Friday, 1 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Tonight There’s Going to Be a Jailbreak

by Alex



Lure of the Temptress opens with a very good looking cinematic, expanding a bit upon the story from the manual—as explained by Ratpouch—that we talked about last post. This time, though, we get a view of events from Diermot’s perspective:
The Kingdom was at peace; after decades of unrest the King had united his quarrelsome subjects. Now, under his just rule, protected by the sea and the mountains, the people prospered and the crops flourished.



The King and his companions had visited our village while hunting, which gave me, Diermot, the chance of a few days easy pickings as a beater. I should have known something was amiss when the messenger arrived . . .



An uprising in the far off town of Turnvale, a beautiful young enchantress named Selena; it all sounded very exciting – but far too dangerous! I saddled my pony and made haste to slip away unseen, but the stupid beast had sensed the mounting tension and, despite my protests, the next I knew we were riding with the King’s guard!



As dan’s cold fingers reached into the sky we drew close to Turnvale. Through the morning mist we could hear the howls and bellows of the approaching army, but it was not until their vague forms drew near that we realized Selena had rallied an inhuman horde. It was my first encounter with the Skorl.







There on a small hill above the town the King fell, and there he was buried by those few companions who survived the battle. The town fell victim to Selena and the Skorl; I was knocked unconscious when I fell from my terrified mount. When I came to my senses I found myself a prisoner in Turnvale’s squalid dungeons. This is my tale . . .



And so we begin with Diermot, the player character, standing in his jail cell with his back to the player. And unless we want to play the world’s most boring game, we need to find a way out of this cell!

But first, let’s talk about the interface.

The cursor looks like a regular mouse pointer when there is nothing for Diermot to do, and left-clicking makes him move. Right clicking in this mode brings up a menu where Diermot can “Drink” anything he has available to drink, “Examine” any items he has in more detail, “Status,” which displays Diermot’s inventory (why it wasn’t just called “Inventory” is beyond me), and “Look,” which gives a description of the room, along with its name, sort of like how typing “Look” in a Sierra game brought up a general overview of where the player was.



Note well the line, “The illumination from a tiny window and the feeble glow from a torch fail to pierce the farthest shadows of the cell.

As far as people and objects, when the cursor is over something you can interact with, the pointer turns into a crosshair reminiscent of the cursor in LucasArts games like Loom and The Secret of Monkey Island. Here, a left-click will have Diermot look at the item or person or thing, and if there is more to do, right-clicking will bring up a menu with options such as “Use,” “Get,” “Push,” “Pull,” etc. There are further options when you talk to people or Skorl, such as dialogue options and the ability to give stuff, bribe, and tell other characters to do certain things in what the manual promises is a complex chain of commands. There is also a combat interface, if the manual is to be believed, but I did not get to any fights in this play session.

Okay, enough about the interface. Let’s get Diermot out of jail!

But first . . . I restart, on account of that game-breaking bug I read about on MobyGames.

Tonight There’s Going to Be a Jailbreak

Okay guys, I fully admit that this sequence took me way longer than it should have. In fact, it’s kind of embarrassing even talking about it here. But since we’re a community here at The Adventure Gamer, what fear have I?



In the cell, there is a bed of straw, a window Diermot can’t reach, a door that is locked, and a torch stuck to the wall. A series of heavy thrumming notes signifies when the Skorl guard is going to come in—Virtual Theater and all that, with NPCs on their own regular schedules, remember?—but Diermot can’t really get any useful information out of him, other than that his ultimate fate is to be cooked and eaten.

There’s also a crack in the wall, giving Diermot a view of the adjacent room. In it, he sees as serf stretched out on a rack, which does not look that fun at all.




You can move the mouse around to see the Serf, the fire, and a leather cord attached to the little guy’s leg, but clicking anything gets out of the view.

Something interesting happens when Diermot tries to take the torch . . .




With the straw on fire, the Skorl guard comes in and . . . punches Diermot’s lights out. Game over man.


I saw this a lot . . .




But when the Skorl guard came in, he did leave the cell door open. Hm . . .

I restart and burn the straw again, this time hiding out in one of the corners of the room. Sure enough, the guard walks right by Diermot and over to the burning straw, fretting that the “stupid ‘uman’s on fire!” With the guard’s back turned, I slip out of the cell . . .

. . . and into my first real puzzle. It’s a puzzle whose answer is so easy and so obvious, I’m still kicking myself for wasting like a half hour trying to figure it out.

See, the next room has a door and a prisoner. The prisoner asks for water, and has a pouch on his belt. Having neither water nor a way to get the pouch off of his belt (kind of ridiculous, but whatever).




I go to the next room to look around there. Or try to, because if I dally too long, the guard comes and punches me out again.






I restart and do the sequence again, thinking that maybe I can push the guard into the fire?


Nope.

Maybe I need to be quicker?

In the guard room, I find a sack I cannot cut open. Moving on, I come to the torture room I espied from Diermot’s cell, and see none other than Ratpouch—THE Ratpouch of the manual fame—on the rack!




Alas, I cannot free him with my bare hands and, well . . . you know what happened next.




Okay, I think you get the idea.

Back to square one. I think I’m going too slowly, especially since I pixel hunt a bit on in the guardroom and find a knife on the barrel in the upper-left corner. With this, I can also cut the sack in the upper-right corner. It turns out to be the Skorl’s trash, but looking at it again reveals a shiny coin. Unfortunately, the currency of the realm is called a “groat,” which is kind of gross, but oh well.

I also find a bottle, which I pick up.

With the knife, I can cut the Serf’s cord, and now I have a companion, Ratpouch, who will follow Diermot around. Yay!

But I still can’t open the door in the torture room, nor can I do anything without the Skorl guard finding me and playing some sweet chin music.

Again, I think that it’s a timing thing. Or maybe I’m doing something out of sequence. I try to see if I can “Bribe” the Skorl guard, or use the knife on him to fight, but nothing works.

And then I notice something.

In the guard room, Diermot can take a look through a grate to see his cell.




The fire is still raging. The guard is pacing angrily. And the door is open.

The guard is in the cell . . . and the door . . . is still open . . .




After the guard enters the cell in response to Diermot burning the straw, you walk out the door and just . . . close and lock it behind the Skorl.






Now, I’m no adventure game novice, but there’s no reason that this should have taken me so long to figure out. I’ll take your abuse in the comments, people: I do believe I’ve earned it fair and square.

Anyway, I am now free to investigate more fully and at my leisure. So once again, I grab the dagger, the bottle, I cut the sack and get the groat, and then I free Ratpouch. Now, with the guard safely confined in the burning cell, which is kind of sociopathic but screw it, I can turn my attention to getting the hell out of this place.




So the prisoner in the other room wants water, right? There’s a barrel in the guard room. You’d think I could “Use” the bottle on the barrel, but that does nothing.

There was water dripping in Diermot’s cell. Do I have to go back in and catch some in the bottle? If so, that’d be a pretty clever puzzle! Maybe if I stick to the shadows, I can—


Nope!


Okay. The barrel has to be the answer. At wit’s end, I look at the damn thing again and, well, would you look at that. You have to “Look” at the barrel first for the game to tell you about the tap that is clearly visible on said barrel. And then, you’re able to interact with the tap, letting Diermot fill the bottle with some disgusting Skorl alcohol.


Well, the dying man was begging for water, but literal beggars can’t be choosers.


Oh alright, game. You’re going to be one of those. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as the prisoner’s pouch doesn’t show up until you examine the man. But still, this level of being finicky promises to annoy me even more into the future. Still, this is basically the “tutorial” puzzle of the game, so from here on in I can’t say I haven’t been warned.


Dude didn’t complain, either.


Talking to the prisoner reveals that his name is Wulf. He has a mission for Diermot . . . and he knows how to escape!

Diermot: What is your name?

Wulf: I am Wulf, a humble trader. I was arrested for my part in a plot against the Skorl!

Diermot: How can I help you?

Wulf: Find the blacksmith! Tell him I sent you!

Diermot: What should I say?

Wulf: Tell him the girl is in danger! There is a traitor in the village!

Diermot: But how can we escape?

Wulf: There is a passage behind the loose bricks in the far . . .

But then he dies.

Anyway, I try cutting his pouch, but I get a bad feeling about it, so I restore and don’t cut it. Maybe I can come back later and find some way to properly take its contents. I don’t want to dead-end myself either way, so I will accept spoilers on this one in the comments below.


I got a bad feeling about this . . .


I restore and restrain Diermot’s kleptomaniacal instincts, and instead just try to push the loose bricks in the wall, which now come up when I pass the cursor over it.

Alas, Diermot is too weak to do so.




I know! I’ll use the game’s much-vaunted interface to tell Ratpouch to help me! Yeah! That’s the ticket!




Or . . . Ratpouch—who had just been tortured for God-knows how long on the rack just pushes the loose bricks himself.

Look, I get it: This is a “tutorial” sequence, designed for the player to grow accustomed to the interface—which really isn’t that bad, actually—but come on.

Not that it matters, really. This is a 25-year-old computer game that isn’t going to listen to me anyway. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.


A little Metallica humor for all you metalheads out there.

The passage immediately dumps Diermot and Ratpouch, via the castle sewers, to the town of Turnvale, which we’ll explore more next post!

INTERLUDE: Can I tell you something really weird and kind of annoying about this game?

(Answer: Yes. Yes I can. I’m the one writing this post).

It involves talking to NPCs. Whenever you do, Diermot wanders around the room like a dope for no good reason while the “Video Camera” icon replaces the cursor. This icon denotes when something is happening and you can’t control the player. Diermot does this, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, for a good five seconds or so before going up to the NPC and either talking to them or issuing his commands. And sometimes the action just won’t take anyway! I really hope this doesn’t bite me in the you-know-where later on in the game.

Okay, rant over. Back to our regularly scheduled jailbreak:




Whee.





Alright! Diermot and Ratpouch did it! Out of the jails at last! And not a moment too soon: We’ve got a blacksmith to find and a message to deliver! Until then, my fellow Adventure Gaming Lords and Ladies, may your puzzles always be easily solved, and your face always be punched.




Inventory: Broken glass, knife, 1 groat

Session Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

15 comments:

  1. Regarding the prisoner's pouch, you can just ignore it. AFAIK there is no way to get its contents.

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    Replies
    1. @Laukku That's good to know. I'd really hate to dead-end myself so early in the game.

      Delete
  2. I am sure we've all had our turns failing to think of "close door" as the solution to a puzzle. I know I certainly have. We're adventurers, our job is to get doors OPEN, not worry about closing them afterwards!

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    1. @Voltgloss

      Thanks. I appreciate the kind words, and you're right! We're all about getting IN to stuff, not closing ourselves off. ALL DOORS MUST BE OPENED!

      (Unless there's a Skorl in there.)

      Delete
  3. Is the title a reference to a Thin Lizzy's song?

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  4. Guess the "look at barrel" was the thing that stopped me from getting the drink to the hanging man and continue the game... at least I closed the door :P

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    1. @Niklas

      Not surprising. That sort of "the thing won't appear unless you look at the first thing" kind of makes sense in a point-and-click as opposed to a parser game, though not as much.

      In a parser game, you might not know it's there. In a point-and-click though, there's NO GOOD REASON why passing the icon over an object that you NEED TO INTERACT WITH shouldn't make it available to the player to interact with. Sheesh.

      . . . but yeah, at least you closed the door . . . unlike someone I know . . .

      Delete
  5. That's a lot of dunts in the mush. I'm giving up on my relatively high score guess now.

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    Replies
    1. @Kus

      I wouldn't give up just yet my friend. It's NOT a bad game . . . yet. In fact, it's quasi-enjoyable, but I don't think the full measure of how good it is will be revealed until I get a bit farther than I am.

      So far so good though. It's unique, I'll give it that.

      Delete
  6. I'm glad you reloaded. It's disrespectful to destroy a dead man's potpourri.

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    Replies
    1. @TBD

      It is. I shall accept my penance gracefully.

      Delete
  7. Loved this game back in the Amiga days. I always felt the difficulty was right and it was a nice middlepoint between Sierra and Lucasarts.

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    1. @RuySan

      ". . . a nice middlepoint between Sierra and Lucasarts."

      Yes! That's exactly the impression I get! I might steal this line (with attribution, of course) for my final rating post.

      Delete