Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Dagger of Amon Ra - The Thirteenth Hour

By Deimar

Laura Journal Entry #3 " What a day. After just arriving and getting a job I have managed to see the lows and highs of this city in a single day. I have even managed to get into a high class fundraiser party in a fancy museum. Sadly, the party ended when I discovered the corpse of the main guest inside a sarcophagus. Well, sadly and lucky for me, as I have a feeling this story will sell a lot of newspapers and there doesn’t seem to be another reporter here. The only caveat to that plan is that somehow I am now trapped with the other guests in the museum and I think I am starting to smell blood in the air”

I didn’t remember it when changing from chapter 1 to chapter 2, but when starting chapter 3 I got a message telling me “Excellent work. Your father would be proud of you”. That is an encouraging message, as I have previously doubted having gathered all the necessary information. I might not be going that bad (although Ilmari has pointed out some things I missed in chapter I). My only question is if that message is always the same or depends upon a hidden score.

Doing the interrogation with everyone listening surely produces wonderful results

In any case, chapter 3 starts with Laura in the main hall, where the fundraiser party was held, waiting for O’Riley and Wolf to finish interrogating all the staff and guests regarding the murder of Dr. Carter. When all of them leave, Laura is approached by a man called Ernie Leach, who tells her that he and Dr. Carrington have the only keys to the museum and that if we want to leave we just have to ask him. He also warns Laura to not get caught downstairs unless she wants to make Wolf go mad(der).

Afterwards, Laura asks O’Riley what have he learnt about the murder but, keeping on character, neither Wolf nor the detective say anything remotely useful. And so, Laura decides to get her hands dirty and solve the murder herself. Hurrah?

Now we regain control of our protagonist and the first thing I noticed is that there are several characters walking through the museum. Specifically, the countess and Dr. Carrington. None of them have anything interesting to say but to provide an alibi for the murder. We will see about that. But for the moment, following the countess leads to the picture gallery, where the only remarkable thing is that there is a picture with a blinking spot. Closer examination with the magnifying glass shows that there is a key inside the paint. How on earth did they manage to encrust a key inside a painting and why is beyond my comprehension at the moment, as is the possibility of releasing it.

There is a key encrusted in the barrel full of gold. You have to have pixel-perfect precision to click on it. Such fun!

The next room contains a sculpture of Rodin’s The Thinker and four exits. Two galleries up north, with the one on the left leading to the paintings we just left, a door on the right and an exit south. I have to say that I get a little loss with the exits available in any given room. Sometimes there is no indication that there can be an exit in one side of the screen, and the only way of discovering if there is one is because the cursor changes to an arrow. But it doesn’t always change. For example, doors are except to that rule, even considering you don’t have to “use” them. And the graphics not always do a good job indicating that a room has an exit.

Anyway, when Laura walks through the room, she hears some voices from behind the door. I tried to spy through it by looking at the door, using it (it was conveniently closed), speak to it… but to no avail. That’s when I had my Scooby Doo moment and thought of using the glass I picked up at the party tables. Surprisingly, it worked. I guess that is going to be this chapter’s eavesdropping and we will be doing plenty of it. The two voices belong to Yvette and Dr. Mykos, who are having a conversation in Yvette’s office, but when things are getting interesting we suddenly can’t hear them anymore. Because reasons. No, really. We can’t hear it because suddenly they decide to whisper.

Yeah, I have a feeling a reporter might be eavesdropping behind the door using a glass as a magnifier so let’s whisper everything we say

Exiting the room via the other gallery takes us to a giant pillar with a very obvious secret door, but I couldn’t open it at the moment. Taking the south route took me to Dr. Myklos’s office. The office is as interesting as the office of a death-obsessed Egyptologist can be. There is a living cobra; some dissected animals; skeletons; a copy of the rosetta stone, although just half the stone, containing the translation of the letters n to z to hieroglyphics, which Laura writes down into her notebook; and a board with an Egyptian text that I can’t translate as I am missing several symbols. I really hope I won’t have to speak with someone forming words with them or translate the board, as it is 2 pages worth of text. It looks tedious. Also, that is a pretty inaccurate representation of the rosetta stone, but I will give it a pass, as I am glad I won’t have to learn ancient greek to play this game.

Get. Off. My. Steve!!

There is also a snake repellent, but when Laura tries to take it, Dr. Myklos appears to get ahead of her and take it. She says that there are a lot of snakes in the basement and that she uses it so she can work downstairs. This “downstairs” seems to me like the place to be, as the characters keep commenting on it. So when she leaves, Laura follows her. In The Thinker’s room she hears a noise coming from the pillar room, but when we go there there is nothing. I went back to the thinkers and started messing with everything as the pillar room is completely devoid of any objects. And voila, the head can be moved to reveal the a passage in the pillar room. We can see some stairs going down and a lamp. With a broken light bulb, mind you. Not everything is going to be easy around here. I suspected the result, but I tried to get down in the dark anyway.

Our intrepid reporter!! Unable to go down some stairs in the dark!!

Well, one step forward, but now I was stuck with basically nothing to go on. I went back and tried to go into Yvette’s office. She wasn’t there anymore and had conveniently left the door open. The first thing that caught my attention was a desktop lamp. Laura couldn’t take the bulb as it was on. After turning it off, it was too hot. It is all complains with this girl. I decided that the best course of action would probably be to do something else and wait for it to cool down. Nothing else seems interesting in the room, although you can play with a paper guillotine.

Leaving through a door to the right leads to Dr. Carrington’s office. But as soon as Laura enters she hears some voices coming from Yvette’s. And guess what, it is Yvette trying to sack Najeer. Although she does mention something interesting. Apparently, she showed Najeer a secret passage in the museum so he could celebrate some ceremonies.

I wish I can meet such a passionate tour guide at some point in my life

After the conversation, it is time to search the office. Looking at the nearby fireplace provided a piece of coal. Just what I was looking for. Watching MacGyver has taught me the value of using carbon based substances to reveal hidden texts. And behold, we can finally read whatever was written in Dr. Carter’s notebook. And it is just his schedule for the evening. An appointment with Yvette at 8 in the Egyptian room, another with Tut at 10 at the same place and a final one with Dr. Carrington at 11 in his office. That would mean that the hour of death should be around 8, as there was a blood mark of a woman’s shoe at the scene, and unless Yvette decided to go back, that would mean that the murder took place before their date. That also probably means that Tut’s ankh is a red herring to throw us off the trail of the real murderer, but maybe I am reading too deep in all of this.

Continuing the search, I found a telephone with the line completely cut; a phone book; Dr. Carrington’s schedule for the night (he has an appointment with the countess and Ziggy at 1 AM at the medieval armor display); a communicator; and a desk clock. There is a communicator in each of the offices we have already visited, but none of the other ones seems to work. However, this one has way more buttons than the others, suggesting this is the master one, but I was not able of making it work.

I went back to Yvette’s and now I was able of taking the bulb, which in turn allowed me to repair the lamb over the stairs and go down. I don’t know what I was expecting but it definitely was not a marble hall with a “break in case of emergency” glass. Well, Laura and I are definitely the kind of humans that consider a murder a case of emergency, and a 60 million years old dinosaur bone as good a hammer as anything else way less valuable. The prize for our uncivilized behaviour is an oil lamp. Ok, I guess we will be visiting someplace dark in the future, but at the moment we don’t have any use for it. As I was considering which exit to take, there are two doors here, a ferret appeared. Yeah, a ferret. Go figure. I couldn’t do anything before it disappeared and left me wondering if this was a King Quest V rat saving instance. I might resort to violence if it is.

Taking the door to the north leads to Wolf’s office. To emphasize his role as the weapon obsessed naz.. german, the room is full of weapons hanging from the walls. There are very few items of notice here. The most obvious one is a mousetrap in the middle of the room, with a cable leading to a picture on the wall. Trying to take the cheese used as bait leads to…

Come on! Not even Wile E. Coyote would make such a trap

The rest of the room can also lead to ludicrous deaths, as touching any of the weapons electrocutes Laura. There is a library behind the desk containing all kinds of books on weapons and violence, and the desk has the sempiternum communicator, which is not working. So, a dead end.

Taking the other exit advances the clock to 10.15. The room behind is a storage for… animals kept in murky liquids? It is kind of creepy, with a complete lab for preservation but nothing much else. There are two doors here, one to the east and one north. The east one is Ernie’s office, but he is busy right now taking a close look at Yvette’s Eiffel tower. A tattoo in her tight. This woman is insatiable. This time around however, there is some juicy information. Apparently, Ernie is a gambling addict and is deep in debt with some guy called the icepick. He is doing some fencing jobs for a Big Al, which allows him to avoid the wrath of the icepick. He is not worried about him, in spite of him leaving threatening messages, as Ernie won’t be able to pay if he is killed. However, he confesses that he is quite afraid because this night he has seen something he wasn’t supposed to. And with that, a character introduced 30 minutes ago gets ahead in the race for having stolen the dagger. It actually makes quite sense, as he is the person who could take the dagger without activating any alarms or breaking anything and also be able of leaving the dagger in the gift shop.

I don’t think this is the kind of game where I can join in but… Can I? Please?

The door at the back leads to a storage room where Dr. Myklos is looking for her ferret, Daisy, to feed her. Cool, a quest!. At last!. She kicks us but now I had a suspicion regarding that missing ferret and the cheese in the mouse trap. Before you say anything, I am completely aware that ferrets are carnivorous, but seeing as this is a Sierra game and the cheese is the only piece of food I have seen, it is probably the right answer. After going back to Wolf’s office, I tried a few things with the mousetrap until using the bone did the trick.

By this point I was thinking about nominating the bone as the most useful item in the game, but after waiting for a while for the ferret to appear again in the first room of the basement and wandering around the museum when I got bored, I was reminded again of the true star of the game. The glass. Yvette is at it in her office again, this time showing her Eiffel tower to detective O’Riley, who seems a little… possessive. The kind of guy with trusting issues, access to a gun, and some interesting opinions regarding the morality of taking bribes and looking the other way. Could the detective have murdered Dr. Carter because he found out he was seeing Yvette? Or is he just a sellout?.

No, thank you. I am not that desperate to get in bed with O’Riley. I will wait for your next conquest, Yvette.

I was so enthralled with the story in this part of the museum that I must confess I couldn’t remember how to reach the area where the Egyptian exhibit was. Even to the point of thinking the game was playing with the map and had barred me from accessing that area. So after several embarrassing minutes of wandering around doing nothing I managed to get to the dinosaur exhibit and…

Come on, Laura. Give me your best surprised yet glamorous look!

Murder! Well, kind of. There is a headless body lying in the middle of the room, but the way he died is a bit… strange. Judge yourself:

This one is easy. The giant winged reptile did it!

Detective work proved to be inconclusive. The only details worth mentioning are that the tuxedo is a rent, that the corpse smells of champagne and has stains smelling of turkey. There is also a loose wire hanging from the pterodactyl but at the moment I couldn’t do anything with it. Close examination of the neck provides details about whatever was used to cut it, as it seems its main purpose was not cutting necks. Here immediately I thought of the paper guillotine but that seems a little impractical. The clock advances to 11.15.

I tried to interrogate the wandering characters, mostly Yvette and the countess. Yvette didn’t have anything useful to say, but the countess acted suspicious after being asked about Ziggy, in a way that made me think that was the corpse with the back ache, making the countess the prime suspect for that murder.

Ziggy’s dea… deceas… sleeping with the fis… a fine person?

I started wandering around the museum myself. While exploring the Egyptian exhibit I discovered the body of Dr. Carter was not there anymore, probably moved by the police between trying to see the Eiffel tower and work a bit for a change, and that I had missed the first half of the rosetta stone. Now I was ready to decypher any Egyptian text. However, after checking the board at Dr. Myklos’s and realizing I would have to make the translation myself, I decided against and keep on wandering, to the next murder.

What is with this game and deaths by desiccated animal?

It seems like this time it is Dr. Carrington the one who has bitten the dust. The clock in his desk is now broken at 12.04, suggesting the death was very recent (I have not been commenting on every time passing event). The letters C.P. are written with blood on the desk, and his index finger is covered in the liquid, so it is safe to assume he wrote them. The only person with those initials is Dr. Pippin Carter, but as he is dead and a P.C. and not C.P. I don’t think that’s what Carrington meant.

It was close to 1.00 and the date of Dr. Carrington with the countess and Ziggy. Seeing as two of the three people meeting are probably dead, I was curious as if the countess would appear, but on the way there I met Tut. He didn’t say much, but admitted to having lost his ankh. When I reached the medieval exhibit, I hid behind the tapestry as before and soon enough the time advanced and the countess appeared carrying something huge.

Are you carrying a painting or are you just happy to see me?

After waiting for a while, the countess decided to leave. I think this proves that Ziggy is the dead man in the dinosaur exhibit. But then, why would his killer still appear at the appointment? Does this mean that she doesn’t know about the murder of Dr. Carrington?

I went back to his office to look for more clues about what the appointment could be about, when Tut and Yvette entered her office. She had asked Tut to help move her desktop to cover an ugly red stain. Apparently, he owes her, as she let him in when he was not allowed and for keeping his secret. Yvette seems like a spider in the middle of a web connecting all guests. Anyhow, he cuts himself while moving the desk and both of them leave to Tut’s place. Wherever that is as he is a traveling Egyptologist. At Yvette’s, the guillotine is full of a suspicious red liquid, and after touching it, the blade falls over the desk. However, before I could do any more investigating, I was interrupted by Dr. Myklos who unceremoniously kicked me off the office.

I think Dr. Myklos is onto something here...

She told me Yvette had gone to see Ernie, so I went down there to see if I could pick up any more information. To my surprise, Yvette was not there so it was the perfect opportunity to finally interrogate the handyman. Apparently, we were trapped inside the museum as the keys were missing, so it is not like he had anything better to do. There are only two interesting things in his conversation. The first of them is that detective O’Riley is constantly dropping grape stems everywhere. He is not the first person to mention that, so I take the hint and write it down. The second is that he is a veteran from the Great War and thus doesn’t like Wolf that much. That piece of information is not that interesting, but if you see what he has to say about the other characters, that is quite a monologue.

Yes. Very peaceful at night. If you ignore the tens of people running around, making love, killing each other… Perfect job for a quiet man!

Dr. Myklos is no longer in the back storage room, so we can finally see what’s there. There is a trunk under a table, with an inscription saying it belongs to Dr. Carrington. So finally, after quite a few hours in, we get to see the famous corpse-filled trunk. Sadly, it is locked. Other things of interest in the room are an empty bottle of oil snake and some meat in a freezer. Maybe I was too hasty with the cheese theory. Time to find the ferret. But first, I decided to fill the bottle with some oil in the preservation room.

I started looking for the ferret until I got bored and then started revisiting locations and clicking on everything. At Dr. Carringtons, I discovered that there is a safe behind a picture. After playing with the combination for a while, I realized that it was a 4 digits number, just like the numbers in Carrington’s phone book. I had discarded the list of names and numbers the first time I saw it because it seemed like a practical joke. The first initial of each name spells the word Tribune and there are names like R. Williams and I. Diditt which are obvious puns. But this time there was a name that caught my attention: B. Sayff. And so the safe was opened. Inside was the diary of the previous owner of the museum, the late count. He was very afraid of the countess, as he suspected her of only marrying for his wealth and now trying to get rid of him, with a passing mention to Yvette saying “Yvette fears her too”.

Well, back to wandering every single room again. The prize this time is finding that Ernie’s is empty, which allows our little kleptomaniac to ransack everything not nailed down. Starting with the snake catcher in the floor, something tells me I will be catching snakes rather sooner than later, and a pair of wire cutters. While we are there, Dr. Myklos uses the communicator to tell Ernie to check on VAT 13, as there seems to be a problem. I was expecting another body, but after poking the container with a net Laura retrieves the dagger of Amon Ra, the real one. Hurrah!

I think they are making mutants here. I fully expect Wolverine to be in one of these tanks

But now I was again at a loss at what to do next. Back to walking I guess… While passing through the painting gallery, I decided to try to remove the key from the picture with the dagger, which worked quite well. I am surprised the solution to that was so simple. The only thing locked I have found are a door next to the medieval exhibit and the trunk, so it was time to try both of them. It turned to be the trunk, but nothing in a Sierra game can be as easy as just opening something with its key. As soon as it is open, a group of carnivorous beetles gets out and eats Laura. Now I know where The Mummy writers got the idea. I tried several things until I realized the solution had to be the meat (sorry, Daisy). But the window of opportunity is really small so I had to try several times before managing to give them enough food to forget about the skinny reporter. Inside the trunk, the cleaned bones of a man with clear signs of forceful strangulation (is there any other kind of strangulation?) with a watch dedicated to Dr. Carrington III. Meaning that as we suspected, the now deceased Dr. Carrington was an impostor. 1.45. This night is dark and full of terrors.

That diet really works wonder on your figure...

Going back to the thinkers room, Yvette and O’Riley are having an argument, as he knows she has been shagging some other men (if he only knew the truth, that it is ALL other men) and she knows that he had something to do with the burglary of the dagger, as Ziggy told her. Wandering some more around, I finally discovered how to use the communicator at Carrington’s office. There is one button to turn it on and off, another to change the mode from listening to speaking, and one for each room you want to communicate with. This allowed me to listen to some conversations, but it was just Myklos and Wolf getting along and Yvette and O’Riley doing the same. Got to wonder how many conversations have I missed and if I could have listened every time the characters decided to speak low to avoid eavesdropping.

I managed to track the countess and confront her about the pocketwatch. She was terribly upset and tried to take it, but Laura didn’t let her (should be careful now, she could be the next victim). After going back to the stairs to the basement the clock turned 2.00. At Ernie’s I discovered a button on the wall that opened a secret passage at the back storage room. Of course, going inside produced the expected result.

This darkness is more dangerous than in Zork

After turning on the lamp and going in the passage it led me to the Egyptian room. I think this enforces the theory that it was Ernie the one who took the dagger, in spite of the conversation between Yvette and O’Riley. Maybe he was working for the detective, but it had to be Ernie the one who took it from the case. Not that it matters because when reaching the first screen of the dinosaur exhibit we find him dead. But first a look at Laura’s expression:

By this point she is so used to it that it gets boring

And now the corpse:

He should join the gymnastic team. Such flexibility!

Looking at the body, Laura finds some animal hair smelling of alcohol and his shoes are damp, which to me suggest he tried to recover the dagger from VAT 13 and after not finding it, whoever he had a meeting with to hand out the dagger was not very happy. 2.15. Laura immediately encounters Wolf and O’Riley at the gallery and tells them about the murderer. Only the last one, as the other corpses must have not been important to her. Wolf naturally gets a little suspicious about the reporter that keeps finding corpses wherever she goes, but that goes nowhere and Act 4 starts.

After having found three consecutive corpses I would also suspect her. I might even jail her, just in case...

I have mixed feelings about this part to be honest. It seems to me like all I have done is wander through the museum and finding things to do by mere chance. However, it is oddly satisfying finding more and more information about these characters and the questions I have regarding the case. Like for example, why cut Ziggy’s head? Where is it? Did Dr. Carter die because he knew too much or because he saw something he wasn’t supposed to? Will Steve turn out to be the bad guy after taking advantage of Laura? Who will visit Yvette’s Eiffel tower next?

Session Time: 1h30m
Total Time: 6h36m

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

9 comments:

  1. I love the pictures of Laura barging into Yvette's various trysts. Can you do that each time after listening in? Any negative repercussions?

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    1. I think it's possible most of the time. The possible negative effect is that Yvette and her companion will lock the door and Laura won't be able to access the room for a while.

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    2. Sometimes the door is simply locked and other times the people talking just leave the room. I think these have been the only occasions I was allowed to enter after listening to a conversation. And like Ilmari says, I haven't noticed any repercusions, just that they lock the door afterwards.

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  2. I really love the art direction in this game. Do we know from the credits who the designers were?

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    1. This project is mostly on Balfour shoulders, as he is the main designer, producer and director, with Cheryl Sweeney being credited for the art.

      I really like the close ups too. And Laura's animation is quite good also although a bit impractical. You don't appreciate it very well when playing at maximum speed, but playing at normal speed it's just too slow paced.

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  3. Time for looking what you missed this time:

    * Lbh qvqa'g ybbx guebhtu Lirggr'f tneontr. Lbh pna svaq va gurer n pneoba cncre, juvpu lbh pna ernq ol ubyqvat vg hc gb fbzr yvtug fbhepr.
    * Lbh pna svaq Mvttl'f urnq va Yvsr Znfu rkuvovg (fbhgu sebz gur phegnva ebbz).
    * Pnegre'f obql unfa'g orra gnxra ol gur cbyvpr - vg'f uvqqra jvguva bar bs gur nezbhef.
    * Bar bs gur obbxf va Jbyss'f ebbz pbagnvaf n tnegre.
    * Va Pneevatgba'f bssvpr, uvqqra jvguva gur obbxfurys, lbh fubhyq svaq n cbyvpr svyr ba fbzrbar pnyyrq Jngarl Yvggyr.
    * Lbh pna nyfb pbzr bhg sebz oruvaq gur phegnva, jura gur pbhagrff pbzrf va, naq nfx jung fur vf qbvat jvgu gur cnvagvat. Vg'f nyfb rayvtugravat gb nfx ure nobhg gur qvnel lbh'ir sbhaq.
    * Lbh pna nyfb uvqr oruvaq phegnva ng 2 CZ naq jvgarff Qe. Zlxybf naq Ze. Urvzyvpu zrrg.

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    1. That's quite the list. I am starting to think I will have to replay the game for sure to try and uncover all those points by myself :)

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    2. Most of these are really optional, but there's one particular clue giving information that I think you won't get anywhere else and lack of it might leave you a bit baffled at the end.

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  4. So... Laura is in a dark passage, blind as a bat.

    And... she's attacked by bats...

    Are bats NOT as blind as a bat?

    We need a new description for blindness....

    Blind as an adventure game protagonist?

    Addendum: How does she know the colour of the bats if she's blind (as a bat)?

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