Sunday, 4 September 2016

EcoQuest - Manta and Whale - Won!

Written by Reiko

Adam Greene Journal #6: "I found a huge stash of chemicals leaking into the water! No wonder there’s so much dead stuff near this cave, and the Elurians are getting sick. Good thing I brought a transmitter with me. With that out of the way, it doesn’t take long to trace a harpoon line to Cetus. He’s in bad shape, and it’s up to me to help him, free Delphineus, and turn the tide of battle against the crazy manta!"

Last time I gathered all the items from the Oracle's prophecy, including a hazmat suit to protect me against the poison that's been leaking out and devastating the underwater city. Now I can swim through the wall and investigate it. Indeed, I find that there are barrels of chemical poison stashed in the cave, and several of the barrels are leaking (Ecological message +1).

Somehow Adam has everything he needs to mark a chemical spill for immediate cleanup.

Well, clearly this is what that transmitter is for that I picked up at the beginning of the game. I have to mark the location so that it can be cleaned up properly. The transmitter has to be attached to a buoy with a cable to anchor it to the location. So first I attach the toilet float to the steel cable to make the buoy [5]. Then I attach the transmitter to the buoy [5]. Then I can attach the whole thing to one of the barrels [5], which causes Adam to automatically deploy the end toward the surface to begin transmitting [10].

“Is that buoy a toilet float?”

There's a bit of a cut-scene where a ship notices the transmitter and divers come and collect the barrels and poison. Adam has to turn in the hazmat suit and the box it came in as evidence. The cleanup itself is summarized like this: "Adam watches from a distance as the divers carefully collect the drums. Grimly, they bear them to the surface and stow them on the boat for safe disposal on land. Adam gives the metal box and suit as evidence of illegal dumping. He returns to the reef to find Delphineus and continue the search for Cetus."

We're not done yet, since we haven't found Cetus or done anything about the Flesh-Eater manta. I also automatically get 20 more points, although I haven't done anything else yet.

There's nothing more to see in the cave where the poison was, so I move through the next opening into an open area with a view of an ominous underwater mountain in the distance that holds another dark cave. Nearby there's a harpoon boat with a harpoon gun that's been fired recently. I poke around a bit and try to pry open the boat's compartment, but suddenly the music turns ominous again!

Watch where you're going!

The huge manta appears from the mountain's cave and swims toward us. Adam and Delphineus automatically flee through several screens and then end up getting caught in that driftnet. For some reason, the manta doesn't attack right away. Delphineus begs Adam to save himself, but Adam doesn't want to leave his friend behind. He can't cut the net apart enough to free the dolphin, though. I get control back, but only long enough to use the sharp shell on the net [10], and then the manta scoops up the net with Delphineus still inside, knocking Adam aside in the process, and disappears into the distance toward its lair.

Chekov's harpoon. And the manta’s lair.

Okay then, now I have to rescue both Cetus and Delphineus, and at least one of them is now in the lair of a giant manta. Yikes. Well, I still need to check out that ship. I got the impression the manta doesn't care about me, so now that it already has Delphineus, I should be able to investigate the harpoon ship without attracting too much attention.

That's a whale of a...whale!

I swim back there and try again to use the trident on the ship's door [5]. This time I'm not interrupted, and it quickly pops open. But the line attached to the harpoon gun goes taut and I suddenly start hearing whale calls. Could Cetus be that close? I swim through the ship [5] and see that the harpoon line continues up above the ship. I follow it up, up, up, until suddenly Adam runs into the whale itself.

Cetus is very still, caught by the harpoon. I try to talk to him [10] and Adam approaches again and starts trying to find out what happened. But Cetus is too weak to say much, only that Flesh-Eater tricked him into the path of the whaling vessel that attacked him with the harpoon (Ecological message +1). I wondered briefly why the whaler didn't kill him, but since it's sunk, Cetus probably fought back but wasn't able to free himself. The barbed head of the harpoon is lodged in his mouth; the wound is infected, and he's also starved. Clearly I have to use the healing potion on him, but I have to get the harpoon out first.


The controls are awfully finicky here for some reason. I try to cut the harpoon, but it keeps saying I can't do anything useful this close to the whale. Well, how am I supposed to do anything farther away? I swim down to get back to the more distant view, but from there I still can't do anything with the cable, and I can't swim close again. Cetus' mouth is now opening and closing rhythmically, so apparently I need to swim inside his mouth to do something about the harpoon, but I click all over the screen with the swim icon and can't go anywhere. Finally I click with the hand on the harpoon and for some reason that makes Adam swim into the mouth.

Now the problem is clear: the harpoon is literally poked through the wall of the mouth, and the head is barbed so that there's no way to pull it out again. So I use the steel saw to cut through the shaft just behind the head [5]. Then I can click on the shaft, and Adam swims back out and pulls the harpoon out [5]. Now I use the healing potion on the wound [5]. Immediately Cetus wakes up and starts to recover.

Cetus speaks very loudly despite being weak.

Adam tells Cetus about Delphineus being captured by Flesh-Eater, which rouses the ire of the huge whale. He will call the predator out and deal with him, while we have to go into the lair and free Delphineus.

Delphineus is caught in the lair of the manta.

Saving Delphineus is rather anticlimactic, really. I can just swim right in, since Flesh-Eater is distracted by Cetus, and use the sharp shell again to cut Delphineus free [15]. Delphineus goes to the surface to breathe, while I go back to my vantage point by the harpoon boat.

The battle isn't going well.

Cetus was already wounded and weak, and the manta is pressing his advantage. Adam's got to do something else, but how can he do anything against such a huge opponent? Well, the only weapon we have that will be effective is that poisonous lionfish spine. The trick is getting close enough to use it. Fortunately the manta doesn't care about Adam right now. I try a few times to use it, but the timing is off. The manta sees him coming and swats him away.

Finally I trigger the attack at the right time so that Adam approaches the battle at the same time that the manta approaches Cetus. When the manta swings back out from his attack, Adam's already in position and strikes with the spine at one wing [20]. It doesn't seem to do anything right away, but it does slow the manta down long enough for Cetus to get in a solid hit with his tail, and by then the poison has stunned the manta.

Victory parade!

Delphineus returns and Cetus congratulates Adam on saving the day. He suggests that the manta was mutated by the chemicals, but over time may recover and return to being an ordinary manta. We'll hope he stays stunned long enough for Cetus to fully recover and be able to defend Eluria until he reverts. Then Cetus brings Adam back to Eluria riding on his back in a hero's parade. All the Elurians appear, and Cetus makes a little speech about Adam having proven that man can be a friend to the sea.

Are whales really that much bigger than dolphins?

Each of the citizens congratulates Adam in his own way. Finally, Cetus offers Adam Poseidon's conch [20] and a promise that if he blows it, help will come. Then Delphineus carries Adam back to the surface and there's a little scene with the two of them where Delphineus basically promises that Adam will see him again sometime.

The end...

The final scene shows Adam on a dock waving goodbye, with a constellation of a whale visible in the sky. Credits roll with triumphant music.

Inventory: oily rag, trident, sharp shell, fishbone tweezers, water pump, mirror, skeleton key, steel saw, prophecy scroll
Ecological message: 2 (17 total)

But it seems I've missed a few things, as I only have 679 points out of 725. The game is relatively easy and very forgiving in terms of plot, but it's a lot harder to get full points. After I finished the game, I went ahead and checked a walkthrough. Mostly I did all the environmental things right as far as cleaning up trash, but I missed a few actions here and there that didn't impact the plot.

I totally missed the water bottle next to the cage.

I missed a few things right at the beginning: you may remember I mentioned a poor thirsty hamster that I couldn't figure out how to help. There's a water bottle near the cage that can be used to give water to the hamster. Plus the fertilizer solution can be tested on some coral. It's experimental, so I guess it's good to have a test before trying to use it for the first time on the dirty coral in Eluria. I missed 14 points in the first room.

It's possible to play frisbee longer with Delphineus after he talks the first time, plus actually catching the frisbee gives points each time. I don't know why that matters, but I missed at least five points there. And I didn't examine the boat's propellers in that room (five points), so I probably missed some foreshadowing explanation about how dangerous they are to animals like manatees if they're not shielded.

Time to dive...with no oxygen hooked up?

Before I dove with Delphineus, I seem not to have explicitly put on my oxygen tank, even though it was with me as part of the diving equipment. I did notice that later it disappeared from inventory and I didn't know why. That's a really strange way to handle it, actually. Instead of preventing the player from diving before connecting the oxygen, or giving a message about running low on breath and then triggering a death if the player doesn't surface or connect the oxygen right away, the game just silently docks points and carries on.

I'm not surprised it doesn't do the latter since I don't think there's any way to actually fail or die in the game. But it's an odd sort of cruel to be so opaque about failure to do a critical action that then results in missed points, when normally that kind of failure would be fatal. At least with the six-pack, trashing it without cutting it triggers a message about Adam having a feeling that he missed something. Diving without using the oxygen gives no such message.

Delphineus did say to hide, but I didn't know I could do it on the same screen.

I also missed ten points later on by not hiding in the plants and waiting for the octopus to open the jar. I just swam to the next screen and came back. I don't know why it should matter if you hide and watch the octopus do it rather than swimming farther away. I'm glad the game was finishable and I didn't have to read the designer's mind on these puzzles.

So what did we learn from this game, class? Here are all the ecological messages I saw:
  • Oil slicks coat seagulls and make them dirty and unable to fly.
  • Fishermen catch dolphins in their nets along with fish.
  • Cans and bottles should be recycled rather than trashed.
  • Cruise ships dump their bilge into the sea, including all sorts of trash.
  • Balloons released at sea could drift hundreds of miles before sinking.
  • Trash can sink all the way to the ocean floor.
  • Spilled oil can coat coral and kill it over time.
  • Plastic baggies can trap fish.
  • Speedboat propellers can injure sea animals like manatees when they surface to breathe.
  • Phosphate pollution can cause algae to grow on some sea plants.
  • Chlorine bleach can poison fish.
  • Turtles can choke on deflated balloons.
  • The rings from six-packs of drinks can trap the snouts of fish, so they need to be cut apart before recycling.
  • Huge nets are death traps even for large sea mammals like dolphins.
  • Abandoned drilling rigs leave spilled oil and other mechanical garbage in the ocean.
  • Chemical poisons can leak out and contaminate large areas of ocean, killing everything nearby.
  • Harpoons from whaling vessels can injure whales without immediately killing them, leaving them to die a slow death from starvation.
Next up is the rating, where I'll consider the question of whether the educational content improved the game or not.

Session Time: 1 hour 0 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 15 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. Congratulations of getting through the game! I am interested to know whether you could see from EcoQuest that it was targeted for younger audience. Obviously, it has a child protagonist, but I was thinking more about the difficulty level - do you think EcoQuest is easier than an average Sierra adventure game?

    1. Yes, definitely. I'll talk more about that in the rating.

  2. Just a reminder that nobody's gotten the caption reference in the previous post yet. ("Good work, Mr. Greene, you've found cause of death.") I guess it's more obscure than I thought. If you have any guesses, you might want to post those before the final rating comes out this weekend.