Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome back! Well, you’ve read the title already so you know that we are reaching the end of our Sherlock Holmes adventure. It’s been a fun ride. As I left off last week, I had just “solved” two more murders, the detectives hired by Anne Carroway, and captured their killer. Is that the end? Not quite. Although we have the triggerman, we do not have his boss: Lord Brumwell. My guess is that he is the ringleader behind all of these crimes, all in an attempt to keep the truth about Paul’s parentage (and his affair with Anne) out of the spotlight. My best lead right now is that the detectives supposedly had Anne’s missing pendant, but apparently not with them when Mr. Hunt killed them both. I’m going to start today by returning to their detective’s office to search for more clues where they might have hidden it, but we also still do not know where Anne is hiding and might have to track her down.

But before we get there, I have two quick notes. First, as you might have read on the Final Rating for Quest for Glory, I’d like to do an experiment: If you have been playing along or have played the game recently, I invite you to write up your own quick thoughts, just a couple of sentences, and send them to the blog. I’ll try to edit your thoughts into my Final Rating post as either an agreement or a counterpoint. We’ll see exactly how it looks when we get there and we’ll award some CAPs for anyone that participates. I also have a small CAPs contest for this game which I will talk about at the end of this post. Enough of that, let’s solve this case.

A signed confession!

I head to the detectives’ office and tell their secretary the bad news. Holmes tells her that we need to search for Mr. Gardner’s safe, although I’m not sure how we know he has a safe or if Holmes is just guessing. Is it just a “safe” bet? (I am sorry; I could not resist.) She lets us back into their inner office and finally we can explore. The last time we were here was just for a brief scripted sequence, but now we can pore over everything. As we search, we find that the pair took their jobs as detectives seriously and Holmes even says nice things about their reference materials. There’s an IOU left under the chair, but it takes a lot of pixel-hunting to find that some of the books on the bookshelf are a false front. We move them aside to reveal the safe, but it is (naturally) locked with a combination. What to do? In a moment of insight and/or desperation, I tried the piece of paper that we found in the pocket watch (the one I believed was the detective’s retirement date from the police force) and use that on the lock. It works! I guess he used something easy to remember as the combination. Finally, we have the pendant we have been searching for and (yes!) it has a letter inside.

The letter is nothing less than a full confession. Written by the Brumwell family physician, Dr. Theodore Smithson, it reveals that he delivered Anna’s child to Lord Brumwell and conspired to make it appear as if it was Lady Brumwell’s baby. It confirms that Anna was kept as the child’s wet nurse and then nanny, before being fired once Paul began to show too much affection for her. She was told by Lord Brumwell that she would be “destroyed” if she ever revealed their shared secret. Although Dr. Smithson was revealing this on his deathbed, he had the good sense to have a solicitor witness his confession. He says in the letter that Anna need only to bring his letter to a lawyer and she has the evidence to get her son back. I immediately take the letter to Anna’s lawyer, but he doesn’t have anything new to say. Neither does Scotland Yard. How can I use this to prove that Brumwell was ultimately responsible for all three murders?


What happened to your eyes?

Although it seems like I am walking into the lion’s den, I decide to try the source and returned to Brumwell’s mansion. We show the letter to Lady Brumwell and she finally agrees to let us speak with her husband. We are led into a dining room and Holmes cuts to the chase. After a few moments, Brumwell admits everything and agrees that he will immediately go to Scotland Yard and turn himself in. He also gives us the address to Robert Hunt’s flat. That is helpful and confirms without a doubt that Brumwell is the ultimate source of our troubles. He leaves. Game over?

No. It seems that Brumwell was not being as compliant as he appeared. He locked us in! We can’t seem to escape from either of the two sets of doors in the dining room. We desperately search around and while the sword above the fireplace appears to be a lever, it doesn’t seem to do anything. I eventually find that there is an unlocked safe behind the painting which contains a key. Excellent! Except that makes absolutely no sense that he would put the key to the room that he was in, in a safe, and then conveniently forget to lock the safe. Lucky us! Lady Brumwell is just outside the room, hysterical. Rather than going to Scotland Yard, Lord Brumwell is threatening suicide over exposure. As we leave the house, we find Mrs. Brumwell chasing her husband. We follow them.


Difficult to catch the action here. She is running after
her husband who just dashed down those stairs.


Down the stairs… and up to a bridge?

We chase Brumwell down his property to the bank of the river. He has somehow managed to get above us, onto the bridge, and he’s tied something to himself. As we watch, Brumwell leaps off the bridge and into the water. Holmes dives in after him, but it’s all for nothing. He drowns and the scene shifts back to Baker Street. That is not how I expected that to go. Now what? It’s still not game over, so what is left? Finding Anna? Delivering the letter to the solicitor?


“A place for everything, everything in its place.” - Benjamin Franklin

I have a new location on my map so that seems to be where we have to go next: Robert Hunt’s flat. We arrive and do the usual routine of searching everything. Mr. Hunt is clearly a man with some OCD problems and everything has been perfectly and tightly arranged. Holmes discovers that the trunk that he keeps near the bed has a false bottom, but we aren’t able to see any way to access it. Most everything else seems pretty normal, for a hired killer. In fact, too normal: Hunt kept a diary. A man that lives his life in the shadows, probably shouldn’t document it himself, but by reading it we learn that he was very interested in astrology and had a tight relationship with Madame Rose in Covent Garden, the same fortune-teller that I stumbled on earlier in the game. Watson also tells us that he smells the same tobacco in this room as we smelled at the Brumwell estate, but at this point that should be no surprise. At least, it connects the dots.


She should have known we’d be coming.

With no obvious way to open the hidden compartment in the chest, we go back to Rose’s shop. (I make sure to say hello to the flower girl, but she doesn’t have anything new to tell us.) This time, Rose is out and we are left to explore her office by ourselves. Behind the seance room is a little office and the desk there is locked. None of my keys work, so we’ll have to keep searching. By pixel-hunting, we also discover that one of the candles can be pulled to reveal a hidden strongbox behind the bookshelf. That is also locked so we’re at a double dead end.

With nothing left to do, I visit everywhere again looking for people with something new to say. Lady Brumwell will not see us. There is nothing new at the detective agency. Anna’s boyfriend Antonio flatly refuses to talk to us any further. The break is that we can visit Mr. Hunt in jail again. This time, we tell him what happened to Lord Brumwell. Holmes tells him that both Lady Brumwell and their butler will testify to his presence in their house and what he was doing for them. This blows away his claim that his actions at the railway station were self-defense and finally he cops to everything. He has one final boast: he captured Anna and while she is still alive, she will be dead before we can find her. On no!

I circled all of the rooms again to see if there are any differences, but there are not. Even Antonio who should be somewhat worried for his girlfriend’s imminent death doesn’t want to talk to us. It takes me far too long to work it out, but sometimes violence really is the solution: we can get to the secret compartment in the chest by smashing into it with the iron bar. No keys or fancy locks, just a piece of metal breaking a piece of wood. The compartment contains an astrology chart and some notes that suggest that Hunt and Rose are in love, though he doesn’t seem much the “love” type to me. That helps us not at all. I go through the room again and this time find the tiny, tiny object that I missed the first time: a bookmark on top of his diary is a separate item. If we pick it up, we see that it is actually a pawn shop ticket for the same shop that we visited earlier. I head back there immediately.


Reusing this location saved a ton of cash!

Handing over the claim ticket rewards us with a box of expensive tarot cards. I guess Mr. Hunt needed the cash and sold these? Or is it more like he is using the pawn as a sort of safe-deposit box? I have no idea. Inside the box is a key although I am not sure whether it was placed there by accident or on purpose. I expect the key opens the strongbox in Rose’s shop, but I am wrong: it opens her desk instead. That said, I am not very wrong because the desk also contains a key which opens the strongbox. That seems like complexity for its own sake… The box contains Rose’s papers (including her birth certificate and lease on the shop) as well as a receipt to a property down by the pier with a note from Roger to keep it safe. We head there next.


Holy damsel in distress, Watson!

We arrive at the pier and while everything looks normal at first, when we peer through the window we find that Anna is inside the building strapped to a chair. Worse, the whole thing has been made into an elaborate booby trap: a fuse to gunpowder which will blow up the place if we wait too long but which is also tied to the door. If anyone opens the door to rescue her, immediate “boom”. We can’t seem to climb in or break the window so we will have to come up with something else. Unfortunately, I come up with nothing. I can find no way in that doesn’t involve the door.

The game lets me leave and I rush back to Hunt for more clues, but he has nothing new to say. Antonio remains unhelpful. All that is left is to try random things. Nothing seems to do anything useful for the window so I start trying the door. When I use the hammer, the game tells me it isn’t strong enough. I take that hint and use the iron bar instead. Holmes pries open the door and I expect a death scene, but what I get instead is a nice voice-acted sequence.


Holmes and Watson rush inside. The “boom” isn’t as instantaneous as I thought.


Holmes rescues Anna, but Watson remains behind to defuse the bomb.


Boom! Watson’s hat flies out the door.


Anna is alive, but at what cost? What terrible cost?
Holmes examines Watson’s hat and is speechless.


But somehow Watson ducked into a trap door in time and was saved!
Or he’s a time traveling immortal! Or a vampire! Or he has plot armor!


Some time later..

After rescuing Anna and experiencing a heartfelt moment where Holmes allowed himself to fear, for just a moment, that his heterosexual life partner might have died in the resulting explosion, we are taken to the lawyer’s office to wrap up the case. Some time appears to have passed because we get updates on all of the major players. All the murderers were hanged, of course. Lady Brumwell collapsed into a deep depression and also died. Paul lost the only parents that he ever knew, but his birth mother regains custody of him. No mention is made of who now inherits the Brumwell lands and estates, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. Might have been better if Anna and Paul became wealthy over this. Is Paul the new Lord Brumwell?


Please wait until 1992 to make a game of this little adventure.

For good measure, we discover why this is a “Lost File” of Sherlock Holmes: Mr. Farthington kindly requests that Holmes and Watson keep this case under their hats to allow Anna and her son to have some privacy. Holmes and Watson agree. This is at least consistent with the canon as many of Holmes’s clients are aware that Watson documents their cases. A small handful at least (most notably, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, but there may have been others) had requested that details be changed or the case remain unpublished. We are taken back to Baker Street for some closing words and the game ends without even closing credits.


We also bought flowers for Mrs. Hudson. I hope she liked them. 

I have a lot to think about. I’ll leave the rest for the final rating, in a few days.

Time played
: 2 hr 40 min
Total time: 20 hr 20 min



An Unexpected Contest

If you have read this far, we have a small contest to announce. Each of the posts in this series have had a name that is based (in some way) on a famous non-Holmes detective story. How many of them can you name? Who are the detectives in each one? Do you have any favorite stories of theirs? We’ll give out CAPs to each correct answer.
  • “Murder”, He Wrote
  • “P” is for Pixel Hunting
  • The No. 1 Gentlemen’s Detective Agency
  • Fer-de-Fléchette
  • The Secret of the Old Smock
  • Lady in a Blue Dress
  • Murder on the 9:10 Express to Bedford
And as I mentioned at the top, I’d love to read your mini-reviews. Send your thoughts to adventuregamer@googlegroups.com and I’ll edit and format them to include in my final rating. We may not include them all if there are too many, but you will receive CAPs either way.

See you soon for the final rating!

18 comments:

  1. Okay, let's have a crack at this contest...

    1. Zheqre, Fur Jebgr - Natryn Ynafohel

    2. Z vf sbe Zheqre - abg fher - fbzrbar cynlrq ol Wnzrf Pntarl creuncf?

    3. Frrzf snzvyvne ohg V'z qenjvat n oynax

    4. Serapu vf nyy terrx gb zr.

    5. Gur Frperg bs gur Byq... Pybpx? - fbhaqf Anapl Qerjvfu

    6. Ynql va n Erq Qerff - orpnhfr nyy fgbevrf zragvbavat jbzra'f qerff pbybhef vaibyir erq

    7. Zheqre ba gur Bevrag Rkcerff - Qbpgbe Jub, be creuncf Urephyr Cbvebg

    ReplyDelete
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    1. 7. might also be a reference to 4.50 sebz Cnqqvatgba with Zvff Znecyr as the hero.

      2. is probably a play of that Fhr Tensgba'f nycunorgvpny frevrf V'ir arire ernq. Hero seems to be called Xvafrl Zvyubar.

      Delete
  2. Good one,

    My thoughts:

    It's not imperative to find the hidden compartment in Robert Hunt's chest, it's just flavor, you only need the bookmark.

    It's also optional to go to talk the Mr Farthington (the lawyer), you can skip that location and still win the game (which will still show you the same sequence, presumably Anna takes you to his lawyer).

    You also missed the final dialogue (from the screenshots) that announces that there's still someone out there, who thinks is better than Holmes. At the time, I always thought it was Jack the Ripper, then as I grew older, Moriarty. But in canon, he only appears once, in the adventure of the final problem (go watch Jeremy Brett tv series now, best Holmes ever). So it's not really clear who he was talking about (the sequel doesn't address this).

    Nice post

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    1. Also, I was under the impression that the ending sequence with the bomb, that you could see the trapdoor next to Watson when he was disarming the bomb.

      Either Im misremembering, or something else is going on, because I don't see it in your screenshots

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    2. I wasn't sure to make of the final dialog. It's just a throwaway line where Watson says that no one can be Holmes's equal and Holmes responding that there already is a master criminal that thinks he is. It seemed a Moriarty reference that wasn't connected to the rest of the game, so I mostly just ignored it. It could also be a sequel hook.

      This story is set in 1888 while "The Final Problem" (the only real Moriarty story) is in 1891. "The Valley of Fear", the other Moriarty story, is undated but probably took place around the same time as this game. My guess is that is what they were going for.

      Delete
    3. Are you saying that Moriarty appeared in exactly the same amount of Sherlock Holmes stories as Star Trek stories? I'm quite surprised!

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    4. Actually, Star Trek wins this one. Moriarty appeared in two TNG episodes ("Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle") while being mentioned in at least one more, a Voyager episode.

      He only appears in one Holmes story ("The Final Problem") and is an unseen background character in two more ("The Empty House" and "The Valley of Fear").

      I think that means that Star Trek wins. Moriarty and Irene Alder appear in a disproportionate role in all of the Holmes spin-offs because they were such memorable characters, but Sir Doyle didn't use them more than once each.

      Delete
  3. And so ends one of the great adventure games! I believe it has set a new high standard that further games will be compared to, and whatever flaws it may have are pretty minor.

    One thing that I don't think has been yet is the excellent soundtrack, which sounds particularly beautiful on a Roland MT-32: https://youtu.be/xSGRwRh9YRI

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The OST is one of my personal favorites, I talked about it in previous posts, personally I prefer the adlib one (I don't think anyone uploaded it), I have ripped it a decade ago. And again, my favorite tune is the one inside detectives Moorehead and Gardner office, very haunting.

      Also, I've done a little research on why the songs are generally not looped (some of them do), and it's unclear if it's actually a bug, or they intended to have the rooms silent after a couple of minutes.

      I think the 3DO version fixes the music looping, and someone made an official patch for the DOS version.

      Delete
  4. >I invite you to write up your own quick thoughts,
    >just a couple of sentences, and send them to the blog.

    For clarity, are we supposed to provide our own PISSED ratings too, or only opinions in written form?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was imagining just thoughts not a numeric score. Not really sure how this will play out so let's see what people send in and how many, but I'll do my best to include representative thoughts in the final rating.

      Delete
  5. >the desk also contains a key which opens the strongbox.
    >That seems like complexity for its own sake…

    The strongbox should've contained smaller boxes matryoshka doll style, in the final one residing their backup key.

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    1. It's just a hurdle that seems unnecessary. Having a key to open a chest which contains the key to another chest in the same room seems excessive, like a puzzle for a puzzle's sake. Except it hardly was a puzzle because at that point we knew we were looking for that key.

      The better lock puzzle was using the combination/date found in the pocket watch as the combination for the safe in the detective's office. That one was at least pretty clever.

      Delete
  6. Lets try the Unexpected Contest:

    1) "Zheqre, Fur Jebgr", n GI-Frevrf - Qrgrpgvir vf Wrffvpn Syrgpure

    2) Gur "Nycunorg Zlfgrevrf", jevggra ol Fhr Tensgba, Qrgrpgvir vf Xvafrl Zvyyubar

    3) "Gur Ab.1 Ynqvrf Qrgrpgvir Ntrapl" ol Nyrknaqre ZpPnyy Fzvgu, Qrgrpgvir Cerpvbhf Enzbgfjr

    4) V unir ab pyhr

    5) "Gur Frperg bs gur Byq Pybpx" - Qrgrpgvir Anapl Qerj

    6) "Qrivy va n Oyhr Qerff" ol Jnygre Zbfyrl, Qrgrpgvir Rnfl Enjyvaf

    7) "Zheqre ba gur Bevrag Rkcerff" ol Ntngun Puevfgvr, Qrgrpgvir Urephyr Cbvebg


    V´z vagevthrq ol Ahzore 4.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Regarding Number 4, could be Wrna-qr-Syberggr sebz Znepry Cntaby, ohg guvf vf abg n qrgrpgvir be zlfgrel abiry nf sne nf v xabj.

      Delete
  7. I know others have answered already, but here are my answers for the contest (I haven't looked at any of the ROT13 yet):

    “Zheqre”, Ur Jebgr - Zheqre, Fur Jebgr, jvgu qrgrpgvir Wrffvpn Syrgpure

    “C” vf sbe Cvkry Uhagvat - C vf sbe Crevy, ol Fhr Tensgba, jvgu cevingr-rlr Xvafrl Zvyyubar

    Gur Ab. 1 Tragyrzra’f Qrgrpgvir Ntrapl - Ab. 1 Ynqvrf' Qrgrpgvir Ntrapl, ol Nyrknaqre ZpPnyy Fzvgu, jvgu "qrgrpgvir" Cerpvbhf Enzbgfjr

    Sre-qr-Syépurggr - Sre-qr-Ynapr, ol Erk Fgbhg, jvgu qrgrpgvir Areb Jbysr

    Gur Frperg bs gur Byq Fzbpx - Gur Frperg bs gur Byq Pybpx, gur svefg Anapl Qerj zlfgrel, ol Pnebyla Xrrar

    Ynql va n Oyhr Qerff - Ynql va gur Erq Qerff, jvgu cevingr rlr Wnpx Jvagref, ol Wnzrf G. Ebtref VVV

    Zheqre ba gur 9:10 Rkcerff gb Orqsbeq - Zheqre ba gur Bevrag Rkcerff, ol Ntngun Puevfgvr, jvgu qrgrpgvir Urephyr Cbvebg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some more comments on the series for these:

      "Zheqre, Fur Jebgr": V'ir bayl frra n yvggyr ovg bs gur GI frevrf: zbfgyl jung V erzrzore vf gung bcravat frdhrapr jvgu gur byq znahny glcrjevgre.

      Fhr Tensgba zlfgrevrf: V bja gur svefg frireny naq unir ernq cebonoyl unys bs gur frevrf, ohg V qba'g erzrzore C fcrpvsvpnyyl. Gur dhnyvgl vf cerggl harira, ohg gur rneyvre barf ner trarenyyl orggre, V guvax, orpnhfr gur cnpvat vf fanccvre.

      Ab. 1 Ynqvrf' Qrgrpgvir Ntrapl: V ernq gur svefg bar n ybat gvzr ntb. V qvqa'g svaq vg ratntvat rabhtu gb ybbx sbe zber.

      Areb Jbysr zlfgrevrf: V'ir ernq n pbhcyr, ohg abg guvf bar. Zl vzcerffvba jnf gung Areb'f yvxr n irel jrnygul naq irel sng Fureybpx Ubyzrf, pbzcyrgr jvgu nffvfgnag jub jevgrf qbja gur pnfrf.

      Frperg bs gur Byq Pybpx: Anapl Qerj vf abfgnytvp sbe zr. V sbhaq n qbhoyr rqvgvba bs Byq Pybpx naq gur frpbaq obbx ng n obbx fnyr erpragyl naq unq gb trg vg naq ernq vg. V qba'g guvax gurl'ir ntrq jryy (Uneql Oblf rvgure), ohg vg jnf fgvyy sha gb ernq.

      Ynql va gur Erq Qerff: Unira'g ernq.

      Zheqre ba gur Bevrag Rkcerff: V'ir ernq gur obbx, fbzr gvzr ntb, naq V'ir orra zrnavat gb cynl gur nqiragher tnzr onfrq ba vg, ohg V unira'g tbggra nebhaq gb vg. Va trareny, V ybir Ntngun Puevfgvr, gubhtu, naq unir ernq dhvgr n ybg bs ure obbxf. V bja n snveyl rkgrafvir pbyyrpgvba bs byq cncreonpxf gung zl uhfonaq obhtug zr ng n tnentr fnyr, naq V'ir fybjyl orra jbexvat zl jnl guebhtu gurz. Zl snibevgr vf Naq Gura Gurer Jrer Abar (ure frys-qrfpevorq znfgrecvrpr). V fubhyq erernq vg ntnva fbba.

      Delete
  8. Congratulations on finishing the game and with minimal help as well. To be fair, though, it seems like it was relatively simple to beat. As I was playing along, I might give some of my thoughts (even though I finished a good few weeks before you did):
    For a start, I liked the atmosphere and the setting. OK, it's late Victorian London, so you can rarely mess this up, but still I think they did a good job, with all the roundabout ways of expressing their opinions (whether good or bad).
    As for the puzzles, I found them a bit too simple and many consisted of just looking around and insist on talking multiple times. So, it felt more like an interactive story. An interesting one nevertheless.
    Finally some kudos for the redundancy of mouse and keyboard commands. I found mouse on dosbox a bit clunky sometimes, but intuitive one-letter commands came to save the day.

    That's it. Thanks for covering the game.

    ReplyDelete