Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Shadow of the Evil: Writing in the Walls

Thought this was a cool graphic of a plant monster.
Shadow of the Evil continues to be a modestly-fun, odd title. I mapped two more areas, both keeping to the same 25 x 18 size. As I explored, some game mechanics became clear that I didn't cover last time:
  • Sound effects are generally limited to walking steps and thuds and clinks in combat. There is an original music "score," but music only plays for a few seconds when you transition between areas. That's my kind of game music.
  • Weapons break after a few battles. You need backups. Fortunately, most enemies drop them.
My sword broke on his rock-hard abs.
  • Sometimes you don't find objects on the floor unless you hit "Search." I've been doing that in corners and dead ends, but I'm not going to do it in every square.
  • I suspect the purpose of the individual bags of 5 gold pieces is to bribe enemies to go away. I haven't had it work yet, though.
  • Successful use of the "Disguise" command lets you walk past enemies.
  • The English continues to be pretty horrid. I'm not pointing that out to be a snob, but because I'm worried that I'm going to encounter a puzzle where the confusing translation causes problems. See the "math problem" below, for instance.
The game's "statistics" screen. "Catched hurts" would be cute if it wasn't indicative of a more serious problem that may affect gameplay.
  • Enemies do respawn. I'm not sure if this is related to leaving a level and returning, or if they just do it over time naturally. 
  • While you can rest anywhere, there is a chance that a special "sleep ghost" will appear and attack you. Since you're usually at low health when you rest anyway, the demon is usually fatal. If you successfully hit him a few times, he'll say, "That's it! You awake!" and take off. What a dick.
"Your enemy could hit you!" is the game's way of saying that your enemy did, in fact, hit you.
  • I started the session with my inventory full and continued to have big inventory problems throughout the session. Keys are absolutely choking me--I found five or six more during this session, and I verified that even though some keys look the same, they aren't the same. You really do need all of them. I may have to identify a central hub to leave inventory items if I don't find a container that allows for more space.
The second area was accessible from the first via a teleportation pentagram. It turns out that these are two-way (or, at least, they have been so far). I arrived in what I mapped as the southwest corner of the new area. This area was odd for several reasons. First, there were no enemies. I explored the entire thing without fighting a single combat. Second, the authors seemed to adopt a "worm tunnel" approach rather than a "razor wall" approach for this one area. There were a lot of empty spaces in the middle and a large inaccessible area in what I mapped as the northwest.
There were only a few things to find in the area. Treasure squares contained a healing potion (each one good for 3 uses) and another bag with 5 coins. A second pentagram led to a new area, but the destination square had a locked door that none of my keys would open. There was this message on the wall: "Four dozen plus one n' first hundred and twenty and two, halve, and take one away, double, n' leave fifty-nine." This seems to be a math puzzle, but the odd English makes the answer a bit unclear. 4961 is the best I can guess right now. Either way, I haven't found any places in which a number is needed.
This looks like it goes some place important.
A short hallway ended in an encounter with an "ugly mass" in a passageway. "It seems very long," the game offered, "so you may need some help from your bag to get through." Nothing in my current bag helped, and I can't quite tell from the image what is even being depicted. The lighter doesn't work to make the area any lighter, and a rope that I found in another area wasn't the solution.
I'm not sure what I've met here, but no option works.
With no other ways forward, I had to retreat back to the initial area and try the gateway. This led to another "razor wall" area with enemies. In addition to the monstrous guards and one-eyed cat things I faced in the first area, this third area offered giant rats, giant snakes, and fanged humanoids with scimitars. These latter enemies were particularly hard, and I died at their blades twice. I had to rest after every successful encounter.
The second area I explored during this session, third total.
Interesting encounters in this area included:
  • Treasures: a second bag (couldn't use it), another bag of coins, two jars of water (provide minor healing), two healing potions, a diamond, the aforementioned rope, boots, a knife, and a shield.
  • A room with a giant plant. It wasn't hard to kill, and it didn't leave any special treasures.
  • The first puzzle. Searching a wall with a decorative shield, I was told there was a switch above me. This was the first time the game used the "look up" feature to show me something on the ceiling. To hit the switch, I needed to first equip the stick found in my first session. It opened a wall behind me.
Before he remembers his stick, my character repeatedly jumps for the switch on the ceiling.
  • This message on a wall at the end of a spiral: "If the night's dark open down nearly dead who brave, use your hand before that dawn, strike towards the grave." I guess I admire that they made it rhyme in translation, but I otherwise have no idea what it means.
  • This even more mysterious message: "Loves you / Pictures come from all / The walls / Make your choice and / Throw sku'!"
Anyone want to speculate what "throw sku'" means?
There were four new exits from this area: two pentagrams and two gateways. I tried one of the pentagrams and found myself in a three-square hallway with no treasures and no exits. I tested the walls, and damned if one of them wasn't a secret door. It was my first confirmation that the game has secret doors that you can find by walking into. The level turned out to be full of them. Before I explored it, I went back to the previous areas and made sure I hit every wall, but I only found one other illusory wall in doing so. It led to a couple of potions.
As an aside, let me say that while I have never been diagnosed with any OCD tendencies, I would be physically incapable of designing a razor-wall dungeon that had a dozen random squares of "dead space" scattered haphazardly throughout. I could see using dead space to depict pillars or in a symmetrical way to achieve a desired dungeon layout, but these maps just irritate me.
They were so committed to the odd placement of the definite article that they wrote it in stone.
Once I had tested the previously explored areas, I returned to the new one. It was weird. I initially mapped it as a new area, but when I was finished, it fit perfectly in the "unused" part of the second area, so I figured it must go there. Aside from one jug of water, there was nothing to find for most of the dungeon. There was a single door guarded by an armored mace-wielding guy. But when I killed him and entered the door, I just found a two-square dead-end room with nothing in it. His mace didn't even have a good attack value. The only reason to map this area seemed to be to note that the walls spell out "SOTE."
The only enemy on an entire level.
I returned to the third area and chose one of the gateways, not noticing until I was on the other side that it was one-way. I'm having a tough time in this area. There's something weird going on with rotating walls in one part of the level. I haven't figured out how to map it or even exactly how to predict it. Worse, I keep encountering these horned, bare-chested enemies that I can't kill. 
I probably need to explore the other areas and come back to this one. The problem is that there are not many ways to get stronger. There seems to be no leveling in the game, and in this entire session, I only got one equipment upgrade--a small shield for a larger, stronger shield. I keep collecting clues without associated puzzles, keys without doors, and finding entire areas with no apparent purpose. I wonder if I'm not missing some vital gameplay element, but I've tried all the options and don't know what it would be. 
Swapping my old shield for a new one. Look how many keys I have!
I am enjoying the graphics, and I'm never completely unsatisfied when I'm making maps on graph paper.
Time so far: 7 hours


  1. Since it sounds like it's supposed to rhyme with all, maybe it's a hint to "throw (a) skull" somewhere.

    1. My guess as well. Alternatively "skulls" if supposed to somehow rhyme with "walls".

    2. That would also be my guess. The apostrophe implies an abbreviation, and "skulls" sort of rhymes with "walls" depending on your accent.

  2. Maybe the mace is used to clean the "ugly mass", can it be?

    1. I was thinking that the the "mass" looked like a rock wall or cliff face to be climbed. Do you have climbing gear or a pick axe in addition to your rope?

  3. "Your enemy could hit you!" - I assume the confusion stems from the fact that "could" is both used for past simple tense ("I couldn't hit him.") and as modal verb for a possibility, as a native speaker would understand it here. Lost in translation... .

    Not the same issue, but when translation problems show up, I'm often reminded of the language school ad with the German coast guard (not sure if naming the school or linking the video is ok, but should be easily findable).

    I'd offer to try to check out the riddles in German if they pose problems, but based on what we've seen so far I doubt it'll be much clearer in that language version.

    1. I love that one. "we are sinking! we are sinking!". It's so funny because it's true ;-)

      As for the math riddle... I first thought it meant 110. Simply adding both numbers. Didn't realize the "... first" could mean concatenation too.

    2. My wife is from Germany....that commercial cracks me up so much

    3. The difference between "was able to hit you" and "might be able to hit you" in German is only the umlaut: konnte vs. könnte
      It feels a bit like being translated "word by word" instead of really knowing the language.

  4. Am I the only one who thinks that the interface for this game seems inspired in the first "Elvira" interface?

    1. Yeah, good call. There are some definite similarities. I probably have to fire up Elvira to remember how the interface worked, but I think you might be on to something.

  5. +1 to skulls (kinda rymes with walls). As for the spiral puzzle, maybe it's just their poetic attempt at saying 'hit the grave (of fallen heroes)' to open. Did you try striking the 'someplace important ' doorway?
    Also, do you try looking up and down in those dead end rooms?

  6. The term 'snob' derives from 'sine nobilitas' or 'without nobility' in Latin, and is generally used for people who try to act noble without really knowing how.

    I'm just curious, how does the fact that you're not of noble descent correlate with the tolerance of bad English?

    (Maybe I'm too old world, and the idiom has an entirely different meaning in the states.)

    1. Poorly-worded sentence. I meant: "I'm not pointing out the bad English in order to make fun of the authors or to feel superior."

      I don't think the sine nobilitas etymology is supported by linguists. Pointing that out is probably kind of snobbish.

    2. Wiktionary (which tends to be a fairly reliable source on etymology) agrees with the Addict here; "snob" appears to derive from a dialectical form of "cobbler", which then through, essentially, sarcastic inversion became used to refer to those who see themselves above others. It mentions the "sine nobilitate" version as a "folk etymology" without historical support.

    3. Folk etymology is such an odd thing, because it's so common, there are dozens of fairly well-known examples. People just love making up too-cute stories about words.

    4. In this case, the actual etymology is pretty cute already. I can easily imagine Shakespeare doing some kind of cobbler/snobbler joke.

    5. I hear all of you saying a snob is someone who looks down at other people, but here's the difference:

      We'd call newly-rich people snobs, if they spend a lot of money on clothing, but still don't know how to dress.

    6. We call that "nouveau riche" where I'm from.

    7. Same. I think these two concepts have a strong Venn overlap.

    8. hilarious, rich snobs debating what to call slightly richer snobs.

    9. "Folk etymology is such an odd thing, because it's so common, there are dozens of fairly well-known examples."

      Fornication Under Consent of the King!

      I imagine the first rule of etymology is: "It's never an acronym!"

    10. Quite possibly. I think acronyms (or at least, initialisms, which is the specific kind of acronym people are usually talking about when they use the word) have not been confirmed as existing before the late 19th century, but often turn up in folk etymologies for much older words.

    11. 'ΙΧΘΥΣ' might be among the earliest known.

  7. I'm not from the states, but even here in German-speaking Europe, "snob" is a common shorthand for someone looking down on other persons for whatever reason (in this case, for not writing correct English).

  8. I am tickled that the etymological implication is that it's not the looking-down-on-people which merits the derisive term "snob" but rather that the person doing it is not noble and therefore not entitled to do it. That it's, by implication, perfectly fine for actual nobility to look down on the commoners.

  9. You mentioned having to look upwards to find a button earlier; and in the first post on the game that it supports looking both up and down.

    "If the night's dark open down nearly dead who brave, use your hand before that dawn, strike towards the grave."

    My best random guess here would be a hint to looking for a button or secret on the floor (grave => in the ground?). Not sure if the rest of the text is supposed to identify where to look (dark squares? light from the east?).

  10. These 'written in the walls' puzzles always bug me a bit. They don't make any sense unless your characters are also mapping the dungeon on graph paper, and they imply that the people living in this world (or at least the ones building dungeons) are aware they're on a grid. It's not a big deal or anything, just kind of dumb IMO.

    1. They're still better then the 'Have you forgotten something' puzzles though.

    2. There's no need to assume that "the people living are aware they are on a grid" - it isn't exactly uncommon to build with right angles in fairly discrete measurements in the real world, after all.

      All it really implies is that the party is making a map in-universe, and that's far from a stretch.

    3. Yeah, you never see Americans talking about living on a grid when they talk about their hideous cities.

    4. Grid-like city plans were quite widespread in both Ancient Greece and Ancient China, so they predate the American city by a couple of millenia minimum.

    5. 1. In this particular case, the party doesn't need to see the writing. "SOTE" is more of an Easter egg than a solution to a puzzle. So no conflict here. But I agree that there are times (cf. SHELTEM) that it makes little sense.

      2. Our "hideous cities" . . . like Manhattan?

    6. Manhattan, you mean the city full of bland concrete buildings and homeless people shitting in alleies? So beautiful, you had to ask the Fre*n*h to give you a statue that doesn't look brown and grey? The city that's been failing ever since you lot moved in? I'm so envious!

    7. You seem to be mistaking dystopian movies from the 70s and 80s for reality. The Rotten Apple days were never nearly as bad as contemporary movies made them out to be. The Rotten Apple era has also been over for decades.

      Alternatively, you are trolling.

    8. Yes, Manhattan, the de facto capital of the world, visited by over 65 million tourists a year before COVID, including more than 20 million from Europe. Home of such "bland concrete buildings" as Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty, and the Guggenheim Museum. Home of Broadway, the United Nations, and Lincoln Center. The City that Never Sleeps. The city where everything happens first. The second-best jazz city in the world.

      No American would deny that Europe has wonderful cities, some of which I'd happily rank above New York, but they're at least on the same list. The idea that all American cities are "hideous," or that either way it has anything to do with the street layout, is a uniquely ignorant point of view.

    9. Why is this thread not in one of the BloodNet entries?

    10. More importantly, what's the first-best jazz city in the world ? New Orleans ?

    11. Movies? A movie would get labasted as fiction if it showed a city as bad as Manhattan. Business leaving by the hundreds every day, crime so bad people don't even report it and hordes of giant rats roaming the streets. People can't sleep because of the gunfire, that's why they call it the city that never sleeps, because it always sounds like an active warzone! Good thing the city provides armored bus and security or all the tourists would get shot as they step off the plane! They need that money or the city runs out of money and looks like zombie movie. What a lovely place!
      >complains that bland concrete buildings is infair.
      >lists bland concrete buildings.
      I really want to go see old skyscraper that looks like the cold shit or a kid's first building in minecraft. Or neofascism or whatever you yanks call them. You forgot the 20000 world famous pizza joints because some English said it didn't taste like burnt battery acid, or SCENIC HOLE IN THE GROUND. Flies enjoy feces, so feces must be tasty.

    12. Chicago is built on a grid - even the river downtown is engineered to turn at a right angle, just like it would in a Crpg. The grid makes it very easy to navigate, especially because you can always orient yourself towards the lake. There would be no point to mapping it, though - every block would look about the same.

  11. Is it possible to switch to Hungarian while playing? Maybe some of us native speakers can have a look what was lost in translation.

    1. I mean 'have a look at'. Maybe my English isn't really better than that of the developers.

  12. You are going to have to explain how you managed to get 4961 for the maths puzzle. I can think of a dozen ways to interpret it but can't get anywhere near this - eg Four dozen (4x12 = 48) plus one n' first hundred and twenty and two (+1122 = 1170), halve (/2 = 585), and take one away (-1 = 584), double (x2 = 1168) n' leave fifty-nine (-59 = 1109).
    (Also I can't ever seem to comment using Chrome, have to load up Microsoft Edge)

    1. I would have interpreted the riddle as ((4*(12 + 1) + 122)/2 - 1)*2 - 59 = 113

    2. I get 110 or 109, depending on how I interpret the wording.

    3. A different interpretation gives me 5795.

    4. I don't "have" to do anything except pay taxes and die.

    5. Doesn't addict indicate that you involuntary "have" to do something...

    6. What about 59? Like, throw away the rest so 59 is left as the answer. Like an actual riddle. Maybe that's just dumb, I fully admit.

    7. Here's my guess:
      "Four dozen plus one" 4 x 12 +1 = 49
      "n' first hundred and twenty and two, " 49 + 122 = 171
      "halve," 171/2= 85,5
      "and take one away," 85,5-1= 84,5"
      "double, " 84,5 x 2 = 169
      "n' leave fifty-nine." 169-59= 110.

      It is true that the Addict doesn't have to explain his guess, but it would be nice if he had the patience to do it. I'm curious about it...

      It may be unrelated, but this kind of cryptic problems always remind me a very old one that asks the age of a captain:
      "A ship sails the ocean. It left Boston with a cargo of wool. It grosses 200 tons. It is bound for Le Havre. The mainmast is broken, the cabin boy is on deck, there are 12 passengers aboard, the wind is blowing East-North-East, the clock points to a quarter past three in the afternoon. It is the month of May. How old is the captain?"
      It seems that many people tried to "solve" it... but the real answer is "We do not have enough information to guess the captain's age".

    8. The Addict separated the riddle in two blocks.
      Four fozen plus 1 = 49
      First hundred and twenty and two : 122
      Halve : 61
      And take one away 60
      Double 120
      n leave fifty-niny 61

      Together : 4961.

      That was my logic when I first read the riddle.
      My own logic was to consider 3 blocks 49 + 120 - 59 = 110 so there are a lot of ways to read this.

    9. Or there's this one:

      As I was going to St. Ives,
      I met a man with seven wives,
      Each wife had seven sacks,
      Each sack had seven cats,
      Each cat had seven kits:
      Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
      How many were there going to St. Ives?

    10. @Gerry Well, I guess the answer is NOT 7^4 cause that would be to simple...or is it?

    11. @fireball The answer is just one - you're the one going to St Ives, the man and his wives are coming the other way!

    12. In that case it would be zero, as it only asked how many kits, cats, sacks, and wives went there. However, you can't know how many other kits, cats, sacks, and wives not mentioned went there.

      But then, you can pretty much raise such questions with every puzzle, even those which are supposed to be answered straight.

    13. Only Showsni has watched Die Hard with a Vengeance, it seems.

    14. The answer is obviously 0 (excluding yourself), but for a different reason. All the wives are going to hell for carrying around 56 cats in a sack and the husband is already there so he's not going anywhere.

    15. Only Showsni has watched Die Hard with a Vengeance, it seems.

      That blond dye job on Jeremy Irons is hard to forget.

    16. Oh I actually did, too. But I recall only quotes from the legendary first.

  13. What even is that thing attacking you with the mace? Lord Humungus? Some guy wearing an owl mask? A plasma globe bolted on to the body of a lizard man?


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