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, August 30, 2016

Welcome to Hunrath

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.  That being said, the graphics are still rocking my world.

Well then, let’s get to it.  I had posted my ordeal of acquiring Obduction on the Facebook fan group, so I won’t repeat it here.  My friends were laughing at me for enduring so much to get “just a game.”  No, my dears, you don’t understand!  Not only is it a Cyan game, which in itself is worthy of crossing all over God and country, but also I waited three years and spent…well, a LOT of money on this.  So I am getting it one way or another.  Even if I did have to walk all the way to Yankee Stadium to get it!

I was fully expecting it not to run on my little (actually big) baby since my Nvidia is a touch below minimum reqs, but it does work!  Hallelujah!  I set to playing it right away.  I must say I felt the opening of the game was really chilling, reminiscent of that creep factor one experiences when playing Riven for the first time.  No!  Don’t make me go into that Book!

You begin at the beachfront of a forest at night.  There’s a full moon over the lake, but over the trees it is cloudy.  There are several flashes of light.  As you walk along the beach, poking around at all the camping equipment, you hear a voiceover talking about a strange phenomenon that changed the lives of many people.  And as you keep walking, hearing more and more of this eerie, enigmatic tale, you soon find yourself experiencing exactly what is being described.

A pod zooms toward you and spins, opening to reveal its green spherical seed.  And then, it explodes into a burst of light, enveloping you in gold.  You feel a bit frightened but also excited, especially when this comes onto the screen:

Let the game begin!

The seed drops off its reluctant guest in a rocky alcove, along with some of the camping equipment that had been on the beach.  The seed pod itself lay discarded on the side, nothing but a husk remaining.

(Now first person narrative.  And mostly in past tense.  Can't help it; I write fiction.)  

Upon exiting the alcove, I wandered into a canyon of red rock where tumbling pebbles echoed within the space.  Up ahead in the distance there were rocks floating in the sky, giant spheres punctuated with glowing turquoise dots, and a bright sun in a lilac sky.  As I walked forward with trepidation I encountered a sign that reads “Welcome to Hunrath.”  After pushing the button on top, the floating crystal opened to reveal a hologram of a man, the mayor, welcoming whomever and giving a small introduction to Hunrath.  I could not help but laugh when he said “Shorah!”  Also, I tell you, I am loving these subtitles.  I sometimes find it difficult to understand what people are saying in movies, so I usually have subtitles when I can.  Excellent feature!

With this little bit of information, I set out to find this house the mayor had mentioned.  Getting my first lay of the land, I had that familiar feeling of concern I’ll run into someone I wouldn’t want to, or that I was trespassing.  So far, more than once in this game I have had those 1990s feels.  Robyn Miller’s soundtrack is top notch as ever, and the ambient sounds and imagery settle you into a realistic space.  I doff my hat to those people who will play this with their VR headset.  Maybe one of these days I’ll be brave enough to do something like that!  Maybe in 1,000 years when I can get a new computer!

At the little house, Farley’s house, I did some snooping on the front lawn, opening the mailbox and reading the letter I found inside from a person named C.W.  It was addressed to whomever would come across it, and it conveyed a bit of danger.  This person lhad ocked him/herself in a vault, which could mean (s)he might still be around in Hunrath.  I noted the house number, thinking it would probably be important in some way or another.  Such things usually are.

Snooping in others' mailboxes is illegal in the U.S.

Then I went to the second hologram device with a message from Caroline Farley who spoke of a war and that it was dangerous to be here.  Damn!  I don’t want to be here!  What can happen?!  The house was boarded up and the front door locked.  Why was the laundry still out?  There was also a memo outside, attached to the siding.  It illustrates a device of some kind that should be avoided.

I had a look around the area, journeying along the rail tracks leading this way and that.  They seemed to lead nowhere in this first section of Hunrath, and any place where it seemed I could go was blocked by some force field.  One track led into a tunnel which ended in a force field.  Another track led to a dead end where there was a big pile of rocks with some red shimmering light glowing on their surfaces.  And a third track led very far away to yet another dead end, but it was near a wide stretch of force field as well as a large swinging metal door.  I opened this door and found another pile of glowing red rocks.  What can these mean?

There was a cemetery as well, which made me wonder if they had all died in this war, but I don’t think so now.  I found out that they started a different dating system in Hunrath, so maybe these were left over from a long time ago.  One grave startled me, and I immediately sent an image of it to my mother, whose name is Anna Jackson.  She laughed and laughed!  This name doesn’t fit with the rest in the cemetery…is this the name of one of the backers?

Mommy! :'(

The Town
With Farley’s area fully investigated, I moved on into the town.  Another hologram message from the mayor explained a bit about the town.  But the town was boarded up just as Farley’s house was.  Outside of one of the buildings was a backgammon game, still in mid-play.  Were people trying to keep things out or in?  They seem to have left in some great hurry. 

My door mat at home reads "Go Away".  People don't heed it, though.  They seem to think I'm joking.
 In the middle of the town were two laser beams: a red one and a blue one.  Both were pointing in opposite directions: the red one high in the air; the blue down at the ground.

A staircase between two buildings led to a third hologram message from the mayor about the very special tree with red leaves that was planted there, but inaccessible.  Apparently, it is the center of power and life.  As I wandered around its enclosure, I found a metal grate in the ground that showed there was another level.  How to get down there?  A door into the building behind this was locked, as all the doors seemed to be.

A quick run-through of the town gave me an idea of what parts of it I’ll be using.  I found one house not boarded up, set between two openings to the same tunnel through which a track ran.  The house itself didn’t possess anything I thought noteworthy.  At the back of the house was a metal or stone (?) sphere which blocked the track.  Its walls were broken, but beyond this I again did not find anything noteworthy.  Which probably means there is something; I just haven’t found it yet.

There was a water tower with its pipe broken, but a yellow hose extended from it to the tree.  There was also a windmill (reminds me of Uru) among a garden, but all the plants in their planters were dead.  There was a large cylindrical blue tower that at first seemed like another water tower, but it’s a battery—a very large, large battery (as I learned later).  Why is it so huge?  Is this the control center?  At the far end of town (ha! those are the opening words to The Lorax! … “At the far end of town where the grickle-grass grows…”)  …  Anyway, at the far end of town was a waterfall with a river flowing through a dam/bridge (I almost wrote “damn bridge,” which I will be calling it from now on).  The damn bridge was controlled by a lever hanging over the river, as well as a lever contraption on the “door” itself.  On the other side of the river was a door to somewhere, but it was locked.  And still is at the moment I am writing this.  Damn door.  At the waterfall there was another hologram message from the mayor discussing the importance of the river.  The importance of this river is alluded to later when we discover it was included here for the “arrivers’” use.

Damn bridge

And now for the workshop yard.  Behind a fence of corrugated iron was a large building with various entrances, and also a smaller building.  The entrance to this space was filled with a blue laser cloud, but I was able to pass through it.  I had hesitated doing so because I didn’t know if I’d be disintegrated and the game would end before it began.  Inside, a sliding door on the far left was sealed, but there was an entrance beside it with a track that led to a dead end.  Looking up I saw what could possibly be an elevator.  There were stairs beyond this dead end, but they appeared to be accessible only through the sliding door.  The blue laser originated from somewhere up there. 

I moved on to the smaller building on the far right.  There was a closed window, almost like an elongated porthole, with a green button that apparently acted as a doorbell.  After I pushed it, a man came and opened the window, and was startled to see a stranger.  He said “Who the devil are you?” – this had me in giggles, because isn’t that what Atrus says in Myst?!  This would be the first of many hilarious things this character says in his southern accent—his name, by the way, is Cecil, aka C.W. (dubbya).  His swear words include karffin’ (I should start using this one) and Jesse.  That last one, oh my God!  Eh da??

Beyond C.W.’s vault was a little path that led to a green elevator powered by a green water wheel above.  I went up and found two more paths, one of which led to a locked door.  Continuing along that path, down some stairs, I found the source of the red laser.  The other path led up to two important places.  One of the places was a narrow path leading to the force field.  The other led to a lever that powered the dam.  When pulled, it powered the damn bridge, but unfortunately it also disabled the elevator after you went back down.  I don’t know yet if it’s supposed to be like that or if it’s some awful bug. Either way, it’s very annoying for reasons you’ll discover (ha! that’s a line from Riven!  I’m making all kinds of references.  I should stop myself.).

Why won't you work anymore?

Now that the damn bridge was functional, I wandered in that direction, but not before bugging C.W. to see if he had anything else to say.  He certainly did!  He admonished me for bothering him before I turned on the power and said “I ain’t got no time for hand holdin’.”  This guy’s a riot!  Double negatives and all.

Not wanting to irritate him further, I went quickly to the damn bridge, pulled the yellow lever down on the right side, then pulled the lever that jutted out over the river.  The bridge opened!  There were two paths, one through the left side of the bridge, and the other on the right side.  So far, as of writing this, I haven’t found access to the left side.  Also, there’s an upper level to this bridge which would be accessible only if it is closed.  It must follow, then, that I’d have access to the town by another route so that eventually I could end up closing this bridge.  

The Power Hub
As I wandered through the little park I noticed on the other side of the river a tunnel blocked by boulders (see pictures above) which, interestingly enough, also had the shimmering red light.  See?  I’d need to get over there!  A little further on I found a boat…could I use it?  As of now, nope.  At last, this park opened out to a train yard and garage.  It went on even beyond that, and it was about this time when I understood the magnitude of this place.  It’s huge!  It’s like the scale of Riven, but as only a third of the game.  Guys, Cyan has really delivered.  After some time, and thankfully a map I found later, I’ve got Hunrath under control.

Also just after the park area, there’s a giant stone sphere that’s powered by a white button.  It makes the orange bits below the sphere rotate, which in turn rotates the sphere.  Someone had replaced one of the orange bits with a motorcycle, which made me laugh because it’s something they’d do in Egypt!  Stellar ingenuity, making things work with what you’ve got.  I still am clueless about this sphere.  Behind it is a door which, naturally, is locked.

What is this?!

The relationship between the garage and the train yard was made pretty obvious by the two massive cables leading to a blue train car.  There was a gas pump which could only be used to fuel the car.  Also, just beyond the garage (which was locked from the outside) was a phone booth with an actual dial phone.  I kept a note of it for later, which turned out to be a good idea.  But I noticed something odd…where is Q?

Where's the Q?!

On the side of the garage wall just around the corner from the gas pump was what could only be a panel indicating where there was power in Hunrath.  Surely, the blue engine would light that up like Times Square.  I had a look at the engine and found two control panels.  One was for the fuel and contained a dial oddly similar to what one would find in Channelwood.  Well done, Cyan.  That’s #3 for the Myst references I think, if we’re keeping track.  Or #4 if we’re counting that windmill.  I believe it was RIUM+ who tweeted about the Channelwood dial.  Anyway, I flipped that dial in the downward position, and then flipped the power on.  Then, I went back to the gas pump and gave it a crank.  Voil√†!  The engine was fueled.

Haha!  Channelwood!

The next part, I admit, had me scratching my head for a while.  It’s really simple, but not as simple as flipping a switch.  No, because if you do that you won’t get anywhere.  I opened the other side of the control panel which had a dial for “Prime, Run, Start” as well as a tube on the left side.  It took a few tries before I finally realized that by moving the dial to prime, something white began to fill the tube.  It took another couple of tries before I realized it would work better if I just held the dial down on the prime side.  When the white stuff completely filled the tube, I flipped the switch to start.  This time all it took was one try before I decided to hold the dial down here, too.  Finally, the run light turned green.  Power was on!  I went back to the info panel to see that many places now had power, but not all.

All right, so power!  I decided to return to my friend C.W. to see what he needed next.  The journey in Hunrath continues in the next post… 


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