Wednesday 30 March 2022

Missed Classic: Lucifer's Realm - WON! and Final Rating

 Written by Will Moczarski

One of the advantages of playing through a game simultaneously is that if one of the two players gets hopelessly stuck (like I did) the other one may be able to help. And what can I say? Jason Dyer quickly came to the rescue with the words “Oh, you’re so close!” and four hints encrypted with rot13. His first hint read: “You are correct in that you drop stuff in one specific room in the forest, and it comes out in the cave. It's just a matter of finding the correct spot.”

Last time I had tried all of the spots that seemed likely to me: the room next to the stone wall, the room with the sign and the room in which the trees look greener than in the other rooms. My two options were now to try and brute-force it or to decrypt another one of Jason’s hints. Naturally, I tried to brute-force it first and was VERY lucky because I started with the correct room right away. Things seemed kind of fishy because I dropped the iron club in the penultimate room of the forest – before I reached the stone wall – and when I looked again it was gone. I chalked this down to bad luck because items had gone missing before but when I restored and the same thing happened again and again and with every item I’d drop I knew I was on the right track. Much later, after having finished the game, I decrypted Jason’s other hints and found out that you could “look trees” in each of the rooms to discover white marks on them, sort of like there was a waymarked trail through the maze. The last room with a white mark is the one where you should drop the items but I still have MAJOR issues with this puzzle and still think that this does not count as a clue at all. Why? Because the white marks also lead you to the stone wall which is at the end of the forest. Even if you discover them with the rather obscure move of typing “look trees” while no trees are ever mentioned (except in that one room where they look greener than in the others) in the room descriptions you wouldn’t expect them to be more than a means of simplifying the maze itself. 

That said, I would have liked any of my own (wrong, admittedly) solutions much better than the actual one because they made at least an iota of sense. The actual solution just came down to trial and error. Incidentally, Jason had to take a hint here, too, which goes to show that both of us almost solved the game on our own – but that one thoroughly absurd puzzle threw both of us off track.

Monday 28 March 2022

Missed Classic: Lucifer's Realm - Request for Assistance

 Written by Will Moczarski

Note: Jason Dyer who is blogging about Lucifer's Realm simultaneously has already finished this game and I hope that he (or one of you) will be able to help me with my request for assistance below. I had planned on finishing the game for today's post, too, but alas it was not to be.

After some time away from the game I decided there were two more things I could try before I would start the game from scratch for the third time. And what can I say? Both were solid ideas and worked out in the end. Now what did I come up with? Looking at my inventory again I thought that I might need to melt the huge ball of wax in case there was something inside. Also, I decided I’d try to attack that snake with my trusty dagger – maybe I did need to feed her the crystal but there’s a chance to get it back somehow. 

Both assumptions turned out to be generally correct. I tried to melt the wax using the candles found in the church where the black mass was being held. When it didn’t work right away I thought it may be due to the parser but actually that just wasn’t the solution. Fortunately it didn’t take me long to realise how blind I had been: the fires I had turned off by using the valve in the first pink-tiled room had to come in handy for this. I liked this puzzle a lot and it felt very infocom (yes, I am smugly using that as an adjective) to me. You actually need to leave the ball of wax behind in the room before turning the valve (only one time, it turned out, involving a lot of back and forth, and then one more time to turn the fire back off. I must have been confused by my initial futile attempts last time). Then you can pick up the iron club which was inside the ball of wax (no, I don't know how I should picture this either).

Killing the snake was pretty straightforward. When I tried it before melting the wax the parser flat out told me I had no weapon that strong so I knew I was on the right track. The club worked like a charm (get it?) but the crystal disappeared. My next idea was to go all the way back to the room where I had picked it up (or rather sliced it off) first – maybe now that the snake puzzle was solved (correctly?) I could slice off another piece. And that was actually the case. I found another crystal bar just lying there on the ground which, I assume, became available because the other crystal bar was removed from the gameworld. Maybe it was wrong to listen to the snake last time but at least the game makes it possible to remedy this (potential) dead end. 

The next steps were surprisingly straightforward. I put the crystal bar into the crystal door with the slot (“put crystal bar in slot” was the only combination that worked) and found myself at the edge of a thick forest of black trees. A sign informed me that this was an “official savegame site” and that the game didn’t take responsibility for lost articles. Was this a clever advance notice to tell me that a maze was lying ahead? 

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Missed Classic: Lucifer's Realm - Trusssst In Me...Jusssst In Me...

Written by Will Moczarski

So here I am standing on a circular pillar in the center of a vast room. The pillar is sinking, bringing me ever closer to the floor which is crawling with spiders. I fiddle around with the pillar and notice how a beam of light shines on it. As this is a near-death experience, “look light” seems appropriate, and I find out that there’s a hole in the roof with a hook on it. Alas, I keep botching my next move for a while. After three turns the situation resets (I assume) – the screen melts and I start over again on top of the pillar. This is like a quick-time sequence! I try “press X” but predictably that’s not it.

As always be sure to check out Jason Dyer's simultaneous playthrough on his excellent blog Renga In Blue!

Time to get my tongue out of my cheek, you say? That is correct. Frustratingly, after three times three turns I am swarmed by huge spiders and find myself back at the start of the game. This is slowly becoming a truly hellish experience. I try “throw chain” this time and it works – it is caught on the hook and I can climb out of there. 

I emerge in a small ventilation duct. There is a small canvas on the wall. Also, the description of the chain is the same as before in the steel walled room so I assume I have to pick it up again. “Pull chain over hook” doesn’t work this time, so maybe it’s not necessary and I’m wrong.  The canvas is very thick and as there is no other exit I look around. There is another ventilation duct to the east with a vent to the south. That one leads to Hitler’s office but the game won’t let me barge in there just like that. I try opening, moving and breaking the canvas. Saying “Lucifage” doesn’t work, either. “Cut canvas with dagger” does, presenting me with a way out of here. The parser will stop at nothing to wring a few more minutes out of the game, though. Going south (where the new opening is at) does not work. “Go opening” does not work. “Enter opening” does not work. I need to use the words “Climb opening” which I probably wouldn’t have tried in a game by anyone else but Jyym Pearson. 

Sunday 20 March 2022

Missed Classic: Lucifer's Realm - Selling These Fine Leather Jackets

 Written by Will Moczarski 

Be sure to follow Jason Dyer’s simultaneous playthrough of the Apple ][ version with fancy graphics! 

I made some progress but it was hard earned. First I decided to visit all of the rooms again to find out whether I had missed any keywords on my first try. It occurred to me right away that I hadn’t examined the fiery pit from the ledge. Doing that starts an interesting chain of events: I can see that the pit is enormous and full of flaming patterns. Looking at the patterns reveal that they spell a word. I try to read it but the flames are too bright. “Squint” does not work, so maybe I’ll need to find some sunglasses along the way.

I’ll spare you the details of all of the other things I attempted in several of the other rooms and just tell you about what I did find out. For example, this time it occurred to me to not only pick up but also to examine the human skull I found in the huge damp cavern and I was informed that something rattled inside it. “Break human skull” does not work so I may be looking for another blunt object. 

For some reason I am still unable to enter the dark blood soaked pit full of death and decay again because the smell is too strong. After a while I find out that I can “hold nose” and enter without any further hassle. Interestingly, I never stop holding my nose so I imagine my character to be rather one-handed for the remainder of the game.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Missed Classic 106 - Lucifer's Realm (1982) - Introduction

 Written by Will Moczarski

It’s time for the next game in our Med Systems marathon, and it’s another entry by our old acquaintance Jyym Pearson. I have played through The Curse of Crowley Manor, Escape from Traam, Earthquake - San Francisco 1906, Saigon: The Final Days and The Institute for this blog, and now it’s time to tackle the most notoriously difficult of them all (according to its reputation at least): Lucifer’s Realm.

Monday 14 March 2022

Missed Classic: Stationfall - When Nerds Attack

Written by Joe Pranevich

Hey, do you remember that time when I was going to take a short break after Christmas? That break turned out much longer than I anticipated. In a world that is so full of stress, I will not trouble you with my own, only to say that once you put one of these post series down, it is very difficult to remember what you were thinking and doing. Time dulls our recollection and an easy write up becomes much more difficult. That is especially a problem with Stationfall: there are so many barely-pulled plot threads going on that keeping them all in my head when fresh was difficult; after taking a break? Forget about it!

Last time out, I finished exploring the station. This game, much like the Zork series and Planetfall, is “open world” in the sense that you must spend a long time exploring every nook and cranny to find the pieces that will eventually be used to solve puzzles. At the end of that session, I had a lead on how to access the Space Village; that’s where I’ll start this time out. As you will soon see, that replaces one open area with another even more confusing one. Rather than spending this session putting together pieces and solving puzzles, I could only try to map out an area a bit smaller than the part that I already explored. I hope the real puzzle-solving comes next time out.