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Traipsing Through Silent Hill
Artwork Graciously Provided by the Incredibe Steven Luna

Part Eight, or Losing a War with an Inanimate Object

  Previously on Trucker Travis and the Amazing Nightmare Whirligig, we killed a bunch of monsters in the dark, pawed at an iron lung’s control panel for dubious reasons, uncovered a massive lawsuit waiting to happen to the proprietors of Cedar Grove Sanitarium, and got faked out by the game developers with a bullshit key puzzle.

  Travis plods his way up from the basement to get to the female treatment room. Why? Because there’s a magic mirror which will take him to the dark world! Alright, Trav me old mate, let’s do this thing! Number of trips through the mirror: One.

  My first order of business, which I feel is of the utmost importance, is to chuck a filing cabinet at a ghost girdle. Outcome: hilarious. After some fucking around with trying the doors, I hop down a flight of steps to get to the first floor. It is there that I finally get what I assume is the final goal of the Sanitarium: female seclusion. Why do I think that? Well, the door to that particular area is sealed with a weird symbol which looks vaguely like the symbol for women. It also doubles for Venus. You know what I’m talking about, right? Circle at the top connected to a cross at the bottom?

  Um… hold on…

  ♀

  Jesus, that took forever to find. And now my font is all stupid. Not that you can see that, because I’m fixing it before you get your sweaty mitts on it. I’m only including this ranting information so you realize that I care about you, reader, and I hope you appreciate my sacrifice.

  Anyway, examining the door makes it feel like someone’s scratching around inside Travis’s head, so I’m guess a boss fight awaits. If we stand near the door, too, there’s whispering voices that are just barely audible and totally unintelligible. It’s a really effective way of establishing the decidedly dangerous nature of the door, as well as suggesting the nature of what lay beyond. I turn around to head down the hall when AGH GODDAMN IT SOMEONE SCREAMED AND THE SCREEN TURNED ALL BLUE WHAT THE HELL!?

  Well, we’re going to insert plot where ever we feel like, even if it’s intensely disjointed. A woman named Helen talks about hating what I assume to be her husband and his devil-son. Who I am assuming is the husband/father is weeping about how Helen “really is dead”. Although it isn’t stated, I’m sure this has something very specifically to do with Travis. After all, his clumsily revealed tragic childhood™ did tell us that his parents died. I could be wrong, though.

  If this is the case, we actually, for real, have a sense as to why Travis is here. As in, why this place would possibly matter to him—his mother. I don’t know why this little audio clip didn’t play on Travis’s entrance into the facility. At the very least, it would have justified why Travis didn’t just turn around a leave.

  But whatever! I bounce into the mirror world’s restroom (ladies’ room, natch) and find a mirror. Before I go in there, though, I see if there are any goodies to add to my growing collection of questionably useful garbage. The only thing of interest is the last stall, which, unlike the others, is blocked off with barbed wire. I suppose that means that the key from our reality is somehow stuck in the alternate world’s toilet? Maybe? There isn’t anything really to suggest such a silly notion.

  Regardless, I can’t reach the toilet, so Travis’s thirst for theft inevitably takes him to the only other unlocked door and into basement. The tunnels turn out to be barred for the most part, but I do get to introduce a roadkill to a bunch of pistol bullets so I can steal borrow its pile of shotgun shells. It’s all very exciting.

  I suppose now is as good a time as any to talk about the target pistol: it’s a shit gun. Like, super shitty. It always takes about 3-6 shots more than you expect to bring a monster down, and then it takes another couple of rounds to actually kill it. Unless you happen to be within range to coup de grace it, which is a special action that you have to do up close. It’s also wholly unsatisfying. The one-shot throwable weapons are heavy-hitters and you can feel the weight. Melee weapons have the intensity of close quarters combat. This thing… ugh, this thing is just so dull.

  Without much else to go on, I bounce back up to the women’s room and hop through the mirror to the arguably much shittier real world asylum. Number of trips through the mirror: Two. The toilet that was so interesting in the mirror world is, in our reality, backed up with what I assume to be human waste. I can hear a metallic *ting* when I’m near it, so I guess that means the key ended up in one of the pipes here… somehow. There is the option to flush, so I do just that. Maybe that will actually allow me to finally pick up that stupid fucking key.

  Of slightly greater concern is that the showers in the back of the restroom now have “Bring Me My Son” written what I can only assume to be blood. Okay, I think that we can fully assume now that, unless we happen upon a towheaded boy to toss to the boss monster, the boy in question is Travis. Which means that Helen from the last not-a-cutscene is his mother.

  No, Travis doesn’t comment on this at all, why do you ask?

  I decide to check the door to the female seclusion area in this reality. Scrawled across the padlocked-shut door is the phrase “Dr. Harris has the Key”. I’m assuming this is referring to the ♀ we encountered in the mirror world. So now we have a clear sub-goal: we need to get to Dr. Harris’s office so we can get a key to get to the mirror world’s female seclusion area.

  Grrr…

  And you know what? Here’s another instance, just like the tub puzzle, where Travis wouldn’t realistically put up with this shit. He’d probably just use one of the big-ass wrenches he has to just knock the padlock off in one swing of his mighty trucker arms. Or even the door handles—this place is a fucking dump and I doubt that any of the building materials are really all that sturdy.

  But whatever! Travis is a polite trespasser if nothing else!

  I wander into another room, where I find a patient belongings key. That’s the key to the patient belongings room, not a key to one particular patient’s belongings, don’t be preposterous. I also come across a note about how it took three big burly orderlies to subdue a Mrs. _____, even though she’s a “female of slight build”. This is underneath a baton—you know, the kind of thing they use to beat patients with. When examined, it talks about how it’s a rubber baton used for patient control that won’t cause permanent damage. Oh. Right. Kind of like how pillows are soft and can in no way murder someone if you really want them dead. Thanks. Hurray for the disciplined medical professionals of Cedar Grove!

  Oh my god this place sucks. Where the fuck is Phoenix Wright when you need him?

  There’s a table lamp that I steal because no one who works here deserves to have nice things. Travis draws the line right at potentially stealing a creepy doll, though, because he believes the owner might come back.

  The owner.

  Might come back.

  To the locked down asylum.

  That requires traversing a mirror reality to get through.

  They might come back.

  For their creepy doll.

  Okay, Travis.

  Fine.

  Didn’t even want the stupid doll. Yeah? How do you like that Travis? Some mythical little kid may return for their creepy-ass toy. Better leave it behind! You know what I’m gonna do, instead? I’m gonna head to the basement, grab that stupid key that I haven’t been able to get until know, and that’ll be that. It’s on the way to the patient belongs room, and it’ll save time to just grab it on my way.

  Except I can’t get the stupid fucking key, because it’s fallen out of the pipe and underneath a grating! And even though I have, like, a billion tools that could totally extract the key or even pull up the grate (I even have several screw drivers! I could literally just unscrew the goddamn thing), Travis can’t get it. Because apparently he didn’t uncover the one stupid item that’s sole purpose is to lift the grate, or magnetically attract that specific key, or tickles Clem’s ghost’s fancy enough to get the stupid prick to levitate it out of there.

  This probably gets at the heart of why the Sanitarium is such cocking bullshit all around. It’s not enough to put a puzzle or single stupid obstacle in the way of something important. To get this key, this singular item to a room Travis just assumes we need to get into, I have had to:

  1) Find it in the first place

  2) Flush it down a hydrotherapy tub

  3) Find where it ended up from there

  4) Flush it down the toilet

  5) Figure out how to get it when it comes to rest in the pipe room

In all of this mess, I have visited the pipe room three times—the first was in general exploration, the second and third were to see if the key had turned up.

  This is padding, folks. It does nothing except artificially lengthen gameplay. From a narrative standpoint, it does absolutely nothing. Why couldn’t there have been some kind of cool mini-boss or major revelation tied into all this fuckery? The flashback regarding Travis’s mom doesn’t count—that particular information should have happened earlier to give us a better reason to be here than “well, that dick doctor I’m looking for may be here I guess”. It’s like it’s been thought out completely backward, and then the planning flow chart was cut up and put in a fishbowl to be extracted randomly for funsies.

  And the shittiest part about all this is that the sequence could have worked—if it had been built up as a series of puzzles to get the flushing mechanisms to work, you could have railroaded us through these points but made the challenge in actually flexing our brain meats. Instead, we’re playing hide and seek with inanimate objects and fucking losing.

  Ahem.

  Finally in the patient belongings room, I find some ammo for my already massive collection. More importantly, I find a shiny new typewriter which I intend to smash Dr. Skeeves with. I find yet another note about the “mysterious” Mrs. _____, detailing about how she sees the mirror world as well. Okay, well, that pretty much cinches the connection for me that this really is Travis’s mom.

  Another point of interest about this totally-professional and not-at-all assholish note, the doctor uses the term “other world” in sarcasti-quotes, which is probably the only substantial moment of joy I can wring from this update. He also uses the term filicide, which I can’t help but feel makes him a bigger douche than I already assume he is.

  Room fully pillaged, I decide that, since I’m actually right next to the exit, I’m going to run outside and see if I can get back to my rig. Sadly, Travis yells at me, demanding that he needs to know what happened. So… even at this point I guess we’re still trying to find Dr. Skeeves?

  Whatever. There was a mirror in the patient belongings room (because of course there was). So I guess the next leg of our journey is going to be through there. Join me next time for Who the Hell is in Charge of Making All the Mirror World Knickknacks, Anyway?

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