Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hero's Quest: Bring the Child from Out the Band

I need a haircut.

Day 8

I thought it was time to see about this Baba Yaga person (1). I mean, I know I'm not a fighter, but it struck me that if I could...you know...just kill her, maybe everything would just sort-of fix itself. She lived in the west side of the valley in a house propped on chicken legs and sealed off by a gate with skeletons embedded in it.


The gate was spiky at the top, with some kind of poison slime, so I couldn't climb it. Fortunately, the skull on the front gate turned out to be extremely bribe-able. All he wanted was a glowing gem to serve as his eyes, like all the other skulls. At it happened, I had one (from the giant). The skull gratefully took it and gave me the rhyme to make the hut sit down (2).

When I yelled "Hut of brown, now sit down!" the hut squatted, and I (somewhat stupidly, but after the ogre I was feeling bold) wandered in the front door.

Don't you want to talk first?

 Predictably, Baba Yaga appeared in a puff of smoke, froze me with a spell, and turned me into a frog.

Erasmus and I need to have a chat.

The only way I could get her to let me go was to agree to get some mandrake from the cemetery for her.  I won't bore you with the details of this expedition; I forgot to retain any imagery of it anyway. Suffice to say is that I bought an "undead unguent" from the healer and used it to go to the cemetery at midnight without dying, picked the mandrake, and brought it back to Baba Yaga, who turned me into a frog again before realizing that she'd need me in human form to get her mandrake. After turning  me back, she booted me out the door, and I wandered away, wondering what I had really accomplished from the entire episode, other than achieving some sense of a higher cosmic "score."

I redeemed the rest of the night by finding and killing a troll and a centaur, thus collecting the last of the ingredients the healer was looking for (3).



Day 9

Well, there was no point in putting it off any more. I needed to free the child from the band, and that meant storming the brigands. The front door seemed awfully dangerous, but I was out of other options. I stocked up on healing and vigor potions and headed south (4).
 

I haven't otherwise shown the inventory screen much.

 
The bandit fortress was at the end of a deep valley. When I arrived, I found--just as before--eight archers arrayed on the rocks, plus a group of three bandits guarding the end of the valley, with collapsed logs blocking the path in front of them.

Stealth was useless. Clutching a healing potion in my hand, I sprinted for the fallen logs and climbed over them, while the archers rained arrows down around me. Thankfully, they were lousy shots.

They needed to join the thieves' guild and play Dag-Nab-It.

On the other side of the logs, I squared off against the three bandits with spears. Dumbly, they came at me one at a time, and although it was difficult, I was able to fell them, thanks to all the practice and exercise I got the other day.


Past them, I found the front gates of the fortress, guarded by a minotaur. By now, my blood was boiling so hot that it didn't even occur to me to try to sneak past him. I chugged a healing potion, leaped at him with my dagger in hand, and won!

Oh, yeah.

But there was no obvious way to get into the fortress. The gate was too slick to climb, and the embankments too steep. In desperation, I threw myself at the gate, and to my astonishment, it opened (5)!

Tell no one of this.

In the first room, I had to navigate past some concealed traps and over a tripwire. No issues for a master thief like me (6)!

What would have happened if there had been issues for a master thief like me.

In the next room, a dining hall, I had to act fast. Man, it was crazy. First, I locked the door I came in, trapping a group of bandits outside. Then I blocked the east entry with a chair. Three bandit thugs charged in the west door, but I shoved a candelabra in their path, and as they went around the other side of the table, I jumped up on it, grabbed the rope to the chandelier, bowled them over, and dropped the chandelier on their heads (7)! Flush with the thrill of success, I bolted into the next room.


There, I at last encountered Yorick, the baron's jester, Elsa's friend, and the "warlock" of legend. He began by taunting and threatening me, but once I mentioned Elsa's name, he changed his tune. He seemed relieved that I was there to help. He related that Elsa didn't remember who she was, and that she planned to move the brigands out of the valley once the snows cleared, which would reduce the chances that she'd ever be disenchanted.

Oh. Yeah. About Toro...

He told me that he'd prepare the escape for me and took off, forgetting to let me know how to navigate through his crazy maze of a room, where every mistep could send me spinning to my doom. I gingerly walked across the planks, going in some openings only to emerge on the other side, opening doors that led to blank walls, before I finally got out (8).

In the room beyond, I at last came face-to-face with the brigand leader, and my, what a face!


She was lithe and stylish and fierce and roguish, and from the moment I saw her, all I wanted to do was join her band and be her bandit king. Or even her bandit consort. But the sword in her hand suggested that she wouldn't give me that option, so I hurled the dispel potion at her...


...and she turned into...a woman. A pretty woman, sure. But just a woman.


She remembered who she was immediately and raced home to her father. I liked her better with a sword in her hand and an attitude on her face. I hope the dispel potion didn't take away the skill she's accumulated over the last 10 years. Maybe she'll become a hero like me!

The what must be returned to who now?

Elsa and Yorick used some magic amulet to return to the castle, leaving me in a room full of treasure! Sure, bandits were beating down the door, but...treasure! Excruciatingly, all I could do was search her desk and run for the exit (9).


The next few hours were a confusing whirlwind. I returned to Baron von Spielburg's castle, where everyone was assembled (10), and the baron named me Hero of the Realm!


Before I knew what was happening, Abdulla and the Katta couple whisked me off on Abdulla's magic carpet to Shapeir!


"But what about Baba Yaga!" I screamed, as the valley of Spielburg faded in the distance. I guess Erasmus or someone will have to deal with her.

The valley really was enclosed on all sides by mountains.

Notes and Comments

1. Baba Yaga. As Corey Cole mentioned in a comment, they adapted her from Slavic folklore, including the hut on chicken legs. I've been a lover of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" for years, but somehow I never connected the ninth movement to Baba Yaga until I read her Wikipedia page. (If you want to hear the movement, click here.)

2. Baba Yaga's Hut. I'm condensing for the sake of the narrative. I originally visited Baba Yaga's hut before I freed the Baronet, but I didn't know the rhyme and it didn't occur to me to just ask the skull for it. I returned later and tried everything--CLIMB FENCE, SMASH GATE, KILL SKULL, THROW DAGGER AT HUT--before I thought to type ASK ABOUT RHYME.

3. Cheetaur. Man, was the cheetaur tough. The only way I defeated it was to ESCAPE in the middle of combat, quickly quaff a healing potion, and then go back into combat again.

Not my most heroic moment.

4. Bandit fortress. At this point, I begin making a lot of mistakes, culminating in ending the game with a less-that-perfect score. I'll cover those mistakes in detail in the next posting, but the first one is that there's a secret door to the bandit fortress that I missed.

5. The front gate. I'm looking forward to reading a walkthrough at the end, because I otherwise have no idea how I was supposed to get through the gate. The way I did it seems too comical to be real.

6. Trap room. There were a lot of issues for a non-master player like me. It took me four tries to get through the room. You have to not walk on the rug, then walk on the right platform over the pit, then JUMP over a tripwire on the other side. Technically, by carefully examining all of the objects in your path, you can intuit what to do, which distinguishes this room from the next one.

7. Dining hall. This was a very odd sequence. As far as I'm concerned, the only way to get through it is by trial-and-error and lots of death. You have to do each of the steps that I related, in order, and at just the right time. What makes this particularly jarring is that there really aren't any other timed action sequences in the game. (There are a few other places where you have to do one action with a time limit, but it's usually obvious what you have to do.) It's like the game suddenly changes the rules for this one room. I guess that because it's only one room, I can find it forgivable, but it would be very frustrating to a player trying to limit his saved games.

One of the many ways you can die in this room. The death notices usually give you a hint about what you did wrong.

8. Yorick's room. I was furious with this room when I first played it, because it was all-too-easy to step on a trap and find yourself rolling along the right-hand walkway--endlessly.

You roll along, drop off the end, and come back through the door at the beginning again.

After swearing and re-loading multiple times, I realized you could just type STAND or STOP while rolling, and you'd stop. After that, it was just experimentation. You have to go through one opening, come out by the chain, pull the chain, go to the left door, open it and get out of the way before it comes crashing down, then open the second door beyond it.

9. Elsa's desk. Here is where I made the second big mistake. I knew from 'Enry the 'Ermit, Erasmus, and even Yorick that I needed a magic mirror to defeat Baba Yaga. I figured I needed to bring it to her hut and use it to bounce her frog-turning spell back at her. But when I left the bandit's fortress, I was immediately taken to the end game, with no opportunity to return to Baba Yaga. In the next posting, I'll describe why.

10. Endgame cut scene. I think they really did assemble all the NPCs in the game on this screen. There are even a few I can't place. Are some of them supposed to be icons of the game's developers? Unfortunately, in the EGA version, the quality of the graphics aren't good enough to see a lot of detail (especially for a colorblind player). But you can definitely see Toro the Minotaur standing in the back, even though I thought I killed him.

So I missed dealing with Baba Yaga and only got 397/500 points. A lesser CRPG addict would have reloaded a save game at this point and messed around a little more until he figured it out. But not me. Instead, I completely started over from the beginning, this time being careful to explore each screen more thoroughly. In my next posting, an abbreviated version of how my second PC managed to achieve almost--but not quite--all 500 points.

 

62 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finishing the game. This one's one of my favourites... it's a little bit funny though that you basically took a non-optimal "fighter" approach to the brigand fortress. Did you find any of the thief-y type solutions for getting in there on your second playthrough?

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    1. Yes. I never got sneaking to work with the minotaur, but otherwise I found a more stealthy approach to get into the base.

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    2. If your sneak is high enough and you avoid having the minotaur see you, you can sneak past him and bypass the wooden barricade in another manner as well.

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    3. He's actually quite easy to calm down if you have a little magic.

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  2. Pigs' bollocks. I know it's spelled "lithe," but now I'm not in a place where I can edit it.

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    1. It's also "too" comical to be real! :-)
      Congratulations for finishing the game and the nice writeup. I'm impressed that you started over and got a nearly perfect score. I bow to your superior CRPG addiction!

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    2. Fighting Centaurs sounds like fun, but I never could attack Heinrich. ;)

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  3. Please, please, never try a narrative format again. The little paragraphs at the start of previous reviews were bad enough, but pretty much your entire run through the game was unreadable because of that garbage.

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    1. Oh, quiet you. I'll pitch in a few bucks to buy Anonymous a sense of whimsy.

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    2. I just wish I knew what he means by "the little paragraphs at the start of previous reviews."

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    3. There were a couple where you did that, but maybe he's referring to Trickster where he does that for every post as a quick overview.

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    4. It's harshly said, but I have to admit, I just cannot read the blog anymore myself.

      I dont know why but narrative format just sound weird.

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    5. Wow. Tact and honesty don't have to be mutually exclusive, you know. I once ended a relationship after 6 weeks because the guy I was seeing could never seem to get that...

      I wonder if some people get weirded out by the "Let's Play" approach...I used to know someone with a very strict adherence to reality who would have freaked out over this. He could play games, but any expression of creativity of this sort would make him go on about "So and so losing touch with reality." If you ask me, he's the one with the issue!--Nyxalinth

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    6. The narrative format is actually my favorite so far! Major props for the imagination that went into it, as it made reading about the game almost as fun as playing it :)

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    7. I thought I said this already but I can't find it.
      I don't like the let's play format as much. But there is one thing that could make them more readable.

      Change the way you do the notes. There are a number of ways I can think to do it. With end notes on the internet you have to scroll all the way to them vs a book where you can just look at the bottom of the page or use a book mark to get to them quickly. I always want to read the notes right after reading a paragraph because by the end of the article I have to go back to see what you were talking about anyway for a note.

      The two ways I can think of to fix it is by adding the notes inline in a different format(Italics, different text or background, ect) or by having the number be a link that takes you to the note, and then have the note have a link that takes you back to where you were.

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    8. A link to the footnotes would help a lot.

      To stem the rising tide of negativity: I like the new format. I understand why you only do it on major games (Pool of Radiance, and this one), and the First Person perspective is a nice change, but I could leave that.

      What I do love is the attention to detail; I really feel that I know more about the game, understand it better, after reading something with this level of detail. I'd love if you did this for more games. There are a couple (Wasteland being the worst case) where you've beaten them, but not said enough about them for me to get much of a feel for them; In this case you are doing the exact opposite, and I really appreciate it.

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    9. All right, if I do it again, I'll take one of your suggestions. It'll be a while before another such game comes up.

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  4. I liked the narrative format, it worked well for an adventure-style game. It made the articles very readable.

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  5. The dining hall sequence seems very out of place in a relatively forgiving, non-linear game. Maybe all the King's Quests and Space Quests were making fun of Hero's Quest for not being deadly enough.

    At least it's the place for it. I think the dining hall, and by extension the whole fortress, might be the final boss of the game. That moment, when the hero's deep within an enemy fortress and the alarm has sounded, he's in the biggest trouble he can get into in the entire game (and survive). Once he meets the brigand warlock, he's made it, he's through, and aside for a few wacky pratfalls he can strut his way into the ending.

    Going by this analogy, the dining hall sequence is the annoying scripted flourish at the end of the final battle. It's that part when the main boss won't die until the main character holds up the Crystal of Light and triggers some dialogue. And then the boss casts Darkness of the Outer Limits on the way out and the player has to figure out that it's counterspellable and not a cutscene.

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    1. In reflection, the dining hall sequence is actually a little funny. You wander in and start walking through it, and suddenly a bunch of bandits appear at your back and you die. The death message gives you a clue to lock the door behind you. You've never had to do that anywhere else in the game, but whatever. You reload and lock it. Then, thinking you're all set, you proceed through the room, but now a bunch of bandits come in the side.

      Fine! You say. I'll block the side with the damned chair! And you do. But when you think you've got THAT solved, then the three stooges suddenly appear. And so on and so on until you've figured out the room.

      It's only really offensive if you have some kind of "limited save" policy, which I often do, but anyone who adopts that kind of seriousness in a game that takes itself so un-seriously is probably playing it wrong.

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    2. Not sure if it's VGA version only, but if you move the chair too quickly the bandits spy what you did through the window and they (not the three stooges) come in from the west capturing you immediately.

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    3. HUh, the dining hall sequence sounds kindred to the babel fish sequence in HHGTTG, where you do the same thing: each time you lose, you get a clue to the next step.

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    4. The dining room sequence was in fact put in as a tribute to the Babel Fish puzzle. Theoretically you could figure it out up front, but we really expected players to "solve" it one death at a time. Bad puzzle design in a serious game, but supposed to be funny (and definitely a "funny once").

      Similarly, entering the Brigand fortress, the Thief is supposed to look at the situation and say, "No way can I survive that", and find another way in.

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    5. I'm surprised that Corey didn't mention that the three Brigands in the Dining Hall are Moe, Larry And Curly (Ye Stooges Three), hence the Brigands Uber Alllies sign which was a nod to the 1940 short, "You Natzy Spy" where the three were in charge of Moronica and the saying was, "Moronica Uber Allies"

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    6. The phrase ÜBER ALLES is part of the Deutschlandlied (Song of Germany). This is not part of the german anthem anymore (since the Nazis loose) as only the 3rd stanza is sung nowadays.

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  6. Not the bigist fan of the narative format.
    What would make it slightly more readable for me, and probably much less for everyone else. Is if the asides were inline.

    Something like:
    Narative stuff.
    Comment about narative stuff.

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  7. Off topic: RSS feed suddenly all truncated. Please bring back full posts.

    On topic: Not really a fan of the narrative format relative to your usual posts, but still enjoy the postings and comments overall.

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    1. It was the only way I could get the feed to work at all. FeedBurner insisted my postings (the text alone) was over 512k, which they weren't, but I couldn't find any other way to solve the problem. Is it that big a deal? Don't you get some option to click for the full thing?

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    2. Yes, I can click into the site, but much easier and preferable to read natively in the reader. Full posts as feeds struck me as good manners, and I've always enjoyed curling up with one of your long posts on my tablet. I suspect Feedburner could have changed as rumors of their decline and possible shuttering are around. Or perhaps it is the increase of screenshots in the recent posts? Doubtful, but it's a thought.

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    3. Now comments are truncated through Google Reader. There's no way "click here for full text," just a abrupt stop mid sen

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    4. Didn't intend to sound rude - replace "good manners" with "best practice."

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    5. Typos abound, I meant to remove "way" above. You can click the comment title to get the full text, but there's no indication if it's truncated. If it gets cut off at the end of a sentence I may miss a really insightful comment. ;)

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    6. FeedBurner insists that the images don't count in the size. None of this makes any sense. It went from working find to telling me that my feed was too big even when I reduced the number of articles to 1. Truncating the feed was the only thing that worked.

      I'll have to look into an alternative to FeedBurner. Or I could just say "sod the lot of you; visit my actual page and click on a damned ad now and then."

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    7. The above comment cut off at "visit my actual page and..." I had to know how it finished. I found some humor in that.

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    8. Unvetted: http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/10/12/alternatives-to-feedburner/. I will click on all the ads. Promise. I hope this doesn't distract too much from the games and their evaluation. Thank you for the consideration.

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    9. Yeah, sites that rip feeds into another page annoy me, as they eat bandwidth without giving anything back. *dips Anonymous in some choice chemicals from his lab*

      (Ok, I don't actually have a lab until April, and even then, dipping people in uranium would make the CNSC rather unhappy)

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  8. I thought the narrative format was really entertaining. I'm not sure how well it would work for a longer game, but for a relatively quick adventure game, it definitely kept me engaged.

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  9. I think the VGA version automatically sends you to Baba Yaga's hut after the castle celebration scene, probably due to how easy it was to skip it without realizing you were ending the game.

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    1. I'm going to guess that this happens when you charge the front? I don't have a save where I can do that, so I can't confirm.

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    2. That's what I thought at first, too, which is part of the reason I replayed the whole thing. But no, it was something very stupid. I won't make you wait for the next posting. After you SEARCH the desk and get the message that you find two healing potions and the mirror, you actually have to TAKE THE MIRROR. I just assumed that happened automatically and walked out. Without the mirror, the game knew I couldn't beat Baba Yaga so it took me right to the closing scene.

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    3. Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation. Any idea how to reliably trigger the second Bruno scene? Seems random.

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    4. Finding the note triggers it. It's the note that I think is somewhat random.

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    5. I played through the VGA version. I entered the brigands' hideout through the back way, and I when I left, I found myself outside by the Antwerp. I then killed a Cheetaur or two, which I had been avoiding the entire game, slept in town, and went to Baba Yaga's hut.

      As for the note, I found it when walking around Spielburg, trying to get info on a back way into the brigands' lair. The note was in the same place as the first one. I received my information, just not in the manner I thought I would.

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  10. "After swearing and re-loading multiple times, I realized you could just type STAND or STOP while rolling, and you'd stop."

    I never knew that and I've played through this game a dozen times!

    Also looking forward to your last post where you show the proper thiefy way to get in the Brigand Fortress and of course, taking care of the witch herself.

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    1. Once I thought about it, it just seemed unlikely that the game would leave you in a neverending loop with no "death screen."

      I'm not sure that even in the replay I did it the "proper thiefy way"; I still couldn't sneak past the minotaur nor climb the gate. But at least I avoided the frontal assault in the valley.

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    2. There's a particular place you have to climb from. The descriptions of minotaurs say that they have poor vision but excellent hearing...

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    3. Did you enjoy the cave-dweller surprise in the rear entry?

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    4. I couldn't beat the troll, so I just bypassed that cave, even in my second playing. Maybe that's why I ended at 496?

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    5. That could very well be. Since you pick the lock to get in there, it's a thief's solution. I wonder if there's a way to win that fight besides brute force.

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    6. I never found one. But if you do kill him you can go dig through the rubbish in his lair through the back of the cave before going to the brigand entrance.

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    7. I killed the troll with three or four Flame Dart spells.

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    8. Wow. Do your remember what level you were at with the spell?

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    9. I was at 100 with the spell itself, magic was somewhere in the 80s, and intelligence was probably in the low 90s.

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  11. Con grats you lations for finishing although it was less than perfect! Had I been playing, halfway through my resolve would have been to get a perfect score. Three quarters through I would still hold strong. When I realized I would be a hundred points short... I'd let it go. I hate retracing my steps. HATE it. I can never replay a game within a few YEARS of the last time I played it because it's too much like retracing my last steps. Dunno what it is in my psyche than does this to me (it drives me CRAZY that I can't redo stuff, because redoing stuff drives me CRAZY).

    Well. Best of luck!

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    1. 100 points sounds like a lot, but most of them came from just a few things. And it wasn't so much the points as not fulfilling one of the game's major quests that caused me to restart. I couldn't leave the vale in the hands of Baba Yaga. I just couldn't.

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    2. Maybe that's why there's still an ominous cloud behind the hero on the top image, I can sorta see thunder there as well.

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    3. I can see that in this case- not getting a perfect score vs. letting Baba Yaga keep control. In that case, I think even I could have retried some of it.

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  12. I like your posts. Both ways are entertaining.

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  13. Well played, and quite a speedy win!

    I managed to complete the game today, with 100 for all stats, skills and spells. Didn't manage a perfect score though, 485 out of 500.

    Some parts were tough (climbing, stealth), and others easy (throwing, main stats). The most time consuming part, in both in-game time and my own time, was grinding for cash to buy magic potions. With enough potions though, it was relatively simple to get 100 for all spells.

    My final, and full, gallery playthrough is here: http://imgur.com/a/f5nTK#0

    And here's a couple more animations to celebrate the win, including what happens at Baba Yaga's hut:
    Dispelling Elsa: http://i.imgur.com/O57WC.gif
    Countering the Curse: http://i.imgur.com/IUobk.gif
    So You've Become a Hero! http://i.imgur.com/bq23J.gif
    The next challenge: http://i.imgur.com/tYPGu.gif

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    1. I suggest a gif of continually falling into the pit before the Brigand Leader.

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    2. As I said over on Trickster's blog, congratulations. I might take a page from your book and spend an hour buffing up Chester before winning one more time and doing a final end-game save. I'd like to bring him into QfG2 with some solid stats.

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