Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Legacy: Plan All Your Moves in Advance

The most legitimately scary moment in the game so far.
I'm not an adventure game addict. My experience with them is somewhat limited to the few that I played as a child and the hybrids I've played on this blog. What I enjoy most about them are the "aha!" moments when you realize the solution to a puzzle and, even better, when that solution cascades to other puzzles. It feels like when I'm playing a tough crossword and just starting to despair and I finally hit upon a word, and the letters that it gives me in the crossings lead to a cascade of "aha!s" as I fill in a bunch of other words. There are many times in adventure games in which I have a list of puzzles with no solutions and then suddenly solving one provides me with the object I need for another, which provides me with the object I need for another, and so on, until the end or at least the next major section. I've noticed this same phenomenon the couple of times that I've tried "escape rooms." It can be quite a high.
If I was really addicted to this style of gameplay, then, I think I'd find the RPG parts of RPG hybrids an unwelcome intrusion. RPGs add an element of randomness, of indeterminism, that I would think an adventure gamer might find unwelcome. In an adventure game, it's enough to figure out that the way to defeat the ghost is to douse it with holy water. You might have trouble with the parser or controls, but if you otherwise get it right, the holy water splashes on the ghost and the ghost disappears. RPGs put a "throwing" skill in between the puzzle and the solution. It doesn't matter that you were good enough to solve the puzzle, your character has to be good enough, too. So you try throwing the holy water, and you miss or it doesn't work, and now it's not clear whether you got the puzzle wrong or your character just failed. So now you have to try potential solutions multiple times, with never any guarantee, statistically, that the "right" solution will actually work.
And, as the DOS prompt soon makes it clear, out of this world.
The same isn't true of adventure game elements within RPGs. I can't see any reason not to welcome them (if not done poorly, of course). They provide a break from the monotony of killing enemies, they give you a reason to carefully map and take notes, and they generally help establish a greater sense of setting than the typical RPG dungeon actually gives you. You can tell me that I'm exploring a crypt and maybe create wall textures accordingly, but it creates a much better sense of being in a crypt if I have to solve some kind of puzzle related to headstones or laying some bones to rest or whatever. 
My thesis is thus that I, as a CRPG addict, appreciate hybrids more than adventure game addicts. I will need more adventure gamer comments to know for sure. What I can tell you from my perspective is that as I mapped the world of The Legacy, I briefly crossed over and found myself getting annoyed with the game's RPG intrusions. The game already offers so much to explore, so many puzzles to solve, so many items to keep track of, I don't need my exploration interrupted (or, worse, artificially channeled) by winged demons roaming the hallways, especially when I don't know if the winged demons a) can't be defeated; b) can be defeated, but only with better skills or items; or c) can be defeated but only with a special item. The holy water example above was a real experience in this session. Likewise locked doors: I had a number of them annotated for hours as needing a key, only to find that I just had to try "Force" at least one more time.
After our discussion on my first entry, in which you alerted me that there might be several "walking dead" moments in the game, I started over with new characters. Specifically, I made someone high in "Brawling," as it was the only way I had to fight for now. When he died, I just used a couple of the default characters. My goal was just to map and annotate, saving the "real" gameplay for later, once I had a better idea of where to go, what resources to expend, and which to conserve. I mapped in my usual way, coloring in yellow those areas where I still had a locked door or other puzzle to solve. The nature of this game is that there are no tricky transitions between areas (e.g., leaving one square to east and arriving in the next from the south), so I could use Excel.
The main floor of the mansion was 20 x 20, using razor walls, with some squares unused--unless there's some way of finding secret doors I haven't yet determined. I also mapped about half of the second level (also shaping up to be 20 x 20) and bits of the basement, a third level, and a sub-basement.
My map of the ground level. The coordinates are for my own notes; I don't think the game uses any coordinates.
As I mentioned last time, most of the rooms and hallways are typical RPG-style tiles with textures, in which you can turn and face any direction. Occasionally, however, you move forward into a more detailed room with a more artfully-composed scene, and you can only view it from one perspective. You would think these rooms had something special about them, but most of them haven't offered me anything important or even any obvious puzzles for later solutions. Level 1's sole room of this nature was a dining room. The dining room table had "death awaits!" scrawled in it, and a shrunken head came out of the dumbwaiter. A curtain, when opened, showed a hanging body behind it.

Level 2 had three special rooms: a bedroom, a bathroom, and a den. The den had a VCR that I needed so that was important, but otherwise I didn't see any point to them. Oddly, the first time I visited the bathroom and opened the toilet, I would swear that the game told me that I found a key. But upon dying and revisiting a couple of times, I never got that message again. I never saw the key the first time, in any event, just the message.
The bathroom scene on Level 2.
The ground floor had about 15 zombies, and my third character was able to fully clear them, although he had to use up two first aid packs and about 12 rounds of ammunition in the process. Late in the game, I found a "Juju fetish" that causes the zombies to ignore you. I don't know if it would still be worth killing them for the experience. For weapons, I found a fireplace poker and a revolver and several speedloaders for it, but it eventually jammed. 
The only other enemy on the first level was a floating mouth with sharp teeth and tentacles--kind of like a beholder (which is what I called them on the map) without the eye. I couldn't defeat it with any weapon, but he didn't seem interested in attacking me unless I attacked him first. Instead, he just floated around and scared the character, which causes him to drop his jaw and stand in place, paralyzed, for a little while.
I'm not sure it's even necessary to fight these guys.
The other floors were a lot harder. The second floor had ghosts, which I could only kill once I figured out the holy water trick, and I think there are more ghosts than holy water. Late in the session, I found what is perhaps a way to remove them all permanently at once, but more on that in a bit. The second floor also had winged demons with some kind of magic ranged attack, and I couldn't kill them at all. Enemies are fortunately unable to open doors, so you can get away from most of them as long as you don't get trapped in a dead end.
So far, I've been unable to defeat this enemy.
The basement had some other kind of demon that I could kill, but only with a lot of difficulty, and there were too many of them. I could barely explore down there at all. A second basement area had some creature (or person, I suppose) with a gun who kept sniping me from the end of a hallway. Late in the session, I found a bulletproof vest that's probably supposed to be used here.
In addition to enemies, frequent darkness has been an obstacle to exploration. The lights go out at regular intervals (in conjunction with peals of thunder) and stay out for several minutes, the intervals of darkness getting longer and longer, until eventually they go out completely. I eventually found a flashlight in a Level 1 hallway, but it has limited battery power, which means you definitely want to select "pause" when you take time away from the game window. I eventually found a fuse box behind a locked door, but the game says that it's broken.
Of course it is.
The only puzzles I've solved have been relatively obvious ones. For instance, I've found a handful of keys (thankfully, there's a key ring) to open locked doors. One key opened a safe, in which I found a videocassette that played in a machine on the second level. Level 1 had a couple of trap doors that could be hidden with wall switches, plus one room where every square spun me in a different direction. A couple of illusory walls were revealed by walking directly into them.

Level 2 got a bit harder with the navigation puzzles. There are a couple of doors that teleport you to other parts of the level when you walk through them. There are a couple of squares in which you get zapped with a lightning bolt unless you press a button on either side to teleport past them.
Other puzzles to which I haven't found solutions are as follows. I emphasize that I do not want spoilers for these puzzles unless the solution is something that I should have already figured out from the manual or something equally obvious. 
  • Several locked doors, though it was late in the session that I realized trying "Force" multiple times sometimes works, so I have to go around to them again.
  • One particular locked door on Level 2 has someone knocking behind it. This is the subject of the top screen shot and it legitimately gave me a fright when I walked up to it and heard the knocking. That was the only real "scare" of the session.
  • A woman walking around in circles on Level 2 doesn't seem to have any way to interact.
I can't get her to stop, talk, or anything.
  • The sealed entry door on Level 1, though I suspect that isn't a real puzzle but just something that persists throughout the game.
  • Some of the rooms have rune symbols on the walls. Examining them says that they're "charged," but I have otherwise no idea what to do with them. You can also find runes to pick up that are equally mysterious. 
I hope the meaning and use of these becomes clear.
  • The damaged fusebox on Level 1.
  • Second-floor landing doors in the entry hallway that are all "nailed shut." More than once, I've written off such doors only to later find a prybar, so I'm not sure what to think here.
This is the door that the opening cinematic shows you going through.
But most of my progress is blocked by enemies, not puzzles. I need to figure out reliable ways to defeat the basement demons and winged demons or I won't be able to explore much of their levels. Your comments have made me reluctant to waste spells on them, and my last couple of characters didn't have spells anyway.
As I've explored, notes, diary pages, and other bits of exposition have filled in parts of the plot. Last time, I recounted a series of notes from a Marcus Roberts, who had taken it upon himself to investigate the house and its "depraved" history, noting that local disappearances corresponded with lights appearing in the sky every 50 years. Inside the house, he found portals to "planes of darkness" that let the demons into the place. He somehow determined that he needed to find the Golden Torc, but he apparently died in the basement from the gun-wielding enemy. 
One of Marcus Roberts's notes.
One long document described the history of the house: Built "near Longport in 1639 by Governor Elias Winthrop." There is, of course, no "Longport" anywhere in New England (although there is one in New Jersey) and no Governor Elias Winthrop, but these names sound plausibly like something that you might find in the history of the New England states, particularly Massachusetts. A John Winthrop was a colonial governor of Massachusetts only a few years after 1639, for instance. Anyway, Elias Winthrop was burned as a warlock in 1662--apparently the subject of the painting in the first room. Even then, Winthrop House was said to be haunted. Elias's son, Hildebrand, used the house for "debauched revelries" until he died in a fire in 1699. The history notes that Hildebrand Winthrop was the last Winthrop to live in the house, but the family tree shows he had two sons who changed their last names to Maitland and Mayhew. I thus don't know whether the history means they didn't live in the house (and it later found its way back to their descendants) or whether they lived in the house but weren't Winthrops anymore.
There were also diary pages written by a Robert Prentiss, one of the three family members who had recently "gone missing" and prompted the start of the game. The diary is recent. It talks about ghostly intrusions from the "ethereal plane" and Prentiss's attempts to control them. Apparently, some forthcoming stellar alignment is going to cause (or already caused) the "final gate" to open. Prentiss also questions whether he is The One, which has something to do with the magic in his bloodline. His sister, Ellen, apparently also possessed the magic but "rebelled against it," and Prentiss was determined to kill her, "and then nothing shall stand in my way." One note written by Ellen calls her brother a "fool" and says that he may be summoning dark gods, including one named Alberoth, but they can't stop her from running past them on the stairs and exploring the house at her leisure.

These notes seem to be setting up Ellen as a good guy and Robert as the antagonist, but then we come to the VHS tape titled "My Brother and I" (ah, 1993 was a more innocent time). On it, Robert says that Ellen has escaped after being locked up, presumably in the house, after she tried to burn it down in 1967 (she would have been 25). Ellen killed Robert's wife Catherine and their mother, Karen, "and now she's after me." Then Ellen appears on the tape, holding an axe, and says, "Why don't you tell 'em the rest, brother dear? About your mother and her family, about the ring, about the Dark Ones?" It cuts off there. The title suggests that Ellen survived the encounter.
I'm not looking forward to meeting her.
A third note seems to be written by a private investigator, hired by a "weird guy" to "investigate this crazy joint." It could be Marcus, but the tone is different. He remarks that "nowhere is safe unless it is marked with a strange triangle symbol." The book mentions this, too, as the only places safe to rest, but I haven't found a single room with a triangle symbol. The game says I haven't gotten tired enough to rest anyway.

Finally, I found a ghost on the second level who was interested in talking rather than fighting. He said that he and his fellow ghosts "served the cult of Melchior in life and now are enslaved to it in death." Apparently, the cult performed something called the Rite of Opening, but Melchior deceived his followers and ensnared their souls. I can release them if I burn "the painting." The only painting I've found is of the warlock in the first room, but I can't seem to make anything happen with oil or matches or the "Flames of Desolation" spell. However, in messing with it, I noted something I missed earlier: there's a hollow depression where the warlock's pendant is, and the game says it's surrounded by fragments of green glass. Thus, I suspect there's something else to do with this painting and the one that the ghost wants burned is a different one.
Does the Cult of Melchior worship him because he brings gifts of gold?
I'm enjoying the game, but it's clear by now this is no quick adventure game that you can win in less than an hour once you know all the puzzle solutions. Thus, I'm not sure I want to keep exploring with throwaway characters. I guess the better approach would be to do my best with a final character but save at key stages. I'll think on it for next time.
Time so far: 7 hours


  1. Yeah, the door with the knocking is pretty effective, but I think that's because you're just not expecting something like that in a game like this. They basically had one shot at doing a decent piece of sound design and they did it well.
    I think the game has coordinates somewhere in-game, but I can't remember where.
    You haven't found the fun part of level 2 yet. I'm sure you'll notice it the next time you go through it.
    I don't know if its worth killing the zombies for experience if you're burning through two first aid kits. The juju fetish doesn't help you if you attack them. Best to just put them into a room so you don't get attacked later.
    I also recall that the thing you call a beholder (it has a name, I just don't remember it) also brings in some fun stuff.
    You might also want to figure out how to eliminate as few ghosts as possible with holy water. The water is useful later.
    As to the doors, well, its not not that far from what you've already figured, gur oneerq barf pnaabg or haoneerq. Gur barf gung ner whfg ybpxrq lbh pna sbepr.

  2. Enemies don't block you in the game. When you meet one, you can just press "forward", and there's a chance that you get past them. I remember reading somewhere that the Dodge skill determines that (and the message you get when you're successful is "You managed to dodge your assailant"), but for some reason I can't find it in the manual. I've just checked it out specifically - at least for the zombies it works perfectly fine.

    The woman walking in circles (I think there are several of them around the levels) is just a bait to lure you into the lightning trap. I hope you've found out how to detect and bypass those, there are more of them coming.

    1. Right, but they get a few swipes at you in the process. And you can't open a door if an enemy is in the same square, so you have to maneuver around them. In general, my tendencies as an RPG player make it difficult to leave enemies roaming around in my backpath.

    2. Which is why I've been telling you for several comments now that you should leave RPG mentality behind for this game ;-P

    3. Running past enemies is basically Legacy's two-step dance. You have to be quick enough to execute it in a way that leaves you undamaged. And invest in Dexterity skills - even if Dodge doesn't influence the chance of success directly, it still protects you from their blows in the process.

  3. From an adventure game perspective, I don't think there are a lot of games that are considered hybrids. Other than the Quest for Glory series and spiritual sequels like Heroine's Quest, pretty much everything I can think of is either usually called "not an adventure" or "not an RPG".

    1. I think the opposite: mostly around that time many games were hybrids, and there were quite a few puzzles in dungeon crawlers like Bloodwych or Dark Heart of Uukrul. Even some adventures, like Legend of Kyrandia, are pure dungeon crawlers but with the character walking around. I was replaying Kyrandia lately and it is funny how some puzzles are the same ones as in the first two Eye of the Beholder.

    2. I've never heard anyone claim that DHoU is an adventure game, nor that Kyrandia is an RPG, nor that either of the two is a hybrid of any kind.

      Obviously, just having puzzles doesn't make something an adventure game; and merely having a dungeon doesn't make something an RPG, either.

    3. I'd say for a game to be considered a hybrid, puzzles have to be of the inventory-based point-and-click variety (unless we're dealing with parser-based text adventures), and then the balance of puzzles to other forms of gameplay (combat, skillchecks) has to be somewhat even. True hybrids are somewhat rare, true. Most sort-of-hybrids are just Adventures with some simplistic stat-based combat (Elvira games, Wizardry Nemesis, numerous Eastern European titles for some reason). On the other hand, you have RPGs with strong Adventure elements like Arx Fatalis or Wizardry 7 - both feature extensive inventory-based puzzle sequences, but the main gameplay loop is strictly RPG. However, Legacy definitely qualifies as a true hybrid because of how it turns its combat encounters into puzzles (Juju fetish to pacify zombies, holy water to destroy ghosts etc.) - in addition proper point-and-click screens. Quest for Glory and its clones, West of Loathing, The Council and, arguably, Keef the Thief also belong in this category.
      Interestingly, Adventures with RPG elements are much rarer than the other way around. Of the classics, I'd call Maniac Mansion one, as your path through the game and puzzle solutions depend on the characters you have chosen at the start, and possibly Neuromancer - it doesn't have much of build variety, but it does use character development mechanic. But there are some newer ones, like Goetia or Whispers of a Machine, where the character can get some upgrades/powers/augmentations in the course of the game changing the way puzzles are solved.

    4. "I've never heard anyone claim that DHoU is an adventure game, nor that Kyrandia is an RPG, nor that either of the two is a hybrid of any kind."

      I should ignore you right now as this has all the red flags of bad faith, but just for the sake of it: you read it now, you read it from me, and you can consider myself as the authority if you want to go to the argument of authority. Or you can argue about the points.

      Because my point is that "hybrid" itself is a very reductive word. There are mechanics that are shared between genres. VK is right though:point n click games do not tend to add rpg elements, mostly because for every good mix as in the QFG series you have things like Shannara or Zork where, well, both genres seem to be at war. But in any case I cannot see the "pure hybrid" definition useful. Both are genres very close to each other since birth and share a lot of the same tropes.

    5. "Interestingly, Adventures with RPG elements are much rarer than the other way around." Isn't that likely because of what Chet observed in his post: RPG elements get in the way of adventure puzzles in a way that is much less of a problem the other way round?

    6. @Gerry Quinn, not really, skillchecks don't necessarily have to involve a random roll or obfuscate the solution. If I had to guess, I'd say it has more to do with exponentially increasing workload. All Adventure game interactions are individually scripted (unlike RPGs, which rely on systemic interactions), so for every possible character build a separate puzzle solution has to be written. For example, in Whispers of a Machine, character development is very limited: the PC gets new augmentations twice, each one selected from a pool of three possible options. But that alone means that the developer had to program six different paths through the game. As a result, the game is relatively short, even by adventure standards (4-5 hours), but highly replayable. I'd say that's a good trade-off, but YMMV.

    7. I really don't see how any of the Kyrandia games have RPG elements.

    8. Yeah, sure hybridization is more a continuum than a set 'third state' between adventures and CRPGs. But I have to agree that Kyrandia was a bizarre choice of example.

    9. The point is that there's a WIDE difference between a game that contains some elements also found in a different genre (which is trivially true for almost every game), and a game that is widely considered a hybrid between two genres (which is very rare, and I don't see how self-proclaimed "authority" Risingson can credibly claim otherwise).

      Yes, there's a gray area here, but merely having puzzles of some sort is not sufficient to declare a game a hybrid adventure game.

    10. I meant the RPG elements in adventure games (skillchecks etc.) tend to be *more* of a problem for puzzles, obviously.

    11. Combat in Zork I isn't too bad since there's three possible fights total, only one is required, one has a puzzle solution and they can all be knocked off near the start of the game. It's actually slightly more annoying in Zork III (II doesn't have any) as even though there's only one, it's dragged out longer. Beyond Zork is a little better in being a full hybrid and giving most enemies a secondary puzzle solution, but I think that game has other well known problems e.g. the hungus.

      I wouldn’t necessarily hold up Quest for Glory too high for adventure games with good combat as that’s a pretty low bar and there are certainly problems with it in III to V. I found combat to be a total joke the entire game in III with a paladin. Some of my stats got a boost to the new minimums when I started so I think it would still be very easy with a new character.

      Combat in IV was a complete nightmare at first with combat against the common wyvern enemy leaving you completely exerted and near death. Then I got the Frost Bite spell and combat became completely trivial as you can just hold down the B key until whatever you’re fighting dies without having to do anything else. That was my entire strategy the rest of the game. The only exceptions were zombies as they’re immune and rabbits because they’re too short, but both are very easy enemies.

      V is the only one that I’d say has decent combat, but the Frost Bite spell is still insanely overpowered even though it switched from being ranged bolt to a “breath” attack. Every magic capable character starts out with Frost Bite. It even completely trivialized the final boss even though I focused on melee combat as I thought it was pretty fun despite still being overly easy.

      Adding adventure elements to an RPG works better in general as it’s really just enhancing elements that are likely already there in the first place. Trying to add RPG elements to an adventure is tricky because it’s like having to make two games at once while also potentially increasing the adventure workload if multiple play styles are possible. There’s a whole lot more examples of adventure games with regular action combat since it’s easier to implement. The combat/action sequences are still generally terrible and unobtrusive is the low bar most can’t even clear.

      Quest for Glory does manage to do better because they were designed from the outset to cater to multiple possible character builds with different paths for fighters, thieves and wizards with paladins occasionally getting a variation too. That’s a lot of work and they aren’t always 100% successful. I haven’t had a chance to play too much of Hero U, but that seems to more or less lock you into a predominately thief-like character rather than having a wider array of possible solutions for the entire game.

    12. In light of this discussion, it's interesting to note that the Adventure Gamer blog has declared that Ultima 7 is an adventure game, and has started a playthrough.

    13. The RPG elements in Quest for Glory are stronger in its non-combat problem solving gameplay than in its combat. Which solution is the best for you depends on your character. Some puzzles have entirely different solutions depending on your class and skills. A thief will approach a puzzle differently from a wizard or a fighter. Combat really isn't even that necessary for a game to be an RPG (and especially not for it to be a hybrid).

    14. I think "declared that Ultima 7 is an adventure game" might be over-stating it. They made a good case for why it has a place on the blog, but the main title of the entry is "Genre Hopping," after all.

    15. Calling Legend of Kyrandia an adventure-RPG hybrid, or even just "a dungeon crawler", because of how its puzzles are set up is quite far out there. This is the first time I've seen it done. I can see where it comes from (it does have re-spawning items for kind-of-like-crafting puzzles), but to be considered a dungeon crawler, even merely on the puzzle-exploration side of things (as it has no combat, character development or loot), LoK would have needed at least much more complex maps and switch and trigger puzzles, which it doesn't really have beyond a simple case or two.

      In a way this is all semantics, we can agree that Kyrandia has some dungeon crawler type puzzle design, it's just that bringing it into an adventure-RPG hybrid discussion seems unproductive. All genres influenced one another in many subtle ways, doesn't mean we could use any game as example for any genre-mix.

  4. Honestly, my #1 pet peeve in video games (across all genres) is situations where it's not clear if something is possible but you're not doing it correctly, or you need an item/powerup you don't have yet. There's nothing more frustrating than banging your head against a timed puzzle for an hour before finally checking a guide and discovering that it's not possible until you get the special item from the next part of the main quest.

    1. Related to that are the artificial "flags" that prevent you from progressing with no clear reason. You have to go through a cave to the next reason, but the cave door is locked. A miner will be at the cave to open the door for you, but only if you've talked to the right people in the town -- they don't say anything about the cave or the miner, the game just determines that you must talk to those people before moving on.

      A better way to do this is have someone say "The miner will be there tomorrow to open the door for you". If you try to rest at the inn or house, a character will say "It's still early, let's gather more information". This is still somewhat artificial but at least it communicates to the player that the game isn't going to move on until they talk to the right people.

      This is more a problem in console RPGs in the Japanese tradition than it is in Western CRPGs, I think, which tend not to have these kind of forced progressions.

    2. Yes, there's one annoying instance in Phantasy Star on the Master System. There's an item that you can't access until an NPC tells you about it, even if you know where it is and have all the right equipment to find it.

      I remember being quite baffled the first time I replayed it. I didn't speak to the NPC and went straight to the location with all the right gear but I couldn't get the item. I thought it was a bug at first!

    3. Even the Gold Box games had this issue. Champions of Krynn had a secret door you couldn't find if you didn't talk to an NPC first.

    4. Even worse in Champions of Krynn, you NEED a Red Mage with "Knock" memorized in order to get the Dragonlance. There are no other doors in the game that require Knock. Get all the way through the game without it? No Dragonlance for you, download a save editor or start over.

    5. In Curse of the Azure Bonds, you can only trigger the sequence which properly starts the game if you visit all the NPCs (including the useless store). Caused me a bit of consternation in later playthroughs when I couldnt figure out wth was going on.

    6. @Alex:
      You can solve COK without the Dragonlance. I did it back in time with medium difficulty. The dragon fights are harder, of course.

      Since you lose the Dragonlance at the end anyway, there is not even a disadvantage when continuing on with DKK.

      However, while we are at it, you can't solve COK without a knight, because only a knight can solve the tasks in Sir Dargaard's Tomb.

    7. It's been a long time - but I thought the tomb was optional?

    8. @BastyCDGS and @Alex:

      Both of you are wrong. At least in the PC version you can definitely open that door without Knock - I never ever memorized that spell.

      And Sir Dargaard's Tomb while requiring a Knight is optional - I think only Gargath, Jelek and Neraka are mandatory to progress the plot in that part of the game (when you are based at the 2nd outpost).

  5. Magic buffs are incredibly powerful in this game, especially if cast at the highest level of power. Crimson Mists of Miyamoto can make you nigh indestructible for the (long) duration, for example.

  6. Someone's been watching What We Do in the Shadows.

    1. "Someone" was a fan of Norma Tanega long before some New Zealanders re-discovered her a few years ago.

  7. Just some thoughts...

    You have electronics and mechanics skills, maybe some item uses either of those.

    Perhaps holy water works on other enemies.

    Was there any unusual or mysterious features near the knocking door?

    There are at least three different ways to open most doors, besides keys. Some doors can indeed never be opened.

    I don't remember there being a prybar.

    The shrunken head is important, but much later.

    There are a fair bit of secret rooms on the first couple of levels, some of them necessary to find. There are often audible and sometimes visual cues to find. Alternatively, pay close attention to the automap.

    Magic is a bit overpowered, if you know how to administer it correctly. It is also crucial, but only in one instance, I think, later in the game.

    There are many weird things happening in the mansion and the game does a pretty good job of not spelling it out, only throwing a rare vague hint occasionally. It leaves a lot of interpretation up to the player.

    1. "I don't remember there being a prybar." There isn't here. I'm saying that there have been times in other adventure games when I had THOUGHT the game had permanently shut off one avenue, only to later find a way to open it. I wasn't sure if that was the case here.

    2. I understood that, just didn't want to give an explicit spoiler because I don't completely know where that line is drawn. And maybe there is a prybar, I genuinely don't remember.

    3. Got it. I appreciate the vagueness, but I'm playing well ahead of my blogging, so the likelihood of spoilers was low anyway. Most of the puzzles in this game seem to be solved via the "keep looking" strategy.

  8. I feel seen.

    I guess it depends on the nature of the hybrid? I thought Quarterstaff was hybrid-done-badly, because you'd find yourself beating yourself up for an hour+ on a puzzle to get a reward that's a potion that isn't even helpful or some gold; conversely, an RPG tough fight "just for gold" doesn't feel as onerous. And the RPG development was limited enough that the RPG-buzz of a character improvement just wasn't there.

    Beyond Zork, on the other hand, had clear demarcation where RPG elements were happening, didn't put a non-reward behind a puzzle gate, and felt like it had genuine character progression.

    I certainly have found randomness irritating, but most especially when it's not clear randomness is being invoked. Battling the thief in Zork, it's clear from the messages there's some RNG being thrown behind the scenes, but with less clear messages it appears you're just trying to solve something wrong (see: when I played Adventure 500 and whiffed hitting a dragon 8 times in a row).

  9. Real magic combined with witch trials in a story has always made me feel iffy. The moral of the real life witch trials that we should remember today is that they were about something that wasn't even real and was entirely based on emotions instead of facts, so having witches be real would give the persecution some sort of truth or justification. Stories like that feel like they're disrespecting the real people who experienced suffering for no real reason.

    1. I completely agree. I feel like I've made that exact argument before, in reference to another game. When I lived in Salem, Massachusetts, I felt that there was a very weird blend of the respectful and the profane. Most of the museums, even if they called themselves something lurid ("the Witch Dungeon Museum") would tell a straight story of innocent people being executed by a corrupt local government. Then you'd be walking along and find 6 half-naked women writhing beneath a tree in a circle of candles, calling upon the spirit of Sarah Wildes to grant them power.

    2. Did the police cars have silhouettes of a cartoon witch on them then? It's such a weird place these days. The Peabody Essex Museum is great though.

    3. Not just on the cars--it's the official police patch. A stereotypical witch in a pointed hat riding a broomstick.

  10. "So you try throwing the holy water, and you miss or it doesn't work, and now it's not clear whether you got the puzzle wrong or your character just failed."

    .. I mean, this is an interface failure, not an inherent problem with that kind of gameplay. There's no good reason a game can't tell you clearly - and it should - that your solution is correct but your stats need improvement.

  11. Regarding Demons: IIRC Ubyl jngre fubhyq uryc ntnvafg gubfr gbb

  12. This game sounds fun. I've always liked the idea of survival horror, but can't handle the terrible controls (yes, I know it's part of the experience) and the pointlessness of the combat. Silent Hill springs to mind - the game teaches you pretty early to run away/past everything, but then confronts you with long, boring boss battles that require fighting (as much with the controls as the boss).

    Anyway, this seems like a nice sort of proto-survival horror game, with controls that work and combat that contributes to character development. I wish there were more of these.

  13. In case nobody else mentioned it, it's 'Computerkunst'. With a 'C'.
    Germans call computers all sort of things, sometimes even 'Rechner' (calculator), but never 'Komputer'.
    Probably because that sounds too much like 'kaputt'.
    No one wants to jinx anything...

  14. "RPGs add an element of randomness, of indeterminism, that I would think an adventure gamer might find unwelcome."

    As a friend of adventure games, I agree. An adventure should be winnable by deducing solutions to puzzles only from the clues the game gives you.

    The worst case is when you need mechanical skills. If such scenes exist, a puzzle-based solution should be available as well.

    A really bad example is Star Trek 25th Anniversary. The whole game is a point-and-click adventure, but the game's final objective is to win a space battle. There's no way of solving the game in point-and-click style, you have to shoot down the enemy spacecraft in a bad spaceflight sim.

    A really good example is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Indiana Jones being an action franchise, there are brawling scenes, but each has a puzzle solution as well. The game even asks if you want brawling or not.


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