Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Amazon - Treehouse of Horror

Written by TBD.

Jason Roberts Journal Entry 4: Determined to get inside a treehouse, Maya and I decide to attempt some acrobatics. Will we find the Swiss Family Robinson inside? I can only hope...

When we last left our heroes, they had just followed Professor Stroheim's directions and found a treehouse in the jungle. We'd made a see-saw, but the game didn't let me do anything with it (or so I thought).

I'd tried walking up it, but it merely seemed like I was walking behind it (perhaps another example of my poor skill at navigating in a 2d perspective.)

I couldn't climb any of the trees, including the stump. I'd tried everything with both characters, including using all my items on all the items on the screen. Eventually I accidentally found the answer.

This worked only because I coincidentally had Maya near the end of the see-saw

Why did it take me 26 minutes to work this out? I blame the unclear interface.

Putting the plank on the rock never makes the plank a usable item. In order to try exactly what ended up working, I'd tried CLIMB ROCK. I'd tried moving my character along the plank to see if that worked. I'd tried climbing the stump.

Note Jason's position. That's where he ended up when I tried climbing the plank in order to reach the stump via the branch.

Anyway, I was on the platform now so I should stop complaining. Navigating the rest of the treehouse section is quite straightforward.
  • Maya climbs the clinging vines to get to the high platform
  • Maya Tarzan-swings on a hanging vine to get to the other tree platform 
  • Maya drops the rope so Jason can join me. 
  • Jason climbs the rope.
  • Maya gets in the basket 
  • Jason pulls on the rope to raise the basket 
  • Maya enters the treehouse 

As I enter the treehouse, Maya exclaims, “By the Gods!” and the chapter ends.

Chapter 10

Wow – whatever I see in this room must be much more scary than the skeletons of a few old soldiers!
Oh. Well, you really built that up a bit too much, Maya. This scene does not evoke a “By the Gods” to me.

This section is fairly straightforward as well. One of the skeletons has a key on his neck. I use it to unlock the chest which contains a scroll – the diary of a conquistador.

The word 'overkill' seems to sum up the bad guys' actions, here.

The journal ends with the promise that the hellish creatures shall not have the final emerald.

I use my machete on the vines to expose another conquistador skeleton. I then use the machete on his breastplate to break it. Then I find out what the conquistador did to protect the emerald.

I would have thought if you swallowed something it would end up lower than your ribs, but I'm not a biologist so what would I know.

At this point I'm thinking of the chapter title and realising that this straw hut is supposed to be the titular Hall of Death. It's not even a hall - it's a treehouse. Name your chapters better, Access!

I take the emerald, and Jason and Maya walk back through the same part of the jungle to return to Stroheim.

We walked in this direction to get to the treehouse – shouldn't we be walking the other way to return?

With one of the 'eyes of the jaguar' and proof of Valesquez' final resting place, Stroheim tells us what he knows.

So, Amazon women are just like Wonder Woman but more blonde.

He then gives me instructions to get to Allen's old campsite via canoe (Right, Left, Left, Right) and more instructions to get to my next destination via canoe (Right, Right, Right, Left, Right).

It's off on another canoe ride. This ride lasts 12 minutes (I think I'm getting better at navigation.)

Then I arrive at Allen's campsite. I loved being able to visit the location of the opening cutscene. It adds to the realism by making the cutscenes more part of the gameplay. Well done, game!

In all the time it took Allen to be nursed back to health, write a letter than got to Jason, then for Jason to travel to and all around South America until he found this location, I would have thought the local animals might have done more of a number on the dead bodies.

We get another “Meanwhile” cutscene of the game's bad guy, Sanchez. He's whingeing to his corporal about Jason and Maya getting away at the Bridge of Death. When Sanchez is told that they've been seen at the old campsite (by who?) Sanchez smiles, “Now we have them!”

Chapter 11

Really? Last I'd seen we already arrived at the campsite.

Looking around the campsite, apart from the dead bodies and tents, I notice a chain, which I take, a tarpaulin covered by a large log, a gas cap, which suggests I'll need to put gas in the jeep, and a box that contains a geiger counter.

One of the bodies is holding some car keys – I take them – now I have two sets of car keys!

Closer examination of the jeep shows that it contains a winch.

In one of the tents I find a jerrycan full of gas (I still miss my old lime-encrusted jerrycan) which I use on the jeep before replacing the cap. I turn on the ignition and move the winch lever. Jason puts the cable over a tree so the cable conveniently ends just over the log. I wrap the chain around the log and attach it, then activate the winch to raise the log so I can move the tarpaulin. What's under the tarpaulin?

Taking the dynamite, I exit the screen. After another 13 minutes of canoe paddling/dying/reloading, we finish our trip at a waterfall.

Disclaimer: All rides in this water park are used at your own risk.

I for one, did not have suspicions about you - you speak perfect English with an American accent and when we failed talking to Stroheim we got old together outside his hut instead of you going home to your nearby tribe.

Ignoring the evidence that Maya was clearly not a member of this tribe, I listen to her story.

And do you worship Oz the Great and Powerful in this Emerald Cathedral?
I can't be the only person wondering how women in a man-distrusting society reproduce.
Yeah – can you talk to your sisters while I stay here and hide – do I have to be in the room facing death while you plead for my life?
This is the second time she's put 'gift' in inverted commas – my interest is piqued.

After the talk, Jason and Maya sleep. In the morning Maya takes a shower under the waterfall, and they have some visitors.

Did these guys get directions from Stroheim too? If not, how did they find this place?

Sanchez and his two backup dancers fire their guns, and Maya screams and drops.

It's just like the shower scene in Psycho, but with guns instead of a knife.

With Maya shot by Sanchez and his henchmen, Jason calls out in concern, and our chapter ends.

Chapter 12

The chapter begins with Jason behind the waterfall. There are some vines on the wall and a tree limb. And, oh yes, a trail of blood.

Moving the tree limb opens a secret wall/door section. On the secret door is a carving of an arrow.

I don't get time to do much in this section because it's (you guessed it) another timed sequence that kills me so I can't waste my time looking at things like a normal adventure game.

I long ago reached the point where seeing the Shock Warning graphic before a death just makes me sigh in boredom rather than be surprised or excited.

One thing that would help make this game's reliance on constant death be less tedious would be a simple game over screen offering a restore game option like the Sierra games have, or an automatic reloading of my last save game. Instead, the game just starts again with me driving to work on Day 1 and I have to click on the floppy disk icon to get to the save/load menu.

Maybe this is why the game still has me keep Jason's car keys in my inventory - to remind me that the punishment for death is to see me drive to work again and again - is Jason Roberts related to Phil Connors? - is 'I Got You Babe' playing on his car radio?

Anyway, I kept trying things in this waterfall screen, and kept dying and seeing myself drive to work.

This is what I keep telling my personal trainer, but he doesn't listen.

Thinking about the arrow carving convinces me I'll need to poke an arrow into the indentation, but I don't have an arrow in my inventory. I think of a few likely places where an arrow might appear, so I start reloading old save games. The campsite doesn't have any arrows, and Maya even comments when I look at one of the bodies that the arrows have been removed.

The other likely location is the treehouse where there are two very obvious arrows coming out of one of the skeletons. Unfortunately for my I need an arrow theory, they aren't clickable items according to the game. I try to take or move the skeleton they're sticking out of, but that doesn't do anything with the arrows either.

If I'm going to end up needing an arrow to pass that secret door, this screenshot is going to show why I'm upset with the game.

So maybe I don't need an arrow. I go back to my current save and I try poking my knife at the indentation, as well as my car keys.

Looking at my inventory, I wonder where my geiger counter and emerald are. Did Maya have them with her when she was shot and staggered through the secret door? Unlikely, as she was showering naked? Did we lose them in the waterfall? Did we give the emerald to Stroheim rather than just showing it to him as I'd thought? Was I supposed to use the geiger counter back in the campsite? I tried doing that, going back and geiger countering things. There is radiation all around the forest, but nothing useful seemed to happen by finding that out.

I also try using my lighter with my explosives which lights them. I had been hoping I could throw my lit explosives through the waterfall at the approaching bad guys, but I had no luck with either that or blowing up the secret door. I was even mildly disappointed I didn't explode and still died by getting shot by Sanchez' men. Hopefully they at least blew up when getting close to my body.

And with that, we'll finish off for now. I'm close to the end - I know the game has 14 Chapters and I'm in Chapter 12 so once I find a way to enter the secret passage I'll be approaching the endgame. I'm looking forward to it for two conflicting reasons.
  1. The story is exciting enough that I'm keen to see how it ends.
  2. The dead ends, timed deaths and reloads are frustrating me more each time they hit me so I want the game to end.
I'll be back next week where I get to the endgame (barring getting hopelessly stuck again.) See you then.

Session time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Total time: 11 hours
Inventory: Knife, Explosives, Lighter, Jason's Car Keys (or possibly Lit Explosives and no lighter)
Total time wasted because I didn't know the specific way the game wanted me to use the see-saw: 26 minutes
Total time spent canoeing down the Amazon river: 44 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. is Jason Roberts related to Phil Connors? - is 'I Got You Babe' playing on his car radio?

    Almost. Jason Robards stars with Bill Murray in Quick Change. Bill Murray also stars as Phil Connors. Perhaps this is the connection?

  2. "I would have thought if you swallowed something it would end up lower than your ribs, but I'm not a biologist so what would I know."

    Well, looking at the size of the emerald, he probably died when he choked on it.

  3. "The hovel of eh" would have been more fitting (treehouse of horror does have a great ring to it though), she's supposed to be an Amazonian warrior and a few bones chill her to her core? What's she going to do when she actually has to stab some-one, avert her eyes and plug her nose?

    The B-movie element is surprisingly gripping, they seem to be well aware of how cheesy they are being and using it to good effect. If only they were aware of how frustrating they were being with the timed sequences, I have never felt them to be fair in adventure games where you're supposed to explore as much as possible.

    1. Some timed events are okay, if used properly. For example, the murder mystery of Colonel's Bequest handled most of them pretty well, and if you missed some of them, there will still opportunities to finish the game. It gave you reasons to go back and replay, but without the sense of frustration I'm getting just from reading this playthrough.

    2. Granted, when handled well they can add urgency and pacing to a game as you say. This is just a prime example of doing it wrong, with a miss-it-and-you're-dead attitude.