James' House: I've finally found him right? Right?!?!
Well, I’ve finished Gold Rush! It took me just over an hour to get from finding Jake’s cabin to celebrating the discovery of a huge cache of gold with him. There were only two real challenges remaining and unfortunately, they were both examples of the game taking advantage of the engine’s shortcomings (one of my pet hates). As I mentioned in the journal entry, the cabin didn’t actually offer much other than a box of matches, and there appeared to be no way to open the trapdoor I found under the rug from within the room (the game specifically tells you that there’s no way). The obvious place to go next was the outhouse, which was just a few metres away from the house. Getting to the outhouse though turned out to be far more challenging than I could ever have guessed!
No Jake and no note. All bets are off people!!!
When I said “look at outhouse”, the game responded with “there’s a path running from the front door to the outhouse”, but said path seemed to be blocked by what I can only describe as shrubbery. I walked along the wall of bush, but there was no gap to walk through. I tried to go round the obstacle by going a screen west, then south and then east, in an attempt to enter the cabin screen from the south, but not only was I constantly accosted by bandits, entering from the south simply placed me at the northern part of the screen again. Clearly I was going to have to find a way to get past the bush, but I was struggling to think of one. I couldn’t climb over it, nor could I light it on fire using the matches. Finally, I just tried walking through it again and noticed one spot where I couldn’t walk west when I was hard up against it. I walked east and then south and then basically mashed the south, east and west keys until I ended up standing on the southern side of the bushes!
Perhaps it was common to have a maze seperating miners from their toilets in the gold rush era
Honestly, if you’re going to place a maze in a game, surely you need to let the player know that it’s even there, and then give them a perspective that might allow them to navigate through it in a sensible fashion. This sort of puzzle seems intentionally placed to do nothing more than slow the player down, and unfortunately it wasn’t the last or worst case of it. Anyway, once I got to the outhouse, it didn’t take me long to figure out that the way forward was to actually hop into the filthy hole! I did enjoy the breaking down the fourth wall humour that they went for here as Jerrod asks the player whether he really has to get into it. Once in the mine, I lit my lantern and started to look around. There's a door blocking your path, but I was able to use the remaining unused items in my inventory to get past it (tie the string to the magnet and lower it through the hole in the door to get the key on the other side). Once through I eventually found a pick and started hacking at the walls randomly. After I’d been everywhere that I could, I’d found a couple of chunks of gold, but still no Jake!
This puzzle took some thinking, but it's pretty obvious which items to use, just not necessarily how to use them
It’s here that I had a stroke of luck, and I have to wonder how anyone might progress past this point without a similar thing happening. While I was attempting to find some sort of path I hadn’t yet explored, I accidentally fell off a ladder. Due to the rather annoying sensitivity of the ladders in the mine, I’d already fallen to my death several times, so I prepared to restore once again. Only this time while I was falling, the light of my torch showed me that there was a path off to the left of the ladder. Basically this path was only accessible by blindly stepping off a ladder halfway up in exactly the right spot! There’s absolutely no way of knowing that it’s there from what I can tell, and I can only guess that this is the part of the game that Fenrus got stuck on for two years. I, through sheer luck, only got stuck there for about twenty minutes, but I can see how easily someone could get stuck here permanently.
Oh I know...I'll just randomly step off this ladder onto the path that I don't know is there!
Once I got myself on the path (which took many attempts without falling even when I figured there was one), it wasn’t long before I was talking to my long lost brother. We both started digging in the underground cavern that he’d been working in, and a few pick-swings later, we were celebrating an extremely impressive find. Watching both Jerrod and Jake dance around is pretty hysterical, and I have to say the ending is well handled, which is fortunate after such an ordeal in getting there. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the game as a whole just yet. I want to make sure when I rate it that I don’t let the poor second half completely negate what was a pretty enjoyable first half. There are lots of interesting ideas in the game and the setting is fresh and still to this day pretty unique. I’ll sleep on it and give a final rating tomorrow. Then it’s time for King’s Quest IV. Who wants to accompany me?!
I'm pretty satisfied with 213 out of 250, considering how many things I fudged my way through
Session Time: 1 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 00 minutes