Saturday 20 October 2018

Missed Classic: Deathmaze 5000 - Telephone for Van Gogh

By Will Moczarski

Adventurer's Journal #2: This maze really gets to me. I have been stuck in the strange trap for quite a while before getting my throat ripped out by a vicious dog, starving to death and getting mauled by a foul-smelling monster. Someone or something continues to resurrect me, though, and I have to live through all of these horrors again and again until I find my way through – at least I'm making progress...

Interestingly, the biblical passage that the Byrds borrowed for their hit “Turn, Turn, Turn” is from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, a number too similar to 317.2 to ignore. In Ecclesiastes 3, the 17th word is an „a“, and this „a“ is at the beginning of the second part. Furthermore, the second half of Ecclesiastes 3:7 (thus including 1-7.1 but excluding 1-7.2) is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”. This line is apparently not featured in the lyrics to the song by the Byrds – it's left out. Latin Jehovah begins with an “I”. In short, all of this got me nowhere – my cabbalistic approach was doomed to fail. Instead I put my tail between my legs and took a hint from the in-game hint system which told me to “invert and telephone”. What? The hint is just another puzzle? I appear to have been right by inverting the calculator but how do I use “2.LIE” on a telephone? At least this didn't take me too long but I was astonished just how cruel the game really was. In 1980, the letters L, I and E would have been on the same buttons as the numbers 5, 4 and 3 on a telephone. For example: If you wanted to call the LucasArts helpline from their adventures, it would be advertised as “1800-STAR WARS”, translating into “1800-7827 9277”. 5-4-3-2 was so clearly a sequence that I didn't believe in coincidence and indeed turning right five times, left four times and right three times set me free from my conundrum and I was able to leave with the calculator in hand. What a cruel, cruel puzzle! If there is anybody here who was able to solve this without the in-game hint system, please let me know in the comments – I'd be most interested in your train of thought.

Moving on, I try to establish the shortest route to grab all of the goodies and head straight for level 2 of the maze as I've already died by starvation once. Before doing so, I decide to map the second level, though, and thus start a new game, go straight for the hat and drop down to the next maze, pen and paper in hand the way it should be. Downstairs I find a torch but also get my throat ripped out by a vicious dog – maybe that's what the sneaker is for? My next attempt leads me to a basket of food, prolonging my time in the maze, and I also find an empty glass jar with a lid. It still ends with my death, though, as I find another box containing a snake and opening the box results in yet one more premature demise. At least I have learned how to save with this emulator and can start over at the beginning of the second level. The map appears to be about the same size as the one for level 1 so I can assume that I am still missing about a third of the level. The missing part contains a magic staff, a pit and an elevator. The pit leads to the third level but as I'm not yet ready to tackle it I restore back to level 2. I cannot find out anything about the staff but the elevator is yet another lethal trap and entering it results in the walls moving closer and finally squishing me in the process: “GLITCH!”, the game says, and I go down in history as another victim of the maze. Also, the vicious dog once again attacks me, albeit in a different location this time. As I have a save game now, I am carrying the items from the first floor which allows me to throw the sneaker. Confusingly, the sneaker is eaten by “the monster” (who?), the dog follows the sneaker and is eaten by the monster as well – if I get the events right, that is. Another obstacle overcome which leaves only the snake and no absurd puzzles this time. Maybe I should just leave the box with the snake in its place and continue on to level 3 but that seems somehow unlikely. I'll just try out one final idea before determining the shortest route through level 2.

Everything works fine on this playthrough – I pick up the whole box instead of the snake and now have it in my inventory as a potential trap for others (the monster maybe?), I lure the vicious dog away from me, get the torch and the food as well as the jar. Unfortunately, there appear to be multiple dogs and before I can pick up the magic staff I am attacked and killed once again. I try again but it simply doesn't pan out. I decide to grab everything else and go down to level 3 to do some mapping since it will probably not be my last restart just yet. But I forget to get the food and die of starvation before discovering anything of note down there. I give the two dogs one more try but one seems to attack me as soon as I pick up the torch and the other one awaits on the path to the staff. Nothing but the sneaker has any effect so I just assume that the torch is probably more important than the staff and move on. When I get the message that my stomach growls I wait for a few more turns as previously I didn't starve to death right away and any leftover turn may be necessary to finish the game in the end, right? The result is rather prosaic: “The food is being digested.” I'll have to remember that for the next waitress in real life asking me if everything is all right. I also have to light a new torch for the first time and handle it the same way, dragging out the event for a couple of turns before giving in.

I thought the line goes life's a bitch and then...? Oh, never mind.

On level 3 I find a “paint brush used by Van Gogh”: very classy! Apart from discovering quickly that the level is even more labyrinthine than the others, mostly lacking longer corridors, I stumble across what I assume to be a painting called “The Perfect Square” depicting, you guessed it, a perfect square. Ever the vandal I attempt to paint it over with my Van Gogh brush (I assume he wouldn't have cared for cubism anyway?) but I don't seem to have anything resembling paint - “with what?”, the game asks me tauntingly, “toenail polish”? The only other thing I find is another elevator that thankfully doesn't kill me but apparently transfers me to level 4. It seems that the game opens up a bit at this point – let's see what the new maze has in store for me!

In level 4 I come across a yoyo, a carefully polished horn, more food and a most useless feature: an inventory limit. I am generally not a big fan of hoarding items in one place to backtrack again and again just because a game wants to be realistic or thinks that it's a fun puzzle element to let the player make an uninformed decision which items are useful and which are not – particularly because in adventure game logic the most absurd items are usually the most useful for whatever reason. But moving on I get another death scene and this is starting to feel like a veritable precursor to Sierra games: the ground beneath me suddenly starts shaking and I get to be the monster's next meal. What monster? The one that ate the dog but spared me last time? What is the monster's agenda? And do I have to do something about it or is it just random encounters this time? Lastly, I find a shaft leading upwards in the top right corner of the map but don't seem to be able to enter it in any way. I don't find any way to level 5 (unless I can use the elevator twice) – this seems like a good place to end this session.
I've got quite some food for thought on my plate right now: the perfect square, the monster, the pit, the paint brush, the flute and the horn, the yoyo...join me next time to see how it all works out!

Session time: 2.5 hours
Total time: 3.5 hours

At least I am a useful part of the food chain.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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 the reviewer requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game...unless they really obviously need the help...or they specifically request assistance.

If this is a game introduction post: This is your opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that the reviewer won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return.
It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All score votes and puzzle bets must be placed before the next gameplay post appears. The winner will be awarded 10 CAPs.