Celine Kalante (kjorteo) wrote in videogame_tales,
Celine Kalante

The Dagger of Amon Ra, Part 8: SCREAM!

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Today on The Dagger of Amon Ra, anyone playing a drinking game with a "Laura Bow stumbles upon a corpse and screams" stipulation will get alcohol poisoning. And then Laura will stumble upon your corpse and scream.

Our last update concluded with Laura finding an unfortunate and unidentified man who lost his head and gained a pterodactyl through the spine in exchange. Both walkthroughs advise investigating, but neither mention anything in particular we need to find, like the notebook Dr. Carter had. That leads me to believe that there's nothing vital to observe or collect now lest it be lost forever, but we can still have a look around for general hints and flavor.

Like the fact that this murder just barely happened. That's ... I don't know, there isn't anything we can draw from it just yet, but it is interesting to note!

Okay, there is one thing we clearly need as all but spoiled by the painfully obvious "THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ITEM" cutout circle, but we can't get it just yet. We'll come back later with some wire cutters or something.

Anyway, Laura's screams didn't attract Heimlich and O'Riley this time, so we're free to ... oh, God damn it!

Wait. Upon reloading and trying this again, the exact same thing happens, every single time. So, I guess it's just automatically 11:15 as soon as you're done with the mystery corpse, as opposed to the time advancing on its own. Thanks, Sierra.

However, if you recall from the last update, this murder unlocked once the time hit 10:15 (which was automatic; there was much scrambling to get everything done and get to the Egyptian room before that accursed clock appeared.) The Egyptian Room is two rooms away from the Pterodactyl Room. Laura just walked the equivalent distance of your bedroom to your kitchen, found a corpse, and just stared at it for a solid hour. And no one noticed. I've seen obviously made-up alien abduction stories with less randomly missing time than this.

Anyway, now that Laura has recovered from her apparent paralysis, our next stop is a brand new room we've never been to before, because the automatic time advancement strongly discourages you from any kind of exploration in what is supposed to be a murder mystery point-and-click adventure, and yes, I'm still bitter about that.

By going back into the medieval armor hallway and then down, we enter....

The Life Masks Room! For the record, this exhibit was seriously creepy even before the painfully obvious twist that one of these "masks" will be the murder victim's missing head. And it was also vaguely racist, but then again, everything about this game is vaguely racist.

Anyway, it's not as obvious as you might have suspected, given the lack of blood everywhere and other such giveaways. However, even by the absurdly low bar this game's political correctness standards have set, it probably wouldn't imply that people in northeastern Russia come in zombie ash grey, so....


Victim: Ziggy
Gruesomeness: 5.0/ 10
Absurdity: 11.0 / 10

Oh, no! Not the shifty Igor-like stool pigeon who'd been raising "it's a miracle no one has killed him by now" flags throughout the entire game! Well, now we know who the pterodactyl victim was, at least.

On one hand, this scene scores major gruesomeness points for just about everything having to do with the head itself. Ziggy was a rather grotesque creature anyway, and a full zoomed-in detail shot of him would have been terrifying even while he was still alive, but the graphics team outdid themselves with this render. The eyes and mouth are hideous, and capture the perfect combination of Ziggy's preexisting creepiness amplified by now also being cold and dead.

On the other, it loses major points because that's all they rendered. It was as if they had spent all their effort on building up and shading and perfecting the head, then completely forgot to add in any sort of surrounding details whatsoever, and oh no the game ships tomorrow, crap, well, this will have to do I guess. It feels incomplete, like a Fur Affinity commission wherein adding in a background would have been an extra $20 so instead you just settled for your characters making love in a blank cosmic void.

As for the absurdity, the score is a little preemptive, but you'll just have to trust me on this for now. This is the least plausible death in the game (and that is truly saying something, given some of the others that are also coming up,) if not the least plausible death in the entire history of murder mysteries. I promise you that I will take off on a long rant about how completely impossible this is no matter how you try to piece any facet of it together ... once we find the actual instrument that beheaded Ziggy. I can't really spoil anything until then. But trust me. It's going to be good. You're not going to believe it.

Until then, you can pretend the absurdity score is for the already-high ludicrousness of being beakmurdered by a pterodactyl display, plus his head turning up two rooms away without so much as a single drop of blood anywhere at all between them (except for the murder scene immediately surrounding the body, where it was absolutely everywhere.) And those facets alone do make it deserving of an off-the-scale absurdity rating. It's just that it gets even worse. You seriously have no idea.

As for this "investigation," this is another case where there isn't any vital evidence to find here. Honestly, there isn't even anything to interact with; since they didn't bother to make a background, the game treats literally the entire screen as the exact same generic "Ziggy's Head" hotspot. Clicking his ear, his eye, his forehead, or any corner of the inky black void all get you the same generic and non-informative "it's Ziggy's head!" message. For what it's worth, though, at least Laura manages not to lose another solid hour pondering the utter lack of information this time.

She does attract the authorities this time, though. It only took two tries.

And yes, Heimlich walks by goose-stepping. Because of course he does.

As another friendly reminder, I would like to once again point out that I take all dialogue screenshots in the middle of rather fast-moving fully animated mouth moving and blinking and whatever other mannerisms. I have very little control over whether I accidentally catch someone mid-blink. I swear Laura did not cope with Ziggy's passing by getting high.

For someone we just caught with Yvette, the good detective brings up a fair point about Heimlich being almost conveniently useless at actual security. Boys, boys, quit fighting; there's enough suspicion for everyone.

Goose-stepping. He goose-steps. To walk. I am not making this up.

In a classic example of Sierra being reverent and respectful of its grim and serious moments, clicking on Ziggy's head with the hand cursor (as if to take it) makes it fall off and hit the ground with a raspberry/whoopie cushion-like sound in lieu of a proper splat.

Not that Laura would dare tamper with it, though. (Thank God; for a second, I was sure she was about to put it in her purse.)

According to the walkthroughs, our next stop is back to Wolf Heimlich's office downstairs. From here, it's almost exactly the same length whether I take the stairs or the secret passage in Dr. Myklos' office, so I'll just go whichever way isn't currently blocked by the randomly-patrolling Heimlich himself.

Made it! Also, roughly five seconds after entering, the intercom comes to life, and....

... and I immediately wish it hadn't.

The next puzzle is so ridiculous that even following what my usual two walkthroughs said to do wasn't enough for me to figure it out, and I had to find a third walkthrough to solve it. This is the second time so far in this game where that has happened. This is because, once again, just like with Watney Little's file in Dr. Carrington's office, someone at Sierra apparently thought it was a good idea to hide a vital clue in one particular section of a large booksheft without any visual indication whatsoever.

See that space? The space at which the finger of the hand cursor is currently pointing? You need to look at that exact space. You are looking for a specific area on the right side of the left bookshelf, on the shelf third from the bottom. In other words, where that cursor is pointing. You have an area about four or five books wide that will work. There is absolutely no indication of this whatsoever; not even so much as a whisper that Wolf Heimlich might have something valuable on his bookshelf and you should check it out. This is something you were supposed to have stumbled across when taking it upon yourself to just randomly snoop through everything, in a game that, again, goes out of its way to disallow you from taking it upon yourself to just randomly snoop through everything.

Every other side of every other section of every other shelf in this entire room all have identical cutaways like this that have nothing useful whatsoever, but this one, this one has the only difference: this one has a single book that's shelved backwards.

Obviously, this is our target.

This gives us another cutaway ...

... which leads to another cutaway ...

... which leads to another cutaway. This is getting absurd.

Upon finally reaching the bottom of this chain, Laura takes the garter and puts it in her purse. Oh, what was that? You wanted to read the attached note? Oh, to do that, you have to access your entire inventory, then use the magnifying glass on the garter.

And the payoff for all of that is confirmation that Wolfe is in the Yvette club, too. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

At this point, the next official stop is Dr. Carrington's office, to which there conveniently exists a secret passage right in Heimlich's office. However, there is more secret hidden side content, which can only be accessed right now, before returning to Dr. Carrington's office. It is so secret that neither of my two usual walkthroughs mentioned it at all, and goodness knows I never would have found it on my own. You can thank the fact that I got stuck finding that stupid inverted book and had to find a third walkthrough, as that walkthrough happened to mention this trick.

So, if you leave Heimlich's office out the door, enter the preservation lab, and go back into the hallway, the game will not give you a "you hear muffled voices coming through the door" message like it usually does, but if you just somehow psychically know to use the water glass on the door to Heimlich's office anyway, you can overhear a secret conversation. You can go back into the preservation lab and back out into the hallway to do this again for another secret conversation, and then another--there are three in all.

The first is one with Dr. Myklos that starts out as a creepy one-sided "Just a little while longer, my darling, and then I'll give you what you want...." monologue with seemingly no response, until the very end where it ends with a ferret squeak. Cute expectation-defying gag, but not really related to anything and not worth reproducing here.

The second is a conversation between Dr. Myklos and Rameses Najeer.

At this point, a Dagger of Amon Ra shipping grid would look like a pile of pick-up sticks.

The third is a conversation between Dr. Myklos and Wolf Heimlich.

 photo tumblr_n19ki7BiVR1rxknogo1_500_zps7d0167fd.jpg

As obviously incriminating as this is, I'm actually going to assume it's a red herring. For one thing, this is the third secret side conversation in a triple-buried secret side conversation parade. It's an easter egg. Even Sierra wouldn't be that cruel to hide anything vital to the main plot there, would they? Yes, I know they would, but ... please, just let me believe. Let me go on thinking that there is something, anything to which Sierra would say "we may have been responsible for King's Quest V, but even we wouldn't do that."

Second, it's way too obvious. That isn't a murder mystery conversation. That's not even a Bond Villain converation. That level of "hold still and let me beat you over the head with my evil plot" exposition is usually reserved for the likes of Dr. Claw or Cobra Commander, and even then it's largely tongue-in-cheek.

Anyway, one more trip in and out of the preservation lab (the door is locked otherwise) and we can finally reenter Heimlich's once-again-empty office.

Pushing on the nodescript gray picture on the wall (the game describes it as "medals") reveals a button underneath ...

... and pushing it opens the secret passage upstairs. Note that if you hadn't specifically wound up the lantern before doing this, it would have been an instant game over as Laura went into a purely dark passage and got mobbed by bats again. You have to open your inventory, use the hand icon on the lantern to wind it, and then press the button on the wall. Apparently Laura temporarily forgot this wasn't Uninvited.

As long as you remembered to activate the lantern, we ascend the secret passage ...

... and end up back in Dr. Carrington's ... oh.

Oh, my.

Well, then.

Victim: [Probably Watney Little disguised as] Dr. Archibald Carrington, III
Gruesomeness: 8.0/ 10
Absurdity: 10.0 / 10

Well, [fake] Dr. Carrington got impaled on a stuffed porcupine, which sounds like some sort of gay furry euphemism but is actually a grisly murder.

The gruesomeness of this death isn't so much from his face, which is mercifully hidden. No, it's the porcupine. For an inanimate object, someone at Sierra felt like giving the porcupine a truly chilling expression: it's clearly as horrified as we are. It's also copiously dripping blood from its mouth, too, because why not. And yes, this is where I got my icon.

The truly impressive array of visible blood-stained spikes exiting the victim is a nice touch, as well.

Also, this death gets a perfect 10 for absurdity because he was stabbed to death with a fucking porcupine.

Porcupine quills which also seem to have very little to do with the position of the actual porcupine, too, now that I look more closely.

I'm sure we'll need to remember this later! Wait, wasn't it 11:15 when we found Ziggy's body? Time flies, once again.

At least the game makes it very clear and unambiguous that [fake] Dr. Carrington himself wrote the message, rather than his assailant. Also, I like how he was fastidious enough in his final moments to make sure that his dying message had the proper periods befitting an abbreviation. Death is no time to get sloppy with those.

To spare you the mystery, "C.P." refers to Crime and Punishment, the book on Dr. Carrington's shelf in which we found Watney Little's file. Because God knows finding the book on the shelf was the easy part, and it was only the "oh, this particular book has its own unique cutaway shot and description, I wonder if we should open it?" part that was tricky enough to require an in-game clue.

Also, it is worth noting just how unfairly vague this clue is in the first place. Try to imagine how your thought process would have gone if I hadn't told you that. You are attempting to play this game legitimately, and (somehow, against all odds) you have made it this far and uncovered this scene. You see a bloody "C.P." written in blood on the desk. How would you respond? My first response was to think it was a character's name, as if the victim was attempting to name his assailant. (Are there any C.P. names in this game? No? Hmm....) And I had already found Watney Little's file in the last update. I honestly never would have realized that C.P. meant Crime and Punishment, and I had already looted the file. I can only conclude that someone at Sierra must have thought humans have a thought process like this: "C.P.? Hmm ... oh! I think there's a book in classic literature whose title can be shortened to that! I should look at literally every single book in this office (because the hitbox is rather small and picky) just in case!" I can only hope that designer returned to his or her home planet after Sierra folded.

I imagine Ziggy is going to have a hard time making that appointment, now.

Anyway, it's off to ... shoot. Okay, I don't know if that was supposed to happen, but this is literally the second-to-last screen before what I had planned to be my stopping point for now, so I'm just going to walk into the next room, cover that part, and quit without saving. I'll be quicker about the investigation next time and we'll see if that time skip happens again.

For now....

Exiting Dr. carrington's office takes us out through Yvette's office, and ... oh, you have got to be kidding me.

Ziggy was beheaded by a paper cutter!?

I promised you that I would go back and explain exactly why Ziggy's death deserved 11 out of 10 on absurdity, when even Dr. Carrington getting impaled on a stuffed porcupine "only" gets a 10, and here we go. First off, let's look at the museum map again:

  • Ziggy's body was found in the Pterodactyl room. A falling pterodactyl model pinned it to the ground, likely rendering it unmoveable.
  • Ziggy's head was found in the Life Masks room.
  • The instrument that separated the two is in Yvette's office (the one just marked "Office" on the map, above "President's Office").
  • The only blood anywhere is the pool immediately surrounding Ziggy's body in the Pterodactyl room, and on the blade of the paper cutter in Yvette's office. There is no blood anywhere along the wall of the Life Masks room or any of the floors along the entire museum separating Ziggy's body, head, and the paper cutter.

Try to come up with a scenario of how this murder played out that explains all of this. I dare you.
  • Perhaps Ziggy was killed by beheading in Yvette's office, then the body and head were both moved over to the other side of the museum, where the body was beaked and the head was hung up in the Life Masks room? No, that's ridiculous, and there would be blood everywhere along that entire path and especially in Yvette's office.
  • Perhaps the killer brought the paper cutter over to the west wing, killed Ziggy with it, beaked the body and hung up the head, and brought the paper cutter back to Yvette's office? It seems absurd for a killer to be carrying a paper cutter around. There are actual legitimately dangerous weapons everywhere in this museum, and even something as ridiculous as the porcupine would have at least been less heavy and easier to carry. I refuse to believe "like Jason and his machete, only the iconic weapon is a paper cutter" got past even Sierra's clearly lax bad-idea-screening in the design phase.
  • As loath as I am to admit this, it's starting to look like the more plausible theory is that Ziggy was killed by the world's luckiest shot from the pterodactyl. The killer then carried the paper cutter from Yvette's office, removed the head, hung it on the wall, and took the paper cutter back. Only, no, that's stupid, too! Laura found the body mere minutes after the murder had occurred! Unless Ziggy was murdered by The Flash, I don't see how going back and forth again for the paper cutter in that time is possible, either.
  • So did the killer anticipate and plan for this whole scenario, bring the paper cutter with him or her to the Pterodactyl room and hang onto it while lying in wait, beakmurder Ziggy, swoop down to collect the head real quick, and be off with both the head and the paper cutter before Laura arrived?
  • That is ridiculous
  • Everything is ridiculous
  • Also, I am fairly certain that a paper cutter cannot cut through all the neck vertebrae and everything and remove a human head.

If this were any other murder mystery, I would immediately have to conclude that the paper cutter is unrelated, because it's impossible to reconcile its location with Ziggy's location in any way that makes sense (see above) and because paper cutters can't remove human heads. Unfortunately, the bloody paper cutter is in the room right next to the office in which someone was killed with a porcupine. This is the logic of this game. These are the sorts of things this game does.

I wanted to get into the speculation of who killed Ziggy (probably Yvette; the paper cutter was in her office, and she is attached to Ernie who had just fought with Ziggy) and [fake] Dr. Carrington (I have no idea), but....

I'm done for now, I think.

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