Monday, November 8, 2010
Beyond Zork: Lost in Quendor
There is effectively no way to win Beyond Zork with the same character you started with. You simply have to accept that 90% of your playing time will involve messing around and figuring out puzzles so that your final character--the one that wins the game--will be able to use the accumulated wisdom. Ultimately, you do something that "breaks" the game. I did it yesterday when I levitated the baby hippo out of the quicksand before I lured his mother to the statue to help me get the jewel. I did it again today when I used up the Scroll of Gating before accomplishing everything I needed to accomplish on the "Ethereal Plain of Atrii." I did it another time today when I wasted my three pterodactyl rides.
Solving the pterodactyl puzzle involved putting it to sleep with the hurdy-gurdy, taking the arrow out of its wing, healing the wing with a special weed (that took me a damned long time; I knew they existed because of the manual, but it's mentioned very obscurely in the place that you find it), putting a saddle on its back, and taking its whistle. You can blow the whistle to summon it three times. Since there are several places you have to fly to and from to visit, you can't waste a trip goofing around, which is what I did.
The problem is, you keep thinking that this time you've figured out all the puzzles, and this character will be the one that goes the distance. Then you realize you've bungled the next puzzle and have to start over again.
Still, starting over beats getting stuck on the puzzles, which is where I remain. The most insidious puzzles are the ones you don't even know exist; you only see pieces of them. For instance, with reader Jason Dyer's help, I figured out how to save the minx from the hunters by erasing its tracks, so now I have a pet minx. I named him after one of my readers.
Now, I know from the manual that minxes find truffles, and sure enough, if I bring the minx to an oak tree and hang around, he ultimately digs one up. But it goes bad within a few moves and dissolves. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with it. There is a road blocked by Christmas Tree Monsters, who are afraid of caterpillars, but damned if I can find any caterpillars. There's a castle that I can see from a couple of angles but I can't find any way to reach it. (The pterodactyl is an obvious solution, but he won't fly against the wind, and the wind always seems to be blowing against me when I try to reach the area that the castle would be in.)
My inventory is chock full of stuff that's probably the solution to one puzzle or another, but I don't know what: a horseshoe, an hourglass, a dispel staff, a shovel, and something called a "vague outline."
The CRPG Addict does not consider himself a man of great willpower--he is, after all, playing CRPGs instead of working on his dissertation--so knowing that the answers to all of these questions are a quick Google search away is driving him a bit crazy. But he shall not succumb.
Nonetheless, I can't keep relying on readers for hints, and I don't want to drag this one out. To solve some of these puzzles, I may have to resort to brute tactics in which I revisit every location and try every object. Thus, I'm going to take the unusual step of playing an interlocutory game while I continue to puzzle through Beyond Zork. My next posting will be on Braminar (tonight; this short posting doesn't constitute a day's work) but I'll devote a little time each day to Beyond Zork--maybe posting updates, maybe not. What I can promise you is there will be a "won!" posting for Beyond Zork eventually.