Friday, 13 June 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - In the Woods...

P.J. Barrett Journal Entry 2: "I finally figured out how to you use the transportation system and used it to reach a second floating island. There I met Vindah, some sort of divining master, but he can only help me if I find some bird living in the woods! I also managed to get myself down to ground level, but I'm starting to wish I hadn't! So far I've had some sort of pollen crapped all over me by a jumping thing, then been attacked by a giant with an axe, and now JonQuah expects to reach him on his platform in the Caves of Death, despite the fact he's situated directly behind a sea of sharp-toothed clamchops! I really hope I wake up from this nightmare soon!"

Sure, why not? I'm a sucker for punishment!

My last post finished with P.J. falling to his death after I attempted to move him onto the transporter that I figured would take him to the small island he could see off to the east. After restoring, I spent some time trying to figure whether there was anything I was supposed to do with the organic platform before stepping on, but had no luck at all. Eventually I decided to re-explore the island, and to ask Alnar and Tentro about the transporter. This approach had worked when I’d been unable to figure out how to use the frag tube, so maybe it would assist me now also. Sadly, neither of the aliens had anything to say on the matter, but I did find something I’d missed previously in Tentro’s workshop. There were two jars and a floppy disk in the foreground on that screen which I hadn’t asked about before. When I typed “look at disk”, I was informed that it was indeed a 3 ½ inch floppy, and asking Tentro about it caused him to proclaim that “It’s my favorite game, Altered Destiny.” Often game developers will take an opportunity like this to promote a different game that their company has released, so I can only assume Michael Berlyn and co didn’t feel Les Manley was a cross-sell opportunity worth mentioning. More interestingly, when I typed “look at jar” I was shown a picture of a bottle of pigment with the description “This bottle is used to hold the essence of the little frags”.

I was very lucky to find this. Did I miss some mention of it earlier?

I quickly realised that the bottle I was looking at had nothing to do with the jars in the foreground, and that I’d stumbled upon an item that was located on the shelf near where I was standing. I checked the main screen description that had told me about the various shaped frags during my initial visit, but couldn’t find any mention of the bottle, so it was pretty easy to miss! I picked up the bottle (2 points) and tried to open it: “With butterfingers like yours, you’d spill it all over!” So I’d discovered a new item, but couldn’t see how it might help with my current predicament. After more fruitless searching, I made my way back to the transporter to have another go at it. No matter how I approached it, boarding it always caused P.J. to plummet to his death! I thought maybe one of the frags might help, so I typed “point tube at transporter”. The parser response I received was “The tube’s automechanism isn’t activated.” Huh? Was I supposed to activate the tube somehow before I was able to use it now that it contained frags? I followed that train of thought through, but got nowhere. I typed “feed transporter” (yeah, I was really clutching at straws), only to be told that I’d “better find out what it eats, first”! Was feeding it the right thing to do, and I just didn’t have the food yet? Surely not! Eventually I figured the parser was messing with me, and sat back with the intention of applying real world logic to the situation. Why was the transporter falling? Was I too heavy? How could I make myself lighter?

Oh the things we try when we're desperate!

Did it have something to do with how much I was carrying? I typed “drop sword”, and got a little bit excited when P.J. actually did it. I could see the sword on the ground, so it didn’t look like I’d lost it forever by dropping it. I dropped the axe too, then stepped onto the transporter, fingers crossed that I was now light enough. The transporter didn’t collapse, and began moving off to the east!!! My view switched to a long shot, and I watched as the transporter slowly moved from the large starting island to a smaller one that was tethered to Daltere by a thin spiralling root. On arrival I found that the smaller island (which was called Runes Island) contained nothing more than a couple of large stones with runes all over them and a little enclosure within which a four armed green alien stood. I typed “look at creature” to get some idea of what I was about to face, only to be asked which creature I meant: “Which one do you mean, the transporter, the little squalna or Vindah?” It was only then that I noticed there was a tiny green creature sitting on top of one of the stones. This must be the “little squalna”, but since I was far more interested in Vindah, I typed “look at vindah”. “Vindah is an ancient, a master of foretelling and soothsaying. From this distance, that’s about all you can tell.” Well he sure sounded important! I took a look at the squalna before moving on: “This little creature goes through a strange, inscrutable metamorphosis. An egg will hatch, then sometimes reverse, only to hatch into a different shape the next hatching cycle.”

Not the safest form of transportation I've ever seen, but it will do.

You've got to appreciate the creativity that went into this game.

I bet this real estate would get a pretty penny.

The little squalna didn’t seem to be sentient, so I wandered over to Vindah to see what he might be able to tell me. “You have great need to talk. I have greater need to channel wisdom. Ask about what you will, stranger.” I began asking the odd little guy everything I could think of, gaining some interesting information in the process. Vindah: “I have a talent, trained and nurtured when I lived at the Order of the Jewel, to do divinations.” Jewel of Light: “Knowing what you seek, I will give you the most help possible by divining. I know of little else.” Divining: “To do a proper divination, I require an Indella bird.” Indella Bird: "I know only that they are attracted by pretty colors and live somewhere in the woods. If you choose to search for one, beware the natural springs.” Natural Springs: “I have said to beware them. That is enough.” Woods: “It is a long journey from here. Beware the natural springs that travel through them.” JonQuah: “He is a master of silence. That I know well. From my divinations, I am unclear as to his location.” Helmar: “Helmar? You do not need a diviner to tell you of a youth gone mad.” Alnar: “Alnar is gruff but friendly. His approach is somewhat less meditative and contemplative than mine, though.” Tentro: “His little frags contain powerful information.” Order: “It’s a shame how their ranks have dwindled since Helmar took the Jewel of Light.” Well that sure was a lot of information to take in, but the main thing seemed to be that I needed to get an Indella bird from some woods. The big unanswered question was how I was going to find these woods!

It was some time later that I realised this must be the guy that wrote the sign on the stairway.

Before I considered leaving Runes Island, I thought I’d better investigate the runes on the stones. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make anything out of them: “The runes say Dududu dash dot slash square... ah, forget it.” Hmmmm, while I’d gained a quest out of my trip to the island, I had no idea what I was going to do next. I’d done everything I could think of on both islands, and certainly hadn’t found any potential way to get down to ground level. I made my way back to the main island, picked my weapons back up, and had a think. Could I climb down? Nope. I’d considered trying to grab one of the floaters earlier, before I’d discovered the transporter. As unlikely as it seemed, I typed “grab floater” anyway. “You’re not close enough.” Ooohhh, that was interesting! Either the parser was messing with me again or it was actually possible to grab hold of one of the floating creatures. I moved closer to one and tried again: “Which one do you mean, the large floater or the small floater?” I was standing next to a small one, so I typed “grab small floater”. It worked!!!!! (4 points) P.J. grabbed hold of it and was lifted off his feet! I watched in shock as he was then taken off the island and lowered down to ground level! This was a big moment, and I felt pretty happy with myself for having found the solution. To make things even better, I was now standing in the middle of “The Crossroads”, meaning the game had finally opened up a bit. “You are at an intersection of two dirt roads. Above you float two pieces of land anchored here by thick, green vine.”

I later tried grabbing a large floater, only for P.J. to float off into the atmosphere and die.

I really didn't expect this to work!

Boy was happy to have my feet on the ground!

I now had the choice of going in any of the four directions, and as is my usual approach to such situations, I headed off in a westerly direction. As I left the crossroads, I was a given a bird’s eye view of my journey towards what looked to be a pinky purple forest. On arrival I discovered that’s exactly what I’d journeyed to, and I stood in “A Wooded Area” wondering whether I’d had the luck of venturing into the wood that Vindah spoke of by chance. I checked out my surroundings: “The climate here is humid; the moisture makes the earth smell alive and rich. Light dances on the horizon, while water flows down from a terrace above your head.” I saved my game before entering the water that pooled beneath the waterfalls. Vindah had warned me about the natural springs in the wood, so I figured the best way to see whether this was the wood he spoke of was to enter the water. I was actually disappointed when I was able to stand in the water unharmed. I made my way north, entering a screen called “By the Light”. The northern end of the screen had a section of bright pulsating light that was described as “captivating, calling you closer”, and there were non-sentient creatures called flying mantas soaring around. I saved my game again and walked into the light. I suddenly found myself standing on a ledge in front of a large Pool of Light! “Flashing with blinding intensity, the Pool of Light gives off tremendous heat. You can hear the air crackling. By your feet is a strange message carved into the platform. Straining to get close enough to mince you, standing on a little platform, is aRRaRRa, a nasty creature, a creature placed by Helmar to guard the pool.”

These views are great, really giving weight to the environment.

I have to say, I hadn't expected Altered Destiny to look so cool!

Weren't these flying mantas in Hero's Quest?

JonQuah failed to mention anything about fighting axe-wielding giants!

What on earth was going on here!? I typed “read message”, hoping to gain some insight into how I was going to survive this. (2 points) “Fed by the light, starved by the dark, the source of your life says your form must be right.” Huh? My form must be right? What did that mean? Was I really supposed to fight this guy with my sword or my axe? I looked at the Pool of Light: “This pool must have been created by Helmar, wielder of the Jewel of Light. The light from the pool is so intense, it can disrupt the molecular structure of animal cells.” That didn’t sound healthy! I stepped towards the edge, and was horrified when the section I was standing on came away from the platform and floated towards the centre of the screen. The ground where aRRaRRa was standing did the same, forming a circle directly above the Pool of Light where we were obviously meant to do battle. Before I had any chance to get a weapon out, aRRaRRa began hacking at my body with his huge axe, killing me instantly! I reloaded, and this time I tried getting my sword out before stepping towards the edge. This proved harder than I expected, as commands like “use sword” didn’t work. Eventually I tried “wield sword”, and apparently it worked: “Okay. Consider yourself armed and dangerous. But be careful.” Visually nothing had changed, but I stepped out anyway to see what would happen. As my half of the platform floated towards the centre, P.J. held the sword in front of him, ready to use it.

Yeah, this time you're going to get it aRRaRRarrAARara....ararA...whatever your name is!

Once the circle was formed, P.J. got into what looked like a position to attack, and aRRaRRa’s violent swings seemed to miss their mark. I typed “use sword” and got “You’d better figure out just how to use the sword in a more specific manner”. I typed “swing sword”, but the parser didn’t understand what I was trying to do. I typed “hit arrarra with sword”, and got “Hitting aRRaRRa with the two-edged sword isn’t what a middle-manager would do.” At this point one of aRRaRRa’s hits made contact and I was killed again. What the hell?! What’s the point of arming yourself with a sword if there’s no way to actually use it?! It suddenly dawned on me that I might not need to hit aRRaRRa at all! Perhaps I needed to hold the sword merely to defend myself while I did something else? Like...jumping into the Pool of Light! That had to be it! I restored again, and this time when aRRaRRa was failing to hit me, I stepped off the platform and into the light. “A Noble Attempt: Wow, that’s intense! In your current state, the tremendous light in the pool disrupts your body’s molecular structure. And you know what that means.” Damn it, I was dead again! Since the carved message had talked about needing to have the right form, and the game over message had talked about my “current state”, I had to assume that there was something I needed to do to be able to enter the pool. I was going to have to go exploring.

Oi! Parser! I think you're misunderstanding the gravity of the situation!

I hadn’t actually finished exploring the pink woods yet, so set about doing so. Interestingly, when I restored back to the screen with the bright light to the north, an unusual creature began hopping across the screen. “The Hoppa is a creature native to these woods. Its genetic imperative demands that it sprinkle animate creatures with its pollen, which causes them to slowly change into tree-like creatures.” That was weird, but even if I stood directly in its path, nothing happened. I made my way through four more screens filled with streams and weird trees, plants and creatures, but it wasn’t until I reached one labelled Eastern Woods that I discovered anything of note. On that screen there was a pathway leading upwards towards the back wall. When I tried to walk up it, the way back out was blocked, and a Hoppa bounced into view. In what was clearly a scripted moment, the Hoppa landed directly on top of me, and sprinkled pollen all over me! “Well, that was an experience! Since the Hoppa has sprinkled you, you start to feel a little strange, a little stiff in your joints.” (5 points) The fact that I received points suggested what had just occurred was a positive thing. It then occurred to me that this could be very positive indeed! After all, I was now slowly transforming into a tree. Surely that would be the form I needed to have to enter the Pool of Light safely! I raced back to the pool, and this time when I jumped off the platform into it, I reappeared in an underground area, unharmed!

I fail to see what Darwinian purpose that serves, but sure, why not?

Oh man! Trudy is going to kill me! I've got pollen all over the suit she gave me!


The new area was called “On the Stairs”, which was quite suitable since it was basically just a set of stairs. There was however a man of sorts sitting in mid-air just to the right of the stairs! Typing look gave me the following message: “The chill and damp make your skin crawl. The air carries the scent of mildew. On a landing you can see a mound of stones.” Since this description made a point to mention the stones, I typed “look at stones”. (2 points) “Chiselled into the face of the stones is a cryptic message – Growth bridges the gap, seeding the path, crystallizing our differences.” They weren’t wrong when they said cryptic!!! Suddenly the man spoke to me, and it turned out to be JonQuah, the being that had brought me to Daltere in the first place! “P.J., I am glad you have arrived. I can stay here for short periods only and I have something important for you. Please reach me as quickly as you can.” With that he disappeared, but a section of stairs that wasn’t there before appeared, allowing me to make my way off to the right of screen. The next screen was labelled “Bottom of Stairs”, and I could see JonQuah sitting in the air above a platform to the right. Inbetween me and him though were hundreds of creatures, and they didn’t look friendly! “Before you, through the inky darkness, is a sea of creatures with razor sharp jaws, the clamchops. Their snapping jaws echo through the darkness.” JonQuah raised his hand and made a “come here” motion with it. Yeah, sure! What could go wrong?!

Seriously man, no-one likes a showoff!

Caves of Death? A bit over the top don't you think?

Ah, I see! Caves of Death indeed!

Session Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 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. This is a very nonlinear game, at least on the surface. I like that so far we've taken completely different paths! How to get down to ground level was one of the first things I discovered, while finding Vindah was actually one of the last (and I completely missed that pigment bottle.... sheessh.)

    As you have already seen, the game provides little to no explanation for a lot of stuff. When it does, it's not usually in the "right" order, so I had to start taking some notes. Hopefully you'll have more success with the clamchops than I've had so far... ;-)

    1. I think the non-linearity is pretty superficial, because there's often a clear order in which you must do things (trying to be very unspecific...). And speaking of that, fubhyq Gevpx or abgvsvrq gung ur vf rffragvnyyl qrnq raqrq, orpnhfr ur'yy ghea vagb n gerr jvgubhg nal pher? Ur jba'g arrq gbb zhpu onpxgenpxvat, gubhtu.

    2. Jnvg... lbh zrna gurer'f ab pher sbe gur gerr-fgngr?? :-(

    3. Ab, jung V zrnag, gurer vf n pher, ohg Gevpx unfa'g lrg sbhaq vg naq jba'g unir gvzr gb svaq vg. V'yy yrnir vg ng gung, vs lbh ner fgvyy fgehttyvat jvgu guvf cneg naq qba'g jnag nal uvagf.

    4. Be jnfa'g orpbzvat cynag qrnqyl nsgre n juvyr? Vg'f orra n ovg fvapr V cynlrq gur tnzr...

  2. BTW, did you notice what Hoppa looks like? You were warned of natural springs...

    1. I did figure this out, but not until much later. Seems obvious in hindsight!

  3. I'll just post it once, but GOG Summer Sale has begun. Flash (hourly) sales for a lot of adventure games, and daily deals to come.

    For the next 20 minutes Primordia is 75% off, plus many others.

  4. The full name of that axe-creature is aRRaRRa AaAaRomaRromamamaa Gaga-oolala Wantyourbadromance.

  5. I'm playing through this very slowly, and with much pain. The parser is just so bad! It's got all of the issues that Les Manley had to this point (though I'm not sure about the dead ending as yet). I didn't go the same way as Trick, and started off to the south instead. If I'd played it beforehand, I think I would have bet CAPs that ur jbhyqa'g unir rvgure orra noyr gb jbex bhg 'pyvzo jro' tvira gurer jnf AB ernfba gb guvax gung gur guvat ba gur abegu bs gur fperra jvgu gur gerrf jnf n jro, naq whfg 'pyvzo' qvqa'g jbex - BE gung ur'q jbex bhg gung ur unq gb obgu 'fyrrc' naq 'qernz'. V qvq vg bayl orpnhfr zl zvaq erterffrq gb 'jung jbhyq unccra vs guvf jrer Yrf Znayrl? Znlor vs V snyy nfyrrc naq gnxr zl bja qernz, V'yy trg n sevpxvat pyhr nf gb jung zl npghny bowrpgvir vf!'

    .. I think I might play the Oregon Trail just to cool off.

    1. V nyfb gubhtug bs Yrf Znayrl jura gelvat "qernz". Naq vg jbexrq! V guvax ur unf n tbbq punapr gb svther vg bhg gbb. Ubjrire V'z vagevthrq ol lbhe zragvba bs n jro...?

    2. Abegu bs jurer gur Ubccn vf. Vg qvqa'g ybbx yvxr n 'jro' gb zr, ohg gung'f jung gur cnefre npprcgrq - gubhtu vg npghnyyl npprcgrq 'jnyy' ba n frpbaq purpx, juvpu V fubhyq ernyyl unir thrffrq jnl orsber gung. V guvax V qvq, ohg zhfg unir glcbrq vg gur svefg gvzr. V'q nyernql pyvzorq gur ebpxf va zl qernz ol gung cbvag, fb svtherq vg ybbxrq fhfcvpvbhfyl pyvzonoyr, naq jnf syhzzbkrq ol gur snpg gung vg jbhyqa'g rira yrg zr vagrenpg nsgre gra qvssrerag jbeqf hfrq.

      Zl ceboyrz jvgu gur cnefre vf zberfb gur qrfpevcgvbaf sebz gur ybbx pbzznaq guna nalguvat. Fbzrgvzrf 'nfx crefba nobhg guvat' qbrfa'g jbex, ohg 'nfx nobhg guvat' qbrf (gur Ynagen naq ure pelfgnyf jrer gur ynfg guvat gung guvf cbccrq hc jvgu.)

    3. Vs V haqrefgnaq jung lbh'er fnlvat, V qvq gel pyvzovat gung jnyy ohg pbhyqa'g orpnhfr, lbh xabj -- "fgvss wbvagf"... ubjrire V jba'g nfx lbh zber orpnhfr V qba'g jnag gb trg fcbvyrq zlfrys.

      Gur cnefre vf vaqrrq greevoyr, rnfvyl bar bs gur jbefg vzcyrzragngvbaf jr'ir frra.

    4. Ng fbzr cbvag lbh qb trg n uvag gung C.W. unf na fcrpvny novyvgl gb qernz, ohg lbh'yy cebonoyl trg gb gung cbvag yngre.

    5. Jryy V jnf pbaivaprq gurer unq gb or fbzrguvat bgure guna gur Ubccn va gung nern. Gbb znal fperraf va gurer abg gb or!

    6. Guvf vf jul V guvax cnefref ner n onq vqrn. Lbh ner qbvat gur fnzr guvat nf n pbzznaq yvfg, ohg znxvat sne, sne zber jbex sbe lbhefrys, naq, lbh vagebqhpr nyy fbegf bs ceboyrzf (Trg Whzcre, Trg Fjrngre, Trg Fjrngfuveg) naq jrveq rqtr pnfrf. Gurl ner uneq gb qb jryy, naq ernyyl, ernyyl rnfl gb qb onqyl.