Thursday, 29 November 2018

Waxworks - London Calling

By Deimar

Frederick Abberline's Journal: I am quite concerned with all the deads in Whitechapel and I don’t know why. The dead of the five women has stirred not only the district, but the whole country. But that’s not it. Nor the gruesome manner in which the killings were carried out. No, it something else. As if I had to find him. But why? Why go there and chase a murderer? Because Boris said we must? Who is Boris? And now I am preparing to go out into the night to hunt him. To hunt our brother.



Our second stop in this museum of horrors is the foggy victorian London, where our mission is to hunt Jack the Ripper. And what a better way to start than being teleported next to his last victim.


A little more leeway next time, please?

A little search reveals nothing on the lady. Even worse, the murder has not gone unnoticed and we start to hear police whistles that soon end up on a police officer tapping on our shoulders.


No, not you, although I could have embraced the warmth of a familiar figure...


These fellows are quite less amicable than old Jim

And being the Victorian London, we are hanged immediately as we were seen with the corpse. Due process is for losers. One reload later, I start running to avoid the police and get out of the vicinity and soon after we leave the northwest area of the map, where we are allowed a little more freedom to explore. Just a little bit more.



You see, this waxwork is much smaller than the pyramid, but somehow it took me a lot more time to map it. The main problem here is that there are several police officers stationed and/or patrolling the area. Add to that the local neighborhood watch which also patrols the area and has an even quicker way of applying justice than the police. So, lots and lots of reloads.


 
Can’t you just go to a pub and have a jolly good time?

In addition, the streets are mostly empty and uninteresting which makes the process a bit duller that it should be. Whitechapel road is the most interesting one, as it has lot of shops which while not being very useful, as this is the middle of the night and they are all closed, at least make the graphic a bit more interesting and varied than the blue wooden door, blue house door and blue wall that plague the rest of the map. Apparently, London nights were not very interesting in Jack the Ripper’s time.

But coming back to the game, the first thing I noticed were the lights of the Black Bull pub, but a patrolling bobby blocked the way, so I went south just to encounter another two cops blocking most of the exits, with one chasing me. Well, more like simply patrolling, but I didn’t know at the time. Luckily, the first door on the left is open and gives access to a little yard with a ladder that takes us to the rooftop of the building, but apart from a chimney there wasn’t that much to do.


Apart from some sightseeing. Of complete darkness.

Setting the little yard as a base of operations, we can find some entrails inside a barrel in another yard just a little ahead and pretty much nothing else in that part of the map. You can see a rope in another yard just to the west of the ladder, but I didn’t manage to get there until much later, as the patrolling policeman in that street makes getting there somewhat difficult. They move very slowly, so when you see them, it takes a while for them to move, so the only way to notice that they are patrolling is noticing their lamps (stationary bobbies don’t carry one) or be so lucky as to get to the street when they are at the far end of their route.

As a result, I went south towards the docks next to the Thames and found another pub, The Shipinn. Inside, we can find the local fauna, a trio of chaps giving me very bad looks. Trying to talk with them just allowed them the opportunity to tell me to sod off. Turning my attention towards the barman produced a better result, and he even offered to tell me where the whores go, but sadly I lacked the coins to make him spill the beans.

And as soon as I went out of the pub, the trio of unsavory folks stood in the streets next to the pub blocking the way. In this chapter we can’t fight until the very end. The option doesn’t even show in the menu, so trying to get pass them only got me to realize that hitting someone in the fist with my eye is not a good way of solving problems. But it is a good way of getting robbed of my only possession.


Let’s be clear here. I can’t go two streets without crossing a policeman or a
mob but these guys can rob me next to a well lit pub… I sense some bullshit

One reload later, I tried to escape through the passage to the east, but a policeman blocks the way. Therefore, I reloaded even further and didn’t enter the pub, not making appear neither the robbers not the policeman. Following my exploration east, I found a street with access to three warehouses, with the first one being open and the other two locked with a padlock. Of course, the one opened is the one empty, but I couldn’t avoid and notice that it is bigger than it should be. It is a 5x4 space, but that would make the western end overlap with the street. This is not the only inconsistency in the map. The northeast corner shouldn’t be connected, but it is through a trick. The dotted lines in the map are tunnels with stairs, and the view is blocked by darkness. I am guessing that’s just there to split the map into semi-disconnected areas.

After taking a wooden plank just outside the opposite end of the warehouse, I resumed my exploration until I had most of the map except for the parts blocked by policemen. The only things of notice left are that you die if you enter the Black Bull pub and that there is a locked door north of the pub. Not having a clue of what to do next, I spoke with uncle Boris to see if he could tell me something about the goal in this scenario. And he is not very helpful, as it is as simple as it looks. Stop Jack the Ripper. But he provided me with some clues. First, that I would need a disguise to enter the pub. Second, that I need something long to cross the gap in the roof. Wait a moment, what gap?


This gap! Also notice the lovely skull-shaped moon

I ran back to the rooftop and just next to the ladder there is a gap between the buildings. Placing the plank there allowed me to cross to the next building and enter it through an open window. At last some progress. Once inside and at the ground level, I found a shop, a cross between a shoemaker and locksmith. And there I took everything that was not nailed down. I was not going to make the same mistake twice as in the pyramid. So I took every single tool available, some boots and shoes, a notepad and two keys, which stood to me as the most useful things. One of them with the shape of a skull and the other one a security key.


All your stuff  belongs to me!

In my exploration I had found a locked door next to the pub, so I went there and the skeleton key opened a pharmacy full of pills and medicines. I had seen a barrel next to the crossroads at the start of the game, the one with the two cops, so I went there to see if I could sneak a peek in the barrel before the police caught me. That’s when I discovered that one of them patrols the area so I was free to explore that street a little more. When I got next to the barrel, a dog started barking from a yard attached to a pawnbroker shop. I could climb the barrel and have a look at the dog.


You don’t look like a friendly doggy either

Wanting to see the rest of the street before the policeman came back I kept going and found another yard with a barrel inside containing a rope. And that’s pretty much it, as the street is a dead end, but it is probably the most interesting one in the whole map.

I must admit that my next step was clearly dictated by me seeing a screenshot of a rope tied to the chimney I had seen in the rooftop while I was looking for information for the introduction. I think I would have tried that at some point, but we will never know. So I went back to the rooftop, tied the rope to the chimney and did another breaking and entering inside that house. There are four floors in the house. The upper room is clearly abandoned and decaying, and the third one while more clean it is equally empty. The second floor is the office of a lawyer, and inside I found many things, but the more interesting ones are a map of the area with the names of the streets and a letter containing a key to a warehouse full of tea. The bottom floor is another shop, this time a tailor full of clothes and hats that we can wear.


If I put on rich man's clothes, won’t I look even more like Jack the Ripper?
We must opt for the yellow clothes to melt with the environment!

Going back to the dog, as an avid Monkey Island player I knew exactly what to do, taking into account I had some entrails and some sleeping pills from the pharmacy. The only problem is how to do it. Mixing those two items is as simple as dropping the sleeping pills onto the entrails, but it is inconsistent with how everything has been used until that moment. You see, to tie the rope you have a menu option when you select the rope. Doors are unlocked by another menu option and if you have the right key, you don’t even have to choose it. Here, to combine these two items you have to drop one onto another and then drag and drop the entrails on the dog. It is pretty inconsistent.

With the dog sleeping, I was able to unlock the door to the yard by moving a bolt and get access to the pawnbroker’s yard. Conveniently, the door to the shop is also unlocked by the skeleton key, although I am pretty sure that would be pretty dangerous for the owner. Being a pawnshop, there were all class of things inside, with the most interesting ones being a shotgun and two cartridges, a police whistle inside a pot, a silver pocket watch, a sword hidden inside a cane and a gold pocket watch stored inside a safe box behind some clothes which can be opened with the safety key.


Also this, but sadly I couldn’t take the bear with me

With the new clothes on, I tried to get pass by the police and the mob but that didn’t trick them. It did allow me to enter the pub however. Inside there was a pimp with two ladies of the night.


Damn you, Julia Roberts, for giving me false hopes about the looks of ladies of negotiable affection

Having no money at all, the pimp just plain tells me to get lost, although he says he can give me the addresses of other prostitutes. There is also the barman, who won’t talk too much unless I buy a drink and a customer that wants to be left alone.

Then I went down south to the docks to see what the lawyer’s key would show me. The storage room is a little maze of boxes, all of them identical. This makes locating the one that we can interact with quite tedious, especially because I didn’t have any tool that could help me to open the crate. I am wearing several hammers and a chisel among other things, how come I can’t open a crate? The hammers alone should suffice!!

Seeing as I was getting nowhere, I went back to The Shipinn. I suspected either the shotgun or the whistle would help me with the chaps there. The whistle is the one that does the trick, as the shotgun fires blank shots. And it did it after several tries. You have to blow the whistle once they appear and run back to the pub. After a while, they are gone, but the policeman will be stationary at the end of the street.

But that really doesn’t solve anything else than avoid being robbed. The only thing left to do was getting some money to pay both bartenders and the pimp, but I wasn’t able to get anything, not even for the two pocket watches. I even revisited all locations to see if I could find some money anywhere, including trying to get back to the corpse of the girl at the beginning, but I was blocked by two police men there. So I reloaded at the start of the waxwork…


I dare you to locate the bag in the picture

After cursing for several minutes and considering throwing the computer through the window, I retraced all my steps. The bag contains some money and a diary. The diary is ripped apart but it talks about how they had kept silent for too long and now all the others were dead. There is a bit missing, but we can shadow it using a pencil from one of the shops. Again, the interface is fighting us, because is not as simple as dropping the pencil on the diary, you have to select the remaining corner and then you get the option to shadow it in the menu.


I think I am still as lost on the plot as when I didn’t have the diary

And for the first time in this scenario, we have a goal. Finding Molly Parkin. Seeing as there is a pimp willing to give me the addresses of some of his girls, I quickly went to the pub. His price is too damn high, but after talking to the barman he told me the other customer is a renowned pick-pocketer. Talking to the customer, now identified as Willy the Dip, he agrees to work for us if we manage to give him a pocket watch. You see, he is so good that he has retired, but he is an avid collector of pocket watches.


He is clearly a man of taste

The golden watch suits him and he gets a book with addresses from the pimp. The book places Molly at Treacle Lane, and it also contains her key. God knows why. In any case, Molly’s house contains little, only a letter from a Mary Fimm saying she knows who Jack the Ripper is and that she is going to confront him in Coulston Street. The place where we began our journey. Not the brightest bulb on the porch.

Only one place to go, the other pub. I tried to pay for information, but the barman denied knowing Molly. After some insisting and showing him both the letter and the diary he acknowledged knowing her. But he doesn’t seem to like her that much, as he asks me to retrieve some tea from a warehouse nearby before helping me. He even gives me a crowbar.


I think you can get more money from the girls than from some tea…

A quick trip and back to the warehouse and he agrees to help, telling me where to find Molly. At the only place left unexplored in the whole map, the last warehouse. Inside we can find Molly, who is bent on revenge on Jack for killing her sister but she agrees to let me fight him first after telling her he is my brother. And the moment I stepped out of the warehouse she closed the door behind me. At this point I am tired of trying to understand the motivations behind these characters. If any.


Ssshh!!! Don’t talk about avenging anything or
the big mouse will come looking for blood! Or money!!

And at the docks behind the warehouse we finally face Jack the Ripper, using the sword cane I found at the pawnshop. This fight could be interesting because you can parry Jack’s attacks and we can only attack ourselves after parrying some attacks. The only problem is that you can click anywhere and parry the attack. He has several attack and parry animations that let you see from which side he is attacking, but it is all the same, simply clicking anywhere will parry his attacks and attack afterwards. After some time, he reaches the end of the dock and we put the sword through his chest sending him to a watery grave. The end.


Not even a beautiful dawn over the Thames. Shame on you, game!

And that’s London waxwork. I didn’t like it too much. It feels incomplete. There are some ideas but they seem like they didn’t have time to finish them. The plot is non-existent, which considering this should be the best one of the four fills me with dread for the two remaining waxworks. The puzzles are mostly based on finding hidden items. I am continuously fighting the interface when I want to do something… I am starting to realize that the short development cycle between Elvira 2 and this game has not been to the benefit of the game.


DEATH BONUS ROUND (SESSION DEATHS: 3, TOTAL DEATHS: 14)







Session Time: 5h 2 min
Total Time: 9h 27 min


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!

5 comments:

  1. "I didn’t like it too much. It feels incomplete"

    That's my problem with Waxworks in general. There's some cool ideas in here but it's all a bit fumbled and half done. Whilst having the four time periods is a nice idea which brings the old horror anthology films to mind, in reality it just feels like you get four half-assed stories with no depth at all to them. It's a shame as this kind of horror game is pretty rare and it could be done really well.

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  2. I've listened to the Waxworks OST on Youtube, and while most of it I found forgettable, the London death theme - while only a 20-second-or-so loop - stuck with me as surprisingly catchy.

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  3. Separate adventure post: because you can’t take it with you, Al Lowe reveals his Sierra source code collection—then puts all of it on eBay

    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/11/al-lowe-reveals-his-sierra-source-code-collection-then-puts-all-of-it-on-ebay/

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    Replies
    1. I'm disappointed by this. I wish he would have given it to the Internet Archive instead.

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    2. Agreed, although he has already put some stuff online over the years, so he's not completely miserly. ( http://allowe.com/games/game-designs.html ) I hope some of the buyers do make copies of stuff available online.

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