Saturday 28 June 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - The Seen Cannot be Unseen

P.J. Barrett Journal Entry 5: "I had further success today, finding the Indella bird up in the terraces, and then convincing Lantra to hand over her pouches of crystals. Sadly, I still haven't been able to catch that damn bird, and after making my way down through the underground trying to reach JonQuah, I've been unable to solve a riddle that seems very important. I know it has something to do with all these circles, but what exactly?! Hey, there seems to be a path leading to the east. Maybe I can just...what was that!? Aaaaaggghhhh.........."

I hope it was worth the effort I put into getting this thing.

The previous Altered Destiny gameplay post finished with me getting my hands on the jewelled arrow that the prince had used to take down a Yula. This was not the end of my journey into the canyons however, as there were still some pathways out of the “Canyon Fork” that I needed to check out. Before I could do that though, there was a more pressing problem to deal with. I’d left all of my stuff in front of the bones, since I hadn’t been able to cross the web while holding them. Now I wanted to pick them back up, but the inventory limitations meant I was going to have to leave two things behind. I had a look through the items, trying to figure out what I likely wouldn’t need again. The most likely candidate was the scroll, since I’d already read it and had screenshots to boot. I hadn’t used the arrow, the leaf, the Kleeg or the bottle of pigment yet, so I certainly wasn’t going to get rid of one of them. I also knew the purpose of the bowl, and figured losing the golden tube would undoubtedly end in tears. That left the axe and the sword, both of which I could have used to gain access to the Pool of Light. The game made it clear time and time again that hitting people with weapons was not a worthy option, so it seemed reasonably safe to assume keeping one would be enough (I hadn’t actually gone to see JonQuah through the Pool of Light yet in this save game).

I still can't believe that I'm only allowed to carry seven items!

With that decision made, I left the scroll and the axe on the ground and made my way back through the canyons to the fork. I put the slime in the now empty bowl and then looked at my options. I’d already taken the second of the three paths to the north, so now I took the third, which wound around to the right of screen. I reappeared in the “Canyon Depths”, only now I was on the right hand path rather than the left. I could now follow this path to the north or off to the east, but I’ll cut to the chase and say that both led to dead ends in "Canyon Heights". I made my way back to the fork and took the Left Hand Path (any metalheads here?). This one took me right up to the plant-like thing I’d been able to see earlier in the “Canyon Heights”. I wasn't able to get past it, but it did look like there was a tunnel leading away behind it. Any interaction I attempted resulted in the same old “You should acquaint yourself with herbal lore so you can recognize it” message. If it turns out that I need to know what the plant is to be able to pick it up or move it, I’ll be very pissed indeed. That’s just stupid! For now, I was going to have to go back the way I came, ending my trip to the canyons, and more importantly, completing my exploration phase of Daltere! I’d kind of been dreading this moment, since it meant I was going to have to knuckle down and try to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do next.

It's not like I can ask people about it, cause I don't know what it is!

So what did I know?! 1. I needed to find the Jewel of Light. The jewel would likely be found in a castle that I hadn’t uncovered yet. 2. Humans, called Longas, once inhabited Daltere, but were killed off after their prince killed a Yula with the Jewelled Arrow that I now possessed. The arrow head is made from a red jewel, which was one of the jewels needed to enter the castle. 3. Vindah can perform a divination for me, but only once I bring him an Indella bird from “the woods”. The only thing I knew about the bird was that it could be attracted to pretty colours. Vindah warned me about natural springs in the woods too, but I eventually figured out that he was talking about the Hoppas, which were creatures in the shape of springs. So the bird should be in the woods to the west of the crossroads. 4. JonQuah wanted me to cross the expanse of clamchop jaws, but gave me no idea how I might achieve that. The message on the stones nearby had read “Growth bridges the gap, seeding the path, crystallizing our differences.” Even when in the form of a tree, I could not figure out how to get to JonQuah. 5. Lantra has two pouches of crystals, but I couldn’t figure out how to get them from her. The parser suggested I just needed to be in the right spot to do so, but all of my attempts had failed. 6. There was an artefact next to Howler Lake, but any attempts to get close to it resulted in P.J. being killed by a Howler.

I thought this was a mini-quest that would lead to information I needed to solve the main quest, but it's turned out to be a right pain in the ass!

While looking over all of the above, I noticed something very interesting! The message on the stones I'd seen in the caves made specific mention of seeds and crystals: “seeding the path, crystallizing our differences”. Surely the crystals that Lantra had in her possession could be used to bridge the gap to JonQuah!!! This was a revelation alright, but I still didn’t know how to get the crystals. I spent another fifteen minutes trying to get the damn things off Lantra, but it was clear that standing in the right place wasn’t the solution. The biggest problem was that Lantra didn’t seem to have an issue that needed solving. If I was required to give her something in return for the crystals, she simply wasn’t telling me what it was. Frustrated, I looked for another lead. The game had pretty much started with Vindah requesting the Indella bird so he could divine something for me. Should I be looking for the bird in the woods? I felt like the bottle of pigment might play a role since the bird was attracted to pretty colours, so made my way back to the woods to have another shot. I’d seen absolutely no sign of the Indella bird during my previous visit to the woods, and specifically looking for it on each screen had resulted in “I don’t see the Indella bird here”. I wandered from screen to screen again, trying to find something that I might be able to interact with. It still seemed strange to me that I couldn’t even open the bottle of pigment, as I really wasn’t sure how I might be able to use it anyway.

"Seeding"..."Crystallizing"...can't be a coincidence right?

I typed “look up”, thinking that I might be able to see the bird above one of the screens. All I got was “You see the underside of the terrace over your head.” Eventually I arrived at the “Eastern Woods”, where the Hoppa had previously pollinated me, kicking off a transformation into a tree creature. The description of that screen made a point of mentioning the vines running up the back wall. I realised that I’d only tried to climb them after being pollinated last time I was there, and the result hadn’t been a definite no (I was just told that I couldn’t do it in my current condition). I tried to climb the vines now: “You’re not close enough.” Well that was promising, but my experience trying to get Lantra’s pouches had taught me not to get too excited. I couldn’t walk far along the wall without being accosted by the Hoppa, so I moved one screen to the left, hoping the vine wall would continue. It did, and typing “climb vines” caused P.J. to start scaling them! (3 points) A short climb later and I found myself on a screen called “Terrace, West Edge”. I was above the woods, and very confident that I would find the bird I needed up there somewhere. I could already see a little green creature, but looking at it revealed it to be something called a snert. “The Snert is a timid but curious creature who makes his home in the high terraces of the woods.” I walked past it to the south, and there in “A Terrace Clearing” was the Indella Bird, just sitting there in its nest!!!!

How close does one need to be to climb something?!

Ohhh...that close!!!

Hey little fella. You seen a bird around here?

The moment of my near triumph.

Finally I was getting somewhere! The only remaining challenge was to figure out how to get the bird, and looking at it revealed that the task might not be as simple as picking it up. “It’s an elusive, slippery kind of bird, as birds go, attracted by strong smells and bright colors.” I already knew about the attraction to colours, but the strong smells bit was new. I tried picking the bird up, but was told that there was “No way you could hold it in your hands.” I tried showing it the pigment, and even dropping it, but the bird wouldn’t react in any way. Not sure what to do, I decided to check out the remainder of the terrace, hoping I might find something that would help. There was a large tree on the screen to the right, and resting on the ground there was a small shell. I tried to pick it up, but once again I was going to have to drop something else first. I have to say that there’s nothing more infuriating than an item limit in an adventure game where everything you can pick up likely plays an important role! I dropped the Kleeg, only because it was very easy to see on the ground if and when I returned for it. I picked up the shell (5 points), only to find that it wasn’t the sort of shell I’d been expecting: “It’s a hollow seed shell that dropped from one of the vines. There’s nothing in the seed shell.”

I'll trade you a dead Kleeg for this here shell. Fair?

For some reason holding an empty shell made me wonder whether I could put water in it, so I tried. “Don’t be a fraidy-cat. Go ahead and get wet first.” Huh!? Was this actually going to work? I walked into the water and then tried filling the shell again. It worked! (2 points) So now I had some water in a shell, but I couldn’t see how that might help me to get the bird. Now, this is where I have an admission to make. Way back when I was fighting the parser trying to get the two pouches off Lantra, out of desperation I opened up the manual to see if any of the verbs in the list might trigger an idea. They didn’t, but at the very end of the manual, as there often is in Sierra games, I scanned my eyes over the short walkthrough that teaches the player how to play the very first section of the game. Obviously I’d past that long ago, so didn’t for a second think that I would spoil anything for myself. A word jumped off the page at me, and I’m afraid there was no way that I could simply unsee it. That word was “CAGE”. This is exactly what the manual says: “Try giving a command to a character other than P.J. To do this, type in the character’s name, followed by a comma, then the command. Example: “ALNAR, MAKE A CAGE”. Now I’d thought it was weird at the time, but perhaps it was just an example and didn’t mean anything literal. After all, there was no reason in the world to ask Alnar to make me a cage. But I wasn’t so sure.

Perhaps they figured out how hard this puzzle was, so left a blatant hint for desperate players.

I couldn’t ignore this thought, so saved my game and restored back to the crossroads. Instead of going to the woods, I waited for a large floater and grabbed hold of it. (2 points) I’d always assumed that I’d be able to hitch a ride back up to the floating islands on a large floater, but was still pretty happy when it worked. As soon as I arrived, I entered Alnar’s workshop and tried to find a reason why the average player might think that he could make a cage. I asked Alnar about the Indella bird, and his response gave me a solid clue: “A cage might help you catch him, though why you would want to catch a bird is beyond me.” I typed “ask about cage”, and the response was “It could be useful for some small animals.” I thought about what I might have done next had I not seen the spoiler, and typed “ask alnar to make cage”. The parser didn’t understand me! I typed “ask for cage” and got “I don’t think that Alnar has the cage”. I figure by now I would have walked away from Alnar, either forgetting about the cage or looking for it elsewhere, but I of course had another command to try. I typed “alnar, make a cage”, and he responded with “We don’t imprison animals here. I will make a small one for you though, warrior.” A few moments later there was a bright yellow cage sitting on the bench, which I eagerly tried to pick up. “You’ll have to drop something first.” Shaking my fist and cursing this damn game, I wandered outside and dropped my sword, returning to pick up the cage (2 points).

Up, up and away!

Bloody parser.

If you don't ask the exact right questions in Altered Destiny, you won't get far.

This success felt hollow due to the way it was achieved, and I still wasn’t sure it would help me to actually catch the Indella bird. I made my way back to the bird and typed “drop cage”. P.J. wandered over to the centre of the screen and placed the cage on the ground. (3 points) Suddenly the bird took off, swinging its tail feathers in a helicopter motion. It flew around the screen before landing right near the cage. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, praying that it would walk into the cage, but the thing just wandered back and forth past it. I was able to walk right up to the bird now, but despite my many attempts, wasn’t able to figure out how to get it into the cage. I figured I needed to put something in the cage that was either brightly coloured or strong in scent, but every time I tried putting anything in there the parser responded with “This is an old-fashioned trap.” Damn it! I felt like I was so close to opening the game up, but still couldn’t take the vital step I needed! I spent some time going over all my screenshots, looking desperately for something that might trigger a solution. While looking at the Lantra section, I noticed something she’d said about the crystals that sparked a glimmer of hope. “They must be planted out of sunlight for them to germinate, and I grow them to fruition with the help of water and light.” Could it be that giving Lantra the shell filled with water would result in me getting my hands on the pouches? I had nothing to lose, so raced off to try.

If only I had something this bird wanted to eat! (Yes, I tried catching the scrollworms in the Order, but without success.)

How hard can it be? It's standing right next to me!

On arriving at Lantra’s cavern, I typed “give shell to lantra”, and it actually frickin’ worked!!!! “Thank you for your kindness. Now I can tend to these crystals.” (7 points) Lantra sprinkled water over the crystals, and then rewarded me for my help. “Thank you for helping me grow my crystals. In exchange for the water, I give you these." Finally I was able to collect the two pouches of crystals, which meant I might now be able to reach JonQuah in the Caves of Death. I have to say that this puzzle was a bit unfair, because Lantra never made it clear that she needed the water. I was thrilled to have solved it though, but my good mood was tarnished by the fact I was going to have to drop something again if I wanted to pick up both pouches. I figured the jewelled arrow probably wouldn’t be needed until much later in the game, so left it next to Lantra. It was time to go back through the Pool of Light, but I had to go via the floating island to pick up the sword I’d left there, swapping it for the Kleeg. I made my way back to the woods, allowed the Hoppa to pollinate me, then used the sword to avoid aRRaRRa and jump into the pool. Once in the underground caves, it was time to test out my theory. I threw the crystals from the large pouch while standing before the crowd of clamchops. As I’d hoped they would, they spread out over the gap and formed a bridge for me to cross! (5 points)

If you'd told me you didn't have any water, I would have got you some ages ago!


I really thought I was going to need assistance to get to this point.

I walked across, and as I stepped on the platform that JonQuah had been floating above, it descended downwards like a lift. It passed through a tube, and typing “look” revealed there were “some strange markings” on the walls. I looked at them, and found the following riddle: “Old fools love dancing, and kicking their legs. The large ones stand up with the aid of a peg. The smallest are happy with four double chins, but the midsized liked no one and committed vile sins.” (4 points) This didn’t mean anything to me at the time, but its importance soon became clear. I was soon standing on a “Floating Floor”, with JonQuah once again beckoning me forward from the other side of the room. Trying to follow him to the right of screen resulted in a heavy tile falling from above and crushing me! It was then that I noticed the markings on the tiles and realised there were three different sized circles on them. Clearly the riddle held the key to following JonQuah without getting crushed, but despite spending twenty minutes trying to avoid the mid-sized markings, stepping on all the small ones, and every other combination I could think of, I simply couldn’t find a solution. I’m getting a bit sick of Altered Destiny now, so rather than waste another hour trying to figure out the solution to this puzzle and the Indella bird one, I’m putting in an official Request for Assistance. Obviously if the solution to one of these puzzles leads to the solution to the other, please don’t give both away. *sigh* I’m afraid the parser in this game is leaving me little choice but to get spoilers, as I just don’t trust it anymore.

Every underground lair needs a descending platform.

I'm so glad I read this. It made everything so much clearer.

Man, this JonQuah guy loves taunting me! To think I'm here to help him!

This was the 37th time that I was crushed by the platform. I think it was my favourite!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 6 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 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 have made a request for assistance. Thanks!

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Guest Game 2: The Oregon Trail - Comp Winner

Trickster's Note: You might recall that Ilmari wished to award anyone that would send in a screenshot of their final score in The Oregon Trail 10 CAPs. Furthermore, the companion with the highest score would get an extra 30 CAPs! I received three entries, but Zenic Reverie's was far and away the highest with 8076. His email included a little bit of explanation as to how he achieved it as well as a section of the game that Ilmari missed out on, so I thought it would be worth posting.

This is my top score. Hope it's enough. And the breakdown.

Oh it was enough alright!

Here's my starting gear in case anyone is interested:

Getting through as a farmer seems to be the key. Triple points!

General strategy was to go get a lot of food up front, and go at a grueling pace for the first quarter, strenuous for the next third, and steady for the remaining. Any time something bad would happen, or if my condition was not good, I'd stop to hunt or rest for 5 days.

Also, there's an alternative path to Oregon that Ilmari didn't mention. If you choose to use the Columbia River from Fort Walla Walla, you get a river boat mini-game.

I think Ilmari would have appreciated the variety this mini-game would have offered.

Elapsed Time: 2h30m

Here's the CAP Distribution for the game too.

100 CAPs for Ilmari
Guest Blogger Award – 100 CAPs – For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment

50 CAPs for Andy Panthro
Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games
Guess the Team Award – 10 CAPs – For figuring out two members of Ilmari’s team
Final Score Award – 10 CAPs – For emailing through a final score of 3216
True Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing along with Ilmari and finishing the game

50 CAPs for Zenic Reverie
Kickass Score Award – 40 CAPs – For emailing through a huge final score of 8076
True Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing along with Ilmari and finishing the game

35 CAPs for Charles
Guess the Team Award – 25 CAPs – For figuring out five members of Ilmari’s team
Storytime Award – 10 CAPs – For expanding on Ilmari’s vivid Oregon adventure

20 CAPs for Draconius
Guess the Team Award – 15 CAPs – For figuring out the leader of Ilmari’s team
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on GOG

20 CAPs for Aperama
Final Score Award – 10 CAPs – For emailing through a final score of 4290
True Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing along with Ilmari and finishing the game

10 CAPs for TBD
Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – For correctly predicting the score Zenic would give the game

10 CAPs for Canageek
Reddit Explanation Award – 5 CAPs – For successfully mocking my mockery
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam

5 CAPs for Lars-Erik
Grim Fandango Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing the great news that Grim Fandango will be back

5 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
Watery and Bloody Anal Discharge Award – 5 CAPs – For being so romantic

Sunday 22 June 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - Fighting the Fear

P.J. Barrett Journal Entry 4: "I explored two more paths out of the crossroads today, with the first one leading to a forest and the second a winding canyon. I didn't find much in the forest, but I did have a very nice nap. I had a very strange dream though, and I could swear Vindah was trying to communicate to me through it. The canyon was pretty amazing, leading to a graveyard for huge animals called Yulas. After evading the embodiment of their fears, I eventually made my way to their skeletons, and after a fight with a bunch of hungry green creatures, found the jeweled arrow that the prince killed a Yula with. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but it sure feels like a good win."

It's neat that you can see the tethered islands and the mountains in the background.

I fear I will reach a point soon where I will run out of things to do in Altered Destiny. I’ve been able to make progress due to the fairly large environment, but at some point I’m going to have to start solving puzzles or be completely stuck. At the end of my last post, I’d left the Order and made my way south of the crossroads to the “Edge of the Forest”. There were leaves falling gently from the sky, and when I looked at them I was told they were from “the thin trees, a variety of the genus Somna”. I thought I might be able to pick one up, but my attempts failed: “Possession of just one of these leaves can cause eternal somnambulism. So leaf them be.” Ignoring that terrible pun, I walked to the left of screen and arrived at the “Eastern Edge” of the forest. Once again there didn’t appear to be anything to do, but I did note the little “zutterbys” that were “zuttering” around. The only direction I could go from there was south, so I did, soon finding myself “In a Wooded Glen”. “The forest starts in earnest here, and zutterbys enter from a small clearing to the east. A wave of fatigue, like a gust of warm air, washes over you.” There were some ugly looking plants on this screen, and I soon discovered they were called pomenta flowers. Apparently the pomentas were part of the “flubox’s diet”, and they writhe to attract zutterbys for pollination. I didn’t know what a flubox was or why I should care about the pollination process of the flowers, so considered moving on.

Nothing to see here.

I tried looking for the Indella bird that Vindah asked for, since I wasn't sure whether this was the woods he spoke of or not.

Before I did so, I noticed a small pink creature scurrying around one of the trees. It was a quirl, which I was told “spends its time circling tree trunks waiting for tasty zutterbys to wander close by”. All this ecosystem info was mildly interesting, but once again I couldn’t see how it might help me. I walked east, reappearing “By a Cliff Edge”. There were two fox-like animals sleeping at the base of Somna trees, and stacks of leaves drifting down. There was also some sort of green web strung between two trees, and typing look revealed what it was: “On the brink of a cliff, the small flubox and its mate settle in for a snooze, adding to the local zutterby population. Strung between two trees is a comfy-looking hammock of green vines.” I didn’t yet know whether sleeping in the forest was a good idea or not, so saved my game before going any further. I typed “use hammock", only to get the standard “you’d better figure out just how to use it” message. I tried “get in hammock”, and watched as P.J. followed my command, hopping in and seemingly drifting off to sleep. (4 points) Nothing else seemed to happen though, which I thought was a bit weird. I typed “dream”, thinking of Les Manley as I did so, and was surprised when a small dream bubble appeared above P.J.’s head! (4 points) Within the bubble was a television in black and white, and the image seemed to be flicking between a variety of shows. From what I could tell, there was a cooking show, then some sort of thriller, then a western, then strangely, a man looking shocked on a beach in colour.

Sleeping on the job is rarely a good idea in adventure games. To my surprise, it seemed to be the right thing to do here.

Does anyone recognise the scenes that appear on the TV? Is it simply a reminder of the all-night movie marathon I was going to watch before all this happened?

As if the dream images weren’t strange enough, Vindah suddenly interrupted! “Pardon me for interrupting, but you must remember to always face fear straight on. Show no fear of your own. Stand immobile and show fear you know its source.” I didn’t know what “fear” Vindah was talking about, but I was distracted from trying to figure it out when my entire surroundings abruptly changed! Gone was all the green grass and sleeping fluboxes, replaced by cracked ground and bubbling pits of yellowy brown liquid. I could still see myself sleeping on the ground there, and once again couldn’t figure out what it was meant to represent. Before I knew it I was back in the hammock, and everything around me was as it was before. I eventually typed “wake up”, as it seemed P.J. would sleep endlessly if I didn’t take action. Back on my feet, I continued to the east, reaching a screen called “Midway”. This section of forest contained more of the unusual rock formations that I’d seen in the previous screens, but I couldn’t find anything to do there. The only new path I could take was to the south, so I took it, arriving at the “Bottom” of the hill. There were a bunch of pomentas, “writhing in some choreographed mating ritual”. Clearly they were trying to attract zutterbys for pollination, but I still couldn’t see how any of this natural process description could be relevant! I wandered to the west, which took me to a screen called “Bottom of Hill”. There I found another bunch of pomenta flowers, but there was also an item on the ground that looked interesting, and a narrow pathway leading off to the south.

What is it with Accolade and their dream sequences?! At least I couldn't pick this one up.

Now that's just...weird!

The leaf really doesn't look like it belonged to one of these pomenta flowers.

The item turned out to be a large, round pomenta leaf in the “seventeenth stage of pomenta plant development”. I added it to my inventory, but could think of no use for it at this stage. (5 points) With that done, I took the pathway leading to the south, watching as P.J. followed it around to an area with some sort of artefact in the middle. I arrived at an arched bridge, and could see what looked like a large jewel held within a globe upon a pedestal in the distance. Before I could even look at it, a message popped up with some bad news: “The plaintive, haunting cries of the Howlers beckon you to their waiting arms. You struggle but cannot resist their cries.” P.J. walked straight into the water (I can only assume it was water, but it looked more like mist), where a horrifying creature launched up and took him beneath the surface. I hadn’t heard anything about these Howlers elsewhere in the game, and couldn’t think of anything I might be able to do to avoid falling under their spell. Well, travelling south of the crossroads had produced yet another puzzle to be solved without providing any solutions for any pre-existing ones. Could the jewel shaped artefact be the Jewel of Light? Surely not, since I was told I would find it in the castle where Helmar resided. There was no way I was going to find out now, so I restored back to where I’d picked up the lead, and then made my way back to the crossroads. I still had one more path to take to complete the initial environment exploration.

My excitement at finding a new location was short lived.

What the hell is thaaaaaaaaiiiieeeeeeeeaaahhhh........

Heading off to the north gave me another bird’s eye view, and this time it looked like I was heading towards a mountain range followed by desert landscape. On arrival I discovered it was a large canyon which I could travel down into. The screen description warned me that there was a powerful stench rising from below, but I had no choice but to descend. I soon found myself standing “On a Path”, and there was a ghostly plasma-like entity floating around above me. I typed “look” to see if I could figure out where I was and what the entity was: “The odor is even stronger near the floor of the canyon, making you want to leave this area immediately. Huge Yula footprints, blurred over time, make the canyon floor impassable. Yulas must have walked through here to their graveyards.” The scroll that Towhee had given me had mentioned the Yulas, so I pulled up a screenshot to see what the story had been. “The prince then shot a Yula on its way to the graveyard. Other Yulas heard and drove off the people.” Was I in the Yula graveyard now? Was this floating thing a Yula? I looked at it, and discovered it wasn’t, but it was definitely connected: “As the Yula passed through the canyon on the way to their graveyard, they shed their fears of death. These fears come to life when they sense the presence of another creature.” So these things were the fears of the Yulas, and would likely become active if they sensed me in the area. That sounded ominous!

Their really are some striking images in Altered Destiny.

Oh do I have to go down into there? Don't you remember what happened to Aron Ralstan!?

Yep, I'm pretty sure my fear would look something like this too!

I took a few steps along the path, and the Yula’s fear immediately came after me. As it made contact, I died instantly: “Fears can get to you in life, can’t they? And these huge fears, remnants of the huge Yulas, proved to be a bit too much for you to handle.” I attempted to avoid being touched by the thing, but found myself facing multiple fears on the next screen. It seemed unlikely that trying to walk straight past them was the answer. I looked through my inventory, but couldn’t see anything that seemed even remotely useful under the circumstances. I wracked my brain, and the answer suddenly came to me! Eureka! Vindah had talked about fears while visiting my dream in the hammock. What had he said? “Pardon me for interrupting, but you must remember to always face fear straight on. Show no fear of your own. Stand immobile and show fear you know its source.” Could it be that I just needed to look at the entity and then stand immobile for a while and something would happen? I stood still and typed “look at fear”: “You look inward and find the courage to go on.” The entity merged itself into the rock next to me, allowing me to pass! When I visited the next screen, I repeated the process and the two fears responded the same way. I noticed they left some sort of residue behind whilst doing so, and typing “look” revealed that it was slime. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get to the slime, since it was a fair distance from the path, but I typed “get slime” anyway. “You’d do better trying to fill something with it.”

I'm not sure why the fears get sucked into the rock, but it's a cool effect.

Hmmm, did I have some sort of container to hold the slime? I tried the bottle of pigment and the golden tube, but unsurprisingly they didn’t work. I still had the bowl of popcorn that I’d started the game with. Was I supposed to get rid of the popcorn and use the bowl? I typed “eat popcorn”, and P.J. eagerly devoured it! (-2 points) I was dismayed to find that I lost 2 points for this action, but decided to go ahead with my plan anyway. I was now able to fill the bowl with the slime, watching as P.J. climbed up to the residue and scraped it into the container. It seemed likely to me that I was going to need the popcorn elsewhere in the game, but since I had no other way to hold the slime at this point, decided to carry on. It was only then that I realized I was standing in front of a “Canyon Fork”, and would have to decide which of three pathways I wanted to take. I chose the middle one, and reappeared in the “Canyon Depths”. The environment was getting quite complicated at this point, with paths leading off in multiple directions. The one I was on however led solely to the north, so I manoeuvred P.J. through it. I’ll say now that I died probably dozens of times throughout my journey through the canyon, falling off the paths regularly. Using the keys was difficult due to the precise movements needed, yet using the mouse didn’t help either as I kept getting stuck behind things. It was immensely frustrating, and it didn’t help that the game gives the player only a handful of save slots.

How can one think of slime without thinking of Ghostbusters?

I hope I'm not going to have to map the canyons. Excel really isn't going to like this!

The path I took through the “Canyon Depths” led to the “Canyon Heights”. There seemed to be a plant or something above me on a separate path, but I couldn’t make out exactly what it was. The screen description gave nothing away, so I typed “look at plant”, hoping that’s what it might be: “You should acquaint yourself with herbal lore so you can recognize it.” Hmmm, did that mean it was a plant, or was this another case of the parser messing with me? I couldn’t think of any time in the game where someone had mentioned something about a plant, and I also didn’t think I’d seen a plant like this one anywhere else. It looked as if there might be a path leading onwards past it, but since I wasn’t on that path, I couldn’t test whether that was possible. I followed my path to the right and around a corner, reappearing at the “Canyon End”. I could see two large skeletons in the distance, which I figured must be the bones of two dead Yulas. The screen description proved that theory correct: “Close to the canyon floor, the stench is again strong. Like carefully arranged sculptures, the bones of long-dead Yulas are just visible.” Once again I followed the path, and eventually ended up standing “Amid the Bones”. They were huge, and it made me wonder how the prince managed to take one down with a single arrow. “The graveyard, the Yulas’ final resting place. Though your hands tremble slightly, you feel pride in having reached here. The long-dead Yulas are still an awesome sight; etched into their bones by their biochemistry are their life experiences.”

What is that damn thing on the upper path? (No, I don't actually want someone to tell me.)

What? Are you blind?

Lucky these things make their way to the graveyard to die. There wouldn't be any moving them!

This seemed interesting, and I wondered whether it actually meant I might be able to learn something by investigating the bones further. I typed “read bones”, and was shocked to find that I literally could: “Roughly translated, one small patch of bone says, ‘I am YoYula JoJello, member of the KoKello clan. Many years I have lived and many fears I have faced.” As interesting as this was, I couldn't read anything into it, so moved on. The next screen to the west held the huge skulls of three Yulas, and I could see the jewelled arrow that the prince had shot stuck in the top of one! Reading the bones gave me the same message as before. There didn’t appear to be any way past the first skull, nor could I climb it, so I was going to have to find another way to get to the arrow. I walked back to the previous screen and for the first time noticed that there was a web of rope-like material stretching between many of the bones. Looking at it revealed it had been created by a large spider that I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting. I wondered if I might be able to climb it, so wandered over to a likely spot and typed “climb bones”. It worked, and P.J. scaled the hind legs of the long dead YoYula JoJello. One he reached the top, a strange green creature with a trumpet shaped beak protruding from its face came scurrying across the ground below. Closer examination returned the following description: “The Kleeg is a voracious animal, though not all foods agree with it. Some foods give Kleegs terrible gas. Its impish nature makes some creatures feel falsely secure around it. Its large snout ends in a bell-like mouth.”

Man, that prince was a damn good shot!

I figure I'll need this to enter the castle...or something.

I reckon this thing would snore like anything!

I ignored the little guy for the moment, and concentrated on tight roping across the web in the direction of the skulls. However, after just a few steps across, I was informed that I was “a little heavy for traipsing webs like this”, and fell to my death. Restoring back to my arrival at the Yula skeletons, I wondered whether dropping some items, the way I did when trying to use the transporter early in the game, might allow me to get across. I climbed the bones again, and this time dropped my axe and sword before trying to cross. I was still too heavy! I restored again, but this time I started dropping items on the ground below rather than up on the skeleton. As soon as I dropped the axe, a message popped up: “Oh oh. Here come some Kleegs. Hold onto your jammies! They’ll steal anything not nailed down.” A bunch of Kleegs came rushing onto screen, and they quickly picked up my axe and ran off with it! Well that was annoying! Clearly I was going to have to drop my stuff up on the skeleton rather than down on the ground, so I set about doing exactly that. I dropped everything I had, hoping I didn’t require one of the items while retrieving the jewelled arrow. To my delight, I was now able to cross the web, but it wasn’t all roses I’m afraid. Before I could reach the next screen, the Kleeg rushed up the web and began bouncing on the piece I was standing on! “Heh hee Hee hoo. Tee hee Te hoo. Bouncey bouncey.”

You little bastards!

Nasty Kleeg indeed!

This of course caused me to fall to my death again, so I was going to have to figure out a way to get rid of, or at least detain, the Kleeg before trying to cross. Re-reading the Kleeg description, I figured they hadn’t mentioned the “terrible gas” bit for no reason. Did I have anything I could feed it? Nope, but the popcorn immediately came to mind. Was I supposed to feed the Kleeg the popcorn, and then collect the slime on the way back out of the canyon? It felt like a bit of a long shot, but I had to try it. I restored to an older game, and made my way back through the canyon without picking up the slime or eating the popcorn. Once I was back at the Yula skeletons, I dropped the bowl of popcorn onto the ground (-3 points), and crossed my fingers as the rampaging Kleegs went at it. The outcome was that the Kleeg that had been bothering my tightrope efforts was now lying on its back with a very bloated tummy. Victory!!!! (5 points) Not only had I removed the obstacle, I also found that I could add the Kleeg to my inventory. (10 points) At least I would have been able to if I didn’t receive a message saying “You’ll have to drop something first.” I recalled Ilmari saying something about an item limit on the inventory, but it still came as something of a shock. It’s not like I was carrying all that much! It didn’t really matter for the time being, as I needed to drop everything to cross the web. I did so, making my way across to the skulls, where I was able to pick up the jewelled arrow as planned. (15 points) This moment of victory seemed a great place to end my session, and therefore this post.

You'll be trumpeting out of all orifices now you little shit.

A fine day's work if I do say so myself.

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 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 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!