Friday, 12 May 2017

Dark Seed - Dark City

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #2 : After all these weird clues, I’ve finally gained access to this strange dark alien world. It seems my predecessor in this house went crazy because of them, and I’m starting to worry if the horrible nightmares I’m having are just bad dreams or something more ominous… I’ll try to get to the bottom of this before these headaches kill me!

Since my last play post, I was able to find something else to do before moving on to day 2 : In the garage, I tried using the hand icon on the car to enter it but to no avail. It’s just that I was using the wrong icon. Simply “moving” in the car was enough to enter it. Now that I write about it, it kinda makes sense, but it proves that I have to be careful to use all the icons on things before dismissing something as useless. Entering the car, I can find a pair of gloves in the glovebox and… a radio! The clue from the library book told me to go to “tune to the right station” but all I can get is music. Maybe something else will happen on the radio later.

Honk if you want to find a purpose in this game!

Onward to day 2!

Okay campers rise and shine, it’s still groundhog day!

The beginning of day 2 sees me running in circles in the house with absolutely no idea what to do next. However, at 10:00 am the postman rings the bell again and delivers me… a mirror shard! Good to know that all I had to do to make progress was just to wait for the postman to show up. Putting the mirror shard in its place makes the mirror shine strangely and grants me access to the dark world!

Because the first thing you want to do when your mirror shine strangely is go head-on into it.

Entering the Dark World is suitably frightening. All the colors vanish from sight and you’re plunged into a monochrome nightmare. Giger really went all the way to create the Dark World. Cocoons pulsating with weird life forms in it, faces writhing in agony cast in the walls, humming machinery and piles of skulls are everywhere.

Still less scary than the real interior decoration of the house

The Dark World follows exactly the template of your house, with strange rooms mirroring the ones in the real world. The living room is hosting a few weird cocoons, the kitchen is a kind of prison with strangely deformed lifeforms locked up in glass cages, the lobby has a lot of skulls piled up in place of the staircase (which can’t be climbed, no matter how hard it looks like a staircase of skulls). In the office, I find some kind of diagram of a human skull hosting an alien inside it!

“On a human?” Your freaking last name is written on the blueprint, do the alien impede your cognitive abilities as well, Mike?

Where the secret door is supposed to be, there is some kind of locked door, impossible to open. The game is kind enough to tell you “nothing in this world could open this door”. Okay, hint taken. Considering the layout of the house, I guess actions in the real world repercute in the alien world. I proceed to go back into my house by the portal in the cocoon room. Even if it’s a handful of screens only, the overall speed of the game makes it a bit tedious to go back to the cocoon room, enter the portal, go to the office, open the secret door, return to the living room, enter the mirror and go back to the office, but it’s not that big a deal. Entering the secret room in the alien world shows some kind of teleporter that brings me to the second floor. I’m guessing skull staircase was a bit too simple for the aliens. Employing a teleporter to go up one floor seems more logical.

Beam me up Scotty!

I then proceed to enter the other secret room on the left of the room and get “Nothing in this world could open this door.” WHAT? SERIOUSLY GAME? YOU’RE GONNA MAKE ME GO AAAAALL THE WAY BACK TO THE OTHER SECRET DOOR BECAUSE THESE FRAKING DOORS CAN’T STAY OPEN??? Okay. Deep breaths. I go back to the cocoon room, pass through the mirror, go to the office, open the first secret door, climb the ladder, open the second secret door, exit to the office, REOPEN the first secret door because these doors close themselves behind you (without any warning of the game so you have to pay attention) and then living room, mirror, cocoon, office, teleporter, whatever. I won’t describe all the words I uttered during these few minutes because I want the blog to stay open to general audiences, but you get the idea.

Same screen, five minutes later.

On the next screen, I find myself on a large balcony with a view on the weird alien world. On the ground I find a pair of binoculars (kinda strange considering the place, but whatever) I use to observe the view but that doesn’t seem to have any purpose. Maybe I can use these binoculars in the real world. The next room is “the abode of a strange bio mechanical leech draining the life force from its victims” (the game words, not mine). I can’t do anything to the generator because of some kind of force field.

I know a bio mechanical leech when I see one.

Time to try everything on everything, even if trying to disable a force field with crackers seems a bit pointless. That’s when I go back to the balcony that I realise I’ve missed a lever in the wall. Pulling it kills me by electrocution. Thank god I saved my game before trying that because going again through the secret doors conundrum would probably have me throw my computer by the window. Using the gloves on the lever seem to have no purpose whatsoever but maybe it changed something in the house. Sure enough, going back in the lobby shows that the entrance door is now opened! Time to explore the alien world proper!

Yep the resemblance to the house sure is striking.

The game opens up quite a bit there. I find a few buildings and places around the house.
  • Right next to the house, some kind of command center is there. Another lever (that I manipulate with the gloves now) seem to be useless because the generators don’t seem to be running. Mike doesn’t want to manipulate the various consoles because “it would be unwise to do so without the owner’s manual”. Gee, I certainly hope the aliens have been kind enough to leave one of these laying around somewhere around here! 
  • Right where the cemetery used to be, I find a huge building hosting the aliens (or ancients as they’re apparently named) in a state of suspended animation. Touching them kills me instantly. I also find a huge power room where the “heart of the power nexus” vaporize any item I can put in. I try putting everything in it then restore, but it’s good to know there is a place when I can stupidly destroy my inventory if I want to. In front of the building lies… a shovel. A perfectly classic shovel. I pocket it (once again showing the hypothesis that adventure game protagonists have black holes in place of their pockets) without thinking too hard about it. I certainly hope that the shovel being here will be explained later, because it sure look dumb enough to find this kind of item here... 

Once again dear writers : telling something is strange doesn’t make it less stupid.
  • On the other side of the house and in the direction of where the town would be, I find a narrow passageway over a chasm guarded by a strange Gollum-looking (yes I’m sure that’s a word now) creature that attacks me if I go too close.

Once you realise it’s cross-eyed, it doesn’t look too frightening

And that’s about it for the alien world I can access right now. Looking at my watch reminds me I have a meeting with my neighbour in a few hours. It’s important to keep good relationships with your neighbours after having explored a dangerous alien world. I proceed to go back into my house through the mirror.

Before my meeting, I try my new items in the real world. The binoculars don’t seem to work from my balcony which is kinda disappointing, and I’m pretty sure everyone can guess what is the first thing you do when you find a shovel and live near a cemetery.

Guybrush? Are you there?

After having digged through all the graves in the cemetery like a maniac and finding nothing, I go back to my house… and get picked up by the police! I’m guessing digging up graves in your local cemetery is still frowned upon for some reason. The interesting result of this is that I find myself locked in a cell. Using the tin cup on the bars allows me to call a policeman (probably because it’s more cinematographic than just yell “officer!” in the station) to whom I can give Delbert’s business card (ostensibly reading “get out of jail free” on it). It gets me out of the cell.

Pictured : realistic depiction of worldwide legal systems.

After this little adventure, I’ve lost the gun, the business card, the tin cup (I was guessing the whole goal of this was to get the tin cup but no) and a few minutes on the watch. I try wandering around the city before reloading and realise that I can’t enter the library without “taking a shower first”. On which I conclude two things :
  • Spending five minutes in a jail cell negates all showers previously taken on the same day. 
  • My theory on the fact that not taking a shower penalizes you at some point was right and it has to be on the farthest screen away from the house. This game really enjoys making you run in circles. 

Another funny thing is that if you spend the night in jail, your head bursts open and something-that’s-only-not-an-alien-because-of-copyright-infringement gets out of it.

Repeat after me, folks : not an alien. An ancient.

After all of these adventures I promptly reload my game in order to keep my gun, my business card, my head, my shower, and go to my meeting with Delbert at 6:00 PM. I spend a little time trying to find him before I understand I’m supposed to go behind my house, not in front of it, to meet with him. Before that, I wander into my garage and try to turn on the radio again. This time it works! A calm voice tells me to “turn myself in and leave behind the key which will only work in the dark world”. So that’s the point of getting myself arrested! I’ll have to look into that after my meeting with Delbert.

Hey, ain’t you the psycho neighbor that wants to kill me because I took his scotch? I’ll follow you alright!

I follow Delbert into his own lawn in which he proceeds to… play fetch with his dog and never talk to me again. Okay… nice fella. I try to figure out where the “talk to” command is then just resort to give the guy his scotch.

Some crackers to go with that?

Delbert then leaves the garden, forgetting the stick he was throwing to his dog. Good! Now I have a stick… and an idea so stupid on what to do with it could work.

Yup… sure did!

Okay, now that I’ve disposed of the alien hound, I can explore the city! Not much to see here. There is a “recruitment center” which I can’t seem to enter because “no need to apply, they already have your number!”, a heavily guarded building and… the alien police station! If I enter it, the warden tells me “this is where my gun went, prepare to rot in jail!” and then locks me in. This is where I guess I need to hide the key in the real world to exit in the alien world.

I want my phone call, E.T!

So here is what happens next. I try not to ramble about the fact that getting the gun on DAY 1 (one of the very first things you can do) can get you in a dead-end scenario by the end of Day 2 because I’m pretty sure you can’t steal it twice from the police station and they confiscate it if you get busted. It’s aggravating enough. However, what’s worse is that trying to reload an earlier save where I didn’t touch the gun and manage to get to the alien police station results in the warden shooting me instead of putting me to jail.

So, if I take the gun : dead-end. If I don’t take the gun : dead-end. I’m guessing you have to find a key, get busted for digging graves and then find a way to get the gun and get busted by the alien police to escape the jail in the dark world… I’ll look into it but it’s another restart for me so I think this post has gone long enough… See you guys next week to see if I found my way out of this predicament or if I had to resort to read the clues you left me in my last post!

Session time : 2 hours
Total time : 3 hours

Inventory : Watch, Blueprints, Crowbar, Diary, Crackers, Insecticide, Business Card, Gun, Gloves, Binoculars, Alien Shovel

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!

6 comments:

  1. Yeah, the doors and that stuff are very aggravating - you essentially have to plan such things ahead so that you won't take too much time in wandering around the game world. First day is pretty much meant for making preparations for the second day.

    The ROT13 bit in the previous post was a bit of random rambling, I'll try to put some better hints in here. You should probably look first at the Graveyard-section and then the Jail-section:

    Graveyard:
    1. Lbh xabj lbh'yy trg gb wnvy ol qvttvat gur tenirf...
    2. ...ohg unir lbh pbafvqrerq gung tenir qvttvat zvtug unir nabgure checbfr?
    3. Lbh ner fubeg bs na vgrz gung jbhyq yrnq lbh gb n evtug qverpgvba
    4. Unir lbh frra na birepbng va lbhe arj ubhfr?
    5. Fbzrgvzrf ybbxvat bapr vf abg rabhtu
    6. Vs lbh frnepu gur pbng zhygvcyr gvzrf, lbh'yy svaq fbzrguvat gb yrnq lbh ba

    Jail:
    1. Gur wnvy pryyf bs qvssrerag jbeyqf ner irel pbaarpgrq...
    2. Vs lbh yrnir fbzrguvat uvqqra haqre n cvyybj va bar pryy, lbh pna ergevrir vg va nabgure pryy
    3. Ceboyrz vf, lbh pna chg bayl guerr guvatf haqre gur cvyybj
    4. Lbh nyernql unir bar bs gur vgrzf, vg'f tbbq sbe unaqyvat ryrpgevp rdhvczrag
    5. Lbh unq gur frpbaq cyragl rabhtu, ohg lbh jnfgrq fbzr bs vg ba fghss lbh jba'g arrq
    6. Lbh'ir zvffrq gur guveq vgrz...
    7. ...ohg vg'f abg ernyyl lbhe snhyg...
    8. ... orpnhfr gur qnza guvat vf yvxr gjb cvkryf jvqr!
    9. Vg'f n cva ba gur yvoenel sybbe
    10. Naq gur bgure gjb vgrzf ner tnhagyrg naq zbarl (qba'g jnfgr vg ba nalguvat ryfr ohg fpbgpu)
    11. Gura lbh'yy whfg unir gb svther bhg jung gb qb jvgu gur tha...
    12. Fvzcyr: qba'g gnxr vg orsber lbh'ir orra va erny jbeyq wnvy

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    Replies
    1. And a typo: in point 10 on the lower set of hints, tnhagyrg should be tybir.

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  2. In the alien world, there are normal shovels lying around and the beast is distracted by a thrown stick? That's just lazy generic adventure game writing, closer to Monkey Island or Simon the Sorcerer than anything creepy. You need more than a great art style to achieve a successful tone for a horror game.

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    Replies
    1. I agree, it's like the developers thought of an art style first and gameplay-wise, they just put any idea of what they thought was an adventure game without thinking too much about it. I'm surprised there is no case of put-the-paper-under-the-door-and-push-the-key yet but I haven't finished the game for now, so there is still time...

      There is an even more stupider occurence of that that I'll cover in my next post involving a microfilm.

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    2. Well, the tone might be gone, but the beast getting distracted by a stick don't bother me that much. I'm more curious what alien monster that actually owned the shovel since they hardly look humanoid or is it the former house owner that brought his shovel with him? And while writing it, they could have solved it with a corpse right there and the horror tone could have been saved and explain the weird circumstance of a human shovel in the alien world.

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