Saturday, 17 September 2022

7th Guest - Cards and Tiles

Written by Reiko

Welcome back to the creepy puzzle-fest that is The 7th Guest. Apologies for the delay in getting through this. It's been a busy summer, but we're now back into the routine of the new school year and back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Last time I had solved every puzzle available at the time, culminating in the basement scene, which surely must allow more puzzles to be unlocked. In trying to find what's new, I look around the first floor a bit, and when I step back into the library, I get a new lengthy scene with all six of the main guests together again, Elinor sitting on the couch and Burden and Edward already standing together behind her. They talk about the creepy things they've heard and seen.
Temple seems like the most sensible one here, except we already saw him kill Edward...
When Heine suggests they should get some dinner, Edward suggests they should have had the soup. Temple suggests they all team up and play by some rules. But Edward insists that Stauf is watching them, and only Stauf knows the rules. This seems like a significant scene, enough that something else should have changed. Sure enough, when I check the map again, the rest of the second floor is all accessible now. I slip through the secret door in the fireplace and start with the room on the bottom right.It's another bedroom. When I look around, I find that the door I came in through is set into a wall with another door in the corner that looks like a closet. However, when I go through it, somehow I fall back down to the library again. There certainly are a lot of odd secret passages in this house. I pop back up through the fireplace again and make my way back down the hallway to the new bedroom.
This card puzzle wasn't as difficult as I thought initially.
There's no scene when I walk into this room, just a puzzle on the side table in the corner with cards face down in a certain arrangement. I have to uncover them all by turning them over in a sequence that's orthogonally connected ("up and down and side to side"). I initially think that sequential cards have to be adjacent or only have blanks between them, and it looks completely impossible. Then I realize that I can jump over cards that have already been turned over.

Once I make that leap (ha), it doesn't take too long for me to determine a sequence that starts in one corner of the central arrangement, spirals around the center card, skips around the outer cards, and jumps to the center and then to the final card at the top. Now that I understand the rules, the second arrangement, in the shape of a large D, is even easier to work out, as I can jump any number of spaces as long as the connection is orthogonal. I start in the middle of the top, jump down and go along the bottom, jump up again and start down the vertical line, and jump across, down, back over, and across the two middle cards, ending on the far right. Stauf wails, "Foiled again!"
I have so many questions about this scene. Is that Tad on the bed?

And what is Temple doing that makes the figure's skeleton appear like that?
A scene plays with Dutton and Temple where Temple seems to find something that links to Stauf's power. He does something with it and Dutton begs him to stop, while the shape of a body appears on the bed and its skeleton glows within it. Yikes, that can't be good.

I couldn't even tell who that was supposed to be, if it was one of the other known characters or not. It didn't look very big, so maybe it was Heine? But in other scenes Heine has been dressed in red or green, and this shape looked mostly kind of yellowish, so it doesn't really match. Surely Temple wouldn't have done whatever it was to Tad?
Stauf knows something, all right, but be careful what you wish for...
I start walking down the hallway toward the other end and encounter another scene, this one with Elinor and Temple. Those two seem to be getting close, with Temple trying to steady Elinor a bit before she enters her room. They talk about what they want, because they know that Stauf has promised that whoever survives will get what they want. Temple clearly admits here what I'd suspected before, that he's a stage magician and wants to know about real magic, and in turn Elinor admits that Edward has gotten them into debt and they need money.
Ooh, trippy spider tunnel.
I go into the next small room along the hallway past the bedrooms I'd already completed and find myself in a narrow bathroom. The weird creepy thing here is that I can trigger the sink and find myself going down into the drain, past spiders and cobwebs, and end up back in the library again. Yet another strange passageway that shouldn't work.
The hint to swap the positions is clear this time.
Back up I go and have a little trouble finding the puzzle before finally noticing the icon appear near the floor. The tiles are checkered black and white, so I'm not surprised to find another chess puzzle, this one involving 24 knights in a 5x5 grid, with only one empty square. Again I have to switch all their positions. This one is a bit tedious just because there are so many pieces, but it isn't actually as difficult as the bishop puzzle, so I patiently work through it. It's made a bit more aggravating by the way Stauf snaps, "Don't take all night!" every few moves if I pause at all to think about what I'm doing.

After I solve the puzzle, the scene shows Burden taking a leisurely bath, covered in lots of bubbles, with what looks like a goblet of wine perched rather precariously on the edge of the sink. Suddenly she disappears under the surface of the water, and I hear screams (is she somehow screaming underwater?). How you can get pulled underwater from inside a bath, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't put it past Stauf to do it somehow. Looks like another death, but not visibly caused by any of the other characters this time.
Skull coins in a swastika shape.
The next door down leads into a small but very lavishly decorated bedroom. The puzzle on the bed seems to be another sequence puzzle like the card one, only this one has coins with skulls on them. The first one is straightforward once I figure out where to start: no jumping or anything, just an adjacent sequence along the edge of the shape up to the top. The second one, in a sort of swastika shape, is trickier because it's a symmetric arrangement with a lot of possible jumps. I eventually simplify it by deciding to do a loop around to pick up the diagonally offset coins first, and then I can see pretty quickly how to jump over the previously flipped coins to pick up the rest of the four arms in turn.
The coin puzzle is visible on the bed behind Dutton. What happened to him?
Dutton appears, opens what looks like some kind of briefcase, and starts gloating about being filthy rich. (Was his desire money too, like Elinor?) Suddenly his elation turns to horror as something goes wrong with his hands and then his whole body. Contact poison? I can't quite tell if he actually disintegrates at the end or vanishes at the end of the scene. A woman screams at some point too. Did Burden get pulled into the bathtub at the same time or something?
The chapel room with an altar by the far wall.
I can then trigger another scene on the far door. Dutton reappears and starts gloating again, this time about having solved a puzzle about a hidden room. He goes through the door and I'm made to follow automatically. It seems to be something like a chapel or shrine, with crossed swords on the wall and what looks like a stained glass window at the far end. A bat or something appears and seems to rush at Dutton, who falls down and disappears.

The puzzle here is again in the tiles on the floor. There are three colors, and I can press tiles in sequence to get from the initial green arrow tile to the final red arrow tile, but periodically some of the tiles will fall down, and I'm not sure exactly why. The PC comments about it being as easy as 1, 2, 3, and often the previous three tiles will fall when I press a fourth, but sometimes just the previous tile falls when I press the next. I try a bunch of different color patterns, but nothing seems to be right, and I can't find any rhyme or reason to why sometimes the tiles stay for the fourth one and sometimes fall right away.
Apparently I can't, but I can fall through the hole instead.
Finally, mostly in exasperation, I try going back and forth around the layout to drop as many tiles as I can, even though I know there's no way to get all of them. Somehow, it's enough. In retrospect, it seems that knocking down most of the tiles opened up a large enough hole in the floor for me to pass through, perhaps. The topography of this manor is exceptionally strange.
Can you even tell who it is that's in the scene?
At any rate, before I move on, there's a scene with what looks like an altar against the window in the far wall, with a red cloth or something draped over it. A baby appears lying on it, and Stauf and I think Dutton (the ghostly nature of the images make them very hard to see clearly) stand in front of it. Stauf tells Dutton that the sacrifice must come from him. Is the baby the de-aged form of Heine? Did they actually kill her? I would have even less idea what's going on if it weren't for the subtitles telling me that Stauf is speaking.

Next I end up in what looks like a mad scientist's laboratory. What looks like the door to a jail cell on the wall sends me, yet again, back to the library for some reason, but I can get back again through the lavish bedroom and the chapel.
Who is this and why is his head half gone?

Temple gets what he wants but dies? Again?
I also manage to trigger a scene starting with a naked man sitting up on the table, appearing to have half his head missing. There's also a brain in some kind of bucket below the table. Then Temple appears, exclaiming over the laboratory equipment, wondering if Stauf's magic is just mad science or something more. Then he touches something he probably shouldn't have, and starts choking. (I find a typo in the subtitles here.) Surely this doesn't kill him, because I saw him strangled by Heine in an earlier scene. Come to think of it, surely he can't kill Heine as a baby and also have her strangle him, so it must have been some other baby, I guess. What is going on in this place?
The microscope is another puzzle.
The puzzle in the laboratory involves looking through the microscope near the back wall lined with beakers. It turns out to be an Othello-type game with blue and green "microbes" that can eat each other when they move adjacent. I as the player have to play as the blue microbe. Some variants only flip the color of orthogonally adjacent cells, I think, but this one flips the color of all adjacent cells, orthogonally and diagonally. It's easy to lose a lot of cells at once if the opponent can move into a corner or hole and flip all the cells around it. I play with it a bit but don't succeed, so I decide to come back to this one later.
A ghostly violin floats through the room.
I also just noticed that the last connected room on the first floor has become accessible. It's the music room! I can trigger an effect that causes ghostly hands to play the piano (but no more of the body is visible), and another effect causes a ghostly violin to play and float through the room all by itself. I can also trigger the potted plant next to the bookcase, which grows up to the ceiling, beanstalk-style, and apparently there's a hole in the floor, because then I end up climbing the plant, and it goes up into the lavish bedroom again.

In a rare case of a reversible route, I can also go back down again, and then the plant shrinks back to its normal size. Oddly enough, I went back and checked my earlier screenshots, and the plant is already visible in the lavish bedroom, but I don't think it did anything then. It's possible that solving that bedroom's puzzle was what made the music room accessible.
"Staufway" must be a reference to the real piano company called Steinway & Sons.
The puzzle in the music room is triggered on the piano and acts as a Simon Says game where I have to repeat a theme, extending it by one note each time. It's quite long, at least twice as long as the Simon Says sequence at the beginning of Castle of Dr. Brain, but the fact that it forms a melody helps a lot. I haven't been paying all that much attention to the music, aside from the alarmingly rhythmic piece that plays whenever I enter the main entryway, and sometimes other places too. But the theme sounds vaguely familiar once I get enough of it, so it's probably been played somewhere in the house before.

That means that after a couple of early mistakes, I get the hang of where the melody is going and am able to complete the puzzle without having to redo too much of it. If I'd made a mistake near the end, I would have been quite annoyed to have to start over and build the piece up one note at a time again, considering how long it is, at least sixteen notes. So this puzzle ends up being more tedious than fun.
Can't win if you don't play. Also can't win if you don't stay alive...
The next scene shows Dutton holding Tad and threatening him with a knife, and Edward and Burden trying to take him away. Where's Temple? This has to be before the scene in the basement, as Edward's still alive. Dutton asserts that he's solved the puzzle and therefore Tad is his. Suddenly Edward attacks and Dutton drops the knife, which Burden grabs. Then Edward stabs Dutton multiple times, while Burden watches and Tad runs away. So that's yet another death.

By this point, we've seen nearly every guest die in some way at some point, but the scenes are so disjointed that it's really hard to get a coherent narrative out of them. Edward stabs Dutton. Temple snaps Edward's neck. Heine strangles Temple. Burden dies in the bath. But Dutton also gets poisoned or something by the briefcase, and Heine gets turned into a baby, which might not have been lethal. But later a baby is turned into a sacrifice, so that might have been a death for Heine? Come to think of it, the only one I'm reasonably sure I haven't seen die yet is Elinor. Tad's fate is rather unclear at the moment, but everyone's fighting over him, so it's hard to see how he'll manage to come out of this alive either.

The only sense I can make out of it at all is that Stauf is toying with his guests by giving them what they want and then making something terrible happen to them. That’s on-brand for him given the desirable toys in the opening sequence causing children to fall ill.

Puzzles solved: 5 (total: 16)
On-screen deaths: 4 (5?)
  • Dutton: stabbed by Edward, also poisoned by the briefcase in the lavish bedroom
  • Edward: his neck snapped by Temple
  • Temple: strangled by Heine, also chokes in the laboratory
  • (Heine: turned into a baby; sacrificed by Dutton?)
  • Burden: drowned in the bath

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

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!

8 comments:

  1. nice, ok my thoughts:

    the knights in bathroom floor puzzle is one of the most tedious puzzles in the history of videogaming, you just forgot to mention that everytime you pick a piece, you have to watch un unskippable 3d animation of the piece moving and switching that lasts around 8 to 10 seconds, for each movement. And there's so many knights that even if you know the perfect solution, it takes like 20 minutes to solve it. If you misclick and reset the puzzle, it's rage quit time.

    About the microscope puzzle .. let me tell you, and without rot13, be very careful with that puzzle, it can be unwinnable if the cpu (or emulated cpu) is something faster than what was expected in 1993. It was programmed to use a time threshhold to analyze the next move, problem is that any decent cpu can analyze tons of possible moves in just one second, so you are screwed.

    About the piano puzzle, again, I think it was 17 notes, or 16 of playing the main theme of the game, that subtle midi. And yes, as most puzzles in this game, very tedious and overly long.

    Great job so far !

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    1. Since she's playing the 20th anniversary version, which I have forgotten if its in SCUMMVM or not, the game should have that fixed so its entirely possible for a human to play it. As much as most humans want to play reversi, anyway. I always found that one of the more annoying "classic" classic board games that have been foisted on people over the years.

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    2. This is it! This is the "puzzle" that even game magazines BITD that provided full walkthroughs for the game (or at least two that I'm aware of) advised to have just the in-game hint system solve for you! As much as you can consider an Othello/Reversi clone to count as a "puzzle" anyway!

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    3. It's actually quite easy to solve by simply zvzvpxvat Fgnhs'f zbirf naq gura jevgvat qbja uvf ernpgvbaf gb gurz, gura hfvat gung ernpgvba lbhefrys gur arkg tnzr.

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  2. You know, I don't remember the falling tile puzzle, at all. Maybe its just been a lot longer since I played this game than I thought. Anyway, I think with the second chess puzzle, you've done most of the obnoxious puzzles in this game. Most.

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  3. That microscope puzzle also appeared as shareware game Hexxagon earlier in the same year, and reappears in sequel The Eleventh Hour. Apparently all of these are based on 1988 arcade game Ataxx.

    Also, based on your review, this whole game sounds like a lengthy session of Mad Libs.

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    Replies
    1. Love that Hexxagon game, and there's a sequel which is just the same game with different sprites

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  4. >Stauf snaps, "Don't take all night!"

    Or maybe, "all knight"? Wouldn't put it past the game to make another lame pun.

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