Friday, 17 June 2016

Elvira II ‐ Warlock

Written by Deimar

Dirk Gentley Journal Entry #5 "So after the burns, butcher’s knives, vampires, succubi and even Dr. Frankenstein himself, I finally got the memo and got my ass out of the haunted mansion. My only prize was an indian peace pipe which I got from the house’s safe, but it didn’t seem to be especially magical. Let’s hope the next haunted set is a bit more welcoming than the last one..."

Time for a change of scenery. But first, I decided that I would prepare a kit of the all­-around spells. We will begin mixing the brainboost spell, which increases intelligence. This is important because intelligence determines how many copies of a spell you get when you create it. There is only one ingredient needed, something that stores information. I have tried many things such as books, a movie reel, a document filer... but the only thing that is capable of mixing this spell is the diskette we found back in the office. The spell doesn’t last too long, so I started mixing quite a few spells:

Just because of the use of the diskette I think this is my favourite spell so far

  • Fireball - A combustible substance - Every single piece of paper I have found in the game 
  • Protection - A metal band - Buckets, cans, etc…Sadly nothing from the Black Sabbath altar was allowed... 
  • Resist Fire - A fire extinguisher - Well… what do you know? I used several fire extinguishers. Although those could have been used for the protection spell also 
  • Mindlock - A padlock and a book - I found the padlock inside a drawer in the desktop at the haunted house’s office. For the book I just used one found in the nursery 
  • Breathe underwater - Something edible - FOOD! GIVE ME MORE FOOD! 
  • Telekinesis - A magnet - The radio cassette contains a magnet to read and write on tapes. I don’t know I would have solved this one on my own, as I remembered it from my previous tries to complete the game. 
  • Courage - A vial of alcohol - There were a lot of bottles in the offices 
  • Magic muscles - Three metal objects - Every metal object in the house’s kitchen 
  • Glue - An adhesive - I found glue inside a metal box in the kitchen 
  • Fear - The eye of a witch - What a coincidence that I happened to be carrying one since the very beginning of the game 
  • Revive - Some strong smelling item - A cheese from the pantry 
  • Detect trap - Any shaped glass - There are a lot throughout the game 

With the magic department satisfied for a while, I turned to use some of that arsenal. Starting with the fire room in the house. Which has nothing inside. What a waste of time. Having nothing else to do, I went for a walk through the graveyard of the third set: It came from the grave.

This little bugger is biting me through a metal helm. I don’t think the armor does anything in this game.

The set is a long straight road through a graveyard until you reach a church. I have not counted the number of steps from the set’s door to the church because there are a lot of bats that attacked me during this walk, so I spent most of the time smashing the forward arrow to minimize the damage done to me. Once inside the church, Elvira appeared to give some clues.

You are not even trying, are you?

The church is a very small place actually. On the left side we can find the corpse of poor old father Callaghan, whose body has been cut and all its organs extracted, so now we know where those we found in the house’s basement came from. Right next to the body there is a holy water basin. We can fill the test tubes with holy water here, but since I had used them for the detect trap spell, I had to reload and repeat all the spellcrafting.

The game seems to be a little more coherent this time. It is a nice touch to be able to deduce things like the name of the priest or that he was dissected from the description of different items

The altar at the other side of the church has a golden chalice, a pair of candlesticks and some holy cloths ready for the reap. There is a pulpit than can be moved to show a hidden passage under the church. But before I could enter the passage Elvira appeared to warn about the passage. She said that I would need brain and “braun” to triumph down there. And boy was she right. Just in the first screen there are a pair of banshees, which the library tells are usually an alarm warning of a greater danger.

Is this a play I don’t understand or simply a typo?

So, ladies, have you considered not sunbathing? You have horrible skin…

After dealing with the banshees I searched the room to find nothing but another passage downwards hidden inside the coffin in the center of the room. This passage leads to about 6 cubes of climbing down animation with you having to click the down arrow every single time. It gets tedious, but that’s the mild part about these catacombs.

If the hand didn’t show at such a slow pace I would say this is an attempt at a jump scare

The catacombs are a dungeon composed of six 20x20 levels interconnected through several holes. I will to summarize my many frustrations in this place but I will right out say that it is very infuriating. First of all, the first level is infested with skeletons. And I mean it. I fought no less than 20 of them. The other levels also contain enemies, but barring the last one, there is no such a density. I think part of the problem is that some of the skeletons can come up from the lower levels. As an added bonus, they can cast the Glue spell on you, which doesn’t even allow you to turn, so if there are several of them coming from different directions, you are screwed. And for the cherry on top, you can go down or up to a square already occupied by an enemy and although you can’t see him, he can hit you and sometimes even one-shot you. As I said… FUN!

Make me a favor and go die in hell… well… a deeper hell

The first three levels of the dungeon only contain these skeletons. They are quite though, or at least for the level my character was at (6 out of 10). I had to resort to using some of the spells like protection and magic muscles to overcome the first levels even though they die quite easily by hitting their legs. However, this brings out another problem with this game. The snail-pace at which spell points recover. Casting both of those spells practically depletes my spell point pool and you don’t recover enough points to renew even one of them after they expire. So I often had to resort to pushing ahead and reloading or simply waiting. This problem gets somewhat alleviated because there are a few potions that fill the pool, but they are too few and precious to be honest.

While we are with the first three levels, they seem to be designed as a deterrence to keep playing the game. The maps are not completely connected, meaning that you have to travel up and down trying different holes to explore the full level. Then you have the traps. There are two kinds of hall trap in the catacombs. The first one is a dart trap that is activated by tripping over a wire. The wire is visible and can be cut, which is nice. The second hall trap is a pit trap. There are sections of the passages which have a small rectangular pad in the floor. If you step over them, the trap activates and we fall to our deaths. You can click on the pad and select the “Avoid” action, which allows safe passage over the stone. One time. Which means you have to click on the pad every single time you pass through there. I can’t count the amount of times I have fallen into one of these trying to rush somewhere.

This is reasonable...

...but whoever thought the pit trap was “fun” deserves a very special kind of punishment

There are three other elements common to all the levels, apart from the brown tunnels that you grow to hate. The first one is a series of holes in sections of the wall which contain an object guarded by a trap. These objects range from the useful ones (keys, health and spell potions and permanent attribute increase potions) to weapons (I didn’t find any better than the fencing sword) to the ones that make me want to murder the designer as I have not found any use for them (a drill, a chainsaw, etc…). The traps are quite straightforward:

  • Guillotine - A blade falls and permanently cuts your hand. It can be easily avoided by cutting the wire that activates the trap 
  • Inverse guillotine - Same as the previous one, but it is activated when you cut the wire. 

  • Poison - After taking the object, a poison cloud is thrown at you. The only remedy I have found is using the antidote spell, which is quite scarce at this point in the game. The other option I noticed is that you do not always get poisoned, so you can take the object, see if you got poisoned (there is no indicator but for a periodical loss of hitpoints) and then reload after you get the object and do not get poisoned. The poison doesn’t stop until it kills you by the way, so forget about not curing it. 

  • Fireball - A fireball is thrown at you. You have to be careful with this one. Although you can tank the damage, you have to be careful as any combustible you are carrying can be burned. Like for example, the spell book, which is needed to complete the game. And the game doesn’t tell you anything, it just happens. Lucky for me, I managed to realize before saving as I tried to mix some spells to alleviate my weight. I guess you could use resist fire to reduce the damage of this trap, but unless you want to wait, you can simply save-scum it. 
  • Destroy magic - When you take the object all your spells are removed. Yep, the ones you have prepared also. This is frankly the worst trap, as it can also take you into a dead end. The mindlock spell is useful precisely to avoid the effects of this trap. However, even with mind boost active, you get very few copies of the spell. And it lasts a few minutes. To sum up, more fun.
  • Poison spike - I don’t know why but this trap never affected me. A spike arises but doesn’t seem to have any effect. If you want to know how I know it is a poison spike, it is because the detect trap tells you the name of the trap when you inspect the object. 
The second element are gates controlled by lever. In this regard, most of the time the lever that opens a gate can be found in the vicinity of the gate. However, there are some special cases. For example, there is a lever in level 2 that activates a pit trap behind a door. There are also some levers that control two gates simultaneously, closing one and opening the other.

The final component of this design are rooms with chests. Most of them trapped, of course. Or with the room with some kind of puzzle:

  • Poison spike - As with the hole trap, this never affected me. A spike arises from the chest on opening. No hit point loss or anything. 

  • Zombie - After opening the chest, a zombie is summoned behind you. It is very simple to kill it. 

  • Empty - The chest is empty. However, the room is not. You can move the chests and discover objects under them. It took me a while to realize this, and I only did after encountering the pit trap described below. 

  • Fireball - Same as the hole one. 

  • Pit trap - You open the chest and then a pit opens underneath. The trick here is that there is always some kind of weapon hanging from the wall. If you look very closely, there are two black pixels in another part of the wall. To deactivate this trap you have to move the hanging weapon from where it stands to the empty place. 
  • Cave in - You open the chest, take the object but when you are about to leave, the door has closed. Funny enough, if you open the door, the ceiling collapses on you. The trick here is closing the chest after looting it. 

  • Destroy magic - Same as the hole one. 
Basically, after having explored the first three levels I already knew everything the dungeon had to throw at me in the way of traps. However, the last three levels had some surprises in the form of enemies. Level four adds some very nasty ghosts to the skeletal army. The library says it can be damaged with magic, but it is too fast to be able to cast anything, as it appears from the walls charging at you and passes through. My option in this case was simply running. Eventually I accidentally discovered that the courage spell lets you avoid its damage, although I had explored most of that level by then just by running.

May be modelled after one member of the staff?

This level also introduces giant rats to the equation, but these are very easy enemies.

The reports about its deeds were greatly exaggerated...

Finally, level six gives us the imps, some kind of goblinoid creatures that are easily dispatched by my trusty sword, although one hit from them is quite dangerous and they can throw fireballs. I discovered another funny bug with this guys, as sometimes I entered combat mode but was unable to hit them or move, resulting in my immediate death.

This is a goblin. I don’t care what the book says, it is a goblin.

I should make a point here that by this point I had already made quite a few trips to the surface to drop items and in one of them I even killed the frost demon in the basement of the studio with a fireball. I say this because the last enemy of level 6 is a necromancer. The moment he sees us he simply states that we are not his apprentice and therefore he must kill us. The first thing he does is cast glue on us, and then destroy magic. Not being able to close the gap between us and unable to cast spells, this is the end. Therefore, this requires a more subtle approach.

Wink, wink, maybe if could change yourself to look like my apprentice… As you have done so before in the game… We are so proud of this puzzle we are going to repeat it!

This is a repeat of the Dr. Frankenstein puzzle, so I went back to the makeup room, put my costume on and went back to see the necromancer. This time I could talk to him. As per usual, there are four options, but the one that works is telling him we had food poisoning. This makes him leave telling us that his cooking is perfectly fine. Some people don’t know how to take a critic.

And with some minor changes… Voila! A completely different person!

And at last, Elvira is just in front of us. But as my friend used to say: IT’S A TRAP!. It is a shapeshifter trying to kill us. It spits poison and it is quite lethal. So much, that a single attack could kill you eventually. Therefore, I reload, buff myself up and just beat the shit out of it before it can do anything.

I always knew she spits venom when she talks but this is getting ridiculous

Elvira appears to tell me that she is not there and to look for her in another set. Although it is tempting to throw the computer through the window at this point, it is important to note that the shifter left the sacred lance in the ground after disappearing.

Would you kindly tell me where I am supposed to go now?

With this, I will end this lengthy post. But before leaving I wanted to comment on the graphics and music of this segment of the game. First of all, these dungeons are all identical. Brown tunnels everywhere, the rooms reused all the time. Each level introduces a distinct element to differentiate it from the others (for example, in level six we can find a green liquid dripping from the ceiling), but it is not enough to reduce the tedium. The music department is a bit better however. There are two tunes for this part, one for even levels and the other for the odd ones. Although this could seem a silly detail, it helps when coping with the tediousness. For the record, and if anyone still has not caught it, I find these catacombs very infuriating.








PSA: I discounted one death from the vampire minions some posts ago and I have decided to add it again. The catacombs contain a few deaths which reuse the same death image even though they could be considered different so to be fair I have just counted the sources instead of the images.

Session Time: 12 hours 24 minutes
Total Time: 15 hours 35 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s 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. That's quite a lot of traps, and quite a lot of grisly deaths!

  2. "Elvira appears to tell me that she is not there and to look for her in another set."

    Is this an example of the "Princess is in another castle" trope/meme? (And yes, I DO want you to replay the game to check her exact wording of the message) :)