Tuesday 7 February 2017

Eternam - Parlez vous francais?

written by Aperama

I've probably spent more time ragging on France and its bizarre adventure game design choices than I'm probably allowed without becoming known as an enemy of the state. I mean, I live an awful distance from France anyhow, so I could probably continue with impunity, but that's not to say that I should continue to blithely fire away for no good reason. Eternam has provided some laughs. I can't deny it, there's been an occasional snort here and there. The game has so many flaws that they're just not worth the laughs, though. When I was (far too young to be playing) Leisure Suit Larry 3, I found the same issue that could easily have dogged my progress in this game. See, not only does this game have its bizarre first person map issues, but in the more traditional 'adventure game' pieces of the game, it's very easy to fail in finding exits from rooms.

On the main map, we're playing Space Invaders..

Where here, I have to ignore no less than three obvious exits which.. aren't
Again, there are some places within Middleville which are 'obvious' exits that are just there to tease, where there are some 'lips' to exits off screen that barely show the option to move through an area. I can live with 'this door is locked', but when the door is closed with a key hanging out of it and can't be opened.. this just feels somehow counter intuitive. Again, I don't need pure '1+1=2' logic, but I do need some degree of coherence in a game before I'm stuck clenching my teeth a touch. The good news is that I managed to get through the entirety of Dorsalis after much trial and error. Or rather, I hope that I don't need to head back to this island of literal thieves, murder and general ne'er-do-wells.

The Monty Python is strong with this one

So, the schtick of this island (as Ilmari mentioned in the comments of the previous post) is that it's 'French Revolution World'. There was a Baron who ruled over everyone quite happily, and then when he died his two sons took over leading to the mania which surrounds the island. Two Barons, zero cohesion. This is why they're so quick to kill you, apparently. As I was a bit lost at the end of my last post, I'd just finally found my way to Middleville again.. only to discover that on trying to buy my compass, I now had no GP to speak of. Turns out I was robbed whilst exploring (it actually ended up being the 'bookkeeper' who knocked off my not so-hard earned) so I made my way around the countryside in an attempt to find Middleville again. (It wasn't in the 'middle', just for the record.) After playing Space Invaders (no wait, Galaga as I'm able to move on four planes) for a bit, I ended up finding Marianne, the daughter of the lovely elderly woman in Cauda.

The use of the bonnet rouge is the main hint that we're in Revolution-world

Meanwhile, in another house, I'm finding it's done doggy style

Travelling further still, I end up at the house of what ended up being Charlotte. I didn't realise this at first. See, walking straight up leads to an instant death with 'Rex' from the castle in Cauda making an inordinately long run up to greet me. I worked out after a bit that this was because I was nearing the other dogs, not because I had actually made any missteps – it turns out that simply walking without nearing the dogs leads to Charlotte, a local who is spoken of by huge swathes of people within the rest of Middleville. I had figured at first that this 'Charlotte' would actually be not only within Middleville itself, but to have the 'c' and 'e' removed from her name. Instead, I found an abstract artist..

I am not kidding – the game literally zooms in on the.. lower left quadrant of the screen here

Turns out she's the easy way to get money in Dorsalis. Much like the Duke in Cauda, she'll continually give you money so that you're never left broke – she offers it so that you'll be able to spread her 'abstract art' to all of the nearby galleries. She doesn't even give away any of her art to show as a sample – she just hands over the GP and expects we'll be honest and caring. Sense? Who needs sense when you have Eternam? Given I already inspected the inn (with nothing much found within), there was only one building left outside of the main town. It never clearly explained who the lady was, but it was clear that she wasn't the friendliest..

Stepping on the lady's cat does not bode well

Speaking with this old bat, I'd have first insisted that her whole house was just an excuse to pad out the game's length – but this game hasn't truly had a great many red herrings to speak of as yet. Of course, what seems almost the mandatory 'stupid death' I've listed above – I didn't even realise I was walking into the cat when I was eviscerated for it, as I was just trying to walk around the house and find things to interact with. For all that the game uses the weird 'dotted line' to inform you of nearby items, it's still painfully short on actually giving these opportunities up, with the 'look', 'use' and 'take' functions going largely unused much of the time. This leads to the game being padded out instead by stupid 'walk on lawn' styled-deaths. After a rare opportunity of exhausting all of her dialogue choices, she seems to just be here to say that I can find a black market in Middleville by using the codeword 'strong' at the Middleville tavern. Not the best codeword in the world!

You say 'one GP', I say 'compass'

Not pictured here is Gonzo's boxers falling down. (Y'know, for the faint of heart.)

So, on finding this way of reliably finding ten GP and having exhausted most all other options (worth note is that another NPC out and about tells me that the password is 'argumentativeness', but I'm not sure at all what exactly this is the password for), I'm back to Middleville. I again buy a compass. I can afford it with the money given by Charlotte, but I had to show a little curiosity as to the fisherman at the entry to the town telling me I could get 1 GP (exactly what I'd need for a compass) were I just to fight Gonzo, the big Butterbean lookalike in the middle of the town. He has an iron strapped to one of his arms, so it's easy to tell he's out for a fair fight! The game gives about ten seconds for an inventory reaction before he splatters us into oblivion. I figured this an inventory puzzle, and as I'd just loaded up on crud in a screen nearby ('useless thermometer', 'rackets', 'canis crotus' and 'a key') I figured this'd be an easy fight. Turns out I just needed Ethelred's knife – Don throws it, it leaves him without his boxers and he falls to his ass, too embarrassed to continue. Easy 1GP! Guess this covers someone who didn't find Charlotte or the back way into the Duke's suites.

My escape from Dorsalis is near, even though I've not really done much here

But there again, I literally used this joke in an earlier post!

I'm not sure if the tavern is actually useful. It easily could be – I just don't know. The ferry gives my next destination rather clearly, saying I need 'two lots of authorisation' in order to head on. Mind, I still have no reason to head on at this point. I'm still searching the island for my initial impressions of what is going on. No mention of the boat or son of Ethelred from Cauda, just new craziness. I head into the inn (largely because I know I have my 'strong' codeword) but it really doesn't seem to do much. There's a black market guy who offers 'weapons' (which I am told I don't have the money for), whiskey and a few 'special items' which are either not in stock or not something he sells. I may need to get dialogue further on and come back here, I suppose. Again, I found myself lost here, so I decided to try getting sentenced to death again. Y'know, just for the laughs.

Cue 'the Great Escape' theme

Wait.. 'Stomaca'? Seriously?

Escaping my death sentence was not the arduous process I had feared it might be. Turns out, I just had to choose a different option in dialogue. The two outside the window just need to be sweet talked then bribed in order to make my way out. The fact that you're killed just for choosing the wrong dialogue option is freaking ridiculous, but anyhow. Turns out you can just pull the wall apart. The guy outside even reminds Don to replace the bricks so that other people can continue just walking out. Oh, this doesn't make Don a wanted man, mind. It just means that I can now walk on 'the grass' to enter one of the two Barons' mansions. I'm still a touch sore about this as I wasn't even walking on the grass – just adjusting my movement to walk through the door. I speak to this Baron, and he gives the authorisation with essentially no qualms apart from 'everywhere else is pretty nasty though!' I guess the 'puzzle' for this is not getting executed by randomly picking the correct dialogue option. And having 1GP. Hooray.

Polly's attempts to change the game from within fell upon deaf ears, apparently

Baron #2 is a little bit of a cinephile

Not that he mentions it as he tries to strongarm us into spying on his wife

All that remained within the Baron de BasseVille (the first of the two.. this is probably a joke somewhere I'm not getting outside of 'little Louis') was a parrot and a cook. The cook can be conned into giving me some parrot crackers. The parrot takes the crackers and gives me some more useless information (I need authorisation from Baron de HauteVille, the other Baron! What a surprise!) I then spent ten minutes trying to find the other Baron's manor. Turns out I have to go beneath the compass salesman. The bottom left side of the screen. Not the bottom side, which has two exits, but the bottom of the left. Larry 3 all over again, as I say. Long story short, after fluking this much, dealing with HauteVille's problems is easy. He believes his wife is cheating on him (but won't say so in as many words) and wants to have evidence of the man she's seeing. We have a 'medieval camera'. Seems pretty simple!

If any of you look at this screen and guess where to go, you're a better adventurer than I

The father-daughter duo here are largely unexplained – maybe later?

Oh, by the way, there's a subplot to this game that can barely keep its main story together

The effort of snooping on the Baroness is, as mentioned, not hard. I just need to approach the room from its left hand side door, where there's a permanent cabaret act between a piano playing father and his daughter, who is mentioned by many as being the 'most beautiful in the land'. No idea why this is going on with nobody watching, but.. it is. Snooping, it turns out that the Baroness is actually working for Nuke, the bad guy which is mentioned at this point only on the back of the box cover of the game. He's the bad guy that Don is out to stop. Or ends up deciding to on his holiday, maybe. Not really too clear, as literally all I know is from the box given the 'escapada manual' I went through earlier, and I'm not really too interested in reading that poorly written back story regardless. Anyhow, our illicit photography leads to authorisation from the second Baron to leave to Stomaca. It also leads to the piano player's daughter being kidnapped, and us having the camera spirited away. Turns out the Baron is more interested in it than the actual evidence of his wife's potential cheating. Oh, Eternam. You'll never learn. The ferry takes us away, leaving me with no impression that I've accomplished anything. This'll do me for now. I have walls to headbutt.

I'm frightened as to what 'bizarre' could mean, given how this game has been going..


Time played: 5 hours all up?
Mental age increase after playing: Napoleon Bonaparte, post-Waterloo

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. Tous saluent nos seigneurs français. Toute notre base sont appartiennent à eux. Nous sommes sur le chemin de la destruction. Ha ha ha.


  1. The trend of baffling inventory items continues. What the heck is a "canis crotus?"

    1. I guess it's just a not so funny astronomical/mythological joke. Canis is Latin for dog and there are at least two constellations with that name (Canis Major and Canis Minor). Crotus or Krotos "was renowned for being both an excellent hunter and a devoted adherent of the Muses and their arts. He is credited with having invented archery and being the first to use bow and arrows for hunting animals. He is also said to have introduced applause, as he would clap his hands at the singing of the Muses, for whom this was a sign of acclaim preferable to any verbal ones. To commemorate his diligence, the Muses asked Zeus to place him among the stars, which he did, transforming Krotos into the constellation Sagittarius" (Wikipedia).

    2. I'm beyond trying to work this game out, Voltglass. I'm essentially just staring at the screen in incredulity much of the time.

  2. Just chiming in to pick this nit: you cannot go up or down in Galaga! (apologies in advance if you meant something entirely different by "being able to move on four planes")

    Also pleased to see my memories of Eternam were pretty accurate :-D

    1. I always thought that was the difference between the two games. If I'm wrong, I'll happily own up to my lacking knowledge! :)

    2. Yeah, basically all of the early Space Invaders derivatives offered only one axis of movement but modified mainly the way enemies behaved. Galaxians introduced squads that teared off the main pack to dive-bomb you, while Galaga (my personal favorite) had special enemies that could capture your ship (and if you had a spare, you could free the captive and have it fight alongside your current ship for dual-shot action!)

      If believe you might be thinking of the similarly named Gaplus, which indeed offered more freedom of movement, and was substantially harder.

    3. It's entirely possible. Or, indeed, I've only played Galaga as a 'fan-build' et al which comes with - I'm a touch young for the days it was in arcades, with the oldest machine I think I've ever seen being a vintage Tapper unit (y'know, the one with the 'pour' lever and a joystick to go up and down).