Penelope Journal Entry #1 "Dear diary: After being taken in that horrible house Hugo has brought me to his uncle’s house in England to forget everything of my traumatic experience. However, the minute I fell asleep he disappeared and then his uncle was murdered right in front of me. Ever more, I was locked in my room!! It’s happening all over again!!. But there is no way I’m going to stay put one more time. This time I’m gonna take matter into my own hands and beat the crap out of that murderer. My psychologist says that I have issues. Pff… I’ll show him who has issues when I mop the floor with this puny assassin.
Oh, look, flowers, bees, a river, parrots… What a wonderful place!! Wait. Wasn’t I supposed to do something? "
Alas, poor Horace. Killed in his own house with the only witness being a woman trapped in her room. Not that I knew that at that moment, because I took the hint from the game to look for Hugo and went directly to the yellow book in the bookcase after waking up.
|Our intrepid main character!|
The secret passage took me to the room where the murder took place. Uncle Horace’s study is a tidy place, or at least quite tidy for a recent murder scene, with a desk, a parrot, a chair and a dumb waiter. Parrots are known for their capacity for being live voice recorders very useful when you are trapped in a house with a murderer so my first instinct was to talk to the parrot who hastily reproduced the murder dialogue for me. Friking bird, I don’t know if I will find bird cookies in this game but you are not getting none of them. The desk contained a box of matches and a telephone. I took the matches but couldn’t do anything with the phone. With nothing left to do I started looking for exits. There were three doors leaving the room and the dumb waiter. The secret door was completely invisible so I could not get back to Penelope’s room, and two of the doors were locked so I took the only one available at the moment.
|Now I know why there are so many murderers unsolved. |
People try to not murder anyone in front of incriminating parrots...
And now I will introduce the typical paragraph regarding the controls and the like. But it is gonna be over pretty soon. It is exactly as Hugo or any of the SCI Sierra games. You can type whatever you want and maybe get an amusing answer from the parser. Or more often, get a useless answer. For example, trying to look at many things just returns a “You see nothing interesting about it” or a description of the room as if nothing was attached to the verb “look”, which kind of puts me off from looking at things. In many regards, this game is more of Hugo’s House of Horrors with little to no improvement in regards to controls. If anything, I would say the music is even worse, which makes me feel grateful for the tiny amount of sounds in the game.
Going back to the game, the door to the left took me to a nursery. The nursery contains a baby park, a set of cubes and a very bory decoration. Comparing the colour of the nursery to that of the mansion I think nobody took a moment to consider which room should be painted purple and which one pale blue. There is also a floating balloon which you can try to get. The balloon is moving through the room so you need expert positioning to allow the “take balloon” phrase to work. And then when you get it after dodging the baby park and set of cubes to get in the path of the balloon it just explodes containing a card with a wise advice. I’ll let you read it yourself.
|Another Confucius saying is that red herrings are only fun when they are literally a red herring...|
The nursery door was also locked. Hence I went back to the study and down the dumb waiter. Because it is common knowledge that all dumb waiters are human-sized and can support an adult’s weight. The box took me to the kitchen where I took some garlic from a cabinet. It is boring to me that every room has just one thing to do and almost no descriptions for anything else. Original Hugo had some interesting and funny moments like the scientist room, the dining room or even the dog, but this game is just… boring. A succession of empty rooms with nothing to do or see and little to do with the murder.
|The story of my life|
I left the kitchen through the garden’s door, which is the only one unlocked and that took me to another room with nothing to do. Kind of pretty. Or at least not completely painted in Paint. But completely useless. It seemed like there were three exits so I decided to leave by the right edge of the screen.
|Who would have imagined? The only interesting thing in this place is its location...|
That took me to a garden full of Venus Fly Traps with a magnifying glass sitting in the middle of the field. I’ve been to botanic gardens before and I know for a fact that there is no way these plants can harm a human. But reality has no business here. And so the plants can kill you on touch. I was immediately reminded of Space Quest 2 infamous plant maze. Chills came down my spine. However, after a few tries trying to get pass the plants and after trying to set them on fire I decided to leave them for later wondering if I needed an item.
|The dangerous dangerous venus fly traps. Born from hell. Or something.|
I went back to the garden door and took the south exit to get to the gardener’s shed. Oh boy. Another character at last. Even considering I’ve spent just about twenty minutes and run through barely six screens I’m very eager for something interesting to happen. There is nothing to do outside the shed, although you can see the gardener walking inside through the window, which is a nice touch. Inside you meet the creepiest gardener in history. He immediately start harassing Penelope and wanting a kiss. The shed has some tools, which you can’t take, and a panel with four colored buttons. Looking at the gardener the description states that he has a pair of pliers that he hides when he speaks with you.
|Ok, ok. No sex for items in this game. Bugger!|
I spent some time trying to flirt with the guy or even give him some of what he wants to no avail. I wasn’t able to get the pliers nor access to the buttons. The only thing I could think of was eating the garlic to get bad breath and apparently it was what needed to be done. The gardener ran away. With the pliers mind you. But at least it gave me access to the buttons. I didn’t have any idea of what the four buttons did. The only one with a description was the green one which said “b*g *a*pe*”. I guessed that the “*” symbols were there to keep a PG rating so I decided to leave the buttons at the moment. The game even tells straight that as you don’t know what the buttons are for it is better to leave them alone. Who am I to disagree with the game?
|He must be allergic or something. Maybe a vampire?|
I left the shed screen to the right to meet another of those digitized pictures of a closed gate. With no way of opening it I kept going right to a screen with a river, a bridge and some catnip plants. I took some catnip because it was not nailed to the floor and kept going right. When I tried to cross the bridge however, Penelope lost hold of the matches, which fell to the river and got wet. That sounded like a dead end or the most weird start for a puzzle chain but as I was still exploring the screens I had access to I just kept going right.
|Lo and behold the clumsiest human being in the planet!|
The next screen was full of bees. They kill you on touch and it didn’t seem like I could pass through running. I tried using the matches on the bees but they were soaked, although the message left me thinking that maybe managing to cross the bridge with the matches was the solution.
|Bees!! Why did it have to be bees?|
I was stuck with four things to do: get the magnifying glass in the venus fly garden, press buttons in the shed, open the grate and get pass the bridge with the matches. It seemed like the buttons were the option with most opportunities so I went back and started pressing them. The red one seems to activate the shed’s light. The yellow and green ones didn’t have an immediate result, but pressing the blue one let me hear a distant cracking sound. I ran back to the gate and it was opened now. The lights were also on so I either the yellow or the green button was controlling them. I stepped inside to find… a maze.
|Well. At least I knew for a fact that it was the entrance to a maze...|
And one particularly boring at that. The maze is a 8x8 grid with just three items in the whole maze. With the addition that moving horizontally is quite easy, because you can tap the left or right arrow to start walking in a direction, but moving vertically is hell because the perspective makes going from bottom to top a diagonal instead of a straight line. Therefore, you have pay attention to move the slow character through a ton of empty rooms. Fun, I tell you.
|Excel maps are my thing if you have not realized that yet|
The three items in the maze were a gun, a bottle with SERUM written on it and a bell. Yeah, completely random items so I will try not to get any guess from them into who is the murderer. Because you may not remember it, but this game is about a murder mystery. Not blaming you, the designer certainly didn’t remember either.
I went back to the venus fly garden to get the magnifying glass. Of course none of the items worked so I tried to get past them again. After a lot of tries and saves I got the magnifying glass. Let me tell you right now that this maze is the most random thing ever and that getting the path is just a matter of try and error because you sometimes die at completely random moments in which you could swear you were not touching anything. Some of the plants seem to have quite a lot of reach.
I went back to the bees and tried to use my new items. And nothing. Absolutely nothing worked. So then I thought, well maybe getting the matches through the bridge is the answer. But no. I tried throwing the matches and got a message that Penelope was not that strong. Dropping them before crossing the bridge seemed to work but that solved nothing. In the end, I realized that sometimes I got a bit further away while crossing the bridge depending on where I tried to cross it. And then it hit me. This was another “maze”. Oh. My. God. I wanted to kill someone. This is infuriating at so many levels. Such a completely arbitrary unfair obstacle… And just to get the matches to the other side, which didn’t help me with the bees.
|Ha!! I bet you were thinking you would miss this game’s art. Take a look at the gate.|
There is a light in the bee screen so I thought to myself: “hey, maybe they were turned on and I turn them off when I pressed the yellow or green button”. Hence, I went back to the shed, pressed the yellow button and came back. As I was going back I noticed that the lights at the gate were off now. So that’s what the yellow button does. Back the shed, green button this time and back to the bees. No luck. The items didn’t seem to help either. I went back to every screen available and no luck. I even restarted the game to see if there was something in the starting room I hadn’t picked. Took a rest, started to watch the video I had recorded of the play session and then I noticed that at some random point I suddenly lost score points. I hadn’t done anything at that point so I started to think that maybe the green button was timed. I restarted the game but this time I didn’t press the button until I was ready to get past the bees. And that worked. The bees were all flying randomly instead of actively trying to kill me. Hurrah for me!! I wanna kill myself instead of playing this game!
|Go into the light, bees! Into the light!!|
Session Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s 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!