Part 4: Hell guards and time travelThis update is a bit on the long side, but I thought it wouldn't make sense if I split it up, so here we go.
Traversing Hell is fraught with peril.
There are Evil Women to interact with
and, most importantly, listen to;
Hell Privates to avoid or cut in two (can't get that song out of my head now);
Stench Beasts disorienting you with their smelly breath that does group damage to your party at long distance, so that you have to waste a couple of turns to run closer to them;
mad Moaners complaning about women and hypocrisy
or wondering why their money didn't help them get into heaven;
green-haired chainsaw-wielding Loggers straight out of a trash horror movie;
half-naked fiery-eyed Neanderthals striking their Heavy Bones at us;
Minor Demons stabbing us with their spears;
Indians blasting us with pistols;
and finally, Archers aiming to tear us a new one with their arrows. We go all extreme on them melee-style, just for fun.
The Hell Guard Training Camp is located in the northern part of the map, and believe me, it's not the kind of place you'd want to enter without a Hell badge. We better obtain one at the Recruitment Cave to the southeast from here first.
The Cave's guards are thankfully non-hostile.
However, Richard isn't the only one wanting to become a Hell guard! There's quite a line already.
That's why, in order to get a Hell badge from the Sergeant and be recruited into the Guard, we'll have to bluff it out of him. And that's where Richard's Bluffing skill, one of the active skills, comes into play. The active skill usage is a bit tricky in Escape from Hell, so I've put up a (very) short video of the correct way to solve this little quest. It's nothing really impressive as the procedure is quite simplistic, but still, you may want to see the game in motion.
You can watch the video first and then read the explanation below, or vice versa; whichever way suits you better. I had to upscale it to 720p for Youtube not to make a mess out of it, but it is meant to be watched at 480p. Oh, and the video is silent simply because the game itself has almost no sound.
Video: Bluffing our way into the Hell Guard and past the Sergeant
Now, the trick is to use the Bluffing skill just when you try to walk past the Sergeant deeper into the cave and the Sergeant yells at you.
Attempting to use the skill before that, when simply facing the Sergeant or even interacting with him, doesn't work. Which isn't exactly intuitive. That's what the manual implies when saying that active skills are useful only in very particular situations:
A character either has an active skill or learns it in the course of the game. These skills are necessary in a particular situation. You'll know when; trust me.
The game's mechanics are fairly restrictive and narrow in that regard. Had we proceeded deeper into the cave without bluffing our way through at that specific point, everyone would've turned hostile on us, no questions asked:
Things like that go with being old-school, I guess.
But anyway, from this moment on Richard is officially a Hell guard. And now that we've received the Hell badge, we mustn't forget to equip it. Little things do matter.
Going down the corridor, we take the first turn to the right.
Two shelves in here, each containing a book. "The Divine Debate" comes first.
"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven" (c) Satan
The second book instantly and permanently, as if by magic, improves Richard's Pistol skill.
Two Logger doctors want spare limbs. Bah, they don't really pose much of a threat.
Meanwhile, Richard finally reaches next level, which improves his attributes...
...and even adds a new one, Psychic Force, which, according to the manual, "enhances magic item effectiveness".
Further down the corridor, we come across a locked door with some treasure chests and a particularly scary-looking monster behind it.
The door is locked, and Richard's Pick Lock skill of 1 is of no help here.
There is a way to increase the skill at the Training Camp, though, so we head back there.
With the Hell badge equipped, we can enter it unharmed.
Moreover, we can use the statue in the centre for healing. Without the badge, touching it would've weakened us instead.
Quasimodo the grave robber offers us a shovel in exchange for a Dueling sword.
It's definitely going to come in handy.
Despite or maybe even thanks to the badge, other Hell Guard recruits are hostile to us. Hell sure is a competitive environment!
Encountering 9 (!) Hell Corporals at once means serious trouble for our party, so we have to reload. Hit-and-run is the only viable tactics here.
Unfortunately, our armour tends to get destroyed pretty fast due to the huge amount of fights we have to go through.
The sign reads, "Hell Guard Sentry Training."
The large fenced area is the training field.
A friendly Hell Sergeant teaches Rifle to everyone in our party.
One of the buildings is guarded by 6 Hell Privates and 7 Hell Corporals! Still, we prevail.
Inside, two Hell Captains give us hell. But they don't really stand a chance. We're good.
Treasure! A Pistol, two Wrist Rockets, a Bowling Pin, a Bow, a Crossbow, a Fire Hose, and a Flame Thrower.
Flame Throwers are cool. The game's limited inventory space, however, makes the hoarder in me very, very sad.
Barbed wire all around.
Another Hell Sergeant teaches Khan and Hamlet the Dueling skill, which now equals 19 for them.
Eww. Crypt Things are unpleasant. Good thing their special attack, Cold Hand, isn't particularly deadly.
And Zombies are simply the stronger version of Crypt Things.
We slay 3 Hell Lieutenants and a Stench Beast to gain access to the second treasure room. The chests don't contain anything particularly interesting except for another Hell Guard badge - yeah, this is an alternative, and harder, way of obtaining one.
One non-standard feature of the game is something akin to time travel. It is implemented in the form of golden tridents you come across fairly often. Touching a trident has the effect of transporting the party to a different time, so that different monsters become more prevalent and certain weapons won't work (i.e., fire arms won't work before they are invented), or even to a different place, so that the very landscape around you may change.
For instance, touching the leftmost of the four tridents makes a Pick Lock training room appear.
Using Pick Lock when facing the door raises the skill from 1 to 10 points. Too bad everything can't be that easy, true that.
To get things back to normal, we must touch the bottom trident.
And the topmost one transforms the landscape into a graveyard.
It's grave-robbing time!
To dig up a grave, we must use the shovel we received from Quasimodo.
Mostly we find random insignificant bones.
But hey, a Despair Ankh. When used, and it's a one-use item, it may make a hostile enemy friendly or, alternatively, frighten it into running away.
As well as a whole cache of Nazi military supplies, consisting of two Pistols, an SMG, a Battle Jacket, a Police Shield, and a Sleep Grenade! Sure, where else would the Nazi have hidden their stuff but in Hell itself?
The Sleep Grenade is nothing fancy; it puts the enemies to sleep so you can flee from battle.
We also discover a Hockey mask, a Chainsaw, and a funny message.
Meanwhile, Richard makes it to level 2. We're getting stronger! (And more pious. )
The last of the four tridents brings us to Hitler's own private place of torment.
Hitler himself is, however, currently at large, so the place is empty.
Yup, Hitler's place of torment is a gas chamber.
Nothing more we can do here, which doesn't mean it's the last time we hear about Hitler. Oh no.
Back on the world map, we discover even more tridents scattered about.
No, I don't really know what the hell just happened.
Another trident takes us back to the time of primitive weapons - and more lava!
Making our way around gets a bit trickier.
The next trident alters the behaviour of Stench Beasts, making them friendly.
Whereas this one brings the situation back to normal.
This trident, from what I've gathered, increases the number of Screamers wandering around. Or maybe not, I'm not really sure.
Basically, it's all about figuring out and creating an environment most suitable to your preferred or available armour, weapons, and play style.
And yet another one puts us inside a hellish version of L.A.!
Unfortunately, all that amounts to is the above description and the fact that more advanced weapons are supposed to work now.
Richard's Pick Lock skill improved, we return to the locked door in the Recruitment Cave.
We manage to open the door this time only to get immediately assaulted by an impressive-looking Enforcer and three Hell Corporals. Done with them, we loot the chests.
One of them contains just what we've been looking for: a Demonic Shield, which we're going to need to enter Lucifer's Landing.
Next time: HE ISN'T VIRTUOUS! HE'S A THIEF!