Castlequest: Dracula’s Brother   Leave a comment

I made it past a significant chunk; the game isn’t necessarily hard (which is a relief, considering other mainframe games we’ve seen) and my delay between posts has more to do with work/life distraction than the game itself.

(Also, I needed to finish AI: The Somnium Files. Long game, that. Three-quarters visual novel, rather unique adventure sections.)

Very close to after I hit “send” on my last post I realized at the boarded door that I couldn’t chop with a hatchet, I could still THROW HATCHET.

The door opens to a brick wall. —DEAD END—

A note on the wall reads “L 8 R 31 L 59”.

So, progress, but not much! I then made my usual gaffe of missing room exits, and on a room I even clipped an excerpt from last time. Since it’s been a week, here’s the room in question:

You are in the foyer. An umbrella near the door is dripping on the thick pile carpet. A black cape is draped neatly over the banister of a grand staircase leading up. A magnificentl archway leads north. Corridors lead south and southeast, a small hallway heads west, and a narrow stairway goes down.

The butler is sound asleep.

You can go down and you can go up. Novel, that. (To be fair, the ordering of exits is a little odd — they’re mentioned in the order up, north, south, southeast, west, down. Usually up and down get clumped together.)

This shows the second and third floor, although some puzzle solving is required to wander around the attic as “A huge vampire bat hangs from the doorframe and blocks your way.”.

The parts I could reach fairly easily yielded a quill pen and a skeleton key. The quill pen and paper from last time applied to the butler, which I need to explain —

I was stumped for a little while not for puzzle reasons, but for narrative reasons. I assumed the butler was an obstacle, insofar I was sneaking into a vampire’s castle, quite naturally the butler would stop me, and there would be some later puzzle that involved making sure the butler wouldn’t wake up.

I was wrong about this. The butler is helpful, something I was clued in on while experimenting with the gun:

You killed a deaf-mute butler (Not very sporting of you).

Oops! The right action here is WAKE BUTLER who then motions for some paper. Dropping the quill pen I just mentioned and the paper from last time, he writes on the note and shows it:

“Look behind the mirror.”

The skeleton key from the second floor will eventually take care of that locked door from last time. I say “eventually” because if you try to go back to the starting room with the key (which is near where the locked door is), you get dumped in a trap door:

You have fallen through a trap door and find…

You are in a dark stone E/W passage.

This isn’t a bad thing, as it leads to another new section, and another “what appears to be foe is in fact friend” area.

You are at the proverbial fork in the road. Paths lead east, northwest, and southwest.

SW

This is the torture chamber. A matched set of thumb-screws hangs on the far wall. A large rack occupies the center of the room. A skeleton hangs from its thumbs above you, swaying gently. An arch leads NE.

A nasty hunchback eyes you from a corner of the room.

FEED HUNCHBACK

The hunchback gobbles down the food and smiles at you.

TAKE HUNCHBACK

OK

NE

You’re at the fork.

A smiling hunchback is following you.

Unfortunately, the hunchback didn’t survive long.

You are in a low, dark chamber. A single mirror is set into the far wall. The exit goes south.

A smiling hunchback is following you.

There is a fearsome werewolf in the room with you!

The hunchback drives away the werewolf and dies in the struggle.

The werewolf is most definitely foe, and acts much like the dwarves in Crowther/Woods adventure do, showing up at random. The odd thing here is I have a gun and a silver bullet which work fine for taking the werewolf down (the body is dragged away by a “old gypsy woman”) and while the werewolf does keep re-appearing, the gun keeps still working. So I’m not sure if the sacrifice of the hunchback is really necessary here, and if I possibly did something wrong.

In the process of running around I came across a vial of acid (I haven’t used it yet) and some blood, which I used immediately after because I know where it went. Heading back to the attic with the vampire bat:

FEED BAT

The bat gulps down the blood and flitters away.

N

You are in an old attic filled with old-fashioned clothes, a pile of newspapers and some antiques. An entrance to a cedar closet is to the east and there is a door to a crawlspace to the west.

The door to the west has a combination lock, which I already knew the combination of from the dead-end-hatchet room.

LEFT 8

OK

RIGHT 31

OK

LEFT 59

The lock is now open.

W

You are crawling along a low passage that leads east and west.

This eventually took me to an encounter with the long-awaited vampire:

You are in a huge anteroom to an even larger, mysterious chamber. A chilling wind seems to blow at you from all sides, and a deathlike, vapid black mist surrounds your feet. Hundreds of sinister looking bats cling to the ceiling and eye you with a spine-tingling anticipatory pleasure. Two dark, foreboding passages exit to the east and west, and a steep sloping corridor descends NW.

W

You are in the chamber of the master of the castle, Count Vladimir! Pictures depicting scenes of tranquil Transylvanian countrysides line the walls. A huge portrait of Vladimir’s brother, Count Dracula, hangs upon the near wall. In the center of the room is a large, ominous, mahogany coffin.

The coffin is closed.

I just wanted to experiment so I opened the coffin with no preparation … and instead of dying, found a sleeping vampire! I guess it would help if I had the wooden stake just lying around one of the rooms in the open, huh? I went to grab it, came back, and found the vampire awake. Fortunately, I was also toting around a silver cross, and my SHOW CROSS prophecy came true:

The Count sits up and prepares for breakfast-namely you!

SHOW CROSS

The Count is frightened by the cross and cowers in the coffin.

STAB COUNT

The vampire clutches at the stake and dies, leaving only a pile of dust.

A note materializes on the wall which reads:

EMERGENCY EXIT–The mirror maze will lead you to the locked door. The exit lies within.

I’m not sure if that means if the cross is optional presuming you are wise enough to have the wooden stake the first time around? Does this puzzle have optional parts, maybe?

The mirror maze the note mentioned was one I had guessed was a “trick maze”.

This is the mirror maze. A myriad of mirrors reflect your image in a dazzling array of light. The reflections make it impossible to discren a direction.

Random wandering before just led me to some nearby rooms, nothing helpful. Random wandering *after* seeing the note led to that locked door that I was never able to get back to (due to the trap door).

You are in a dim corridor lit by gaslight. Doors exit to the east and west. A stairway leads down.

UNLOCK DOOR

OK

OPEN DOOR

OK

W

A cool wind blows up a stone stairway which descends down into a large stone room. A note written in blood reads “VERY CLEVER OF YOU TO MAKE IT THIS FAR”. The door leads east, back to the hall.

I’ve poked around a bit farther and it feels like the game changes to be more “standard adventure”. I’ve still only found two treasures (the silver cross, and a jade figurine past the locked door) so I don’t know how much game is left.

Assuming there are no more twists, the structure has been

1. start having already broken into the castle … or maybe we got kidnapped or something?

2. gather materials and get past obstacles to confront the vampire

3. kill the vampire

4. make it to the “escape” which holds an entirely new exploration section with treasures

It means killing the Big Foozle may only be the midway point, which is decidedly a bit odd in general, although Dracula Avontuur did something similar where finding a treasure came after the vampire-killing.

What’s also odd is that it is 100% certain both games are entirely independent of each other. Something about the “kill a vampire” notion unlocked an experience more structured than the typical games of this time. Perhaps it is that the horror genre leads more naturally to classic-adventure-gameplay than the fantasy genre does. (See also The Count and Secret of Flagstone Manor, although the latter has a ghost rather than a vampire.) If monsters are killed in horror, they require particular artifacts or rituals — essentially, some sort of puzzle solving is required by convention. Whereas in fantasy one is expected, D&D style, to be able to just swing a sword — see how killing the troll in Zork isn’t even a “puzzle” really. Hence the puzzles of adventure games fit more naturally into the horror mold (consequently doing a better job integrating gameplay and story) and fantasy games have to work a little harder.

Posted April 2, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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