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.

I try a LOT of things in the dark pit (my favourite parser feedback being “look decay” – “appears ordinary”) before I decide that I must be missing an item. A light source, maybe. My next task will be to find the exact right words to get past Eichmann. I try “join him”, “warn him”, “aid him”, “talk to him”, “give him something”. Nothing works. “Join his army” does, as I find out after quite a while. “O.K., tell them I sent you”, says Eichmann, then leaves. It’s a bit ludicrous but I’m happy to finally be able to move on.

I climb the stairs and reach the top of a hard rocky cliff under a blood red sky. A brief google search reveals that the live album by U2 (and the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” containing that line) was released in 1983, so I figure it’s a cliché and not a pop culture reference. I can see two huge armies facing each other in the distance, ostensibly Hitler’s and Satan’s. Looking at the cliff reveals an iron spike and it’s quite obvious that I need to tie John Wilkes Booth’s rope to it. Another climb (this game is full of cliffhangers!) leads me to a marble door with another guard standing in front of it. When I look at him he drops a pair of dark glasses – how convenient! I pick them up and “they look good on [me]”. The guard turns out to be Reverend Jim (Jones, I assume?). He tells me that I’m unable to pass because he sees sin within me. Now how might I be able to remedy that? 

But now that I’m sporting some sunglasses I may be able to read the flaming patterns back at the beginning. On my way back I stumble across another exit which leads me to a rocky overhang with a strange circular well. Strange vapours rise from it and it’s very deep. I can’t figure out what to do with the well and assume that I need to either smell the vapours (which doesn’t work) or drop something down the well (I might be missing the right item). Oh well. (ha!)

To cut things short I can now read the word, and it’s “Lucifage”. I’m a bit disappointed although I didn’t know what I should be expecting. My only other lead is the rattling skull, and I try to throw it into the pit to hopefully be able to pick up its contents from the pink bathroom floor. The skull bounces and hits my head which reminds me that I, too, was strangely unable to jump off this ledge. Fortunately, the hard rocky cliff does a better job in breaking the skull. It reveals a brass lamp which must be Jyym Pearson’s very first nod to the Crowther & Woods Adventure (or maybe Zork) in his sixth game if I remember correctly. This is quite remarkable as – and I’m sure Jason Dyer will be happy to correct me if I’m wrong – almost every game of the era will reference either one of those games at least once. It makes me smile to find a brass lamp in hell but I wonder how it got inside of that human skull in the first place. Any theories? 

Funnily, the parser is so fussy that “get lamp” doesn’t work. It needs to be “get brass lamp”, otherwise it won’t recognise it as a visible item. Reverend Jim still won’t let me pass, so I might need to light up some of them dark tunnels above. I fumble around with the lamp for a while but can’t seem to be able to turn it on! Turns out I don’t need to. When I finally think to look at the brass lamp, the game tells me that it’s shining. At least the light sources in hell are conveniently automatic. 

The first two tunnels reveal nothing new but I find a gold sword with blue jewels in the third one. That escalated quickly! I have no idea what to do with it since this is not a treasure hunt but maybe I can “purify” either John Wilkes Booth or Reverend Jim with it? First I’m off to the smelly dark pit, though. And...the game is at least a little bit realistic. I’m not holding my nose anymore and need to type the command again before I can enter the pit once more. I like that!

This time I find an ancient chest with something written on it: “The word is the key”. I must have followed the correct sequence of events and this is a no-brainer. “Lucifage” opens up the chest, and I find a golden disk inside. It glows and the printing on it reads “Deecula”. Is it a Laser Disc for an obscure FMV arcade game of the early 1980’s? It sure wouldn’t feel out of place in hell, would it?

Saying “Deecula” does nothing (at least here) but looking over my notes I check out the blood once more, now that I have got the lamp. I find an oilcan which is always nice. In my last post I had assumed that the parser feedback “not now” meant that I had to look at the blood again later while commenter Lisa (whose comments are usually spot on as well as informative and witty, mind you) thought it might be a more generic response. I think that she would be right in 99 percent of the games of the era so I’m glad to have checked back regardless. Also, after finding the oilcan the feedback switches back to “not now” – maybe Lisa was right all along and I just got lucky.


“Deecula”, the lost Wagner opera?


Reverend Jim is rather excited about the disk and tells me to proceed. Behind the marble door there’s a large cavern full of horrid smells. Knowing my Pearson I take a whiff but the parser only comes up with a heartfelt “Phewww!” There are some sleeping bats (Deecula, is that you?) here and there’s an ancient door leading further east. When I try to open the door the bats wake up and drive me out. I know the solution to this puzzle right away but I’m not allowed to try again – when I enter the room once more, the bats are still awake and drive me out before I can do anything else. Do I need to restart? Should I have saved my game?

The truth is I wouldn’t have known how. Also, these games are pretty short when you know what to do. I rinse and repeat and dutifully oil the door this time. “Put oil on door” does not work but “put oil on hinges” does which makes more sense anyway. I emerge in a dimly lit room and the lamp slips from my oily hands and is gone. Let’s hope that I won’t be needing it anymore...right? No, I need it right away. It’s too dark to see and trying out any exit but the one I came from makes me fall down into a deep pit and die. 

I suspect that I may not be able to progress without the lamp and thus replay the whole game for the third time. That way I solve two more puzzles – one of them is incredibly unfair and I hadn’t even been aware of its existence, and one of them is due to sticking it out with the strange circular well. The first one still irritates me a lot. After picking up the lamp and typing in all of the commands necessary to retrieve the Deecula disc as well as the oilcan I move back towards the green door. Instead of typing “open door” I accidentally type “look door” and find a bloody dagger (this is me cursing, there’s no blood on it) stuck there. Who the devil walks around hell examining all of the doors? Me, from now on, that’s who. This would have been a clear request for assistance if I hadn’t found the dagger by accident. I’m still getting angry just thinking about this.

After that I decided to spend some more time around the circular well. I try out every combination of “smell” and “well”, “vapors”, you get the idea. Then I think of the room I lost my lamp in. According to the room description it was hard to breathe there, so naturally I typed “breathe” and my character did comment on it in some way. I probably wouldn’t have come up with “breathe” as a feasible verb so this may actually be a subtle clue. “Breathe vapors” does the trick, too. 

The screen melts dramatically – as usual when something important happens in Lucifer’s Realm – and I enter a dream-like state. Listening to some horrible images reveals some hints about what I assume to be the endgame: (1) If freedom be thy quest know the crown is proof. (2) My enemy needs the magic powers of the statue of Deecula but it is incomplete. (3) When Deecula is restored and its power glows, the crystal seals his fate! Funky, right? Finally, the well tells me that “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me” or something. I assume that he’s one of the bad guys, but aren’t we all in this game?


Or something.


When I get back to the dimly lit room I suddenly realise something: I am still wearing my dark glasses! And surely enough, dropping them works. I’m quite happy about the detour because otherwise I would have continued without a potential key item, I guess? 

Without my sunglasses I am able to climb up into a small steel walled room. Another chain on a hook hangs through a hole. I wrestle with the parser for a fair bit before I come up with “pull chain over hook” which is probably what I’m supposed to do. It’s a bit hard to picture this room. Doing this makes the “long chain” turn into a visible item and I pick it up. 

The only exit is south and it leads to another steel walled room. There are some armed guards here and talking to them triggers another quiz. They ask me who sent me and the answer is obvious because Eichmann told me to tell them he sent me before leaving me to my business. Then they ask me what business I have with Hitler and “Deecula” works. I am rushed into his office and when I try to talk to him he takes the disk of me shouting with joy. Was this the right thing to do? I’m in doubt for a moment. Shouldn’t I be helping Satan instead of Hitler?

Meeting Hitler triggers a lengthy “cutscene”, though, so it may be necessary to deliver the disk to him; I hope there’ll be ample opportunity for some backstabbing later! Anyway, Hitler sets the disk on a large statue which begins to glow, shouting “the power is mine”. A guard throws me out and I find myself sliding down a long chute. I land on a circular pillar in the center of a vast room, and the floor is covered with huge spiders. The pillar is slowly sinking and the spiders are getting closer. Will Indiana Jones get out of this conundrum? Time’s up, I’ll tell you next time.

Be sure to check out Jason Dyer’s simultaneous playthrough of Lucifer’s Realm – I am looking forward to reading his first post right now as it may be spoiler-free for me at this point. The plot is thickening and despite one inexcusable puzzle (the hidden dagger) I like the game much more now than I did in the beginning. 


Session time: 1.5 hours

Total time: 2.5 hours


8 comments:

  1. I noticed that you typed "smell vapours" and then "breathe vapors"--is it possible that the difference isn't smell vs. breathe but using the American spelling the second time?

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    1. Good idea, Matt, but unfortunately that's not the case. I consistently used the American spelling in the game but became inconsistent when I wrote it all down late at night.

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  2. After a while I find out that I can “hold nose” and enter without any further hassle.

    Huh. In case anyone thought Leather Goddesses of Phobos using this command as a potential puzzle solution was too esoteric!

    When I look at him he drops a pair of dark glasses – how convenient!

    I wear my sunglasses in Hell
    So I can, so I can
    Read the word and see it's "Lucifage"...

    (I wonder why not Lucifuge, as in Lucifuge Rofocale, but maybe I shouldn't expect too much knowledge of Solomonic magic from this game)

    It makes me smile to find a brass lamp in hell but I wonder how it got inside of that human skull in the first place. Any theories?

    I've heard of a light going on inside one's head, but that's ridiculous.

    Now I'm not sure what I should be picturing as the relative sizes of the lamp and the skull...

    (whose comments are usually spot on as well as informative and witty, mind you)

    Aaaaa??? *hides under the desk*

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    1. Blogger ate my first reply but I'll give it one more shot.

      Jyym Pearson's games taught me early (and insistently) that I should think of my character's body parts as inventory items so it wasn't too much of a stretch. However, things like that are usually poorly clued and iirc Infocom wasn't above this sort of thing either (although I can't seem to come up with either the puzzle or the game in question right now).

      About Lucifuge: It does seem like a playful variation of Lucifuge, similar to "Deecula".

      About the skull: ...that a light that never goes out? Yes, I was also wondering about the relative sizes. It doesn't make much sense although the puzzle (and the reverence) were fine.

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  3. Do you remember Will that in the first post i said that the picture of the game you upload could be of a Danzig album? Well, it turns out that Danzig's second album is called Lucifuge (now, what is the difference between Lucifage and Lucifuge is beyond my grasp)

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    1. That's amazing, Leo! I love it when things like that offer another (albeit often unintended) layer of meaning in a game.

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  4. No one else knows their Bohemian Rhapsody?

    “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me”

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