I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the Book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit that such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written. -- Atrus

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Grisly Game

This post contains spoilers for Obduction.  If you do not wish to be spoiled, move along, please.
Also, if you are looking for unbelievably quality images, don’t.  Because you won’t find them here.  My modest laptop dates to spring 2013, so I am running Obduction only on medium quality graphics.

I spent last week indulging in the wonderful things that came along with the 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek, so I hadn’t played Obduction in that time.  I had, however, scheduled all the previous posts on this blog to post while I was doing other things.  When I returned to Obduction I had to go through a few things again to make sure I was on the up and up.  I’m happy to report I am feeling much better after the last gameplay when I was feeling rather upset with myself for not solving what seemed to me simple puzzles, especially when I considered the people who finished the game at lightning speed.  Now, relaxed and refreshed, I jumped in again at a steady pace.

The first thing I did, which is what I’d already planned to do, was to re-read all the notebooks and journals and other documents, Farley’s tape recorder message, as well as poke around the living spaces in Hunrath again.  I finally opened that door in the mayor’s house after figuring out the number for pattern “15” (406).  When looking around in the mayor’s bedroom, I picked up his Villein worksheet again and noticed something really interesting with the shadow and light features.  If you look at the paper on one side of the table, with the light behind you, the writing is difficult to see and your shadow blocks some of the view.  But if you move to the other side of the table, the worksheet is readable because the other variables are not hindering the view.  I found this to be very clever.

When going through the material again, some questions popped into my mind.  Why does the membrane wall in Hunrath show the landscape of Soria, while in Kaptar it shows Maray and in Maray it shows Kaptar?  Based on Farley’s journal, Soria’s membrane shows the landscape of Hunrath.  Why are certain worlds linked?  The Mofang were, of course, the first alien encounter via ambassador seeds for the Hunrath people, whereas the Villein had already been in contact with the Arai via ambassador seeds.  They only came upon the humans and Mofang through the Heart (the tree portals).  Is there some greater significance here?  It’s especially interesting to consider how many of the seed pods in the other worlds swap back to Hunrath.  How is this reflected in the “tree connection” map in Farley’s house, or is it reflected at all?

While away from the game I suddenly remembered the tower’s top level and the dials assigned to each of the four worlds.  I remembered also that each dial connected to a light which, at the time I first came upon them, were off.  While in Hunrath, I returned to the top of the tower, thinking that maybe the dials/lights would be activated by the tree.  I was correct!  Hunrath’s tree, which is pumping golden energy even as we speak, had managed to activate the dial and light on the top level of the tower.

One thing that made me stop and consider, albeit briefly, the label for Maray appears to have fallen off and been replaced with a handwritten masking tape label.  Was there some reason for this?  Or is this just for ambient purposes?  Hunrath is, after all, a scrapyard in general, requiring substantial ingenuity to get things working adequately.  Time will tell.  There was still much to see and do.  I knew I had to return to Kaptar for unfinished business there, and decided I would have another look at that note on Arai larvae I’d found in Farley’s house.

Last time I had looked at it was after a long play session, so it hadn’t really sunk in.  The same was true for Farley’s journal when it turned into some crazy philosophical rambling (of course I took notes on it, because it’s important).  All of the colors mentioned are the various colors of the larvae depending on what material surface they’re stuck to.  And after they are moved to a new surface they change in a matter of days to reflect their response to their exposure to the new material.  I thought I’d try to keep my eyes peeled for this.  By the way, Maray is spelled incorrectly on this list.  And what is soarstone?

I returned to Kaptar, knowing I still had to visit that swap pod leading to Maray.  On my way back from the Hunrath pod to the Maray pod, I caught a stunning glimpse of Maray in a way I hadn’t expected.  I saw brightly colored birds flying near the membrane wall.  I hadn’t seen life through the wall before.  It made me think of Farley’s journal when she wrote about seeing the Mofang creature running in panic.  It’s almost like a two-way mirror.

In a way I found it unnerving.  Moving on, I passed a metal wheel, objects that are so numerous in Kaptar.  Only now I noted more seriously that the barnacles flashed orange on this material, which means that it is probably (I can’t see any other metal as being the one) copper.

I also saw across the chasm the façade of the temple, and that unattainable tree, and a “scoop” sphere with some more fine architecture.  I can’t remember if I’ve been there, and the fog doesn’t help either.  It seems as though whenever I try to look at something in greater detail that fog has to come in and mess it all up.

On my way to the Maray pod I found another staircase leading up.  That’s the way it is in Kaptar: sometimes it’s easier to find the staircases going backwards than it is going forwards.  I tend to feel two emotions in such cases: 1. elation to find a new space, and 2. alarm that the world is even bigger than previously thought.  Don’t worry; usually #1 wins.  I came upon a lovely pavilion where I found another vehicle.

I rode it to its destination and discovered that I had arrived at the power hub!  At last I found out where that chain led.  I could now wander the catwalks that had been previously inaccessible.  I was mostly curious about that staircase connected to the control panel.  The very first thing I did was check out the staircase, which I was able to lower by turning a crank.  All this time I thought the control powered the staircase when in fact it appeared the staircase powered the control panel!  It had raised the control panel and turned it 90 degrees counterclockwise.  I noticed more letters on its bottom right corner proper.  Okay…  Am I ever going to use this control panel?  What on earth is it for?  Just a red herring?  I am fixated on this thing.

I moved further along the catwalk toward a doorway where barnacles glowed teal blue (Kaptar granite) on the wall behind it.  The platform was an elevator that brought me below the power hub to a small stone room with wooden floors.  In the center was a seed pod.

If my map skills are good, this would be the unaccounted for seed pod near the tree.  The tree should surely be beyond this door!  I’ve made a working diagram of the Kaptar map.  I’m sure there are mistakes, but it works in any case, I suppose.

One of the staircases led up to a door which naturally was locked.  All that was left to do was swap to the other world—which turned out to be Hunrath.

When I was transported to Hunrath, I noticed the larvae that had been swapped with me had indeed stopped flashing as indicated in the color chart in Farley’s vault.  To my surprise I was transported to that enigmatic sphere by the train yard.  Presumably rotating it now should produce some useful effect either here or there.  Maybe it will transport the entirety of the rotating device and somehow open that door to the tree.

I rotated the machine a couple of times and returned to Kaptar to see if it had done anything.  Only just visible to my terribly unobservant eyes was a glowing green crevice in the rock which would be accessible if I rotated the device again.  I’m feeling smart again! 

Through trial and error I found that rotating the sphere until the motorcycle is in the rear-most position granted access to that lower crevice in Kaptar.  Could this green signify “Arai encrustment”?  If so, I’ve identified another material.  What will all this be used for, anyway?  I crept into the passage where several beetles were flying.  I have a fear of bugs, and even though this is just a game, I was cringing the entire time.  I know I’d freak out if playing this with VR.  I distinctly remember saying, “Gross, gross, gross!”  Especially when I was surrounded by their loud buzzing which echoed in the small rocky tunnel.

Then I came upon what seemed to me to be their nest, and perhaps the polyarch that had remained behind with the other Arai.  This is the only conclusion I was able to arrive at regarding this cluster of clam-like features.  I followed the path all the way to the end, and when I saw the tree I thought I’d found its entrance.  Alas, I couldn’t reach it!  Did I miss a set of stairs?  A small hole in the rock?  How do I get there?!  I went back up toward the Arai nest to investigate a path I had seen off-shooting the main one.  It led to the area with the desk and chair I’d glimpsed so long ago!  I entered the space with glee, hoping for some useful information on how to get to the tree and was immediately horrified.

There, in the middle of the floor, was a dead Mofang.

The remains of a scoop sphere made up of Sorian landscape formed a circle on the floor, surrounding a broken seed pod device to which was attached a scale.  The wretched Mofang had been cut in half…where its bottom half had gone I cannot guess.  Perhaps it must still be in Soria.  Its lifeless fingers grasped at a shard of the device the people on Hunrath used for hologram messages.

I stepped on the scale to see what it would do.  Apart from weighing in at a generous 120 pounds, I saw that the pressure caused a part of the pod mechanism to swing backward as if to open a seed.  At the table I found two pieces of paper.  One had a number code (?) and the other was a list of “battle plans.”  This is all very dubious.

Let’s return to our unfortunate friend.  The scooped landscape appears to be from Soria, which means it must have a Kaptar brother.  The corpse indicates that it had once held that shard of Mofang technology in its hand, and as we know, Mofang technology disables the membrane.  Could it also disable the seed machine?  One may remember Farley’s account of the frightened Mofang.  Was this one trying to escape, or to attack?  And at the worst possible moment, someone(s) swapped and took only half of him with them.  Who was leaving Soria to go to Kaptar?  Was this an example of a failed trigger swap?  It’s all very alarming.  Who to believe?  What to make of the present scenario?  Do the Soria rock fragments suggest detonation in Soria?

Greatly disturbed, I returned to the rotating room.  On the way there I found the other side of that locked door and opened it.  Back in the stone room, I finally observed a second doorway on the upper level.  I rotated the room via the sphere in Hunrath.  When I returned, I entered that doorway and came to another metal door, but this one was unlocked!  I opened it, thinking surely the tree was back here!  Alas, it was only another entrance into the temple, through that door in the triangular hall that had been locked previously.

What have I missed?  How do I get to the tree, and what is that absurd control panel for?  Despite these questions, I had one other task in Kaptar to complete, and it was to follow the seed pod into Maray.

The journey in Maray continues in the next post…


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