Time Zone: Dependencies   9 comments

From an old eBay auction.

I’ve been doing some puzzle-solving, but “doing” might be more appropriate, because I’ve had to make an “alternate-universe” save where I do something in what’s likely the wrong place in order to unlock a couple areas. In other words, I’ve probably (intentionally) softlocked my game in order to see into the future.

Ok, yes, this one’s messy. Let me put my “Hours played” up front this time.

HOURS PLAYED: 7.75 (+2.5 change)

Mapping brainlessly and only solving puzzles by lucky shots on the run = fast. Combing over every area and trying to solve things = slow.

I did, as threatened, make a spreadsheet.

One thing I can conclude for near-certain is that objects do not just move forward in time for solving puzzles. Quite a few things go backwards, and in the case of Cleopatra, I was able to

a.) get a bag of rice from 50 BC Asia by giving jade to a peasant

b.) take that rice up two zones to 1400 AD Asia to trade the rice for some silk

c.) take the silk back to Cleopatra in 50 BC Africa.

You normally get stopped by a guard who says you need to bring a gift, but lets you pass by if you have silk. Interestingly enough, if you then try to give the silk to her, you are told she has enough silk already. I’m still not sure what to do.

In the department of really-odd-things, when combing over Los Angeles 2082 AD I found something extraordinarily strange: a key under a mat at a locked door.

And I’m not joking about the strangeness, because the key does not go to the door it is at. Nor does it go to the locked car a room nearby. Or the other locked house. Or the locked padlock in Asia 2082 AD that is the same color. Or the locked door in 2082 Australia. I really don’t know what’s going on. Am I having a parser issue or is this just a bizarre troll on the game’s part?

It would be bizarre for the key in Los Angeles to open a padlock in Tokyo, but the situation is already strange.

My biggest “progress” was, as mentioned before, somewhat illusory. I was nursing a burnt-out torch from the Inca, and trying to look across all time and space for a way to light it (…never mind one of the locations you can stop by is your very own house in 1982…) and tried, on a whim, to skip the Stone Age setup of trading fire for a stone hammer. I brought the fire to 1982 AD instead.

And yes, this works: you can light the torch. (You cannot take the torch back to the Stone Age, it is too far back in time and goes poof.) Having done this unlocks three brand-new dark areas. First is the far-future where I made a smidge of progress to find two grates.

The second grate is too high to reach. Remember I had to sacrifice the stone hammer to get the light, so it would be hilarious if the solution to this rusted grate is to hit it with a stone hammer.

Second is in the Middle East behind the OPEN SESAME cave. I was able to walk in and grab some gold. I can’t get out because of dying of thirst, but I’m fairly certain that’s because I skipped trading for a camel (I don’t know yet what the merchant wants).

Finally there’s a dark labyrinth at Rome. Inside the labyrinth were some tweezers, and I was able to go to the lion and USE TWEEZERS to get a thorn out of its paw. The lion let me by and consequentially I got to a top level area overlooking the arena.

Unfortunately exploring further had me thrown in a different gladiator portion where I died with no sword or shield. I don’t know if that means I will find them in other time zones and bring them forth.

I did make one further discovery not dependent on the torch in 2082 Europe but it didn’t yield me much. I had assumed that getting the police dog is what dropped a rope in my inventory, but no: for some reason when you meet the thief and he takes your stuff (or doesn’t, if you have an empty inventory) he leaves a rope behind. Then you can TIE ROPE to the dog when first getting him and he won’t run away. This lets you walk around Future London with a dog trotting behind, which sounds pretty neat, but unfortunately I haven’t found any use for this. My initial assumption was I would find the thief’s lair, but in no location in down did the dog perk up and start sniffing or the like. I even tried taking the rhea egg (from way in the past, 50 BC Australia) and throwing it at the thief so it would make a trail, but no dice.

This still doesn’t feel like a lot for 2.5 hours, but other than organizing my documentation I hit a lot of things not working. I tried visiting 1000 AD Africa which had logs and a river but where the game said I didn’t have enough to make a raft, and I still don’t, even with a rope and saw. (To be fair to the game, the picture of the rope is kind of small, more dog-leash size than wrap-around-some-logs style.) I had plenty of other simply failed theories. I assume the boomerang gets thrown … somewhere? Even though most places don’t understand THROW BOOMERANG? The only era with a promising message was 1000 AD Europe (with Robin Hood) which had a slightly different message indicating I was just in the wrong room, but I still couldn’t get anything to come from it.

Adam L. asks me what the difficulty is like. I can’t say I’ve solved any stereotypically “tough” puzzles yet, although that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If there really is some strange finagling with fire, for instance, that’s a circumstance of generally “simple” action (making a fire) being made complicated by forming unexpected dependencies between puzzles. It may be that the sharp stick all the way back in the prehistoric age that I blew on a tiger in the Stone Age is actually also useful in 1400 AD in a “simple” way, but I didn’t have a chance to find out because I already lost the item. So that’s one facet of difficulty, and it does get multiplied by the sheer size of the game making it hard to test theories out.

I don’t doubt there are a few puzzles difficult for their own sake as well, although there is a limit; there’s no complex daemons except for the very occasional bit where an enemy chases our hero (like the slavers on the Ivory Coast). In that case it may be possible to walk somewhere in particular to help with a solve (like how you can outrun a mountain-slide by hiding in a cave) but I don’t expect the same crazy juggling we’ve seen in, say, Hezarin.

I still have many theories to test, so I’m not quite ready to consider hints yet.

Posted January 31, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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9 responses to “Time Zone: Dependencies

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  1. Be warned that there is a “puzzle” which requires you to wait — or do random other things, since I don’t think the game has a WAIT verb — in one location until something happens. As far as I know, this is completely unclued. I can tell you more whenever you’re ready… ;)

    • There’s a couple of instances where completely random, unprompted acts of violence are required as well. There really was a sense during this era that anything goes with puzzle design, logic be damned.

  2. That’s some very blue milk and honey!

  3. Did you intend to exclude your 1700 AD maps from the posts so far? That’s the only age for which the maps are absent (I’m curious about the NA and Europe layouts in particular).

  4. YAWN! This game seems monumentally boring.

    I hope you are not having a very bad time.

    Anyway, you will tell us, I hope, in the last post 🙂

    • It’s sort of interesting? Once you get enough collected it becomes a giant resource puzzle, sort of, at least at the point I’m at. Structurally it is unique enough I’m still interested. I’m not sure if I’m going to get my next post up until tomorrow or tuesday though, I want to have enough to write about.

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