Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Game 22: Psycho - Won!

Detective Journal Entry 2: “I did it! I’ve rescued the curator and recovered the missing jewels! It didn’t take me long to find the curator locked away in the basement, but he was in pretty bad shape when I found him. I then searched the rest of the house for his medicine, which was just as well, as he gave me the combination for Norman’s safe as soon as I gave it to him. Then it was just a matter of reaching the safe, which did involve avoiding a horrifying spectral woman in the attic. I’m just grateful Norman didn’t turn up at any stage! I certainly wouldn’t want to confront such a demented criminal, particularly on his home turf. It’s time to leave this place once and for all!”

The Kitchen: Where the nightmare temporarily ended a couple of days ago

Let’s get straight into it! At the end of my last post I’d gotten my hands on a skeleton key and made my way into the kitchen of Norman Bates’ delightfully CGA house. The game was telling me that I really shouldn’t risk taking the stairs that I couldn’t possibly have known were there because I hadn’t actually opened the door that was actually on the other side of the room when I Viewed it (deep breath). While I was walking around the room Viewing objects as closely as I could (which wasn’t very close due to all the invisible barriers), I suddenly found myself in the “butler’s pantry”. This is one of the other things about the game that I found annoying. Doorways on the top, left and right of rooms are visible and need to be opened to enter, but the player has no visibility of doors at the bottom of screens unless they just try walking into it, and there's no need to open those doors.

Out of one kitchen and into the next.

Forgetting about the stairs that “I can’t risk” for a while, I began exploring my new surroundings. I couldn’t find anything of interest in the pantry itself, so I opened and hopped into the trolley-operated lift on the right hand side of the screen. Once in there I could go either up or down using the arrow keys. I went up one screen and found a gun with tranquilizers. Score! I then checked out what was down, and found myself looking into a gardener’s room. Hopping out, I could now see my character was holding a gun instead of a magnifying glass. Whenever any of the pesky ghosts or dogs came on screen, I could now press the F key to shoot them. In response the spirits would disappear, meaning I didn’t have to worry about getting put to sleep from here on in. At least, that’s what I thought!

Just what one needs to defeat ghosts. Tranquilizers!

As usual, there was nothing to pick up in the gardener’s room, so I moved through into the basement. There were two things I could View in the basement. A pile of coal and a locked pair of doors! The skeleton key didn’t open the doors, so I had to start thinking about where I might be able to find another key. In the meantime, I used the Dig command on the coal and found...a key! Just when I thought I was going to have to use my hunting skills, the item I needed for the puzzle was approximately one metre away. I picked up the key and noticed rather oddly that there was still a key on the ground. I picked up the key again...and again...and again...but there was still a key on the floor! Clearly another bug, and once again I could have stood in the one spot picking up infinite keys and gaining infinite points for my trouble.

Rather hilariously, the game is actually aware of the bug and accepts it!

Having much earlier decided that getting a high score was a pointless exercise, I opened the doors with my key(s). Inside was the curator, strapped to a chair! Instead of removing his restraints or actually trying to communicate, I apparently “found a pressing need to find the curator’s heart medicine”. How did I even know that the jacket in the entrance was the curators and therefore that the message about medicine had anything to do with him? So let me get this straight. Norman kidnapped the curator, but stopped to remove his jacket and hang it neatly on the stand by the entrance to his house before locking him in the basement to die! Anyway, there seemed no point questioning the game, and none of the actions seemed to do anything, so I was going to have to Leave the room and go find the medicine. There was one problem though. I couldn’t leave!

Oh thank goodness! I'm saved!!! Hey...where are you going!? At least untie me you bastard!

I pressed the L key, but was told I couldn’t leave here. Not only that, all of a sudden I was faced with an image of someone sitting on the steps of the house, with “Morning! Oh well better luck next time!” in the message console! So...had I got stuck in the basement? If so, why? Or did I run out of time? A quick look at the time showed me that it was 6:01 AM, so I started to wonder whether I had to recover the jewels and rescue the curator before 6:00 to win the game. Rather unsurprisingly, pressing P to play again merely resulted in a C prompt appearing, meaning I had to close down my DOSBox session and start again. Thankfully it took about one minute to get back to the kitchen, where this time I was determined to see what was down the risky stairs.

Is that supposed to be me on the steps? Did I become black overnight? Is this some sort of racial commentary?

It turned out that the stairs led to the rear of the house, where I was unable to do anything at all. Yes, very risky indeed! The obvious thing to do at this point was to hunt down the curator’s medicine before heading down to the basement. I tried to think of places I hadn’t yet checked out. There were the two doors leading off the dining room, but the skeleton key didn’t open either of those. There was the door to the left in the butler’s pantry, but that took me to the dining room. That’s right! The skeleton key can’t open the right side door from within the dining room, but it does let you enter the dining room from the butler’s pantry.

I found here's another bad looking sentence

I began to wonder whether I’d missed something from the lift and it turned out I had. Going up one screen took me to the storage shelf with the gun, but going up one more screen took me to the second floor of the house. The medicine had to be up there somewhere! There were three doors leading off the hallway, along with some stairs leading up to what I assumed would be a third floor. I took the first door on the right and found myself in the game room. I tried Viewing everything while walking around, but found absolutely nothing. To make matters worse, there’s one part of the room where if you enter, you’re never leaving. I got stuck next to the water cooler (I assume that’s what it is) and I even restored and went back there to see whether it would happen every time. It did!

This should have been called the Game Over Room

The second door to the right off the hallway took me to a bathroom. As soon as I entered I was confronted by a woman’s spirit. I somehow pressed the F key in time and it disappeared. In the bathroom I found a medicine cabinet, which seemed an ideal place to find some medicine. Unfortunately there was none in there, although I did get another useless clue. I guess it would have been pretty stupid for the curator’s medicine to be hidden in Norman’s medicine cabinet, but by this stage I wouldn’t have put it past the game. There was nothing else in the bathroom, so I left with the intention of checking out the last door off the second floor hallway.

Not finding the medicine I needed in the cabinet was the only realistic part of Psycho

The last door took me into the master bedroom. I used the View action on everything, but the only thing I could discover was a closet off the bottom of the screen. Inside the closet I found all the curator’s stuff. I have no idea why the curator’s stuff is in Norman’s closet. He seems to have packed his bags in anticipation of being kidnapped! Regardless, I was absolutely one hundred percent positive that using the Search action was going to reveal the curator’s medicine. I was therefore pretty stunned when the game responded with “Nothing’s hidden here”! What? Why let me discover the curator’s stuff hidden in Norman’s closet if there was nothing in there I needed? Oh well, the medicine had to be somewhere on the third floor then!

Go pack your bags Mr Curator! That's right, I'm kidnapping you! Make sure you pack a toothbrush won't you!

I made my way up to the third floor and found there were two doors to check out. I took the door on the left and found myself in a very Uninvited looking séance room. Of course Norman has séances! He’s a serial killer after all! All serial killers hold satanic rituals in preparation for their ghastly deeds! I uncovered yet another worthless clue in the séance room before taking the door at the left hand side of the screen. Now I was in the attic, with another crazy ghost woman coming at me. This time I had plenty of time to shoot her though, and was then able to make my way through to the other end of the attic. It’s there that I found a safe, along with the skeleton of what I assume is Norman’s mother from the movie.

If I stand in this satanic ritual symbol and you stand in that one, maybe we'll be able to communicate with each other!

I tried opening the safe, but it seemed I was going to need a combination. I couldn’t think of anywhere in the house that I’d seen any numbers at all, but after satisfying myself that there was no other way to open the safe, I left to go look. I spent the next fifteen minutes going through every room in the house looking for anything I might have overlooked, but came up with nothing. I started to wonder whether the curator’s medicine was really supposed to be in the master bedroom closet like I'd predicted. Perhaps the game had just screwed up! The more I thought about it, the more I thought that was completely likely, so I restarted.

A boy's best friend is his mother

A few minutes later I was back in the closet, and this time the Search action did actually reveal the medicine. That’s absolutely inexcusable, and I’ll be punishing Psycho severely for such a terrible bug! Imagine if the game had of been ten times as long, and the only way to get passed that section was to start again, with no guarantee the medicine would be there that time either?! This was not the only major bug I found during my play throughs mind you. Probably half of the times I went to the curator in the basement, I was unable to leave the room, and then confronted by a game over screen for no reason. I did absolutely nothing different the other times and was able to leave without any problem at all. Very confusing and irritating! said there was nothing hidden here! You didn't...lie to me...did you?!

Anyway, I was eager to be done with the game, so I took the medicine down to the curator. I Used the medicine on him and was given the combination. Finally, I could head back up to the safe and see what was inside! I figured it was likely to be the jewels, and was therefore quite intrigued to find out where and when Norman might appear in the game. After all, no game like this would be complete without some sort of climactic confrontation! However, Psycho had one further surprise for me! When I took the combination to the attic, I faced the ghost woman just as I did the first time, but this time shooting her had no effect! I clearly remembered walking into the room and just shooting her the first time around, but now I could shoot at her as many times as I wanted and nothing happened! Unlike all the other spirits in the game, if the woman touched me I would sleep all the way through to 6:00AM, ending my game!

Why won't you die!!!!

I won’t bore you by describing everything I tried to get past the ghost woman. I restarted two or three times before suddenly I was able to shoot her again! Through trial and error I finally figured out why it was that I could or couldn’t defeat her. If I successfully shot her in the bathroom on level two, then I was able to shoot her on level three. If I skipped the bathroom on level two or was touched by the woman there, I was unable to defeat her on level three. No explanation of this is given while playing the game and it took a bit of luck to actually figure out what was going on. Once I did get past her though, with the combination in my possession, I headed straight to the safe and opened it. The jewels were there and...

I've seen enough movies and played enough games to know that Norman is about to appear. Right?

...the game was finished! So unless I’m mistaken, which I could be given how poor the graphics are, Norman Bates does not appear once during the entirety of Psycho. I can now finish the game in well under five minutes, which has to be some sort of record for an adventure game. What about the multiple difficulty settings I hear you ask! Is it possible these add more challenging puzzles or even add extra sections to the game? The answer is no! The only difference from what I can tell is that the spectral inhabitants move faster, giving the game a more reflex based challenge. It’s still piss easy though, and I would have finished it in half the time if it weren’t for the many inexcusable bugs that made an already terrible game indescribably appalling. Rest assured that I’ll give it my best shot in the Final Rating post though.

The fact that pressing P doesn't actually restart the game is one of its most well thought out features!

Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 00 minutes


  1. Ahaha, I didn't even realize there was a "puzzle" with shooting the woman in the bathroom first, seems I got lucky by actually doing it before I went to the attic. And I use "puzzle" lightly in the case of Psycho.

    It also seems you hit most of the bugs I did, including not finding the caffeine pills in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Although I'm not sure you realized they are supposed to be there. :p

    Somehow it makes me wonder whether the bugs are all bugs or if they're intentional to extend playtime. After experiencing the game I wouldn't put it past them.

    1. Now there's a bug I didn't notice, but it must have happened to me at least once. What good are the caffeine pills anyway? By the time you find them you've got the gun, so falling asleep isn't really an issue.

      Yeah, I wondered at times whether some of the bugs were intentional. I tried hard to find patterns, like maybe the medicine wasn't in the closet in some of my playthroughs because I did things in a different order. But I couldn't find any, and I don't think that would be any excuse for the game anyway. Why would the pills existence depend on my actions.

    2. You have a chance of falling asleep every 15 - 20 minutes, maybe as soon as 10 minutes. Caffeine pills remove the Sleepy status.

      Maybe it's based on the number of steps you take, but I'm probably giving the game too much credit.

    3. Yup, it's amazing that even when searching for jewelry in a haunted house while being chased by rabid dogs and ghosts, you fall asleep standing on your feet just because you're feeling drowsy.

      and my sneaking suspicion is that the game removes items randomly, not based on the order of actions. I tried doing the exact same things three times in a row, starting from a new game each time, and suddenly the medicine was gone. Another time the caffeine pills. Then I couldn't leave the curator. It would be interesting to get somebody to check out the code behind it to see if there's a bug or actually programmed nastyness.

  2. I was wondering why you didn't mention meeting a skeleton pirate in a dressing gown while in the Butler's pantry, but then I saw the magnifying glass and realised that it's just you, facing forwards.

    1. That was the first thing I thought when I saw my character. A skeleton pirate!

  3. That sounds ALMOST as bad as Limbo of the Lost, though more buggy. On the other hand, it is a lot shorter, which is a good thing. The graphics are worse, but at least they aren't photoshopped screenshots of other games.

    1. Yeah. The Limbo of the Lost story is one of the most fascinating gaming stories I've ever heard.

      I find it hard to believe they ever thought they'd get away with it.

    2. "The King of Limbo" song, however, is quite catchy.

    3. You just want people to hear it, go insane, and throw themselves off tall objects to escape it, don't you?

  4. "If I successfully shot her in the bathroom on level two, then I was able to shoot her on level three. If I skipped the bathroom on level two or was touched by the woman there, I was unable to defeat her on level three. No explanation of this is given while playing the game and it took a bit of luck to actually figure out what was going on."

    Clue from the game: "Two personalities are one too many."

    Congratulations, you hit all three trouble spots I mentioned in the introduction post. ;)

    1. Two personalities are one too many? That's the clue to tell me that I have to shoot the ghost woman in the bathroom before going to the attic?

      Thanks for the congratulations...I think. ;)

    2. Yeah, keep cooking that goose, Trick! ;-)

  5. I love the "No Zzzzz" picture for caffeine pills, though.

  6. What "Psycho" DOES make me shudder about, is what someone mentioned last post that this was once charged full retail price.

    I wonder if there is any more to know about the "Psycho" story, as in how it was received by reviewers or gamers? Makes me thankful to have the internet nowadays -- you couldn't get away with putting trash out on the market without it getting raked through the coals on internet forums.

    Would anyone get away with selling something akin to the notorious $200 [url=]Action 52[/url] nowadays? I think not.

    1. Bad linkie. Sorry.

    2. Action 52
      Requires html tagging, not forum tagging. Example:

      < a href="" >Action 52< /a >

      Just remove the spaces next to the greater than and less than signs.

  7. Official answer on difficulty from the manual.

    Levels of Difficulty
    There are three levels of difficulty to select from. NOVICE, ADVANCED, and MASTER DETECTIVE. Selecting a higher difficulty level results in meanies that are tougher to kill, fewer clues and less time to complete your objective.

    So if you played on Master, you'd never know that "Skeleton keys open doors, not skeletons"

  8. I love that you had to use tranquilizers to shoot ghosts, because when I think of malevolent ectoplasmic entities, I think of making them sleepy.

  9. I can't wait to see this one torn apart in the final rating..

  10. You know, this game reminds me of a stupid little adventure game I made as a kid. In Basic. With terrible bugs. And it killed you with everything I could make up. I couldn't even program a save function, so I instead gave out passwords. The passwords used GoTo-orders to let a player jump back to the relevant parts.

    It was a horrid mess. Just better to look at than Psycho, since it was a pure text adventure.