Sunday, June 21, 2020

Haunt: Underground and Underwater

I've opened a bunch of my posts lately with an apology, and that's how I'm going to start again today: sorry for the lack of updates around here lately.  Unfortunately, I haven't made much progress in Haunt or Rogue (not for lack of trying in regard to the latter).  I figure today I'll write about what I've done in Haunt, and list out the various problems I'm having to see if doing that jump-starts my brain.

Last time I mentioned that I had possibly had a sleep-deprivation-based hallucination where I ended up on the bottom of the ocean in Haunt.  I'm happy to report that I was not hallucinating, and that the game does feature a subterranean ocean.  Unlike the protagonist of the game, I'm holding on to my sanity for the moment.

I also solved the mystery of how I got down there.  There's a maze of ducts in the game that is deceptively simple; at first glance, it looks like a 9x9 grid.  The trick is that it has three levels, and there are two places where you can go up and down cycling through those three levels endlessly.  I couldn't find any exits on what I designated as the "upper" level, but on the "lower" level I found a duct that exited on top of a fridge in a kitchen.

The kitchen was empty except for the fridge and an exit to the west.  I opened the fridge and found a white cube, which was otherwise undescribed.  I figured that it was probably a block of ice, or maybe some tofu, so I popped it in my mouth.  This turned out to be a bad idea; I had just eaten a cube of acid, and my character proceeded to take a whole bunch of actions that ended up with me dying on the ocean floor.  Definitely something to avoid, although I do wonder if there's somewhere safer for me to take it.

West of the kitchen (after a quick reload) was a back hall, with a closed elevator.  I ignored that for now and continued west, into a dining room, where I found some silver candlesticks and a unicorn head mounted on the wall.  The candlesticks were treasure (marked with exclamation points).  As for the unicorn head, it was too high on the wall for me to reach, so I left it for now.

The elevator back in the hall opened with the press of a button, and I stepped inside.  It had a bunch of graffiti, all of which I'm sure is relevant.  "Homer turns my head" is obviously a reference to turning the bust of Homer to open the secret door in the library.  "Homer kisses dead goats" is a mystery to me, as is "L__t g_e_ _ere!".  I thought the last one might be "loot goes here", but I didn't get any extra points for dropping treasure in the elevator.

The elevator had five buttons.  "Open Door" was self-explanatory.  "Halt" apparently only works when the lift is in motion, but I've yet to find a situation where I could press it while the lift is moving.  "H" refers to the floor that I was already on.  Pressing "P" took me to a floor where the doors opened onto a brick wall with a sign that said "under construction".  I'm hoping that this is a gag, or a puzzle to solve, and not a sign that the game is incomplete.

The only button that got me anywhere was "B", which opened into the airlock of a bathysphere.  Inside the airlock were some coins (a treasure) and a loaded speargun.  I took the speargun and, after messing around with some buttons, was able to open the airlock and make my way out onto the ocean floor.  It ended up being a 6x6 area with impassable boundaries on each side: seaweed to the south, a rocky cliff to the east, an ice wall to the west, and a sandy cliff to the north.  This seemed suspiciously pointless.  Surely there had to be more to it than that?

Eventually, I figured out that I should try swimming up.  Sure enough, I found myself on the surface of an underground lake, and I was immediately under threat by a giant sea monster.  Not much of a threat, it turns out, because it died instantly when shot with the speargun.  Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best one.  You can also avoid the monster by surfacing near the ice wall.

This guy must have rolled terribly for hit points.

After swimming around for a bit I discovered that the sandy cliff to the north was actually a beach.  All I found there was a pool of water, with the following message: "unta  o  out".  I've got no idea what this could mean.  I tried drinking the water, and for some reason the game mocked me for being a baby and killed me.  Is drinking water something people were ever mocked for?  I mean, it wouldn't surprise me in 2020 to be honest, but it is a weird one.

One of the odder game deaths I've encountered.

That's where I'm at in Haunt, which is pretty scant progress.  I'll list the various mysteries that I've yet to solve below:

  • The old garden outside of the mansion is described as dry.  I figure I need to water it (which might be something I can do with the subterranean pool, maybe).
  • The safe with the three-number combination lock.  I haven't seen any clues to this.  I could always try to brute force it by going through every possible combination, but I don't fancy doing that.
  • The maze in the wine cellar.  I found a trapdoor there that led me to the torture chamber (and a sexy encounter), but it's possible that there's more to find.
  • Dracula.  He's in a casket in a dark room on the upper floor, and he won't leave that room.  I don't have anything I can kill him with, I'm pretty sure.  Though now that I think of it, that underground pool could be holy water.
  • There's a dead end where the sweet sounds of Alice Cooper can be heard.  This can be silenced by pulling a cord on the floor, but I have no idea what purpose this serves.
  • I need something I can stand on to reach the unicorn head in the dining room.
  • What's the purpose of the cube of acid?
  • What do I do with the underground pool?  What does "unta  o  out" mean?
  • Can I get past the "under construction" brick wall?
  • What does "Homer kisses dead goats" mean?
  • What does "L__t g_e_ _ere" mean?
  • How do I get down from the balcony after I've climbed the ivy at the back of the house?
  • How do I get out of the house at all?
  • How do I stop myself from going insane and committing suicide?

That seems like a fairly comprehensive list, though I'm sure I've missed some things.  Here's a list of the inventory items I've discovered so far.

  • Two bus tokens.  These can be used to take the bus at the beginning of the game, or they can be eaten if you want to be quickly transported inside the mansion grounds.
  • A watch.  You start with this in your inventory.
  • A bone that once belonged to the Missing Link. A treasure.
  • A bowl of candy.  This can be given to the monster upstairs to open a path to the bar.
  • A wetsuit.  Required to explore the ocean floor.
  • An antique chair.  It's a fragile treasure, which will break if you try to sit on it.
  • A piece of modern art, which is revealed as a Rembrandt when you pour turpentine on it. A treasure.
  • A book with hints about killing vampires.
  • Some gold.  Treasure.
  • Turpentine, which is used to reveal the Rembrandt.
  • A stool in the bar.  I can't remember now if it can be taken, but it seems like a possible option for reaching the unicorn head.
  • A diamond corkscrew.  Treasure.
  • Some rope.
  • Matches.
  • A cube of acid.
  • Some silver candlesticks. Treasure.
  • A piece of jade.  Treasure.
  • Soap.  Washing with this reveals a gem inside, which is another treasure.

So I've located eight treasures.  They're generally worth 15 points when you pick them up, and the instructions say that you get more points for dropping them on the lawn outside the mansion.  The game's top score is 440 points, so I could possibly be halfway there, depending on how many extra points that entails.  It's difficult to say.  I'm going to plug away at Haunt for a little bit longer, but I think I'm reaching the point now where I might need to look up some hints.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Haunt: Bathroom Ideas

This will be a pretty quick post, because A) it's late, and I'm tired; B) my internet has been playing funny buggers, which caused me to lose a lengthy post over on my D&D blog yesterday; and C) I have made very little progress in Haunt.

A lot of that lack of progress probably has to do with the fact that I'm not playing it very much.  It's not that it's a bad game; on the contrary, when I do play it I find it to be quite amusing.  It has a warped sense of humour that very much appeals to me.  But I'm just not that into video games right now, and what little time I did spend gaming this week, I spent playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Randomizer, which takes that game and mixes up the contents of all the chests.  Look, when a way to make my favourite game of all time replayable comes up, I'm gonna be spending some time on that.  On top of all of the above, I've spent most of the last few days doomscrolling on Twitter, and blogging hasn't seemed all that high a priority with everything else going on.  I'll try to get things back on track from now on; I really did feel good about maintaining that regular schedule, and I'd like to get back to that kind of diligence.

Okay, Haunt.  When I left off at the end of my last post, I only had one obvious avenue of exploration: the rooms accessible by climbing the ivy at the back of the mansion.  I'd already been up there previously, and found a bedroom and a bathroom.  Before I could achieve anything of significance though, I'd tried flushing the toilet, only for it to spin around and knock me over.  This caused me to crack my head on the bath and die, which is a pretty ignoble way to go in a video game.

There had to be more to those rooms than that, so I made it my first target when I went back to the game.  Upon climbing the ivy, I recalled that you can't go back the same way; the ivy collapses under your weight and sends you crashing to the ground.  I thought I'd try jumping down, just to see if it worked, but unfortunately it did not, and I chalked up yet another death.  I'm pretty sure now that I'm not supposed to go back that way.  There's a boarded-up doorway from the bedroom that supposedly leads to the rest of the house, and I'd lay odds that I'm meant to find a way through there (or perhaps a way through from the other side).

The first room I investigated was the bathroom, which had a toilet, a bath, and a bar of soap.  The toilet spinning when flushed seemed suspicious to me, so I decided to see what would happen if I sat on it before pressing the button.  The toilet swiveled around into a secret room, where I found a piece of jade and was also treated to a good old masturbation joke.

I had to try it.

The jade was a treasure, but there was nothing else in the room, so I flushed the toilet again and was returned to the bathroom.

The only other thing of interest in the bathroom was the bathtub, so I did the obvious thing: I decided to get in and wash myself.  All I had to do was type TAKE BATH and my guy got in, ran the water, and washed himself with the soap: that's an efficient parser!  The soap wore away completely, leaving me with a gem, another treasure.

So is my character running around Chez Moose naked?

I'd done pretty well in the bathroom, but the bedroom was another matter entirely.  I looked under the bed, and found nothing but dust.  Sleeping in the bed achieved nothing.  There was a mirror on the ceiling above the bed, which was out of reach.  I tried jumping on the bed, which caused me to break the mirror, but I wasn't able to take the broken glass.  Perhaps if I was wearing gloves I might be able to do it without being cut, but I've yet to find any.

I also had no way to get back to the rest of the game.  I wasn't able to get through the boarded-up doorway, and I had no way of getting down from the balcony without being killed.  I decided to restart, and try to find my way in from the other side.

I had some luck exploring the house from the front door, as I was able to find some areas that I hadn't been to before.  Don't ask me how I got there though, it's a complete mystery to me.  It was pretty late when I was playing, and I was drifting in and out of sleep.  I know that I found an elevator, and then I ended up on the bottom of the ocean somehow.  I died of madness pretty shortly after that, and I wasn't quite mentally aware enough to get any screenshots, so I'm not entirely sure that I didn't just dream the whole thing.  Hopefully when I next go back to the game I can figure out how to get back there (assuming that there's a there to find).

I need to devote more time to this game.  It's really quite a solid effort, and as I mentioned above it's funny enough to keep me entertained.  I also haven't gotten properly stuck at any point yet, which is always a bonus for me: the difficulty is pitched at around the right level so far.  If I can just muster the effort to finish it, I think it's going to score rather well.