Things got strange during the last session, and they don't get any less stange during this one.
So where were we at the end of last post? Oh that’s right! I’d just collected the third skull from within the statue in the room called In the Scorpion’s Presence, and I only needed two more skulls to become a Divo and therefore gain entrance to some place called the Concourse. I’d gained the three skulls from the rooms called The Twins, De Profundis and In the Scorpion’s Presence, leaving only The Wall and The Noose to go. I knew that the item that would be useful in The Wall was a dagger, but I didn’t have it! I walked around until I found another aspirant, but unlike last time I found one, this guy was not interested in trading items. I decided to visit The Noose next, hoping that I would find a dagger along with the fourth skull.
Obscurity: Where I found the third skull within the scorpion statue.
On entering The Noose, I found myself completely in the dark, with someone warning me to move quickly or be caught. Rather than stumble around blindly, I made use of my Solar Eyes sci power and was rewarded with complete vision of the room. It’s a lucky thing too, as there was a large hole in the middle of the room that I likely would have fallen down if I’d rushed ahead in the dark. That immediately made me wonder about the man I could see on the platform ahead of me. He did indeed appear to be restrained and in a precarious position, but it seemed that the guy had no care for my safety. I tried out yet another sci power at this point, which was Know Mind, and found my intuition was correct when I read his thoughts. “That warpy has to die!”
Did you just call me a warpy??? No-one calls me a warpy!!!!
Well that's a first! An adventure game where violently hanging a fellow competitor reaps rewards.
I pixel hunted a little on the platform and found that I could interact with the ropes. I untied the top rope and watched as the dead aspirant fell into the pit. I then collected one of the hanging ropes, while the other slipped out of my grasp. I’d started this particular play through with the rope, but had earlier traded mine away for the fly. Ropes weren’t the only thing I discovered on the platform though. There was a hollow in the corner, within which I found the fourth skull! Hmmmm...could it be possible that within each of the rooms is not only a skull, but also one of the items of assistance? Is it possible that all the rooms can be beaten without one of the items? I still wasn’t sure, but with only one more skull to find, I quickly departed The Noose, intending to head straight for The Wall.
From within the hinge of a folding platform???
On exiting The Noose, I came face to face with an aspirant intent on killing me and taking my skulls. I used my Extreme Violence sci power to take him down, and then searched his body, finding a lamp. A lamp!? That must be the fifth item, yet I was never given a lamp when starting the game. It’s probably safe to assume that the lamp would be useful for The Noose, as the room is pitch black when you arrive, but completely unnecessary given the Solar Eyes sci power. I knew that the item that would assist in The Wall was the dagger, so I thought I would wander around The Ring attacking or trading with any aspirant I came across until I got it. It worked, and I soon made my way to The Wall with three skulls (remember that I started again after finding the first one in The Twins), the lamp, the rope, and the dagger in my possession.
Once murder had been so rewarding the first time around, it made sense to continue down that path
The Wall is rather odd really. It’s basically a long room with two small doors to either side and large exits at both ends. The doors at the end lead back to The Ring and to The Master’s Orbit respectively, but the two doors on either side lead to two passageways, both being called The Infidel’s Tomb. Pressing any of the three arrows on the ground (which are labelled Zone 1, 2 and 3) causes a sliding wall to move across the room, eventually coming together to form “The Wall”. I soon figured out that entering either of The Infidel’s Tomb passageways while the wall is open resulted in me simply passing through the tomb with nothing of interest to work with on the way. However, if I managed to make the sliding wall complete while the lit arrow was in Zone 2, the wall would remain in place and I would be confronted by something interesting when entering either door.
The Wall and The Twins took by far the most time to figure out, and I'm not even sure I did figure them out in the end.
In front of me was part of the wall, with a sculpted warrior on either side of it depending on which door I took. Both knights had slots in them, which was clearly where I was supposed to insert the dagger. I eagerly put the dagger into the slot and was killed when the wall flipped up, crushing me in the process. Thankfully I’d saved on arrival to The Wall, and was able to restore and try again. This time I spoke to Gauss first, who responded with “Wunstep ata time then blade” (One step at a time then blade). It was only then that I noticed a small step at the bottom of the wall, which I was able to step up onto. Then when I put the dagger in the slot, I was flipped over with the wall and found myself on the other side.
Siiiilent Kniiiiight....Hoooooollly Kniiiiight....
OK, so now I was on the other side of the wall, which is exactly where I would have been if I’d just walked through the passageway without closing the wall first. Confused, I collected the dagger and continued on down the passage and back out into The Ring. I went back and entered The Wall again, only this time I took the other doorway, placing the dagger into the slot of the second warrior. This time when the wall flipped I found myself in a section I’d never seen before! Just like other parts of the game so far, I don’t claim to understand what happened or how I got where I was, but my intuition and problem solving had somehow got me where I needed to go. Unfortunately, despite being very careful with the amount of time I was using up (I’d been restoring and doing things quicker each time I figured out puzzles), the end of my hour was approaching. I was going to need to get a move on!
...and miraculously land somewhere that wasn't actually behind the wall in the first place.
Within this little nook was an engraving exactly the same as the one I found in In the Scorpion’s Presence. I still didn’t know what it meant, so I focussed on the deep cavity on the floor. It was filled with “yukky water”, but that didn’t stop me putting my hand in and finding...the fifth and final skull! I’d finally solved The Five Ordeals and was on my way to becoming a Divo. Before that could happen though, I needed to get the fifth skull from The Twins, and to do that I was going to need the goblet. I exited The Wall and circled The Ring until I found and killed an aspirant who had the goblet on his person, then sped over to The Twins and retrieved the fifth skull with a couple of minutes up my sleeve. Now to get back to The Master’s Orbit!
What could it be? Oh the suspense!!!
I have the feeling I missed some information earlier in the game, as it was at this point that I had a bit of a “facepalm” moment. It turns out that there is a trader in The Master’s Orbit, which is not only the character I needed to give the skulls to, but also someone I could attempt to trade items with throughout the game. That being said, I would only have been able to trade an item once per skull, which makes sense given that each item leads to a skull. The success of such trades seems either random, extremely difficult, or beyond my understanding (perhaps all three). Every time i gave him a skull I was given the chance to trade one of my items for one of my choice from the machine behind him. I then watched as what I assume was a robot placed my item under one of three cups and moved them around rapidly. I had to watch carefully and tell him which one the item was under when he stopped. I was crap at this!
I would, but I...just don't feel like it right now.
I tried four times to guess correctly and failed on each occasion. I’m not even certain whether it’s actually possible to deduce where the item is by watching, as the clunky movement animation doesn’t act in a realistic manner. I didn’t actually need any more items and had little time remaining, so I gave up on trading and simply gave all five skulls to the protozorq dude. My reward was a visit by The Master of Ordeals, who spouted some nonsense about a priestess, who will tonight be “inseminized”, before giving me the egg that will apparently “open the secret of my Divo destiny!” I took the egg and with literally seconds to spare, took the passage to The Concourse, showing the egg as passage on the way.
Yes, I will carry the message! Um...what's the message again?
All up, passing The Five Ordeals took me close to four hours, but there’s no way it would have taken me that long had I not been preparing to blog about it. I was often writing while playing, as there were so many options I needed to communicate, and taking close to 200 screenshots on the way, all of which caused me to run out of time and have to restart. I reckon playing through the ordeals from start to finish would take under ten minutes now that I know what to do, but I'm going to put my playtime down as three hours so far. Am I looking forward to seeing what happens next in Chamber of the Sci Mutant Priestess? Not particularly. I think the sheer strangeness of it all distances me from the subject matter, and while some of the puzzles are satisfying, others are baffling or just not critical for success in any way. I shall press on nonetheless, and report back as soon as I’m able. I have to finish at least one Exxos game!
The Concourse: I'm almost dreading what awaits me there.
Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 00 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 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!