IF Comp ’10 – Brian Rapp’s Under, In Erebus!

November 12, 2010

Huh.  To the list of search engine questions I don’t know the answer to, add “why is the Bible like a hammer?”  Because when all you have is a Bible, every problem looks like a nail?  Please, Bible, don’t hurt ’em?  Dude, I don’t know!  What kind of crazy search engine are you guys even using, that one of my Bible game reviews shows up as a result for that query?  GoAskAlice?  Gibbering Dogloaf?  QuestionsYouDon’tReallyCareAboutDotCom?  Is it even an actual search engine and not, like, something someone made you out of things they found in the yard because they ain’t got no damn money?  Are you on the internet right now, or are you out in the forest screaming into a hole?  Am I screaming into a hole?  I’m pretty sure I’m screaming into something.

Also?  The new SuperMega is pretty great.  (I want one of those shirts.)

[spoilers begin here]

As the arriving train’s doors open, you are forced on board by the inexorable press of bodies.  The doors slam shut without so much as a warning chime.  You and your fellow passengers are catapulted forward with unusual violence.
Gosh, I hope I didn’t have somewhere else to be today!  Wait, of course I didn’t, or if I did, it doesn’t matter.  That’s one nice thing about being an IF protagonist:  wherever you are is always exactly where you’re supposed to be, give or take a few rooms.

A vociferous retching sound coincides unfortunately well with a sensation of wetness from most of your clothing.
Oh, man, I have this awesome drunk-chick-silently-vomiting-on-public-transit story from this year’s ComicCon, but it only really works if you can see the hand gestures.  Also, ew!

>x glyph
Where the curve of the semicircle ends on one side, a small loop is attached.  From the other side hangs a square shape connected to the semicircle by a short line.  A rough indentation to the south suggests that another carving may have been partially obliterated.
Huh.  Well, this game’s definitely got my interest.  Listed exits would be awesome, though.

Having trouble visualizing these glyphs.  Could go for some multimedia right about now.  Multimedia with a side of listed exits, please, gametender.  Oh, and look up “Egyptian wedjat” for me, if you could?  Oh, okay, it is one of those Eye of Horus dealies?  Well all right.

I am thinking we are up against some crazy metapuzzle bullshit in this here underworld.  Also, it is strange that I can apparently see a room’s features just fine, but its description keeps telling me how dark it is, even darker than regular old darkness.  Am I really quickly touching everything as I enter each new room?  How, then, did I avoid pressing this button, or getting stung by those bees?

Oh, hey, one of these glyphs pointed to the bees, and another pointed to the ocean.  I wonder if these were B and C?  Hmm, what did the others point to?

…yeah, pea plants.  I believe I am on to something.

Might these symbols represent the arcane components of a magical spell?  If you have any magic-spelling in mind, perhaps they can guide you to your alphabet.
Dude, you can stop saying this in every room.  We are good here.  We are good to go.

Hmm.  Are there hints?
Do you dare to eat a pea?
A talking pea?  Man…
>eat pea
The pod disintegrates, and you can now clearly hear the single pea insistently calling “Eat me!  Eat me!”  Consensual cannibalism suggests itself as a possible explanation for this sole survivor of the pod.
Well, that sure was a sentence I was never expecting to read in my lifetime!  And now I am huge.  Okay.  Cool.

>eat el
It wouldn’t agree wtih you, as a matter of principle.

Heh, when I’m huge, my backpack becomes my wristpack.  That’s pretty sweet.

Oh, man, don’t tell Polyphemus your name is Odysseus.  Someone’s still all cranky in his panties about one or two things.

Fuck yeah, I spelled the word CUP, and now I have a tiny cup.  Oh, hey, I bet I could give that cranky bastard an entire pub!  One sec.

Ahaha, don’t tell Polyphemus you’re nobody, either!
Polyphemus says, “Do you think Polyphemus will fall for that trick again?!” and you suddenly feel a terrible stabbing pain, as if you had been stabbed (for example) by a huge wooden spear.

Huh.  I wonder if hot tea was the sort of beverage my cyclops buddy had in mind.  It’s not what I expected from a pub, certainly.  Still, he didn’t exactly specify.

>give tea to polyphemus
Polyphemus says, “What a puny gift!”  You suddenly feel a terrible stabbing pain, as if you had been stabbed (for example) by a huge wooden spear.
Dude!  Fuck you!  No wonder they call this the Inhospitable Isle.  Wait, why do they call it that?  It’s where the ewes hang out, and all the other rooms have been alliterative according to what’s in them.  Does that mean I should be trying to get his eye?

Hey, what’s my ultimate goal, anyway?  I should probably be bitching about that.  No fair presenting me with word puzzles so I forget to bitch about shit!  (Hmm, what can I spell with my new letter?  Unless I can figure out how to get his eye, I’m limited to one vowel… oh, hey, I should try CUB.)

As you splash ashore, you hear Polyphemus call out “Who dares trespass upon the island of Polyphemus?”
Your response is… someone who wants a sheep
Polyphemus says, “Bad sheep!  No talking!” and stabs you in your midsection.
Okay, that didn’t work as intended, but it’s still funny.

Oh the glee that is being derived by me from this entire “Who dares trespass upon the island of Polyphemus?” business, it knows no bounds.
Your response is… mary mother of god
You answer in your best Boston accent.
Imagining that is cracking me up.

>pet bear
You pat the tiny bear cub.
Yay!  Wait, what do you mean my score just went up by half a point?

Whoo!  Got his eye!  I seem to only have the one, though, so I should maybe be careful what I spe- what the hell am I saying, I mean “make a save file.”

The Black Line El coughs, sputters, and wheezes accusingly, then dies with a very faint whisper of malice.  On further inspection, the train has shrunk to a mere fraction of its original size.
Yay!  Let’s see, I can make a… hmm, I can make a lip… that doesn’t sound useful… when will I be able to plug in the rest of the booths?  What could I spell then?  PUBLIC?  Man, I hate those fuckers.  They are the ones who got me into this mess in the first place.  Still, let’s try it, I guess!

>drink tea
(the little tub)
The tea is still too hot to drink.
>blow on tea
(the little tub)
You blow on the tea until it is cool enough to drink.
Man, what was the point of making me do that?  Sheesh.

Oh, shit, I’m glad that bear didn’t eat me!  It was a lot cuter when I was a lot bigger.
>x bear
You feel fortunate that it doesn’t seem to be very aggressive.

>push button
A lot of noises happen in the next few moments, but they can be summarized as follows:  scores of screaming voices poof into existence, scatter in all directions, splash into the seas, and end in muffled explosions.  Alas, poor collection of Yoricks.
[Your score has just gone up by half a point.]
Oh.  So, um, not PUBLIC, then.  Well.  Sorry, guys.  I could spell… I could spell PULPIT, but that doesn’t seem very useful.  Still, it’s probably got a funny message, so let’s try it!

Also, I guess that pushes this game up the cruelty scale, since I and L seem to be one-time items.  Everything you encounter at the farting-around stage, though, seems to be infinite, and by the time you get the I and the L you should have a good idea what’s going on, and there’s no reason for you to expect an infinite supply of el trains and cyclops eyeballs, so I am pretty okay with it.

Hmm.  I could spell CTULIP.  You know, the elder god Ctulip.  Maybe I should google “erebus.”  (Oh, man, speaking of things that rhyme with Erebus, these are fantastic.)  Oh, hey, maybe I need a light source?  I could spell… I could spell BULB, but that’s four letters, and I don’t know if four letters works.  Let’s see the funny message for PULPIT first.

Oh, hey, ten points for PULPIT?  Ten points seems to indicate I did something not-stupid!  It’s got space for a bulb, too… is another el train on its way?

Well, hot damn, I get the same miniaturized train back!  Hmm, maybe all this stuff was not disintegrating, just returning to whence it came?  Lemme check for dude’s eye.  Oh, hey, it’s back too!  That would make me feel better about all those sheep, if I’d thought to feel bad about all those sheep.

The tiny bulb is angled in such a way as to provide light only on the surface of the pulpit.  Outside of the pulpit, it’s too dark to read.

Is there an implicit auto-taking of things that are in a container in your inventory extension somewhere?  Because I seem to run into that a lot.

Huh, after all this work just to read my genetics textbook, I thought it’d be more fruitful.  Not that learning isn’t fundamental, mind you!

Hey, I can spell CLIT, although I would be really surprised if that were implemented.  So, game, I really could use a goal here.  I’m sure my ultimate goal is to get the fuck out of Erebus, natch, and I believe spelling three-to-six-letter words from the letters B, C, I, L, P, T, and U is the way to accomplish that; it would just be nice if I knew whether I was looking for a vehicle, some sort of deus ex machina, or what.  Actually what I would like would have been for that thing to be clued at the beginning of the game and sort of present in the distance throughout, although I understand not wanting to confuse the player.  (The ramping up of difficulty was really well-handled.)

Well, let’s make ourselves a tulip.  (I wish the game didn’t hang, but I understand that they sometimes do.)  Half a point, eh?  I see how it is.
This small but perfectly-formed flower can only be a tulip.  (From the genus Tulipa — hooray for Introduction to Botany!)
My character is such a dilettante.

You could use some assistance in escaping from Erebus.
No shit.

I can also spell PUBIC.  Oh, hey, how about a cult?  I do have this shiny new pulpit.

>push button
You feel yourself to be worthy of veneration, but lack any students to validate these feelings.
[Your score has just gone up by half a point.]
Damn.  I really thought I was onto something, with the idea of reading my genetics textbook to my cult.

Heh.  I can spell BUTT.  Goddammit, game, give me some direction here!  I’m running out of potty words!

Hmm, how about a pupil?

>push button
A nearby “poof” suddenly starts talking to you in a friendly male voice:  “Greetings to you who have summoned me to hear your teachings.  I am called Eumaeus, or Eu for short.  Please instruct me in your wisdom, and I will do my best to obey your commands.”
Well all right.

What am I supposed to be having him do, though?  Pick me up and throw me back to wherever I came from?

>eu, pet bear
Eumaeus says, “Okay, Noblest One.  I will pat the tiny bear cub.”
Damn right you will.

Man, don’t make me resort to the walkthrough.  I have been enjoying this game.  Better hints!  Better hints!

Dude, hints, quit jerking me around about what size I need to be!

>x me
You have seven beestings on your body.
That’s awesome.  Now please let me reach the ending?

The walkthrough, as far as I can tell, doesn’t work.  It just doesn’t fucking work.  Let me read around to see if I’m the one with the problem here.  (It has happened before!)  Hmm.  Everyone is right to complain about the fiddliness and inventory limits, by the way, but they don’t seem to have had trouble finishing.

Well, I’m sure we’re past the two-hour mark, and despite the fiddliness — dude, would it have killed anything for the booths to empty out in a chute in the same room? — and lack of direction, I fricking love wry-humor word puzzle games, and was enjoying the crap out of this one up until the walkthrough debacle.  I’m sure that, since it seems to be just me with the problem, there is something I am doing wrong, but dude. If the final puzzle is so poorly clued that I cannot complete it after combing through the walkthrough several times, the game is also doing something wrong.

Still, it’s past time, and rules are rules, so I will give it an eight, which is a ten for being an awesome funny word puzzle game minus two for fiddly bullshit and coulding haven been better direction-wise.  If anyone wants to explain to me how the hell to get out of Erebus, I will be in my trailer, thinking angry trailer thoughts.

Update:  Ah, that’s what I was doing wrong.  I was calculating from the booth room, not the pub room, and should have been one room further south.  Anyway, read this room description:
Calm Channel
Thanks to your faithful pupil, you are able to keep your feet dry.
Pop quiz:  is “up” a direction that exists from this room?  Are there tracks above you?  Maybe someone could have figured this out from the fact that one room north and one room up, there are broken railway tracks, but I am not that person.  Bad game!  Bad!  Bad!  Where is my rolled-up newspaper?


  1. You can actually turn on exit listing by typing “exits.”

    • Yeah, someone said that in their review, and I went “durrr.”

      • Well, it’s not like this is something you can usually do — at some point I just said “damn I have no idea where I can go from here, I wonder if ‘exits’ will work” and it did. It’s actually less helpful than you might think, given that all the rooms have the same name.

        This is another “didn’t read your whole review because I haven’t finished the game” special, btw. My browser tends to respond to Quixe rather passive-aggressively. 😦

      • Like, I just sat through at a conservative estimate ten unresponsive script errors for this:

        >put pea in first booth
        You can’t find anything relevant by that name.

        Something, probably Firefox, can eat a bowl of dicks. And not tasty dicks, either.

  2. I wonder why you’d leave that feature off by default. Do listed exits get in the way of people’s enjoyment of a game? “Man, I was really getting into this room description, and then it told me what was to my north, and I was all ‘WHOA HOLD ON THERE I THOUGHT WE WERE COOL!'”

    I am sorry your browser sucks so much. : (

    • Well, it may be me who should enjoy dicks for his sustenance, because I always keep tons of tabs open forever, and I understand that that is not a thing that you ought to do in Firefox. It’s a thing I want to do, though, and I think it’s mean of Firefox to not let me do it. What I’m saying is, I don’t know why I haven’t switched to one of those other browsers that the cool kids use. (My computer is also not new.)

      Also, I didn’t actually have the pea at the time, so it’s kind of my fault. On the other hand, I’ve basically typed this whole comment in the time it took me to move east and get the pea pod. I could be having a better experience, ‘swhat I’m saying, to the point where I wonder why I’m not doing work instead.

      (I realize it’s not PC to talk about eating a bowl of dicks as if it’s a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with eating dicks!)

      • I dunno, I kind of mentally separate performing fellatio from actually chewing and swallowing an entire bowl of dicks. I am not sure anyone who would actually enjoy that needs to be PCed at as opposed to culled from the herd for the benefit of everyone and their johnson.

        And I have no idea if this lets Firefox off the hook somewhat, but when I tried typing in the walkthrough last night, the standalone interpreter hung so badly that it took me over ten minutes to get through those, like, thirty or forty commands. Boy did that suck!

      • Yeah, currently getting lots of hang-time in Safari as well. It’s pretty unfair to the game, which is kind of getting the brunt of my frustration at having to wait 15-30 seconds for every command, though I’m also thinking things like “Does the inventory limit add one tiny thing to this game?” and “Haven’t I told you guys about how it’s annoying to place a renewable resource three rooms and two additional commands away from the place I actually need to keep using it?” In related news, I need a C and I dropped the tub somewhere.

        I do like the word puzzles! Though I also would have had no idea that I should be tossing things in booths if I hadn’t glanced over a bunch of reviews.

        Getting back to the main thread of the conversation, I’m kind of hoping that the main puzzle involves eating a bowl of dicks.

  3. Final puzzle, I mean.

  4. This has also shot the two-hour limit to hell, though I don’t think I’m voting this year anyway so that’s OK.

  5. For what it’s worth, this game has performance issues when played offline in a proper terp as well. It’s not just a browser thing, although playing it in a browser sounds like it makes it at least ten times worse.

    • Oh. I wonder if it’s something to do with dynamic objects.

      This is really too bad — the other game I tried to play in Quixe was The Blind House (which hangs after a couple turns), and then I didn’t play anymore Glulx games.

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