IntroductionA Stauf Riddle is a Riddle for Life. Let's Play the 11th Hour!
What's this game all about?
The 11th Hour is the sequel to The 7th Guest, developed by Trilobyte and released in 1992. As you may know, The 7th Guest was famous for being one of the first CD-ROM games featuring full motion video, or FMV cutscenes to further the plot. While I could summarize The 7th Guest in my own words, the 11th Hour manual does a rather elegant job of explaining the story up until the game begins.
11th Hour Instruction Booklet posted:
In upstate New York lies Harley on the Hudson, a little town where supernatural things are said to have happened. A strangely quiet place, amidst the misery of the Great Depression, an enigmatic drifter named Henry Stauf built a toy making empire...
Little is known of the mysterious genius Henry Stauf, only that he crafted incredible toys from his dreams. It was said, "A Stauf toy is a toy for life," and, quickly, Stauf's toys became among the most celebrated and sought after in all the world.
Stauf grew wealthy, and he built a mansion for himself -- a bizarre estate fashioned from a dream. But then the deadly virus came -- a virus killing only the children -- stealing their lives as they lay feverishly in bed clutching their Stauf toys. and suddenly, without explaination, Henry Stauf closed the doors of Stauf's Wonderworld Toys...forever. Withdrawn and reclusive, Stauf confined himself to his mansion, hidden behind a veil of shadows, shrouded in secrets untold. For years the mansion stood silent, brooding, and nothing more was heard from Henry Stauf. Nothing. Until one one evening Stauf invited six guests to spend the night, luring them with a promise to fufill their most secret desire... No one knows what took place within the walls of Stauf's mansion that dark night. None of the guests were ever seen or heard from again. And Henry Stauf seemed to have vanished into the rooms, the corridors, the very air of his most sinister creation.
It is now 1995 and you, as Carl Denning Jr., are an investigative reporter for the television series "Case Unsolved." Robin Morales, your producer, and erstwhile lover has mysteriously vanished while gathering background information surrounding the series of gristly murders and disappearances in the otherwise quiet little town of Harley on the Hudson. Your only solid lead is a portable computer called the GameBook which was delivered to you -- postmarked Harley, NY. Perhaps it was sent by Robin. Perhaps it is the evil handiwork of Stauf himself, updating his craft to meet the demands of the '90s. You decide to drive to Harley that very night, going directly to the Stauf mansion to track down Robin. You discover nothing at first, other than a decaying, abandoned interior filled with the artifacts of a past era. Along the way, you not only stumble across some unsavory and horrifying clues, but you may find out even more than you could ever imagine -- much more. When you've gathered all the necessary facts, and have solved the many mysteries and puzzles within the weathered falls of the Stauf mansion, you will have to make yet one more difficult choice. It is a choice that you will have to live with for the rest of your life, however long that may be...
Does this play exactly like The 7th Guest?
Not entirely. There are still puzzles in every room, and you need to solve all of them to advance the plot. However the bulk of the challenge comes from scavenger hunts that Stauf sends to your GameBook in the form of cryptic riddles. Each riddle corresponds to an object that can be examined somewhere in the mansion. In order to "unlock" a room and examine the objects within, you must first solve the puzzle inside that room. Each time you solve a riddle and "examine" the correct object described by the riddle, you will witness a short fragment of a cutscene. These scenes explain the events prior to Robin's disappearance, and are solely responsible for fleshing out the plot of the game.
The flow of the game is rather different as well--stages of the game are counted in hours. The game begins at 7 o'clock, and ends, of course, at 11 o'clock. At some point in each hour or stage, is a special head-to-head puzzle played against Stauf himself (it is worth noting that the Stauf A.I. on the last three puzzles is murderously difficult). At the end of each hour, the cutscene fragments will play once again in order, this time in a more complete form to further explain the events in the game thus far. It seems like a rather confusing format at first, but once you witness the first "scene recap" at the end of the first hour, you'll understand how the game is presenting the plot.
How will this thread work?
I chose this game for my first LP thread because I wanted to have some element of audience participation. The riddles in this game run the gamut from fun and challenging, to absolutely impossible. But as the Trilobyte and Broderbund games have taught me, nothing beats that 'aha' moment you get when you figure out a tough puzzle on your own. While the puzzles in the Myst games have always centered around mechanical physics and keen observation, The 11th Hour forces you to employ your skills with the english language in order to decode whatever the hell Stauf is asking you to find. Most of the time, I will be solving the puzzles myself, but when a new riddle is found in game, it will be posted in the thread, along with the given clues in spoiler format. Here's a simple, out-of-game example I whipped up to show how it will look:
"Fear thy sun."
...and so on.
Anyone at all reading this thread should know that this game loves, LOVES anagrams. An anagram is when you rearrange the letters of a word or phrase to make another word or phrase. In this case, the entire clue is an anagram of HENRY STAUF. The answer would most likely be an image of Henry Stauf, which after watching the exploration videos you'd know to find a big ol' portrait of Mr. Stauf (like the one below) in the art gallery. Riddle solved!
Any other advice about the riddles?
Figuring out the riddles will have you utilize a number of different literary/grammatical devices. Keep in mind that the riddle itself usually presents a clue as to how you can figure it out, even before you ask for help from the GameBook. Pay close attention to the riddle itself, how it's phrased, and how it sounds. Try replacing words with synonyms, different verb tenses, homophones, and so on. If you get stuck, usually one of the GameBook hints can place you on the right track.
These riddles are impossible and my brain is exploding because of you!
This is not unexpected. This game is genuinely difficult--however, between the hints from the GameBook and my guidence, I think readers will start to understand how the riddles tend to work after the first few. I will solve the first one for you, since its kind of automatic and there's only one object to examine at the beginning. After that, I will solve all the available puzzles and then examine the objects in the open rooms to show you which items are available. I will label the contents of each video (puzzles, room explorations, scene recaps) so that readers can review the objects in the available rooms with minimal clutter.
I just wanted to watch the LP, not become a cryptogram junkie!
That's quite alright with me. The speed with which I update will probably depend on how many people are interested in solving the riddles. If no one is trying to figure them out, I'll move things along, post the answer and the next video with a new riddle or puzzle in it. If people seem really interested in figuring them out, I'll hold off a bit longer before posting the next video. The only thing I ask is that you please do not spoil answers to riddles or puzzles if you have played the game before! Please post any other questions you have in the thread, and I'll be happy to answer them. Have fun!
|One - Puzzles #1-3 and Riddle #1||YouTube|
|Two - Exploration: Library, Foyer, 2F Hallway, Dutton's Room & Gallery||YouTube|
|Note: No new plot elements or riddles are examined in this episode, I just explore the unlocked rooms and view the artifacts. Feel free to skip this one unless you really want to see all the stuff in the first few rooms--though you should probably check out the artifact list at the bottom of this post instead, it's much more convenient.|
|Three & Four - Mousetrap Puzzle & Riddle #2||YouTube (Part 1, Part 2)|
|Five - Riddles #3 - #5 Solved||YouTube|
|Six & Seven - End of Seventh Hour, Scene Recap #1||YouTube (Part 1, Part 2)|
|Eight - 8 o'Clock Puzzles and Rooms||YouTube|
|Nine - Riddles #8-11 Solved||YouTube|
|Ten - Riddles #12-17 Solved||YouTube|
|Eleven - End of Eighth Hour, Scene Recap #2||YouTube|
|Twelve - Nine O'Clock Puzzles and Rooms||YouTube|
|Thirteen - 3rd Floor Rooms, Train Puzzle||YouTube|
|Fourteen - Puzzles & Riddles||YouTube|
|Fifteen - Riddles||YouTube|
|Sixteen - Riddles, End of Ninth Hour||YouTube|
|Seventeen - HONEYCOMB PUZZLE, Scene Recap #3||YouTube|
|Eighteen - Piano Moving Puzzle and Music Room||YouTube|
|Nineteen - Bishop Redux Puzzle & Riddles||YouTube|
|Twenty - End of Tenth Hour||YouTube|
|Twenty-One - Trilobyte Puzzle and Final Scene Recap||YouTube|
|Twenty-Two - The Last Five Riddles||YouTube|
|Twenty-Three - Final Puzzle: Pente||YouTube|
|Twenty-Four - Ending||YouTube|
|The Pente Failure Reel||YouTube|