Sub Rosa: Finishing   5 comments

By Joey Jones and Melvin Rangasamy. Now finished, using several hints.


(Continued from previous post)

From where I left off I had some pure puzzle solving to do. I had a pretty strong determination to avoid hints but after 7 hours (including an hour and a half of pure flailing) I broke down and checked, and unfortunately the very first thing I caught a hint on was intensely frustrating.

(spoilers)

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The rug I mentioned in my previous post does hide a secret, but the message received from HANG is a pure red herring. Rather the correct thing to do is “look under rug”, which leads to a “magic hole” situation where you can go underground. I’m afraid it led to me nearly quitting entirely in frustration — I had spent an hour with the rug with no effect.

Here is the crux: the motion of peeling the rug up to look underneath is to my visualization exactly the same as the start of picking it up. The only difference is at the end the rug gets lifted off the floor. There is no reason there shouldn’t have been some kind of feedback going on.

I also had bad times with the “syllable puzzle” (lots of details here) where I got hung up because the game reported a song with a different syllable stressed each line but inexplicably did not report where those stresses where. I am still puzzled at this; while there are the parts of the game where the character has information the player does not, this was not an occasion where it made sense for this to happen.

I finally had probably unique problems with the water closet, which I imagined (and the dictionary defined for me) as a flush toilet. However, it is using the alternate definition (I found out after checking the walkthrough) of “a room with a toilet”, and that crucial distinction made me miss an item. It did not help no verb except the correct one gave any information.

However, having invested enough hours playing, I wanted to persist to the end. There certainly are clever parts later. What I liked most of all was the endgame: after you have found all 7 secrets, you have to clean up all the mess you’ve made so the Confessor isn’t aware you’ve been there. It was a brief, almost open world sort of experience, where I went down a checklist only to realize at the end some small thing I forgot (oh!) but the game is good enough to tell you the parts you missed so you can go back again. Some of these parts are as simple as closing doors, but others require more puzzle solving: for instance, during the secret-finding portion of the game you have to de-age a skull to see what it started as, but to cover your tracks you have to re-age it again.

The overall effect was of complete tension and verisimilitude. This made the final ending quite satisfying.

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Posted November 23, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Sub Rosa: Finishing

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  1. Reading the “details” link, it doesn’t seem like the solution actually has ANYTHING to do with stressed syllables! For instance the “L” in “sealing” isn’t stressed at all, but is part of the solution, and there aren’t any lines where two initial-letter-coinciding syllables needed to be chosen between on the basis of stress (e.g., if the second line had been “all our hopes in fear” rather than “all our hopes and fears”, H and I would both match, but only H would be stressed). I don’t remember at this point whether only the book said anything about stressed syllables, or whether the bird’s song description also mentioned it, but if the former then it was a strong red herring and if the latter it is a bit overboard — concentrated red herring extract!

    • Yeah, logic similar to what you are saying threw me in circles for a bit. I did give up on this one earlier than the rug, though.

  2. I think the rug does give you feedback when you take it. There’s a description of a hole in the floor closing up or something similar to that. I also struggled with this puzzle because, even though I thought the rug was odd, I never tried to “look under” it and just kept dropping and taking it. But I actually loved this rug, even though I had to get a hint about how to use it.

    • I would have loved it had I not gotten misled by the response to “hang”, I think.

      The hole closing up message only occurs when taking the rug after already looking under it.

  3. I only learned I could pick up the rug *after* I first lifted it up to look beneath. And why was that the first thing I tried with a rug?

    One word: Zork. :)

    It’s possible this mental connection is what the authors were (a touch overconfidently) counting on…

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