The Let's Play Archive

The Submachine Series

by Carbon dioxide

Part 7: Submachine 4: The Lab

Part 7
Submachine 4: The Lab

Click here to play the game yourself.

It's time to get started with the next game in the main series, The Lab. This game is quite a bit larger than the ones before it. This game was released in 2007, and introduces what is probably the most important game mechanic of the entire series. But we'll have to find that first.

... bring it to the statue ...
... you should arrive at the lab ...

We find ourselves where we left off at the end of Submachine 3, still falling through the endless rooms. Leaving the Loop, we somehow end up on this rooftop. Are we outside? Is the Loop floating above this building? I don't know.

On the windowsill to the right, we find the first item of many in this game, a Hammer.

These areas are to the left of the starting point. The only thing we can do right now is climb down the ladder.

We haven't found any keys yet, but even in Submachine, sometimes the solution is brute force.

A good hammer blow does wonders on a padlock. Let's go inside.

Thumpmonks - Submachine 4 - Attic Rumble
This isn't really music, more like background ambience, but for me, while exploring I'd suddenly become aware of one of those loud creaks, and it's actually a bit scary.

We grab some Naphthalene in the form of moth balls from the lab coat's pocket. We'll go right first.

Here's another phonograph like the one we saw in the Lighthouse. But it doesn't do anything. What we need to grab is the Rubbertube hanging from the ceiling, which might be hard to notice on your first playthrough.

Further to the right, I pick up a Chimneybrush hiding in the corner, and also the first of 21 Secrets from the chair. In this game, collecting all the Secrets does have a purpose, which you'll see later. The radio has the same snippets of music and unintelligible speech as the one in the Lighthouse.

If we drop the chimney brush into the chimney from above, a lot of soot comes out, along with a Doorkey. That's how you sweep chimneys, right? Just throw in a brush and hope for the best?

Going left from the ladder, first we find this yellow Key hanging from the rack. In the next room, there's a table with some stuff on it we can't interact with, but we can take the Gashandle that's hidden behind the leftmost table leg.

The Doorkey from the chimney opens this door. The second Secret is lying on the bottom right of this landing.

Thumpmonks - Submachine 4 - The Lab

Down in the actual Lab, we find this rather strange looking machine to the left. There's another Secret sitting slightly behind the waste bin.

Turns out the device is a computer. The keyboard is broken, but we can press a button to send a ping somewhere. And Mur himself replies!

Conversation with Mur posted:

(@mur): who is this?
(@mur): you're at the lab?
(@mur): and you don't have a keyboard??
(@mur): there is an explanation...
You escaped from the loop...
(@mur): didn't you?
(@mur): ok, first of all, you'll need to get to the portal room. It's protected by a steel grating, and if it's closed you'll need to find some way around the main grating lock. As far as I know you won't find keycodes and security passes for it.
(@mur): second thing, once you're at the portal, you'll need coordinates to go to. I have a list on my comp.
(@mur): I'm printing that for you right now.
(@mur): Get to the portal. Start jumping. Maybe you'll be able to find your way through. Good luck. M
Woah. Mur's alive? Well, he got me out of the Loop, so I'm probably best off trusting him. I'll just have to figure out what's up with those coordinates.

That IP address is a real address, which seems to belong to the US Department of Defense. I have no idea why Mateusz picked it, I don't think it has any relevance. If anyone knows more about it, I'd like to hear.

Mur has indeed sent something to the printer. In this game, we get a neat list of the Notes we've found, and the option to make a note of our own. That option just gives us you an empty sheet where you can type whatever you like.

Note 1 posted:

coordinates of known locations:

laboratory: x = 0, y = 0, z = 1
ancient section: x = 1, y = 0, z = 4
looping traps: x = 6, y = 9, z = 0
basement section: x = 5, y = 2, z = 9
lighthouse digouts: x = 4, y = 6, z = 2
tomb trap: x = 7, y = 7, z = 0
the ship: x = 8, y = 0, z = 0

Four teams are exploring the unknown connections.
Most of those places sound familiar. We should keep these coordinates in mind for now.

To the right, there's some machine that doesn't seem to do anything, and the Lighter from Submachine Zero on the windowsill. There's nothing else on this floor, so let's go further down.

On the landing we find what looks like a cheap coffee pot to me, but the game calls it a Beaker. On the ground floor, there's not only a Secret hidden between the bars of the chair on the ground, there's also two Notes on the table.

Note 4 posted:

At first we thought there was just one submachine.

But then Murtaugh came along, and showed us the truth. His ability to create karma portals between locations let him explore more than one third of the submachine net. That took him 32 years. How foolish were we in those early years.

Using his technology we were able to built our own portals to move between dimensions. Now we set up the laboratory, we have reconnaissance exploration teams...

Note 5 posted:

...for submachines, we go on missions into the net trying to discover new places and parts of this greatest puzzle. Murtaugh said once that there is no 'greatest puzzle', no masterplan, no one is controlling this thing. But we think otherwise. There must be a purpose for all of things. We just have to find it. I thought this was all possible, but since Murtaugh deserted us, I'm not so sure anymore. But we found our purpose, we see it clearly. Do you?...
No, we aren't getting the Notes in their numerical order. It doesn't matter. We're learning a lot here. There's multiple submachines, connected in a net, that can be explored using portals. "One third" of the net took Mur 32 years. This net must be enormous. As Mur noted on the computer, there are now multiple teams exploring the Submachine Net.

But most importantly, we finally got Mur's full name. It's Murtaugh.

My purpose? I don't know about my purpose, right now I'm still trying to get home. 32 years? I'm really hoping Mur... Murtaugh can help me get out of this Submachine thing.

To the left there's a room with nothing of importance, but at least the door is unlocked.

The taps and the toilet cord don't do anything. Still no water. But there's a bar of Soap on the washbowl, and the fifth Secret is hidden to the left.

To the right of the stairs there's a CD we can take. Let's go up the ladder next.

I still can't get over how weird this place really is. One moment there's the modern-looking technology in those looping rooms, next thing there's some ancient radio in the attic, and some computer that doesn't look like it was made anywhere on Earth... and now a mundane CD? What the hell did I end up in?

At the top of the ladder, we can grab one of the test tubes. The only way to distinguish it, is by noticing that its contents are somewhat purple. The game calls it "Irontrioxide". I suspect it's supposed to be Iron(III) oxide, pronounced iron-three oxide, better known as rust, but as you'll see soon, the chemistry in this game isn't very accurate. And with my nickname, I am obliged to care about that.

To the right, we take the Screwdriver from the table. There's another puzzle in that room, but we can't solve it quite yet. Going back down the ladder and to the right, we find a door that can be opened with the yellow Key from the attic.

Here's the room with the steel grating. Like Mur said, the panel on the wall doesn't seem to react to anything.

What we can do is ring the bell to make the block float, but it doesn't seem to have any effect yet.

What we actually need to do is go all the way back to the rooftop and use the Screwdriver to get the Valve. I don't even know what a valve would be doing there.

Then back down to the bathroom, where we attach the valve to the pipe, knock off the lid on top with the hammer (it's not very obvious that you can do this), and turn the valve to get water flowing from the pipe.

Water! Finally! I don't know where it comes from but I guess I have no choice...

Hmm, it tastes surprisingly fresh.

Anyway, we fill the Beaker with water, and return to the room with the Bunsen burner, because we now have all parts for this puzzle. I don't know if you noticed last time we were here, but there's a Secret on the ground next to the pipe. Let's not forget that one.

By the way, other than it being HD, there aren't a lot of changes between this version and the HD version of the game. But all the HD versions seem to be using the same game engine... which has an inventory limit. You'll usually won't notice, but when I tried playing through the HD version picking up as much items as possible before solving any puzzles, I hit the inventory limit and had to use up some items before I could continue. It's a small annoyance that doesn't occur in the standard version of Submachine 4.

First, we connect the burner to the pipe using the Rubbertube, and we also attach the Gashandle to the pipe. Next, we turn both the Gashandle and the knob on the Bunsen burner, and light a nice blue flame with our Lighter.

Next, we place the Fullbeaker on top, and add the Soap, Irontrioxide and Naphthalene to the beaker, in that exact order. The game won't accept any other order.

Finally, we take the beaker with Acidioxide, and we also grab the empty test tube (Tester). Optionally, if you care about lab safety like I do, you can turn the gas off to kill the flame. Anyway, the wiki seems to think the acidic oxide has to be acetic anhydride, which doesn't make much sense. But it's right in saying that if you put soap, rust and naphthalene together, nothing much would happen at all. You certainly wouldn't form some strong acid.

Anyway, before moving on, we take a quick trip back to the bathroom to fill the test tube with water. We'll be needing that later.

In the steel grating room, we pour the Acidioxide over the panel. I like to think it's just short-circuiting and the 'acid' doesn't have anything to do with it. The protagonist could just have poured plain old tap water on it and the same thing would've happened.

Hell yeah! I'm the chemistry master! I can't believe that actually worked...

Beyond the steel grating is the portal device, and another note.

Note 2 posted:

Our mission has just started. Murtaugh taught us the necessity of writing notes and leaving them behind in locations they were made in. That's for leaving a trace in case somebody got lost. But we are all well trained, nothing bad is going to happen. Not this time.

This is just in case. We're moving from here to the ship section, our mission is to get to the upper deck of
that ship. Over and out.
I wonder how long ago they left that note. Murtaugh said there's four teams out there, maybe they can help me get out.

Beyond this second steel grating, there's what seems to be an exit door. We can't reach it, though.

Now that we've reached the portal, here's Mur's list of coordinates:
laboratory: 001; ancient section: 104; looping traps: 690; basement section: 529; lighthouse digouts: 462; tomb trap: 770; the ship: 800.

Let's try punching in 001 to see how this thing works.

A bit of a flash, but nothing seems to have happened. But we're already in the Lab, aren't we? Let's try the next set of coordinates, to the Ancient Section.

Holy shit, where am I?

Let's explore this new area a bit.

Thumpmonks - Ancient Section

To start with, we go right and climb down the ladder, where we can find these stone switches.

To the left of the switches is this room. The plate on the wall moves if we move the switches that correspond to the markings on the plate (the switch with a horizontal line and the one with a vertical line). Strangely enough, we have to move the switches down to move the plate up. Anyway, behind the plate we find a Stonekey to pick up. There's also a Secret hidden among the rubble to the left, but I forgot to pick it up for a bit.

To the right of the switch room, there's a room with several things to do. Another one of those bells with a floating block. I'll ring this one too, but it still doesn't do anything. I grab the Knife as well, and change the switches to the right position to open the plate, hiding another stone object which the game calls a 'Blocade'. I'm not completely sure what that means. Sometimes, the fact that Mateusz isn't a native English speaker becomes quite obvious. It's no problem, the games are completely comprehensible. Besides, I'm not a native English speaker either, and I'm always messing around trying to get the little language details right in my posts, so I have no right to complain at all.

Below the switch room, there's this place. We can't do anything here yet, except grab the Secret that's very sneakily hidden in the eye of the statue.

There was another wall plate above the switch room. It contains the first of four triangular Tiles which you might remember from the very first Submachine game.

A ladder comes down to let us up when we put the the Stonekey and the Blocade in the slots. Before going up, there's another Tile behind the plate to the right. I'm cutting out a lot of running back to the switch room to get each plate to move.

Up the ladder, there's a broken wall plate. Apply the Hammer to reveal another Secret. It's quite well hidden if you don't realize you can use the Hammer a second time.

Further up, we find the third Tile behind a plate.

All the way up the pillar, there's a Tile just hanging from a rope. When we cut it with our Knife, it falls down.

And it lands next to the switches. The Tiles go in the rather obvious slots down below. This makes the tiny plate in the middle move up, revealing some sort of screw.

We don't need the Screwdriver for this one. When I click it, the screw turns inwards, and there's a sound of shifting stones. As it turns out, a new ladder appeared near the portal. Meanwhile, I picked up the Secret from the rubble I forgot before.

Up the new ladder, first of all I grab the Coil. Secondly, let's take a look through that telescope.

Some kind of red brick structure off in the distance. Have we seen red bricks anywhere before?

Further to the left, we find another note.

Note 3 posted:

We haven't even started exploring this ancient section and our coil is already dead. Probably someone forgot to recharge it. But the situation is serious.

We don't know the numbers for basement section. The coordinates are back at headquarters, and clearly we can't go back there anymore.

We'll try blind jumps as soon as we get a connection, but where will we end up I simply don't know.
Okay, so the coil seems to be act as some kind of battery? That's good to know. There's quite a few good hints in these notes, if you just take the time to read them thoroughly. Blind jumps, though? That sounds like a good way to get lost. I hope they're okay.

That big thing looks like some kind of lamp, but it won't turn on. No wonder, I took their battery away. And the coil's got no juice left anyway. Let's see if we can see anything through this telescope.

It's just too dark. We'll have to come back here with a recharged coil.

laboratory: 001; ancient section: 104; looping traps: 690; basement section: 529; lighthouse digouts: 462; tomb trap: 770; the ship: 800.

We've done everything in the ancient section we can. Let's move on to the Looping Traps.

Next time. This update is long enough as it is. I hope you're starting to appreciate how large the Submachine Net actually is. The percentage of Secrets I found so far is a reasonable estimate of how far we are into Submachine 4.