Monday 30 September 2013

Game 35: Deja Vu II - A New Level of Pain

Ace Harding Journal Entry 5: "Progress is progress I guess, but damn this is tough going! I'm still no closer to getting the cash I need to save my skin, but I have managed to collect a fair amount of evidence that could put these bastards behind bars. I thought I was a gonna for a while there too, tied up in the laundry while a couple of goons asked their boss what to do with me. Somehow I got out of that nasty situation intact, and eventually gained access to the offices of Ventini and Malone. I just hope I have enough time to see where this path leaves. Stogie seems to be getting impatient and BANG..............."

 My evidence is seriously getting out of hand!

So much for good feelings! My last post finished with me being rather confident that I would now be able to enter the laundry with one of the keys collected from Thomas Bondwell’s personal items box. You can probably tell from those first two lines that this didn’t turn out to be the case, which left me starting my next session with no real clue as to what to do next. I was forced to go through each item in my inventory, hunting for any leads that I hadn’t yet actioned. I had a receipt and a license collected from June Boeding, yet her address was in St. Louis, which was not yet accessible to me. I wasn’t even sure if it ever would be, and was starting to think that perhaps it was a red herring. I had a letter from my informant, named Vinnie Talusso, telling me about the goings on at a shoe factory and the ice cream parlor across the road. I’d not come across a shoe factory, or an ice cream parlor, so I couldn’t see how I could investigate that either. Then there was the message from Tony Malone to Stogie, requesting he check on an overdue payment in Los Angeles, but once again that area was inaccessible to me. Finally, there was the letter and photo I’d found in Bondwell’s luggage, which seemed to be suggesting that someone with the initials of D.V. was connected to Reliant Laundry, and that they were heavily involved with Tony Malone.

Are you sure? Can I speak to management or something?

There were other items that I hadn’t used yet, such as the perfume, the pencil, the watch and the gun, but I couldn’t think of anywhere I might be supposed to use them. All of this item analysis merely strengthened my belief that the laundry must be the focus point for progress, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get in! It was then that I noted that the envelope I’d found in Thomas’ suitcase was addressed to “A. Malone” at the Lucky Dice Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Was Malone actually in the hotel somewhere!? Perhaps one of the keys in the suitcase was for one of the rooms on one of the floors in the hotel! I went to find out, visiting each floor to try all the unused keys I had on each door as I went. None of the keys fit in any of the locks, but I did find something very interesting on level 3! There was a large industrial laundry hamper with the words “Reliant Laundry Inc” on it! Aha!!!! I could hop into the hamper and be taking inside the laundry walls! I opened the lid and pressed the “go” action to make Ace get in. I found myself inside amongst all the dirty clothes, wondering what I was supposed to do next. I closed the lid, but still nothing happened. I began investigating the clothes inside, but there was nothing there either. I guess I just need to wait a while, as suddenly the dumpster was moved!

 This was difficult to find. The fact that it seems to appear randomly makes it a bit unfair!

“You can feel somebody pushing the dumpster! The dumpster stops with a jolt and a crash. It’s hoisted onto a truck. The truck’s gears grind. Good thing you don’t get car sick; it’s a long ride. Another jolt, another crash, the dumpster is unloaded from the truck. The lid is flung open. You blink as the bright light pours in. As your eyes adjust you see two burly gorillas glaring at you.” They weren’t really gorillas of course. They were a couple of goons, who frisked me, finding the letter from Bondwell to Malone in the process. Spike: “Wow, lookit that, Moose. A letter to the Big Boss, and a pitchuh of him too!” Moose: Dat’s right, Spike. Ya think dis guy’s a big shot or sumthin?” Spike: “I dunno, Moose, but I think we better tie dis guy up and go tell da Boss right away.” Moose: “Okay Spike, but after dat, let’s make him squeal like Bondwell!” They then took “some interesting items” away from me (the letter, my gun, and knife from what I could tell) and left me alone in the Laundry Room with my hands tied up with rope. I figured I had a short time to escape captivity, so began exploring my surroundings. I quickly discovered a crate nearby that had “bent nails and splinters” adorning it, yet by the time I’d operated the ropes on it and freed myself, Spike and Moose had come back.

They do actually look a bit like gorillas.

“So, ya managed t’get loose, eh? But it don’t matta ‘cuz we found ya anyway. Da Boss says he don’t know how ya got a hold of that letter, an’ since he ain’t never heard of ya, we got’s t’ kill youse.” Well that didn’t work out so well! I restored and wasted no time at all in freeing myself, then tried the two exits available to me. The chute leading outside wasn’t accessible, since it was too slippery to climb, but I was able to take the stairs leading to the Hallway. Once again there were too new exits available to me, with one being the front door and the other leading to an office. The office door was behind a closed counter, so I opened the counter and tried entering the office. I was spotted and killed...again! I figured I had to get into that office somehow, since otherwise my trip to the laundry would have been for nothing. I set about experimenting. Looking back now, it’s actually quite humorous all the things I tried. Here are some of the best. 1. I dressed up as a policeman before entering the laundry dumpster. 2. I tried hopping back into the dumpster and hiding. 3. I tried leaving my gun outside the laundry, then collected it and returned to confront them. 4. I tried not carrying the letter to Malone on me so they wouldn’t question me. 5. I tried hiding in one of the washing machines. Basically I tried everything I could think of, and died on every occasion!

 Inspector gadget arms!

 It's a bit bewildering when the door I enter a room from appears at the end of the hallway in front of me.

After over an hour of experimentation (yes, an hour!), I finally figured out what to do. I had noticed pretty early on that hopping back in the dumpster caused the thugs to look for me. Moose: “Hey Spike, dat guy musta got loose! Is he up dere?” Spike: “Nope, but it don’t look like he left, so he’s got to be around here somewhere!” They’d then found me hiding and killed me, but if I’d paid attention to what they were saying, I would have found an important clue. Spike had remained upstairs, and noting that I didn’t appear to have left the laundry, I must be hiding somewhere inside. The solution was to open the front door, making it appear as though I’d left, then to go back downstairs and hide in the dumpster. Spike and Moose then went outside to look for me instead of in the laundry room. I was thrilled to finally get past this bit as it had been killing me, but my woes were not over yet! I entered the office, finding a large desk and a dart board on the wall. There was also some tape on the floor which appeared to be a line for darts players to throw from. When I examined it, I was told that “It should be seven feet, nine and one quarter inches from the board. You find it odd that this line is much further away.” Hmmmm...I thought that might be suggesting that the dartboard and the wall it was attached to might be able to move, but couldn’t immediately see how it might.

 Yeah I guess, if an hour meets your definition of quick!

On the desk was another phone that I couldn’t use, and a picture “of the notorious gangster Anthony Malone shaking the hand of a man you don’t recognize”. There was an inscription on the picture that read “To Little Danny V., I’d trust you with my life! – T.M”. I’d seen the initials D.V. on the letter from Bondwell to Malone, but now I knew that the first initial stood for Danny. I looked inside the desk, and found an envelope, a key, and a cardboard box. There was nothing inside the envelope, meaning whatever was written on the outside was likely to be important. “Attn: Tony Malone, c/o The Lucky Dice Hotel and Casino”. I already had an envelope with that address, so I didn’t think on it any further. Inside the cardboard box was a small round magnet, which I immediately assumed must be used to move the dartboard somehow. I began trying everything I could think of, from simply operating the magnet on it to hitting it, but I couldn’t make anything happen. I became pretty frustrated at this point, having been completely stuck twice in quick succession. I began looking at all my screenshots, desperately trying to find something I might have missed, or for somewhere I might be able to use the magnet. I failed! Were there any locks in the game that I might try the key on!? Hey, there was an idea! Perhaps the envelope was telling me that Malone was indeed in one of the hotel rooms, and this new key would open the door!

 Oh how this little magnet tormented me!

On my way out of the laundry, I paused to try the key on the laundry chute, and it worked! That was actually really bad, as it meant the key I’d just discovered was pretty unlikely to work anywhere else. Opening the chute didn’t help me in any way I could fathom. Feeling perturbed, I made my way back to the hotel anyway, planning to hunt through every room to find somewhere I could use the damn magnet. When I got into the hotel elevator, I simply had to smash my palm into my forehead...hard! The buttons in the elevator looked exactly the same as the magnet!!! I operated the magnet on the panel, creating a fifth floor button, which I eagerly pressed. “Although this is the fifth floor, it doesn’t look like a hotel anymore. Office doors flank the sides of the hallway. As you step into the corridor, you read the name plates on the doors; “Anthony Malone,” notorious Las Vegas mobster and “Dan Ventini,” a name you remember seeing once or twice in the paper. It was rumoured that the District Attorney had irrefutable evidence to convict this Las Vegas “businessman” on racketeering charges. The charges were dropped, however, when the D.A. turned up dead.”

I can't be the only player to struggle to figure this out! Can I?!

 I wonder who waters the plants on the secret floor

I took the left door first, reappearing in Ventini’s office. It contained nothing more than a desk and a coat stand, yet there was a document on the desk which I found to be a dog racing form. “They don’t have nags in Vegas because of some mob disagreement. You notice that the numbers 2,7, and 10 are circled. You wonder “How much is riding on these pooches?” Personally, you’d bet on the rabbit.” I looked up “nag” on the internet to confirm that the message was suggesting there was no horseracing in Vegas (apparently it's a slang word for racehorse), but I couldn’t figure out how the numbers might be relevant. I wracked my brain for anywhere in the game where I might have seen 2, 7, and 10, but brought nothing back. I turned my attention to the ornament on the desk, immediately noting part of it resembled a dart! I tried opening the ornament, and was told that the “paperweight separates into two pieces”. I was now able to pick up both the gold base and the dart, knowing without doubt what the latter’s purpose would be. Finally, I looked inside the desk and found yet another ledger. “The ledger lists payments made to Malone via Ventini from various operations around the country. The page headed "Chicago" lists Siegel as the local head man.” I then listed the six remaining payments I’d seen in the ledger found in the slot machine at Joe’s Bar.

 This can't have been there with no purpose. Can it?

I tried to fit this new information into what I already knew. It seemed obvious that the several protection payments in Joey Siegel’s ledger (excluding the ones I believe were made to hookers) were “couriered” through Ventini to Malone. The piece of the puzzle that I couldn’t put in place was the letter from Bondwell to Malone. It had suggested that the payments in the ledger he’d recovered from Joey’s didn’t contain any of the protection payments. What ledger was Bondwell referring to and where was it now? I exited Ventini’s office, intending to enter Malone’s, only to be confronted by the hotel bouncer. “You ain’t the boss and you ain’t supposed to be here. Sorry, but I gots to kill you.” He did too, causing me to restore, and to rush through my search of Ventini’s office and skedaddle quickly across to Malone’s. There wasn’t a lot of stuff to go through this time, but I did find a pair of dice (“probably loaded”) and a finely-crafted, English-made, silver letter opener in the desk drawer. Taking my new goodies, I headed straight back over to the laundry, and operated the dart on the dartboard. Just as I’d hoped, the section of the wall containing the board moved to one side, revealing a secret room! I’d love to tell you what was in this room, but it’s here that my time finally ran out! Stogie entered the office and killed me on the spot. There was no avoiding it any longer. I was going to have to restart! Have I mentioned that I HATE TIME LIMITS IN ADVENTURE GAMES!

 Well at least he was apologetic about it

 Important? Who would know!?

 Show off!

Session Time: 3 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 8 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 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!

Friday 27 September 2013

Game 35: Deja Vu II - A Spoonful of Sugar

Ace Harding Journal Entry 4: "Things are moving along quite nicely now, although I'm still struggling to put all the pieces of this puzzle together. The evidence I found in Joey Siegel's office led me to a woman I thought I'd put behind me. Her name was Sugar, and I'm glad I paid her filthy apartment a visit, as one of her costumes just happend to be a police uniform! This little find got me into the morgue freezer, where I found enough leads to keep me busy for a while. If I can just get inside that damn laundry, I might crack this case wide open!"

There better bloody be something good in this office!

The board was off, and it was time to head inside Joey’s office (well, former office anyway). I climbed in, and noticed that the room was rather dark. I turned on my torch, and was very surprised to find the blood from Joey’s murder still all over the table, albeit dried. I excitedly set about exploring the room, quickly finding a pencil within the desk drawer. The safe was unlocked, but there was nothing inside. Surely I didn’t go through all the pain involved with getting inside to get a pencil did I? I opened the phone, out of desperation really as who opens a phone, and found an oddly shaped key. Now that was more like it! I knew exactly what to do with that key, and since there was nothing else to investigate in the office, I turned off my torch and climbed back out through the window. I made my way further into the alley and once again used the knife to break the lock on the door into Joe’s Bar. I entered, turned on my torch again, and made my way down into the Wine Cellar and onwards into the Hidden Casino. Once there, I used the key on the first slot machine. It didn’t work! I held my breath, and tried using the key on the other slot machine. It worked!!!

Someone really should have a chat to the cleaner!

As good a place as any other I guess!

Inside the slot machine I found a business card and a diary. The business card was for Sugar Shack: “You notice the words, “Come and see me, Joey” scrawled on the back of it. Sugar and you go way back. You remember many hot nights on the town with her. You also remember the last time you saw her. She was carrying a grudge, a .38, and six bullets with your name on them.” Was Sugar the crazy hooker that tried to kill me in the first game?! There was an address on the card, so I figured I’d find out eventually. The diary had belonged to Joey Siegel, and contained a list of payments of various amounts. There were dates and reference numbers next to each payment, making it appear as though a recipient #0 (I’m assuming the payments were handed over rather than received but there’s no evidence either way) visited Joey on numerous occasions. “The list continues, but you notice that courier number 0 is not shown again.” What did all this mean? Who was courier #0, and why did they receive monthly payments between the 15th of April and the 15th of July? I knew that Joey was a bookie, but couldn’t come up with any connections between this and anything else I knew.

This guy clearly had expensive tastes!

I hopped back into Gabby’s cab and showed him Sugar Shack’s business card. He recognised the address, and drove me to her apartment. There appeared to be two entrances to the building, but every time I tried to approach the main door a homeless bum on the sidewalk outside accosted me and begged me for a nickel, preventing me from going in. He repeated this, even after I gave him a quarter, so eventually I assumed that there was no way to enter through that door. The other door was locked, but I quickly dealt with that by “operating” my pen knife on the lock. Sugar’s apartment was a complete dump, with cobwebs all over the place and various items strewn on the bed and floor. There were lots of things to explore though, and I decided to begin with the closet. Inside were five costumes, a shoe and a vacuum cleaner. The clothes had obviously been used for fantasy role-play (and no, I don’t mean the type that involves twenty sided dice), and I immediately noticed the police uniform. That was exactly what I needed to get into the morgue, so I added it to my inventory (at least I did after I removed my overcoat to make room). I couldn’t think of any reason why I might need any of the other items in the closet, so I moved on.

The only bum that should be attached to my leg is my own, you hear me!?

I considered wearing the red number, but thought better of it in the end.

There was a bottle of perfume called “Evening in Pierre” on the table which I picked up, before turning my attention to the newspaper on the bed. “This paper is folded open to the obituaries. You notice that Sugar Shack seems to have cut one of them out.” I can’t remember the first game all that well, but perhaps this is suggesting that Sugar Shack read about Joey Siegel’s death in the paper, and therefore came after me with a loaded weapon. There was a tissue box on the nightstand next to the bed and a loose tissue on the ground, which would also suggest that she had been crying on reading the obituary. Within the nightstand I discovered a “bunch of bank deposit slips bundled together with a rubber band”. I examined them more closely, and found that there were four deposit slips dated, you guessed it, the 15th of April through to the 15th of July, 1939. However, the amounts didn’t match those paid out in Joey’s diary. Sugar’s deposit slip from the 15th of April was for $1200, yet the payment in the diary for the same date was $24000. I quickly realised that each payment in the diary was exactly twenty times what Sugar Shack had been receiving. What did it mean? Did it mean that Joey had been seeing twenty hookers each month?!?! Maybe I was just reading into things too much, but the exactness of the maths made me think otherwise.

Well the girl needs her beauty sleep! That's what they're suggesting right?

I left Sugar’s apartment and made my way back to the morgue. As seen as Gabby pulled up to the curve, I put the police uniform on and entered. The first thing I tried was asking the clerk about Alison (one of the names on the unclaimed bodies clipboard), since last time he’d told me that only officers could see the personal effects of the dead. “Sorry officer, there are no personal effects. The unlucky stiff was found at the bottom of the Chicago River wearing nothing but a pair of concrete boots”. I opened the gates leading into the back area and successfully accessed the freezer room! Inside were four draws that I assumed contained bodies. I opened the first one, and indeed found a body covered in a sheet. The tag attached to the corpses’ toe said “Pierre Maloka”. I immediately thought of the perfume I’d just found at Sugar’s, which was called “Evening in Pierre”! Was there some sort of connection there? I tried spraying the perfume on the body: “The body smells much better now, but he doesn’t appreciate it.” Hmmm...I slid the drawer back in and opened the next one, once again finding a body within with a tag. This one read “June Boeding”, which didn’t mean anything to me.


The third body had a tag with the name “Bondwell, Thomas S.” on it. “It looks like someone used this guy for target practice. You notice a scar running through the stiff’s left eye, but before you can get a closer look at what did this guy in, your stomach gives a twinge. You quickly pull the sheet back over the body. Apparently you don’t have as strong a stomach as you thought you did!” Clearly this was the gangster mentioned in the newspaper article, which had also suggested his death might be related to that of Joey Siegel’s. It seemed odd that I couldn’t investigate the body further without feeling sick, and not even spraying the perfume on it made any difference. Suddenly it dawned on me that it might only be the name of the victim that I needed, and the reason for my visit could be in his personal items at the front desk. After finding the fourth and final draw to be empty, I made my way back to the front desk to speak to the clerk. When I said the name “Thomas Bondwell” to him, he placed a cardboard box on the counter! Things were going very well now!!! I opened it up and found two keys, a wallet and a watch, all of which I added to my inventory. One of the keys appeared to be for the front door of Bondwell’s house, but the other smaller one was unmarked. Perhaps I’d find a use for it at his home, if indeed I could get the address from his wallet.

Let's hope it has oh, I don't know, about $112000 in it!

Inside the wallet I found a ten dollar note, a license, and a baggage-claim ticket with the number “526” on it. There’d been a baggage claim desk at the Las Vegas train station, so that seemed a very likely place to make use of that particular item. The license gave me Thomas’ address, which was thankfully in Chicago! I already had a few strong leads to go with, but I thought I would try asking for the personal possessions for each of the other two bodies. I typed in “Pierre Maloka” and received the following message: “The clerk, looks you up and down and says, “I already gave it to you, mac!”” Clearly he hadn’t, so I was bit confused by that. I then typed “Maloka”, and was given the story about the body found at the bottom of the river with concrete boots. Huh!? I’d received that answer after asking about Alison! I tried typing “June Boeding” in, and was once again told that the clerk had already given me the items. By now I assumed that I was just confusing the game by asking about non-relevant things, but I thought I would ask about “Boeding” for completeness. Lucky I did, as the clerk put a box with her name on it on the counter next to Thomas’!!! I could easily have walked away by now, particularly as there was no reason that I knew of to focus on June Boeding.

I'm glad I keep finding visual addresses for Gabby, otherwise I'd be screwed!

I set my frustration aside and opened June’s box of goodies. Inside I found a license that included her address in St. Louis, and a receipt of some sort. “You are barely able to make the first letter of the company name which is a “K””. Well at least I would have somewhere to go when I reach St. Louis, but I didn’t really know why I might have any interest in doing so. One of the most useful things about my trip to the morgue though, was the boxes the personal items came in. I eagerly moved them into my inventory and packed them with similar objects. All the documents, licenses etc. went into one box, and the keys, wallets etc. went into the other. Finally I could manage my inventory properly, although I’d wasted a heap of valuable time dragging everything around and making everything neat and tidy. I hopped back into Gabby’s cab and directed him to Thomas Bondwell’s address. Surely I’d find something there that would really open things up for me! Alas, on arrival, I discovered his home had been burnt to a crisp! “It’s the burned wreckage of Bondwell’s house. It has arsen written all over it.” Well that was unexpected! I still had two more leads though, but neither of them were in Chicago. I had a decision to make!

Check out that inventory. CHECK...IT...OUT!!!!

I assume Mr. Malone didn't want anyone snooping around in Thomas' stuff.

My choices were to go back to the train station in Las Vegas to see what was in Thomas’ luggage at the baggage claim desk, or head to St. Louis to June Boeding’s address. I decided the most logical thing to do was to go back to Las Vegas, as heading over to St. Louis would likely open up new paths that I might not be ready to take. I made my way to the Chicago train station and paid the $20 it cost to get a train back to Las Vegas. As soon as I arrived I entered the baggage claim area and “operated” the ticket on the clerk there. “The attendant accepts the baggage claim ticket and retrieves a suitcase from under the counter.” I opened up the case and found nothing more than a bundle of dirty clothes! Figuring there had to be more to it than that, I “opened” the pile of clothes, and found a letter and a photo inside. I looked at the photo first: It’s a photo of Siegel shaking hands with another man in front of a building, Reliant Laundry, Inc. You squint. You can barely make out the initials “D.V.” on the pocket handkerchief of the mystery man.”

I have to wonder why Mr. Bondwell hadn't picked up his own case. Was he killed within the train station itself?!

The letter had the name A. Malone on it, with the A most likely standing for Anthony (as in Tony Malone). “Boss, I’ve come across somethin’ strange that you should know about. Among other things, I been helpin’ out with makin’ some protection payments to the cops. When Joey got it, I grabbed the books to make sure the cops didn’t get ‘em. They don’t show any of the payments at all! I know D.V. knows about ‘em, ‘cause Joey told me to report by phone direct to D.V. after each payment was made on account of it being D.V.’s operation. But if it ain’t in the books, then you would never see any record of the payoffs. I think D.V. is muscling in on your territory, anyway the whole thing’s weird, and I thought you ought to know. – Tom Bondwell” Hmmm... who was this D.V. character? I assumed from the photo that I’d find him at the laundry, but I still didn’t have a way in. Perhaps if I went there now I’d have more luck!? Perhaps one of the keys I recovered from Mr. Bondwell's personal items would open the door? It seemed to me that Bondwell hadn’t found the protection payment amounts in the books he’d picked up because Joey had been keeping tabs on them in a separate book. The diary I found hidden in the slot machine! If I still can’t get into the laundry, I might be better off restoring back to Chicago to save the train ticket cost. I have a good feeling about it though!

I suddenly realised that I have some clothes that need cleaning

Session Time: 1 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 5 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 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!

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Game 35: Deja Vu II - Stumbling Around in the Dark

Ace Harding Journal Entry 3: "I really wasted some time today! After aimlessly wandering through Joe's Bar with my increasingly powerless torch, I found absolutely nothing worth writing about. I was pretty determined to get into Joey's office though, as there was bound to be something in there I could use in my current predicament. After a just-as-pointless trip to the morgue, I eventually found my way in, but it was one I really wasn't expecting. Oh well, all is well that ends well! Let's hope the next few hours are more productive."

 What's behind door number one?

Déjà Vu II is a testing game! For the first time in quite a while, I was a whisker away from asking for assistance during this session, only to find my way forward at the very last minute. As much as I find some of it pretty tedious, there’s also something immensely satisfying about making progress against the odds. I said the same thing about Neuromancer though, and that game undoubtedly overstayed its welcome, so as long as Déjà Vu II is considerably shorter than that one, it might yet get a decent rating. The very short amount of time that Stogie gives me to come up with the money suggests it isn’t on the long side, but then there’s every chance it continues on past that particular challenge. I’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. My last post finished with me breaking into Joe’s Bar, which is a place I spent plenty of time in during game one. This time however, I found myself in complete darkness when I entered. I operated my torch, only to find that the bathrooms I’d investigated in the first game where now boarded up and inaccessible. I tried “operating” the boards, and even “hitting” them, but there seemed no way to get in. The door to the main bar section wasn’t boarded up though, so I made my through unopposed.

Now that you mention it, I haven't actually seen my hand at all yet.

 Let's hope the batteries last more than a couple of minutes...oh crap!

The bar was empty, and there were cobwebs over things, suggesting it hadn’t seen much use in recent times. I could find nothing to interact with, but I did have two exits from the room that required exploring. The first one was a set of stairs leading up to the office where I’d found Joey Siegel’s body in Deja Vu 1, and the second was a door leading into the Wine Cellar. I chose to check out the wine cellar, remembering that there was a secret door somewhere down there. As soon as I got down there I saw the specific wine bottle that I was able to “operate” to open the passage, so I did so. The rack of bottles slid away, and I walked through into the secret room. Once again I was not able to enter the manhole due to crocodiles, but there was a round door out of the room that I was able to open and move through. Doing so took me to a familiar hidden Casino, which I seem to recall making a fair amount of money in last time I was there. My torch was dimming rapidly at this point, so I quickly inserted a quarter into one of the pokies and operated it. “The slot machine clangs away! The wheels spin! The excitement builds! You come up a loser. Gambling doesn’t pay.”

Unless of course you don't have a wine cellar!

This bottle Is much more obvious in VGA than it was in CGA

Except if you know the dealer, ii which case it pays very well indeed!

Before I could attempt anything else, my torch batteries ran out, leaving me in complete darkness. I didn’t have any replacements, so I restored my game and rushed through to the same point. I did this a couple more times, but simply wasn’t able to find anything to do in the hidden casino. Playing the pokies continually resulted in a loss, and interacting with anything else failed to achieve anything. There was an elevator leading up out of the room, but the lack of power meant that was useless too, leaving me to wonder why I was able to access this section of the game at all. I decided to ignore it for now, and restored my game with the intention of checking out the upstairs area instead. Much to my distress, this also led to failure, as Joey’s office was locked. None of my keys opened the door, and I wasn’t able to do anything with the paintings in the hallway either. I had to wonder what the purpose of me visiting Joe’s Bar was?! I couldn’t find anything to do either upstairs or downstairs, and there was nowhere else to go. All I could do was restore to back outside so as to save my batteries, then continue my exploration of the alley.

 What are you suggesting?!

It was then I remembered the fire escape! I clicked on it and was given a display that had three exits on it. The first one led straight back down into the alley, the second was a boarded up window leading into Joey’s office, and the third was the fire escape ladder itself. I tried climbing the ladder: “The ladder is much too corroded to be climbed and would easily give way if you were to climb it.” I tried entering the boarded window: “The boards prevent you from reaching the window.” Huh!? I tried “operating” the boards, but just as with all the others I’d seen in the game so far, I didn’t appear to be able to do anything about them. With my tail between my legs, I made my way back out to the street, wondering whether the Mercedes key I’d discovered in the garbage can was the only purpose to this entire visit to Joe’s. I’d yet to take a look down the street though, so perhaps I would find something useful down that way. Travelling to the right of screen left me standing in front of the Police Station, so I saved my game and tried entering. As expected, this little experiment ended badly, with the boys in blue arresting and detaining me long enough that I was immediately set upon and killed by Stogie on my release.

Another path blocked! You'd think someone didn't want me to go in there!

 What exactly have I done to deserve being arrested?

Restoring my game once again, I bypassed the Police Station and continued past it to the Cemetery. Continuing my failed attempts at making progress, I wasn’t even able to get through the gate to Stonehaven, nor could I see any reason I might want to. I was completely out of locations to visit in Chicago, and with so little going for me, I decided to catch a train to anywhere that I could afford and try my luck there. Perhaps I would find something in Los Angeles, St. Louis or New York that would help me achieve something at Joe’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of cash, so wasn't able to afford a $35 ticket to New York. I did have enough to try one of the other destinations though, so I hopped on a train to St. Louis, paid the $15, and settled in for the ride. All of a sudden I was confronted by Stogie: “After riding off in the wrong direction and ignoring Malone’s instructions, you find that Stogie Martin has caught up with you to administer the coup de grace. Too bad, pal!” GAME OVER!!! Wrong direction? When was I told where I can or can’t travel? I had a quick read through the game’s intro and the various documents I’d collected, but could find nothing that stated where I was allowed to go while trying to get my hands on the cash. Booooooooo!!!!!!!

I can't even remember some of these locations from the first game, but I assume they were there.

 Give me a break Stogie! I'm trying to get your damn money!

I restored (yep, again!), wondering what in hell I was going to do now! Clearly I was going to have to go over everything I knew and try to figure out what I’d missed. Perhaps now was a good time to restart and re-explore all the environments. I was going to have to do it at some point. I was standing in the Chicago train station while I was considering all my options, and I suddenly got thinking about the newspaper headline I’d read there earlier. It had mentioned a morgue, but since it mentioned no address, I’d not given it a second thought. I examined one of the newspapers again, only to find a completely different headline this time! “The paper says something about some dead mafia guy, his possible connection with Joey Siegel and gives the address of the city morgue.” WTF! I examined the newspaper repeatedly, finding that the game cycles through different takes of the same article. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t given the actual address to the morgue, since showing Gabby the cab driver anything with an address on it would automatically take me there. I gave the blind man a quarter, and then took a paper, heading straight outside to try out my theory. “Gabby recognizes the address.” Fist pumps all round in the Trickster House!

 The Magic Paper tells the reader something different every time they look at it!

I soon arrived at the Morgue Entrance, stepping out of the cab with recovered confidence. Inside I found a clerk, sitting at the counter reading a book. There was a door in the distance that apparently led to an insulated freezer, but I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be able to just waltz on in there. There was a skull next to the clerk, but it appeared to be nothing more than a paperweight. There was also a noticeboard on the wall containing obituary notices for the recently deceased. I read through all of them, but they appeared to be nothing more than decent attempts at humour. “It’s an obituary notice for Lenny “the Weasle” Wolf, who tragically choked to death on his own words” is a good example. Finally, there was a clipboard behind the counter listing unclaimed bodies: “There are two names that you can read; Alison and Durga.” I turned my attention to the clerk, noticing that he was reading Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. I tried speaking to him about all sorts of things, ranging from “Siegel” to “murder”, but he didn’t give me anything. I then tried typing “Alison” and “Durga”, to which he responded with “Sorry mac, but we are not allowed to give out personal effects to any bum who walks in off the street”.

That's what the Restore button is for right?

 Actually, that is pretty funny.

I decided I might be able to prove that I was a detective and gain entrance to the freezer, so I showed my license to the clerk. “Oh, Private Dick, eh? Sorry, only Uniforms are allowed in the back.” Uniforms? I wondered whether I was supposed to pretend to be a cop somehow? My attempts to get into the police station had failed miserably, and I couldn’t think of any other way I might convince the clerk that I was an officer. The only other thing I could do was try to force my way past him, so I tried to open the gate. “No civilians allowed, except dead ones.” I was genuinely at a loss as to what I was supposed to do at this point, and after shooting the clerk in the head at point blank range for the heck of it, I turned off the game and had a break. I thought about my predicament while I went to sleep that night, trying to figure out where I’d missed something important. I kept coming back to the fact that I’d found nothing in Joe’s Bar, and that there was no way the game would give me a torch and let me in there for no reason at all. The last thing I thought before I lost consciousness was that I would give it another shot before asking the readers for assistance. I’m The Adventure Gamer damn it! I can do this! I just need to....zzzzzz

 Did I mention that I have a gun?

The next night I restarted the game, determined to rush through as quickly as possible to make more efficient use of the limited time. I did spend a little bit of time on each screen looking for something I might not have noticed previously, with a couple of successes. The first thing that I discovered was that I was able to enter the elevator in the hotel! I have no idea why I didn’t try it during my first session, but pressing the button next to the elevator doors makes them open, giving me access to levels 2, 3 and 4. As exciting as this find was, there was absolutely nothing to do on any of the other floors, all of which contained a bunch of locked hotel rooms. The second thing I discovered was a way to make more money at the casino! In the first session I’d played other dealers before reaching Rudy, but this time I went straight to him. This meant I was able to win three hands against him before he was replaced, whereas before it was only two. I beat him twice, collected the six chips that I could in the small amount of time he gave me, then bet three of them to collect another six. I walked out of the casino with close to $50 this time, which was about ten more than I’d managed the first time. Everything else played out the same way it has previously, right up to the point where I arrived at Joe’s Bar.

It was a lovely ride, but it served no purpose.

 I really took Rudy to the cleaners this time!

After another failed venture through the bar and the connecting rooms, I once again checked out the fire escape. I had to be able to get into Siegel’s office somehow! I felt sure I’d tried everything I could earlier, but I began messing around with the boards on the window again. When I selected “HIT” and then clicked one of the boards, it fell off!!!! “You knock a board off, uncovering a hole big enough for you to squeeze through.” It seems really obvious in hindsight, but hitting boards blocking other doors and windows in the game had no effect, so I hadn’t really expected anything to happen. I still can’t believe that I didn’t try it earlier though, as I felt like I’d been really thorough. Regardless, I’d found the way forward, and boy was I happy about it! I actually left my laptop temporarily, and interrupted my wife’s reading to inform her that her husband had brilliantly solved a seemingly impossible puzzle, and that he deserved praise of the highest order. She smiled and told me how truly wonderful that was, then returned to her book. This didn’t feel like a response proportional to what I’d just achieved, but at least it meant I could return to Déjà Vu II and continue my journey onwards. Join me in a few days time to share my path to victory with me...or more realistically, to laugh at my next inevitable struggles.

 I did!? Oh...hey, I did!!!!

Session Time: 2 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 4 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 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!

Friday 20 September 2013

Game 35: Deja Vu II - Fur Balls Unite!

Ace Harding Journal Entry 2: "I can't seem to avoid this Stogie guy! Everywhere I go he pops up to remind me how little time I have to get Malone's money. At least I'm out of Las Vegas, having won another cash to get a train ticket to Chicago. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find my apartment completely ransacked there, but at least they left my gun and ammo behind! Without any solid leads, I've decided to pop down to Joe's to see whether anything interesting has happened since I was last there. Let's hope I find some sort of information that helps me out of this mess I'm in. Either that or find a way to come up with the cash Malone is demanding. I'm running out of time!"

Why do I feel like I'm going to need more luck outside the casino than I did inside?

Like all MacVenture games, Deja Vu constantly makes me feel like I’ve missed something important. If you don’t think exactly the way the game wants you to, you’re simply going to miss entire locations, and even if you do find all the locations, discovering important information and items can be challenging. I feel OK about my progress so far, but I really wouldn’t have a clue whether I’ve missed something or not. My first post covered the Lucky Dice Hotel and Casino, and finished with me exiting the building to the outside world. I generally like to get a feel for my surroundings before I set off in any direction, so I “examine” each of the exits available on any screen to see where I can and can’t go. The exit to the left on this screen was described as “A sandy stretch of land lies beyond the street” and the bottom exit as “Beyond this street lies an endless tract of sand”. I figured both of these exits would lead to endless desert, but I decided to visit them just so I could rule them out as required exploring. Surprisingly, the desert screen to the left was described as “This barren wasteland goes on and on. Faint tire tracks meander across this section of the desert, leading to the east and west”.

I could easily have missed this message, as all the desert screens look the same. Lucky I was paying attention.

I made my way west for a couple of screens, and suddenly found myself standing in front of a laundry! There was a chute on the left wall of the building and a door on the front, but I couldn’t open either of them as they were locked. I spent a bit of time trying to get inside Reliant Laundry, but couldn’t. Figuring I must need to find a key or some other way in later in the game, I made my way back to the hotel (after convincing myself there was nothing else out there in the desert). Taking the right exit took me to the Train Station Entryway. Once again I checked out my possible exits, but apart from the double doors leading into the station, they all appeared to head out into endless desert. So from what I can tell, Las Vegas consists of the Hotel, the Laundry, and the Train Station. I entered the station, where I found a man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper. The man didn’t seem to listen to anything I said to him, so I checked out my surroundings. There really wasn’t anything else to see in the main room, but the exits led to track 6, track 7, track 8, track 9, and the baggage-claim booth. I visited each of the tracks, but all I found were trains waiting for me to board. I did notice that there were doors behind each of the tracks, but trying to reach them only resulted in me being hit by a train and dying.

I imagine a laundry in a well populated desert environment would make a mint!

Everyone seems to ignore me in this game!

I'm so glad you told me. I may not have known otherwise!

Since I really didn’t know which train to get on, I made my way to the Baggage-Claim Department. A man sat in a booth where travelers could check in their baggage. There were two signs on the wall behind him, and some brochures in a rack to the side of the booth. I checked out all four brochures, finding that there were two different ones available. The first one explained the Union Pacific Railroad Company’s new arrival/departure scheduling system. What it had to say was pretty obvious, giving definitions for what the words “Arrived”, “Boarding”, “Departing” and “En Route” mean. The second brochure had the same information I’d found in my green foldout train schedule, listing the costs of tickets from Las Vegas to New York City, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Chicago. I examined the signs on the wall and found that they were actually arrival and departure boards. Trains had just arrived from St.Louis and New York, while they were still en route from Chicago and Los Angeles. I was more interested in what trains were about to depart, as I’d decided the best place for me to go was Chicago. I had two addresses so far, being for my apartment and Joe’s Bar, and both of them were located in Chicago. The departure board told me there was a train to Chicago about to depart from track 6, so that’s where I headed.

I'd like to check in this wastebasket, these two ashtrays, and this oversized bible please

When I hopped on the train, the conductor told me that a one way fare to Chicago would cost $20. I opened up my pants and then clicked on my wallet. Meanwhile the conductor was getting impatient, asking whether I really wanted to buy a ticket. I opened up my wallet and began examining each of the notes in there, since there’s no way to know how much each is worth by simply looking at them. By the time I found the note I wanted, the conductor had kicked me off the train, and I was left to watch while it pulled out from the station. Damn inventory!!!! I was forced to go back to the baggage area to see what track the next train going to Chicago would depart from, and this time I dragged the twenty dollar note into my main inventory before hopping on the train. Once I’d paid, I was briefly able to explore the train car, but other than finding out that one of the women onboard “looks like she ought to be in pictures”, I found nothing to do or see. Eventually the screen went black as I apparently fell asleep. Oddly, at one point I half woke to have a quick glimpse of the train again, before going back to sleep. When I fully woke up, we had arrived in Chicago.

Just a minute...I just have to find my wallet...ok, I've got, what note is this? No, that's a one dollar, what about this, um...I know it's here somewhere...hey, what are you doing???

The train station in Chicago looked completely different to the one in Las Vegas, with a small empty bench at the front and a blind man selling newspapers to one side. There was a dog next to the man that was described as being a Pit-Bull Chihuahua and apparently reminded me of my old dog Taco. “He might have been just a pooch, but at least he didn’t nag when you came home late.” The writer of Deja Vu II appears to have had a bit of chip on his shoulder about women. Either that or he was trying to replicate Al Lowe’s style of humour and failing on the funny front. I examined one of the newspapers, and read an article with the headline “GANGLAND BAGMAN MURDERED?”: “An as yet unrecognizable body, perhaps that of a well-known local mobster, is believed to have come to his end at the hands of a fellow gangster. In recent months, gang-related activity has increased in this city. Police are investigating any possible connections between the Siegel murder and this most recent slaying.” The article also noted that the body of the gangster was now in the city morgue. It seemed to me that I might want to pay a visit to that morgue, yet there was no mention of its location in the article.

No, I don't really hear much at all in this game, but thanks for trying to create the mood for me.

I exited the station and found a yellow cab waiting outside. Since there were no other exits on the screen, I hopped in. “Why it’s none other than your old pal, Gabby.” A bit coincidental don’t you think!? “You remember meeting Gabby for the first time years ago. You instantly recognized that he was almost totally deaf and could barely read lips so you had to figure out other ways of directing him; talking just didn’t cut it. Through the years you’ve helped him out and in return, he’s never charged you a cent. Quite the prince that Gabby is!” So this time I wasn’t going to have to type in addresses to tell to the taxi driver, as the only way he would understand me is if I gave him something with the address on it. I “operated” my license on Gabby, and he responded with “Yes!” and set off for my apartment. We arrived shortly thereafter, and I hopped out and entered the block of apartments I call home. The hallway leading to my own apartment  had some mailboxes built into the wall, so I examined each of them. The fourth and final one had my name on it, so I tried to unlock it using my apartment key. That didn’t work, and since I could find no other way to get into either my box or any of the others, I instead unlocked my door and entered my apartment.

Gabby was always there...waiting for me...patiently!

Well at least this time I won't be wasting valuable cash on cabs all the time

How could she not with a name like that!?

“You’re standing in a room that looks like it was turned inside out. The stale odor of cheap cigar smoke tells you the mess was caused by that two-legged tornado, Stogie Martin.” My apartment was a mess, with items strewn all over the place. I set about examining each of them, starting with the horrendous checkered overcoat hanging on the wall. Clearly Stogie hadn’t bothered to check through the overcoat, as inside I discovered a .38 revolver and twelve dollars, all of which I dragged into my inventory. I also added the overcoat...well...because I could. It’s here that I was informed that I’d run out of space in my inventory, so it was time to start prioritising items. I decided to dump the pillows, the wastebasket, the towels, and three of Stogie’s cigar rings, since none of those things seemed likely to play a role. I continued searching the room, finding a portable battery-operated flashlight, and then finding a bunch of useful things in the drawer that had been left on the floor. There was a cardboard box containing four bullets for the gun, a penknife, and two keys. Examining the keys revealed that one of them was for my safe deposit box, but the other one was an unknown.

No wonder he left it alone. It's hideous!

A box of bullets, a pen knife, and two keys. Score!!!

For some reason I just assumed the safe deposit box key was for my mailbox (I guess I didn’t read it properly), so was surprised when I went back out to the hallway and found it wouldn’t unlock it (I ran into Stogie again in the hallway too, telling me to get a move on). I tried the other key I’d just collected, and thankfully that one did! Inside were three letters, which I immediately set about opening and reading. The first one contained an advertisement that suggested I enrol in a correspondence course at the Berlitz School of Investigation. I wasn’t sure if it was a stab at my investigatory skills or not, but I couldn’t see how it would be relevant. The second letter was from my informant, Vinnie Talusso. “Ace, some weird stuff is going on at Nordic Shoe Factory. I have it on good authority that the company has invested a large amount of money on an ice cream parlor across the street from it. There are also midnight shipments to this ice cream parlor from unmarked trucks. I thought you’d like to know, because you told me to keep my eyes open for anything out of the ordinary.” Unfortunately, the letter didn’t contain an address for either the ice cream parlor or the shoe factory, so I didn’t see how I might get Gabby to drive me to either location. Finally, the third letter was also an advertisement, with this one trying to convince me to join the marines.

Why do I have a boring informant that sends me letters when Tex gets a sassy redhead that video calls him!?

Feeling that I’d found all there was to find at my apartment, I hopped back into the cab and gave the article containing the address for Joe’s Bar to Gabby. He recognised it, and we were soon parked outside the location where everything started in the first Déjà vu game. I was a bit concerned at first, because it appeared that all the same pathways that were available during the first game were going to need exploring all over again. There were no less than six exits to the screen, with the cab only taking up one of them. It soon became apparent that some of them were not actually accessible though. I couldn’t go through the manhole “due to alligator scares in the past few years”, and I couldn’t go left of screen as “a construction barricade” blocked my way. The front entrance to Joe’s was also locked, leaving only the alleyway leading behind the bar and the street off to the right of screen. I entered the alley, and immediately found myself accosted by a strange old lady. “Suddenly, a haggard old woman seems to appear out of nowhere and pummels you with her purse for no apparent reason! She then runs off screaming “Fur balls unite!” at the top of her lungs.” I had no idea what it was all about at the time, and I still don’t!

Getting knocked out, finding a  dead body and being attacked by alligators. How could it not be my favourite place to hang out?

Wowbagger dropped in to inform Ace that he was "a right dickhead", before moving onto her next target

From my new location, I could either climb the fire escape or go further into the alley (the manhole was again inaccessible). I decided to thoroughly explore the alleyway before attempting to break into the bar. The next alley screen had a locked door that would otherwise lead into the bar, and there was also a bunch of garbage spread out on the ground. I moved an empty beer can and an unreadable piece of newspaper into my inventory (just to get them out of the way really) and then opened the box that was left in the middle of the alley. It contained another box, which in turn contained yet another box, and within that box was a bunch of empty bottles. I turned my attention to the garbage cans, and was shocked to find a key (on a Mercedes Benz keyring) within one of them! I hadn’t seen a car at this stage of the game (apart from the cab), but was certain it would become important later. With all the garbage investigated, I thought I’d have a shot at unlocking the door somehow. My first thought was to use the pocket knife on the lock, and was thrilled when it worked!!! I was about to go back into Joe’s Bar, where my whole ordeal started in the previous game. Join me next post to see what went on in there!

Why would anyone throw their car key into a garbage can?

Makes me wonder whether I could do the same at the laundry!

Session Time: 1 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 2 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 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!