Friday, 7 March 2014

Guest Game 1: Circuit's Edge - Teetering on the Edge

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

Night... I've lost track: "I'm out. That's it. No more leads. I ran around searching for Abdul-Hassan the past few nights. Now my final bit of information lies with Tamara Carter, and a single bullet found in the Herrera apartment where Marco was found dead. Will I ever unravel this web of connections?"

Well, I suppose I've wasted enough time being lazy.

Truly sorry about the delay. I've been procrastinating on this game for a few reasons. Mostly I'm not having fun with it, and that's partially due to the game's asinine way of presenting itself. In fact it's gotten to the point where I'm stuck. We'll get to that and the official request for assistance soon enough. So, on to the game. While exploring I accidentally left the game running for a number of hours. I'm not sure how long, but I discovered two things. I can't die from starvation or exhaustion, and the task to recover Abdul-Hassan has a time limit. A hidden one. Oh how I detest timers in my games, especially hidden ones. I restored my save (did I mention there's only one save), and set out to solve what I originally assumed was a side quest.

Finally a response to showing someone the ransom note.

I wandered through the night, reviewed my notes, and decided the best place to look for a lead on that bullet was Crazy Abduls. Before I got to that though I found I needed to solve the case of the other Abdul. The ransom note didn't mention a date or place to drop off the money. I started down my list of usual suspects and hit upon Saied. When I showed him the note he broke down crying. This exchange reminded me that the manual mentioned them being involved... maybe I should read it over again. Still, it wasn't all that helpful on the surface; however, at the mention of cologne I realized I might have a lead. There is a fragrance shop; maybe they could identify the scent.

I'm not sure how anyone could identify a single smell here, but like most logic in this game let's put that aside.

The shopkeeper identified the flowery aroma as that from tiger orchids. They're in short supply at the moment, but there's only a single "odd woman" that purchases the cologne made from these flowers. Next stop, the flower shop. There I learned the tiger orchids are imported from Brazil, but are currently held up by customs at the docks. The docks are another area outside the Budayeen described as the type of place I would hang out in if I wanted to get jumped. A cab ride later I looked up the address the florist gave me for the warehouse; it was completely locked up, although the description helpfully pointed out a high window.

Not sure why I couldn't just use my lock-breaking skills.

To bypass the security system I once again used the Phantom moddie (cat burglar skills). In a more traditional adventure game this would have required rope, a grappling hook, and clippers to disarm the security system. Instead I'm asked to answer what skill chip should I use this time? The description of Alpine Jack when equipped is that he wishes he had something to climb, and was eager for colder climates. Fairly obvious I needed it to scale something. Inside the warehouse it was too dark to see what each package was, yet still light enough to make out two from Brazil. I grabbed both and made my escape. In the moonlight I identified one package as tiger orchids, and the other as Cuban cigars. I took the tiger orchids back to the fragrance lady, who would create a new batch of cologne and call me once the "odd woman" picked it up. With the down time I followed up on my other lead.

Is explosive a colorful term, if not then how was there a bullet left to examine?

Well now I know the gun, and it's obvious from the description there's only one in the whole Budayeen. Every street dealer I've spoken to has only redirected me towards Abdul's shop when asked about a magnum. Seems this lead is going nowhere for now. I tried to sleep off the night's events back at my apartment, but was rudely awakened by the fragrance shop owner. She told me the woman picked up the cologne, but didn't leave her name or address; however, there was a number on the order form. The number was to Muhammad's Glass Shop, and the first place I was stumped. I called, left my name and number, and rested for the night... no call back. So, I paid him a visit instead. I asked him about the tiger orchid, "go see the florist." I asked him about Abdul-Hassan, "He's behind the counter at Hassan's store." I showed him the ransom note, "not interested". I asked about scent, aroma, flowery smell. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. With no other description and at my wit's end I asked about "odd woman."

How could I give a description when I was never given one?

The odd woman was none other than Madame Mimi, the local fortune teller. Before I left Muhammad's, I forked over 150 kiam for a finished crystal ball she was expecting. I figured she would feel better about talking with me if I did her this favor. Her building was just down the street. Her place was decorated in books on various occult subjects. She sat at a table with a crystal ball, which had a slight crack, and a pack of tarot cards. Showing her the new crystal ball elicited no reaction. I had to hand it to her to begin the exchange, which ended as quickly as it started. At least she repaid the 150 kiam. So I sat there staring into the new ball. Asked for my palm read, my fortune told, my tea leaves interpreted... nothing worked. I asked about tiger orchids, nothing. I asked about... I think you know where this is going. I searched through my notes for that one keyword that would allow me to continue. Aroma, no. Scent, no. Ransom, no. Abdul, Tamara, "odd woman;" no, no, no. Cologne! That was it.

Well that's helpful, another dead end it seems.

These random quips are so rarely fitting.

"Very close to death" obviously meant the cemetery just outside the Budayeen on the opposite end of the street from Bill's taxi. As soon as I arrived I saw a man. A man I had seen before. This time Marid recognized him immediately as the one who assaulted him at Kenji's place. A heated fist fight followed. With the help of my Kung Fu Master moddie and steelfists I beat him down until he ran away. Left behind in the aftermath was a radio direction finder. It was damaged beyond repair, but I took the frequency it was set to and entered it into my own. It lead me to a locked warehouse.

An explosion? How am I possibly going to do that?

After all the different ways I've picked locks, circumvented electronic locks, and bypassed unknown security alarms, I now needed to blow a door open with explosives. Seriously? Well, this line seems to have dried up at this point. I took stock of my possessions once more, and reviewed my potential leads. Tamara seems unrelated to finding Abdul at the moment, and the bullet doesn't seem to be much help either. Only thing left are these Cubans. Maybe they belong to the smoke shop just around the corner from Marid's apartment.

What? No. These are cigars. Here, just let me light one up.

Turns out I was carrying around plastic explosives. That takes care of that. Back to the warehouse! This should be simple: 'use' plastic explosives on warehouse. Yeah, not that easy. The game helpfully informed me I didn't seem to have all the parts I needed. Well, how the heck should I know how to use this stuff? I looked through everything I had and noted a wire and a countdown timer. Seemed logical, but once again I was told I didn't have everything I needed. I stumbled back into the street trying to drum up a clue. I started asking everyone about the terrorist. Eventually the clue about the smoke shop owner reading about him hit me over the head as I entered the Maq'allah's News stand.

If he's so infamous, why haven't I heard of him?

Luigi Casolari, now there's something I could use. Maybe there are some designs at his apartment. I hopped on the cop's computer terminal only to find they had no record of him. No record? Really? This game really hasn't covered all its bases. It's so constricting. Asking anyone about Luigi results in the same response as asking about "terrorist." That is anyone except the mortician. Luckily I kept the morgue pass around just in case I needed it. His only belonging was a moddie called the demolitionist. With that chipped in I instantly knew the missing item was a detonator. Crazy Abdul easily furnished one from off the menu. This game really makes very little sense. He got upset at me for inquiring about a .357 magnum, but happily sells me a detonator. The hypocrisy is outstanding.

You're not going to use it for anything illegal, right?

Well, that took care of that door puzzle. Inside the warehouse I found my assailant from the cemetery. It turned out the man wasn't Tamara Carter after a sex change. It was Alejandro Herrera. I didn't get the chance to ask him about his brother or Tamara. He jumped me immediately. With nowhere to run this time he quickly fell. As he drew his last few breaths, he admitted to the kidnapping, but it was his boss' idea. He then claimed to have killed Madame Mimi, although I wasn't aware of that at all. At the end, he half-warned half-threatened that his boss would get me.

I wonder if I had English 101 daddie in place if I'd have understood his yammering. I didn't care to check.

After a full night I returned to my apartment and found Papa's muscle men hanging out. They passed me a note and money. The note congratulated me on the good work finding the boy, and encouraged me to continue my investigation. Mahmoud Hassan was equally pleased, and rewarded me with a portable holodisk viewer and a static pistol (an electrical weapon). A holodisk viewer, what use could that be? Hmmm, maybe there was something more to the message Tamara had left. It turned out no, but the game surprised me in a completely new way. In such a way I didn't expect. I mean, for all its faults in strict linear progression with no outside the box thinking possible, this one response blew me away.

Who's eyes? Tamara's? Was there more to the vid... no wait, this is wrong.

Well, I broke the game, and reached another dead end at the same time it seems.

Against medical ethics, but a nice bribe would be nice.

Okay, obviously I skipped over something. It seems the code for this item wasn't programmed correctly, and doesn't check my location. Based on the conversation I figured the person I must be "speaking" with in the above screenshots was the nurse from the medical clinic. I confirmed this by visiting the clinic and asking about Tamara Carter, and received the response that the nurse was terrible with names, but might recall if I had a picture. In any case, I followed the trail of emerald earrings from the jeweler to a street dealer, to a dancer named Lily. The street dealer described her as a blonde, maybe. A couple of other dancers claimed Lily had some new emerald earrings. Asking anyone about Lily seems to produce only an unhelpful "seems familiar" phrase. I thought this was definitely the next step. But, when I finally found Lily, something must have been lost in translation because she didn't know anything about any earrings.

Yes, you, earrings, have?

I wonder if accessing the conversation with the holoviewer at my apartment messed up my game. I wonder if there's a completely different Lily I should be stalking. I wonder why the hell am I still playing this game? Well, at least it isn't Les Manly. In any case, I'm officially requesting assistance. If I can't make heads or tails of what I need to accomplish next, then I'll use said assistance, but I have a feeling I'd be stuck here for quite some time without it. My only leads are Tamara and a mystery magnum. Lily sure isn't providing any assistance. Specifically, I'd like to know if I'm doing something out of order, if there's a different Lily, or if I should be tracking down that magnum. I feel like I'm all out of options though and Tamara seems the best lead for explaining what's been going on.

Session Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 12 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 has made a request for assistance! Thanks!


  1. Seems like getting stuck, illogical puzzles and buggy games are the theme of the month around here. I truly feel for you men, but I'm going to let somebody that's put in the effort of playing the game get the CAPs rather than look it up in a walkthrough. Best of luck!

  2. Is there anyone besides Kenny who has played this? Anyway, unless your game is broken, I think the solution is pretty simple, although frustrating:

    Hint: Vg nccrnef gb or whfg yvzvgrq cnefre gung unf znqr lbh fghpx urer.
    Spoiler: Gel whfg "RZRENYQ".

    And to make you feel better, there doesn't seem to be that many twists in the plot anymore. I hope you will soon be done with this!

    1. In case that doesn't work
      Hint 1: Tb gb n one, nfx nobhg ORRE. Pbafhzr orre.
      Hint 2: Yvtug lbhe yncgbc ba sver.
      Hint 3: Bu, jnvg, V jnf guvaxvat lbh jrer cynlvat n onq tnzr! Zl zvfgnxr, guvf bar unf n pbby cybg naq gnxrf vgfrys frevbhfyl sbe bapr. Fhpx vg hc, ohggrephc.
      Solution: Jung, jr qb vg gb Gevpxfgre. Qvq lbh ernyyl guvax V jnf tbvat gb yrg lbh bss gur ubbx. Fbeel sbe ab dhrfgvba znex gurer, univat bar va gur fbyhgvba jbhyq or gbb boivbhf.

    2. I don't know, man. Don't hate the game, hate the player! Muahahaha!

      Ilmari has got it nailed, you're on the right track to completing the game. The plot might seem strange at times, but I guess I don't find it that 'cos I read the books. Anyway, this isn't much of a spoiler; the parser only accepts A SINGULAR WORD.

    3. lol, thanks Canageek. You really made me feel at home just now. :D

    4. The parser does indeed read only a singular word; however, it picks the first word it recognizes and runs with it. Not all bad... I just broke the game in such a bad way.

  3. I found the issue, and it's not a parser one. I didn't decode any of the hints, although "RZRENYQ" seemed like I got the keyword EMERALD correct (I think I've been decoding too much and picked out the word immediately). I tried variants, but all without any luck. Finally, thinking I'd skipped over a trigger, I confirmed it when I went back through all the steps. In my latest iteration of events I showed the holodisk viewer to the nurse instead of using it in her vicinity. Note that both produce the same dialogue, but only the latter flips the trigger that allows Lily to comment on her earrings. Game will be shamed for this one. Anyway, wish me luck with the rest.

    Trickster's live blogging got me excited, so I thought I'd post this right now as I'm playing.

    1. Well that wrapped up quickly. I may even have enough time to write up a post and ship it on to Trickster tonight.