Frankenstein Adventure: Below the Surface Forever   6 comments

The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.

— From Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

In the original Frankenstein, Victor abandons his “monster” as soon as he creates it; the monster doesn’t really get into murder until he finds out the circumstances of his creation, and plans revenge.

More modern takes have varied, but we’re jumping ahead a bit in the plot–

Before I made any progress on the real story, I was fussing about with all my objects, and discovered BURN worked as a verb on things other than just matches and candles. Dutifully testing out every item in my inventory, I found a secret message:

I also knew the painting of Victor I found last time was “screwed to the wall” so I just needed to get a screwdriver over to the painting to check it out, but I was blocked (as I left off last time) by a wolf.

The wolf had previously emerged when I had unearthed a coffin and a corpse.

After trying to fight off the wolf with little success, I went back to the CORPSE and applied my SCALPEL. This got me a mutilated CORPSE, which had a HEART and LIVER.

Grisly! I took the LIVER over to the wolf and it gobbled it down and ran away. Then I went back to the painting and unscrewed it, and applied the previously mentioned combination. This got me a DIARY and a MAP.

…I guess maybe I’ll find a liver somewhere else? Or did I make a mistake?

Plowing ahead, I took the map over to the bog where I previously was falling into quicksand and did FOLLOW MAP. This led me to an old mill with a crypt beneath.

The URN incidentally has ashes but you can POUR URN to also find gold ELECTRODES (as mentioned in the diary). The crypt had a passage leading back to the graveyard, but the wolf was back, and this time there was no liver to feed him. I did, however, have a fancy cane.

Now comes the most interesting dilemma of the game. I was able to return the HEART over to the monster back in the lab, but I had no liver because the wolf ate it. Except now the wolf is dead and in the form of a man… so maybe…

…is that the same liver? (I think at a code level it is, but at a plot level it’s the man’s original liver we cut out.)

With liver in hand, some working with needle and thread, and attaching the gold electrodes from the urn, I was able to come close to bringing life. I just needed to pull the lever. I fully expected a “you win” message, but:

Ah, of course. This is the kind of monster that comes out swinging right away. It chases you around which strongly suggested the solution was geographical. Restoring my game, grabbing the map I used last time to get by the quicksand, I tried pulling the lever again, and escaped to safety.

In the end, no progress was made: while we finished Victor Frankenstein’s wish, we then undid the monster we created just as quickly.

La Créature De Frankenstein by the KLAT group in Geneva. Picture by Guilhem Vellut.

Many games from this era use the tropes of horror, but far fewer have really been horror. That is, various “monsters” have often been interchangeable with fantasy — a mummy might as well be an orc, a ghost might as well be a goblin. Fully-fledged horror shows people in desperate in tragic circumstances doing desperate and tragic things, and I think Frankenstein Adventure qualifies with the, ah, creative use of corpses. I really did have a moment I was stunned when I realized how I could get a second liver. The gameplay finesse of having seen one that gets “used up” — bringing up the specter of softlocks, yet not being one — made the moment more effective.

Audible has recently put up some of their material for free (as in actually free, not a free trial). This includes an absolutely stellar reading of Frankenstein by the actor Dan Stevens (from Downton Abbey); it runs for 8 1/2 hours and if you’re looking for distraction I highly recommend it.

If you’re keen on playing Frankenstein Adventure itself, there’s a version you can play online. The display of the online version is slightly glitchy but it still works.

Posted March 26, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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6 responses to “Frankenstein Adventure: Below the Surface Forever

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  1. I choose to believe that we messed up the monster by using a werewolf corpse instead of a plain human corpse, and that’s why it’s so violent. Well, that’s probably less satisfying than realizing that it was a bad idea the whole time.

    In the z-machine version at least, there’s a hint about burning the note. If you look at the pen it has bits of lemon juice on it; together with the lemon you fine, this is an indication that the pen was used to write invisible ink with lemon juice, which becomes visible when you hold it over a flame. Burning it might be a bit overenthusiastic but is a nice way around the parser issue. I think this is a clever concealment of the clue–taking the pen has a drastic effect so it’s easy to think it’s served it’s purpose and not examine it after you take it, at least that’s what happened with me. (I did not figure this clue out for myself, I looked at the walkthrough.)

    I didn’t have any trouble coming up with mutilating the werewolf corpse. Perhaps the liver there is the same liver, hanging out in its stomach. That’s not any better, I guess. Also at that point I realized that I had forgotten the electrodes and decided to wait for your victory post.

    I wonder how the electrodes got into the urn. Gold fillings? More to the point, how did the screwdriver wind up in the original corpse?

    • I didn’t find the liver puzzle hard, difficulty-wise — just a Moment of Plot.

      I was curious and looked it up — gold fillings (and gold teeth) generally melt at cremation temperatures, so they’re mixed with the ash. (Something surrounding Victor Frankenstein could have had unconventional cremation processes, though.)

  2. Also, “It sinks below the surface forever” lol has the narrator seen even one horror movie sequel.

    • According to that interview I linked last time, the bog scene came from House of Frankenstein (1944). That movie is a sort of Infinity War style team up with previous Universal monsters, and has Dracula, Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster working together.

  3. Nice to see this one covered. At some point I want to get around to playing the expanded Quilled edition for the C64, entitled Frankenstein’s Legacy; which I guess is probably similar to the MS-DOS variant and the later Inform ports.

    • Check out the z-code version for sure — there’s a feature with “ghosts” which is pretty unique (I may even make a brief return to Frankenstein to blog about it).

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