Saturday, July 31, 2021

Cybercon III: True Room Over Room

Last time, after considerable head-banging, I had found out that the game has elevators. I did not figure this out because I assumed that the elevators were code rooms, and I actually had to watch a longplay in order to figure out a basic gameplay element. I still don't understand how to recharge energy or what the items I can pick up actually do. This game has its advocates, but most of them don't bother to clear up the obtuseness of the game. You'd think someone would bother to tell someone how to play the game they're promoting. I decide to take the elevator up, since I haven't seen anything there yet.

This leads me to...some crazy stuff, man. In a locked room I find a console. Thinking that its one of those save terminals, I interrogate it...only to discover its a camera. Is it showing me a replay of what I just did...or...? Is something coming after me? Or its somewhere else...okay. I guess its following a robot? There are also just a lot of random items up here, adding more useless things to the pile. Curiously, I was checking the manual again, to determine what my real objective is, and apparently interrogating items is an option?

Continuing reveals a door that is unopenable and this mural. What is with early 3D FPS titles and throwing out murals? Galactic Empire did it, this did it. Presumably, this is some kind of instruction or code, hopefully it isn't randomly generated. I really, really hope this isn't randomly generated. Restarting reveals the same map. But wait, I saw that symbol on the lower left on a door. Is this a weird map? These are the four doors in this area's opening room. Oh, I don't understand. From the same elevator, I also find the upper floor of that room, which has a pillar with symbols on top for a purpose I'm not quite sure on.

With that area out of the way, I'm actually lost as to what else there is. I can't really remember where the other elevator was, beyond the ground. But my search brings me back to that one room with the turret guarding a door where a horde of tanks spawn. This time, I rush past the turret, past the tanks, into a room I've never seen before. What's there? This place, which requires a code piece I don't have, and another camera. what?
Well, the good news is that I do still have a path forward...the bad news is this path is the most enemy heavy of the bunch. The one path in the opening section where robots just pour out of leads to another elevator, the one I figured out actually was an elevator. Down here are the big wheels and other enemies that rip me apart like tissue paper. The problem with this is fighting is difficult to control, and completely counterproductive to anything like progress. Fortunately, most of the time its easy to figure out how to avoid enemies if you've been in an area recently. This is feeling a whole lot like trial and error, but I'm actually doing something new each time.

This course of action takes me to a big cannon, which isn't as intimidating as it first looks, but will kill you in one hit. But behind him is the green square code. Cool, I've gotten here what? Which is something I'm saying far too often in this game. Now what? What is this going to unlock? The only two things that are that kind of locked is the bridge from the opening area, and I don't think this is going to help, or a door down here somewhere, which is suicide without cheating. You know, that should really be the end of it, if its impossible without cheating. Actually, that is the end of it, as I try to explore more areas without cheating only to get slaughtered. So, time to cheat again.
But the problem with cheating is that even this has limitations. Every time I start up the game, I've been spending 15 minutes finding energy, usually successfully, then finding damage, unsuccessfully. I've been unable to use Game Conqueror, the Linux equivalent of Cheat Engine, to save and reload data. Save works fine, but reload doesn't and the location of things in memory isn't human-readable. This means I have to manually write stuff down. Admittedly, this isn't as bad as I'm making out, considering the alternative is worse. Its funny, I'm complaining about difficulty figuring things out, and more than one time this session I've seen the robots kill each other just trying to move.

I do begin to wonder about this game. Places with green static areas are sources of power, and also gunbarrels. Some I can destroy or turn off, and that seems to exclusively toggle off light, one near the square code toggles both the lights and I assume the nearby cannon. Meanwhile, a little nearer to the elevator is a power plant that seemingly only turns back on the lights. These are the only two things that do anything. But finding out what they do is a laborious process. There aren't many safe rooms and I'm disinclined to discover something if there's the possibility of a tank crushing my character to death for trying. But nevertheless, I manage to soldier on to reach a new area, that green square code can be used to open a door down here, which contains a horde of new enemies, seemingly unkillable, and another elevator further down, which could have a floor up too. I accidentally fall down a pit, which leads to the same place as the elevator, which kills me thanks to the flying tanks hurting me greatly.
Its truly amazing how I keep managing to find new things to try out in this game. Normally, by this point I'd have given up, since every area is done in complete isolation from the others, I haven't found a save point yet. The manual barely even mentions them, just their clever joke, but finding the quick reference card, reveals that yes, those were the save terminals. Well, that's cool, except I have none on my current path. I could, illegitimately, win this game. Next time, we'll see if I've figured out energy sapping. Ha, yeah, right.

This Session: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Dungeon Master: Terror

It sure is nice to look forward to playing a game again. Dungeon Master, if not the most ideal title to play on a blog relating to FPS games, is certainly the most fun I've had in a while. I've definitely curious as to how this is going to go on the ol' rating system. This level starts off in an unfortunate position. Behind a door I just opened is a pit, closed by a pressure plate. Unfortunately I've been operating under my standard principle in games without money and limited inventory space, dump crap I don't need. Turns out I should have been keeping the useless swords and armors I've been finding around, just for pressure plates. I don't know precisely how I'm going to handle this, but I'm definitely going to keep something.

Water and food continues to be abundant. Its more reasonable to say the hunger meters function more as a soft time limit than anything else as of now. I might have to start putting items down if this keeps up. I would like more than one water skin though. I have to refill at fountains, and while there are plenty of them around, it is annoying not being able to drink straight from the source. What's potentially more pressing is potions. I can regenerate health via resting, but I'm sitting on some untapped magic potential. I don't know what it takes to cast a healing spell, but I think I've figured out how to make a healing potion...but I didn't get a vial until later. This is funny, usually that's not a problem.
Mapping continues to be fun. I haven't actually had to use it to recall the location of an item yet, but its cut back on backtracking significantly. It either isn't helping with secret doors or the game just hasn't had any yet. I can only see buttons and switches if I face the wall directly, at least that's the theory. In practice I haven't seen anything. Just puzzles. They're all fairly simple on the face of it, but they're effective. One puzzle, though they tell you, has you drop an item in order to turn off a pit. I think they give you the item back too, but its cool.

I had my first real combat experience in this session. A quartet of mummies. The bastards surprised me. I had the space and I had the time to throw all my rear row's weapons at them. To little effect. Thus began a terrifying few minutes. I tried combat waltzing, that is attacking, sidestepping, turning, repeat until dead. I don't know if that's the correct order, but if it was I failed to perform even those sometimes. I missed a lot. I think this nearly killed Zed Duke of Banville and Sonja She-Devil...and my reward is nothing but progression forward.

Stat and skill progression is slow, it took me quite a while to get anything. You don't really have any way of figuring out how much progress is between the current level and the next level. That means you don't really know when you should get another level. Equipment seems to be stalling, but I'm still on level 1, so its not that big a deal. I've got a maximum dealt of 20 points of damage which isn't a good time with the monsters I've been encountering. Their stats have gone sharply from a joke to every encounter being dangerous.

I've found a few interesting items though. First, was a chest, which I couldn't figure out how to get the contents of. Nah, just put it in your hand. This gives me a little more room, for now anyway. By the same token, I also figured out how to get stacked ranged attacks, as there's a slot for those. Next, were cubes, which cast "frozen life", which seems like it could be interesting in combat. I'll have to see if it does anything of value on the next floor, since I found the stairs down. I have no idea if I've missed some secret walls, but I know two paths are blocked to me for some reason, and I have no way of getting past them. Perhaps its just a puzzle I missed, they have been clever.

Level 2 starts off with a really long hallway. The first feature here is a freaking secret button. Eight whole blocks of nothing. I'm lucky I found that, otherwise it would have been even longer. The secret area this opens up is interesting. There's a timed barrier that teleports you away if you touch it. Behind it is a [item]. I don't think it was that impressive, but whatever. The main hallway continues into a locked door, this time with a gold plated lock, and a side hallway leading to many others. Its one of those rooms where there are lots of little challenges, best exemplified by the Greece section in Tomb Raider. Wait, Tomb Raider, is this a British thing? Huh.

I open up my first door, and am greeted by the actual hardest enemies yet. By the time I think to do the combat waltz, Zed is nearly dead again, and I have to retreat. Its interesting how despite not intending to do so, each fight is as pulse-pounding as one I'd get in a survival horror game. So much for my early jokes about combat. Its not even the only combat in this section, there's a second one with a single shell monster, who can poison me. Good thing I know how to cure poison, because that could be disastrous otherwise. What were they guarding? Well, a treasure chest, also hidden behind a puzzle, which has a mirror in it. That means one of two things, this is a puzzle item, or this is useless. Remember, I have no way of knowing what items actually do without looking it up. I used these cube things I had, and I don't know what they did.

This Session: 1 hour 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Cyber-Cop: A Little Understanding

Energy in this game is a pressing concern, a very pressing concern. I started a game with a new character, completely naked, turned on turbo, and waited until his energy ran out. It did not take long. There's no manual, nothing online except a longplay, and I dislike having to rely on those for information. In short, I have a very pressing problem and no real way of stopping it. At this point, this is where I should give up. The learning curve is more like a slope and the few willing to find fun after that don't really care if finish it myself. For some reason I feel compelled to continue.

Returning to where I left off, I find a medikit down a few hallways. This is not a very well thought-out level. You basically have to get lucky in your choice of door and still go a long way before anything approaching a level is there, rather than just following a hallway. Returning on this level is going to be interesting. The monsters, despite their terrifying nature, don't really seem to follow me, so I can just zip past them.
This gets worse, because I do find more of which is broken. You repair items very easily, but you might not figure out how at first, you just start holding down the activation button until the meter in the center of the screen goes to the top. That's not the bad news, the bad news is that they did nothing. Or did I? I paused it at some point, and returned in a few moments, unpaused it to discover I had regained energy. So what did it? Further experimentation revealed that yes, that's how it I only need medikits.

The access computer here is located in a plant room. Why is it in a plant room? I don't know. There's something about this style of game doing one that feels so artificial. This wouldn't be a problem with something like Doom, and by System Shock such artificial environment placement would be a thing of the past. Its a shame the original game didn't come out a few years later.

Unfortunately its not clear what access that gave me, the next floor down is unavailable, the only one I could find was the ground floor. That got me thinking, wouldn't a legit way of getting further down the way be to wait in the elevator until someone calls it to a floor I couldn't previously access, then update my access there? Also, I haven't been playing this nonstop, but one track of music for the whole game, even if its probably like ten minutes, is a bit too little.
The ground floor continues the trend of levels starting off extremely linear. I guess I should be grateful, because with non-linearity, especially in this environment, there's the possibility of getting lost. Which is exactly what happens when the level does open up. At first I wonder if I've been here already, before dismissing that assumption. There are a few interesting things here, some office chairs, which either means this is an office or its a weird cafeteria. I cannot decide which. Then there's a passcode thing. I have no idea where a passcode would even be in this game, and I'm not about to try finding out.

So I wander around futilely for some time. Nothing seems to be jumping out at me as a solution. There's nothing I can see as a terminal, but there's another elevator...wait a minute. Maybe the elevator I was in can't go to all the floors? So I try entering it, only to discover its a door. Its locked, with a passcode. Well, that's it, there's no way...wait, one of the items I have that I don't remember the use of is selected. Could it be? It is. Inside is a pack of ammo and a medikit, but hahaha, I have the solution now...only that doesn't work, but fiddling around reveals a light shows up for 4 of the numbers. So this is basically a crappy version of Mastermind, the color matching game. I solved it, the answer is in the screenshot because this is annoying busywork...and I'm not clear on what that did. Pressing the yellow button caused the computer to Do I have a new code?
...what? What did I do? Am I outside? It doesn't look like the entrance to a building. Yeah, there are multiple of these things around, and there's walls, like this is a basement. What's going on? I don't understand. I take what I think is a different one to hopefully somewhere else, only to return to where I was. That's just great. I guess I don't have energy problems anymore, but power and health are pressing concerns. I use any medikit as soon as I find it, and I haven't found any sources of power yet. As I'm on the 3rd or 4th overall floor, and there are 16 known floors, that's around a 5th of the game. I don't know if I can make it there. The game is trying its darnest to make itself as confusing as possible. I'm still not even sure how to accomplish my objective yet.

This Session: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Dungeon Master: Inevitability

 It is truly amazing how intertwined Dungeon Master's history is tied into the history of FPS games. Early first person dungeon crawlers, up until I want to say 1992, all share the same visual template. That is, a fake-3D view of a dungeon. This can be as simple as a wireframe, to the relative complexity of Legacy - Realms of Terror. Likewise, in the realm of FPS, 3D Monster Maze on mainframes are described as the first FPS. These, for a good chunk of time, are usually separated by the RPGs being turn-based and the FPS games being real-time. They generally only reach good for the time, that is, not very fun in a post-Doom world.

Dungeon Master, is at the very end of this being a viable design-choice for action games. Already, action games were moving into true 3D, and late entries with this kind of fake 3D were inevitably failures. So far the only true title of that type past this game was a Korean one, and I don't think that had an impact even in its home country. Its kind of weird that this was the bridging title of all things.

Of particular interest to this title is the amount of systems this was on. It was playable on just about any system capable of displaying 32+ colors. I do not yet know what this title would look like on a Commodore 64 for example, this didn't have a downgraded port, unlike Elvira for example. Suggestions lead towards the FM Towns version, which has CD music. I can't recommend that, as I tried that and it seemed like keyboard controls didn't work. That is, no moving with the keyboard. That could be an error on my part, but I'm going to be using a modern port. There's also a TurboGrafx CD version that is quite different.

The game starts off in an unusual way, straight into the dungeon. This is the character creation screen, believe it or not. Movement is accomplished by the 789456 cluster, with 5 being back. There are twenty or so mirrors reflecting characters. You walk up to one, left click, and you have the option to resurrect or reincarnate. Resurrect brings the character back as-is, and you can figure out what that would be by left-clicking the eye on the character screen. Reincarnate, I believe allows you to change the character's stats, but I am not sure what I'm doing yet, so I haven't tried it.

I create a party consisting of Zed Duke of Banville, a reference to SunDog's lead, Sonja She-Devil, obvious rip-off of Red Sonja, Gothmog, a magician in a black robe, and Syra Child of Nature, a female elf. I could have chosen quite a few characters, including an African Red Sonja rip-off, a hair monster, and just about any generic fantasy archetype you could think of. I don't imagine this game is going to do much with its story or plot, since it is an action game.
Before I begin I should point out that unlike the games in the genre that I've actually played, Dungeon Master, allegedly, needs a drawn map to properly play it, and with a map there are notes. There's a complex series of actions I need to take and if I forget them, I could be in trouble. That's the theory, anyway. In practice it could be overhyped. My primary concern are spinners, which have shown up a couple of times. Navigation trickery is discouraged in most games these days, but for dungeon crawlers it was standard practice for a while. The following is roughly half of what I imagine is the first level. This game might have ten levels but they're fairly big.
Fountains are the only source of water
Map-making is surprisingly calming. You walk a few paces, you put down some lines on a map. For the first bit I don't put down many notes, but as I got through things, I realized it would be better to put some down. Its tricky thinking up symbols at first, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly. This all helps with navigation, but unlike some titles I don't feel this is strictly necessary yet. I haven't reached a spinner yet. I do see several holes in the areas I've been, and I'm unsure if this is because I missed a secret somewhere or they're genuinely empty.
I feel woefully unprepared for combat. Its not hard...yet. In the version I'm playing QWER controls attacks from a character. The first two characters can attack with melee or ranged attacks, while the back row cannot use melee attacks. Ranged is a bit impractical in the middle of combat, they more or else exist to just throw one attack. If their hand is empty, they can't do anything more unless you move another ranged weapon into their hand. This is impractical in combat and for now relegates the back duo to support roles.
Can you see the secret in this picture?
Speaking of combat, magic in this game uses a rune-based system. There are 4 sets of 6 runes, and not all 4 sets are necessary per spell, so the possibilities are pretty deep. So far I only have one spell, which is create light. The lighting level in this game is important, so far the game's thrown 3 torches at me. While it remains to be seen if its necessary for combat, for exploration its absolutely vital. Keys can be very well hidden in this game and I don't foresee things hidden on the walls to be any easier to find. Its worth pointing out that compared to FPS titles where secrets are usually optional, they could be vital here.
This level feels more like a really long tutorial than an actual level, and unlike some games I can say that of, this doesn't feel disappointing. First you have doors, figure out how to open them, then with keys. Then there are pressure plates, which activate something, here its doors. Often there are plates that close those same doors. Next there's constant pressure plates, which need something dropped over it or it'll unactivate. Naturally there are teleports, which so far hasn't produced difficulties in mapping. Spinners haven't made an appearance yet, but that's okay.
There are a lot of messages, mostly subtle tutorial messages. Some of these are the usual video game information, like, hmm, this seems to teleport me. I found the only secret so far with one, but it wasn't very hard to find without help. It does seem like magic relies on these scrolls for quite some time. Experimentation at this point is a bit dangerous, as I only have so many mana points. In theory, experimentation is also curtailed by food and water, which are currently around the dungeon in sufficient quantities, but this may change. It all depends on how many mushroom enemies remain in the game.

This Session: 1 hour

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Game 83: Mysterium

Publisher:Asmik Ace
Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Mysterium is one bizarre game. Made by the dude who would go onto Sim Farm, and published by a Japanese publisher, Mysterium is a fantasy, non-RPG Dungeon Master-clone. Not having finished Dungeon Master is becoming an increasing liability on this blog. The central concept of performing alchemic rituals to change items forms is unusual, but not unique. It possesses that Macintosh charm, undoubtedly due to being B&W, yet suffers from the same problem most Macintosh games had, players were desperate for anything.

The story is, someone got lost and you have to find them inside a dungeon, and defeat a horrible monster. Not brilliant, but let's be real and place this in the category of Dungeon Master-clone. Its another title like Bram Stoker's Dracula, except that game was fun and this game was not. The reason is that this game requires trial and error, it does so to extend its length. I beat it in around 3 hours, but if I wasn't using save states, especially to leave off in a session, the game would have taken at least twice that. There's no in-game save. I don't know how much this cost back in the day, but looking up current Ebay prices and I get 15$ at the minimum to 1500$. I don't often offer financial advice here, but I would aim to be a seller in this situation.
Why wouldn't I be? The game's gimmick is alchemic magic. You drop an item into one of four cauldrons, and you get a different item. Each level until the last is dedicated to one element. Each item belongs to one element, and has a stable or unstable status. Every item has a consistent reaction to a cauldron, from turning into a different item, turning into a key (that can also be put into a cauldron) to spawning a monster that drops an item. Its interesting, but its just so trial-and-errory. You don't really know what you're going to get and you don't know right away that items are only destroyed if you use them. Even if an item is useless, you can still transform it into something useful. Thus an item is only truly useless if it doesn't offer any keys you need, health or light items.
But the most interesting gimmick in the world would still be bad if the rest of the game is bad, and Mysterium's gimmick isn't the most interesting. Combat in this game isn't fun. You have an invisible crosshair, you shoot at this section, and if an enemy is shooting at you in that location, you'll be hit. So you have to dodge, using a special aim mode. This basically comes out to side-stepping with no more real strategy to it than that. This gets pretty close to beating some of the 3D Monster Maze clones I've played in terms of being ass to shoot things. In addition to combat, you also have torches, which prevent things from going dark, but gradually run out. I don't really know if it affects much, as far as it ran down the screen just turned pale, but not truly dark.
I say Dungeon Master-clone, but in those you have things to distinguish navigation better. Here the only distinguishing features are those you can actually do something with. This doesn't really help the situation much. The game is just plain painful to look at. I feel like most of the game's running time I was nursing a headache. What's really unforgivable, however, is the game's use of spinners. Which if you don't know, are the things in Dungeon Master that turn you without telling you. They're technically earlier. These were also in Dracula, but there it was more of a puzzle. The levels are mostly featureless, but besides that, you have an arrow at the top of your screen. Like so many other things in this game, its trying to be clever, but its just not capable of that.
Many different weapons, but they all act the same way. 0/10

Generic enemies, distinguished only in the most basic ways. Some were cool-looking, but were ultimately the same as the others. 1/10


For the majority of the game, each level is a featureless maze. Far too many require busywork backtracking. But the last, while not any better in those departments, does offer something clever. 1/10

Player Agency:
The aiming system is completely pointless, and keys seem to stick. The game wants to do more than it really can with four buttons, and its really hampered by that. 2/10

A mostly typical adventure game lineup, with the addition of dropping items into pools. What aspects the game exceeds at here are not ones I intended this category for. 2/10

There is a hint of mysticism here, but I feel it only rarely reaches through. 0/10

Simple but ugly. 1/10

In-between level story bursts is admittedly more than your average FPS at this time, but it varies between helpful and insane. 1/10

Typical Game Boy sound effects. The music isn't completely annoying but I don't feel the urge to buy the soundtrack on vinyl. 2/10

That's 10. Let's be honest, the Game Boy was never going to have an impressive FPS title considering that DOS wasn't really that impressive at this point, beyond Galactic Empire, and that has some issues. I'm sure period magazine reviewers are nicer to the game, but this game is only fun if you're in a situation where you're playing this legit and its your only option. Yeah, I don't see that happening today.

Maxis will reappear at least twice more, with SimCopter and Streets of SimCity, while Asmik Ace's contributions to the genres I cover are there, but fleeting to my mind. In both cases, I'm sure those titles will be much better than this one.

Coming up, I've had some issues with Acorn Archimedes emulation, which is bad news in general, but I've noticed that the one important title I have on my list, Galactic Dan, is MIA. I guess this is good news for Halloween time, but it doesn't feel like it. I don't know if I'm going to play a certain, much beloved title before I finish another game, but I've been giving Galactic Empire another shot. We'll see if I manage to get anywhere yet!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cybercon III: Discovering Elevators

Okay, its do or die time. Can I actually advance in this game? I, in theory understand the controls. There's no more confusion about what I can and can't do. I have four doors, let's go through this methodically.

The leftmost door leads to effectively nothing, beyond codes. I don't really need codes. The doors with stripes pointing downward or upward are useless, and just function as enemy spawn/despawn points. Funny, I could have sworn there was something else here.
The left door leads to a bridge that I can't cross yet. But I can jump down. This leads me to the first new symbol I have found, a green square. Two problems, I don't think I need a green square yet, and I don't know how to get here normally. I just need to figure that bit out.

The right door leads to a room with a pit, an enemy spawner, and more codes. I doubt there's going to be anything interesting down there.

So, the rightmost door. This leads to the area last time with the turret and endless tanks. But wait a minute, how can all this be? I definitely have found more before. So much for a thorough sweep. Going down the pit kills me. Hmm, and there's definitely no way past the pit.

Where did I find that generator? The left side? I can vainly hope that will solve some of my problems, since that seems to be the only non-door object I can interact with. I have no way, to my knowledge, to regain energy once I've used it. This makes running around extremely slow, since I need to turn off all non-essential energy objects, mostly the power armor's assistance and direction capabilities. I don't really notice much difference with them off anyway, and the navigation system is straight-up useless. Thus, I'm sitting here in a corner, where robots don't reach, and when I regain my power, I'll go around a corner I didn't notice before. Only to discover its only purpose is to spawn robots.

So...what now? I guess I can try the turret again, but that still leaves some very tricky encounters with robot tanks. Where can I go? Only, I have the choice taken from me. The game crashes. Okay, time to play dirty. Normally I wouldn't cheap to win, but this game has been a stiff uphill climb and I'm curious if there's a payoff. There isn't, that turret still activates. I should point out that I only cheated to give myself infinite energy, health is still a considerable struggle.

With this easy energy, I decide that my only option left is to fall down pits. I don't know what the developer was trying to pull originally, but whatever it was, its not working. I am completely boggled by what I'm playing. I compared this to Galactic Empire originally, but Galactic Empire at least tells me what I need to know, or its so simple I can figure it out. This is just obtuse. From the bottom, there's only one way out. The door is closed, and won't automatically open. Clearly, I just need a opens a code room. And I've seen this code room before. So there are elevators, its just put in so obtusely you'd never figure it out. If you ever see someone do something like that, show them this game.

So, I now actually have options. Since this is the generator...wait a minute, this isn't the generator room. What? WHAT? Where am I then? I'm still on the ground? Why did two rooms appear out of nothing? Yeah, I've been here before, this leads to that door I couldn't open and couldn't interrogate. And while walking around I get killed by robots. I don't know at this point, I really, really don't know. I look up that longplay again, and oh, the coderooms are really, really just elevators. Is that an attempt at environmental gameplay help? No wonder games shifted into having tutorials that tell you how to do incredibly simple tasks, they saw games like this and realized nobody could figure things out otherwise. For good or bad, I guess this means I'm going to continue. Not today, no, not today.

This Session: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hour 00 minutes

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Mysterium: Tarnished Silver Key

The dragon has seen me in his crystal mirror, I must find his lab and create the Golden Wand. Yeah, sure, whatever. I get a scroll that should help me, pour mercury into acid twice to create a deadly weapon. Wasn't mercury about 5 levels back? No, mercury is here too. I'd guess now I'm about one weapon away from max attack power.

This level is sneaky. The first key works well on one door, but that doesn't lead to anything but another key. That key doesn't work on the nearest door. I have no lizard, so this is pure trial and error. But I figure that the key I got when I put the mercury into acid once is the key I'm supposed to use. Oh, and then for the next door I'm supposed to have a gray key, that's something I wouldn't have figured out if the mercury on this floor didn't create a lizard when put in water. The gray key? You need antimony to make one of those, fortunately, I still had some healing items made with the stuff.
When I finally get a piece of mercury I can transmute into a weapon, I decide to drop my old one into the acid as well. Since that spawns a monster who drops something. Well, the something it drops is another weapon that raises my attack power by a sliver on the bar. Oh, hang on, the mercury isn't something I've had before, its been the pools. Its a relatively uneventful level despite that, but I am getting really low on torch strength, using up any just barely before I completely run out. I don't think I've completely run out yet. There isn't an end of level crystal here, which is good.
Level 9, oh nice, quality game design, monsters at the starting point again. The intro dialog is something about how this makes sense to the ants but not to me. Yeah, the scroll they say should clear up my confusion. Put a key into water to alter its nature...oh, yeah, that's real helpful. The material here is silver again.
And the level is over just as soon as it began. There's a crystal near the exit, another flowery bit. I would mess around up here, but I checked quickly and the next level seems to make any progress I've made here moot, so...
Level 10, here there are materials of each type. I guess this is the final exam. These things make the rest of the game feel like a tutorial that ends just when the game gets good. Well, I must admit I don't think that's the case here...since I don't really care for the game, even at this point, but I'm here and I might as well beat it. There are four pools and one door. I have no lizard. Great, so I handle things cheaply, make a lizard with mercury, see what key, a glass one, then reload.
In the next room, more materials, a scale of fire, and a scroll with more flowery text. Ah, the game wants me to use the notes with the crystals to find the correct materials to make something. I don't remember what was in the crystals. Okay, let me think, how would I do this? Hmm, iron has dark in its description...but so does another material. I eventually get something out of tin and iron, but wrong answers blow me up. It takes less with each successful pair, but I manage to get four combined elements...uh, does this mean I should put in the combined elements until I only get one item? This gets me a dragon key, which I can use to open the only locked door. It doesn't disappear like the others, which is really nice, for a change.

Oh, wow, I found Cadmus. That's the guy who came before me. I need the golden wand to free him and his ant friends. Interesting. This looks like the black mage from Final Fantasy. I'm sure that's a coincidence.

His ant friends just look ridiculous chained to a wall. Anyway, I don't really care for this level on the whole. Running through, when you find a locked door you don't have the key for, you have to go all the way back, and there are still spinners in this level.

There's yet another scale puzzle, this time on mercury scales. This isn't that confusing either, and with that you get the Golden Rod of Hermes, which is another key. This leads me to another pit, taking me to the final boss.
Its not that impressive. You have to wait until he's finished breathing fire, then attack by rushing in. There doesn't really seem to be any fail state at this point, or at least you'd have to try to reach that. This gives me another wall of text, spits me back to the level and I can use the rod to free the prisoners.
This seems triumphant, but it doesn't seem like I've won? Wandering around the level again and I can open some more doors with the rod, but these don't lead anywhere. Returning to the pit, I fall down, only to fight the boss again, this time he's even lamer. What I'm supposed to do, and I wouldn't figure this out if I didn't look it up, is go to the upper right corner of the map and then use the rod. What amazing design, the actual end-game state is tied to something that should be dedicated to secret hunting. So much of this game is questionable, and I think its fitting to end on that note.

This Session: 50 minutes

Total Time: 2 hour 40 Minutes