Friday, 4 October 2013

Game 35: Deja Vu II - Won!

Ace Harding Journal Entry 6: "Malone and Ventini are dead! The papers speak of a double hit, with the mob bosses going down as part of a "Gangland Gunfight", but the truth is I set them both up for a fall. After discovering Ventini's secret office, I finally had enough information to plant on each side of the fence. It worked perfectly, with both of them assuming the other needed to be taken out as soon as possible. I'm finally free to go home, although it seems only a matter of days since I last thought that. I think I'll get some serious locks for my apartment!"

 After an unfortunate delay, I was finally going to find out what was held within the secret room!

As regular readers would be aware, I don’t allow myself to use walkthroughs when playing games for the blog. Having the ability to ask you guys for assistance means I a) get hints instead of outright spoilers and b) try much, much harder than I otherwise might, as I’d hate to appear an idiot on a public forum. Deja Vu II fooled me into thinking that I might just be able get all the way through it without needing help. The first few sessions were not without challenges, but applying logic combined with very thorough investigation continued to keep me moving forward, seemingly on track for a fine victory. However, things got seriously nasty after gaining entrance to the laundry, and I have to admit that I was forced to to turn to Zenic's hints to get through! I honestly don’t think I would have finished the game without them, at least not without putting weeks and countless tedious restarts into it. But as usual, I’m jumping ahead of myself, so let’s go back to where my last post finished. I’d just managed to enter the secret office in the laundry by throwing a dart found in Ventini’s office at the dartboard. This was a great achievement, but unfortunately I ran out of time at the exact point that I got in.

Apparently I come back as an undead PI anyway, which is far cooler!

I restarted, and rushed my way through everything that had happened to that point. This rushing caused a horrible dead end, when I stupidly decided the train schedule wasn’t something I needed to keep in my inventory. This resulted in me not being able to get Gabby to take me back to the train station in Chicago, and I could think of no other way to get there. My second restart did do the trick though, and I entered the secret office with what I assumed was heaps of time up my sleeve. There was nothing more than a rotting banana in the wastebasket, which I decided was pretty unlikely to be useful, so I moved onto the desk. Inside was a photo, two documents and yet another ledger. The photo ended up being the one of Siegel and Ventini shaking hands in front of the laundry, and one of the documents was the letter from Bondwell to Malone that suggested Ventini might be muscling in on Malone’s territory. I quickly realised that these were the documents that the goons had taken from me in the laundry room, but where were my weapons!? I’d expected to be able to get them back somehow, but now I wondered whether I should have put them aside before entering the laundry dumpster. I decided it was better to be safe than sorry, and to restore back to the dumpster and leave my weapons in the hall, but not before checking out the other items in the secret office desk.

 What this room really needs is some sort of suggestion of what I'm supposed to do next!

The second document was a list of Chicago based companies with the words Accept or Terminate written next to each of them. I wasn’t able to see the actual list of companies, but I assumed it would be another piece of evidence that would prove how dodgy these criminals were. I then turned my attention to the ledger: “The ledger lists all of the payments that appear in Siegel’s diary. “I wonder if these are the real books?” you mutter to yourself.” I sat back and tried to piece together what I was supposed to make of that information. My thoughts were as follows: 1. Joey Siegel’s diary that I’d found in the slot machine had a list of payments he’d been making to Malone through Ventini. 2. Bondwell had found a ledger in Joey’s office that contained none of those payments, which led him to believe that Ventini was muscling in on Malone’s territory (I couldn’t really understand why that might be) 3. A ledger I found in Ventini’s office had a full list of all payments made to Malone via Ventini, including the ones made from Siegel. 4. A ledger in the secret office, which I assume belongs to Ventini, appeared to be the real ledger belonging to Joey Siegel, and included the payments in question. I felt like I should be able to figure out something out of all that information, but I was struggling to make much sense of it!

 I did?! Actually, the thought never crossed my mind!

I restored back to the dumpster and left my weapons on the floor this time before getting into the dumpster. This allowed me to go back and get them after my exploits in the laundry, which I felt much happier about. However, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t really have any leads left! I still couldn’t travel to Los Angeles, New York or St. Louis, and I had no other addresses I could check out in either Las Vegas or Chicago. There were no locked doors to get through, and no obvious puzzles to be solved. I’d always had something remaining on the “to do list” to this point of the game, but now everything was crossed off! Was I supposed to do something with all the evidence I’d collected? I tried going to the police, thinking they might give me a warmer reception now that I had so much useful stuff. They weren’t, and it resulted in a game over message the way it had previously. Was I supposed to be leaving items in specific locations that would cause Ventini and Malone to go at each other? This seemed possible, but what would I leave where? The solution I came up with was to leave all the documents (including the ledgers) that had anything to do with payments in Malone’s desk. Perhaps that would make him go after Ventini, although I still couldn’t understand why.

 I wasn't sure about this at all, but had to try something.

I made my way back to the hotel with the intention of going back to level five, only the button to level five was no longer there! Huh?! Don’t tell me I was supposed to remove it before getting out of the lift!!!??? I saved my game and loaded an earlier one just to see whether I could remove it after using it. I could, which meant it was very possible that I might have to play through a fair portion of the game again! By this time I was getting a bit concerned. Actually, I was starting to get the shits! I seemed to be running into dead ends all over the place, and since I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be doing, playing through large sections of the game over and over seemed unbearable. I decided to request assistance, and it was Zenic that responded with numerous hints and spoilers. The first thing I noted was that one of his hints was titled “Hint for Missing Item”. If I was missing an item after playing through several times, I probably wasn’t going to find it! The hint was “You haven’t searched through all items, and according to the posts didn’t touch it at all.” I really didn’t think there was anything I hadn’t checked out on any screen, so I read on: “Say you lost something, maybe left it on the floor, but it’s not there anymore. Where could it be?” Hmmm...if I left something on the floor, and yet it wasn’t there when I returned, I’d think that someone else must have it. That didn’t help!

Man, that's a lot of hints and spoilers! It concerned me that Zenic thought I would need that much help!

I was committed now, so I moved onto Zenic’s spoiler for the missing item’s location. “You glossed over a number of item at the Cottage.” What Cottage? I thought of all the locations I’d been, but none of them could be considered a cottage! I read the “Complete Spoiler for Missing Item”, which was as follows: “Did you check the contents of the vacuum?” You mean the vacuum cleaner in Sugar’s apartment?! Well, yeah, I’d found a vacuum bag inside, but examining it told me that “it’s a full vacuum cleaner bag. It certainly didn’t clean this room, there’s still filth everywhere.” I wasn’t able to open the bag, and the message had convinced me that I wasn’t likely to find anything useful in it anyway. Was there actually something required inside!? What was it and where did it come from if not from Sugar’s apartment? How would I get it out? I restored back to the apartment and picked up the vacuum bag. I still wasn’t able to open it, so I tried operating the knife on it. It worked, and I found a letter inside addressed to Sugar. I felt a bit ripped off about this! The game had made a point of suggesting the vacuum cleaner hadn’t been used in the room, yet it clearly had. I realise now that the message had likely contained a heap sarcasm, but it had put my off a scent I was supposed to follow.

 I'm not sure what type of vacuum cleaner would suck up a full envelope containing a letter.

The envelope had the following written on the outside: “Sugar, if I’m knocked off, give this to the Chief of Police. Make sure Captain Carlston doesn’t see it.” I opened it up and read the letter contained within, which had apparently been written by Policeman McMurphy. “Consider this as a death bed testimony, cause if I ain’t dead now, as soon as word of this letter gets out, I will be. I might be going down over this, but I won’t take the fall alone. Joey Siegel’s been paying off Captain Carlston for protection for some new racket he’s settin’ up. All I done is act as bagman, but I guess that’s enough. Siegel gives the dough to some two-bit thug with a scar running through his eye, this thug gives it to me, and I give it to Carlston. Don’t ask me what Siegel’s up to. Like I said, I’m only the bagman.” Well I’m sure the police would be pretty damn interested in seeing this letter! It didn’t tell me much that I didn’t already know, but it did give me the name of the two corrupt cops that were involved in bribery and corruption. I quickly played through up to the hidden office, only to find that collecting this item hadn’t really assisted me in knowing what to do next. Was I supposed to take it to the cops now? I hopped on a train to Chicago, and then got a cab to Joe’s bar. Next door was the police station, so I tried entering. As expected, having the letter made no difference at all, and I was arrested and eventually killed.

I still have no idea what the cops have against me. I cleared my name at the end of the first one!

By now I really just wanted Deja Vu II to end! It was time to read Zenic’s “General Hint for What to Do”! It read as follows: “You’re on the right track. Need to set someone up to take a fall, and not you.” OK, so at least my thinking was right. I had to plant evidence somewhere, but what and where!? At this point I probably could have had one last go at solving the problem myself, but I was a bit over it, so went to Zenic’s next hint. “You should have all the items/evidence you need to create suspicion between the two mob bosses. Where are the best places to leave it to reach their eyes only?” I’d considered that already (as you can see above), but hadn’t managed to put the plan into action. I now considered what might make each of the bosses attack the other one. Well, it seemed likely that the ledgers were the key to getting Malone to go after Ventini, but what would make Ventini go after Malone? The letter from Bondwell had informed Malone of his concerns about Ventini. Perhaps putting that in the desk of Ventini would do the trick? I tried doing exactly that (in both the secret office and his office in the hotel), and then put the ledgers in Malone’s. Absolutely nothing happened! Was there a trigger that would make them find the items and read them? I couldn’t think of what it might be. I’d been given a constant flow of leads throughout the game, yet now they’d just stopped! There was nothing to tell me what I was supposed to be trying to do!

Even dumping every document I had into Malone's desk didn't appear to do anything, even after I'd left the building.

It appeared as though I was going to have to read Zenic’s spoiler, but before I did that, there was one last hint. “Hint for Hidden Dart Room: “This is DV’s special room. You should have found some valuable evidence, but who is DV going to blame when he discovers it’s missing?” Malone obviously, but since leaving the ledger in Malone’s office had achieved nothing, I didn’t know how to make that work. I gave up! It was time to read the spoilers: “If you’re completely stuck for what to do, then you need to make DV think Malone is on to him. Also, you need to provide Malone evidence that DV is running a racket behind his back. Malone’s office desk is the best place to leave evidence of that. In the GBC version, I had to leave only three items: two letters and a diary. Any more or less showed I knew too much to live. For DV’s office, the cigar rings will cast suspicion on Stogie being the one who took the records.” So I was supposed to put the cigar rings that Stogie had been leaving behind in the hidden office, and then leave the ledger stuff in Malone’s office in the hotel?! That’s brutal! I never considered Stogie to have anything to do with the solution! And why the hidden room and not Ventini’s office in the hotel? I did what Zenic suggested I should, and then stood outside the hotel. Nothing f$#%ing happened!

 Should I put the cigar rings on the desk or in the desk? The game gave me no information to go off.

Eventually I stumbled on the solution, but not without much gnashing of teeth. All I had to do was hop on a train to Chicago after planting the evidence. How I was supposed to know that is beyond me! I only discovered it after trying to go back to the police, just to rule that out. The game gave me no clues that I was doing anything right at any stage, so I don’t know how anyone could finish the game without a huge dose of blind luck. Even though Zenic had handed me the solution on a platter, I still couldn’t make it happen for two whole hours! Anyway, as soon as I caught the train, the following occurred. “Saturday, September 6th, 10:32am: Suspected gang kingpin Anthony Malone enters the Lucky Dice Hotel and Casino.” A spray of bullets hit the hotel wall, presumably killing Malone. “Saturday, September 6th. 11:05am: Alleged mobster Daniel Ventini arrives at the suspected mafia laundering operation.” An explosion then blew the door and window out, presumably killing Ventini. “When you get to town, the newspapers are full of the Great Las Vegas Shootout. Your strategy of telling Malone and Ventini about each other worked perfectly. When the dust settled, they were dead. They had gotten each other before either could get to you. Congratulations!” I received my second Deja Vu certificate, with this one being in the form of a cancelled contract for my murder. I should have felt extremely satisfied with my win! Instead, I felt angry and disappointed. Prepare for a pretty negative Final Rating post.

 I can't believe I didn't even get to use my gun in the whole game!

 Congratulations is in order... why do I feel so depressed about it?!

Session Time: 2 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 30 minutes


  1. Congrats, that sounded painful.

  2. Ouch, sorry I forgot to mention leaving town to avoid the heat. You can also head out into the deep desert to trigger the ending. The GBC version actually gives the hint to frame both bosses, but absolutely no hints about what items to leave for Malone. I kept trying to leave the ledgers, but Stogie would say I knew too much and off me anyway. At least you now get to put this behind you. Also, the GBC version called it Sugar's Cottage; didn't know it was just Sugar's apartment in this game. The message for opening the vacuum bag in the GBC was I couldn't do it with my hands, which seems rather odd. Mr. Harding afraid for getting his hands dirty. Interesting to note that the gun is basically useless in this game.

  3. Glad this one is over. I caved in a couple of days ago when even Zenic's hints wouldn't help after the fourth (or fifth?) restart. It's a small consolation to know that you faced a similar predicament, Trickster.

    I was ready to tag Deja Vu II as the best of the ICOM games I had played (not a great feat mind you), but that was before everything went crumbling down in that final act. A very bad wrap to a decent start and middle sections...

    Now I feel silly that I warned you about those two bullets you were leaving behind in the box. Oh well at least I did get to use the gun against the door at Joe's. Among the heap of useless items, the pen knife at least got a good workout.

  4. New Steam release Jack Orlando: Director's Cut

    And it's on sale for 50% off for just 2.49 through the 11th.

  5. I don't think it is possible to figure out the end game without looking at hints. Personally I preferred the first game, but this one was still fun.

  6. Congratulations on finishing Deja Vu II! I wouldn't wish this experience on anybody hint-free. I was worried this game would take an eternity, mainly because I was really hoping you'd get to Hugo's House of Horrors before October was over. Looking forward to that! Cute, rough Maniac Mansion knock-off is just the thing for the Halloween season. Definitely playing along.

  7. And here we see some of the problems with the adventure game genre illustrated. That said, I love the theme and plot of this game series much more then anything Sierra or Lucasarts are doing these days (This changes later; I loved the playthrough of Gram Fandango I saw)

  8. I guess congratulations are in order, maybe more so because you're done with the suffering of player deaths, illogical solutions, horrible pixel hunting and the ever-present haunting of gamewide timelimits.

    This is thankfully the last MacVenture game, although Shadowgate returns in 2013 due to the Kickstarter.

  9. I'm starting to think frustration is a major component of adventure games, at least ones from the time period this blog has covered so far. And to wonder why anyone would play them when there were nice satisfying books and movies as options.

    1. I do want Hiveswap when it comes out, but that's because it's a Homestuck game.