Part 13: 7 Days, Part 4: Mystique
NASA Official: So, what do you feel qualifies you to join us on this manned expedition?
Baxter: Well, I saw someone play this game called 7 Days a Skeptic once. I feel I have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
NASA Official: [Witty retort about Baxter's foolish nature]
Five Days, Part 4: Mystique
Last time, we were magically on the outside of the ship. Then we were talking to Serena, who was on the inside of the ship. Then Serena was attacked, prompting John to be worried and want to check on her. This may cause you to believe that we should now go inside of the ship.
However, that would be a reasonable response to a situation, something 7 Days clearly doesn't allow. As demonstrated by this image that's blatantly reused from the last update, there's another set of grooves (?) leading downward, and we get to go there instead.
Down here we can see a key flapping in the wind which clearly exists in space. To get it, you have to unhook yourself from the guardrail, dangle the hook off the edge (so it falls in the downward direction that exists throughout space), and then have it hook onto the key and pull it up, since a key clearly would have fallen "down" there in space.
In order to do all of this, you have to walk exactly to the right area. Staying back gives you a Sierra-style "Not close enough" message, while moving anywhere except where you need to makes you once again lose your bones and remember you're in space. All evidence like Barry's keycard "falling down" to the contrary.
Then you get to clip yourself to rails, change suits, and walk through the entire ship again. What else?
Have you seen Serena?
I was just about to ask you that. [recap of what happened five minutes ago]
How strange. The trouble is, the distress signal still needs to be sent, and only she and the captain knew the communication code.
I'll go look for her.
See if you can track down the captain's code book, too.
This is one of the best examples of Yahtzee actively hating his players. If you listened to the game yelling at you to go inside immediately, you would now be lost on how to find this codebook. After a ton of fruitless searching, you would angrily consult a walkthrough and realize that you have to do the entire going outside sequence for the third time in six minutes. This is only partly based on personal experience.
In other words, this puzzle is either incredibly annoying or pathetically simple, depending on if you can read Yahtzee's mind.
Is this what we need?
Yes, that's the captain's codebook. [code entering] This is first officer Angela Garrett of the EFS Mephistopheles. Attention all ships in the immediate vicinity, we are in urgent need of assistance, over.
Avatar-less Man: Officer Garrett, this is Captain James Lindermann of the EFS Charisma. What is the nature of your emergency, over?
Phew, I was worried there wouldn't be any spaceships in the immediate vicinity of an unexplored region of space which we're scouting for the first time. Especially one close enough for us to have a real-time conversation without problems relating to the delay of sending information over long distances.
Engines dead by unknown means. Captain Barry Chahal has been murdered.
Same Avatar-less Man: Acknowledged. We are five days' travel from your current position. In the meantime, sit tight, boys and girls.
Five days worth of space travel away. Think about the ramifications of this rescue. Answers will be in the Appendix
There, soon we'll be picked up and this will all be behind us.
Five days? We have to sit and wait for rescue for another five days when there could be a psychotic killer on board?
Previously, doctor, we were going to sit and wait for rescue indefinitely with a psychotic killer on board. We should be grateful that events have improved, however marginally.
I felt I'd address this to John despite addressing you immediately befoehand!
You found his body?
No, I saw him alive. He was down in the engineering decks. He was walking funny, and his clothes were covered in blood.
Adam, are you absolutely sure you saw what you say you saw? I mean, is there absolutely no other explanation for what it was?
Counselor, perhaps you should escort the lieutenant back to his quarters. You are obviously just tired or overstressed.
Dammit Adam, Barry is dead! I'm the one who found his body!
But he isn't our captain anymore.
Ah, that's a relief. With the whole idea of contacting an outside source I was worried this game was starting to rely on original ideas.
So, first order of business. In light of the recent murders, should we do something about this easily accessible machete just lying around?
I don't know, I think it adds to the decor.
Well, Gentlemen, all we can do now is wait.
Where's Serena got to?
AngelAv: I'm not sure. She did not come back to our quarters yesterday evening.
We have to remain optimistic.
It's all very well just SAYING that.
Nice of you to join us. Serena is missing.
I was out on EVA, checking on the radio masts. When I got back in, she was gone.
Oh, er... really? Is anyone else seeing a sort of pattern emerging here? Far be it from me to raise this... but you were the one who found Barry's body, and now you have fist hand experience of Serena's encounter too. Does anybody else think that this is a bit coincidental?
You know how you did those things you were specifically asked to do by the people who should have been doing them? It seems very suspicious.
Now wait a minute-
Oh god, just shut up, Will. I've got records of all the communications on board. They show with no doubt that John was outside when something happened to Serena.
Oh... I'm so sorry, John... I mean it, I was totally out of line. I'll, er... get back to sick bay.
The doctor seems to be getting worse. It can only be a matter of time before he cracks.
Still seems mighty suspicious to me.
Adam, please, don't.
I suggest we begin searching for Serena. There is still a chance that she is perfectly alright.
Oh yeah, and 7 Days suddenly becomes really good at being creepy and disconcerting only to squander it seconds later. Par for the course.
Well, it was only for a second... I suppose I could have imagined it...
John demonstrates his assertive and dedicated nature.
What're you doing?
I'm trying to find the security records for the last few days. For some reason, they're not in the usual directory.
Could someone have hidden them?
Possibly. Then again, the computer does run occasional self-cleanup programs. It's possible they could have been lost in one of those.
Is it even worth bringing up how poorly this organizational system is designed? I mean, I keep emphasizing that space doesn't really mean anything in this game, but this would be an appalling way to run a retail outlet.
What are you doing here?
It's just... I just wanted to come and look at it.
We're supposed to be looking for Serena.
But that can wait half an hour, can't it?
For the most part, I'm skipping dull conversations that don't reveal anything, but this is noteworthy because it demonstrates once and for all that the Mephistopheles is the DeFoe Manor 2.0 in its policy of what types of people it lets onboard.
I'm not sure which is more amusing for this line, imagining John as doing his best Taxi Driver impression or imagining him speaking to a kindergarten student about saying thank you when someone gives you markers.
Yeah... I've been going through some stress.
I can understand that. We'll say no more about it. Have you gotten over your anxiety? No concerns?
Well, just about Barry and Serena and all that.
Any ideas about what going on?
No. I mean, I haven't witnessed any of these weird things going on.
This is (still) exactly how people talk when people are being murdered around them in a secluded environment. Exactly.
The first time I played this game, I assumed that there was some lame mechanic about having to regularly eat that I had neglected. Thankfully, I had picked up an extra breakfast on the first day, so I ate and proceeded to wander around for another hour wondering what to do. I'm aware that this is less of a problem with the game and more a problem with me.
What the hell? There's blood all over this tray.
Neither Word nor Firefox accept that "prise" is a word. Merriam-Webster only suggests it as an archaic spelling of "prize". The OED defines it as "To raise or move by force of leverage" and points out that any sensible person would use "pry" instead.
As such, after reaching into the slot and not using leverage, a hand falls out
It's a human hand. Freshly severed, I think. Serena...
You may notice that this entire chapter has consisted of the same few areas, all of which were on different floors of the ship. My theory is that a critic of 5 Days pointed out that it was impossible for backtracking to be more annoying, and Yahtzee took this as a sort of personal challenge.
Where did you find it?
Would you believe lodged in the vending machine?
This... this ship has self-cleaning walls, but they don't clean off every trace of dirt. If you use ultra-violet light, you'd be able to see traces of human bodily fluids. Hold on a sec. This might help with your investigations.
We have self-cleaning walls that don't clean the walls. You should use this UV light in a way that clearly won't wor... wait a minute.
Wikipedia says: "UV is an investigative tool helpful in locating and identifying bodily fluids (semen, blood, bile etc.). Ejaculated fluids or saliva are detected by high power UV, irrespective of the structure or colour of the surface the fluid is deposited upon."
Yahtzee actually got a scientific concept right. He actually made a gameplay device work within the realm of scientific possibility, integrating science and storytelling reasonably well.
I really appreciate this, doctor.
You'd better leave the hand with me.
I can think of absolutely no context in which that line wouldn't be horrendously creepy.
Oh hey, more puzzles entirely about backtracking.
That looks like Serena's badge.
Now, once again, onto the real meat of the update:
John is trapped, alone, in the cold blackness of space. It is the antithesis of the feminine womb; frigid instead of warm, alienating instead of protective, emotionally distant instead of comforting.
John is a counselor, forced into a mothering role, but without any feminine light to guide him. Even the womyn on board have bought into the devil of the patriarchy, leaving John with nowhere to turn.
How are they to be rescued from this soulless tragedy? It is only Charisma, another inherently masculine idea, that attempts to save the day, but this is clearly a facade. The Phallocentric is simply not enough, always being too distant to offer the help we truly need.
There are nightmares. John can see the writing on the wall, and unless he gets back in touch with the estrogen-fueled vulva of his soul, the sharp and powerful but emotionally repressed testosterone will destroy the entire crew.
Femininity is fetishized, however, and this proves too much for the men to handle. They hoard any remnant of the sexuality on which they depend.
And in the end, John is unable to come to terms with the feminine dichotomy; that the soul of a woman is deemed inseparable from her soft, moist, dripping flesh proves to be John's final undoing, and the beginning of the end.
Next time, the towel rack puzzle everyone (rightly) hates.
[Editor's Note: This was in response to a lengthy discussion of how effective submarine horror would be, both in general and as a way of fixing many of this game's logistical problems]
Yes, the plot of 7 Days (or pretty much any Days game) could take place in virtually any enclosed environment. Submarine, spaceship, desert island, cabin in the woods, underground bunker, oil rig, the interior of a big fuck-off block of concrete. Underwater ones are good, because there's the knowledge you could probably escape if you really tried. It's going to be incredibly difficult, the changes in water pressure are going to fuck your shit up, and you never know when a kraken might be hanging around, but it could be better odds than staying locked up in a safe, warm habitat with a murderer and a selection of his favourite cutting devices.
Funny thing about enclosure (the concept, that is, not the AGI game). It's equally useful in both comedy and horror. It's especially present in British humour - my favourite sit-coms have all had an element of entrapment about them. Groups of main characters who hate each other but are forced to stay together by real or metaphorical barriers. Red Dwarf, Father Ted, Black Books etc.