Sunday, 5 February 2017

Gateway - Blood and Guts

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #7: "No $(*# way. I go from a beautifully relaxing planet to THIS? Every single thing here is trying to eat me, even the plants! And they’re all disgusting! I hate this place. I’d better get all that money they’re promising."

I started out this session by working on the fourth shield generator world, but I got a bit stuck there too, so I decided to solve puzzles on the station first, which I probably should have done earlier.

The consequences of stealing from the museum.

I knew I needed to get the tuning fork from the museum at some point, so I went there first. The easiest thing to do was simply to take it, but it didn't take long before I was arrested and fined $1000 and the fork was returned to the museum. That won't do.

Instead, I start experimenting with the other device in the room. The description mentions a circular depression about ten centimeters across, which makes me think of the medallion I'd acquired near the beginning from Nubar Kamalian. I put the medallion in the depression [5], and the machine starts to hum! When I put my card in the machine, the medallion projects a hologram of the card that remains even when I take the medallion away from the machine. So the machine is some kind of scanner and the medallion holds and displays the scanned information.

What is the security system sensing if a hologram replacement is sufficient?

Hmm, can I make a scan of the tuning fork, then? When I take the tuning fork, an alarm sounds and a voice warns me to replace the artifact immediately. I'd better work fast. I put the tuning fork in the device [10] (with the medallion back in the depression), and the hologram forms. I immediately take the medallion and put it on the tuning fork's pedestal [15]. Somehow this fools the security system and the alarm is canceled. I now have an irreplaceable Heechee artifact.

I need to get the gun out of the armory, too. The only other way out of the room is the maintenance vent. But the vents around the station are all locked with a strangely-shaped latch that requires a special key. I wait around in various rooms for awhile just to see if I can catch a maintenance robot going through a vent, but I never see any.

He's a trusting sort of fellow...

The only other lead I have is the emergency shutdown lever in the hydroponics park. I don't have any particular reason to pull it, but I go do that anyway just to see what happens [5]. After a few minutes, an old man appears to do the maintenance to restart the hydroponics system. He carries a toolbox which contains various tools, including a particular kind of special key!

He doesn't seem to suspect me of being the one to pull the lever since I'm new. In fact, he hands me the toolbox, asking me to make myself useful. After he opens the control box with the key, he even hands it right to me. Of course he wants me to put it back in his toolbox, but, well, let's borrow it for awhile. The fate of humanity is at stake, here. So I hide it in the planter tray instead [10].

Rolf was one lucky dude...until he wasn’t.

While he's tinkering with the hydroponics machine, the old man tells me stories about Rolf Becker's Heechee finds. I think the game is telling me this Rolf guy is going to be important. First there was that magazine, and now this. He was certainly lucky, except when he didn’t return from his third mission.

The old man also gives me a tip about some scientist who appears to be walking through Heechee walls. He says he hid in that shipping crate on Level Babe and watched him do it after midnight. Something else to check out. So triggering the hydroponics shutdown was definitely the right thing to do here, as far as the plot goes.

Next I go back to the armory and open the vent with the key [5]. There's also a little button inside the vent, labeled "Call Maintenance HVAC/LS Robot." I put the gun in the vent and push the button [10]. (For some reason I get two 5-point score notifications, so maybe it's 5 to push the button once, and 5 to push it here when the gun is in the vent.) I wait a moment and a spider-like robot appears and puts the gun into its waste container.

In one vent...

...and out the other.

Then I close the vent, go to one of the conference rooms, and use the button to call the robot again. It's the same one, fortunately, so I can take the gun from it [15]. The station certainly has some large security holes, doesn't it? Now I just have to make sure not to go near the guards, or they'll take it from me again.

Now that I have the gun, I proceed to the second shield generator, located in an alien jungle. A very dangerous jungle, at that. When I step out of the ship, vines immediately start growing around my feet, and after a few turns the vines will immobilize me. Sometimes a giant worm will break out of the ground and start chewing on my suit. One screen to the east I find huge anemones that won't let me past. Plus after a few turns a giant spider appears and will attack if I don't retreat. The only other item nearby seems to be a large seed pod from the nearby trees.

Spiders, anemones, vines, oh my!

I've got to time my movements carefully to avoid falling prey to any of these threats. Any of them individually is deadly; the combination is even worse. This place is terrible. I need to go this way though because I see a tower in the distance. That must be where the shield generator is.

I can only deal with one threat at a time...

I pick a pod from the trees [3] and carry it with me as I move around. Then the next time a worm appears, I "get" it to pull it off me and a huge pterosaur swoops down and captures it [4]. I move east and immediately shoot the spider when it appears, then shoot it again when it moves to attack. The spider tries to eat the gun, which discharges again and kills it from the inside [10]. Then I have to run away just so the vines don't kill me.

In retrieving the gun, my suit becomes covered in the spider's ichor, so I'm able to safely move past the anemones toward an alien swamp full of tentacles [5]. I've passed one danger just to find another. I think at this point I need to use the pterosaur, but the worm's too wiggly to hold onto after I pull it off my suit.

Epic battle!

The game's kind of a bit misleading here because if I just get the worm or throw it, it falls to the ground and the pterosaur gets it, even on the swamp screen. I have to specifically "throw worm into swamp" to get it within reach of the tentacled creature. That triggers an epic battle over the worm between a pterosaur and a huge octopus, which ends with the pterosaur killing the octopus [10]. Another danger is neutralized, and I can use the body of the octopus to traverse the swamp safely.

At least the rat is harmless? Maybe?

Arriving at the next screen [5], I find spikeball plants, which look just as dangerous as everything else on this crazy planet. I throw my pod at one of them. I miss, but a giant rat rushes out to eat the pod, like it does when I throw or drop the pod on other screens, except this time, it brushes one of the plants, which literally explodes, sending its spikes everywhere and killing the rat instantly [5]. I immediately take the rat [5], which prevents the spikeball plant from eating it. (Ew, a huge tongue emerges from the plant's stalk.) I also take a spike from the tree next to me [3].

The snake is even worse before it's full and content.

Having seen their power, I apparently pass through the spikeballs unharmed, quickly reaching the plaza of the tower, which is guarded by a huge snake. (Is anything not huge and dangerous on this planet? Argh.) Fortunately, I can just give the rat to the snake. It settles down to digest its meal and ignores me [10]. I open the door and go in.

There's the control panel! One more obstacle, a teeny little slug. No problem, right? I reach for the panel...uh oh! The slug suddenly becomes huge and completely blocks me from the panel. Well, the gun's clogged with ichor and won't fire, but I've got something else that's sharp. I poke the slug with the spike I picked up, and it explodes...all over the walls and me [10]. That's disgusting. I hate this planet.

Another creepy creature??

You have GOT to be kidding me.

After that, it's straightforward. I turn the power knob, pull the lever, and press the activation button, just like the other two planets, and the shield is activated [25]. I retrace my steps and return to Gateway, receiving the next $5 million bonus. The spacesuit is also cleaned, fortunately. It needed it after everything that got on it during that mission. Ick.

Bonus: Deaths #2-10

I did not find any way to die from the octopus, the pterodactyl, or the pufferslug, but literally everything else on that planet was deadly.

Death by giant spider. (#2)

Death by vines. (#3)

Death by worm. (#4)

Death by spikeball. (#5)

Death by snake. (#6)

If you shoot the snake with the gun. (#7)

Deaths mentioned by an "Anonymous" last time:

If you steal from the museum three times. (#8)

If you sleep in the beast's lair on Dorma 5. (#9)

If you visit random coordinates with the ship three times. (#10)

Score: 817 of 1600
Balance: $16,541,450
Status: Orion Program (green badge)
Missions: 10
Shield Generators: 3 of 4
Deaths: 10

Session Time: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 0 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!


  1. >so I decided to solve puzzles on the station first,
    >which I probably should have done earlier.

    I solved those station puzzles on the first day, because I was so paranoid of wasting time. I did everything I could between predetermined events.

    1. I wonder, is there really any time limit in the game? Some people can be found only at certain times, but those times recur every day.

    2. Sort of.

      When I was a little lad with more free time than sense, I wanted to see if the Assassins would ever show up if enough time passed, so... I waited. A lot.

      After about a year or so of game time, the game just kind of abruptly ends; the start over/restore/undo/quit dialog just pops up without any kind of accompanying "boy you sure screwed up" message.

      I'm assuming it was an oversight, and that they just didn't expect any players to goof off quite so much, so they didn't plug in an appropriate game over sequence.

    3. You might have run into some kind of overflow in the timekeeping variables. Anyway, even if there's no time limit for most of the game, there is a time limit during the endgame.

    4. Could be; maybe that's why Eric the Unready had that one-day time limit for each new area.

      Anyways - as far as getting yourself killed, that gun's the ticket. Shooting at civilians or soldiers on Gateway both wind up getting you ventilated, albeit with different messages. Can't remember if the game lets you go back or not, but firing your gun inside the Mutz chief's hut or at Bigfoot also ends you.

  2. Wow, that sequence on the Planet of a Thousand Deaths sounds rough, like the notorious early sequence in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with the babelfish.

  3. I have some issues with the animals depicted in the game. It's like the writers and artists weren't on the same page a few times.

    The picture of a 'pterasaur' is clearly a dragon

    The 'spider' looks much more like an ant with 2 extra legs (and believe me, I KNOW a giant ant when I see one)

    I also really liked the snake gun death - made me laugh.