davidn: (skull)
[personal profile] davidn
Just like before, Act III starts largely by accident when you next happen to wander into the library after doing some unknown subset of the actions that I described in the last post.




Here, I tried out the "show X to X" possibility for the first time - here's a suspicious object that appeared just after an apparent murder.




Right, thanks for that. Unless handkerchiefs were a fairly recent invention in the 1920s, I don't think that this is enough to really pin it on one person yet. Our murderer used a hankie - she/he also had ears and was wearing some shoes.






Just like before, you have to inexplicably walk out of the room and walk back in again to really kick off the act. And once again, a mysterious disappearance has occurred right behind Laura's back. The thing on the border of the rug is a fireplace poker, but I seem to have missed taking screenshot evidence of us tampering with the crime scene and picking it up.




We can also take a look at the magazine the doctor was reading before he was nabbed - with a circled name! (I'm not sure why I'm researching racehorses so much to verify things in this game, but there have been real racehorses called Sunny Boy - but the best-documented one I could find was born in 1944. At least, I assume that's what b.H is. As for what {16-a} and DP = 0-0-10-12-12 (34) mean, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe his memory clock timings.




There are also some pink feathers scattered on the floor, and rather than letting the player deduce this for themselves, the game outright tells you that they might have come from a feather boa such as the one that Gloria is wearing conspicuously. Hmm. You can't pick them up for reasons that are not explained.




Our next stop on this hour's random house tour is back in the secret passage adjacent to the Colonel's bedroom upstairs. The walkthrough says this one will be "strange".




Continuing the graphical weirdness when we look into this room, the Colonel's looking misaligned with the window this time...




...oh! That IS strange. He gets up from his wheelchair, walks with no apparent difficulty to the fireplace and pokes at it a bit, then comes back to sit down. Yes, many people who use wheelchairs can walk unaided for short periods - but this looks very much like he's faking a massive injury to cover himself. Just a moment ago, Clarence was really the obvious suspect for Gertie's undignified defenestration, but Henri would have been physically able to do it as well after all.




Okay. Yes. You might also have noticed that this has appeared in the secret passage (it's randomly in any of the four, but I was lucky here) - it's the Colonel's cane. Dropped in a hurry when desperately getting back to his wheelchair after pushing an old lady out of a window?




The walkthrough now instructs me to go up and visit the third floor, where we haven't been yet. It should be just behind here...






What?! Don't start acting like being a nosey busybody isn't the entire point of this game now! When you open the door, a shadowy hand reaches out, grabs Laura by the neck and drags her out of view. To Sierra's credit, this door is unusual in that Laura won't go through automatically when you approach - you have to specifically type "open door", just like I was saying you didn't have to earlier. So you can't be grabbed just by moving near the door. All right, it isn't much but it's something.




This'll be the right way, then.








The third floor has an interesting unusual effect - it's one screen but it behaves like two, only revealing Fifi's room when you walk beyond the door that separates it from the corridor. Now that we've found her off duty, perhaps she'll be more willing to talk about the others in the house. Who wants to bet they won't write her responses in a stupid phonetic style?




Clarence!




Wilbur!




Oh dear.

Ethel?




Lillian:




Gertie and her children:








The other servants:






So...

Fifi
Trusts: The Colonel, Wilbur?!, Jeeves
Neutral: Ethel. She knows the Colonel is ashamed of her but doesn't offer an opinion herself.
Distrusts: Clarence, Lillian, Gertie, Rudy, Gloria, Celie

Hmm. Perhaps I should tell her about Gertie's forced exit from Henri's life?






Of course. Everyone here acts like people seeing murders is something that happens to guests most evenings, like they're just unused to the prevailing weather conditions.






Ethel's decanter is here, oddly. At least, it's a decanter of cognac and that's the same stuff we saw earlier.






And we'll have to come around to this one later. At least we weren't murdered this time.




This is another seemingly pointless thing that the walkthroughs tell us to do - enter the doctor's room again. There isn't even anything we can interact with here - all that the game seems to want us to get from this is the knowledge that Dr Feels' bag has moved.




We've got some more spying to do - this time, we go across the corridor and take a look into Rudy and Clarence's room.




9:15 at last - that felt like it took ages.








Honestly, Rudy is being shockingly progressive here considering he's a notorious womanizer in the 1920s! Actually treating a woman like she has her own agency and doesn't have to be owned by a man? Revolutionary. Although people often suddenly gain a lot of perspective in this department when it's their sister that's involved.




Conversely, it's a bit unusual to see a man chide another man for his lack of commitment. I'd have expected these two to be down in the parlour celebrating one or the other's 50th boning of the year. But perhaps the 1920s were different.








There's a bit of animation here - Rudy's fist appaears in the frame. It looks okay when it's still like this, but when it appears on screen it scrolls up from the bottom like a third party on the floor is asking to be excused.

So we're adding rapidly to the list of people that Clarence might want to get rid of, after doing away with Gertie and Wilbur. Oh, did I not mention that before? I think that Gertie and Wilbur might have been killed by Clarence. Because they were killed by Clarence.




Leaving the house once more, we walk a couple of screen to the northeast this time to get to this shack. This is where Celie lives - being descended from slaves she wouldn't be seen as fit to actually live in the same house as the master like the other servants are, but honestly I think she gets the best deal for being away from all the obvious murders.






Thank you for reminding me that things could be worse.






This is why we needed to find and return the necklace to Gertie earlier - if you don't intuit that you have to do that during that tiny amount of time in the second act, apparently she won't invite you in and you presumably miss out on a ton of clues and revelations. Fortunately for us, we have the walkthrough.










So let's start the questions round again - maybe she, too, will be a little more loose-lipped now.






Well, he's a lawyer so he would have done that whether he was actually scamming Henri or not.




By the way...






Okay then.






Why am I the only sane woman here

Gertie:




Gertie's children:






Hmm, Rudy's gambling debts might give him a motive to forcibly increase his share of the titular bequest, if they're appalling enough...






And the Prune family:






Oh, I didn't know about that fairly large bit of background! That's... unfortunate.

I suppose it's about time I updated the diagram with this new information:




Yes, I know we haven't actually seen proof of the doctor's death yet, but we're playing a murder mystery, not a dating sim - what do you really think we'll find?

Celie
Trusts: The Colonel
Neutral: Lillian, Ethel
Distrusts: Clarence, Wilbur, Gertie, Rudy, Gloria, Fifi, Jeeves

And asking Celie about herself, which I forgot to do for any of the others:






No, she didn't throw me out - this is just what you have to do next. You have to go out and then immediately come back in again. It's bad enough when doing this sets off an important trigger in any game, but the sheer frequency with which this game does it in kind of incredible. You feel there has to be a much better way of going from one state to another.




The game says that Celie is now at the stove cooking some gumbo. It occurred to me here that I had no idea what qualified a stew as being gumbo, and went to look it up - it's specifically Louisianananan with central African roots, must have celery, bell peppers and onions, and is thickened with okra or roux.

We, for some reason, have our eye on one of Celie's vegetables.






Nice of Laura to ask.




Yes, that's a carrot all right. Actually I wonder...






Yes, the carrot is indeed edible. Now we can't complete the game!






One reload later, our next stop is to the southwest, where we find the stables. Let's head on inside...






Despite its age, the stable still has an occupant - though it, too, has long passed its days where it could win any Grand Nationals. The lantern on the west wall is our goal here (though once again, the reason why won't become evident until much, much later in the game. Requiring future knowledge is an objectively bad thing for any adventure or puzzle - I'd be interested to play this again and see just how many items you can miss forever by the time you arrive at whatever puzzle you need them for. Or if the game just leaves you stuck wandering the entire map on a vague hunt to find something).












This is not the way to get the lantern. If only we had some tranquilizers - or maybe our newly acquired vegetable would work? (Incidentally, Laura's face with the plus signs over the eyes gave me a serious shock when it appeared.)




Blaze the Carrot sounds like a character made up when Sega were seriously running out of ideas.








Great. Somehow we've made friends with a horse. At least by the game's logic, this means we can pick up the lantern without taking two hooves to the face. Our next stop is the chapel again.




Oh, neither of the walkthroughs mention this! Ethel seems to be stumbling around at random in the grounds - I hope I haven't broken a sequence terribly. Talking to her doesn't yield much:








So, trying to return to the timeline suggested by the walkthrough, let's enter the chapel.




He's been struck off - permanently. Sorry, turned into Arnold Schwarzenegger for a minute there. Again, the narration isn't all that descriptive here, especially from the point of view of someone who's discovered two dead bodies in the space of an hour and a half.

And I think I'll leave it here for now - I was planning to go for half-hour or hour-long updates in game time, but time doesn't run at a constant speed at all in this universe and this act still has absolutely bloody ages to go. With any and all clues we've uncovered so far, I of course invite speculation in the comments!
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