Part 20: Trilby's Notes, Part 3: Block of Wood May Contain Soul.
Trilby's Notes, Part 3: Block of Wood May Contain Soul.
When Yahtzee was looking through the first two games to figure out which parts to keep and which to discard, he decided that he loved the infodumps but hated the way they pretended to be interactive. As a result, he made exposition about all of this available in magic pieces of paper, right at home under magic paintings that can survive a triple-homicide and a house being burned down.
Nonetheless, these info dumps are perhaps my favorite part of the series, because I don't have to type them out since Yahtzee did that for me. Let's copy-paste from a Word Document!
Victim 5: The Child
1. The fifth Man who desired judgment was the Child, whose father held in his possession the carving of the Slave. The Prince came to him and was at once rightly pleased with what he found, for the house of the Child and his father already knew well the name of the King.
2. And as the Prince watched, the Child was thrown down by his father and broken with the wood of the Prince's Soul, but as the Child's Body, Mind and Soul began to drift apart, the Prince held them together, and he said
3. "You are the Child, and to you I grant power, for I see in you the potential that will grant my father, the King, his greatest wish. You shall be not of the land of Technology, nor of the realm of Magick, but of both, and thus you shall form the Bridge.
4. "And across the Bridge the King shall come to bring his message to the Men of Technology. Through you, Child, the Bridge will come, and thus I name you the Bridgekeeper."
5. And the Prince touched the Child, and he was the Bridgekeeper, and his three aspects were granted power, so that his Soul would join with the Prince's Soul in the wood of the Tree.
6. And the Bridgekeeper rose up and threw down his father and threw down his brother, and truly did they know the name of the King. And into the house of his father went the Body and the Mind of the Bridgekeeper.
This won't fully make sense until the end of the game, but here's the basic idea: The Prince (The Tall Man) has a soul made of wood, which in turn was made into an idol. John was beaten with it, then went into the kitchen to put on an outfit, then killed his dad and brother, then buried them in the basement, then took off the outfit, then hung his brother's painting on the wall, then ran upstairs to bury himself under some tiles. During this, The Prince was so impressed that he made John the bridgekeeper, since being a retarded youth who gets beaten to death with some wood entitles you to become a supernatural figure the same way that waving a teddy bear entitles you to join a secret government agency. John's soul begins to hang around in the wood and keep the Machiavelli book company while his body and mind become parts of the house. Burning the house down does little to negate this.
Basically, lie to yourself and pretend that any of this was established earlier. The sooner you can do that the sooner you can pretend this makes sense.
We can now take the matches that miraculously appeared and start exploring the less evil hotel. We can also question how these stairs would actually work in three dimensions, since it basically entails having a U-shaped hallway with a stairway leading right into a narrow bottleneck.
The idea is to light a match and hold it under this smoke detector, since causing arbitrary panic and a mad rush through blocked U-shaped halls is a brilliant idea and taking puzzles from Killer7 is an even better one.
Somehow, though, the Suda puzzle manages to be more sensical, albeit only slightly. In Killer7, the smoke detector caused exactly one sprinkler to go off very passively for about two seconds. In Trilby's Notes, it causes exactly one of the three fire escape doors to unlock while not offering anything in the way of warning to anybody who might start burning. It also flashes an evil figure to laugh at the people who would inevitably perish if there were to actually be a fire. Safety first.
In a move that should surprise no-one, the fire escape leads to a walled-off field, meaning that anybody who wanted to escape the burning hotel would have to hop a ten-foot fence that would probably also be on fire.
We can safely add architects to the ever-growing list of People in the Chzo Mythos I'm Amazed Can Even Breathe, a list which so far includes every single person in the Chzo Mythos.
We can do a bit of exploring now that the hotel isn't whispering to us rather aggressively. The hotel's paint budget ran low and Trilby has a boring hotel room, but there's little else of notice.
Going outside makes the hotel hate me again. Thankfully, I can fix the problem with drugs.
Alright, let's explain what's going on.
Every time you transition between rooms, an invisible counter goes up by one. Once that counter gets above a certain value, I believe 8, you have a random chance of shifting hotels every time you leave a room. Taking a tranquilizer pill relaxes you, making it so that the next room transition will make things non-scary again.
If this were all that happened, however, you would just pop pills every few seconds and never have to listen to creepy whispering. To counter this, taking pills also results in a random chance that you'll hallucinate. Hallucinations come in several different forms, all of which are marked by the "it hurts" arc words coming up in response to prompts, and many of which are scarier than the dark hotel due to catching you completely off guard. Showing up in space is always the first one, but from then on it's also randomized which one you end up getting. This is my personal favorite, since there's nothing to alert you to the fact that you're hallucinating. We'll see plenty more of these.
We need to walk around a bit until things become dark again, which is easily accomplished by repeatedly entering the same door. The dark hotel shows off its evil by somehow breaking a huge bar of iron because you applied a little bit of leverage to it. Note how the game doesn't bother to explain why a bent crowbar is useless, seeing as the entire point of a crowbar lies in it being bent.
Disregard most of my complaining, however, because this is an interesting puzzle that fits into the setting and only requires a bit of downstairs -> backyard -> downstairs backtracking. Yahtzee's learning, and even the backtracking isn't so bad. The shifting mechanics make walking around actually interesting since you never know what's going to happen when you enter a room, and that whispering kicking in is essentially a mini jump scare every transition.
Professor Chahal's antique show was as sparse as its small venue would indicate. A couple of tables were laid out with various trinkets, and a charred rocking chair was the centerpiece.
In the above screenshot, you can see a bottle of soda on the small table above Triby. This has the opposite effect as the pills, automatically boosting the nervousness stat so as to force a light -> dark shift. It's a fairly useless item since walking in and out of a door a bit will do the same thing, but I like the idea of Trilby alternating between taking caffeine and tranquilizers every five seconds like a truck driver who's also a meth addict.
It was a very old make of chisel rusted and probably very fragile. As the professor had described, the words "Sea Angel" were carved into the handle. Again, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the artifact. My fingertips were already extending towards it, as if drawn by a magnet.
This game has an incredibly short attention span.
He had had respect. A great house, a slew of beautiful women, children to make any father proud. But through one mistake, it had all been torn away.
It's no secret that I find minor typographical errors funny for no reason. As such, I think the fact that his "great house was ruin" is incredibly amusing. Don't look at me like that.
Mbouta was strong. Perhaps he could have lived as a slave. But then came the sickness. A simple fever, no doubt to be gone the next day, but the white men took no chances and threw him overboard. For days, Mbouta drifted, waiting for the black cloud of death to descend. But the end did not come, then.
Good lord. Look upon it, men. The greatest evidence we have of humanity's inherent evil. Never forget that men, sailors such as you and I, did this, left this poor wretch to die. No, I do not know how those devils can have the audacity to still call themselves human. Today, there is no pride in being an Englishman. Find our new passenger some quarters. Make him comfortable.
Ah, good to see that politically correct history exists suddenly. I especially love the "Today" aspect, as though slavery was a cruel fad that started a few years ago.
These were not the slavers. The ship was different, less crowded with terrified black faces. There was anger in the voices of the white men, but not directed at Mbouta. Still frightened, but somewhat reassured, Mbouta passed out.
He decided that it had been the will of the gods that he should survive, and that proper thanks would be in order. An idol, that was the answer. If he could just find some suitable wood and a sharp blade, he would carve the finest idol of his life.
Time to point out some of the weirder aspects of the perspective switching:
>Look at Men
For one thing, vocabulary can get annoying as with all text parsers. More to the point, however, there's no consistency with person, since Mbouta is doing things in the third person while Trilby fails to understand commands in the first person.
There are also a lot of generic responses that stay the same no matter who you're controlling. They don't often fit the context, like when Mbouta looks perfectly normal despite having been beaten, tied up, thrown overboard, nearly drowned, and gone without food for several days.
Mbouta can't communicate with the sailors, so you have to ask for the chisel nonverbally. This can be a bit annoying since the text parser doesn't like synonyms here.
A large crate was sitting in the shaft of light, with letter stenciled on that Mbouta did not recognize. It was cheaply made with poor-quality nails, and some of the boards looked ready to fall off.
A young and mentally disabled child with Parkinson's had designed the logo. That child would grow up to design architectural plans (continuity!)
After several hours, Mbouta was very pleased with the result. A fine rendition of his kingdom's god of fertility and good fortune. All that remained now was to return the chisel.
You might notice that this doesn't fit the previous flashback. Apparently a member of a tribe connected with slavery made an idol fashioned after a god. This was done during a time in which that group of people were still being traded as slaves. Somehow this convinced Roderick's friend that the idol must have been a fake. Also, you get three guesses as to what happens to Mr. Racial Minority III upon carving an idol around July 28. First two don't count.
By this point, the phrase "it hurts" starts to show up about as often as the word "the".
The vision faded, and I felt myself being hurled forcefully back into the present day. That tall, thin creature, that black-clad ghoul, what was its significance to my predicament? Why did it appear again and again throughout history to spread death and horror? There was no connection to the idol's shape, or Mbouta's tribal deities. The tall man was no fertility god. It must have been connected to that crate, somehow. There had been a name on that crate. Mbouta hadn't been able to read it, but I, looking through his eyes, had. Omalley Shipping. Could the owner have been an ancestor of Siobhan? It was a filmsy possibility, but at that point, my only lead. I resolved to discuss this with Siobhan at the earliest opportunity.
We can now read another infodump page that I still don't have to type.
Victim 4: The Slave
1. The fourth Man who desired judgment was the Slave, who had not been brought Frehorn's message, and who cruelly tormented the wood that was the Prince's Soul with a sharpened blade. The Prince came to him and he struck the Slave down, and the Slave knew the name of the King.
2. And the Prince said, "Not one of your household shall I leave alive, Slave, for thrice now have I brought my warning, and any who still fail to heed shall be named as Fool and judged most unworthy in our sight."
Either that or I'll give their son supernatural powers and have him hang out with me in some wood. It's more or less a crapshoot.
And suddenly the games have a story. You guys should speculate about it.
The Mephistopheles hallucination doesn't always come first, it's supposed to be completely random. [Editor's Note: He's right; I just happened to get it first all thee times I've played the game] Once you've seen a hallucination, though, you'll never see that one again. If the next random check calls for a hallucination you've seen before, it gets cancelled. This way, hallucinations also get slightly less common as time passes. Which makes sense from a pacing perspective.
I know people have brought up Silent Hill a lot but the game that probably suffered the most rip-offitude was Eternal Darkness - sanity effects, flashbacks through history and evil Lovecraftian gods. If you combine two ripoffs together, it makes something new, right?
Gameplay-wise I always saw the world-switching mechanic as having more in common with one of the Zelda games (I think it was Oracle of Ages?), since you manually switch the world to solve puzzles (although it changes by itself to an extent). In Silent Hills the transitions were always scripted. Except in Silent Hill Origins, that one let you go back and forth, but all it really did was give you twice as many rooms to search for health drinks in.
If anyone's interested, on the subject of Trilby's age, he's supposed to be 31 in Notes, which takes place in 1997 (as the locker in 7 Days suggests). I made the effort to work out his personal timeline at the time I made the game. 5 Days was 4 years previously (2 years before his arrest) and Art of Theft was 2 years before then. I don't know what it is with me and 2 years, just seems like a good amount of time for offscreen character building.
Also, in a short story I wrote called Trilby And The Ghost, I pulled out of my arse that he had been active as a cat burglar for 7 years.
That means his history was as follows:
1988: Aged 22. First took up cat burgling.
1991: Aged 25. Events of Art of Theft.
July 23rd-28th (probably) 1993: Aged 27. Events of 5 Days A Stranger.
Circa 1995: Aged 29. Arrest and employment by government.
July 28th 1997: Aged 31. Events of Trilby's Notes.
Not terribly interesting, but I like statistics. Puts a context on things.