Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - Toxic Nightmare

P.J. Barrett Journal Entry 6: "I can't tell you how happy I am to have finally caught that slippery Indella bird! Once I had it in the cage, I was able to give it to Vindah and receive the divination I'd been promised. It wasn't as useful as I'd hoped, but that shouldn't come as any surprise given my experiences on this planet so far. I've spent the last hour or so wandering around in some sort of nightmare state, helping a cute little animal in return for a mirror. Either I'm going crazy or things are just getting weirder by the minute. Possibly both!"

Well I don't see any hope then!

My last post finished with me requesting assistance. I was convinced that the parser was screwing me over when it came to catching the Indella bird, and genuinely had no idea how to cross the floating platform in the underground caves. It was Aperama that first came to my rescue with a couple of hints and a spoiler for the bird puzzle, but since my most recent save game was in the caves, I decided to check out Ashley Bennett’s hints for that section first. The first hint read: “The answer as suspected is in the wall riddle.” I was already quite certain about that, so moved onto the second hint: “Avoid the nasty tiles with two circles.” I had actually taken that idea from the riddle, and thought I’d avoided them successfully on at least one occasion without success. I tried again now that I knew it was the correct way to approach the puzzle. On my second attempt I managed to cross the floor without being crushed, at which point P.J. descended down into the darkness below on a platform! (9 points) I think the reason I struggled with this puzzle was not so much the riddle (although that was certainly obtuse), but how difficult it was to discern which bits of floor had two circles and which ones didn’t, particularly where the vine crossed over them in the foreground. I was excited to be through though, and watched as P.J. slowly descended onto another platform next to where JonQuah was floating in mid air.

Man, you really do like to make things difficult for yourself JonQuah.

JonQuah spoke to me: “Here, P.J. This is for you. I give you this silencer so you can deal with sounds as I have. Use it when you approach Helmar.” A silencer! You mean for a gun?! I could only hope it were true, although I knew it wasn't. (15 points) Suddenly JonQuah was gone, leaving me standing there with seemingly nowhere to go. There was a large circle below me, similar to the one that had surrounded the Pool of Light. I typed “look”, hoping to get some idea what I was supposed to do next: “The faint drip of condensing water hitting the pool rings hollowly in your ears. The cold here is intense, the darkness almost infinite.” I typed “look at pool” and received the following: “This pool must have been created by Helmar, wielder of the Jewel of Light. The pool is the antithesis of the pool of light.” That was interesting, but didn’t really help. I saved my game and jumped straight into the pool to see what would happen. In short, I died! “Brrrrr. In your current state, the absence of light in the pool freezes your altered structure. No light, no energy. No energy, well...” So the pool was so cold that I couldn’t survive it in my current tree-like state. Did that mean I needed to find a way to create light or a way to stop my transformation into a tree? I wasn’t sure, but looked through my inventory items for inspiration. I hadn’t found a use for the bowl of slime yet, and wondered whether pouring it over myself might help. “Not in your current condition. You’re a little too stiff to do that.” I received this message no matter what I tried to do, so eventually concluded I was dead ended. It was time to restore back to the Indella bird screen to see whether that path would lead to great success.

This game could actually redeem itself by letting me shoot everyone.

I turned to Aperama’s hints, with the first one being: “You had the right idea from the start.” That was nice to know, but I wasn’t exactly sure which idea he meant. I’d tried everything I could think of with the pigment. If that was it, then I was going to need some more help. The second hint read: “The bird would sure go for that pigment, and you have a cage now...” Huh? I’d tried putting the pigment in, on, and around the damn cage a hundred times already! How could I have not stumbled on the solution? I was going to have to read the spoiler: “BATE CAGE WITH PIGMENT”. WTF? Was that seriously what I was expected to type? Typing “put pigment in cage” hadn’t worked, and hadn’t given me any different message than when I’d tried to put just about everything else I owned in the cage. That’s a pretty precise thing for the parser to expect! I put my disbelief to one side and typed the command just as Aperama had told me to. I got another negative response: “That would be tough to manage in its present state.” As John McEnroe said on many occasions, “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!!!” Now the game was refusing to accept outright spoilers! I took a deep breath, and tried to figure out what the parser was telling me. I couldn’t even be sure whether it was talking about the present state of the cage or the pigment. Was the cage closed and I needed to open it? Nope. Could I now open the pigment? Nope. Deciding the puzzle just wasn’t worth the effort, I went back to the readers, describing my further drama in a comment. Once again it was Ashley Bennett that pinpointed the issue, which shouldn’t be surprising given his occupation as a radiologist. I needed to “SET TRAP” before I could bait it. (2 points) It may have something to do with the fact I’ve never used a trap to catch anything in my life, but I can honestly say I never, ever would have figured out this solution. With the trap set and baited, the Indella bird was finally convinced to hop inside and be caught. PHEW!

Why won't you go home? Are you too good for your HOME!!!???

Thank f$%^ for that!

I picked up the cage containing my captive and made my way directly to Vindah’s floating island to receive his divination. When I gave the Indella bird to the four-armed creature, they appeared on the ground in front of him, with the bird wandering back and forth. Nothing much happened, so I asked about the divination: “I don’t have everything I need to begin. Let’s see... a bird, some pigment, and something for the bird to leave its tracks on... I guess not.” Oh come off it! The guy hadn’t mentioned anything about the pigment or something for the bird to leave its tracks on when he gave me the quest! Think Tricky, think! Aha...the pomenta leaf should do the trick! I gave the leaf to Vindah, and was thrilled when it also appeared in front of him. He then cast some sort of spell, turning the bottle of pigment into a bowl instead. The Indella bird hopped into the pigment and then onto the leaf, and after a surprisingly amusing dance, left coloured footprints all over it. Vindah explained what it all supposedly meant: “The runes say you are a dreamer, though some accomplish more in their dreams than others do in a lifetime. At some time you may need to discard the illusion of reality and use this divination as a guide.” (20 points) Hmmmm...”accomplish more in their dreams”...I’d been able to sleep in the forest to the south of the crossroads. Would I now be able to do something while dreaming? I picked up the leaf and looked at it, revealing what appeared to be arrows formed by the bird’s feet. I was glad I hadn’t found this before trying to get through the floating floor in the caves, as I may have though it was a solution. I couldn’t think of anything else it might be useful for, so put it away and left the island.

Oh you didn't just say that did you?!?! Please tell me you didn't just say that!

I was actually annoyed to find myself enjoying the bird's performance.

The four arrows in the middle seem obvious. I hope they're the only relevant ones!

On my arrival back at the crossroads, I realised I’d left a few items all over Daltere due to the harsh inventory limitations. I decided to hold off my trip to dreamland for a bit while I collected everything and left whatever I couldn’t carry in the middle of the crossroads. While collecting the jewelled arrow that I’d left next to Lantra, I decided to try something I’d thought of whilst trying to get to sleep the night before. I’d previously tried throwing the crystal from the small pouch Lantra had given me onto the ground, only for it to be destroyed by the light of the planet’s sun. While I was underground, I tried throwing it there, and found that a large round crystal grew out of the ground in its place! I picked it up, and when I looked at it found it to be in the shape of a lens. (10 points) That was certainly interesting, but once again I couldn’t come up with any way that it would be useful. After my item collection was complete, I ended up leaving the golden tube, the scroll, and the battle axe in the crossroads screen before heading off towards the forest to take a nap.

Lollipop, lollipop, lo lo lo lollipop.

If the inventory is going to be so limited, I'm going to have to stash my stuff somewhere that anyone could steal them.

Hopping into the hammock, P.J. once again drifted off to sleep and dreamt of television shows. Vindah interrupted as he’d done previously, giving me the hint that led to me passing the Yula fears unharmed. One the desolate landscape appeared around me, I quickly tried typing on the keyboard, and found I could do it. I typed “look”, wondering whether I’d been able to type during the dream prior to receiving Vindah’s divination: “You see the insides of your eyelids.” Well that didn’t help! I typed “wake up”, and was actually a bit stunned when a blue and orange coloured spirit rose from P.J.’s resting body!!! (4 points) I soon had control of it, and could walk around the environment as though I were awake. Furthermore, I still had all of the items available to me in my inventory, which I thought was a bit weird. I typed “look” again, and this time got the description I was after: “The cliff and the rocks seem the same as the place or time you went to sleep in the hammock, yet everything is different. You’re surrounded by noxious vapors which rise from pits filled with bubbling, boiling acid.” I investigated the acid pits a bit closer, but didn’t get any useful information. I should point out that I died a few times on this screen, getting too close to the acid with the dodgy controls. Eventually I managed to walk to the east and gained access to another screen.

Can anyone confirm whether this is possible before receiving the divination?

Lovely place for a moonwalk.

I looked at everything I could think of on that screen too, but came up with nothing to work with. I turned south, but as I reappeared on the next screen where in the real world the pomenta flowers would be performing their mating dance, I found myself standing in front of a wall of vapour. It seemed very unlikely that I would just be able to walk straight through it, but I saved my game and tried anyway. As expected, I died a horrible, painful death, so I was going to have to find a way to get past. I looked through my inventory, but there didn’t appear to be anything obvious to assist. The only thing I could think to try was to pour the bowl of slime over myself, hoping this might somehow protect me from the deadly gas. To my surprise, P.J. did actually pour the slime all over his body, and I gained points for it too! (5 points) Sadly, despite making a good find that might assist me at another point, being covered in slime did not protect me from the vapour. Surely I wasn’t missing another item again was I?! I decided the only thing to do was to go back to the other two screens and try one last time to interact with something before waking P.J. up. On the screen where he lay asleep, I tried typing “look at rocks”, since the screen description had made a point of mentioning them. “They look mighty unstable.” Hmmmm, was that a hint or just a description? I walked over to the pile of rocks and tried pushing them. The pile crumbled over the cliff, giving me the opportunity to climb down them to a yet unseen area! (6 points)

This is what P.J. looks like after sucking in toxic vapor.

This is what P.J. looks like covered in slime. Not much better really.

I've felt like knocking a few things over lately too!

This new area was clearly the nightmare equivalent of the screen containing the path leading to Howler Lake in the real world. The pathway wasn’t there now, but there was a small pink creature sitting in front of four acid pits. The screen description informed me that the creature was named Kaylef, so I typed “look at kaylef”. The response that I got suggested this little female might actually be sentient: “Luella Kaylef’s life can be seen in her eyes, a hopeful but sorrow-filled existence.” Clearly something was up for Kaylef, and talking to her revealed what it was: “Oh thank you for coming. Oh thank you. My mate is gone forever, and the only image of him I had is over there. There it is over there, on the other side of these horrid pits. I’ll never get to it. Oh. You will help, won’t you? Oh. Oh.” How could I possibly ignore such a heartfelt plea? I set about trying to reach whatever it was that was behind the pits, but found I couldn’t get past the acid without falling in. There were two trees standing right next to the pits, and I wondered whether I might be able to cut them down and form a bridge. I cursed myself for leaving my axe back at the crossroads, but tried typing “cut tree”, hoping my sword would be enough. “Which one do you mean, the right tree or the left tree?” Sighing, I typed “cut tree on left”, only to be told “I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to do that.” Holding my parser frustration back, I figured out that typing “cut left tree” was the correct command, but even then I was given: “Try a better spot. Swinging your weapon here wouldn’t be effective.” You guys are probably getting really sick of reading annoying messages like this one, and if you are, then I’m satisfactorily getting across how damn horrible the parser is in this game! In the end, after falling in acid about five times trying to get into the exact right position, I was able to cut both the left and the right trees down. (4 points) As I’d hoped they would, they fell side by side across one of the pits. It was time to find out what was on the ground behind them!

I was convinced this cute little thing was going to rip me a new one.

There was even a point where I had to restore to an old save game because one of the trees was suddenly still standing despite me having cut it down already.

I spent well over five minutes trying to cross over the pit of acid along the fallen trees. Doing it with the keys was impossible, and using the mouse only slightly better. Once I got across I realised I didn’t know what to type, but since Kayla had said there was an “image” of her mate, I typed “look at image”. I was shown a picture of Kaylef’s mate Luigisimo, which I then tried to pick up. “You’ll have to drop something first.” I stepped away from my laptop to take a few deep breaths, cursing Canageek under my breath for making me play this damn thing. After regaining my composure, I dropped the sword, figuring it might just have served its only purpose. I could take the axe to the Pool of Light later on. I was then able to get the picture (10 points), and after a few more deaths, managed to cross back over the makeshift bridge and give it to Kaylef. “Oh thank you. This mirror is for you. When I had this I was less lonely. But now I have a nicer image to look at.” Now that I no longer had the picture, I was able to pick up the mirror and be on my way. (10 points) I climbed back up the rocks and walked back over to my sleeping body. Typing “sleep” caused the two images of P.J. to merge, and I was suddenly back in the hammock in the real world. I didn’t really know what I might be able to do with the mirror and I still don’t. The first thing I’m going to try is heading over to Howler Lake. Perhaps the howler will see itself in the mirror and not attack me...or something...

Punching above his weight in my opinion.

Every time I get a new item I think things will open up for me. They never seem to!

Wake up P.J. You've got to get moving so Tricky can play Quest for Glory II!

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 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. I received some comments recently suggesting my posts were a "hard-to-read mess". Obviously that's not what I'm intending when I create them, so I don't want to ignore the criticism. I've made an effort in this post to keep each paragraph focused entirely on one section of the game, rather than switching halfway through which I've done on occasion. I hope that helps a bit, and as usual, I welcome feedback. Please be nice though. I do this for the community as much as I do for the games, so polite, constructive criticism is appreciated.

    I should point out that this game is a hard-to-play mess, so I wouldn't be surprised if you still don't know what's going on. I sure don't!

    1. Much better already.

      One thing I'd do is to (when appropriate and possible) divide some of the longer paragraphs into smaller ones so they'd be easier to digest (for example, the one where you both meet Kaylef and try to cut the trees down - these two ideas can be reasonably separated). Lots of long paragraphs can make the the writing look like a daunting wall of text, but having all of them be little ones makes it disjointed and ultimately has the same effect. It's best to have a varied balance.

      Ideally, the first sentence of a paragraph should provide enough context so that the reader knows roughly what the rest is about. Using examples from your last post, "Now, this is where I have an admission to make" and "Frustrated, I looked for another lead" would've been so perfect for beginning a new paragraph that it's a shame they didn't.

      I took the body text of your previous post and re-edited the paragraphs to that your thoughts would be much easier to follow. It's by no means perfect, but hopefully it illustrates my points:

    2. I know that's not what you meant, but on the topic of hard-to-read messes, is there an option to change the color scheme of your blog?

      What I mean is, it shows as white font on black background here, which is really unpleasant to read, at least for me. There's a very good reason why practically everything else uses dark fonts on bright background, whether it's wikipedia, google, office, other blogs like the crpg addict, rps, and practically everything else. Yes, there's counter-examples as well, like rpgcodex, but still, it's a vast majority.

      If you don't want to change the default, can you at least give us some kind of option to change it? Or, is there one already and I just can't find it?

    3. But white take the most out of our eyes' color recognition ability by sapping all the primary colors' pigmentation!

      Also, less damaging to the eyes if you're having this as a late night reading. Not me. I usually read Trix's struggles for chuckles and I can't do that if I need some sleep. Er... I mean, great job, Trix! You can do it!

    4. Philipp, you can always use an RSS feed reader (Newsblur for me) - it does show posts from this blog with white background for me.

  2. If I hadn't done it at several points already, I'd have ragequit at “You see the insides of your eyelids.”.
    The parser is awful enough, but when they pile mockery on top like crushed glass sprinkles on a shit sundae, I draw the line.

  3. Oh! My comments were definitely NOT directed at your writing, they were directed at the game(s), and also the difficulty of the task. You are doing admirably! I haven't even posted on my 80s movie blog since March, so I am casting comments from a mountain of salt, hahaha.

  4. Psh. I clearly said ONVG (ba*it*, not ba*te*.)

    You're about... Three puzzles and a maze away from putting this horrible game to bed. Yes, a maze (though it's not too painful). No, don't act surprised. That's just what this generation of games did.

    1. Yeah, it may be easy to master words but it is never easy to master baits.

  5. I confirm you can indeed enter the dreamworld before getting the divination from Vindah. In fact, I was chuckling inside the first time you correctly guessed you had to "dream" but didn't realize you had to "wake up" once in the dream.

    Of course the joke's on me, for I failed to notice the unstable rocks that opened the new area, and so my dream journey was rather ineffectual.

    Good to see you making good progress through this godawful POS, Trick (yeah, I actively dislike this game). And where --is-- Canageek? Haven't seen him around for a while now. He's not hiding in shame, is he?

    1. Knowing him, he should be busy working, studying or partying/rocking out with friends on games or videos.

      Wow... sounds like my life. Minus the studying.

    2. Eh, around? I've been a lot more social lately, so spending less time on my computer, and doing less reading when I do. I also read posts in order, so have been missing a *lot* of things. I'll catch up soon, I swear!

    3. That sounds great, Canageek.

    4. Eh, the other reason is less fun (I've got a really sick friend I'm spending time with on skype to cheer her up).

  6. Somebody uploaded a Let's Play of this game on YouTube during the last month, and I watched the ending from there. As Aperama said, there is indeed very little of the game left.

  7. Aww... Kaptain Brawe 2 didn't make it on Kickstarter. Only 90K out of 150K funded. What a waste. ad a lot of potential, that one.

  8. REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE: I've finally managed to reach the island where Helmar's castle is, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get past the noisy plants there! Help! I just want this to end!

  9. It's hard to say exactly what you're missing given that we don't have a posting.
    Clue 1: Sbe gur vfynaq, lbh arrq gb unir n Xyrrt, naq fbzr fyvzr.
    Clue 2: Vs lbh qvqa'g trg bar bs gubfr rneyvre, lbh'yy arrq gb trg gurz guebhtu gur tenirlneq.
    Spoiler: Lbh svanyyl trg gb hfr gur cbcpbea. Chg gur cbcpbea qbja va gur tenirlneq orsber gur Xyrrtf pbzr guebhtu, yrnivat n Xyrrt jub'f n gbhpu bireshyy. Guvf yrnirf lbh jvgu n objy gb pbyyrpg gur fyvzr onpx va gur pnalba.
    Spoiler 2: Lbh unir gur fyvzr, Xyrrt, neebj (naq fvyrapre/zveebe, ohg lbh nyernql xabj gung.) Jura lbh ynaq ba gur vfynaq, lbh fdhrrmr gur Xyrrt gb xvyy gur cvax guvatf, gura eho gur fyvzr ba lbhefrys gb fheivir gur fcvggvat erq gerr guvatf. Nibvq gur checyr guvatf.
    Spoiler 3: Cebsvg!

    1. I think he already has/did what's mentioned in the first spoiler...

    2. I am utterly ashamed to admit that my recollection of what I'd read and what I played through have kinda merged into one. This was the dead last thing that I discovered on the way through the game just as I was about to give up entirely, so I listed everything through as succinctly as I could. (I just used about every object I had in about every room in the game by this point. The island made no sense whatsoever to me, so I left everything I had as few rooms prior as I could and just started going bonkers.

      Still, he should be posting up 'won' by reading through. I was posting from my phone, so I didn't stop to work out exactly what he needed, just thought of all of the objects he definitely did need that I felt he might not prioritize. It's an annoying game that gives you two different weapons to lug around... Given that adventure games never let you use them. Just rope. So much rope.

    3. Yeah, Aperama posted more hints than necessary, things Trickster already did or hasn't quite encountered yet. Here's a set of hints specifically related to the noisy plants puzzle:

      Hint 1: Gur abvfl cynagf ner, vebavpnyyl rabhtu, frafvgvir gb fbhaq.
      Hint 2: Gur xyrrt unf n zbhgu gung ybbxf yvxr n gehzcrg.
      Spoiler: Fdhrrmr gur xyrrt.

    4. @Aperama: nothing to be ashamed of. I haven't touched the game in a few days and it's all already a nightmarish blur to me. :-p
      @Laukku: Is there any in-game clue leading to that spoiler, other than gur ivfhny ercerfragngvba bs gur Xyrrt?

    5. @Charles: Dunno. When I first saw the solution recently on YouTube, my reaction was "lolwut".

    6. @Charles: Sure, there's a clue! It's ''HFR FYVZR HFR NEEBJ HFR NKR HFR XYRRT'. (BA CYNAG, obviously.) I believe that was the exact set of commands I used.. though this might be another one that told me that 'use is dumb har har!' like Les Manley, so I might have just been trying on random verbs at that point.

  10. Alright: I'll admit it. I've been out socializing, reading zines I find online and playing Rogue Legacy instead of reading this and the CRPG Addict. I'm sorry, I'll try and do better.