogens for this. Who thought that background was a good idea? It looks like a terrible Magic Eye picture*!

      *vg'f n fnvyobng!

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  5. New adventure game on GoG! www.gog.com/en/gamecard/post_mortem

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  6. Sadly, no pure adventure games in the weekend promo: http://www.gog.com/en/promo/square_enix_weekend_promo_28_09_12

    Some action-adventure (Tomb Raider), but I think they are all too much on the action side.

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  7. http://www.gog.com/en/promo/activision_weekend_promo_05_10_12/

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