Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Guest Game 1: Circuit's Edge - Holding On By a Thread

Trickster's Note: The below post (and indeed all posts for Circuit's Edge) was written by guest blogger Zenic Reverie.

Night 3: "I'm down to my last lead. If it ends like all the others then I'm well and truly lost. My lead? I'm tracking down a Japanese daddie, apparently the only one in all the Budayeen, that should allow me to understand the rest of the message left on the answering machine. A jeweler has it, but he won't part with it until I retrieve some stolen goods for him. Why sure, of course I'll track down a big muscular man with serpent tattoos to find your stolen gem. With total disregard for my life as bodies keep popping up around me, I carry on."

Talk about a lead drying up completely.

I was grasping at straws once again in the sprawling Budayeen. My map needed some fleshing out, so I started visiting everywhere noting the options available. The acupuncturist, the pharmacist, and the smoke shop strangely offer nothing for sale (even though my Super Spy moddie has me jonesing for some imported cigs). A florist sells four kinds of flowers, and a pet shop has three animals. At present I don't see a use for them, but they were inexpensive enough that I bought them and dumped them in an alley to fend for themselves because my apartment was getting full. If someone takes it, then so be it... I can always buy more later.

Allow me to describe all the things you cannot buy.

During these exploits, name dropping Mack Dixon at every opportunity, I happened upon another fellow who had seen him. He had checked in early that evening at the Budayeen Hotel with a lady friend. Apparently even though he'd paid for the entire night, he was not satisfied with the accommodations and departed after a couple of hours. I have a feeling he was satisfied in other ways if his earlier habits are any indication. An interesting tidbit of information nearly sneaked by as the proprietor mentioned Mr. Dixon had a package delivered during his stay. Interesting I thought, and tried to pry a bit more from the man about this mysterious package.

I feel like the game is mocking me at this point.

As I wandered down the street in a haze after that conversation I stumbled into another  beggar, this time more conspicuously on the street. I passed the man 5 kiam and wished him good health. At the same time I was thinking how could I convince the attendant at the Eyes of Texas to trust me. Then it struck me... maybe I could bribe him. I don't know why I hadn't considered it in the first place; I mean this is the Budayeen, money talks here. I blame the interface partially, I mean there's no bribe option to guide a conversation in that direction. The only option is to give the money away, and hope for the best.

I could have tried a lower amount, but 100 seemed like a good round number. (Also, SUCCESS!)

At long last I'm standing in my apartment with Mr. Dixon's number in hand. I dialed it with much anticipation, and on the other end heard only gibberish, which must be English. Are you telling me even though this entire game is in English that Marid doesn't understand English? This confused me for a moment before I realized I'd bought an English 101 daddie. Popping that in I dialed him right back, and was invited to come by and speak with him in person.

We've traced the call, it's coming from inside your room!

I was now more convinced than ever that Mack Dixon wasn't the killer. The Hotel Del Palazzo is outside the Budayeen, but it's still a quick taxi ride away (still free). The hotel is a little nicer than the run down buildings of the Budayeen with a plush and elegant lobby. As I reached room 921, I noticed the door was ajar. That can't be good. As the first screenshot indicates, no more McDix. Somehow in a short time span (couldn't have been more than an hour) there are already flies buzzing around the body, and the blood is dried. Seems he was tortured rather mercilessly for unknown information. All this intrigue and no deadly connection between the three deceased leaves me quite confused.

That doesn't help me at all, and I don't think it's going to help the cops much either.

Before heading back to the Budayeen I stopped by Papa to see if he'd heard anything new, and maybe ask him what he knew about Mack Dixon; however, he was indisposed. I stopped by the police station (and the morgue as well), but they knew nothing about any 'Mack Dixon'. Seems he's not remembered by anyone. As I left the morgue two of Papa's thugs blocked my passage. Apparently my stop at his place was interpreted as a request for money, and he sent his muscle to deliver an envelope filled with 500 kiam. Dazed and confused, with little hope, I wandered the streets.

There's a murderer on the loose. He's wiedling an ice pick... no, I didn't say 'lock pick'.

In this round, I noted potentially valuable shops I might need to know about in the future. I marked down the ones that appeared to be out of business, which ones serve food, and special interest businesses that are not obvious based on their name. I ended up back at Chiriga's, and found a street dealer sitting in a dark corner. He was selling some interesting items, so I started buying them up. Once I got to something called a Tri-phet, I realized some of these were drugs, and I just bought one. Not only that, Marid took it right away.

What? I just wanted to buy them to get a closer look, I swear!

Once again, the interface is it at odds with my intentions. The only way to get a better description of items is to buy them, and then examine them in your inventory. The drugs never even hit my inventory, but I did get a nice description of them. Well, one hit shouldn't mess me up too much, but I'll try to be a little more vigilant when dealing with these guys. Unfortunately, word spread fast and as soon as I reached my apartment Habib and Labib (Papa's thugs) wanted a word with me. Papa's message is he doesn't want me investigating while hopped up. To show they mean business I'm suddenly stripped of my moddies and daddies, and beaten within an inch of my life. Luckily they didn't take anything, but it set me back some kiam healing up at the medical center.

A strange time to show your affection.

After healing up at the medical center--which offers various healing packages that all basically do the same thing--I started my rounds through the businesses on the south side of the Budayeen. I went on another spending spree, buying up the Kung Fu Master moddie (I'm hoping it increases my hand-to-hand fighting techniques) and The Phantom moddie (which implies it's useful for cat burglary). I ran into another street dealer, and this time avoiding the drugs, picked up a Korean language chip and a detective badge.

I just realized that "you can view your hologram disk" refers to the one in my inventory, not the one I just rented.

In the many times I visited Adult Video Holos (you know, for science) I had glossed over, failed to make the connection, and was oblivious to the fact the holovideo that showed the Japanese girl was the same one in Kenji Carter's possession. I'm guessing it's of his daughter, but you can see how a girl coming on screen after renting an adult holo could give the wrong impression, right? Anyway, this new insight led me to believe the oriental language on the answering chip was Japanese, but after going through all the shops, hotels, and dark alleys, I could find no one selling it.

Distant cousin of Crazy Gideon.

I ended up at Leather Goddesses at the end of my search for the missing daddie. Strangely, I found myself falling back on old habits and asked about Mack Dixon, even though that lead went dead (literally) earlier in the night. I found out he was something of a regular there, had a specific girl he liked to see and all, Stormy. The only way to spend time with her though is to pay. She mentioned he had plans to amuse himself, with no further explanation, in the Budayeen. It's strange to get more information about someone who's no longer living. There's no way to break the conversation and report his death either. We put that business aside and got on to the other; I mean I did pay for the time, might as well enjoy it. I'm not even sure how to describe what happened next, but it was rather unexpected. I guess they couldn't do much different.

Done what one? What's happening?

Oh it's like role-playing.

If you're wondering what that red arrow is, it's an expensive signal detector that hasn't detected anything since I got it.

I'd prefer a good or sufficient massage if you can manage.

Yes, I'm all better now, so now we can get on with more strenuous activities.

Hmmm, should have played hurt more.

And that concludes today's lesson that sex does not exist in this game, and drugs are bad. Back to mindless exploration of a city I've rounded through nearly three times. At the tattoo parlor I realized that Franco, the guy who runs the place, must have put the tattoo on the girl in white. I mean he's the only tattoo artist in all the Budayeen. He did remember doing such a tattoo, and the woman was bragging about her boyfriend who was some hotshot Japanese businessman. She went on and on about some plan to make a million kiam. Maybe all the killing is about a bad business deal, or just money.

Oh yeah, tell me more... maybe her name?

I keep setting myself up for this thinking the game is smart enough to follow conversation threads.

Following that, I asked about the Japanese businessman hoping for another lead. Turns out the parser only picks up on a single word at a time. This time it took Japanese, and thought I was asking about a daddie that instilled Japanese in the mind. This got me thinking... there really was such a chip out there, somewhere. I started asking everyone about it, until someone told me I should check out one of the mod shops. Of course! Why hadn't I thought about that? I stopped by Laila's who said she had one, but already sold it. (No I couldn't order another; that's the only one in existence.) She remembered the man was a jeweler, but nothing more. I looked through my list of businesses for my answer.

Name your price, I'll whip up a few thousand from the gambling hall.

Or you can send me on a wild goose chase.

Well it turns out the jeweler fellow (still don't know his name) has a bit of a problem. His prized star sapphire was pilfered. He suspects to get past the security system would take an expert, and that someone must have staked the place out prior. Quite clearly the jeweler remembers a man with serpent tattoos on each arm came into the store twice before the gem was stolen. My prize for bringing the sapphire back is the chip I desire and an extra 300 kiam. This small pittance has me convinced his exorbitant price for the chip could be met easily in less time at the gambling hall than it would take to track this gem down. I suspect there really is no price that would allow me to skip all this nonsense. At this point though, the Japanese chip is my only lead. The tattoo parlor seems like a good place to start since Franco was so helpful already.

I thought businesses like this keep records of their transactions.

Sounds like I have a full night of name dropping these two blokes to anyone that will listen.

The name Marco sounded familiar. I'm fairly sure I ran across him during my travels, but I didn't mark down any names (a large oversight I know). The used holosystem didn't click at the time, but I could try one of the many hologame shops (or even the adult holo videos again, you know for research). So, I focused on Manny. There were the docks outside the main street, but "worked with sharks" had me thinking "card shark" for some reason. I stopped by the gambling hall. Karim, who runs the place, immediately knew who I was talking about.

It's a good thing no one has the same name; otherwise, this could get confusing.

Karim went on to describe a girl that came around with Manny. She had red hair and green eyes, a not too common sight in the Budayeen. I stopped by every bar looking for such a girl. It didn't take long to find her working at the Red Light Lounge. I'm sure it was just dumb luck, but Fanya was most helpful in directing me towards Manny.

I wonder how Guido took it.

The ad-Dur House looks like every other apartment building. I found Manny on the nameplates in the lobby only knowing his first name. His door was unsurprisingly locked. I spoke to the landlord hoping to find out where Manny had gone. His only response (summarized) was, "What? I'm not unlocking that door for you. Manny is a big guy." I think he protests too much. Slipping him 100 kiam convinces him I'm a stand up citizen who won't get into trouble, and he unlocks the door. Inside the apartment I found a crumpled note. The note suggests a meeting at one of the warehouses with someone named Tamara. Well this can't be good, meetings in this game always seem to end up with someone getting killed.

Definitely not looking good for Manny.

The crate was tied with a rope, which required a knife. I happened to get one from a fallen mugger. The sight was rather gruesome. A body, who Marid immediately identified as Manny, tumbled out. His limbs were beaten to a pulp, all identifiable bits (toes, fingers, eyes) had been snipped off. Lastly, he was flayed, so I'm not sure how the body was identified as Manny). With very little blood present, it seemed the body was only stored there. Strangely there was something in his mouth glinting off the dull light. Marid suppressed instinct to run out while gagging, and took the metallic object. A half a ring made of brass.

1 AM, got it... what day? Why is this engraved on a ring? Why is the ring broken into two?

At least I'm not without leads now. Sure Manny is a dead end (I should probably stop using that term), but there's still this Tamara to seek out. Marco may prove to be another avenue. I wish the game was sophisticated enough to allow me to question the jeweler to find out if it was a big guy or not. Also, the messages (QUE 1 A.M. SHI -- MAAL MOS) on the ring parts seem to spell out Shimaal Mosque 1 A.M. Seems like a strange time to go to a mosque.

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 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 Zenic requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for him...unless he really obviously needs the help...or he specifically requests assistance. In this instance, he's not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. Man, there are some really strange conversations in this game! That one with the Leather Goddess has to top the lot though.

  2. I'm assuming it's a reference to the old text adventure Leather Goddesses Of Phobos.

  3. Comparing your progress with a walkthrough, you took a small shortcut there. The sharks Manny worked for were actually "loan sharks". But you didn't miss anything essential, I think, you would just have had to talk to more people and finally someone would have mentioned that Manny did some gambling also, and the end would have been same as with you.

    1. That's funny. I wonder how much of the story is linked to asking the right questions because that body in the warehouse wasn't there while I was mapping. The manuals suggests the game isn't limited by time either, but maybe there's still a timer for events like this.

  4. Is the same guy with turban, moustache, and earrings in lots of different places, or am I being racist?