Saturday, 25 February 2017

Eternam - Through the Stargate

written by Aperama

I'm definitely regretting extending my last play post at this point. See, my previous post was spent running around making useless conversation with dozens upon dozens of bad spoof characters to pop culture. It generally involved too much insanity to actually be swallowed in one sitting. Inversely, this time around was the new island of 'Paw' – or as I thought of it mentally, 'Egypt-land'. The parallels to Westworld would be far cleaner in this instance were the game just slightly better grounded in anything – reality would be nice, but I'd even settle for something as steady as pudding at this rate. There are a total of six NPCs within this island, counting the genie who can trick you into a bottle and the Japanese photographer (stereotypes, ha ha!) who will then save you from it if you make the mistake of taking his offer of 'all of the genie's power'. It's as though they ran out of ideas for characters to speak to, and just figured 'eh, we'll put all of the game's puzzles here instead'.

Welcome to the 'giant tomb'

This section really turns more Myst crossed with a bad action game than it does any of the previous gameplay. For the first point in the game, there becomes a legitimate use for the (fireballs? Laser beams?) that Don fires out. It again took me far longer than it possibly should have to work this out – again, the game throws in a new gameplay mechanic without giving any inkling that it is going to be important. This game is so sorely missing the use of mouse controls and context sensitive iconography that it is painful. Anyhow. Essentially, the toilet transporter from the last island sends us here to Paw, and we land near a road which leads to two things – a sign and a pyramid. What you're supposed to do is walk into the pyramid, walk to the right, pick up a 'Rosy Stone' (because clearly Rosetta must have been trademarked or somesuch) and take it back to Spot in Futureworl.. uhm, Cauda. Instead, I walked straight to the aforementioned genie because.. genie.

I was rather hoping that this was the game's canon ending, but it immediately goes to another screen where the photographer lets you out

The genie's room leads to an Indiana Jones-like room where Don has to walk along things in a particular order to proceed. What I didn't realise at the time was that I was meant to be using the Rosy Stone to learn the Egyptian alphabet (which is actually somewhat accurate to be fair after some quick Googling) by taking it back to Spot. It just gives the alphabet on a screen for the one snippet, but this would have required a pen and paper back in the day this game was made as they don't simply allow you to 'look' at an item already in your inventory. Again, doomed by the interface to further mediocrity – apologies if I continually harp on here. You're then let further into the tomb after walking from A to Z, where you can either move into a room which looks like a dead end, or one with a gigantic scorpion which vacuums you in and kills you with its immense claws.

Walking between 'd' and 'e' here..

Again, this list isn't actually too far out – this may have had actual research put in!


This is where the game becomes an extremely awkward action game. This one fight is actually won by 'speaking' – there's no way of making the scorpion die through those fireballs. Getting through there leads to another set of rooms where several Don clones arrive and have to be killed through fireballs. I literally don't know why we had to fight the scorpion – there's no obvious reasoning given, and maybe it's just an Easter egg I could have avoided. I was also disappointed that the other areas didn't offer a way outside of holding the space bar key down. That said, it was somewhat valuable for learning that there was going to be my lot for the following little while. I did not think of fighting my way out at the time – I instead decided that there had to be an inventory solution and walked back outside to see if there was anything to assist with scorpion fighting.

Ironically, this conversation was only helpful because I screen grabbed 'KHEOPS' in the background there

The people out and about were not of use. As I say, there's only six NPCs to speak with on the entire island, with an additional conversation with Spot after handing the Rosy Stone over explaining what we're likely doing on Paw – retrieving the 'Staff of Miniaturisation', which was lost by 'Hardel' after 'Laury' obtained 'Staff of Duplication'. (They apparently went into construction together then fought after 'Laury' broke his staff trying to create another one of the one owned by 'Hardel'.) Otherwise, we have 'can't get off of the island' lady, 'brother of the skeletons in Cauda', 'big bad soldier who warns us about the Dragoons' and of course, 'guard who tells us how nasty the Dragoons are but also asks for a single GP'. The entire island is barren, sandy and featureless apart from the ever present random enemies.. oh, and still shots of elephants. Elephants! I'm aware they can live in deserts, but it's scarcely the norm. Anyhow, I figured out what to do with the Rosy Stone, headed back into the tomb and.. got a bit lost again.

Answer pictured here – guess what I'm doing. I dare you.

So, it turns out that in the side not inhabited by the scorpion, there's a wall mural with a 'sceptre' on it. This sceptre can be taken, which leaves you able to walk up to the next wall and 'use' the sceptre underneath a goblet being held by another wall mural. This can then be drunk to open the door to the tomb. Why? No idea! We don't deal with logic here in Eternam. We barely deal with plot. Still, after yet another random solution found (I actually tried using the 'Rosy Stone' at random points along the wall, but had the sceptre in the next slot along and accidentally used it instead) we're led to a room with yet more utter confusion.

Here's a shot of me killing snakes. They're in the way of me yelling so that Don can get the mirror off of that wall

Indiana Jones, Superman and a Japanese photographer walk into a bar, and..

Apparently, 'real life' Don shares Guile from Street Fighter's haircut

After getting two pieces of glass from the broken mirror, we then have to walk into a room with an obvious trap which will leave Don literally squished into the wall as a permanent imprint. Walking up to it with the 'big piece of glass' in inventory has it automatically fall onto the 'x' which is blatantly a trap, though, because apparently we need three 'small piece of glass' items. (We do, in reality.) See, the big 'puzzle' of the tomb was shown off in an earlier picture. We need to grab three statues from a wall, perform a 'blood ritual' into a permanently static goblet with a knife and then set the statues into the shape of a triangle. This generates a gigantic light which comes from above, and after being reflected several times unlocks a way into the middle of the tomb, where 'Hardel' buried himself in grief over the loss of his friend. I don't get why they bothered with the unfunny names here. If I was to be truly mocking, I'd have just called them both 'Steve' or something. Guess I just don't understand the French humour?

Meanwhile, 'Mikhal Nuke' makes his second appearance because.. well, we enter a room

Some degree of this is made fairly obvious – walking in, the 'triangle' of different colours was shown in a little cut off screen as I showed at the start of this post. Of course, I grabbed all of the statues without realising that some of them had to be left against the wall to reflect the light created later on, but that's neither here nor there. What continues from here is a completely unmappable set of rooms. They just don't connect logically. Even if one room is 'larger' than another, the rooms still wouldn't fit in any sort of floor plan. I won't go into my efforts to map the confusing rooms, but instead say that it turns out one throwaway item from earlier is imperative now. If I didn't grab the 'rackets' back in Dorsalis, literally just random inventory fodder which was sitting upon the wall, I'd have died multiple times over and likely given up. See, some of the rooms have what I'm guessing is supposed to be quicksand. Why? No freaking clue. Just do. You have to have the 'rackets' in your inventory, as they're instantly strapped to Don's feet as soon as the floor starts to give way. I only realised this as they're later required to be selected or again.. you die with no real rhyme nor reason given.

This is at least explained in a 'plaque' on the wall of the room with the quicksand

Again, the layout is explained well..

.. while broken mirrors make a highly unlikely deal of refracting an unsteady light source

This is one of those puzzles that is plain old 'moon logic'. See, what you have to do is go back to the room where the sceptre is taken from the wall, which creates a light where you use the broken bits of mirror to reflect it. It's a puzzle that more or less solved itself for me, as certain items work without 'using' them. I did have to select the statues when placing them, but not the glass – it just drops when you walk into the place you need them, meaning that even if you somehow struggled with it the game would largely solve itself. The less intuitive section involves randomly loading up the 'rackets' once you reach the final point where the light hits, as I stated earlier. The room fills with sand from the ceiling – if you don't have them selected as the active inventory item, you die. If you do, you float to the top. It's just not how sand works!

Blub blub.

The Sphinx looks really angry!

Again, the game leads to another short 'quiz' to pad out content. There's only one question that relies upon knowledge from within the game (using the word 'Kheops' which is apparently a pseudonym of Khufu) – I got all of the questions right on the first attempt, and didn't care enough to go back and find out what would have happened if I'd failed. This leads to the tomb itself, a mummified corpse clenching a Staff of Miniaturisation. So eager to work out what it actually did, I used it and.. the entire tomb shrunk around me. I did not expect this. (It doesn't work anywhere else – I guess it's just the exit from the sealed tomb.) Once more I found a puzzle intuitive here – I knew there was the station back in Stomaca where I simply needed a boat to continue.. and a huge boat in the middle of a certain castle back on Cauda. Turns out the boat was reused, GregT - just not in a true 'puzzling' fashion. Sure enough, this led off as I felt it might – and with that, I'm off to the final island. I hope it's the final island. It's the final island, right?

Don decided to use his Staff of Miniaturisation for the only thing he could think of – novelty hat creation

Time played: I could have watched the original Star Wars trilogy twice by now
Mental age increase after playing: “Mummy!”

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. Just tell me, am I up to the last island? It needs to be the last, right? They must be not have been able to parse more horrible pictures onto a diskette.

1 comment:

  1. Only just read this and was surprised to find my name in the middle of the article. Thanks.
    That colour sequence on the boat STILL looks like it should be a code or something. I guess this is just absolutely not my kind of game.

    I wasn't clear if you got that Laury and Hardel are a play on comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, known for slapstick and surrealism. I assume your quote marks mean that you did, but you just don't find it funny. (Neither do I, but it's less random than some of the other stuff.)