Thursday, March 4, 2021

Freaks!: Them Bones

Games like Freaks are a mixed blessing to someone playing them for a blog. A really good game that you want to play more of, which is exactly what the point is, but you have other games to talk about and its boring to constantly gush over one. It doesn't help that its opposite the basically a RPG, Sundog: Frozen Legacy. Oh, as an aside, I've discovered that there's a run function. Right shift and only right shift. What it lacks in easily understood controls, it makes up for in gameplay. This adds a bit of depth to the combat, before I could only retreat after turning, now I can do so sideways.

This doesn't help me with in the snake temple I left off in last time, and the door forward is locked. I haven't seen anything close to a key yet, so I'm wondering how these will be handled eventually. Returning to the area I originally got stuck at, I discover with my newfound ability at the game that I can handle it just fine, even this horde of knife ghouls. Unfortunately, there's a dinosaur guarding my foot, and I can't reach him yet. There's no in-level way to him.
One of the ways out leads me to a sea level. Its exactly the same as the other levels, but its  blue. Sharks are my enemies, they're not really unique, around the ghouls strength, but there are a lot of them. This leads me to the dinosaur, and a tricky combat situation.
In order to get past this area, you don't just sit at the door, no, you wait for him to get out of your path, then rush the bodypart. That gives you enough space to kill the dinosaur.
After a few long hallways and some forks in the road, I enter Kingdom of Dholes, which are not Asian dogs, they're dinosaurs. Presumably, there's some Spanish joke I'm missing. I'm less enamored of this area, its mostly just gunning down enemies with little strategy. I'm building my health back up though, which is going to be good for that part I left behind.
At some point, I encounter another level full of enemies, no strategy, but there's a two-headed dinosaur inside a room here. The door forward is locked, and there's nothing inside. Hmm, is this how I'm supposed to unlock doors? So far the only options are killing enemies and getting body parts. This is actually very clever. You can exploit the way the room is set up to go in, shoot him, then jump out when he's close, and wait until he's walked away. This solves nothing for me.
Going back a bit, I find another body part in a rather unassuming room. Weird, but whatever. A bunch of little doors here that I'm not exploring yet, some locked.
So on a different path, I end up screwing myself over. This is probably why games with one slot autosaves were not the standard. In a level full of dinosaurs, the idea would have been to hide out in a long tunnel, then shoot them as they approach. Only too many came out of their room, and I, in a panic, rush out the door. Thankfully, that door didn't lead to more enemies or was tricky, but still, if I don't figure out how to handle things properly, I'm screwed.
Fortunately, as I enter the Bestiario, I discover something in my favor. As I get more body parts, my attack gets stronger. I just need to find another item. For all the open-endedness, the game isn't linking back on itself.
The Bestiario is a tough room, but I'm rewarded with another piece. And what makes this great, is the room right after this brings me back to the Dholes entrance. My problems are all solved. Only not because a dino is squatting at one exit and when I enter via the other, the dinos are rapidly advancing, but not the squatter. That's not as bad as it could be.
One level near this is an interesting one from a design choice. Half-water. Sure, its sewers, but its weird. This leads to a true underwater level, which has another body part. Another interesting level soon after, The Tower, but I didn't know why at first. Door behind you, door to the side, and two in front of you. Presumably, the two in front lead to a tower. Wrong, that's a room you can use to dodge enemies. I didn't realize that until it was too late.
Empty rooms in games like this make me nervous. Especially when they contain graphics I haven't seen before. What's going on?
Surprise, its just a stable...full of dinosaurs. Tricky, but I got a heart out of it. I'm only missing three, and one of those is on the other path near the start.
Oh, gees, that's a lot of snakes. The trick to this room are the clocks. Enemies block other enemies, or at least these things do, allowing me to carefully funnel them into the pattern I want. I don't know if I'm supposed to be this way yet, but the level is clever if you've already killed that one snake earlier.
Imps, man, these guys are ugly. And there are so many in this room I swore they were respawning. No, there are just a lot of them.
The next room goes from 10 to 1000. Hundreds of alien fetuses, and a freaking hitscanner. This level is actually a very dirty trick. I hope its a dirty trick and not a programming oversight. Whether or not you attack the enemy or not is irrelevant, he's going to die either way. When you hit him, your health goes down. When your health is nearly gone, he dies. This happens whether or not you're shooting at him or not. I was dumbly quitting and reloading hoping to find a strategy. I'm going to return here in a moment, as there are three items, one here, one somewhere, and one back in the temple.
The way to get the one back in the temple is surprisingly easy, I'm surprised I didn't manage to do it the first time...well, without health you need to be perfect. Just rush through the first room, then  There's nothing else here except a single locked door. Going back to the lab slowly, I take the opportunity to also take out that one group of dinosaurs...I actually manage to do it.
While exploring the Kingdom of Dholes one last time, I remember the door that was locked and try it. Ohohohohoh. The World of Ants. And they're on the ceiling in addition to the group. 10/10 enemy design right here. I'm not even joking.
I find the final body part, in a cave full of ants. This is tricky to get through, since they gang up rather quickly. I spot a problem here with the autosave system, namely, if you're in a rush, like fighting against a cave full of ants, you sometimes press the wrong button and go in the wrong direction. This doesn't make things too difficult, but it was a near thing.
So I return to the fetus room...and I was wrong, it was just a glitch, the darn thing kills me in any confrontation. Fortunately, without me returning fire, it doesn't do a lot of damage. With my body complete, I enter the final room.
A time machine, the text crawl explaining what has happened. Interesting choice, but okay. I also took a look at some of the readme files that came with the came, not all of them are in English. They're mostly patches, but there are two of interest, the tricks file, which explains what's going to happen in the remaining three levels, and the regular readme, which explains the backstory. The player is The Magician, who is the favorite son of Mother Earth. The Learner was supposed to be an assistant, but he's evil, very obviously so. He killed the Magician, and the game starts after Mother Earth recreates The Magician. Also, the Magician was responsible for creating most of the horrible things in the game, but The Learner twisted everything.

This Session: 2.5 hours

Total Time: 4 hours

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