Sunday, 22 August 2021

Veil of Darkness - The Story Begins

Written by Zenic Reverie
Honestly, it'd probably take about 8 months to fully recover from a plane crash.
Apologies for the delay. When last we left Engatz, he had just crashed outside a small forgotten town somewhere in Eastern Europe. Pulled to safety, he roused in an unfamiliar house some undetermined time later. Dierdra was watching over us, and what a sight to wake to. She instructed us to find her father down the hall. Of course, this meant we'd take the long way and explore the whole house first. As I left Dierdra's room (more than likely a guest room, but it's where Dierdra is found) I confirmed full combat difficulty. The game offered some tutorial screens as I made my way through the corridors of my benefactor's mansion. The first described doors that are inconsequential to the story with "There is nothing important behind this door." At least half of them had this message.
This locked door suggests we'll have access later
As I made my way downstairs, a small cutscene window showed the action of walking down them, similar to Laura Bow's small animation windows. So far, this action is the only one to produce them. I noted a few interesting rooms, but realized how little interaction the game offers. I was expecting a look or examine option, but I don't believe there is one. A quick glance over the manual doesn’t list an option for it either. Move and take appear to be my only means of exploration at large. The game seems fully playback with mouse only, though keyboard hot keys for nearly all actions are available as well. Most notably, 1 - 4 use or throw items in right or left hand, ‘c’ to converse with the closest NPC, ‘t’ to take, ‘m’ to magnify, and ‘/’ to display character stats.

I made my way through a living room with a fireplace, a party room with a grand piano, and a storeroom in the basement. Only the storeroom proved useful in the form of a couple coins on the ground, and another locked door. I took the opportunity to see what the object magnify mode was all about. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. I won't have to worry about pixel hunting with this.
They're not exactly hard to miss
But try missing them now
Kirill Khristoverikh, Dierdra's father, was in his study. We spoke of the airplane, which he referred to as a metal beast, and how nothing like that had been seen in this simple valley. He suggested I take as much time as I needed to rest and recover, but then asked a favor; that I fetch a hammer from a fellow named Eduard somewhere in town. On my way out I troubled Ivan, Kirill's butler and the man that carried me out of the wreckage, for some coins to use in town. Ivan instructed me to spend them wisely, so I bought everything I could with them. I added the two from the storeroom to the pouch he provided, then made my way outside. There's a conversation logging option in the menu that can write to a file or print all the dialogue in the game as it's displayed. I don't think I'll find my use for it as I'm taking screenshots, but I wonder why such a feature exists instead of an in-game journal of some sort. Long gone are the days of dot matrix printers being able to hold the print line on the same page.
I found the exteriors more impressive than inside any of the buildings so far
The town was indeed small, though I expect it to open up more. At the tavern I met Sophia and Seth. Sophia seems something of a regular and is more suggestive of a personality that has yet to offer much depth to the plot. Seth, the owner of the tavern, offers a light to Sophia's cigarette as he explains he inherited the place from his father. He recognizes me as a stranger, the one that fell out of the sky recently. The conversation moved on to his collection of cups, of which a golden goblet is his most prized, though he has yet to use it as only the finest vintage should grace its basin. The selection at the bar isn't anywhere good enough by his own admission. He suspects Kirill's wine cellar has the finest in the valley, and I recall a locked down in that storeroom. The rest of unnamed patrons gossip about Eduard's house being attacked by a werewolf, though no body was found. The rooms upstairs don't offer anything at this time. I did pick up a few darts off the floor; it wasn't like anyone was actively using them. An herbalist's shop was next door. The owner, Annabelle, currently sold only fennel seeds. She only allowed me to purchase one, and I gladly did so without knowing their purpose.
Definitely an adventure game the way I'm accumulating
an inventory I'm not quite sure what to do with yet
Continuing in a clockwise rotation around the town, I found a shed with a pry bar. This was followed by a general supply store run by a man named Jon. He offered an oil lamp for 1 silver coin, which seemed both useful and reasonable, though I'm baffled as to how I'm supposed to operate it. Upstairs I intruded upon a mother tending to her daughter Natalia who was descending quickly into a madness that would prove fatal. By request I left them alone, determined now to find a cure for young Natalia. Intentionally skipping what is obviously Eduard's house, I arrived at Josep and Anton's house. Josep is a candlemaker, though none were presently ready. Anton, his son, heard about me from someone named Gheorghe who I haven't met. Seems Natalia is a friend of his, and they swapped locks of hair so they'd always have a part of each other. I'm sure that'll come in handy when I try to cure her. I gave Eduard's place a once over, but other than a piece of fabric and locked door, there was no hammer to be found, let alone his body. Kirill scolded me for not succeeding in such a simple task.
Oh there was also the suspicious looking trail of blood that went into the bookcase
I blame the simple interface. Lacking a method to inspect such a set piece had me flailing around a bookcase without moving into it the correct way; with an obvious blood trail smeared across the floor and underneath I was sure I would need to search it, find a switch to move it, or locate an alternate way through. On a revisit it easily shifted as I walked into it from the bottom. Inside was a gruesome scene with a body, presumably Eduard's, decapitated. A bloodied hammer lay beside it. I can only imagine Eduard struck his assailant, as decapitating with a hammer seems unlikely. Kirill was ecstatic to receive it, and babbled on about how it's called a bloody tool most foul. Engatz interjected about Eduard's corpse, suggesting Kirill fascination with the hammer and not the fate of his friend made them all crazy. Kirill responded with, "not crazy, at least not all of us, but cursed, as are all that enter this valley of darkness." There have been a couple times now where the main character shouts angrily at a character, but this is the only time I think it’s an understandable response.
An example of dialogue with keywords highlighted
When having conversations with the various characters, some words will be underlined red. These can be clicked on to request more information, or entered into a prompt when the rest of the dialogue options are exhausted. This suggests that I'll need to enter words that aren't given during one particular conversation. This has been relevant twice: when requesting coins from Ivan, and speaking to Anton about Natalia. Feeding her name into that prompt at the end of his normal conversation gave me the bit of information regarding her lock of hair. It might be the closest thing to puzzle solving, as items aren't actively usable, as far as I can tell. They're either held or not, and in the hammer's case was automatically given to Kirill.

Mr. Khristoverikh went on to describe a prophecy that I've fit up to this point, according to his interpretation. By the end, if I am the one, it will lead me to defeating Kairn and lifting the darkness that engulfs this valley. Rather than continuing to be aloof, Kirill hands me a copy of the prophecy and some pages from an old book (the one given in the prologue of the manual I summarized in the introduction post). The prophecy on the other hand is something new.
As I open the prophecy, two lines burn from blood red to
bright crimson before fading to grey.
Looking over the prophecy for the first time I note that a bird of steel could be anyone that survives a plane crash. Strangely I didn't deny my part until I found the bloodied tool most foul; though Engatz (even though this is my character, he often speaks choosing dialogue options) did deny his part, before suggesting he'd find a way out of the valley any way he could even if he had to follow the prophecy. Each line seems to indicate a quest of some kind to complete, though none of them mean anything to me, except healing a youth in madness. It's unclear if these will continue in order, or if they're more open to accomplishing in sections after these first two. Kirill offers his mansion as a place of refuge, but ends the conversation without so much as a hint of where to go or what to do next. I suppose it’s time to do another round of the town.

Session Time: 1h 00m
My inventory at the end of session

8 comments:

  1. Finally ! you are back. The girl name is Deirdre btw.

    I always played the game with keyboard only, hated the mouse controls. To move the character you use the numeric keypad (7, 9, 3 and 1 are the diagonals), + and - to open and close inventory, 1 and 2 to use your items in each arm, or 3 and 4 to throw them. Actually, only used the mouse for inventory management, since it's easy to point and click.

    Also the game has some optional stuff, if you want to get a little help that will be useful in the future but not mandatory, check this ROT 13: Glcr fnpx gb gur fgberxrrcre gb trg na nqqvgvbany fnpx gb ubyq fghss

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  2. I remember starting two or three times this game but never played it too much. Although i like the graphics and the isometric perspective, the RPG elements always made me give up on this one. I guess i am a purist of the adventure genre and although the RPG gets a lot of love from much people, i really never like it. Are we guessing the score? If that is so, i say 52

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  3. Oh, just write the comment above before reading the post. Guess i didn´t remember that Zenic already write the presentation of this game some days or months ago....Guess i check that post and see what i guess for the score at that time....

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  4. Well, i just read the first post from December 2020! and my comment was basically the same, except that i guessed 42 at that time...

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  5. The bar owner, Seth, I guess, who you didn't show, looks an awful lot like Peter Lorre. No idea if any of the other character's likenesses are similarly lifted.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    Replies
    1. As Guybrush said in "Monkey Island": "Geez, what an obvious sales pitch".

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    2. Is bot spam that probably really delivers malware a "sales pitch"?

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