Tuesday 31 December 2013

Game 39: Earthrise - Am I Legend?

Captain's Log, Entry 2: "I fear there may be no survivors on Solus. At least none that I might want to come face to face with! I explored the entire accessible surface of the asteroid with little to show for it, yet the short amount of time I've spent in the underground base has already turned up the body of what I believe was once Dr. Edward Stanley. He appears to have committed suicide, and the note he left made little sense to me. It spoke of spiders and Zelds, whatever they are, but one thing is clear...something terrible has happened here on Solus. I intend to find out what it is, but it looks like I'll have to be very careful if I'm ever to get myself off this rock and back to Earth."

Yeah, well hindsight is always 20/20!

Having suffocated due to a lack of oxygen at the end of my first post, I was forced to restore back to the space shuttle in orbit above Solus. This time I filled my bottle with oxygen (8 points) using the filler valve before making my way down to the surface of the asteroid. By the time I got there, I still had 96.5% oxygen, so I felt confident I would now be able to manage the situation better. Since I’d not actually achieved anything on Solus during my first visit, I decided to walk away from my ship in a different direction this time. I walked to the right of screen (as opposed to the left), and soon found myself standing near a descending ladder which had what looked like a set of false teeth next to it. It turned out to be a plaque that said “PERSONNEL ENTRANCE”. I felt it would be better to map out the surface before I started exploring underground, so ignored the ladder for now. Continuing to the right of screen, I soon reached a sea of methane. Entering it seemed a really bad idea, so I took a right angle turn and head off in what I assumed would be a southwards direction. The sea continued to block my path east, but on the next screen there was a small pool of water that seemed of relevance.

I'm not quite sure what the chrono level is all about, but now that Lars-Erik has found the manual, I might be able to find out.

Oh dear! This is not the best place to leave one's teeth!

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Methane seas off the shoulder of Solus.

The game suggested I might be able to walk across the pool of water, “given the density of the liquid and the low gravity”, so I tried. This was a cheap trap, as some sort of carnivorous plant emerged from the pool and ate me! Restoring, I ignored the pool and continued to explore the eastern edge of the play area. On the screen below the pool of water I came across some footprints leading off into the sea. “Whatever left these obviously has three feet. Very weird. Whatever it was went into the sea, and never came out again.” I didn’t know what to make of this, but decided to ignore it for now and continue on. When I reached the south-east corner of the play area, I found more footprints, this time coming out of the water for a short distance and then fading away. I had to assume this was the same creature, since it had three feet, but were these footprints made before or after the others? Regardless, I now knew that the surface area of Solus would be four screens west to east by five screens north to south, so there would be twenty screens in total if there weren’t any pathways through the mountains or methane sea. I turned westwards, and quickly proved my twenty screen theory wrong. On the next screen I found a narrow path leading south through the mountains, so I took it.

Ooohhhh...a spaceman sandwich!!! My favourite!

I don't think you could really deduce that this creature has three feet from this alone. My footprints would have looked like this after my bucks night!

It's strange that I don't leave footprints. Perhaps the creature is much heavier than me?

The path led to a waste dump, filled with stacked drums of toxic material. I could see an elevator in the centre, but there was a drum leaking radioactive goo into the shaft. I tried pressing the “Down” button anyway, only to find that the elevator was broken. I put the dump on my map, and left the same way I’d come. My way west ended one screen sooner than I’d expected, so I was forced to go north. My whereabouts is likely getting a bit confusing for the reader by now, so I’ve included a progress map a few screenshots down to make things easier. The next screen I entered had yet another ladder descending below the surface, and there was another plaque next to it. This one read “EMERGENCY EXIT”, but once again I chose to ignore it for the time being. I now had the option of going west though, and heading off in that direction brought me to a screen where I could see something red in the distance. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, but since there was another path leading south into the mountains, I decided to check that out first. It took me to a cave with a huge mine shaft drilled into the ground. There was a ladder leading into the shaft, so I climbed down to see where it might lead. The ladder descended quite a way, but eventually I reached the bottom to find some lights, a pick axe and a couple of doors. Most concerning though was the aqua coloured blob that rapidly approached the base of the ladder!

OH&S is really going to be pissed about this!

I get the feeling I'll be needing this at some point.

Well, there is no shortage of obstacles in Earthrise. Let's hope I eventually start finding some ways to overcome them.

I tried leaving the screen and then coming back, but the gelatinous blob was there each time. There appeared no way to descend the ladder quickly enough to avoid it either, so I saved my game to see what would happen if I came into contact with it. “Talk about caustic. That little blob has completely dissolved you. Maybe you should avoid strange creatures in the future.” Yep, I figured that would happen! So far I’d visited a total of sixteen surface screens on Solus and hadn’t been able to do anything at all. It was beginning to look like I’d need to get beneath the surface to make progress, but I was close to completing my surface map so pushed on. I went north to see what the red thing was I’d been able to see in the distance. On arriving I found it to be a force field, created by four posts stuck in the ground. Within the force field I could see a hole in the ground along with some rocks next to it, and there was also an empty space suit (similar to my own) lying near it. “The force field is much too strong for you to pass. There must be a control somewhere.” I could find no controls anywhere on the posts or in the surrounding area, so figured they too must be underground somewhere. The good news was that I’d now completely mapped the area perimeter, meaning there was only a few screens in the centre that needed to be checked out.

Seriously, you gotta try this! It's liberating!

Surely gravity would have much less effect up here. A simple jump would get me over the force field.

You still with me?

I crossed those out quickly, with only two screens worth mentioning. The first one was the Observatory, although I could find no way to gain entrance to the large blue dome (the telescope doors were closed too). The second one contained a large skylight, through which I was told that I could see a garden below. Once again there was no way in, but the description made specific reference to both the cracks and footprints on the ground nearby. So there you have it! I’d explored no less than twenty-one surface level screens and had absolutely nothing to show for it! Climbing the tower had also produced nothing but questions, and I'd made no progress when I’d descended into the mine shaft. The only thing left to do was to try one of the other three ladders tha led down beneath the surface (at the base of the Radio Tower, the Emergency Exit and the Personnel Entrance). I decided to take the radio tower ladder, since I’d briefly entered the room below before running out of oxygen. Speaking of oxygen, by now I was running pretty low again (below 50%), and since I’d not done anything of note since arriving on Solus, restored to the landing platform and made my way straight to the tower. Beneath the tower was a storage area, with a large cabinet, an oil drum and some lockers. As I should have expected by now, the lockers and the cabinet were locked, and I could find nothing to do with the Transformer Oil. There was a door within the room too that had a scanner next to it. I couldn’t be certain what the scanner was trying to read, but I clearly didn’t have it because those doors were not going to open!

Hmmm...ugly! I guess they never expected people to observe the observatory.

I'm curious about these cracks. Will they play a role later?

One gets the feeling this oil is more than meets the eye too.

I made my way to the Personnel Entrance and climbed down the ladder there, thinking that I’d better find something to do pretty soon. Below was a tunnel running north to south, and there was a status panel on the wall. Reading the panel informed me that the tunnel was titled LA3, and that there was no pressure or oxygen within. I walked to the right of screen, which confusingly was south, and was very pleased to find that the door opened to allow me through. I walked into a security checkpoint that had a bulletin board on the wall and a large desk to one side. I looked at the notice board, and was told that there were two notices: “One is a duty roster. According to the schedule, Alan Wright is supposed to be on duty here. The other is a notice about a missing gold watch.” Neither of these seemed of much help, so I turned my attention to the desk. The only thing of interest that I found there was an intercom console, which contained five coloured buttons (yellow, green, black, blue and red). I soon found that the yellow, green and red buttons didn’t do anything noticeable, but the black and blue buttons opened and closed the door leading south out of the room (5 points). I walked through the door (while it was open obviously) and reappeared in a decontamination room. A sign on the wall read: “All personnel and equipment must be decontaminated before entering base”.

It's always disturbing when north becomes east and vice versa. Messes with my mapping!

Once you go black...well, I guess I could go back in this instance.

They really could have made better use of the space in this base.

There was a security box against the right wall and a console in the centre of the room. There were two buttons on the console, being “EQUIPMENT” and “PERSONNEL”. I figured I’d probably kill myself by selecting the equipment button, as I’d likely be treated like an inanimate object, so I selected “PERSONNEL”. I was surrounded by pink and purple rays of light that were somehow decontaminating me. When it was all over, I’ve received the following message: “Hmmmm. Normally your hair tingles when you undergo decontamination. You must have forgotten something.” Was I now able to take my helmet off? I’d seen no status panel telling me there was oxygen in these rooms, but what else could it mean?! I typed “take off helmet” and held my breath. My head didn’t explode, so that was a positive! I selected the “PERSONNEL” button again, and this time it worked (6 points). The security box opened, but before I went to check out what was in it, I simply had to know what would happen if I pressed the “EQUIPMENT” button. I saved my game and pressed it, then watched as I was turned into ash and collapsed into nothingness. Well, the game might be light on solvable puzzles so far, but the death scenes were strangely satisfying. After restoring, I looked in the security box to find a bunch of security badges. I picked one up and pinned it to my suit (15 points). Looking at it revealed that it was a mining guild security badge and that it would allow me admittance to the base.

I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain

Caption contest

Nice! It's very sheriffy!

With the badge automatically attached to my suit, I wandered through the south door and into a tunnel. As expected, when I checked out the panel on the wall it informed me that it was called LA2, and that the pressure and oxygen were “nominal”. So it seemed to me that some areas were going to be safe to keep my helmet off, and therefore save on oxygen, whereas others would not be. I created a new Excel spreadsheet to map out the underground area, and would make sure I marked any screen that had no breathable oxygen in a different colour. I continued south, finding that the next section of tunnel (predictably called LA1) led into the “upper central hub”. There were no less than eight airlocks leading out of this hub, meaning my play area had just opened up hugely! However, red or green lights above each of the doors indicated whether or not I could safely pass through each of the airlocks. At first I thought the red lights must mean the airlocks were locked, but some painful experimentation informed me that they meant there was no oxygen within those sections. I now had a heap more exploration to do, with the following areas available to me: N – Landing Area, NE – Security Office, E – Garden / Observatory, SE – Research Labs, S – Administration, SW – Lower Level, W – Communications, NW – Recreation Area. There were green lights above all of the doors apart from the Administration and Recreation sections.

The Central Hub: Wow! I really didn't expect the base to be so expansive!

Yeah, I should have just inserted this image and saved all that typing.

So, I’d just been through the Landing Area, which explained why the tunnels there were labelled LA1, LA2 and LA3. It was time to decide on my next location for investigation! Since there seemed to be a communications issue between the asteroid and Earth, I chose to check out Communications first, so passed through the airlock to the west. I made my way through three tunnels (COM1, COM2 and COM3) before arriving at the station’s tracking and communications room. “Here, Earth is tracked for purposes of navigation and communications.” There was computer with a tracking scope on the back wall, a chart on the west wall, and a console in the centre of the room. I tried using the computer, but was repeatedly told that it was “busy tracking Earth”. Looking at the chart informed me that it was doing something, but I wasn’t exactly sure what. Finally, I focussed on the console in the room’s centre, only to be told: “It’s pretty complicated. There is a standard radio transmitter here.” On further investigation, I was told that this radio transmitter might be used to contact the Guild on Earth, so I typed “contact earth” (5 points). “You establish contact with the Guild. You report your progress and are told to complete your mission, and return to Earth.” The cabinet on the eastern wall was locked, and I couldn’t think of anything else to do in the room, so I left through the airlock to the west. To my surprise (although it makes total sense in hindsight), I reappeared in the storage room at the base of the radio tower. I hadn’t been able to enter the airlock previously because I didn’t have a security badge, but now I did.

Johnny knew he shouldn't put the dart board above the computer, but raising the stakes really added to the drama!

Solus to Earth, Solus to Earth, this is...um...oh shit...what's my name!?

Now I can get through the door, but that doesn't really hold any benefit at this point.

It seemed very unlikely that anything would have changed in the storage area, so I made my way back to the central hub to choose a new destination. I can’t remember exactly why I chose to visit the Research Labs next, but I passed through the airlock to the south-east regardless. The tunnels on the way were labelled RL1 and RL2, and eventually opened up into the Research Lab. It was here that something truly eventful finally happened! There was a corpse lying on the floor amongst a heap of lab equipment strewn across tables. There was a note on the chest of the dead man as well as a glass on the floor next to him. The note read: “I am writing this for whoever may find me. I have locked myself in here to try to get away from them. Yesterday, Alan, my assistant, let a spider loose in the botanical garden, in hopes of furthering our attempts at creating a perfect biosphere with a complete ecocycle. If he had asked me, I would have warned him that the fertilizer we formulated may have unpredictable effects on insect life. When Sharon disappeared, Alan went to check the garden. He hasn’t returned. I think the Zelds have figured out how to work the airlocks, and one of them has me trapped in here. Fortunately, they aren’t big enough to activate the automatic airlock’s mechanism, but I hear him working away at the manual controls now. I saw what was left of some of the others, and don’t want to end up like them. If I fill myself up with enough of this stuff, then I should be it’s last meal. To whomever may read this, BE CAREFUL!”

The doctor...is dead!

Who or what are the Zelds? I had to assume they were separate to the spider. Were three footed footprints I'd seen made by the Zelds? I figured these questions would be answered at some point, perhaps somewhere else in the research lab. I tried picking up the glass near the corpse but couldn’t, and after finding nothing of interest amongst the lab equipment, went through to the eastern part of the lab. There were a bunch of cabinets to check out there, but there was something bright green on the table that caught my attention. A closer look revealed that it was the notes of Dr. Edward Stanley. Was that the man that was now dead at the other end of the room? Things were really starting to get interesting in Earthrise. I wouldn’t call the game to this point boring, as I generally enjoy the basic exploration and mapping that many early Sierra games required for the player to get going, but it’s certainly taken a while for anything of note to happen. I’m hoping from here on in things will pick up, and I’m genuinely excited at the prospect of exploring the rest of the base. Join me next year to see what I found in the doctor’s notes, and what else awaits me in the base on Solus. We may or may not get another Circuit’s Edge post in before that, as I believe Zenic is going away for a short period. In the meantime, happy New Year everyone! May 2014 be filled with mystery, laughs and many, many enjoyable puzzles.

104 out of 800. Progress is progress!

Session Time: 1 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 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!


  1. Caption Contest: "Next time read the label: light wash, tumble dry."

    1. Roger Wilco, please report to the decontamination room. Clean up in the decontamination room! Paging Roger Wilco...

    2. Oh, and sorry guys, but I'm not able to get a post out. I thought I might have time, but I always seem to underestimate the amount of prep before a trip. Be back in 10 days.

    3. Good choice for a caption contest, Trickster!
      "You obviously haven't seen what I got in my space pants."
      "Well, my colleagues always calls me a tool."
      "Kiss my shiny metal ass."
      "At the car wash. Workin' at the car wash, yeah!"
      "I've been in cryofreeze for six weeks. Do you know how dirty I feel?"
      "This spacesuit reeks. Do you mean I have to take it off to clean it?"

    4. 45 minutes to midnight, time to enter the contest:

      "Another one bites the dust, another one bites the dust. Another one down, and another one down, another one bites the dust."
      Shorten as needed.

    5. 5 CAPs for anyone who guesses what classic film this line was inspired by:

      "I am Husky O'Toole, named after my father perhaps".

  2. A few more GOG sales...

    Wadjet Eye adventure bundle 75% off

    Cinematic adventures bundle (Runaway and Jack Keane series) 75% off

  3. Nice Blade Runner reference. You have good taste in references as of late.

    1. Purple rain is Jimi Hendrix, right? No wait, that was Purple Haze....Prince?
      I'm challenging myself to find references without Google, as that feels like cheating. That is why I have no idea what bucks night is.

    2. Yep, Prince it is.

      Blade Runner is one of my favourite films, so I'm likely to pull that one out occasionally.

    3. You have good taste in movies. The only real question then is Original or Directors Cut?

    4. @Canageek - Wait. I thought you didn't really fancy cyberpunk?

    5. Kenny: I have a love-hate relationship with cyberpunk. I love the concept of it, the message it conveys. I however, find it far to dark for me when done right. That said, there have been some novels and movies that are more accurately post-cyberpunk that I've very much liked (Post-cyberpunk generally being the same idea, but with some hope injected into things).

      For example, Hardwired is a post-cyberpunk novel I just finished and quite enjoyed. Snow Crash had a great opening, even if it fell apart later on, but shows the kind of world and setting I like; It is a horrible dystopia, but there are still good people in it. Compare this to true cyberpunk like say, Neuromancer. There really aren't any good people in that whole novel; Just about everyone in it is really and willing to betray anyone else for money (Chase had already done that once).

      Basically if you want to get a sense for what true cyberpunk is to me, go read some of the more paranoid rantings about the recent Snowden and Wikileaks releases, and then imagine that as a novel; The goverment is out to screw you, the companies are in on it, and there is nothing you can do about it. That would be the modern version of cyberpunk.

      I prefer post-cyberpunk somewhat more, which is where there would be something you could do about it (Ie what the characters do in Hardwired, or Hiro does in Snow Crash).

      Make sense?

    6. So... Johnny Mnemonic? Anyway, Circuit's Edge would be right up your alley, then.

    7. I haven't seen it or read the short story, but there is some information about it in Neuromancer that makes it rather darker.

  4. Codemasters weekend sale on GoG: http://www.gog.com/promo/codemasters_weekend_promo_03012014

    For adventure games that means Leisure Suit Larry, LSL: Love for Sail! and LSL: Magna Cum Laude Uncut and Uncensored! is 60% off.

  5. Have you lot heard of ResidualVM? Apparently it is like ScummVM for 3D games. http://www.residualvm.org/

    1. Also, I am betting SO many points when you get to Les Manley: (Spoilers) http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/12/24/crap-shoot-les-manley-search-for-the-king