Acheton: Afterlife and endgame   4 comments

achetondisks

[Image from an Ebay auction.]

I’ve discussed how Acheton has many, many, ways to die. This is not unusual in an adventure game.

What *is* unusual is that in order to get all the treasures you need to die once.

Spoilers for this and the endgame follow.

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You are in a bare room with exits off in all directions. On the ground is a heavy stone slab bearing the words ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here – ANON’.
> off
The lamp is now off.
> e
You fell into a pit and broke every bone in your body.

You appear to have died. Do you want to be reincarnated?

I first essentially interpreted this as an out-of-game question, just like a RESTORE/UNDO/QUIT menu.

> no
You are in Hades. The place is lit by the eerie glow of fire and brimstone. The souls of the dead walk with heads hung and gloomy faces, trying to perform impossible tasks. The sound of demonic laughter echoes around, sending shivers down the spine.
> e
You are in Hades.
Anne Boleyn wanders past with her head under her arm.
.
.
[wander for a bit]
.
.
> s
You are in Hades.
There is a loud clatter as a party of Hell’s Angels rides past in fiery chariots.
There is a beautiful crystal skull on the ground near you!
> get skull
OK.
> anon
You get an odd feeling of weightlessness. Suddenly, the rock above opens and you float upwards through the resulting hole. Just as you arrive at the top, the rock snaps shut again and you discover …
You are in a bare room with exits off in all directions. On the ground is a heavy stone slab bearing the words ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here – ANON’.

On the unfair-o-meter, I didn’t find this Ludicrous once I found there was a treasure in the afterlife, but I needed hints to figure out how to get out. The random Dante reference in one room did not translate in my brain to an escape via magic word. (Incidentally, DANTE works also as the magic word.) The main difficulty was discovering the whole section exists in the first place, since for the longest time I immediately restore my game upon dying.

I’ve been harping on unfair parts in Acheton, but there is a saving grace: you don’t need every treasure to win. You won’t get a full score, certainly, but “finished and filling in missing points” has a different feel than the brick wall of being stuck in the middle.

You are in a 12-foot high rock chamber. There is a massive walk-in safe on the east wall. The west wall bears an inscription, and there is a bright yellow star apparently painted in the middle of the ceiling. A spiral staircase leads downwards.
> e
You’re inside the safe.

Placing all the treasures in the safe and then closing it results in…

> close safe
As you close the safe, the ground shakes slightly and a large slab of rock detaches itself from the ceiling, just missing you as it falls, and blocks the stairs.

A deep sonorous booming voice intones slowly:

ONE …
TWO …
THREE …
FOUR …
[etc, etc]
FIFTY FOUR …
FIFTY FIVE …

WELL DONE!! YOU ARE NOW FULLY QUALIFIED TO ENTER THE MASTERS’ SECTION.

I tested all the way down to forty-five treasures and still was able to enter the endgame. Omitting ten treasures is enough to skip most of the heavily obscure sections.

Upon entering the last section, you must face the fury of…

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee… >>oof<<
You are in a high, circular room with highly polished walls which sparkle and shimmer in all colours of the rainbow. Lighted passages lead off to the north and to the south. The room itself is lit by chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
There is a large basalt disc here.
There is a very large granite disc here.

…Towers of Hanoi! (CUE ENTHUSIASM) (CRICKETS)

To be fair, you don’t have to solve the whole thing; just move enough discs around to clear a hole that you enter for the final arena.

> d
You are in the gladiators’ arena. The crowd, consisting of former
successful adventurers, hushes as you enter. Once again, you hear the
booming sonorous voice, saying:
“LET THE FESTIVITIES BEGIN!”

Your opponent is:
A hissing vampire with large blood-stained protruding canines.

The following weapons are available:
A huge two-handed axe.
A vial of poisonous gas.
A five foot spear.
A two-handed broadsword.
A silver-tipped cane.
A small dagger.
A wooden crucifix.
A pointed wooden stake.
A large spiked mace.
A keg of gunpowder.
Which weapon would you like?

The rest of the game involves matching the right weapon to the right creature.

Which weapon would you like?
stake

You throw the stake at the vampire. He tries to dodge but seems unable
to do so. The stake pierces his heart, and he collapses in a heap of
dust.

This could nearly be considered choice-game mode — you can’t move around or do anything other than type weapon names — but there’s one last trick.

Your opponent is:
A black knight on a black charger.

The following weapons are available:
A huge two-handed axe.
A silver-tipped cane.
A keg of gunpowder.
Which weapon would you like?
NONE

The black knight charges into the arena, his lance pointing straight at you. At the last moment you jump to one side. He attempts to swerve, and in doing so becomes unseated and breaks his neck on landing. The crowd seems uncertain whether to cheer or not.

AXE works, but this is the only way to get the last 3 points of the game.

You throw the keg of gunpowder at the dragon, which is quietly blowing smoke rings at the time. A stray spark ignites the gunpowder and blasts the dragon into little bits. The crowd rise to congratulate you, master gladiator.

You leave the arena, to the applause of the crowd, and receive your laurel wreath.

You have scored 1500 points out of a maximum of 1500. You are now a Grandmaster Supreme of Acheton, and have been elected to the Ruling Council. Please communicate with the relevant authorities to claim your seat.

Congratulations!

Do you want another game?

Before I sign out, I should point out the commercial versions (covers above) are slightly different than the mainframe version I played. Primarily, the weapons that were just there in the arena are spread out through the whole game, and have to be brought to the endgame to get a complete resolution. While collecting the weapons makes the arena at the end seem less like an arbitrary surprise, there’s so many finicky things to worry about in Acheton I’d rather do without.

Consequently I’d recommend the mainframe version (Acheton.z8 from here) for anyone that wants to give the game a try. I’d think it’s still worth trying if you don’t go for a full score so you can skip the more obnoxious parts.

I can’t say Acheton is as good as Adventure or Zork, for 3 reasons:

1.) Acheton has multiple “cruel” bits were you can unknowingly break the game and not find out until many hundreds of moves later. Zork had a few points like that but it was obvious when it happened right away. You could lose a treasure in Adventure via the bridge, but it was essentially intentional on the player’s part and an acceptable puzzle to force the player to plan a way of getting their treasure back.

2.) Without light most of Acheton is unexplorable. Acheton’s lamp timer is very tight, and there’s just no chance for “noodling around”. Adventure had a relatively generous time limit, and Zork went one better with an unlimited light source.

3.) Adventure had both the pirates and dwarves, and Zork had the highly satisfying thief (who as far as game mechanics are involved, I still contend is one of the best NPCs in IF). Acheton has this guy:

A fearsome looking stone idol glares at you malevolently with its single green eye from the opposite end of the room.
> get eye
OK.
You wrench the eye of the idol from its socket. As you do so, the idol starts to glow faintly and emits a hollow groan. It then grabs at you, but fortunately you jump back just in time. The idol then blunders around the room searching for you for a few minutes, and you have a number of narrow escapes before it appears to give up. It then sits down in the lotus position, and then gradually fades away from view.

After taking the eye, the idol has a random chance of showing up and killing you the rest of the game. Not only is this far less interesting than intermittent battles with dwarves or the thief, the best strategy is to save taking the eye as the very last treasure, nullifying having the enemy at all.

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Posted January 17, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Acheton: Afterlife and endgame

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  1. _>_>_>
    You appear to have died. Do you want to be reincarnated?
    > no
    You are in Hades…
    <_<_<_

    I would never have got this. Never.

    Acheton is pure evil, but, I have to admit, you can't help but marvel at quite how evil it is.

  2. Pingback: Adventureland: Being stuck when you don’t know where you’re stuck | Renga in Blue

  3. Pingback: IFComp 2015: Duel | Renga in Blue

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