Part 1: HenryVerse I - Henry
Title Screen first, of course. I haven't found the OST online, so I'll post some videos with the various 'tracks' in the thread. Suffice to say the music and sound design is really a highlight. Minimalistic and eerie.
It's so good, you wonder what happened to the writers.
Birds! Not anywhere near as important as you might think, given that the title screen is 100% bird related.
Also, in a modern horror story, it must rain at all times.
I just want to show this off. I SWEAR this wasn't an option when I first started playing, and now not only is it an option, you're REMINDED that it's an option by the loading screens, which used to show randomized tool tips.
This is either because of feedback or a civil war among the creative team. Or both! Anyway, new game ho!
I just cannot get enough of how much they remind you of this. In case you're wondering: yes I will show it off at some point. It turns the dialogue from being awful rhymes into Solid Snake-esque repetition fests. Maximum words, minimum information.
Chairs, though? OPTIONAL.
This guy is just chilling, but every few seconds his head vibrates rather disconcertingly violently.
- This amazing facility, which at science advancements hurled,
is also famously known as the scene of the end of the world.
Ok just gonna time us out there for a second. This is the second line of the GAME, and we're already at
"which at science advancements hurled"?
I mean good LORD. Any game that constrains itself to talking entirely in rhyme is going to run a little thin by the end, but this is THE INTRO!
They couldn't think of a better way to say "we did experimental science" than tying a pretzel in the phrase "we hurled achievements at science"?
Yeah, buckle up.
- When your love lays dying, and all hope is lost,
a light in the darkness offers hope without cost.
- But you know as well as me
That nothing comes for free.
- When your fate is impossible to bend,
your beginning will be the same as your end
AND THEN HIS HEAD EXPLODES, OF COURSE. It makes this tiny little "pttht" sound.
Since that was his end, I guess his beginning was also getting guillotined by Dark Forces in an ally?
YEAH, WE'RE NOT AFRAID TO GET GORY MRS. SANDERS. READ ON IF YOU DARE. (the conceit is that the story is written for English 2 or whatever)
It was all a dream, of course.
Ok, now I do want to point out everything this game does RIGHT, alongside everything it does wrong.
What it gets WRONG is that home decor. Marble columns, chandelier, electric slurpee-purple couch?
What it gets RIGHT is that picture of Henry (who is on the couch there) and Grace (his wife, who we will meet and is upstairs right now).
What you have to understand is that Henry is the absolute worst person on the planet, and has no redeeming features except those that we as the player can force him to have. I hate him and want every bad thing that we can make happen, happen to him.
One of his many, many vices is extreme self-absorption, and look at the portrait of him and Grace. Notice how it's centered on Henry, the taller one, and there's plenty of room above his head. Centering on Grace wouldn't have cut off Henry, but centering on Henry kind of cuts off Grace in that picture.
It's a tiny detail that I didn't notice until doing this LP, and yet it speaks volumes about Henry. Or should I say, it at him volumes hurls.
Yikes! That sure was one crazy dream.
So scary I woke myself up with a scream.
I think this is hyperbole. Either that, or they only recorded female screams (which we will hear later). You're fine, you big baby.
OK. This is how this is going to go.
One of the bizarre things about this game is that it is GIANT, just enormous, and there are LOTS of descriptions and dialogue.
Normally, I would skip everything but the plot-essential stuff, but honestly that means cutting out your suffering, so I'm going to try to compress things.
The first time we see environments, I'll show you a thumbnail'd map along with environment items. Those descriptions generally don't change as the game progresses.
People are almost always in the same spots every day, and have new dialogue every unit of time. I'll update you on their stories (and probably have some way to link those stories together).
All the stories are sad, and like, stupidly so. I just want you to brace yourself.
Just one more note about this - The Colonel's Bequest / Dagger of Amon Ra, two other games I did LPs of, ALSO had giant environments where not a lot was going on. They compensated for this by having characters move, have the story play out in real time, and let you follow the main plot (more or less) by figuring out where to go.
Managing the space was a big deal.
That is ABSOLUTELY 100% not the case here. You won't really get a sense of this until next update, but there is a TON of useless rooms and space, and you are rarely given any but the most generic of descriptions of where to go / what to do next.
Nobody moves, it's just "slowly hunt through the massive area for the next flag", over and over and over again.
So the maps: green numbers indicate things to look at, red numbers indicate places we'll go.
My collection of literary books.
I don't just keep them for looks.
This is a straight-up lie. Henry is a moron, and this is going to come up over and over again.
I can't think of anyone I need to call.
My circle of friends is really small...
The only thing that Henry is better at than praising himself is feeling sorry for himself. Also notice the oddly purple phone.
There's nothing in the fridge. Both because Henry is too lazy to shop, and because he's super poor. Despite the chandelier house.
We always wanted a big back yard,
it was a given thing for family life.
Its uncut grass now haunts me,
and with Grace it causes strife.
"I can't be bothered to do basic home maintenance. I'm the protagonist!"
Rushing off to save the day, our hero fails to open his locked house door from the inside. Henry, you stooge.
I can't open this but it isn't blocked,
it's simply that the door is locked.
If only there was some way to unlock a door FROM THE INSIDE.
Well, whatever. Let's check upstairs.
[Muted, kind of off, but still homey music playing. The music is so great.]
This is actually a neat touch. Most times, when you can look at something, an icon appears when you walk by. This is so obvious a thing to look at you don't need the icon, and it not showing up sort of clues you in that something is off about this door. Interacting with it...
I still cannot bring myself to enter through this door.
The sorrow within there still cuts me through my core.
No jokes about this one, it's a little heavy-handed, but decent world-building. Alright, into the rooms.
1 - bedroom
Meet Grace. I look forward to falling from her!
And this is how dialogue trees go. It's fine, but sometimes the choices aren't very... well-described. You'll see. They're fine here.
Good morning my darling!
How are you feeling today?
You're looking so radiant
even the sun can't stay away!
Good morning sweet Henry!
That's kind of you to say.
I don't feel much better,
but today's a brand new day.
The sun is out shining again,
for the first time in a fortnight.
Maybe I'll feel strong enough,
to enjoy some autumn sunlight?
Yes, sadly, Grace has a bad case of plotitis, with very non-specific symptoms. I don't think it's cancer, it's just a terminal case of the wiggles. She can't get out of bed, is the idea.
Today will be a good day Grace,
I can feel it in my bones!
You'll be up and out of bed again,
why don't you call Ms. Jones?
Oh you know I don't like that woman,
she's such a hussy and a skeeze.
I've heard she'll sleep with anyone,
spends her weekend on her knees!
Uh.... bit of a tonal shift there, Grace?
Yes sadly this is one of the many, many problems with an all-poetry game. I have no idea is Grace is kind of crude and also hates Ms Jones a LOT? Or they just needed something to rhyme with skeeze.
Get used to the game being gross, like way grosser than this, just for effect though. Just... be ready.
Sorry I fell asleep downstairs again
I'm so sorry I managed to fall asleep on the couch again,
I was working late, going over the report on that new flu strain.
Another flat-out lie. You didn't have any reports, you were watching TV, you faker. Fakey faker.
That's alright darling, I'll know the day you disappear.
I could hear your snoring, all the way from up here.
Promise you'll come to bed tonight,
I don't like sleeping on my own.
Your body heat is so comforting,
and it's so cold when I'm alone.
1) Henry snores loudly enough to be heard from downstairs, which means
2) Grace will be able to tell if we're not home.
3) She wants us home at night, for comfort and companionship.
Just some mental notes.
I promise Grace on all that is holy, tonight I surely won't let you down.
Do you want me to pick up a movie later, on my way back home from town?
Unless I forget and fall asleep at my desk instead of working or something.
Oh yes I would really love that,
there's one I've been waiting to see.
A recording from the local orchestra,
performing "Flight of the Bumblebee".
I'm... normally on Grace's side, but there are pretty few things I'd like to watch less than a local orchestra playing Flight of the Bumblebee and JUST that.
Now Grace, you know I've never been a huge fan of "the arts".
I'll pick up something we'll both enjoy - light-hearted comedy full of farts?
But... you found it, Henry. Whatever Adam Sandler made this year is indeed one of those things.
Also note the "something we'll both enjoy". Henry, you oaf.
Oh... uh, yes dear sorry to be a pain.
Why don't you pick the movie this time... again.
I don't think this is passive-aggression. I could be wrong, I just think she's resigned herself to living with this philistine.
Can you check the mailbox, I haven't gotten my magazines.
I haven't missed an issue, since I was in my teens.
I don't think there are a lot of magazines that people read from their teens straight through to adulthood. Still getting Tiger Beat, Gracie?
Have you seen my keys?
Grace, by chance have you seen my keys?
They've gone missing again, like leaves in the breeze.
If I can't find them soon, I'll be running late.
If I'm not on time for work again, that might just seal my fate.
I'm afraid I do not know where you might have set them down.
Hurry up and find them, we can't afford your boss's frown.
"I can't get out of bed, no I haven't seen them. Now go to work, you gadfly."
I should go or I'll be late for work.
My boss is on my back, he's such a jerk!
Yeah, it's your boss's fault Henry.
Henry... before you head out the gate.
Can I ask you - do you believe in fate?
And here we have our first timed challenge! I guess the timing is just so you don't think about it for too long. If the timer runs out, you select whichever option your cursor landed on.
I'll be letting the thread choose these. Some of them are big 'end of the update' style questions, but since this one is at the beginning (not that it's insignificant, mind!) I'll keep going.
The game is really pretty good about having branching and divergent paths, and some things that seem insignificant aren't. Just food for thought.
Ok, time to check the other rooms.
2 - Bathroom
Nothing but expired medicine and an old syringe. The door also has a rusty hinge
Oh totally Henry. Just what I have in my bathroom medicine cabinet. A syringe and old xanax.
We shared a lovely romantic night in this bathtub once.
I slipped climbing out, and felt like a right dunce.
Grace laughed at me and gave me a flirtatious smile.
For that smile I would crawl on my knees for a mile.
Sounds like great times, Henry. And fair is fair, he sounds reasonably sweet here. But a whole EVENING? Ah, who am I to judge.
3 - Study
This is where I keep my research reference materials.
From chemistry 101 to advancements in antibacterials.
Basic science and incremental protein-pharmaceutical interaction papers. Sounds like a winner.
I had such grandiose plans for this desk and office space.
I'd work hard and get lots of awards to put in my bookcase.
These days I'm nothing but a laughing stock at work.
If things don't shape up I'll be demoted to mail clerk.
Yeah, notice his dreams didn't include actually DOING anything. Developing a drug, bettering mankind, all are foreign concepts to Henry. He wants some AWARDS, so he can put them on his fancy bookshelf and see himself reflected in them.
And he's too lazy to get them.
This INCREDIBLY SERIOUS BOX causes the screen to go all greytones and shake. This is an important friggin' box!
Ima grab it.
If you look on the rightmost shelf, you'll see a glint as you're running about. And this is an adventure game, so you know what THAT means...
The inventory puzzles in this game are pretty uninspired. Stand in front of thing, use item. Nothing is really off-the-wall.
Not to say there's NOTHING unique about your inventory. I'll go over that later this update. For now...
THRILLING STEPPING ACTION
The hell are my house keys doing on top of this shelf?
If I didn't know better, I'd suspect a mischievous elf.
But you DO know better, because it was either you or unknowable eldritch forces that put them up there, and I frankly don't have the time to figure out which option is stupider.
Anyway, house key get, so now let's huff it towards the door. There's no reason not to run always in this game, so you'll be dramatically flinging your office-pudgy body around the city nonstop.
God I hate you, Henry.
In what is a nice move, the screen is taller when you're outside, smallest when in cramped, enclosed spaces. It's actually a really nice touch.
Anyway, here comes this pink running-suited woman, who I can't help but imagine as a Golden Girl because of that outfit.
Don't run away!
Do, Henry. Do run away.
Oh, Ms. Jones, nice weather today!
It's nice to see a sky that isn't grey.
Darling you're adorable,
going on about the weather.
Something that would be nice,
is an evening with you and me together.
oooookay. I guess Grace had a point! We're RIGHT OUTSIDE our house, where our wife is. Presumably listening? Sheesh Ms Jones!
Yeah, you tell her Henry, you uber-mensch.
Hahaha sweetheart dear,
don't pay no mind to me.
It's just my southern charm,
I'm always full of glee.
But I know Grace is rather poorly,
so if you need a sympathetic ear,
I'm right next door for you Henry,
we can chat over wine or beer.
Well, a complex character she ain't. I feel like we're supposed to feel virtuous for withstanding her charms? But this is honestly just disconcerting. This lady ain't right.
Gotta run hun,
have a good one!
We've been living here for YEARS. There is no WAY this is the first time this has happened.
Or maybe now that we're piloting Henry, he suddenly has a spark of verve he never had before, and finally he meets her minimum requirements for interest? Or maybe Henry is so totally oblivious he's just super surprised every time? I dunno.
Well, let's explore out front!
There's nothing there,
Grace will be sad to hear.
Do any of you live in a place where the daily mail would come before you would leave for work? It's like 1-2 PM best case, here.
The leaves are turning yellow, as they wither and die.
The coldness of winter is nigh, all we can do is stand by.
"Autumn Twilight, by Zarabbubael Dixon, 8th grade"
2 - Garage
I keep the ladder retracted, I've heard burglars are lurking.
But now the motor that brings it down has stopped working.
I think by the time they get into the garage in the first place... never mind.
I used this iron pipe for self defense, and for that it worked real good.
When me and Grace first started out, and we lived in a rough neighborhood.
It'd be a pretty heavy thing to carry around.
Not something I'd want to schlep around town.
This is what I was referencing earlier that's interesting. Taking items sometimes changes the way the story goes - and not, like most adventure games, always for the better. It might be good to have this iron pipe, or it might be disadvantageous.
I'll leave it up to the threat! Take or leave?
So many brand-new landscaping accessories,
Grace was going to garden, to learn a new skill.
She was so joyful, coming home with all of it.
Not long after however is when she fell ill.
Of course, since there are no trophies for landscaping, I could NEVER have done any of it.
Yes, of COURSE you can have an affair with Ms. Jones.
No, we will not be doing that. Sorry, not really up for a vote. I don't want to cheat on Grace in this game! If you really need to see that burning-hot content, pick up I Fell From Grace, weirdo!
But as for US, we need to get to WORK, and not get FIRED.
What is it we do? Medical...pharma.... something? I'm sure we'll remember!
If we try to go downtown...
I don't have time to go to the store,
I have to rush to work once more.
AND OFF WE GO!
Unbelievably uncomfortable dates!
Pools of electrified water!
THE LEG-MASTER 3000!!!!
ALSO, POLL FOR NEXT TIME
DO WE BELIEVE IN FATE? Y/N
DO WE TAKE THE LEAD PIPE? Y/N
See you next time, nerds...