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I'm not even going to make excuses anymore; I didn't get around to this game for ages because I didn't get around to it. I do still mean to get through it at some point, though! Here, then, is another update.
On today's adventure, we find out that I haven't touched this game for so long that a computer reinstallation took out my most recent save file, which set me back until around the end of chapter 2/start of chapter 3, but that's all right because I missed something vitally important anyway. (With two walkthroughs!)
Also, in this update, we discover another body, and I accuse one of you--yes, you, my reading audience--of murder. Which one, though? Is it you? Keep reading to find out!
So, my last save was just before opening the sarcophagus with Dr. Carter inside, so I started again from there. (Thank God I didn't have to do the taxi rides or the party eavesdropping again.) From there, I mostly speedran through everything to get caught up, wasting even less time than I had before.
There's a certain book in Dr. Carrington's office, you see....
Yes, on the bookshelf in the back of his office, far away from anywhere you actually needed to go for any other reason, there is one specific book. Other adventure games would make this obvious by making it physically sticking out a little, or coloring it some visible-from-space color to make it stand out from its dull-colored surroundings, but Sierra doesn't play by those rules. Sierra decided the way to do it was to have a book that blends in perfectly with its surroundings, giving it a small clickable area (it's one book!), keeping it from standing out in absolutely any way whatsoever, and even, if by some chance anyone actually does find it, giving what sounds like a generic flavor response that in no way hints at anything deeper. What, it's a copy of Crime and Punishment, what's the big deal?
One of the walkthroughs actually does mention this (it's the only way I ever would have known about it at all), just not at the point I'm currently at. Chapter 3 is fairly open-ended, in that there are things to see in several different locations and you need to cover all of them, but the two walkthroughs I'm using disagree on the order in which to do them. I planned my route based on A) making as few stops and getting as much done in one trip as possible, since time's wasting and all, and B) acquiring the titular Dagger of Amon Ra as soon as I could. The walkthrough mentions this book later, when we're apparently meant to come back to Dr. Carrington's office again (and we will be here again), but I tried to find the book early last time I played through this part. I was specifically looking for it, and failed to find it because they made it so impossibly hard to find, so I just gave up and assumed it only appears later, that I was looking for a piece of evidence that wasn't there yet because the flag hadn't been tripped that made it relevant.
No, I just missed it because it's hidden, is all. On a whim, I looked for it again during the Carrington's Office portion of my forced replay, and there it was!
No it isn't, but at this point we're already examining the book (it can be assumed that it wouldn't have pulled up the special insert for it like that if it wasn't important), so whatever.
A police file! Specifically, a POLICE FILE that was apparently stamped diagonally so that you could read the text when the folder was tilted like that. That was thoughtful of them.
Yeah, I'm guessing this is something we're going to need later.
So, what do we have here....
Oh, my. If Watney Little's name is now in the notebook, then this must be important.
By the way, can I just make a quick aside about how completely awful it is that you can't check your notebook just for the sake of checking your notebook? You can only see what's in it when you're asking someone a question, and you can only do that when you find someone whom you can ask. So much of this game is lonely, isolated exploration, "I just want to see if this clue made it into my notebook or not" checks are almost impossible to perform until unreasonably later. To get this screenshot, I actually had to play all the way back up to where I retrieved the Dagger in the last update, then intrude on Yvette and Ernie and get kicked out of their office, and then Wolf Heimlich was waiting for me in the alcohol lab. There was about a four-second window before I got thrown out of that in which I could ask Heimlich exactly one question, which of course he didn't even answer, but at least the attempt allowed me to view my notebook. This is ridiculous.
Right, so, there's a file in Dr. Carrington's office on a notorious con artist and fraud perpetrator who recently escaped from an English prison, and this file has a "Remember our deal" note affixed to it. Also, I just remembered this comment from Ziggy all the way back in chapter 1:
Remember my theory about how Dr. Carrington is an impostor, the first murder we saw in the opening introductory cutscene was actually the fake Dr. Carrington killing the real one, and the obvious body in Dr. Carrington's steam trunk is actually that of Dr. Carrington? I used to put that whole theory behind a speculation spoiler tag, but I think the idea that the "Dr. Carrington" wandering around the museum is actually Watney Little is now pretty much confirmed, and I don't have to hide it anymore.
All this from a ridiculously easily-missed book!
The drawback to speedrunning this stretch of the game this time is that whatever random movements I did differently ended my lucky streak of Wolf Heimlich not being there when I needed the lantern. Reloading the game didn't help (he was still there the second time), but allowing him to throw me out of the room, then immediately turning around, going back in, and breaking the window and stealing the lantern again worked just fine.
At long last, we are now exactly where we were at the end of last update! Stupid computer crashes. It was worth it, though, because this time we got Watney Little's file, which is kind of a big deal. Sierra: the company that makes games that force you to play with two walkthroughs and still risk missing things like that.
Right! So! We've caught back up and it's time to move forward again ... where were we going, exactly? According to the two walkthroughs ... everywhere, since this is still an extremely open-ended chapter with no real indication of the order in which you're meant to do anything. (There is a time limit, though, helpfully!)
I have just spent about ten minutes reading ahead in both walkthroughs, trying to piece everything together and form a plan. It would appear that the most logical route is to go to that room in the back of the alcohol preservation lab, just to observe a scene with Dr. Myklos and get kicked out (mostly because we're in the lab anyway and the door is right there.) Then, return to the Old Masters gallery, since we can now get the skeleton key stuck to the painting, and we should even overhear a rather juicy conversation from Yvette's office on the way. Then, go to back to the Egyptian room (where we found Dr. Carter) and wait for the next time jump, which should trigger a cutscene with Dr. Smith. Finally, south to the pterodactyl/life mask area, for ... you'll see. Let's try it, I guess! (If all that doesn't work, I did save.)
God damn it. This game's title menu design, I swear. Every time I launch it!
Right, that was useless.
Neither of the walkthroughs mentioned anything about being Heimliched at this point, of course. I can only assume that was just random bad luck. Fortunately, I was supposed to be leaving anyway.
Hooray for following preset paths with laser-guided precision and as much speed as you can manage! This is exactly how you're supposed to play a mystery adventure game.
The Yvette office conversation still happened as promised, so I think we're on the right track. So far, so good, at least. Well, for the player. Not for this relationship. Given what we know so far, I can safely assume that Det. O'Riley is the one who killed Yvette, and she hasn't even died yet. (Not that "but the murder hasn't happened yet" never stopped Yvette from speculating about who killed Dr. Carter, though.)
Especially since Det. O'Riley introduces the notion of cops going bad with all the subtlety of an "I have this friend..." speech.
Much like with Yvette and Ernie, you can walk in on these two after listening in on their conversation, but it doesn't really accomplish anything and you get thrown out immediately.
All right, now it's off to the Old Master's room, where we can get the ... what? Witnesses?
Right, then. Let's just wait for her to leave....
There. Much better. Thank goodness we're treating a priceless ancient artifact, and the center of so much intrigue, with such reverence and care.
Next, it's just a quick jog through the dinosaur room, then--
Okay. I did mention that I saved. Reload, try again, do all that even faster....
There. The time changed over literally as I was entering the room, but I think I made it!
Admittedly, Dr. Carter's notebook does mention meeting with Dr. Smith at 10:15 in the Egyptian Room. That much checks out, at least.
Laura asks where Dr. Smith was at 8:00, when the murder took place. Dr. Smith said he was at the party, Laura claims not to have seen him.
Well, that's ... an interestingly plausible story. I don't know if he's telling the truth, but he certainly could be; I can't see any obvious holes or contradictions or reasons why that account couldn't be true. We already know that Yvette murdered Dr. Carter, and I am convinced that she was merely the one carrying out the orders and
Oh, and while we're here anyway....
This is why you need to investigate the corpses in this game very thoroughly when you first discover them! You usually only get one chance.
Anyway, now that it's 10:15, a surprise awaits us in the rooms below. First, the pterodactyl room....
Suddenly and abruptly, we have stumbled across our second murder!
DEATH #2: PTERODACTYL'D!!!
Gruesomeness: 2.0/ 10
Absurdity: 9.5 / 10
It's hard to say who died, since the victim was beheaded, in addition to having a pterodactyl dropped on him. Given that he was a relatively thin Caucasian man in a tuxedo, though, we can safely rule out all the women, Dr. Smith, and Ernie.
I'm giving this one a low score on the gruesomeness because there isn't a whole lot to see. I do have to give it at least a couple points because it's an impaled and decapitated body, but honestly, the lack of a head spares us from the hideous facial expression (for now--we do find the head later, unfortunately) and the impalement is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it's a freaking pterodactyl; it's just too ridiculous to take seriously.
Which brings us to the absurdity score. Just ... what? How do you murder someone with a pterodactyl? Even if you clipped the wires in such a way and with such timing to get the absolute luckiest shot in the world, the victim would have to already have been lying down to have an angle like that--if he were standing, it would have got him on his now-missing head. Unless the victim was already dead (probably from the beheading), and this was just how the killer chose to arrange the body after the fact? If so, why?
The only reason this isn't a perfect 10 is because there's another death later that, believe it or not, is even worse. This death is honestly perfect as far as the absurdity goes; I'm just saving that final half a point solely because I know what's coming.
What killer in the world would have the idea to beak someone to death? Who would ever think that's how you go about committing a crime like this? Unless--
Beak someone to death.
Oh my God.
I know who did this.
IT WAS YOU, WASN'T IT? CONFESS!!
I'm pretty sure I just cracked the case and therefore there is no more need to play this game. That's it, criminal mastermind identified, we can all go home! But I guess that I should finish this game out, you know, just for the sake of closure. Just to make it official and all. So, I'll end this with an "To be continued, until next time" note instead. I guess.
Meanwhile, feel free to pass the time until the next update by speculating (unless you know already) whose body that is, who [else] murdered him, and why!