Thursday, 17 March 2016

Maupiti Island - Won!

By Ilmari

Last time I had just finished examining all the physical evidence and I was pretty certain what was going on in the island, who had killed Juste (Roy) and who was the disfigured body (Lucie). I still had no idea how to finish the game - there’s no command for arresting people. Thus, my only chance was to start solving the remaining puzzles.

Puzzle #1: How to play the piano

I started with the mechanical piano, which was an obvious Chekhov’s gun. Marie was said to have played the piano every day, with an ashtray on the side. There was an ashtray in the kitchen, and indeed, it fit on the piano perfectly. After a bit of experimenting, I discovered I could now open the piano and look through its mechanism. At one compartment I found a stack of blank paper and one paper with a message - the one found later on deciphered in Roy’s room (“we wait the boat”).

So, the piano was then some sort of device for transmitting coded messages. Marie must have been aware of it, since she both played the piano every day and had the book for breaking the code. Roy must have been on the know, also, since he knew where to get the coded message and the book. But what were these messages all about?

My next attempt was to use the piano to produce another coded message. I assumed the messages were written when a correct melody was played (that’s why Marie had to have the list of songs in her room). I then tried every song in the list, but no new messages came about.

Let's pick Sugar-daddy

Since many of the events in the game are time-based, I proceeded to try the same routine the next day. “Ham and eggs” did the trick and a new message appeared in the compartment.

This time I managed to find a right chess game in the book to decipher the code: “tribes need guns! the Wind”.

I had no idea who or what the Wind is, but the need of guns suggested that Marie was involved with some gun smuggling. If my previous hunch was true and the mysterious Lady in Black was supplying Eritrean independence fighters with weapons, then it wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that Marie was indeed the Lady in Black and that the whole kidnapping was just a hoax to get Bob deliver the guns.

Although playing with the piano had been successful, I still had no idea how to continue. I then turned my interest on the rope, next to the piano, since, you know, ropes are always useful in an adventure game.

I had been reading Trickster’s review of Mortville Manor, when I noticed he described Jerome Lange’s investigation of a well. Hey, there was a well in this game too! Surely they wouldn’t play the same trick twice. Well, I could tie my rope to a tree branch above the well. Trying to climb down, I soon found myself facing a cold death scene.

Puzzle #2: How to get in well without wetting your feet?

Knowing that many of the events in the game were time-based, I suspected I just had to find the right time to enter the well. After all, if the water level of the pool nearby was rising and falling, why wouldn’t the water level of the well also do the same?

After several experiments, I found out that between 4 PM and 5 PM there was a time when the water level was so low that I could climb down and remain alive. I saw a hole, but it was covered by some iron bars and no obvious way to go forward. What next?

Puzzle #3: How to fit in through the bars?

Remember the small hole in a certain stone on the well? The one that had doubloons under it? Yes, it took me also a while to recollect that small detail. After I had rediscovered it, it felt obvious to try to fill it with the strange stone, marked with a pirate skull, that I had found in Marie’s room. Something clicked, and when I now went down the well, I could press a button that lifted the iron bars.

Yes, that single red dot is the button

There I was in a room with a large head of a monkey and some seashells, with death heads carved on them. Yet another puzzle to solve.

Puzzle #4: What should I do with these things?

It took me a while, but then I figured out what to do. Remember the statue of Maupiti god in the pool of rising and falling water level? Underneath that statue was some writing, but it was too far to read with bare eyes. I had discovered a while ago that if I had Bruce’s binoculars with me, I could see the writing. It was a mirror writing and it had obvious gaps. In fact, it was the missing piece of the writing that I had found in the cave with the carving of the Vargas brothers.

Puzzle #5: Find the nearest mirror to read this

Of course, it wasn’t in English:

“3 muertos pesan 2 muertos
y 5 muertos 2 muertos
El segundo es el primero
y el primero el segundo
El hierro gira sobre el
señal de los piratas”

It sounded like Spanish, but I was not going to translate this with a dictionary. Instead, I took the easy route and sent it all to a fellow member of TAG community, Charles, who lives in South America. Surely he could help me? Indeed, Charles did not let me down and instantly provided me with an English version:

“3 dead weigh 2 dead
and 5 dead 2 dead
The second is the first
and the first the second
The iron turns over the
mark/signal of the pirates”

At first, this just didn’t say anything me. Then I started to investigate more closely the seashells in the cave with the monkey head. There were three shells, one with three death heads, one with five and one with eight. You could use the shells to hold water and you could pour water from one shell to another. Ah, this was a classic puzzle! How to get two liters of water to containers that could hold five and three liters?

The five liter shell was easy - I just filled it up and poured the rest to the three liter shell. The three liter shell was a bit more complicated - I had to fill the eight liter shell and then empty it twice to the three liter shell, leaving just two liters of water that I could then transfer to the three liter shell. All I then had to do was place the seashells on the pedestals next to the head.

Did I get it?

Yeah, nothing happened.

I knew it had to be something about the last lines of the riddle: “The iron turns over mark of pirates”. Under the monkey head, there was an obvious hole with a mooring ring, but not anything I could put in it.

It could well have been that I would have been left here, just bare inches to the final solution of the game. In fact, as I later discovered, the next step was to open the box in Marie’s room, titled “Jemelos y indivisibles”, and this had something to do with the numbers found in the cave with the same writing. I cannot really credit my intelligence for solving this puzzle, since it was more a dogged persistence and diligent testing of all sorts of variations of the numbers that finally led me forward. While the puzzles so far had been quite solvable, this one was so tremendously unfair that it ruined the whole experience - and if you wonder at the amount of hours, most of them were spent banging head to the wall at this stage.

Puzzle #6: To get this open...

...I had to do something with these.

The first step towards solution - although I couldn’t have known it at that point - came when I started writing the first post about the game mechanics. I noticed I hadn’t really explored the possibility to follow the suspects and I did it couple of times, just to get some screenshots. Following the suspects is the only place where you can see the map of the island, and considering I didn’t use that feature very often, I couldn’t have seen it before: something about the positions of the locations in the map seemed somehow familiar.

Remember this screenshot?

It took me some tinkering with screenshots and turning around them, but then I saw it. Some places in the map were aligned like the strange numbers in the pirate cave, if you just flipped the screenshot of the cave upside down. So, I got the following correspondences: 2 = South beach, 5 = Maguy’s house, 1 = pier, 3 = pool with the statue, 7= well, 4 = North beach.

And this helped me to do what? Not much. I tried doing something with the numbers in those locations, but nothing of consequence happened. At this point I would have liked to get a confirmation that I was somehow on the right track, but no. Well, then it was just time to make some more crazy theories about these numbers.

I had a hunch that the book about pirates in Marie’s room might have something to contribute to the game. At least the riddles in the book contained many explicit numbers I could try and fail again. One particular riddle began with the words “With the map upside down” - well, I just several days ago had toyed with flipping screenshots around, so perhaps this might be an obtuse clue for that.

The final piece of the puzzle

The riddle continued “From the north to the south, by the pier, the monkey and the pirates in the cave on the wet death’s head”. Looking at my list of numbers and map places I could make some obvious links. I got north and south beaches and pier. Maguy’s house was above pirates in a cave, well had a monkey statue and the pool could be described as wet death. So, I would get the series 4, 2, 1, 7, 5, 3.

As it finally turned out, I should have begun with 4, 1, 3, 5, 7, 2. I guess you could say that the riddle says that you are going from north to south, so you should use the numbers for North and South beaches as the beginning and the end. And I suppose I then had just confused the clues for the pool and the well. Perhaps pirates had thought the Maupiti god in the pool looked like a monkey and the well was truly wet and had those death heads in seashells. Whatever, the problem is that I could make up these explanations a lot after I had discovered the right code, but when I was solving it, I just had to try every small variation I could think of.

So, I just pressed the code 4, 1, 3, 5, 7, 2 on the box and something magical happened? I wish, but there were still complications.

The next lines on the riddle told me to “add the numbers without going backwards”. This might have meant a number of things. It could have meant that I should have calculated numbers as pairs, like 4 + 1, 1 + 3, 3 + 5 and so on. Actually, I was supposed to understand that I had to consider the series 4, 4 + 1 = 5, 5 + 3 = 8, 8 + 7 = 15 and 15 + 2 = 17. Great job at making me get this, Lankhor!

You might have noticed an obvious problem. Many of the numbers I’d had to consider were quite large compared to the box, which only had five stones to press. But this just meant I had to use modular arithmetic.

Time for the educational part

Come on, it only sounds complicated! You are sure to use modular arithmetics unconsciously, when you are looking at your watch. It might be 11 AM and your grandmother might call you and say she’ll be coming to visit you in 4 hours. Then, as you know that after reaching 12, the numbers in clock move back to beginning, you can make the calculation 11 + 4 = 3 (mod 12), where this last bit is just a fancy piece saying “when you reach 12, you are back to zero”.

The jewel box didn't have twelve, but five stones, so I just had to return to 0 every time I had reached five. So, the actual code would be 4, 4 + 1 = 5 (mod 5), 5 + 3 = 3 (mod 5), 3 + 5 = 3 (mod 5), 3 + 2 = 5 (mod 5) and 5 + 2 = 2 (mod 5). And this time, after having gone over hordes of potential codes, one of them finally worked and the box opened.

Lankhor sure liked to recycle elements from previous games. We’ve already had a well, and within a similar well, Trickster found some strange symbols he didn’t recognise. Similar symbols appeared in the box, but I definitely knew them - they were signs of the Zodiac. And indeed, the riddle in the book about pirates ended “follow the direction of zodiacs as it is written”.

Puzzle #7: When's the Age of Aquarius?

This was a relatively simple puzzle to solve. All I had to do was to check the usual order of first six Zodiac signs from Wikipedia
  1. Aries
  2. Taurus
  3. Gemini
  4. Cancer
  5. Leo
  6. Virgo
Then I just had to observe that in the box, the Zodiac symbols went in the order: Aries (1), Leo (5), Cancer (4), Taurus (2), Gemini (3), Virgo (6). There was my next bit of code!

And what was I supposed to do with it, you ask? Well, I knew Juste’s medallion also had some stones that could be pressed, and it also had a skull, just like all the pirate related stuff on the island. I had tried all the codes to the medallion also, so why not try this one? I was pleased, when a hook appeared under the medallion.

The next step was obvious: just use the medallion to the ring under the monkey statue in the well. A door to a new cave opened up.

With Mortville Manor, Lankhor had noticed that the game could have been solved in few minutes, without even trying to talk to all the characters the game. Thus, they had included a questionnaire asking all sorts of relevant and irrelevant questions about the characters, so the the player would have to take some interest in the dialogues also.

Maupiti Island cannot be solved so easily. One at least has to wait until Juste’s medallion can be discovered and then one has to wait for the water level in the well to get low enough. Still, they wanted to include the questionnaire in this game also. This was quite simple, but it was nice to see some of my theories proven finally right.

This one was easy. Anita had had nothing to with kidnapping
nor with any other criminal activities, but was just a devout communist.

He sure wasn’t with Fred, whoever that was, but was making love to Sue.

Checking my schedules, I could see it was Anita.

I was pretty sure there had been no actual kidnapping and I answered accordingly.

My previous answer was right, so Lady in Black must be Marie.

And Marie was involved with gun trafficking.

Asmera was mentioned in one message, so that seemed the likeliest option.

Juste was killed by Roy.

The motive was the wig Juste had fished.

Wig belonged to the supposedly blonde Lucie.

Lucie’s dead, although everyone thought her body belonged to Marie. 

Lucie was police officer, so the only viable option is “other”.

It might have been Roy, but I decided it must have been Chris.

Trees, perhaps?

Roy did that also.

A book of chess games.

It was meant for decoding messages.

The messages came from the piano.

The Wind had signed a message meant for Marie, so he might be the same person as Menelik.

Marie had left the place, leaving behind only guns and a message for Jerome Lange.

The game ended with an advertisement for a sequel, which never came to be.

Now it’s time to see how well the game does. See you in next post!

Session Time: 18 hours
Total Time: 36 hours


  1. 36 hours?! Wow that's a long time. o_O That's a record isn't it?

    1. At the moment,it is. Then again, as I said in my first post, I got lost of the track of time with this game, so this is just an estimate - it might have actually taken a lot more time.

  2. Some pretty hefty puzzling there, well done Ilmari!

    That classic water puzzle will always remind me of Die Hard With A Vengeance though.

    1. Thanks, it did take lot of time to solve some of these!

      Oh yes, it's in that movie too! Makes it even more classic, then.

    2. I like the Die Hard with a Vengeance version of the puzzle, because it also adds the timer element. There are at least two different ways you can solve the puzzle (use a 3 gallon and 5 gallon jug to get 4 gallons), but they take different amounts of time due to varying amounts of filling/transferring/emptying. Clock's ticking!

  3. I was getting quite excited there when I read the Laura Bow 2-esque queries at the end. But in truth you didn't need to know any of that as Lange to solve logic puzzles then open an underground cave, because there was absolutely no payoff. Aaaargh! Damned Frenchies!

    Great job persevering through this twaddle. I highly dislike games that pull this sort of thing.

    1. Logic puzzles were the most aggravating thing in the game, and they didn't even fit very well with the rest of the game. I would definitely have preferred some other way to trigger the ending. I just wonder what the third game would have been like - would Lankhor have been able to remove these infuriating details?

  4. Those spanish texts hurt my eyes. "El hierro gira sobre el señal de los piratas" should be "El hierro gira sobre la señal de los piratas" and "jemelos y indivisibles" should be "gemelos e indivisibles".

    1. Clearly pirates (and French) cannot write decent Spanish.

  5. This looks like a long game, but one where you weren't bored. Do you say that is true?

    I can imagine shorter, but much more painful games.

    1. I can definitely imagine this kind of game isn't everyone's cup of tea. It takes lot of patience to gather up all the evidence - check up movements of every suspect, go meticulously through each room in search for evidence etc. I've compressed that process very much in my posts, since it just wouldn't be interesting to read about it.

      As for whether it was boring - well, I had clear plan what to do, every now and then I found some interesting tidbit that revealed something new, and if I didn't, at least I could tick something off my list. I guess it has similar charm as mapping out a maze in CRPG. Mazes I cannot tolerate, but this is more up my alley - I am just really into classic murder mysteries, with verifying alibis, finding out motives etc.

      The only time I really felt negatively toward the game was when I was trying to figure out the code. There was too little feedback that I was making any progress, so I just had to stumble in darkness and hope to find the solution.

  6. Good job Ilmari; this seemed very in-depth with intricate, semi-obscure puzzles. You seemed to enjoy it. Given that most of what I have read about this game tends towards the negative, or damning with faint praise (flawed near-masterpiece, good ideas poorly implemented, etc.), I'm really looking forward to your take. Will you go with the crowd or be a contrarian? The Internet wants to know!

    1. Only few hours and the Internet will know it, so I won't reveal my opinions yet. Let's just say that I tried to find the middle road: praise the game, where it deserved it, but damn the obvious faults.