Celine Kalante (kjorteo) wrote in videogame_tales,
Celine Kalante

The Dagger of Amon Ra, Part 16: Questions, Answers, and Conclusions

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How was that? Hopefully that made the game's events somewhat clearer. And with that, let us finally dig into this inquest. Here we go! At long last, it's finally time to wrap up this case.

The first question in this exam is easily the hardest, and the one that almost single-handedly inspired my rant about the lack of clarity of this game earlier. The murderer is Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley, and his motive was to cover another crime. Actually, it was probably easy to gather that in-game answer after reading my story. When I was writing that story, it was easy to gather that answer because... well, I read the walkthrough. (Where it and I disagreed, though, is that it listed O'Riley's motive as financial gain. The walkthrough itself also said that those two motives are pretty much interchangeable and both are correct for at least most of the murders, though, and I like my answer better in this case.) This is about as close to closure as we're going to get, because to my immediate knowledge (please correct me if I'm wrong) there is nothing in the game--no physical evidence, no overheard conversations, nothing--that even remotely implies O'Riley had anything to do with Dr. Carter's murder. In fact, even though (to my knowledge) the following pieces of evidence are required, they actually refute the case against O'Riley:

  • A bloody ankh belonging to Dr. Smith. I had dismissed it as a red herring because it was way too easy and obvious, and I was correct in that assumption.
  • A woman's shoe print. This one is the game at its most evil and deceptive: it's a red herring, but it's not an obvious one like the ankh. Place an obvious false statement in your game ("Here's a puzzle box, I promise configuring it properly isn't going to unseal the gates to the 18th Hell Dimension") and the player will probably question the veracity of the claim they've been given. Place a vague false statement in your game, especially if someone is feigning not wanting you to have it ("This shifty guy had this puzzle box locked inside his safe and lied to me about having it; it must be important somehow") and the player will work to decipher it, and then believe whatever the false clue was implying because they trust their own detective work. This clue tricked me into tricking myself.
  • Dr. Carter's notebook. No, I'm sorry, this is the game at its most evil and deceptive and tricking me into tricking myself. The notebook was in Dr. Carter's breast pocket--it was his notebook, not the killer's. The top page was missing, and it took a "shade the next page with charcoal" puzzle to read it, which all led to getting confirmation that Dr. Carter was supposed to meet Yvette in the very room he died, at the exact time he died.

This was precisely what I meant earlier about the unfairness of the way this game handles red herrings versus real evidence. Again, unless I'm just that bad at the mystery genre overall, it would appear that the only way to solve this murder is to make a completely baseless and unsubstantiated guess (right after the coroner specifically told you not to) that just because O'Riley committed some of the later, easier-to-solve murders, he must have committed all the murders (even though he didn't!)

It should come as very little surprise that I got this one wrong and got the bad ending on my first attempt. I knew that Dr. Carter had a powerful enemy in Watney Little, being a threat to his disguise and all, and I also knew that Yvette seemed to have this creepy servant relationship with him....

... which fit in quite well with the woman's shoe print and the fact that Dr. Carter was meeting with Yvette right when he died. Therefore, my conclusion was that Yvette did it because Little ordered her to. Nope!

The only way I was able to make any of this make sense with the walkthrough's answer was to reexamine who was the leader of this whole operation. Naturally, it looks like Little is in charge of everything, since he's playing a character who is in charge of everything (the museum president.) Things finally clicked when I realized he was merely an actor. O'Riley was the one masterminding the operation, and O'Riley was the one who decided Carter was a threat to it, so O'Riley was the one who took matters into his own hands.

This is another tough one, and almost everything I said up above is also true for this one. With almost no evidence, you're meant to construct the narrative I just constructed and conclude that Ziggy's murderer was Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley, with the motive of... they're basically the same anyway but let's go with financial gain for this one. After all, this was the part where he started to turn on his own gang to cut them out of his share of the heist's take. (Or to silence them, or both, which is why these two motives are both acceptable for most answers.)

As with Dr. Carter, in-game evidence to support this accusation is rather sparse. In fact, once again, the only physical evidence (the bloody paper cutter) almost seems to implicate Yvette more than anyone else. However, there was that one overheard argument between Yvette and O'Riley, in which she implies he might have had a hand in this murder...

... Which I guess is at least something. So yeah, let's go with that.

This one is much easier, and for me, it was actually the key to the rest of the case. The game all but confesses that Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley murdered Ernie to cover another crime. For the culprit's identity, O'Riley gave himself away exactly as I said he would by moving Ernie's body from the alcohol lab for no apparent reason aside from being creepy and showing off in a Sierra game.

For the motive, well....

Ernie was considerate enough to tell us this one himself.

Now, whether it's fair to expect you to extrapolate from this that O'Riley is behind every crime in the game is another matter (and one I've already covered extensively,) but I will at least grant that they gave us a very solid lead to start.

Man, Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley is on a roll so far. The only difference here is the motive: this one was was a crime born of jealousy. He threatened to kill her if she was being unfaithful at the same time she was sleeping with half the cast. They even had an argument about this very subject right before she died.

I know some of these murders and motives were tricky and non-intuitive, but if you missed this one then shame on you.

With all the widely varying culprits so far, here's another tough one, with nothing in the game to support--oh wait no I'm sorry it was Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley for financial gain. I mean, she outright tells you.

Well, she tells Dr. Myklos, but players are psychic.

Oh, and there were grapes found by her body and those were kind of O'Riley's thing too I guess. The game's "do you have all the evidence items" check probably cares about that more than we do, though.

The skeleton was, of course, Archibad Carrington, III. Laura got his watch from the skeleton and everything.

Which, of course, leads to...

The answer is Watney Little. The motive (to impersonate him) isn't on the usual motive list, so instead the game doesn't even ask why Little did it. I mean, everyone just knows this one anyway, right? Instead, it asks....

Watney Little again, of course. I'm not sure how one could get one of these and not know the other.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. This is another tricky one in-game thanks to there being very little in the way of evidence. The only clue was the "C.P." written on Carrington's desk, which was actually a reference to Crime & Punishment, the book in which Little had hidden his police file. Was he trying to very indirectly name his attacker?

Yes. Yes, he was. This may have been tricky in-game, but if you got through my story and through just about every other question on this exam so far, now it should be obvious that it was Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley for the sake of... oh, let's say financial gain this time.

Ah, now we're getting to the heart of this game. This is the central mystery, the question that ultimately led to the deaths of half the cast, and the origin of the very title of the game... and this question is worded very confusingly and misleadingly. The theft was a two-part operation: someone was the criminal mastermind and ringleader who came up with the entire operation, and someone was a catspaw working for him. It's entirely possible to mess this part up because it isn't clear it's a two-part question until you answered the first part and it hits you with the second.

So, setting aside the mastermind for now, who was the person on the ground who actually stole the Dagger? Well, one thing we've known from the beginning was that it was an inside job, since there was no sign of a struggle or a break-in. Hmm, is there perhaps some sort of criminal infiltrator, posing as someone high up in the museum power structure, that was placed in that position specifically to gain access to its valuable artifacts?

Yes, what I'm trying to say is the thief was Watney Little.

The mastermind, of course, was Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley.

The questioning now runs through the entire forgery scheme, one participant at a time. As with the theft of the Dagger, the wording here is somewhat confusing for the later two cases, but at least they start with an easy question for part one. The woman in the forgery scheme was Lavinia Waldorf-Carlton. Laura caught her red-handed in her attempt to pass along a stolen painting, after all.

As to the--

Oh, right I forgot it did that. There are some questions that the coroner already knows, and I guess he just feels like testing you? Whatever.

Anyway, as to the rest of the scheme....

This is where it gets unclear, because there were two men involved in the forgery scheme, and the game doesn't do a particularly stellar job distinguishing between "Who was the man involved?" and "Who was the other man involved?" What the coroner is trying to ask--I think--is that there was an accomplice involved in the actual theft of the paintings, and another one involved in the forgery part. This question is asking about the theft. So, who was the Countess supposed to meet with that stolen painting when Laura interrupted her meeting? That would be... well, both of men involved with the scheme, actually, so this one's even trickier... ANYWAY the answer the game wants you to have for this particular question is Watney Little.

The coroner congratulates Laura again after this one. Apparently, despite being a coroner, the forgery scheme was the part he had already figured out, and the murders were the part where he needed help.

And who was the one supplying them?

The forger and middleman was Ziggy. One can infer this from the fact that he was supposed to be a part of that meeting with the Countess as well. The Countess only confessed to being there to meet "Dr. Carrington" and "the forger," but meanwhile, Watney Little had a note on his desk that he was going to meet both of them.

So that's that conspiracy wrapped up! Now, onto the really hard questions.

It was Rameses Najeer. We were there. Come on, game.

The congratulations for this one almost feel sarcastic, all things considered.

Thanks to the carbon paper we rescued from Yvette's wastebasket, we know the person running the fencing operation was Ernie Leach.

... Sigh. davidn, this was your first thought when the game went over Ernie's fencing operation, wasn't it? I'm blaming you for this flag-raise.

Speaking of questions Laura should know because she saw them with her own eyes, I was wrong about this exam having any questions about the identity of Mr. X in Act 6. However, even though the game didn't ask, let's cover that one just for extra credit. After my story and all the other answers on this exam, it should come as little surprise that Mr. X was in fact Ryan Hanrahan O'Riley.

This is where the game forks and reveals which ending you got: Laura has a previously unmentioned star witness whose testimony can put O'Riley away, but only if your case against him (answers + evidence) was already good.

And... sigh. Of course Dr. Smith was a sun worshipper, too. You didn't think this game would have any Egyptian characters in it for any other reason, did you?

Though if O'Riley gunned down the other sun worshippers when they tried to stop him, that implies that he had the gun before his encounter with them, which once again leads me to wonder why he didn't just shoot Laura before she'd made it that far.

The endings (or at least the good and bad ones) lay it on thick. Miss just one too many questions and suddenly Laura did literally nothing right, but pass the test and she is the best detective and reporter ever and she's super famous and popular and everyone loves her and three trophies for the Laura Bow.

As for the rest of the cast....

O'Riley was sentenced not only to hard labor, but also to having his lower body disappear whenever there's a text box on the screen.

After making his threat, this scene closes with some rather ominous music and a shot of him standing there, looking menacingly at the camera. This is the good ending, by the way.

Meanwhile, at the docks, Laura and "Chiseled" Chip Charming can finally get together under slightly less stressful circumstances.

Memento, but... that's a bit brave, isn't it? "Here, sweetie, I got you this so you can always remember that time a bunch of people were murdered and you were almost murdered too."

I'm not entirely sure why they dragged this out so much this time--the two already kissed at the museum. They're going around the bases backwards, if anything.

The music gets all shmoopy again, and Laura Bow and The Incredible Hunk flirt off into the sunset. And that's it! Cue upbeat jazzy credit and cast scroll for everyone else!

Wait, didn't Laura shatter that statue about two seconds after it was put up?

Oh, good. I was so worried about him.

This has to be the origin story for some intergalactic dark lord you have to stop in an upcoming Space Quest game. I can see no other possible outcome for this child.

Seriously, she's going to kill at least seven entire planets.

On one hand, the fact that the game actually acknowledged his plight and had the Dagger returned to Egypt after all is amazingly progressive for how it's treated the issue... well, throughout the entire rest of the game up to this moment. On the other, you can sort of tell they had no other way to write an ending for them so they were like, "Uh, he died as he lived: EGYPT."

A disturbingly high percentage of murder victims in this game went on to become exhibits. This entire museum is a bit macabre... oh, Herr Heimlich and Dr. Myklos are still in charge, right.

As opposed to an uncouth ruffian knave cabbage farmer?

He looks ecstatic.

My personal headcanon is he made his millions through having customers pay not to hear his voice anymore.


Man, I still need to figure out what he actually did in The Colonel's Bequest one of these days.

And that's the end! All that's left now are the credits! For this, the jazzy upbeat number segues into a reprise of "I Want to Marry an Archaeologist."

The credits scroll while some animation or character sprite or something gives you something else to look at on the sides. It's actually fairly cute.

Especially because sometimes it gets a bit... creative.

Let us not forget the most important character of the game, of course.

And these guys! The developers thought of everything.

For the next few slides, random NPC sun worshippers toss a skull back and forth like they're bouncing a beach ball. Like I said, it gets a bit creative.

I just missed the screenshot of this, but the Quality Assurance portion is paired with Laura giving a giant shrug of "ehh," which I find amazing.

And that's the end. For real, this time. I'll have some closing thoughts up for you next post, and then... that's it. Oh my God, we did it, you guys.

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