At the beginning of my second session I make a list of all possible puzzles I will have to solve. There is, for one, the obvious fetch quest (a): the scientist needs a magnet, a battery and some copper wire. So far I haven’t found any of these items. There’s another minor fetch quest, apparently, as the surgeon tells me he needs some drugs. (not for himself, I suppose, but you never know?) (b) the circuit housing feels like something could (and should) be done there, possibly in order to tamper with the workings of the electro-shock therapy? (c) The rocket belt may be useful in connection with the very long corridor. (d) I haven’t found a use for neither the pay phone nor the receiver. (e) I will have to dress up as a doctor eventually but that may already be part of the endgame. I reckon that the stethoscope will be necessary for this. (f) I frequently encounter a bumbling hypochondriac. He always runs from me when I approach, screaming “GERMS! GERMS!” but there may be some way to interact with him. Obviously, this feels eerily familiar in these unsafe times of an approaching pandemic.
For now, I don’t include all of the items and rooms I haven’t found a use for. The stethoscope may come in handy when I will need to dress up as a doctor. The bird costume? The bean bag? I really have no idea. My theory is that I will likely retrieve the necessary items for the scientist from the circuit housing and the pay phone. I shall also try to wear the bird costume and enter the film set – maybe the mad producer will like me better that way?
First, I fiddle with the pay phone for a bit. In the end I resort to violence. Hacking away at the phone with the axe at least provokes a reaction but I’m picked up for violent behaviour so maybe it’s not what I was supposed to do. As usual, I end up in my own cell after having been treated with the electro-shock therapy.
Next, I try to do something in the room with the circuit housing. After a fair bit of guessing the right verb, I come up with a combination that works: “scramble circuit.” Shaddam’s and Vetinari’s suggestions (“trip circuit” and “detach circuits”) unfortunately don’t work. And boy, the NPCs keep ticking me off to no avail in this game! They are used for new kinds of puzzles but the way they are written into the game is downright repetitive and annoying. It takes a long time to listen to their dialogue and you bump into them quite frequently. After a while I resort to violence and decide to attack the hypochondriac. Although the game tells me it “wouldn’t advise it” I persist, and this time I try the axe. Just like before (when I let the poor pay phone feel the pain) I am picked up for violent behaviour but this time something different happens because I have successfully tampered with the circuits. A fuse blows in the electro-shock room and everything turns dark. Luckily, I have the candle and matches but after a while it’s burnt up and everything goes dark again. Did I just rig the system without any benefits? I can’t imagine that to be the case. I do it again and this time I notice that there’s a battery lying on the floor of the electro-shock room. I can pick it up and head straight to the circuit room but it doesn’t work there. Going over my notes I see that I don’t carry the fuse that I stole from the electrician after hacking him to bits. That must be the solution – the battery is probably the first item for the scientist! Several attempts later I manage to put the fuse in the circuit, and the lights come back on. I’ve glossed over for this blog post how painful this segment is as you really have to go to the circuit room right away or the game tells you “You hear a flame sputter out” at some point and leaves you in the dark for the rest of your days.
The hypochondriac still keeps haunting me, however, so I don’t consider that puzzle solved yet. I try talking to him but to no avail. Then I try to give him everything I own (or rather stole). To my surprise, the stethoscope prompts him to listen to his own heartbeat. When I attack him this time, I catch him off guard, but he only runs away screaming and keeps my stethoscope. Is this a dead end? At a second glance, however, he drops some pills so I count this as a success. I pick them up and examine them and apparently they “look like anesthesia drugs”. Maybe these are the drugs the surgeon is looking for?
|It was difficult to get a screenshot of all this madness but you get the idea.|
I take them to him and, wow, I did not expect any of this! The surgeon immediately offers to give me a new face now that he has drugs for anesthesia, although I’m not sure whether I even asked for that. There’s a mesmerizing sort-of “animation” with lots of little white dots filling the screen. The game tells me that I am “being operated on” (so much for free will) and finally I emerge looking like Alfred Hitchcock. This is more than surreal but at least I know where I need to go next: the film set, obviously. The mad movie producer is positively starstruck and hands me his camera (“movie cammera”, according to the game but not the parser which requires me to “get camera”). This time I have no idea what I should do next but the set piece with the plastic surgeon and the movie producer seems to have unlocked another of those NPC puzzles we’ve already seen some of: a guard approaches and asks me whether I’m making a movie. Only after a few of these encounters it occurs to me that I may be able to strike up a conversation. If I say “yes” he asks me if he can be in it, and if I say “yes” again he asks me what he should wear. Fair game, it’s probably the bird costume but I don’t have it with me right now. After some backtracking (and meeting the guard over and over – seriously, game!) I can hand him the costume and he runs of in glee, leaving behind his uniform. Seems like a very good trade!
My next thirty minutes or so are dedicated to some more experimentation with the rocket belt. I try to use it in some different environments to get a feel for how it works. The first time, if you remember, it flew away, so now I figure out that I need to wear it first before pushing the button. I get the best results in the long corridor, as I had previously suspected. The rocket belt first accelerates, then decelerates but I still smash into the wall and die. Maybe I need something to break my fall? It takes me longer than I’d like to admit but after a while I decide to see what happens if I drop the bean bag at the other end of the corridor. Voilà: the bean bag cushions my impact and the rocket belt explodes but leaves behind a bit of copper wire. Cartoon logic, the second – but I’ve got another fetch quest item for the scientist!
Once more, I’ve hit a wall (pun intended). Posing as a guard doesn’t really help me out and I have no idea where I might find the final item for my fetch quest. After a while it occurs to me that I might be able to vandalize the pay phone as a guard rather than as a patient. And indeed: “As you look like a guard, the vandal alarm is ignored.” I vandalize the phone but only coins fall out. What am I supposed to do with those? After some fiddling I find out that I can also vandalize the receiver using the same syntax (“hack...with axe”). This time, magnets fall out. Strike three, and it’s off to the scientist!
He is more than happy that I bring him everything he needs to build his time stasis unit. Luckily, I can keep it. Let’s not think about it too hard, right? He warns me that I can only use it twice but I don’t even know what it’s for. As an inventory item, it’s called “statis generator”. By examining it, I only find out that it has indeed a button on it. My best guess is that this machine is able to stop the flow of time. I decide to save my progress before fiddling with it. It turns out to be some sort of fast-forward device as time begins passing around me “at an enormous rate.” Hmm, what would I be wanting to skip? A quick glance at the map makes it likely that it must be the psychiatry session. Let’s give it a try, shall we? It works! The psychiatrist leaves eventually and I can pick up his smock. Boy, these Bill Denman games have some weird items, don’t they?
The main question is: will this be enough to get me out of the “doctors only” exit? Have I already won the game? Am I getting really good at this after all? Well…sort of. I am confronted by a guard who gives me a lengthy villain speech about how “they” are surprised that I’ve gotten so far, I’m smarter than they thought yada yada yada. Then there’s a little plot twist: they need me to get rid of the “Master Mystic”. If I can provide some proof that I have indeed vanquished this greater evil, “they” will let me go free. Seems fair enough, right? See you next time, I guess.
Session time: 4 hours
Total time: 6.5 hours
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Med Systems Marathon Overview:
(a) 1980 Summary [P1]
(b) Reality Ends (1980) [P1] [P2]
(c) Rat’s Revenge [P1] / Deathmaze 5000 (1980) [P1] [P2] [P3] [P4]
(d) Labyrinth (1980) [P1] [P2] [P3]
(e) Asylum (1981) [P1] [P2] [P3] [P4]
(f) Microworld (1981) [P1] [P2]
(g) The Institute (1981) [P1] [P2]
Jyym & Robyn Pearson Mini-Marathon Overview:
(a) Curse of Crowley Manor (1981) [P1] [P2]
(b) Escape from Traam (1981) [P1] [P2]
(c) Earthquake – San Francisco 1906 (1981) [P1] [P2]
(d) Saigon: The Final Days (1981) [P1] [P2]