The Let's Play Archive

The Chzo Mythos

by Quovak

Part 22: Trilby's Notes, Part 5: Horror in July

Trilby's Notes, Part 5: Horror in July

About an hour of caffeine-tranquilizer juggling later, Trilby's liver finally rebels. People have mentioned becoming used to the dark world to the point where it no longer seems all that scary, but I think little things like this go a long way in heightening the sense that something bad may be around the corner despite all past evidence to the contrary.

To my unending concern, I realized that the decay of the alternate hotel had spread, either to me or the pills, and they no longer worked. I had to find a way to restore their effect, or at least another method of calming myself.

I do, however, think the effect would be improved if it was less "This is moderately disconcerting and a reason to formulate a rational plan" and more "Shit, I'm going to die". Trilby's fear is still something we basically have to take his word for.

His super-hearing, on the other hand, is well established for things that aren't pools.

What had once been a kitchen was now some kind of torture room. I found myself wondering whether it was used for extracting information or merely to entertain the alternate hotel's hellish proprietor.

This is probably the creepiest description in the game. Note how it isn't 500 words long.

The AGS engine can only have one ambient sound effect at a time, so the whispering abruptly stops in favor of beetles. If you're trying to immerse yourself during this LP, stop the Tindeck audio and start rolling ball bearings across your desk or putting on Abbey Road.

At least two individuals had met with sticky ends down here. One of them had been almost completely picked clean by the beetles. The other, I noticed, was heavily decayed except for its hand, which was fresh and pink. I wondered if this had something to do with the puddle of water it was lying in.

These are rare carnivorous evil beetles, however. Maybe the Prince's murdering spree is just getting food for his evil pets so he can convince his mom he's finally responsible enough to handle that evil puppy instead.

This is what happens when you die, fitting the framing device and staying true to the Chzo series' general approach to logic.

Agent #1: So, I found this discussion of flesh-eating beetles in Trilby's notebook next to Trilby's clothes next to a skeleton next to some flesh-eating beetles. What do you think happened?

Agent #2: No way to know. Consider him MIA.

Despite devouring Trilby in about five seconds, a small piece of meat occupies them for the next day or two. Now, time for an experiment. The next block of text is entirely unedited; read it aloud and remember the context:

It was almost as if the water was drawing me to it, not like a scrabbling thing in my mind like the chisel or the painting, but more like a beckoning siren. I couldn't help myself. I crouched down and dipped my hand in - it felt uncommonly refreshing - and brought an amount up to my lips, my unhygienic surroundings forgotten. I began to feel in the back of my mind the familiar tickling sensation that indicated a reality shift, so I swiftly scooped a few drops of the liquid into my pill bottle, shaking it through the remaining pills.

Siobhan has disappeared, the hotel staff are being murdered despite what Yahtzee might otherwise imply, Trilby might be trapped in the dark world barring some meditation or light jazz, evil visions are clouding his mind, and he decides to lean against a wall and tell his journal 99 words about drinking water. This is why I abridge text.

You might notice that single wine bottle drawing a lot of attention to itself. You can't pick it up yet because Yahtzee ran out of ways to work backtracking into his game design.

On the bright side, flashbacks are still pretty effective.

In addition to being unable to respond in any way, you also can't move very far away from the manacles which clearly aren't imprisoning you.

Have you seen Siobhan?
I was about to ask you that.
I hope you don't intend to seduce her away from my service!
Abed, you need to understand. There is something evil in this hotel, and it's closing in fast.
Mr. Railby, I have been over this hotel several times. Please keep your fairy stories in the playroom where they belong.

The reality shifts happen based on your mood, so apparently "Let's write about water" Trilby is much less stable than increasingly arbitrarily abrasive Abed. Abed has been chewing you out over things and being irate for a while without shifting, while Trilby shifts if he paces too long. He'll deal with that bipolarity problem some day, though I guess the substance abuse probably doesn't help.

Do you know anything about an inn called the Unicorn?
Ah, you noticed my shingle. I picked it up as a curiosity at an antique fair a couple of years ago. Dates all the way back to the Elizabethan period, from what I understand. But I just can't find a buyer for the damn thing. Don't suppose you have any clients who might go for it?
Possibly. Do I have your permission to examine it?
Of course, by all means do so, as long as you're not going to test its strength over your knee or anything.

Experiment part 2: What Trilby writes down when he touches some wood.

The shingle's design was a simple one of a unicorn's head in half-profile, painted with average ability on a dark oak backing. As I pressed my fingertips to it, however, the design seemed to extrude from its backing, like a hologram, and seemed to draw closer until my vision was filled with woodgrain and mediocre brushstrokes. I could vaguely detect the professor speaking to me, on the very edge of my senses, but by the time I realized it I was already gone.

Cliff's Notes: He touched it. Maybe, before working on this game, Yahtzee had just read an extraordinary amount of Charles Dickens with all the characterization removed.

Owen Somerset, a traveling merchant, was on his way back to his wife and family in London, having concluded some business dealings in Ceredigion. Caught suddenly by a summer storm, he spied an inn by the side of the road and marveled at his good fortune.

So far, Owen wins the implausible ancestor award, keeping his family name intact for a little under an entire millennium.

Faith, tis an evil storm that blights the sky tonight.

Every single character in this game looks like they had their face beaten in by a frying pan a few minutes prior, but the innkeeper definitely wins the facial deformity contest. [Insert effective transition] You have to "Talk innkeeper about room" or something similar about five times during this conversation. I'm ignoring this.

I must have the Almighty on my side to find myself so close to an inn as it broke out.
Aye, perhaps.
The innkeeper seemed quite taciturn, but Owen was in a good mood, and was determined for it not to leave him.
Would it be possible to secure a bed for the night?
Go from this place and never return. There is a curse upon this inn. I will not have an innocent doomed to the same fate as I. The devil cannot be bought off, my friend.

Locking the door or removing the signs that clearly label this as an inn might be slightly more effective than giving cryptic warnings to everyone who walks inside, but I'm a man of tradition.

What devil? What is the nature of this curse?
From the wood of a fallen oak he stumbled upon on an island north of here. This inn has been a curse on our bloodline ever since. Madness and death claim those who stay here. Soon, I am certain it will claim me.

I still marvel at the fact that the occult is somehow kept secret in this universe. I get the fact that the Prince basically operates on the Fargo strategy of "kill everyone who sees me kill someone who knew someone I killed once", but it seems impossible to do anything in late July without tripping over some ancient curse or source of black magic.

Speaking of late July, this flashback takes place 200 years before the UK's adoption of the Gregorian calender. So nice of the murderous occult figures to adjust their arc date schedule alongside it.

So why do you remain?
I do not believe in fleeing from the mistakes of the past. If the Almighty wills that my family must pay for our errors... But I would not see another suffer for our sins. Leave now, before the shadows take you.

He more or less assumes that his family is being punished, even though his own words suggest that the curse has nothing to do with him and more to do with the inn itself. This still puts his will to live higher than some, though.

Sir, I have little patience for fables, and even less for riding after Sundown in the middle of a downpour. Lend me a room, and I shall take the responsibility for my own well-being. Not only will I insist, but I will pay whatever price you ask.
Go then. Take the upstairs room. And if you remain by the morn, you shall pay nothing at all.

Well, if you're insistent enough to ask me for a full thirty seconds, I guess I can put aside my moral code and be complicit in your murder, just this once.

In the early hours of the morning, something jolted Owen from his slumber. A piercing sound? No, a piercing smell. Someone had lit a fire by the door, filling the inn with a burning smell.

The two are so easily confused, after all. Note that "the upstairs room" basically just means the only room in the entire inn.

I love this line. Equally presumably, Owen is five years old and just wet the bed.

Good thing that sheet didn't catch fire. Or the door. Or the inn. The great fire-glass efficacy swap has served humanity incredibly well.

It's him! The innkeeper!

Alas, poor Owen Somerset. He just wanted to find a nice place. To sleep.

Sharply disproving my original idea that it came from a lake in the sky.

Could that have been Clanbronwyn Island? Given what I was seeing, it seemed a valid, if worrying, possibility. Besides that, it seemed, I had no other leads. So what would I do? I was determined not to let the trail end there. If there were just a single clue...

Trilby, I know you are following a trail. Go to the roof if you wish to proceed. -Lenkmann.

Victim 2: The Innkeeper

1. The second Man who desired judgment was the Innkeeper, who had bought the wood of the Tree and built from it his house. The Prince came to him and his guest, and he struck the Innkeeper down, and the Innkeeper knew the name of the King.
2. And the Prince turned to the Innkeeper's guest, and he said "You I shall not let live, for once before have I made this warning, and still my Soul aches with what is done to the wood that is my Soul, and I will spare no Man who injures me in this way."
3. And the Innkeeper's guest knew the name of the King.

Don't you love survival horror files that completely contradict the plot they're trying to explain? Less than a minute ago the innkeeper himself flat out said "This inn has been a curse on our bloodline ever since [we cut down the tree]", but apparently the truth is closer to "This inn has been a curse on our bloodline ever since I built this inn a little while ago".

And no, the innkeeper's home is not a different place than the inn, because Owen clearly hurt the wood himself, probably by walking on the floor at some point.

If you're not going to get me a drink you can shove off.

This is the point of that wine from earlier. It's just meant to distract you and act as an event flag because, as the rest of this update will demonstrate, Yahtzee was going through backtracking withdrawals and felt a need to compensate.

He shifted.
Abed's drunken misery had caused him to shift into the dark hotel. The jolly man of whom I had grown fond lay decapitated on the floor. With Siobhan's disappearance, I was now truly alone. The professor had known nothing of the horror. He was blameless and ignorant of any matter involving DeFoe Manor or a cursed idol. But it seemed my dark captor cared little for these facts.
Why haven't you killed me too, you skinny bastard? If you can do it so easily, so quickly, why won't you face me?

He did. You kicked him in the face and then rifled through someone's stuff. We had a wonderful time.

In a display of a warped sense of humor, the porcelain head was sitting where Abed's old one had been. I pulled the head out of the stump, trying not to think about the wet cracking noise this caused.

Oh no, another racial minority is dead, having shifted due to getting drunk on wine we didn't get him. Really, given how easy it is to shift hotels, I'm surprised they could get anyone to take a job over the summer months.

Anyway, we now get to go around collecting body parts. There's also one in the lobby and one near the empty safe. Keep in mind these are porcelain, which would presumably be either very heavy, very fragile, or both, and thus would probably be at least a bit uncomfortable to carry up three flights of stairs.

At least there are more hallucinations to take our mind off things. This area will be showing up in a bit.

This puzzle is basically the crowbar puzzle from earlier mixed in with the early-game key collecting from the first Silent Hill. Next time, we'll go to the normal hotel and onto the roof, which I'm sure will be described in some detail.