Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dark Heart of Uukrul: More Puzzles

I'm suddenly hearing Al Green.

I fear I'm a little behind in posting on Uukrul. Much of what I'm about to relate, I accomplished earlier this week, in the middle of Hurricane Sandy. My power was knocked out for about 30 hours, and I spent almost half that time hunched over my laptops, running down their batteries playing this game off a USB drive. I have to say, it was a little bit eerie, crawling through the dungeon while the wind howled outside, trees came cracking down in the distance, and candles flickered on my desk. When the last battery died on the second laptop, I said, "screw this" and convinced Irene to pack up and head down the road to a hotel that had power. Less than an hour after we rented the room, the lights were back on at the house. Compared to what they're going through in New York and New Jersey, though, I consider my trifling inconvenience a blessing.

After I posted about the crossword puzzle, the game continued to offer puzzles on every level, though none of them quite as hard. It has also continued to be very linear, with every space between sanctuaries a clear and discrete level with its own unifying puzzle to solve.

After finding each new sanctuary, I was able to read a new entry in the archives, which generally told me something about the next level I faced. Plus, there were almost always messages on walls that gave me some hints as to the solutions.

In order, the levels were:

1. A maze in which Uukrul locked me in by yanking on a chain and closing a grate behind me. He said he'd let me leave if I begged...

...but of course I didn't. I found my way through the maze, and at the end, there were three possible exits. One of them required me to find a bunch of keys in the maze. I never found one, so I assume they were behind secret doors I never located. The second was a riddle of some sort ("you need but speak a single word to pass through, assuming you can discover what it is"), but I never found it. That left the third option, which involved three difficult battles, the final one against fire spirits that killed two of my characters. I beat them in the end, though.

Nice subtle insults.

2. A level that contained the urn holding Uukrul's dark heart. For a while, I thought I was at the end game already. First, the game taunted me by showing me the heart behind a grate that was impossible to open.

I don't care how strong that grate is; it seems awfully cocky of Uukrul not to hide the thing better.

Finding my way around the other side required me to navigate a small maze of dungeon rooms that opened and closed in response to a group of levers. If there was a clue to help me with the levers, I missed it, but it wasn't hard anyway. I just pulled each one in turn, noted what it did, and slowly figured out the right combination. I reached the urn with only four of the needed six hearts, but I used them anyway.

After that, I had to move on to find more hearts. I'm not sure why I couldn't just haul the urn with me.

3. A multi-leveled area in which I needed to find magic cards to ascend. The more cards I found, the higher I could ascend, ultimately getting out and moving on to the next area.

It was nice of Uukrul to lay it all out for me in the beginning.

The problem is, the magician had to be holding the cards, something that wasn't clear until I thought to have one of the cards identified by Sagaris. For hours, I couldn't go anywhere but the first level and couldn't figure out why.

Once I had solved that little mystery, the rest of the level was fairly easy, although I kept getting zapped by traps that I think lowered some of my attributes permanently.

At one point, I found a member of Mara's doomed party, indicating that she was still alive.

"Put him out of his misery" should have been a role-playing option.

4. An area that had something to do with closing valves, moving carriages, and using a teleporter. Mara warned me that I needed to stay on the level until I found the black hammer that her expedition had lost.

I admit I solved this one via brute force. I just kept trying every option and re-checking the level for new possibilities. I got stuck here for a while because there was a secret door that took me forever to locate. I learned the hard way to travel with TALIS (find secret doors) on as much as possible. It's a bit of a pain, because it burns out quickly.

A couple of shots from this level. I wasn't really sure what I was doing.

This level culminated in the finding of the magic hammer at the bottom of a series of pits. It was in the hands of a demon overlord whose portrait scared me...

 ...but who turned out to be a bit of a lightweight in combat. His one trick was to cast "silence" and prevent my mage and priest from casting spells, but he went down so easily in melee combat I wouldn't have bothered with any spells anyway.

Mara had warned me in a message to make sure I had the Medal of Escape with me (oh, yeah, I forgot to follow-up on this: it turns out that every time you use it, it returns to its original location, and you can pick it up again), and it turned out I needed it to get out. After that, Sagaris filled me in on the hammer's uses, and I went and had the smith repair it.

That's suitably cryptic.
As I close for the night, I seem to be in an area with seven levels and a bunch of pits and teleporters connecting them. I've had to return to careful mapping to find my way through.

Pierce Roth has continued to make updates to his Dungeon Mapper, and has been keeping me current, but I actually stopped mapping this game a while ago. Once it became very linear, there was hardly any point. Each level offers only three or four branches, and between the automapper and simple memory, I find my way through them without trouble. I look forward to using the mapper more on the Gold Box series, though.

Even though the game took a sharp turn towards puzzles around the midpoint, it hasn't stopped being a combat-driven RPG. There are plenty of tough foes, including one "boss" fight, in every level. Still, I've only had to resurrect three or four times, and only suffered one full-party death.

My characters are all Level 12 out of 15 total levels (a fact that a otherwise well-meaning writer spoiled for me). I've got some pretty good magic gear and the ability to create my own food. Plenamujer has a crystal ring from one god (the highest), platinum from another, and gold from the other two.  Prufrock has platinum rings in all his Arkanas except for protection.

In general, it feels like the end is near, but I want to get in one more posting about magic, combat, and equipment before I win. Look for that tomorrow or the next day.


  1. My own comments from when I was playing this game:
    "Actually I think the game improved after the Pyramid. The engineering section was fun and so is [upcoming area] so far.
    The pyramid was just tedious; it was not clever.
    And I didn't explore the Pyramid fully, since those random encounters with sorcerors every second step was so rage inducing."

    What did you think of the Pyramid?

    1. I forgot that the archive called that area "the pyramid." It was annoying until I found out that the magician had to have the cards. Then it wasn't so bad, apart from (I agree) the many random encounters.

  2. Being in New Jersey I can certainly sympathize with computer difficulties. I was without power for three days, which is far more fortunate than most.

    This is another game that I started, completely dedicated to finishing, then gave up on (Magic Candle being another), though I don't remember why.

    The only game I recognize coming up is Drakkhen and that's due to it's Super Nintendo port. I did play the PC version a bit. I found the experience rather underwhelming.

    1. Drakkhen is weird. It has some cool stuff, but overall I don't think Chet will be impressed. I think he might like the puzzles it does have, and the creatures are a hoot. Especially the very friendly female in the desert...

    2. "Drakkhen is weird".
      Drakkhen is French.

    3. ""Drakken is weird".
      Drakkhen is French."

      Ah, that explains it then. In my experience the french make the weirdest games by far."

    4. Drakkhen used to scare the crap out of me as a kid. By friendly woman in the desert do you mean the "I love you" monster?

    5. Drakkhen... i had the SNES-Port back in these days.
      I think i was a little bit too young for the game, there are enemies you encounter very soon and are too strong for the starting party.
      with the enthusiasm and stubbornness of a child i wanted to kill those bastards which i never accomplished and soi gaveup...

    6. I'm looking forward to The Dark Eye Trilogy, especially Startrail, which was my first CRPG (my father bought the PC with this game and TIE Fighter, which was one of my favourite game a very long time)

    7. Anonymous Nov 6,

      Yes, that's the one! Freaked me out when I first met her. I screeched and scared my now-ex husband half to death lol.

      I remember so many of the other monsters fondly, too. Word of advice, Chet: when you play it, don't face south (towards the moon) at night. Trust me on this.

  3. Ah, for an age when computer gamers were *simply expected* to know words like "facetiously".

    1. Man, we need to start doing that again, then kids would have a motivation to learn vocabulary.

  4. Ok, so I guess a 10ft pole or two would have been in order to push that Uukrul urn. Also the spacing between the bars in the grate looks big enough for an animal to fit through. Just summon a cat to go in and wreak havoc with that urn. :)

  5. I wondered what would've happened if you had shouted at the Uukrul hologram?

  6. Well, Addict doesn't ban charities, and this one is about using games to help people. Desert Bus for Hope starts in 10 days, and I just donated money on behalf of my brother, who has cancer. I wrote about why here: and would encourage everyone to read it and have a look at the charity.

    Thank you.

  7. What exactly is the old guy from Mara's party hinting at with holding Plenamujer's hand and giving the option to "Make him more comfortable."

    Is there a euphamism there or am I just a dirty old man?

  8. Just found an online shop specialized on retro gaming that sells a vintage copy of TDHOU for 125€... :-O

  9. Mmm... I found the site you mention. I think the box included an anticopy system which you had to use the first time you entered each Sanctuary, but I don't see it in the pictures.

    Still... €125 for a copy of the TDHOU is crazy (I can't recall what happened to my copy, by the way. I probably lent the game to some friend and never saw it again).

  10. They have this game to download free at Abondonia for thos that would like to try it out.,+The.html

  11. @Caron: You're right, the sheets needed for the copy protection codes are missing. Didn't notice that before. The sticker on the box cover says the documentation is in French, but this may only apply to the reference card.
    But it's not exactly a bargain in any case. ;-)

    1. Yeah, not a bargain at all! In my case, I would also have to order a floppy disk drive ;P

  12. The pyramid nearly made me give up on the game. On the second level IIRC at some point you get teleported to a room with absolutely no exit, not even a secret door. You HAVE to take the teleport there however, either it contained another magic card or some other important item, I don't remember clearly. At this point I didn't have the MELAS medal with me and even worse, after reloading from the last sanctuary it turns out I had used it too many times already. Of course I didn't know this beforehand, how should anyone expect this?!. I thought, OK just go to MELAS and get the thing there as usual. Man was I infuriated to see the damn thing never turn up again and reading online that it had limited uses. And without any further backups that really was it for me. After a week's hiatus I found enough motivation to start the game all over but was not ashamed to look in a walkthrough now to see if there were other possible walking dead situations.


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