Mike Dawson journal #3 : I’ve finally met the strange being that’s sending me messages and clues from the Dark World, the Keeper of Scrolls. With her help, I’ll have to destroy the Ancient Race and save the world… and all of that before the Alien Embryo I have in my brain blows my head off!
Before starting this post I wanted to tell you that I’m pretty sure I’m really close to the end of the game, however I’ve hit another roadblock and considering I wanted to avoid using any more clues and try to figure out one or two things for myself in this game, it might lead to a kinda short final gameplay post. After last post, I’ve spent quite a lot of time running in circles in the game, utterly and completely stuck, before resorting to read the three hints Ilmari left me after my first gameplay post.
|I have no idea what a Chanague Cointreauchet is but I’m pretty sure ANY wine from 1961 would be exactly my cup of tea.|
Decoded, these hints read as such :
a) He hasn't found a card of a library book within a jacket in his wardrobe. This card opens up a whole new line of puzzles to solve.
b) He hasn't been WITHIN the car, where he would have found a new inventory item and the radio he searched for.
c) He hasn't picked up a pixel-wide pin in the library.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered hint b by myself, as using the “walk” icon on the car works, contrary to the “use” icon. The hint c lead me to a few facepalms, five hours of self-flagellation and seven recitations of “Hail Ron Gilbert”. I’ve passed this screen 45 times or so and I’ve missed the pin on the ground. I agree it’s a pixel-wide one but it’s black so I could (I should) have seen it.
This lead me to think about the use of hints in adventure games. I think we’re all pretty much on the same page that we need to avoid hints. It’s not like any other game genre where you can enjoy playing even if you know what’s going on. Once you have the knowledge on how to progress in an adventure game, you can’t unlearn it (except maybe with several hits to the head, but this method is quite unreliable) and the knowledge is with you forever. If, lord forbids, I replay Dark Seed in 50 years, I’ll still remember to look into the pocket of the jacket. And that’s something I didn’t find for myself. I remember playing through Day of the Tentacle with a friend as a kid in one week-end, using a walkthrough very often. We still enjoyed the ride and loved every minute of it. However, these solutions stick with me to this very day and I’ll never be able to “properly” play one of the pinnacles of adventure gaming by myself.
So what to do when you’re stuck in an adventure game? I know for a fact that I would have found the pin in the library if I had spent several more hours looking around, but I’m pretty sure I would have never found the card in the jacket, leading to more and more irritation before I just give up the game or look at a walkthrough… Well, enough rambling for now, but I think we have a discussion matter on our hands.
So let’s proceed with the game, shall we?
|I’m only putting this screenshot again to be able to compete with Ilmari’s playing of steamy Fascination…|
|Would it be a Myst-like game, all these numbers would probably be codes for something.|
|Most boring Tomb Raider game ever|
|I maintain the crowbar would have been an easier solution|
- My predecessor have managed to bring back some kind of tool that would allow me to break the mirror and stop the ancients.
- The car in the garage mirrors the alien spaceship somehow and he trapped them on the ground by letting the car fall apart.
- He has hidden the key in a “special place”
- The police station is strongly mirrored in the dark world (duh)
Not really sure where I could go from there, I go back to my house and get picked up by the police, as usual when I decide to go out and dig out some graves… That’s where I realise there is now a pillow inside the cell where I can hide my pin, probably in order to retrieve in the Dark World.
|Come on, you’re an adventure game protagonist, you usually take everything that’s not nailed down!|
Not being able to find the diary page in the library by randomly clicking on books makes perfectly sense. You have to know that the diary page is in the Lord of the Rings book in order to be able to find it. Same thing if you randomly dig every grave in the cemetery, you won’t find what you need in Mc Keegan’s grave. That’s adventure game logic here, opposing the knowledge of the protagonist to the player’s. I accept this. It avoids players to just stumble around some kind of object before they need it. However, what I have a harder time to accept is the randomly appearing objects just because I know something. This pillow is never there before I read the diary page telling me that the police station is mirrored in the Dark World (which I was perfectly capable to realise myself sooner), leading to the impossibility of solving the “pin” puzzle before the “clock” puzzle. It doesn’t make sense and is bad game design as far as I’m concerned. The same example is overused over and over in Cruise for a Corpse and other examples, where you can search the same empty drawer twenty times before something suddenly appears in it “because it’s time”.
|Now they release me in an empty room with the gun still on the wall… That’s good police work if you ask me|
- Don’t touch the gun.
- Get busted by digging up graves
- NOW you can take the gun
If you take the gun too early, they get it back when putting you in jail (makes sense) and there is an officer there preventing you from taking it again. Said officer is nowhere to be seen if you don’t touch the gun before being sent to jail. If you go into the alien police station without the gun, the guard just kills you with it, so you’re supposed to do all of this in the correct order. All the other options are dead-ends. Stupid gun.
|Don’t get me started on the gun, dude.|
|What? All of this for this result? At least give me my crackers back!|
Exiting the cell, I encounter an alien prisoner called Sargo, that’s prepared to offer me the gift of invisibility in exchange for his freedom. I give him the pin and he gives me an invisibility hairband that only works once.
|Maybe he already has a pin and only tried to use it once nine years ago.|
|I am the Mother of the Dra… I mean the Keeper of the Scrolls|
|The third nightmare is featuring Michael Jackson!|
There is only one way for this whole game to make sense, it’s if Mike is totally crazy and the Dark World is just a part of his imagination. I certainly hope it’s the idea here, because it would mean the game is kinda brilliant instead of totally and utterly dumb. It would explain the shovel, the messages through the radio and this stupid microfiche. I guess we can always assume it’s the correct explanation, we’ll see if the ending hints anything in this direction…
So, assuming to what we learn in this VERY IMPORTANT ALIEN MICROFICHE, I’m guessing John hid the key to his car in the cellar so let’s go back there and wrap this madness…
As soon as I enter the house, the doorbell rings and the postman brings me another gift. On a side note, I’m pretty sure that the postman didn’t come in one of my playthroughs, probably leading me into a dead-end situation once again. I’m unsure if it’s relative to one of the things I’ve done or if the game is buggy.
|Then again, if I’m crazy, who’s sending me these gifts?|
I go to the cellar and, sure enough, I find a set of car keys under a rock. I go to the garage to try them on… The engine turns over but won’t start. Ok I get it, it’s the cell lock all over again. I try the key again…
|And again and again…|
Session time : 3 hours 30 minutes
Total time : 6 hours 30 minutes
Inventory : Axe handle, loose rock, car keys, stupid alien microfiche
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!