The Prisoner: This Is Not a Deception   5 comments

One of the buildings you can find in The Prisoner is a “General Store” where you can buy a map.

The Island is on a wraparound grid, with buildings numbered

1 -2 -3 -4 -5
6 -7 -8 -9 -10

but where you only see 2×2 chunks at a time so you might be standing next to 15, 20, 11, and 16. Also, sometimes, a building is missing for no apparent reason.

It’s not as if building #13 is gone permanently — later in the same game it was building #12 that was missing. I have no idea if this is a bug or not. The nature of this game is such that bugs might be intentional.

I have organized the buildings by Slightly Off, Quite Curious, Downright Bizarre, and The Carnival.

Slightly Off (2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 20)

The Caretaker (#2) was the building from last time (or least, I think so, based on process of elimination). I haven’t been able to get anything useful from the conversation, but I suspect there might be some key phrase or word that will later trigger a hint.

#6 is where the game starts (The Castle with that invisible maze), and you can go back there if you like; I’m not sure if there’s any use. I did somehow reveal the resignation code (417) once while in the maze and I’m not sure how, but I got this message:

It’s possible to just die elsewhere, but you get a different screen — so I really did divest the resignation code somehow.

#7 is the Island Mutual Savings and Loan. If you want a loan — and it looks like you do, for reasons I’ll get into, you need a gold watch, a black tie, a diploma, a cross, and a percolator.

#10 is the general store and includes a percolator (one of the needed items I mentioned).

#11 is a NEWS STAND. You’re asked which newspaper you want, but get told the only one available is THE ISLANDER. It seems to have vague hints, like “THE ISLANDER LIBRARY NEEDS CONTRIBUTIONS OF BOOKS”.

#13 puts in you in a “class” run by a machine.

The machine plays a game of Simon with you. It gives short sequences of numbers that you need to memorize and type back. Fairly deep into the game (I’d say several minutes) one of the sequences included 4, 1, 7 right in the middle. I was able to avoid the trap. I suspect the diploma is available here (I didn’t quite finish the minigame — I was still mapping and just wanted to look around).

#15 is a church.

It involves a dialogue (like the Caretaker) where the priest/pastor/whoever starts with “DON’T WORRY. ALL IS KEPT IN CONFIDENCE IN THESE CHAMBERS” and responds to any text I’ve tried with vague platitudes like “A SMOOTH SEA NEVER MADE A SKILLFUL SAILOR” and “HE THAT IS DISCONTENTED IN ONE PLACE IS SELDOM HAPPY IN ANOTHER”.

For the sake of experiment, I tried 417, and the game ended. So much for all being kept in confidence. I’m sure the cross I need is here.

#16 has a clothing store, where you can get (among other things) a black tie, a clown suit, and a clone suit. I haven’t tried the clone suit yet, but the clown suit lets you get into building #5 (The Carnival, which I’ll discuss last).

#20 is a casino.

Using “A PIECE OF YOURSELF TO PLAY” doesn’t seem to extract anything other than displaying a random three-digit number. I have the feeling if you play too many times the three-digit number will be 417.

Upon leaving the casino, I had someone mention escape was through slot #1, and they could sell a silver dollar for 5000 credits (hence the need for a loan). The mystery person then said THE BROTHERHOOD LIVES when I left.

Quite Curious (1, 3, 9, 12, 18, 19)

The Hospital (#1) gives you a “test”. It shows five random characters and you press a button and the characters change. You are then told you are adjusting nicely.

The Town Hall (#3) gives you control of the island.

You can tweak the numbers up or down. I tried turning GATES down as far as I could go and I was told security was fixing the gates. I never was able to get “DEATHS” to go up. Eventually, I gave up and was given a gold watch for doing a good job.

#9 is the Theater.

After watching … something happen for long enough, a conversation started:


I answered “2”.


The Library is #12. If you bring two books (you can get them at the general store) you can play some sort of “preference game” where you choose between two options (two types of toothpaste, say) and after enough time, you get a rating.

Then you can “play a game” which rolls a random number. I don’t know if the random number needs to be low or high or what, but I “won” once and got a hint


#18 is the Recreation Hall, where there’s a pit you can fall in (it’s game over if you do).

On the map shown above you just walk on the letters and get through, but then you get another pit:

I’m not sure how to get through. If you disobey instructions and “walk on the sides” an invisible wall blocks you.

#19 is the Gemini Diner. You can buy nondescript food, but if you step “left” while there you find a “cloning machine”.

The proprietor says you can clone yourself for 10000 Credits.

Downright Bizarre (4, 8, 14, 17)

Building #4, I have no idea.

Sometimes by pressing buttons I got the number to change. I don’t know.

If you enter building #8 you find yourself in “court” prosecuted for “rebellion”.

The “plead his case” bit involves a very fast string of BASIC code. The Prosecutor and Defense both do one, and then you play a game of hangman. I got up to _ A P T U R E and then was booted from the building being told THE VERDICT IS NOT GUILTY. I have not been back.

#14, The Cat and Mouse: you can order gin for 5 credits. I tried walking in but got stuck with being asked repeatedly if I wanted gin, and strange sparkling rectangles kept growing in different parts of the room.

I had to quit. This may or may not have been a bug.

Building #17 involves a change in perspective. You suddenly are no longer the prisoner, but someone electrocuting the prisoner, trying to ferret out the secret resignation code.

The Carnival (5)

You can’t enter the carnival without a costume. Getting the clown suit from the costume store and entering, I found this screen:

I can’t even begin to tell you what’s going on. I was able to type WT to “add weight” but after doing it a few times, I got this message:

Then I was told my current score was 4 out of 8, and asked (by a message that blinked almost too fast to see) if I wanted a hint for 10 points. Then the game exited with BE SEEING YOU.

Posted September 20, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “The Prisoner: This Is Not a Deception

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  1. I am going to have to give this one a spin, as it seems *fascinating*.

  2. “I did somehow reveal the resignation code (417) once while in the maze and I’m not sure how”

    When you get out of the maze, it asks “who are you?” Your code is one of the possible choices, and if you admit to it, you’re out. The correct answer is “#”.

  3. As for the Carnival, I *think* you’re genuinely hitting a game bug. Typing “WT” repeatedly should load the see-saw with enough weight to flip you up and pop the balloon (the “O”).

    There’s more to the Carnival, but it doesn’t really play as intended on modern keyboards. See my comments on Jimmy’s post for spoilers.

    • Yep, genuine game bug. There’s a separate spot in the source code. I didn’t have the energy to generate a new disk that has the bug fixed (and I beat the game anyway), but it shouldn’t be super hard of someone wants to try.

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