Sunday, 2 February 2014

Game 40: Future Wars - Back to the Future

Hero Journal Entry 3: "I have saved Lana! Well, her name turned out to be Lo'Ann, but I definitely saved her. She's really smart and beautiful too! Her father explained this whole situation to me once I'd returned her safely, and it involves a century old war between humans and an alien race called the Crughons. Lo'Ann and her father are agents of TRIANGLE and were sent 3000 years back in time to 1304 to investigate potential Crughon activity. I still don't completely understand everything that is going on, but Lo'Ann and I have now been sent to the year 4315 to meet with the Supreme Council. They will decide what to do about me, as I now know way more than a normal person of my time should. Typically, things haven't gone to plan, and I'm having to make my own way to the Council without Lo'Ann. I sure hope I get to see her again!"

...and then spend half an hour trying to find a use for it.

At the end of my last post I’d been feeling a bit perplexed. I’d collected the remote control from the now drunk Father Superior in the monastery and then used it to uncover a magnetic card hidden within some furniture in his room. Despite a lengthy effort, I’d not been able to figure out what to do next. There appeared no way of leaving the monastery and yet there appeared to be nothing that I could use this magnetic card on. My post finished with me committing to using every item on everything I could interact with in the monastery before requesting assistance, so that’s exactly what I did. I started in the alcove where I’d originally collected the golden cup, but my pixel hunting once again uncovered nothing I could interact with. I moved onto the cellar, where I was convinced the only items I could interact with were the eleven barrels. I’d already retrieved the alcohol from the barrels, so it seemed unlikely I would find anything there, but I tried anyway. I examined every barrel, but was told repeatedly that they weren’t interesting. I operated every barrel, but was given no further information apart from the fact they were empty or full. I used the magnetic card on every one of the barrels, but achieved nothing in the process. I’d already found the use for the remote control, but I used it on every barrel anyway. When I clicked on the second barrel, something happened!!!

Of course! Why wouldn't I use the remote control on an empty barrel!!??

Using the remote control on the second barrel caused it to open up. I have no idea how I was supposed to know to do this, and it’s just as well that the monastery area overall isn’t very large, as I may never have tried it otherwise. Did I miss some piece of information that suggested one of the barrels might be more than it seemed? Anyway, I’d got past my game-halting obstacle, so was just happy to be able to move on. While the opening in the barrel didn’t look very big, it turned out that I could actually crawl through it into a room beyond. There I discovered Torin’s daughter Lana held captive in some sort of glass case! Examining her gave me the following: “She seems to be asleep... the young girl is extremely beautiful and you ask yourself whether she is not the reason for your feeling of disquiet.” There was a console near the case, but when I tried to use it I was told that “there are some strange signs on the keyboard, but no letters of the alphabet”. Pixel hunting revealed a little gas capsule on the ground near the case which I picked up, but that didn’t seem of much use for my current predicament. I tried using the magnetic card on the console and it worked, releasing Lana from captivity! She was now awake and strangely unaffected by her recent condition: “Thank you for setting me free, stranger. My name is Lana, daughter of Torin.”

You mean to find Lana? Well, yeah, it's approaching pretty damn quickly actually!

Of course she's beautiful! Any decent damsel in distress would be!

My character showed her the pendant to convince her that I was a friend sent by her father. This indeed gained her trust, and she expressed an urgent need to leave. “We must be quick now, I hope they have not yet begun phase two.” Lana typed something into the console keyboard before telling me that she’d programmed the destruction of the Crughon’s Scrugh. She told me a few other bits of information, but none of it meant anything to either me or my character. One thing was clear though...we needed to get out of! Lana pointed at my pendant and then the two of us were teleported to her father in the castle. The relatives were clearly overjoyed to be reunited, and Lana informed Torin of my role in her rescue. Once the small talk was out of the way, the next stage of the plot began to come out. Both father and daughter recognised that my character was not only foreign to this land, but also to this time! I explained everything that had occurred since the incident in my boss’s office, after which Lord Torin asked me to follow him. “I think we owe you an explanation, young man.” The three of us walked to another room, which once again was clearly too advanced to be in a medieval castle. There he began a lengthy spiel which I’ll summarise below.

You mean the game?! Oh please tell me you mean the game! (No, it really isn't that bad.)

Yes, which is why I took on a cleaning job back in my time.

Alright! Let's hope the father leaves us to it soon!

“First of all, you need to know that we are in the year 1304!!! The time transporter took you back hundreds of years into the past. Lana and I were born in the forty-first century. We have travelled three thousand years back in time. So in a sense we are your distant descendants! My real name is Lear Bailey and this is my daughter Lo’Ann. We are agents of TRIANGLE, the institute of the research. We were sent here to investigate possible Crughon activity. They are a nation which originated on Betelgeuse. They are violent and bloodthirsty humanoids with whom we have been at war for more than a century. They possess a technology which is far more advanced than ours and, thus, they have the advantage in this war. Luckily for us, they have not completely mastered their technology because they did not create it. They use the artifacts left behind by a civilization that has disappeared. It was a civilization which must have had immeasurable power, if the wonders of their technology are anything to go by. These wonders enabled our civilization, and that of the Crughons to take a giant step. The art of time travel was revealed to us when we translated their ancient writings. But even though we can use it, I must confess that the technique uses laws which are very far from being perfectly understood. Unfortunately, the Crughons also took over this invention, and we are afraid they will use it against us. So we took the place of Lord Torin and his daughter in order to pursue our investigations.”

In other words, the writers could come up with no scientific explanation that made any sense whatsoever.

The lord went on to explain that the real Torin and Lana were under psycho-hypnosis, and would believe they’d been living a normal life for the last few days upon being awoken. It soon became apparent that I too might be put into a trance: “By rights, I ought to put you into a psycho-hypnotic trance as well but, to be honest, I find it difficult to make that decision in view of all the help you have given us. I think it would be better to refer the matter to the Supreme Council.” Lana gave me more modern clothes to get changed into, and once done we used the teleportation system (called Chronoporters) in the room to travel to the year 4315! Something must have gone wrong on the way, as I arrived on my own! Lo’Ann was nowhere to be seen, and there was no way for me to know whether the ruin I found myself in was actually in 4315 or some other year. There was nothing else to do but to investigate and see what I could find. There was debris and rubble everywhere, but on the right side of the screen I could see an item that stood out. It was a blowtorch, which I picked up, and then walked east. On the next screen I could see another item that stood out from the orange and red surroundings, but at first I couldn’t see how to get to it. There was a steep ledge in front of me and there appeared no way to climb up it.

We're about to see some serious shit!

Oh man! I finally meet a hot chick and then...

Say it again! I dare you to say it again!!!!

After revisiting the first screen to make sure I hadn’t missed an item or path, I came back and found the solution. All I had to do was walk to the right of screen along an upward sloping path that I couldn’t see due to the foreground landscape. Once I was up on the ledge I was able to check out the box, but on the way I found a manhole that had been covered in rubble. I thought I’d better look in the box before attempting to open the manhole, and doing so revealed some fuses. I picked up the whole box and then successfully removed the manhole. I descended beneath the surface and reappeared in a sewer. Since there was only one direction I could go in, and nothing to interact with, I walked through a few screens until I came to a tap that was sticking out of the pipes on the wall. I tried using a few items on it and discovered I could fill my blowtorch up with whatever was coming out of the valve. I continued following the sewer through quite a few more screens until a woman’s voice was heard crying for help. I found her on the next screen with her child, and both of them were facing a nasty looking sewage-mutated water creature! “Help us, sir, please!!! Save my child!” My first attempt at doing so resulted in me being eaten, but the second attempt saw me using my recently filled blowtorch to fry the vicious monster.

Town? We're calling this a town are we!?

Aha! That's where that stench came from! And I thought it was the interface the whole time!

Never fear m'lady! I am an expert at removing sewage-mutated water creatures!

The mother was extremely grateful for my assistance. “OH THANK YOU!!! You saved our lives. We took refuge here during the Crughon attack. The muta-octopus smelled our scent and without you – ugh, I prefer not to think about what might have happened. Generator Three blew up about an hour ago and the evil Crughons took advantage of the gap to get inside and attack us!” My character informed the woman of my need to find the Council, and she helpfully gave me some directions. “We are just below the underground station. The metro will take you to the shuttle port, and all you have to do is take the first shuttle to Paris IV.” This sounded easy enough, but how was I going to get out of the sewers and into the station? Thankfully the woman could help me on that front too, using some sort of little metal tube called a Metamol to create a ladder leading up right near us! We said our goodbyes and then I climbed the ladder, soon finding myself standing outside what I assumed was the metro station. I walked up to the doors and was surprised to find that they didn’t open for me. I didn’t seem to be able to manually open them either. There was a little video camera just above the door that I thought would detect my motion and open the doors, but examining it revealed that it was “in very poor state of maintenance”.

You know you could always come up with me? Or you could stay down here with the muta-octopi!

They still have standard videocameras in 4315?

I wasn’t able to go back into the sewers or leave the screen in any other direction, so figured there must be a way to get the door open somehow. I didn’t have too many items in my inventory, so I just tried using some of them on the camera. When I tried “use lance on videocamera”, the following occurred. “You have a good idea! You clean the camera viewfinder with the tip of your lance. Bits of dried earth which were blocking it fall at your feet.” Clearly no-one had used this entrance to the station in a long time! The doors were open now though, so I walked inside. As I did so, a female voice made an announcement across the station: “This is a priority 5 bulletin from the Council. Citizens, Crughon spies have infiltrated our ranks. Martial Law has been declared. Please inform the control units of any suspicious person. We remind you that DNA fingerprinting is COMPULSORY. Any obstruction will be severely punished! This is a Council bulletin.” Hmmm...that didn’t sound promising. I didn’t have a hope of passing a DNA fingerprinting test since technically I didn’t exist! All I could do was focus on the task at hand though, so I checked out my surroundings. There was an empty teller window and a newspaper rack, but I could only interact with the latter. Before I could get a closer look, a train arrived and the doors opened. Should I get on now or look at the rack? Would the train wait!?

Oh yes...what a good idea I had!

Let's hope there are no conductors on this line.

I saved my game and investigated the rack. When I operated it, my character gave it a kick which achieved nothing. A quick look at my inventory gave me no ideas as to how I might use it, and while I was thinking, the train pulled away! Thankfully another arrived pretty soon afterwards, but it was quite annoying that I couldn’t do anything while the trains were arriving and departing (I couldn’t click on anything). This gave me only a short window to try things on the newspaper rack. I hopped on the second train, feeling quite certain that I’d missed something, but not having any decent ideas. Shortly afterwards I arrived at the destination, where a hostess sat at a desk, a man guarded what appeared to be an ascending escalator, and some stairs led downwards. There was a TV floating in mid air too, but it wasn’t turned on. I tried talking to the hostess, but she paid no attention to me. “JUST A MINUTE!! Can’t you see I’m busy?” Examining the guard revealed he was carrying a weapon on his belt and he requested my ticket as I approached him. I didn’t have one of course, so I took the stairs leading down, not having a clue where I was going to end up. I reappeared in a bathroom that contained a couple of cubicles and a fuse box on the wall. I had some fuses, but I didn’t have a clue why I might want to use them on the box. Still, after discovering I couldn’t enter the cubicles without paying with a card, I tried using the fuses on the fuse-box. “Try and find something else.” Huh!?

I get the feeling I'm supposed to go right!

Is that something I should be excited about?

Surely the fuse-box wasn’t there for no reason at all!? Eventually some pixel hunting revealed that I was able to interact with the tiny fuses that were visible in the box. “The second fuse has completely burned out.” I used my fuses on the fuses: “OK! You replace the defective fuse. Nothing happens.” Awesome result! I failed to find anything else to do in the bathroom, so I made my way back upstairs. When I got there I found that the TV was now on, and the guard was giving all his attention to it. This is yet another example of solving a puzzle in Future Wars before I’ve even realised there’s a puzzle to be solved. I carefully walked behind the guard and got onto the escalator, removing the need to get a ticket. The escalator took me up to some sort of aerial transportation, and my character walked on and sat down in a vacant seat. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard. We’ll be taking off in a few seconds and reaching our destination, PARIS IV, in exactly half an hour. We hope you will have a pleasant trip on our line." I was flying off to meet the Council, but beyond that I had no clue what further adventures awaited me. What had happened to Lo’Ann? Would I see her again? And most importantly, was I supposed to do something with the newspaper rack? Join me in a few days to find out!

Worst...guard...ever! anyone else concerned about that huge hole in the side of the plane?

Session Time: 1 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!


  1. Huge "whole"?

    Also, looks like there's a quote mark missing between sentences in "...a pleasant trip on our line. I was flying off to meet the Council..."

    1. I just finished my own (re)playthrough of the game. If you thought the controls were bad, just wait until you get to the nepnqr frdhraprf... ARRGHHH.

    2. Speaking of controls, good thing you found out that mouse control isn't the only option - trying to get on that escalator was a real pain with the mouse.

      Laukku: You took the words right out of my mouth.

    3. Here is some music for what is coming up (No spoilers, so Trickster can listen to it):

  2. I love how your fuses are a perfect match in both size and voltage for the fuse in the future. I mean, you are also in luck that they are still using old fashioned fuses instead of modern circuit breakers, that was an interesting choice, wasn't it?

    1. Nah, I found the fuses in 4315 in the ruins. It's still fortunate that they fit, but not as fortunate as you're thinking.

  3. I thought this "review" (Mocureview?) illustrates how adventure games have changed over the years pretty well. It also matches what I've read about broken age elsewhere pretty well: (Oh and for those that don't know, Zero Punctuation is incredibly potty mouthed and has lots of sexual references)

    1. I'm usually more interested in Extra Punctuation, Yahtzee's written counterpart to ZP. It tends to be more analytical and informative, elaborating on a subject brought up in the respective video episode. Here's the latest entry, also about adventure games:

    2. Huh, didn't know about that. Thanks!

  4. Today's El Goonish Shive seems eerily familiar: