Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Cottage: Laying It Out

My progress in The Cottage has been slow and painstaking.  A part of that is because it's not exactly setting my world on fire.  There are many, many things I could be doing that I'd enjoy more than playing this game.  Mostly, though, it's that the puzzles are somewhat obtuse, and there are a number of things going on in the game that I can't quite explain.

After a lengthy session last night where I didn't feel like I was making much progress, I pulled up the source code and had a bit of a look.  Unfortunately for me, the code I found was in Swedish, so I wasn't able to glean a great deal from it.  I found what I was looking for, though: a list of the treasures I need to complete the game.  It's somewhat of a cheat, but I wanted to know roughly how far I had progressed, and what items are important.  There are thirteen treasures in all: a diamond, a silver stick, a smelly cucumber, a jewelled halberd, a skull, an alarm clock, some gold coins, a "trilogy", a contract, a pearl necklace, a laurel wreath, and a faun shoe.  I know where ten of these are already, which is quite heartening.  I'll detail their whereabouts below.

  • The diamond is out in the open in Thorvald's Room, which is not that hard to get to.  Carrying it around presents a problem, though: certain doors and exits from the house become barred when you are carrying it around.  It's still possible to get back outside with the diamond, via some more circuitous routes, or by getting lucky in those rooms that send you to random locations.
  • The smelly cucumber is also in Thorvald's Room, in a hatch in the roof.  You need a ladder to reach it, but that can be found in a cupboard in Osvald's Room, right next door.
  • The jewelled halberd is in the possession of a guard, who is situated in an area beyond the lift's engine room.  I'm yet to find any meaningful way to interact with the guard.
  • The gold coins can be won from a gambling machine that's found in a cave in the wilderness.
  • The shoe is found in a cave south of the gambling machine, where it falls from the foot of a faun who runs by.  The shoe is needed as a stake to operate the gambling machine.  If you lose at the gambling machine, it's easy enough to come back and get another shoe.  But once you win the coins, the shoes stop spawning.  I need to see if I can get the points for the shoe, then get another shoe for the machine.
  • The "trilogy" is actually a copy of Lord of the Rings, and it's found in a maze of twisty passages.

Speaking of things I'd enjoy more than this game...

  • The pearl necklace is in the possession of an old man, who won't surrender it for anything.  He did show some interest in the laurel wreath when I had it in my possession, but giving it to him didn't help.
  • The laurel wreath is found in the Studio, sitting out in the open under a sign that reads "Alea Jacta Est" ("The die is cast").
  • The picture is found in the same maze of passages where I found the trilogy, but it doesn't seem to have an actual location.  Rather, it appears as I move from one location to another.  I'm really not sure how to interact with it at all, because it never appears as an object in a room where I'm standing.
  • The contract is a strange one to get a hold of.  Remember when I mentioned that there's a lengthy, surreal section where you have to participate in a performance of The Muppet Show?  No, it wasn't a fever dream.  You have to navigate your way through the choices, Choose Your Own Adventure style, and if you make the right ones Kermit the Frog will reward you with a contract.  It's frankly bizarre, but also quite a bit of fun.  It might be my favourite thing in the game.  I understand that it was left out of the commercial release for legal reasons, which is a shame.

Maybe the weirdest thing I've encountered in the blog so far.

So as it stands, I can easily get the diamond, the cucumber, the coins, the shoe, the trilogy, the laurel wreath, and the contract.  I need to work out how to get the halberd away from the guard, how to get the necklace away from the old man, how to interact with the picture, and how to get the coins without losing the shoe.  That's a refreshingly short to-do list, and it's somewhat refreshed my enthusiasm for the game.

That said, those are far from the only puzzles I need to solve on my way to winning.  The game has presented me with loads of other mysteries, some of which I've solved and some that remain elusive.  You may have noticed that I love running things down in point form when I'm writing about text adventures, and I'm going to do that again here.  It helps me to get my thoughts together, and figure out exactly what I need to do.

  • In my last post, I noted that there was an area in the forest where it appeared that someone had been recently digging.  Using a spade that I found in the cemetery I dug a hole, only to find that it was empty.  A little later I tried again, and found that it contained some treasures that had been stolen from me by a robber (this game's equivalent of the thief from Zork, or the pirate from Colossal Cave Adventure).  Everything that the robber steals will end up here, which could actually end up helpful in getting things to the surface, as this area's not hard at all to get to.
  • There's a rowing-boat near the beginning area of the game, which can be used to row to every shore of the lake.  Weirdly, at the centre of the lake there's a telephone socket.  When I tried to plug a phone into it, a telephone repairman came along, uninstalled the socket, and gave me a phone directory containing some useful numbers.
  • I'm not sure what the deal is with the phone sockets, though.  Sometimes when I try to use one, the repairman comes along and takes the socket away.  At other times I've been able to plug it in and call some numbers successfully, but none of them have accomplished anything.  You can call a phone repairman and a glazier (both of whom are out), the guard (who just tells you stop distracting him from his guard duty), and a few other rooms that had already been disconnected before I found a socket I could use.  I've also found an extension cable, which will no doubt play into the ultimate solution for this puzzle.
  • There are a number of paths that lead to an area under the jetty where the game begins.  There's a hole down there, but if you remain in that area you'll drown.  I think the solution lies with a deflated ball that I found, but I need a pump of some sort so that I can use it to float.
  • I'd mentioned in my last post that I had found a crowbar behind a window, but breaking the window caught the attention of Osvald, who came along and took the crowbar himself.  The solution to this one was to use the diamond to cut the window.  I haven't found a use for the crowbar yet.
  • In a pitch-dark room, there's a hidden lamp.  The game gives you no indication that it's there, but if you type GET you'll pick it up.  The game then informs you that you can only keep the lamp if you stay put.  Sure enough, if you type STAY PUT you'll eventually - after 30 seconds of actual waiting - be transported to another location.  It doesn't make much logical sense.

Also shown here is me being booted from the room with the animals.

  • There are three rooms that I can't get into: a kitchen where an angry faun tries to kill me, a chess-themed room where a faun steps on my toes, and a room full of animals that is UNDER CONSTRUCTION.  The last one seems like it might be a red herring, but then again it's past a puzzle that involves cutting through a curtain with some scissors.  I'd think a puzzle like that would lead to a useful area, but you never know with a game designed by pre-teens.
  • I still don't know what's with all of the areas where you're just randomly holding a rotten tomato.  It's baffling.
  • There are some ornate gates just past the guard with the halberd, but the keys I found don't open them.
  • There's a safe that I can't open.  Elsewhere there's a sign that says "CORKSCREW HELPS WITH THE SA..", which may or may not be relevant here.
  • The lift is a useful way to get around, but sometimes it crashes and kills me when I try to use it.  I'm not sure what sets this off.  I'm thinking it might be something to do with the number of items in my inventory, or perhaps that the presence of the diamond causes it in the same way that it blocks off the house's exits.  More investigation is required.
  • The Automatic Machine where you deposit treasure can be accessed from outside as well as inside the cottage.  This is good to know, because I got blown up the second time I tried to go there from inside.  The outside access lets you come and go as often as you like.

So that's a pretty comprehensive rundown of where I am in The Cottage.  I said that laying it out like this helps me figure out what I need to do, and I'm really going to need that help here.  The source code I found is in Swedish, and I can't find any walkthroughs.  I'm on my own.  The game itself provides a HELP feature, though, and I've used it a few times.  It helped me with cutting the glass window, and finding the lamp in the dark.  Normally this would feel like cheating to me, but I'm fine with it when it's a function that's built into the game.  And it doesn't give hints for every puzzle, so for most of the game I'll be on my own.


  1. Just want to encourage you in your heroic efforts with this game. You may not be enjoying playing it, but I am enjoying reading about you playing it.

  2. Not going to spoil any solutions, but I can at least tell you that I've figured out the use for the crowbar, how to get the halberd, how to open the ornate gate, the deal with the chess room and the deal with the animal room. Also, unless the DOS version changed things really severely, there's a rather important room you haven't found yet.

    1. Oh, and I've made a bit of progress regarding what you're supposed to use the phone for, though I've been unable to have it actually EFFECT anything.

    2. I figured out that you can use the extension cord to stop the repairman from uninstalling sockets. I also managed to get the real Emergency Help number, which gives me the option to fix things in the cottage that are broken. I can't get any further than that though.

    3. Yeah, I was referring to getting the emergency help number. I've figured out something I can summon help for, but it doesn't seem to actually have any effect, so I have no idea what the game actually wants me to do here.

    4. I got a positive response when I asked the help number to fix the lift. It might be good for re-installing phone sockets as well, I'm guessing? Whatever it's used for, it's not necessary to completing the game.

    5. Yeah, that's what I was referring to. Was just trying to be vague to not spoil. The guy says they'll "send someone over", but it doesn't result in anyone showing up or anything changing.

    6. What happens to the lift when it crashes, and you get resurrected? If it's then unusable, the repair service might do something.

  3. I have not looked at it, and it might also be in Swedish, but apparently there's an Invisiclues-style hint file available at:

    1. I discovered recently that there's a hint file built into the version that I was playing, and I used it pretty shamefully to solve the last couple of puzzles. It appears to be the same one you're linking to.