Sunday, 22 June 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - Fighting the Fear

P.J. Barrett Journal Entry 4: "I explored two more paths out of the crossroads today, with the first one leading to a forest and the second a winding canyon. I didn't find much in the forest, but I did have a very nice nap. I had a very strange dream though, and I could swear Vindah was trying to communicate to me through it. The canyon was pretty amazing, leading to a graveyard for huge animals called Yulas. After evading the embodiment of their fears, I eventually made my way to their skeletons, and after a fight with a bunch of hungry green creatures, found the jeweled arrow that the prince killed a Yula with. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but it sure feels like a good win."


It's neat that you can see the tethered islands and the mountains in the background.

I fear I will reach a point soon where I will run out of things to do in Altered Destiny. I’ve been able to make progress due to the fairly large environment, but at some point I’m going to have to start solving puzzles or be completely stuck. At the end of my last post, I’d left the Order and made my way south of the crossroads to the “Edge of the Forest”. There were leaves falling gently from the sky, and when I looked at them I was told they were from “the thin trees, a variety of the genus Somna”. I thought I might be able to pick one up, but my attempts failed: “Possession of just one of these leaves can cause eternal somnambulism. So leaf them be.” Ignoring that terrible pun, I walked to the left of screen and arrived at the “Eastern Edge” of the forest. Once again there didn’t appear to be anything to do, but I did note the little “zutterbys” that were “zuttering” around. The only direction I could go from there was south, so I did, soon finding myself “In a Wooded Glen”. “The forest starts in earnest here, and zutterbys enter from a small clearing to the east. A wave of fatigue, like a gust of warm air, washes over you.” There were some ugly looking plants on this screen, and I soon discovered they were called pomenta flowers. Apparently the pomentas were part of the “flubox’s diet”, and they writhe to attract zutterbys for pollination. I didn’t know what a flubox was or why I should care about the pollination process of the flowers, so considered moving on.


Nothing to see here.


I tried looking for the Indella bird that Vindah asked for, since I wasn't sure whether this was the woods he spoke of or not.

Before I did so, I noticed a small pink creature scurrying around one of the trees. It was a quirl, which I was told “spends its time circling tree trunks waiting for tasty zutterbys to wander close by”. All this ecosystem info was mildly interesting, but once again I couldn’t see how it might help me. I walked east, reappearing “By a Cliff Edge”. There were two fox-like animals sleeping at the base of Somna trees, and stacks of leaves drifting down. There was also some sort of green web strung between two trees, and typing look revealed what it was: “On the brink of a cliff, the small flubox and its mate settle in for a snooze, adding to the local zutterby population. Strung between two trees is a comfy-looking hammock of green vines.” I didn’t yet know whether sleeping in the forest was a good idea or not, so saved my game before going any further. I typed “use hammock", only to get the standard “you’d better figure out just how to use it” message. I tried “get in hammock”, and watched as P.J. followed my command, hopping in and seemingly drifting off to sleep. (4 points) Nothing else seemed to happen though, which I thought was a bit weird. I typed “dream”, thinking of Les Manley as I did so, and was surprised when a small dream bubble appeared above P.J.’s head! (4 points) Within the bubble was a television in black and white, and the image seemed to be flicking between a variety of shows. From what I could tell, there was a cooking show, then some sort of thriller, then a western, then strangely, a man looking shocked on a beach in colour.


Sleeping on the job is rarely a good idea in adventure games. To my surprise, it seemed to be the right thing to do here.


Does anyone recognise the scenes that appear on the TV? Is it simply a reminder of the all-night movie marathon I was going to watch before all this happened?

As if the dream images weren’t strange enough, Vindah suddenly interrupted! “Pardon me for interrupting, but you must remember to always face fear straight on. Show no fear of your own. Stand immobile and show fear you know its source.” I didn’t know what “fear” Vindah was talking about, but I was distracted from trying to figure it out when my entire surroundings abruptly changed! Gone was all the green grass and sleeping fluboxes, replaced by cracked ground and bubbling pits of yellowy brown liquid. I could still see myself sleeping on the ground there, and once again couldn’t figure out what it was meant to represent. Before I knew it I was back in the hammock, and everything around me was as it was before. I eventually typed “wake up”, as it seemed P.J. would sleep endlessly if I didn’t take action. Back on my feet, I continued to the east, reaching a screen called “Midway”. This section of forest contained more of the unusual rock formations that I’d seen in the previous screens, but I couldn’t find anything to do there. The only new path I could take was to the south, so I took it, arriving at the “Bottom” of the hill. There were a bunch of pomentas, “writhing in some choreographed mating ritual”. Clearly they were trying to attract zutterbys for pollination, but I still couldn’t see how any of this natural process description could be relevant! I wandered to the west, which took me to a screen called “Bottom of Hill”. There I found another bunch of pomenta flowers, but there was also an item on the ground that looked interesting, and a narrow pathway leading off to the south.


What is it with Accolade and their dream sequences?! At least I couldn't pick this one up.


Now that's just...weird!


The leaf really doesn't look like it belonged to one of these pomenta flowers.

The item turned out to be a large, round pomenta leaf in the “seventeenth stage of pomenta plant development”. I added it to my inventory, but could think of no use for it at this stage. (5 points) With that done, I took the pathway leading to the south, watching as P.J. followed it around to an area with some sort of artefact in the middle. I arrived at an arched bridge, and could see what looked like a large jewel held within a globe upon a pedestal in the distance. Before I could even look at it, a message popped up with some bad news: “The plaintive, haunting cries of the Howlers beckon you to their waiting arms. You struggle but cannot resist their cries.” P.J. walked straight into the water (I can only assume it was water, but it looked more like mist), where a horrifying creature launched up and took him beneath the surface. I hadn’t heard anything about these Howlers elsewhere in the game, and couldn’t think of anything I might be able to do to avoid falling under their spell. Well, travelling south of the crossroads had produced yet another puzzle to be solved without providing any solutions for any pre-existing ones. Could the jewel shaped artefact be the Jewel of Light? Surely not, since I was told I would find it in the castle where Helmar resided. There was no way I was going to find out now, so I restored back to where I’d picked up the lead, and then made my way back to the crossroads. I still had one more path to take to complete the initial environment exploration.


My excitement at finding a new location was short lived.


What the hell is thaaaaaaaaiiiieeeeeeeeaaahhhh........

Heading off to the north gave me another bird’s eye view, and this time it looked like I was heading towards a mountain range followed by desert landscape. On arrival I discovered it was a large canyon which I could travel down into. The screen description warned me that there was a powerful stench rising from below, but I had no choice but to descend. I soon found myself standing “On a Path”, and there was a ghostly plasma-like entity floating around above me. I typed “look” to see if I could figure out where I was and what the entity was: “The odor is even stronger near the floor of the canyon, making you want to leave this area immediately. Huge Yula footprints, blurred over time, make the canyon floor impassable. Yulas must have walked through here to their graveyards.” The scroll that Towhee had given me had mentioned the Yulas, so I pulled up a screenshot to see what the story had been. “The prince then shot a Yula on its way to the graveyard. Other Yulas heard and drove off the people.” Was I in the Yula graveyard now? Was this floating thing a Yula? I looked at it, and discovered it wasn’t, but it was definitely connected: “As the Yula passed through the canyon on the way to their graveyard, they shed their fears of death. These fears come to life when they sense the presence of another creature.” So these things were the fears of the Yulas, and would likely become active if they sensed me in the area. That sounded ominous!


Their really are some striking images in Altered Destiny.


Oh do I have to go down into there? Don't you remember what happened to Aron Ralstan!?


Yep, I'm pretty sure my fear would look something like this too!

I took a few steps along the path, and the Yula’s fear immediately came after me. As it made contact, I died instantly: “Fears can get to you in life, can’t they? And these huge fears, remnants of the huge Yulas, proved to be a bit too much for you to handle.” I attempted to avoid being touched by the thing, but found myself facing multiple fears on the next screen. It seemed unlikely that trying to walk straight past them was the answer. I looked through my inventory, but couldn’t see anything that seemed even remotely useful under the circumstances. I wracked my brain, and the answer suddenly came to me! Eureka! Vindah had talked about fears while visiting my dream in the hammock. What had he said? “Pardon me for interrupting, but you must remember to always face fear straight on. Show no fear of your own. Stand immobile and show fear you know its source.” Could it be that I just needed to look at the entity and then stand immobile for a while and something would happen? I stood still and typed “look at fear”: “You look inward and find the courage to go on.” The entity merged itself into the rock next to me, allowing me to pass! When I visited the next screen, I repeated the process and the two fears responded the same way. I noticed they left some sort of residue behind whilst doing so, and typing “look” revealed that it was slime. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get to the slime, since it was a fair distance from the path, but I typed “get slime” anyway. “You’d do better trying to fill something with it.”


I'm not sure why the fears get sucked into the rock, but it's a cool effect.

Hmmm, did I have some sort of container to hold the slime? I tried the bottle of pigment and the golden tube, but unsurprisingly they didn’t work. I still had the bowl of popcorn that I’d started the game with. Was I supposed to get rid of the popcorn and use the bowl? I typed “eat popcorn”, and P.J. eagerly devoured it! (-2 points) I was dismayed to find that I lost 2 points for this action, but decided to go ahead with my plan anyway. I was now able to fill the bowl with the slime, watching as P.J. climbed up to the residue and scraped it into the container. It seemed likely to me that I was going to need the popcorn elsewhere in the game, but since I had no other way to hold the slime at this point, decided to carry on. It was only then that I realized I was standing in front of a “Canyon Fork”, and would have to decide which of three pathways I wanted to take. I chose the middle one, and reappeared in the “Canyon Depths”. The environment was getting quite complicated at this point, with paths leading off in multiple directions. The one I was on however led solely to the north, so I manoeuvred P.J. through it. I’ll say now that I died probably dozens of times throughout my journey through the canyon, falling off the paths regularly. Using the keys was difficult due to the precise movements needed, yet using the mouse didn’t help either as I kept getting stuck behind things. It was immensely frustrating, and it didn’t help that the game gives the player only a handful of save slots.


How can one think of slime without thinking of Ghostbusters?


I hope I'm not going to have to map the canyons. Excel really isn't going to like this!

The path I took through the “Canyon Depths” led to the “Canyon Heights”. There seemed to be a plant or something above me on a separate path, but I couldn’t make out exactly what it was. The screen description gave nothing away, so I typed “look at plant”, hoping that’s what it might be: “You should acquaint yourself with herbal lore so you can recognize it.” Hmmm, did that mean it was a plant, or was this another case of the parser messing with me? I couldn’t think of any time in the game where someone had mentioned something about a plant, and I also didn’t think I’d seen a plant like this one anywhere else. It looked as if there might be a path leading onwards past it, but since I wasn’t on that path, I couldn’t test whether that was possible. I followed my path to the right and around a corner, reappearing at the “Canyon End”. I could see two large skeletons in the distance, which I figured must be the bones of two dead Yulas. The screen description proved that theory correct: “Close to the canyon floor, the stench is again strong. Like carefully arranged sculptures, the bones of long-dead Yulas are just visible.” Once again I followed the path, and eventually ended up standing “Amid the Bones”. They were huge, and it made me wonder how the prince managed to take one down with a single arrow. “The graveyard, the Yulas’ final resting place. Though your hands tremble slightly, you feel pride in having reached here. The long-dead Yulas are still an awesome sight; etched into their bones by their biochemistry are their life experiences.”


What is that damn thing on the upper path? (No, I don't actually want someone to tell me.)


What? Are you blind?


Lucky these things make their way to the graveyard to die. There wouldn't be any moving them!

This seemed interesting, and I wondered whether it actually meant I might be able to learn something by investigating the bones further. I typed “read bones”, and was shocked to find that I literally could: “Roughly translated, one small patch of bone says, ‘I am YoYula JoJello, member of the KoKello clan. Many years I have lived and many fears I have faced.” As interesting as this was, I couldn't read anything into it, so moved on. The next screen to the west held the huge skulls of three Yulas, and I could see the jewelled arrow that the prince had shot stuck in the top of one! Reading the bones gave me the same message as before. There didn’t appear to be any way past the first skull, nor could I climb it, so I was going to have to find another way to get to the arrow. I walked back to the previous screen and for the first time noticed that there was a web of rope-like material stretching between many of the bones. Looking at it revealed it had been created by a large spider that I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting. I wondered if I might be able to climb it, so wandered over to a likely spot and typed “climb bones”. It worked, and P.J. scaled the hind legs of the long dead YoYula JoJello. One he reached the top, a strange green creature with a trumpet shaped beak protruding from its face came scurrying across the ground below. Closer examination returned the following description: “The Kleeg is a voracious animal, though not all foods agree with it. Some foods give Kleegs terrible gas. Its impish nature makes some creatures feel falsely secure around it. Its large snout ends in a bell-like mouth.”


Man, that prince was a damn good shot!


I figure I'll need this to enter the castle...or something.


I reckon this thing would snore like anything!

I ignored the little guy for the moment, and concentrated on tight roping across the web in the direction of the skulls. However, after just a few steps across, I was informed that I was “a little heavy for traipsing webs like this”, and fell to my death. Restoring back to my arrival at the Yula skeletons, I wondered whether dropping some items, the way I did when trying to use the transporter early in the game, might allow me to get across. I climbed the bones again, and this time dropped my axe and sword before trying to cross. I was still too heavy! I restored again, but this time I started dropping items on the ground below rather than up on the skeleton. As soon as I dropped the axe, a message popped up: “Oh oh. Here come some Kleegs. Hold onto your jammies! They’ll steal anything not nailed down.” A bunch of Kleegs came rushing onto screen, and they quickly picked up my axe and ran off with it! Well that was annoying! Clearly I was going to have to drop my stuff up on the skeleton rather than down on the ground, so I set about doing exactly that. I dropped everything I had, hoping I didn’t require one of the items while retrieving the jewelled arrow. To my delight, I was now able to cross the web, but it wasn’t all roses I’m afraid. Before I could reach the next screen, the Kleeg rushed up the web and began bouncing on the piece I was standing on! “Heh hee Hee hoo. Tee hee Te hoo. Bouncey bouncey.”


You little bastards!


Nasty Kleeg indeed!

This of course caused me to fall to my death again, so I was going to have to figure out a way to get rid of, or at least detain, the Kleeg before trying to cross. Re-reading the Kleeg description, I figured they hadn’t mentioned the “terrible gas” bit for no reason. Did I have anything I could feed it? Nope, but the popcorn immediately came to mind. Was I supposed to feed the Kleeg the popcorn, and then collect the slime on the way back out of the canyon? It felt like a bit of a long shot, but I had to try it. I restored to an older game, and made my way back through the canyon without picking up the slime or eating the popcorn. Once I was back at the Yula skeletons, I dropped the bowl of popcorn onto the ground (-3 points), and crossed my fingers as the rampaging Kleegs went at it. The outcome was that the Kleeg that had been bothering my tightrope efforts was now lying on its back with a very bloated tummy. Victory!!!! (5 points) Not only had I removed the obstacle, I also found that I could add the Kleeg to my inventory. (10 points) At least I would have been able to if I didn’t receive a message saying “You’ll have to drop something first.” I recalled Ilmari saying something about an item limit on the inventory, but it still came as something of a shock. It’s not like I was carrying all that much! It didn’t really matter for the time being, as I needed to drop everything to cross the web. I did so, making my way across to the skulls, where I was able to pick up the jewelled arrow as planned. (15 points) This moment of victory seemed a great place to end my session, and therefore this post.


You'll be trumpeting out of all orifices now you little shit.


A fine day's work if I do say so myself.

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've 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!

14 comments:

  1. Nooooo. No! I'm positive I tried "climb bones" half a dozen times at the Yula graveyard and nothing came of it. Sigh. I haven't read past that point, at least I have something new to try now...

    As for the tv shows in the dream, I'm guessing the "western" scene is actually from The Lone Ranger intro:
    http://vtdigger.org/vtdNewsMachine/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/lone-rangeredt.jpg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td4RHvyAFsM

    and the "man looking shocked on a beach" could actually be Gilligan?
    http://michaelstvtray.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/gilligans-island.jpg

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    1. I found a transcription of the game's hint book (http://www.lemonamiga.com/games/docs.php?id=62), and they mention what the shows are: "Those are some of the greatest TV shows of all time - My Three Sons, I Spy, The Lone Ranger and Gilligan's Island."

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    2. Ha, awesome. Never heard of My Three Sons though....

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  2. Kaptain Brawe Episode 1 is available for free while the Kaptain Brawe 2 Kickstarter is still going (that's 3 days now, so hurry):
    http://www.kaptainbrawe2.com/#free-download

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  3. Apologies if this was asked already, but why does the game only use 16 colors when it's obviously using VGA (or MCGA) due to the fact that the colors are not the standard EGA ones?

    According to MobyGames, this came out for DOS (1990) and then Amiga (1991), and the far superior Amiga graphics look like something that could be displayed on 256-color VGA as-is.

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    1. My guess is that, since not all consumers had a VGA card, they would rather create the graphics first in EGA and then convert to VGA than the other way around.

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  4. Could it be using 640X480 16 color mode? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vga

    Original VGA (not superVGA) didn't actually let you do 256 colors at 640X480 (I can't tell from the screenshots if they're only 320X200).

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    1. The game itself runs at 320x200. Trickster is using a DOSBox 0.74 glitch that doubles the screenshot resolution.

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  5. Still, beautiful scenery and very surreal artworks. I'm sure I played this game before but was very put off by the horrible parser in the first 10 minutes of gameplay; swearing never to touch this ever again.

    Regret a little after seeing all these content. Just a little though, since I still can remember how stupid the parser was. Glad someone else is bearing the brunt of it for me. I'll expect, for every 10 minutes of progress, at least 3 of those minutes are used to re-phrase commands in anticipation that the goddamn parser could understand what you're trying to say.

    So, that's like, more than 1 hour of struggling with the parser on Trix's part thus far.

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    1. It's the worst experience I've had so far with a parser. The reason I couldn't find a way to climb the Yula skeleton was that the game always rejected my attempts with "You won't get anywhere climbing that". You'd think they'd give you a clue that you need to stand on a precise spot instead of dismissing the climb as a futile endeavor.

      This comes right after forcing you to navigate several winding paths through the canyons, in all their pixellated, terribly-drawn perspective glory, in which the slightlest misstep (even behind scenery) results in death, except for some blessed but inexplicable segments where the character walks in auto-pilot, as if the designers suddenly felt they had already messed with you too much.

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    2. Oh, come now. Trix is being waaaayyy too slow in this game already. Reminding him of all the other bullshit would only put him off even further. I want my QFG2 fix sooner, man.

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  6. This is all verbatim:

    >GIVE LEAF TO FLUBOX
    Which leaf you mean, the leaf or the fluffy leaves?
    >LEAF
    Which leaf you mean, the leaf or the fluffy leaves?
    >LOOK AT LEAF
    Which leaf you mean, the leaf or the fluffy leaves?
    >TAKE FLUFFY LEAVES
    I don’t see the strange sign here.

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    Replies
    1. Hah, I guess the parser wanted you to use the article - designed by a grammar nazi.

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    2. THE LEAF! THE LEAF! THE LEAF IS ON FIRE!
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChmUC0OysoU

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