The Let's Play Archive

The Submachine Series

by Carbon dioxide

Part 17: Submachine: 32 Chambers

Part 17
Submachine: 32 Chambers

Submachine 4: The Lab posted:

Need water. Must find water. Not much, one drop would be enough. Just one drop of water. All I see is sand, 32 chambers filled with sand as I remember.

Write down the coordinates, he said. Wish I have done that. I need water.
Just a drop...

Click here to play the game yourself.

Welcome back! Today we're tackling the final side game, and explore the 32 Chambers.

The origin story for this game is rather funny. Casual game review site Jay is Games did a game design competition with the theme "Sandbox". This reminded Mateusz of the Note he put in Submachine 4. He made a game about these 32 chambers filled with sand... and won the competition by a landslide victory. Apparently it didn't matter that it wasn't a sandbox genre game.

Thumpmonks - Submachine 32 - Ambient

It seems we are playing as one of the original explorers, possibly the person who left that note. Anyway, let's get the hell out of here, I'm not sure if this place is safe.

Well, shit.

This area is themed around Meso-American cultures. There's a Mayan glyph in the back, and apparently our explorer can read ancient languages. This glyph is here to greet us. Also, to the right, partially obscured by the rock, we find a Jadeite. Let's go left.

The box has a box glyph on it. Clicking it opens it, making a bunch of sand flow out, and revealing an object.

The Bacab(wiki) were four Mayan(wiki) gods holding up the sky. They also had to do with the progression of the years, but Wikipedia doesn't say anything about the seasons.

I don't know much about Mayan culture, so if any reader has anything to add, go right ahead. Anyway, clicking the air glyph in the back opens up some kind of vent we can crawl through.

There's a second Jadeite in the vent. We pick it up and climb down to find an exit. I'm keeping a room count to the right of the images, by the way. These parts of the vent are 3 and 4.

The game calls that broomstick thing a Lever Handle, so we pick it up. There's also a Jadeite very sneakily hidden in the sand on the left side. Most of the puzzles in this game are about getting the gemstones, and they are required for beating the game, so if you miss this one you have to come back later and possibly search everywhere before you find it.


Compare the floor on this picture to the last one if you want to see where the Jadeite actually was.

You can climb up here to another area. I cut off the HUD from the top part so you can more easily see the complete picture. It is an actual Mayan relief, found on the sarcophagus of a Mayan king, Pacal the Great(wiki), although it's shown upside down here. Apparently some groups of conspiracy theorists believe it shows a guy piloting a rocket ship, supposedly proving that the ancients had contact with extraterrestrials.

In any case, it is hard to see, but the top left of the relief holds the Winter Bacab Plate. Luckily the cursor changes when you're hovering over an object you can interact with. Let's climb back down and explore to the right.

Here we have an Olmec face. As I understand it, the Olmecs(wiki) were a similar but distinct culture from the Mayas, possibly their predecessors. Anyway, we plug in the Lever Handle, push it upwards, and hear a sound that reminds me of an hourglass emptying.

We opened up something in the relief room. Down in the tunnel we grab the Wooden Stick standing against the left wall.

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm counting clearly connected parts of rooms as separate chambers, and why I'm also counting tunnels... well, let's get back to that question when we finish this game.

In this room, we pick up the Wooden Bowl from the stand above the door. We can also push down the rod in the back, but it pops right back up, and we don't have anything that kan keep it down.

The message shown on the left is from the glyphs. According to the Submachine wiki these are all real Mayan glyphs, but Mateusz gave them a new meaning for the game.

To the right we find Ixtab(wiki), the Mayan goddess of suicide. It's hard to believe, but apparently the Mayans believed that in certain circumstances, suicide was a honorable way to die, and was a sure ticket to the Mayan version of heaven. I guess in a way it's similar to the more recent Japanese way of ritual suicide, seppuku.

Clicking on the center stone plate cycles it through four 'elements'. We simply follow the hint in the last room, in order. So we leave the plate in this room to show 'air'.

In the next room we put the plate on 'wind', and pick up our 4th Jadeite from the floor (back right).

In the furthest room to the right, we put the plate on 'fire', which immediately locks all plates in place and opens up something, somewhere. The box contains a Round Stone, which we'll be needing later.

A ladder opened up in the room with the hint, taking us down into the 15th room.

Pushing our Wooden Stick into the hole in the wall makes a wall shift, so we can grab our first Topaz. If you look carefully, you'll see there's also another Jadeite sitting on the third ladder step from the bottom.

Downstairs we find a rather dangerous looking area. The spears that shoot out when your mouse cursor gets close make a reappearance.

Going right, we find an easy to grab Jadeite. Apparently this statue in the room beyond that is from the Toltec culture(wiki). The Aztecs considered the Toltec culture their cultural and intellectual predecessors, in the same way westerners often think about the ancient Greeks and Romans. And that's four Meso-American cultures I've mentioned already: Maya, Olmec, Toltec, and Aztec(wiki).

Anyway, the glyphs to the bottom translate to, from left to right: "Water", "Refutation / Denial / Rejection", and "Drink". Another hint - we have to deny the statue a drink of water. Can you think of anything available we could put in his chalice that would indicate the opposite of a drink of water?

If you said sand, well done! To the right we find a head in the wall which vomits sand when we turn the wheel.

We can use the Wooden Bowl to catch some. It doesn't look like it when it's sitting in the inventory, but it fits on those iron bars perfectly. And no, I don't know why the game won't let me grab sand from one of the piles elsewhere.

The sand goes into the chalice, and our clumsy researcher drops the bowl down into the abyss. Nothing seems to happen at first, but something opened up elsewhere. Fun bit of trivia: according to the wiki, this is the only room in the entire series where it's possible to render a game unwinnable. There's a bug, it's possible to leave this room before the animation has finished. If you do so, you lose the bowl and the next part never triggers. This was clearly unintentional - in some cases the puzzles of Submachine get deviously hard, but they never get unfair.


One room to the left, a rope was lowered. It seems the vertical wall here has to do with the Mayan Calendar.

Anyway, we pick up the Spring Bacab Plate from all the way up top, just above the little arch above the calendar. To the right we find a door and a 'mole glyph' with a down-pointing arrow.

The latter is a hint that you can remove a floor panel here to get the 2nd Topaz. To the right are a pair of Pokeballs that turn when you click on them.

Anyway, through the open door (it wasn't locked) we find... a wall blocking our progress.

The left Pokeball rotates this wall, letting us pick up the Stone Cone and letting us through to the next room.

The next chamber is still blocked off. We need the right Pokeball to turn this wall. As a slight complication, turning the right Pokeball also turns the left one (but not vice versa), so you need to get the right wall correct first, then also move the left one back into the correct position.

After turning the wall a bit, we see a ladder going further down, and some kind of switch. We still can't pass, though.

That looks better.

Down here, we're blocked by sand, but at least we find the Weightstone. Time for a bit of backtracking.

The Weightstone is used to hold down the rod here. Most of the puzzles in 32 Chambers are rather straightforward. The difficult part is finding all the objects you need.

Pushing down the rod removes the sand in chamber 25, letting us climb down to... more sand.

To the left, we find a second Round Stone. I'm not sure what this is a statue of. There's no description on mouse-over and the wiki doesn't seem to mention it either.

To the right of the ladder we just took down, we find a gate with a symbol that looks like the switch in the Pokeball wall room. We'll get back to that.

In the rightmost room (the 29th, we're getting there!), there's a statue with the 7th Jadeite on its forehead. The wiki does have an entry on this one: It's a stela, or commemorative statue, to honor a Mayan king of Copán, Honduras(wiki).

Now, to open the gate, we have to use the Pokeball panel in the lower room in order to reach the switch up the ladder.

This gives us access to the last part of these Submachine ruins.

We end up in the boring looking room to the right. The room to the left has a lot of stuff.

First off, the box contains the 3rd Topaz. Secondly, according to the glyph, the drawing on the wall is of Ah Puch. Wikipedia tells me this name is related to the Maya "Death Gods"(wiki), however it only appears in later writings, so it was probably not an original Maya name.

Finally, putting the Stone Cone on the stone on the floor makes a pillar rise, and unlocks something next door with a series of clicks.

Stairs have appeared there. Before we climb them, let's also look at the right room. According to the glyph, this is a drawing of Chak Chel(wiki), also known as Ix Chel, the 16th century name of the Mayan goddess of medicine and midwifery. An opposite to the Death God in the other room, I suppose.

We pick up the Summer Bacab Plate from near the feet of the goddess. The Tooth glyph is the one to the bottom right. Clicking on it gives us access to the final Jadeite.

The ending is up the stairs, but we need one more Topaz to activate it, so let's backtrack and get that first. Another little annoyance that shouldn't be a puzzle but becomes one anyway, in order to leave through the gate, you need to click in front of the stairs, because you walked straight in. All other transitions in 32 Chambers allow sideways exits so you might've forgotten that this is a thing.

We need to go all the way back to Olmec, near the very beginning of the game. The two Round Stones are his eyes. Now, what we need to do is lure him into a lava pit and claim the gold as our own.

Well no, that's another really good game. The head simply opens its mouth and we can grab the Topaz.

And here we are! Up the stairs, Chamber 33 of 32, this is where you find out you're in trouble if you missed any gemstones.

We put the Jadeites in the outer ring and the four Bacab Plates in the inner part.

Next we have to turn each ring until it matches up with the rest. When you get a ring right, it locks in place.

After matching up the outer rings, we can fit in the Topaz crystals in and turn the inner rings.

Thumpmonks - Submachine 32 - Monks

Finally, we move the face right side up in order to finish the game. This complex looking object is actually an Aztec relic, the Aztec Calendar Stone(wiki), also known as the Sun Stone, dug up in Mexico City.

It seems to act like a Stargate.

Thumpmonks - Submachine 32 - Outro

And it ends on, well, this note. 21-12-2012 is the date the long count of the Mayan calender ended. The long count lasts roughly 5000 years, and for some reason people were convinced this was the end of the world. This game was released in 2010, when the Mayan calender thing was quite hyped.

7137 is close to the date when the current long count ends. Mateusz apparently said later that this means that in the game, somehow we just saved the world from destruction.

Indeed, thanks to everyone who's reading this thread. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far (or at least I hope you are).

... So, what's up with there being 33 chambers in "32 Chambers"? The answer is, I don't know. The wiki implies that one of the double-tall rooms should be counted as a single chamber... but that makes no sense, because there's multiple of those, no reason to treat one differently from the other. Keeping the tunnels out of the calculation makes no sense either. I think Mateusz either simply miscounted, needed an extra room to make the layout work, or counted like a programmer, meaning there's a zeroth room.

This was the final side game. Next time, we'll explore some of the most beautiful parts of the Subnet in Submachine 7: The Core.