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  Welcome back to the action, Traipsers! Last time on Traipsing Through Silent Hill, we solved a puzzle, read some crummy poetry, read the diary of a dead woman for “security” reasons, and got a key to unlock a door. Said key was named Hagith, and that means that we can now open the door marked with the same doofy symbol. Huzzah!

For Reference
For Reference

  Heading through the Hagith door deposits us in an elevator vestibule, so we just saunter up to the elevator and do what god intended. Our first stop is going to be the second floor, which leads to another goddamn vestibule. You know, I realize they did it because of the mental fuckery they played on us in the initial Alchemilla Hospital, but here it’s just really stupid. And good god, why would this be useful in a hospital?

  I walk through a former hospital almost every day for work, and all the elevators I’ve seen deposit people directly into a hallway. Why would you put impediments between people pushing gurneys around and their destinations? Jesus Christ.

  Sorry. Tangent.

  The only room that is unlocked on this floor contains a carbon copy of the jewelry store. Why the jewelry store makes an appearance is anyone’s guess. It was the only store in the mall that was accessible, which I guess makes it relevant to Harry, but if the theme of this place thus far has been any indication, shouldn’t it be important to Alessa, the person whose nightmare we’re supposedly running about in? I mean, three of the unique rooms that were memorable thus far in Nowhere were the school, the operating room, and the Green Lion—all important to Alessa. Why the fuck is this place here?

  The answer is probably, “Reasons.”

  There are two items of concern here—the first is the Crest of Mercury.

Otherwise known as the 'stick of whacking'.
Otherwise known as the "stick of whacking".

This is a caduceus, the symbol of heralds and those associated with Hermes/Mercury. It is also one of my tattoos. The purpose it serves here is mostly to be a magical whatsit along with the Amulet of Solomon, which we’ve stolen in a previous update.

  The other extremely important item is actually very easy to miss, as it is tiny and actually in the “back” of the store, by which I mean the front of the store, as it is closest to the entrance, but not the entrance we used now, but the entrance we used before we fought the larva.

This was apparently a good idea.
This was apparently a good idea.

That, gentle Traipser, is the Ring of Contract. It is described as “Rustic, hefty-looking ring of unknown material.” Not taking it will eventually kill you, which is why they made it something that is pretty easy to overlook.

  I’ve never been entirely sure if “Contract” here means a noun—like a legally binding document or agreement—or the verb form—to withdraw/make smaller. It’s one of those weird things where both—technically speaking—are pronounced the same, but it completely changes the way I think about it in my head and therefore somehow causes me to process the pronunciation slightly differently. It’s weird.

  To further confuse matters, we’ll discover later that both make sense in its application to make us not die.

  Also, if it is contract, like a binding document, that makes it kind of like the world’s creepiest wedding ring, doesn’t it?

  Now, the next hallway on the “second” floor has several enterable doors. The first of note leads back to the first floor’s original hallway. Good thing that the teleporting restrooms in Midwich Elementary about a billion hours ago warned us about this being a mechanic to be used one more time before the end of the game, eh? The second door gives us some pistol bullets and an old-ass camera.

As pictured.
As pictured.

Harry assures us that it is indeed a “Camera with flash,” so… um… hurray for stealing from the dead or whatever? The final door in the hallway leads us to another room we’ve seen before in the hospital, with another nondescript panel set in the wall.

Once again, remember this random bit of completely inconsequential set dressing?
Once again, remember this random bit of completely inconsequential set dressing?

This time, however, we don’t even get a close up.

I really don't get this game sometimes.
I really don't get this game sometimes most of the time.

Another key difference is that we now have a screwdriver, which lets us pop that baby off the wall to reveal…

::whistles::
::whistles::

Ahem. To reveal!

Um... what? Why? Why would anyone do this?
Um... what? Why? Why would anyone do this?

The fuck is this, Konami? Did you literally hide a key behind two separate “locks”? What the hell does this even mean? That there’s a generator somewhere in Nowhere? A place loosely based on Alchemilla, whose generator only powered the ICU, operating rooms, and the fucking elevators!?

See? SEE!? I AM NOT CRAZY!
See? SEE!? I AM NOT CRAZY!

This plate wasn’t in one of those in the nightmare hospital! It was in room 304! IT WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HOSPITAL TO THE SHIT THE GENERATOR POWERED!

  Why? Why is this a thing? What would the problem have been to have just had the electrified key, or the key behind the plate? Why did it need to be both? And I’m presumably going to have to shut down a generator that shouldn’t even exist to get at a key which…

  (deep breath)

  We return to the elevator to ascend to the third floor, which leads to a little prayer nook or whatever.

I'm sure this will end well.
I'm sure this will end well.

Examining the altar just gets Harry to remark, “Looks like an altar. Wonder what they worship?” Hey, Harry, remember the last time you were anywhere near a mysterious altar?

Wooo! Party time!
Wooo! Party time!

Maaaaaaybe you should be a little less curious and a lot more cautious.

  Anyway, there’s some goofy art flanking the altar…

Typical cult aesthetic, really.
Typical cult aesthetic, really.

… and some buttony panel things on the doors on either side of the room.

What a needlessly complex lock.
What a needlessly complex lock.

  Before we get to the puzzle, I would like to point out that both of these images are of women in distress. One is being directly tortured, and the other is despairing. Both, however, have vaguely positive titles, connotatively speaking. Since we are in a religious setting, it is pretty easy to construe that the religion’s overt message of hope and light is attained through the suffering of others. That’s some pretty snazzy stuff that you probably wouldn’t really think too much about your first time through. Well done, team! You’re still in the negatives, but a point is a point, right?

  Now, the “puzzle” solution is to use the camera. You see, both of the paintings incorporate the word “light” into their names and, provided that you are scrolling through your inventory and realize that a “flash” on a camera is a bombardment of photons, you can reasonably come up with the solution to use the camera.

Behold! The artwork ruining power of flash photography!
Behold! The artwork ruining power of flash photography!

Plug the patterns into the panels and you unlock the doors.

  In case you were wondering, you can totally solve this puzzle without doing damage to the cult’s paintings if you know the pattern they’re looking for. It has nothing to do with a doghouse, you see, so it makes sense.

  Anyway, the door on the right leads to the director’s office. Outside of a health drink, there is a botany book in which we can find information on White Claudia, a plant referenced in connection to the drug storyline. However, I guess if you haven’t been following the “clues” of Dr. Skeeves’s little murder mystery or whatever (or perhaps just the clue in the police station specifically regarding White Claudia--I forget when I broke the chain in my screenshot run), you don’t have the flags set to get Harry to read the book. Instead, he dismisses it out of hand.

Once again, Harry knows just the random book to insult. Make it cry, you useless chunk of beef.
Once again, Harry knows just the random book to insult. Make it cry, you useless chunk of beef.

I’m… not sure why they would choose to make this unreadable. That just seems like a bad idea to me.

  In any case, it turns out that the ol’ Claudia is a powerful hallucinogen that the local religious nuts use in ceremonies. I’m guessing White Claudia is the powder Harry found in the Green Lion, as well as the “drugs” he stumbled upon when he broke into the not-so-safe safe in the Indian Runner. I’m further guessing that it’s the active ingredient in PTV The police station clue confirms that it is the active ingredient in PTV and is thusly part of the drug trade that Cybil is worried about/Skeeves is kingpinning. So... um... why is this considered new information? Pretty sure we knew just about everything we needed to going into this room.

  If you’re truly interested, here’s the actual information that the game gives us:

QUOTE:

            WHITE CLAUDIA.
            Perennial herb found near water. Reaches height of 10 to 15 in.
            Oblong leaves, white blossoms. Seeds contain hallucinogen.
            Ancient records show it was used for religious ceremonies. The
            hallucinogenic effect was key.

END QUOTE

I guess we didn't know about the height of the plant, so... illuminating, I suppose. Also, awkwardly written. But I can't say I have a whole lot of experience with botany books, so who am I to judge?

  The other room on this floor just has the birdcage key. This is… underwhelming, to say the least.

  We run all the way back to the first floor. The invisible bird is still fluttering away in its cage. Once we use the key and withdraw the other key from the cage, though, it flap-flap-flaps away or dies or something, and we are left with silence. Um… okay. That was… a thing that happened, to be sure. I guess it would be considered creepy if we had some context, but it’s a fucking birdcage in a hospital rebuilt from someone’s nightmares. An invisible bird that isn’t trying to eat my eyeballs isn’t scary or creepy so much as a quaint reminder that there are things that aren’t immediately hostile to Harry’s existence.

  Anyway, we are now the proud owners of the Phaleg Key, which, in a completely unpredictable twist, unlocks the door marked with the symbol and name of Phaleg. The hallway beyond is Alchemilla’s creepy basement, which is just as stark and depressing as we left it.

  The door to our immediate right leads to a kitchen, of all things. A huge goddamn refrigerator is the only object of interest, namely because there’s a neat little sword sticking out of it. And a… er… two lengths of broken chain dangling from the doors, for some reason. And… um… something squishy is living within it, apparently.

What an odd thing to have on the front of your fridge.
What an odd thing to have on the front of your fridge.
Not Pictured: Really gross noises.

But how bad can just taking the knife/dagger/pointy thing really be anyway? So we have Harry grab the knife and skip away.

It may be a stupid noodle beast, but it does kill Harry, so I can't be too hard on this scene.
It may be a stupid noodle beast, but it does kill Harry, so I can't be too hard on this scene.

  Yup! Just like Sierra adventure games of old, this is a good, old-fashioned, fuck-you-instant-kill trap. It is the only one of its kind in the entire game. The only warning you get is the screen that says a there is a broken chain on the door and the squishy noises that burble like a hungry tummy of doom when you examine the door.

  Also, pretty sure that it’s the tentacle monsters that we tamed with the blood pack a million moons ago. So there’s that.

  Now, the way to avoid a very silly demise is to use the Ring of Contract to seal the door shut… somehow. Even though the chain is clearly still broken. And the chain still leaves enough slack for the tentacle that snags Harry to come through.

I FOUND A PLOT HOLE. Continuity error? Whatever.
I FOUND A PLOT HOLE. Continuity error? Whatever.

That is, if it even came from the main doors, which it totally doesn’t. Look—

Exhibit A, your honor!
Exhibit A, your honor!

That’s so not from the main doors!

  Although, to be entirely honest, it’s also clearly not even the same fucking refrigerator that we used the ring of contract on.

I'm actually kind of jealous of that fridge, to be honest.
I'm actually kind of jealous of that fridge, to be honest.

  Look, this is stupid. There have been “take the key item, cause an ambush” things before. The one most directly related to this would be that ridiculous sewer “ambush” by the green lizard things.

Oh, no. Not this scene again. The terror. Aaaah. No.
Oh, no. Not this scene again. The terror. Aaaah. No.

But there has not been a single instance of “use an item to prevent an ambush”. If there had, this would be less bullshit. But, whatever. It’s not like this game makes pretenses upon being built up around a certain internal logic, so why the fuck start now at the end of the fucking game!?

  And like I said earlier, both definitions of contract totally work for this scene. In fact, the covenant one makes more sense considering the noodle monster totally could slither out of the bottom one regardless of the chain being completed—it’s just being polite at that point.

  Anyway, we get the “Dagger of Melchior”, which is added to our collection of knickknacks which will probably be useful at some point, but for now will just get us in trouble if a cop happens to frisk Harry any time soon.

I know this is going into a door, but I have to ask--would any similar dagger work, or does it have to be this one? How could the door tell?
I know this is going into a door, but I have to ask--would any similar dagger work, or does it have to be this one? How could the door tell?

  The room across the hall from us is locked with the symbol of Bethor. This particular Olympian dipshit spirit can cause people to make miraculous medicine or something. Also, there’s something to do with the transport of precious materials or some garbage. Look, why do you even care? This shit is made up gibberish.

  The door next to Bethor is the world’s most depressing attic, I guess. When you first enter, a ghostly Alessa is weeping in the corner, because of course she is.

:(
:(

The walls and floor are covered in graffiti of eyes, a couple of “HELP”s, and at least one instance of the word “KILL”.

Oh, well, that's always encouraging.
Oh, well, that's always encouraging.

You know, as creepy as rooms like these are in games and movies and such, you do realize that it would take a not-insignificant amount of time and effort to make it look like this, right? Like, Alessa had to actually go and cover this place solely so she could make a particularly affecting room just in case some enterprising dope wandered into her memories at some point. I mean, it she had to have been doing this with the intention of being discovered—why else would she have written “HELP” on the wall? Was she under the impression her mother—the woman who probably put her there—would see it and realize she was being a dangerously unhinged maniac toward her terrified and alienated daughter? Or is this a “she’s psychic” hand wave, and this is the manifestation of her trauma or some such bullshit?

  Also, if this has an analog in the real world, I’m assuming she’s here as a punishment, because Dahlia’s a terrible mother and Alessa was crying, but wouldn’t all this graffiti make her mom even more pissed? Or is this a part of the hallucination Alessa is causing Harry or something? It would be nice is something was explained, because this random bullshit is more than a little pointless.

  And speaking of pointless, the whole reason this room exists is so that Harry can steal an ankh stapled to the wall.

Oh, come on, Alessa clearly just got that one from Hot Topic.
Oh, come on, Alessa clearly just got that one from Hot Topic.

Thank god for that.

  Across the hall and to the left is a hospital storeroom. A box of bullets and a health drink call this room home, but the more important and completely random item in here is a bag of jellybeans. I am not even kidding.

... what.
... what.

Trying to open them causes Harry the spaz to be useless once again.

The greatest foe of all is fucking candy.
The greatest foe of all is fucking candy.

Now, it turns out that the Bethor Key was in the bag and fell to the floor. So naturally, Harry stuffs it into his pocket and shuffles to the back of the storeroom which has a very tempting door for us.

  Before we conclude with the last room we’ll be exploring for this update, let’s talk about what the shit just happened. We have a locked door in the hallway. Someone on the development team thought the best way to handle this was to hide the key in a bag of jellybeans in a room down the fucking hall. This adds a grand total of, what, thirty seconds of gameplay? For what? Someone literally thought that making the player rip open a bag of Jelly Bellies was just what the doctor ordered for this “horror” game. And so they programmed it. They programmed an extra fucking step between you and an objective for no reason other than “jellybeans!”

  Fuck you.

  Fuck.

  You.

   The door in the back of the storeroom leads to the hospital room with the television and VCR. Since we still have the bloody tape from before, let’s pop that shit in and watch the results.

Wow. What an important revelation that Origins and Lisa’s goddamn diary from about ten minutes ago already took care of. Thanks, game. That was totally worth it. Even without Origins, this was super relevant and really, truly a window in Lisa’s headspace. How about next time you spend more effort explaining THE FUCKING PLOT rather than giving yet more screen time to a worthless side character? Or how about just having Lisa read the text of her diary? That would have been something worth listening/watching... provided you didn't fuck it up and give us the transcript beforehand.

  Also, is it common practice to videotape people tendering their resignation?

  Alright, that’s it for today, Traipsers! Join me next time for Plot Dump.

EDIT--12/15/2014--I edited and added some information on the section on White Claudia. It's mostly about Claudia being mentioned at the police station earlier.

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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