Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?




What brings people together? Is it society? Public transportation?
Is it life itself? Or is it... a smile?
Over 1 million take the metro daily; a smile brought 8 of them together.
You all have a collar, numbers 1-8. It is your salvation, and your demise.
Now who will make the sacrifice?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Head AS Code is a visual novel, originally released in 2018 (and then remastered in 2021) by a Canadian creator known as Miracle Moon. This is the first game in the 'Abime Series', with a sequel released in 2020 and the final game in the trilogy slated for release in late 2022. It is almost entirely a one-person operation (excluding the art and music), and it takes heavy inspiration from the Zero Escape trilogy. Does it manage to stand on its own despite its very obvious “inspirations”? Well... A+ for passion if nothing else :v:

The game follows eight people who have found themselves trapped in a metro network by a masked man who calls himself Smiley. He forces them to participate in what he calls the 'Dating Game'- a death game where they must take metro trains to different stations in the network and solve various trials while looking for their ticket to freedom- the missing ninth person.

I played the original around the time of its release and, in the interest of transparency, I was given a copy of the remastered version for free because I was an early supporter/buyer. The remaster completely changed the art (character AND backgrounds) as well as adjusted some of the writing to make its connections to the sequel more consistent. I'm LPing this because I legitimately find this game (and its sequel) fascinating from a story perspective and I think other people who like the infinity/Zero Escape franchises would be interested in seeing what a knockoff/budget Zero Escape could do. To be clear, this is by no means a perfect game or anything, the actual writing at points is, uh.... not perfect. :v: ...but I do legitimately think it's got a lot of heart, and the creator absolutely took to heart the criticisms when they released the sequel.. The start is pretty straightforward, but like the Zero Escape games there are branching paths on a flowchart, and the thread voted on which path to take whenever we reached said branches. One thing to note is that while the original game had a handful of puzzles to solve, the remaster replaced most of them with an exploration system closer to a point and click game, so at several points I've included the original puzzle at the end of the update to show what was removed.











































Mix. fucked around with this message at 20:34 on Sep 13, 2021

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?






SIMON FOURIER: Our protagonist. Has a part-time job as a pizza deliveryman and is kind of a cowardly weenie, which has led him to be good at running (away). Has complicated feelings about the direction his life is going, as well as his relationships with his childhood friend Jasmine and his roommate Marco. Going by the name 'S' during the events of the Dating Game.


JASMINE CARON-BERNIER: Simon's childhood friend who he hasn't seen in person for a few years. Has a reputation for acting like a big sister to others and is good at analyzing people's emotional states. Dyes her hair, and does not need her glasses to see. Going by the name 'J' during the events of the Dating Game.


MARCO MARTIN: Simon's long-term roommate. Has a multitude of piercings and tattoos, and usually wears custom-made clothing. Despite his laid back, jokester persona, he actually has a masters in a complex scientific field. Going by the name 'M' during the events of the Dating Game.


'RAY': A tall, imposing man who finds himself in the Dating Game alongside the others. Has a durable, tanky build, to the degree his clothes do not seem to fit. Very irate and direct about what he's thinking, to the point of being harshly blunt towards the group. Always carries around a flask with an unknown substance inside.


'A': An frail-looking, elderly man who finds himself in the Dating Game alongside the others. He is always smiling, but prefers to step back and let conversations play out. He calls himself a 'knight of justice', though what that means (and whether he actually means it) is anyone's guess.


'E': A woman in her late twenties who finds herself in the Dating Game alongside the others. She is both blind and deaf, and the headset she wears is implied to have a connection to her disabilities. Wearing a traditional garb that seems out of place. Is very gentle, and thinks her statements through before speaking.


'G' and 'H': A pair of teenage twin sisters who find themselves in the Dating Game alongside the others. While they dress similarly, their personalities could not be more opposed; H is hotheaded and direct, while G tends to be shier (but more intelligent). H tends to be overprotective of her sister, while G sometimes finds herself having to prove that she's capable on her own.


SMILEY: The mastermind behind the Dating Game. Their age, gender, and identity is a complete mystery, as well as their reasons for holding the game in the first place. Wearing what appear to be cult robes of some kind and a helmet that covers their entire head.

Mix. fucked around with this message at 10:40 on Jul 16, 2021

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?







More darkness.

They say life begins with darkness and ends with darkness.

That's probably way more philosophical than my situation was then, because my life had already begun many summers ago, and as far as I was aware, hadn't ended yet. Something else had to have been the cause of this darkness.

Clearly, all of this was explained by the fact my eyes were simply closed. I'd dozed off earlier and now I was waking up, that's all. Something did bother me about that predicament: the surface I was on wasn't a bed. While comfortable, it didn't feel like a bed.

BGM: Ambient Strain


I sleep horribly on couches, which was why I made a point of never doing it if I could avoid it. Something very unusual must have happened for me to consider it.

From behind, I spied three people. They were discussing something with the utmost urgency. Their tones were hushed, as if they were trying to ensure they couldn't be overheard. Did I have any cause for concern? No, that's too paranoid, even for me.

They most likely just didn't want to wake me up. I had a feeling that was the case because... one of them was Jasmine and she had no reason to keep anything from me.



You don't have to worry. Nothing bad will get through me!

Then again, her words implied she was my jailer. I hadn't seen her face to face since maybe... four years ago now. Truth be told, I missed the times I spent with her before. That's right, she's my childhood friend! Yeah, nothing more.

Except now, she lived on the other side of the country, unlike the boy next to her, who was named Marco. He lived much closer to me. We shared an apartment, after all. Once again, we were friends, nothing more.



He was in disagreement with her plan. His words, unlike Jasmine's, eased my mind about my predicament: she was not, in fact, my jailer. Honestly, though, I wouldn't have minded that.

Wait, what did he mean by “not safe”? Where exactly were we? If I was here with Jasmine and him, it couldn't have been so bad, but... I thought maybe I should ask him. Maybe he would have some answers for me, since he's pretty smart. ...Or would he make fun of me by turning it into a joke, like he always did?

At least, I knew I could depend on him. After all, he's got a master's degree in some weird stuff that sounds like “mathematics”. I forgot what it was and obviously, it's not that... and I wasn't awake enough to remember it.

Instead, I tried to remember what could have brought us here. Were we in the landlord's office? Ugh, my head hurt so badly, I had issues remembering anything... Looking around once more, I noticed we were in some kind of bar, or at least, there was a counter with some stools. Yeah, that wasn't the landlord's office.



It read: You don't know what you have til it's gone.

A chill ran up my spine as I read the words in my head. This entire place was giving me the creeps, now that I was awake to take it all in.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Little...boy? I looked at my body only to realize I wasn't little. I was twenty-four. That man, though... I didn't know who he was, but we as much bigger than I was. Judging by the gray hair, he was in his fifties, perhaps?

You're finally awake! That solves our little problem. I hope we didn't wake you up.

No, it's okay... I... didn't sleep very well.

It sure won't beat the bed you just got last month. And by the way, you still owe me for that, remember?

I absent-mindedly nodded, but Jasmine changed the topic. I was thankful for that, since I didn't want to be reminded about my debts right now.



Some words she said didn't make sense. M and Ray? I had to assume Marco was M and this guy was Ray, but why call Marco “M”? I was very lost so I simply nodded, masking my confusion.

Ah, yeah, a new place after heading out... Makes sense.

A part of me wanted to believe this was a weird dream. That was probably... the cowardly part in me. The same part was also telling me to not let them know I wasn't up to date with the recent events. Unfortunately, where others might have quieted that part, I... listened to it. I always listened to it.

It might've been a little on the nose to admit to myself how cowardly I was, but if there was one thing I couldn't hide from, it was that. I knew I was a coward even if I didn't look the part.



Whatever. The sooner we explore more, the sooner we'll be out of here. I'll take the punk with me again and you can go with your girlfriend. That good for you?

Girlfriend?! W... wait, wait- I didn't know what happened before I slept, but... I mean, I was not really opposed to it either because she's cute and... What was I thinking? That man almost got me flustered there for a moment. It would be far too embarrassing to reveal that... I did have feelings for her, kind of. Maybe. Oh, I actually was embarrassed.

poo poo, there was no hiding it anymore now. I felt like an embarrassed, clueless teenager. Get a grip, Simon! I just had to say something before my cheeks got any redder.





I took a sidelong glance at her and noticed she looked as rosy as I was. I didn't think it was fair for her to blame me if she was also embarrassed! Marco stayed quiet, apparently thinking about doing something horrible. I felt an incredible need to leave before he opened his big mouth again. Thankfully I was saved by the imposing man. Cursed and saved by the same man in the span of two minutes? That ought to be some kind of record.





This 'Ray' person didn't seem too friendly so I took my mind off him by turning my attention back to Jasmine and Marco. The latter was a little deflated by what I assumed was Ray calling him “punk” over and over.

Yeah, can't wait for that, sounds amazing, woo... Hey J and S, you sure you want to head out together? Either of you care to mix it up a little?

Jasmine categorically shook her head.



And just like that, after a brief wave, she was gone too, leaving me with Marco. He looked back at me, uncertain of how to proceed.



That guy could destroy me with a well-placed punch.

That would at least give me enough time to talk to Marco a little, if I wanted to die due to a horrible joke or two. Or... I guess I could also head out to join Jasmine right away.



Basically, all an Active Search is is a moment where you can poke around a location or talk to the people who are in the same place to get their input on things. There's no penalty for looking around, and sometimes you have to do so in order to be able to talk or use something and progress. Talking can sometimes progress the story (but not always), whereas interacting with an object will always progress the story. It's generally recommended to look at everything whenever an AS occurs, as it is entirely possible to skip these segments entirely which can lead to missing information.





As this is technically the tutorial AS, the only things you can do are talk to Marco or examine and then leave the room (which will progress the story). Thus, we should talk to Marco first...



I keep telling you, Marco's fine when nobody's around, Simon. Apparently, we're just using these names in lieu of our real names just so we don't... uh... honestly, I don't know.



Ah, yeah. That wasn't too smart.



I shook my head. No, I didn't know, and I didn't want to know. Everything he touches turns into a joke. Kind of like Midas, who had the power to turn anything he touched into gold.

I didn't want to be turned into a joke myself, so I saluted to part from him.

Yeah, I should head out too. Ray will get mad...

I wondered why he was named Ray and not something like 'R”, but that would be like admitting I was a little lost lamb and that's really not... cool. The last thing I wanted to do was to give him even more ammo for his stupid jokes.

Since Marco went back to hanging around in silence, I left him be.



There's nothing left for us to look at and we can't talk to Marco anymore, so all that's left is to leave.

It wouldn't be a good idea for me to postpone joining Jasmine down the stairs, so I moved as if to leave the place.



Marco's words reminded me of something. I focused on that while grumbling some farewells back at him.

From my uniform's side pocket, I pulled out a cap which I nervously adjusted back onto my head. I kept it stashed away whenever I could, but right now, it might give me some courage. My boss wasn't here, thank god. If he saw me without that cap on, he'd probably give me a truckload of swears. Normally, I hated wearing the dam thing. In here... it was kind of comforting, at least.

BGM: Ambient Strain
It was comforting because it was one of the few things that felt normal.



Stepping outside, I found myself in the last area I'd have thought I'd emerge into.



The more I looked around the station, the more this didn't make any sense to me. I gave up trying to understand exactly where the hell I was because no matter what station this was... I knew for a fact none of them had a spacious bar upstairs. At least, there was no open bar like that, directly after taking the first flight of stairs. That didn't make any sense.





Straight to the point, not even a hello. I assumed this place didn't really have her in a jolly mood.

I was completely lost so I just nodded. However, I had a feeling Jasmine had picked up on my confusion. Taking a glance to the other side of the station, I saw Marco and Ray in the distance. Well, like she said, we had some time to kill before the train arrived. I was curious about the place, so I could either look at stuff, or... talk to her. I'd probably need to talk to her sooner or later, so it's just a question of when.



This next AS, on the other hand, has a lot to look at. Starting with the walls...

Funny, I didn't remember the walls being like that in any station I'd seen. I hadn't visited all of them, though, so maybe that's just how this station was. Station walls certainly varied wildly depending on where you were at. Some of them had brick walls, while others were tiled. Some were pristine, some were decorated with graffiti. Some were featureless... and some of them had ads all over the place. Most of them did, to be fair.



Next, the television screen...

That wasn't there last time I came in here. All the screens used to be suspended, but this one was mounted on the wall with four mega-large screws behind it. Currently, it was powered off.

That TV was bigger than any other I'd ever seen. Clearly, that must've cost a fortune. Marco would lose his mind if I brought something like that back home.



Might as well look at the sign while we're at it.

“Danger! Staff only!” That's what it said. That little maintenance hall was shrouded in darkness. That's where the staff usually went to fix all of the subway's problems, whenever it had any.



So of course, we're going to poke around in that hallway immediately :v:

It was too dark in there. I could barely make out some kind of weird metallic gate. If Jasmine wasn't going in, then I assumed it was locked and searching it wouldn't help me in the least.

Next to the little maintenance hall was a yellow stripe on the ground which stretched across the entire border of the station. If I stepped beyond it, I'd fall down onto the rails.



Nothing left to look at, guess it's time to talk to Jasmine.



Uh...

I didn't really know how to tell her. On one hand, I didn't want her to find out I had no clue about what was going on when they all clearly did. It would make me look like I didn't have my stuff together.

On the other hand, I was at a severe disadvantage not understanding.



Luckily for me, Jasmine was a kind person who always had my back and she listened. Finally understanding what nagged at me, she began explaining in vague terms.

I think I know what you have right now and... that sounds like amnesia to me. It's probably super dangerous if I go too fast, due to how the memories are like, locked right now or something? I'll just take it slowly, then, assuming its temporary. I guess I can explain the minimum to you just so you know and understand enough, at least.

If you say so. I don't really know much about amnesia but I still want to know what's going on. Where is this place? Who's Ray?



BGM: Ascertaining Speech


I honestly don't know who Ray is, so I'll talk about what I know. There are five color-themed lines, but you already know all this. What's really important is the fact we're actually stuck here. There's no way out; we already tried to force doors open, no dice.



I felt a shiver run up my spine at that. This felt a little like one of those... One of those Escape the Room new-age reality games. Except for the fact we were clearly not paying to be entertained, here.



I swallowed. She had to be joking... Surely it wasn't real and someone was just toying around with us? It was then that I noticed the collar Jasmine was wearing around her neck.

Come to think of it, Marco and Ray had also been wearing a collar like that, hadn't they? I didn't even need to check my own neck. I could feel one there too. I decided against touching it. It seemed... dangerous, somehow.



I waited for her to continue, but it took a while, and as the seconds passed I could tell she was trying to... It felt like she was trying to stop herself from... giggling?

BGM: Silence


BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Pretty much all my fears left at this moment, and instead I was staring at her with the same irresistible desire to laugh.

What the hell, the Dating Game? We're definitely being toyed with here, that's what I think.

BGM: Silence
No.

Just as suddenly as the mood shifted to something lighter, it reverted to something rather uncomfortable as Jasmine stared at me, no longer amused. With the most serious tone in the world, she completed her thought.



BGM: Alarming Silence
A glacial feeling spread through me from my feet, crawling upwards along my legs to latch onto my back. It was tightening my stomach, creating a knot in my throat. Wait, “might”?

T... There's no way, that's a joke, isn't it...? And besides... “might”? So you aren't sure?

Jasmine looked at me, as seriously as she could ever be.

It's not a joke and... about the uncertainty, it's complicated. But if what I saw was real, someone really... died... so as funny as the name is, this is real...





Then I looked at the train again. The Dating Game, huh? That was a stupid name. And yet, as she walked forward and tugged me into the train, there was no avoiding it.

I was going on a date with Jasmine, then. A date that could very well... kill me.

BGM: Ambient Strain


One thing was for sure: all I had been told was making me feel nauseous. Yet, for all it was, I couldn't sit down. Normally, I would have. I just... needed to do something in this familiar, yet... unfamiliar place.

BGM: Silence
A three-step ding dong echoed, signaling the train was leaving the station. When it took off, I reflexively grabbed onto one of the beams for support. Crap! Those things were full of germs. That was why I usually sat down. I had to wash my hands soon.



At least, that was familiar. It was the announcer speaking as a lady's voice, whose entire job had been to record public service announcements for those who used the metro lines. They were in French, because we're in Montreal, of course. Translated literally, it's just “next station” with the name of the station.

However... the station wasn't named correctly. The messages must've been changed, but why? Did they want to make it clear what we'd find at each station? Or were they worried about copyright? Nah, it couldn't be that stupid.

Since we had some time, I decided to strike up some conversation with Jasmine.



None of this information is missable, it's more a matter of what we want to find out immediately; I'm going to skip the questions about Simon, as he's the point of view character, and I'm also going to skip the question about the game, since that'll be explained properly again later so no point in having it covered twice. As such, I'll start with asking more about Jasmine.

-Jasmine's occupation

Hey, Jas.



Oh, erm, right. Anyway, I meant to ask about how the job's going.

My graphical designs? They're all going swimmingly. Sometimes I wonder if I should have studied further though... not that I can justify going back right now... I got a bit client who wants me to make large nature landscapes and it's really difficult. I'm not very good with the colors he's involving in it.



The pay is probably good to offset that, though. I know you wouldn't take a job you didn't think you could do.

Correct!

I didn't know what to add to that, so I added nothing. Jasmine always had her poo poo together. A complete contrast with me...

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Instead, I took a seat on one of the various colorful benches scattered about. The last thing I wanted to happen was her to think I was useless. I needed to rest to be in shape. But I'd already rested, on that couch, no? Unless... I was carried there.

Hey, what are you thinking about?

BGM: Silence


The announcer cut her off rather rudely as the train set off again.

I don't know.



She flashed a smile. Yeah, she was dependable to a fault.



Since the last question I asked was about a character, I'm going to ask about the current year instead.

-The current year



Of course. What, did you forget that too? Or are you just making sure you didn't leave the stove on for seven months?

No, no, I remember everything “normal”, like your name, your occupation, my own name... I just forgot what we're... doing here. Just making sure some things are still normal, you know?

Short term memory loss then, I see. It's not really that bad of a case of amnesia then. But yes, we're in 2022, the year where nothing goes right.

Isn't every year like that, anyway?

I thought back to 2020, with the large-scale virus outbreak we lived through. Same year also had tons of riots over injustice and racism. And in 2021 was... don't even mention it.

(This was NOT in the original game, for the record, so I lost it when I first got to this bit :v: )



Or terror attacks, or crimes committed by teens. No school shooting that I can tell, and also, they restocked my favorite limited brand of pizza!

I had to change the subject before we got onto the topic of pizza.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


This one's already done, so we don't need to go here. And the next one... that's the one some of the others chose to go to. Oh, right, you don't know about them. I don't mean M and Ray. We're eight here in total.

There was something that didn't feel right, somehow. The amount of people was eight... but it wasn't what was nagging at me. What was nagging at me was the train's trajectory.

BGM: Silence


I had to ask her about it, but first I wanted to catch up with her some more. It was, for all I knew, the only opportunity I might have had to do so in here.



So what's Marco's deal, anyway? We know he's Simon's roommate, but is that all? :v:

-Marco, Simon's roommate

So what do you think of Marco? You two haven't met before today.



She made a motion with her hands, but I couldn't understand what she meant by that. She was pointing at me while making a V with her fingers. Huh? No, that was counting. She was doing the sign for “2”.

Wait, wait, hold on. No, that's not like it at all! We're just roommates.



That kind of guy? Hey, there was nothing wrong with...

I remember how you looked at Ms. Penmill, back in college...

Woah woah, hey! That was six years ago! I... listen, you're impossible! You can't just bring that back up, that's not fair...

All she had to offer as a retort was a mocking giggle. Why did she see everything, all the time? Every time anything happened, she just... knew exactly what was going on. I cursed myself for ever having a crush on that teacher. I brought everything back to my earlier thought, deciding that was enough for now. My available time before the train arrived at our destination was getting shorter and shorter.

So... couldn't we just ride the train all the way to the end?



The next one's taken already. After that is... ours.

That was simple enough. She really knew everything that was going on, huh? I was about to confront her about that, since it might give me an idea for how long this whole thing had been going on, but the train arrived at the station.

I expected it to go off again this time but contrary to what she said, the next station was... not our stop. The train didn't move to leave.

BGM: Ambient Strain




Is that a problem?

Now that I asked, I remembered what she said earlier about the others. She took the lead, stepping further ahead of me, closer to the doorframe.

Yeah, that's really weird because the others went here. Two of them did: an older guy and some really weird girl with a mask and headphones. Hey, anybody here?!

Jasmine called out in the station, but there was no reply. My stomach tightened as a flash of a thought went through my head.

BGM: Silence
Jasmine said...someone died already.

BGM: Alarming Silence
Could it be... Did the others also...

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
No, no way. They'd be fine too. For sure. I shook my head to get out of that stupor.



The train had already gone and the only way back was to cross the rails to take a train from the other side. But... the rails were definitely too dangerous to cross.

Giving a glance over there, I noticed it. The indication. 750 volts. That's the voltage going through those rails at all times. If we touched them, we were toast. Not to mention, crossing was dangerous because... what if a train was coming?

The much safer alternative was to go up the stairs, cross to the other side using the station above and come back down there. I was going to suggest it, but Jasmine had things to tell me.



And... if they solved this place, then the train should've left earlier with us inside it. Which means this is ours to deal with. Do you feel okay now?

Yeah, I can handle myself.



Yep.

I'll take care of most of it, since you're still, you know. Not entirely caught up. But I might need help.

Sure. Hey, uh, how do I ask this...? There's no time limit or anything, right?



Say, you know a whole lot about this place, Jas.

I changed the topic for something that had been bothering me. She looked at me with a smile and a wink.

Oh, I'm just perceptive, that's all. And besides, it's been a few stations already, so I'm getting the hang of it! Though, you should call me J here, so people don't figure out our names...



Smiley, is that right? As much as I'd like to ask about him, you probably don't know any more than I do, huh?

BGM: Silence




Hey, come up too!

Yeah, yeah, coming!

While we didn't have a time limit, I couldn't stay down here and be left behind.

Once again, the thought that I didn't want to appear useless came over me. That's right. I had to join her in the search of this place. With only one way to go forward, I took the stairs. Arriving at the top, I saw what she'd meant much earlier.

BGM: Ambient Strain




It's not weird, J. You haven't been in an infirmary before, have you?

I don't think so, no. I already searched those drawers over there.

I remembered that I needed to wash my hands. After touching stuff in the train, I really needed a good rinse. There was a sink next to the counter, so I made a beeline for it.

You know, that makes sense. I should've cleaned my hands too.

You didn't?! That's definitely a sin in one of our existing religions, I'm sure...!

Hey, hold up, I was going to do so, now that you reminded me of it. I'm not a heathen or anything!

You better repent, that's right.

I just meant to tease her, but I didn't know if she took it that way . Not too far, there was some sort of bed. It looked comfortable...



Uh, not really. I'll go search elsewhere in this place for a while and come back here later.

I'll holler if something's wrong. Like if some slime monster crawls out of the sink now that I woke it up by running the faucet...

Oh, that's just ridiculous, now!

And yet, she moved away. Did I finally get back at her? I didn't know. But one thing I knew... this bed was going to give me a good nap. Maybe that's why I didn't sleep on couches too. No matter how comfortable they were, when I woke up I always felt like poo poo. This rest was just what I needed.

BGM: Silence
Now lying on the bed, I closed my eyes and drifted off.



But the more I tried to sleep, the more I couldn't. This bed was remarkably uncomfortable. I didn't notice it until I was on it, but it was kind of hard, like if it had seen countless use and hardened with time. It was probably used for short examinations. Go figure, we were in an infirmary and not a luxurious hotel suite. I rose back up while grumbling some profanities.

All in all, that entire process had taken a few minutes. I wondered what Jasmine was doing now.. but since she wasn't around, I didn't feel the need to call for her yet.



And then, she'd be grateful, and it would be a successful date. Heh... that was probably just wishful thinking. I didn't think I could ever get to her level.

Slapping my cheeks with both hands, I woke myself up. Alright, Simon, now's the time. It's time to search the poo poo out of this place, and then call for her when I found something cool.


:allears:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Active Search

Like I said before, it's pretty obvious what you should interact with to progress the story, but I'm gonna poke around whenever I can because hey, it might be important! :v: You may have also noticed the 'Map' icon has shown up, as this is an AS specifically tied to one of these escape room sections. Clicking it brings up a floorplan for where you currently are at. Case in point, the Infirmary's map is this:



I appreciate the work that's put into this, considering its not like we're ever going to be free roaming around (it's a VN, not a walking sim :eng101: ), so credit where it's due for going the extra mile on stuff that isn't a necessity. As for poking around the room, I'm going to start with the giant poster.



Whoever drew this had no artistic talents whatsoever.

Clicking on the bed just leads him to complain about it being uncomfortable some more. The wall vent, however...



Wait- drat! I thought it up in the end since I had to think it to point out I didn't.

He also has nothing to say about the sink, leaving only the shelves.



There were some glasses, a radio for some reason, pill bottles, a box... Nothing I could really combine or use in any way. This escape room sucked. Even if we weren't timed, I still felt as though I wasted some time with this side. Also, it made me wonder about the purpose to all this. If this was called the Dating Game, why would they put us in a room that encouraged us to split up? Wouldn't the idea be that we'd cooperate by doing something together?

I shook my head. Back to the search.



Inside was... just a coin, nothing big. The coin itself was a little bigger than a two dollars coin. On it was a large, engraved eight. Was it worth eight dollars? No way. Coins were worth up to two, not eight. Still, it seemed useful for something or another, so I pocketed it.

I wondered why this was called a cupboard. Was it because people first put cups inside of them? But that's not a board, thats a box. Wouldnt it be better to call them cupboxes?

The surface of the counter was so shiny. This had been cleaned with the utmost precision. Too bad there was nothing else of interest there.



If you clicked on the railing before, Simon basically just noted that it existed and was screwed into the wall. Now that you have the coin, however...



It was probably safe to call Jasmine over, since I'd found something important. I could also take a look around the room some more, if I really wanted.

There's nothing else to look at, however, this is just in case you didnt click on everything beforehand.

Hey, J! How fareth thine searcheth?

I heard some rustling from a nearby area. Soon enough, Jasmine wandered back into this section, clutching in her hand a key.



Hey, hey, woah, you're Jasmine, not Juliet.

With her fists pushed onto her hips, looking annoyed, she stared at me like I just ruined a joke.

Remember what I said about the nicknames?

Oh, poo poo, she was right.

Okay, okay. You're J, not J! Get it? Because they begin the same way...

And you're not Romeo at all either. I bet he'd have swept me right off my feet.



Looking for something? I just finished looking around this place.

Yeah, a lock. I think I found it...

And she inserted the key into it. Turning it, she opened the cupboard, taking out a strange tablet. She looked behind it.



Oh, it's got a touch screen. I wonder if...

I touched it, but it didn't light up. Jasmine and I examined the side and I figured it needed the USB stick I found in the wall. After plugging it in, I tried my earlier maneuver again... The screen lit up at the contact, surprising Jasmine.



A pretty lady such as thou shouldn't uttereth these vile vociferations!

You know adding “th” at the end of a word doesn't automatically make it correct old English...

Ghk! She completely disregarded the rest of what I said!



I couldn't see what she was staring at, since she had the screen of the tablet aimed at herself. From what I could see of her expression, she was very puzzled.

What is it?

It's kind of like...a puzzle I guess. I can't make heads or tails of it. There are three numbers: two of them aren't set and the middle one is static. In the middle is the number nine and both numbers on the sides have an arrow pointing towards it. I can change the numbers on the sides but not the middle one...



Do you think we absolutely have to do it?

We probably have to. The rooms have these silly puzzles sometimes. What's inside the tablet will probably help us. Maybe we'll even get the code for the keypads leading back out.

She tried again and again but she only got frustrated with it.

Ugh! Have a shot at it if you want.

She left the tablet on the counter and stormed off. Maybe, deep inside, she had the same worry as me, about looking useless.



The leftmost number was blue... the rightmost number was red... and the one in the middle was just kind of weird. The upper, middle, bottom, and lower-right lines were purple, while the others were blue and red too. She totally didn't mention that. Maybe she thought it wasn't important? I could tell the middle number was nine, though. I tried the same thing she did, no dice. Surely the colors were important then.

Oh! The areas were purple because it was blue laid over red! So that meant...the numbers I had to enter were five and three for blue and red respectively.

We don't get to solve this puzzle, but honestly you probably figured it out just from looking at it :v:

Bingo! It worked.



She came back just as I opened the back slot. Inside was a piece of paper with a bunch of incomprehensible scribbles.

Oh, that's exactly what I need. Something stumped me over there too, gimme that!

Without waiting for any sort of objections, she snatched it from me. I set the tablet aside now that it had, apparently, done what it was meant to do.

I'll be right back. I think we're almost out of here.



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


The whole thing?

I unlocked all the doors. I also found... something else. Some kind of remote with no purpose here. But umm... it's the kind of thing I think we should share with the others, so I'll show you at the lounge.

Alright, if you say so.

I set off towards the set of doors, but Jasmine stopped me with a hand around my wrist.



She looked fairly worried. I had no choice and my curiosity was piqued anyway.



Or perhaps it was just supposed to tell us to stop. I was about to walk in when Jasmine shook her head, keeping a tight hold on my arm.



Otherwise...

BGM: Ambient Strain
Jasmine dragged her finger across her neck in a motion that left little to the imagination.

Yeah, okay, I get you... But what now, then, if this isn't where we have to go?



More information. My head hurt again, as if it was trying to remember something. Seeing as she was walking again, I followed after her.



It took very little time and the train arrived. We boarded it in silence even if I could tell Jasmine looked at me from time to time, worried over my amnesia. This time, she didn't say a word, though.

It's just like she said. If all my memories came back at once, it would be pretty painful, especially if I'd built new ones. It was better to not force it.

BGM: Silence
Just like before, the train drove through each station. Just like before, the train opened its doors at a station, waited a little, then closed them again to resume its movements. The cycle repeated a few times until we arrived all the way back at the lounge. As the announcer had said its name, I now knew this was the leisure (or lounge) station, which, according to Jasmine, replaced the one at the center between all colored lines.

BGM: Ambient Strain
Or most of them, at least. I still couldn't wrap my head around how this huge, sprawling, very populated station could be a lounge now. Did Smiley pull some strings so nobody would be allowed to use the metro at all during this day?

Or maybe... maybe this was happening during the night, since every day, the metro stopped running for a couple hours for maintenance. No... they'd still need to renovate this whole place.

Time to go.



I hope the others came back too. If not...well, we'll just figure out what we'll do then. And we'll have the lounge just for ourselves. Let's go.

I wasn't sure if that was good or bad... I mean, of course it was good! It was really great, even! But... Ahh, it had been four years since I last saw her. Being with her like this... made me feel lightheaded.



Yeah, if it wasn't for all of those weird things, it would just be us... walking together... taking the train... going to places and hanging out... But this headache was growing worse and worse! I was probably on the cusp of remembering something about this situation. I held my forehead with a hand. There was no hiding it from Jasmine.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Hmm.. no one here. At any rate, I'll go back downstairs to wait for them. Go ahead and have a real lie-down this time if you want. No one's gonna bother you. They won't get through me!

Once again, she flashed me a smile. Once again, I was putty in her hands. Oh, Jasmine... I awkwardly rubbed the back of my head, embarrassed that I had to rely on other people so much.

The most cowardly part about this was how I wanted her to stay here too... But I couldn't bring myself to ask her, and I instead went with what she suggested. This was probably why I was still single. Always running away. Always uncertain about what I wanted to do. This job I had, these studies I went through; they were all because I wasn't sure. I took up artistic studies because Jasmine went for them. I studied with her abroad because she decided to do it and I didn't want to let her go alone. I didn't want to let go of her.



And that had caused me to let go of her completely, as I moved back to Montreal from Vancouver. Because I couldn't move forward, it cost me Jasmine four years ago. Of course now I regret everything and now, at least, she was right here. I could finally right the wrongs of my past.

Well, okay then. I'll see you in a bit.



BGM: Silence



That's what I would've liked to happen, at least. But the muffled sound I heard, coming from the station, wouldn't allow it.

BGM: Alarming Silence


A gunshot.

I had a sudden thought for Jasmine. She was downstairs, right? Quickly, I went there, running down the stairs faster than I'd ever done.



I only just caught a glimpse of someone inside it, but I couldn't tell who it was. All I saw was a flash of cyan. Whoever that person was, they... had fired a shot. Was it a warning shot? Or something worse? My mind was swimming with awful possible scenarios. I mentally cursed myself. No, I couldn't imagine the worst until I'd seen it. Until then, it wasn't the worst.

Life has a way of robbing you of hope the moment you think you have it.



Purple tights. Those were purple tights.

Jasmine?

No answer. At this point, I cared little for the letter nicknames.

Jas...? Is that you...? Someone was here...

Still no answer. At first, I thought it would suck if Jasmine had been the one who fired the gun. But that meant, maybe, she could've been in the train. Maybe she would've been fine. Then again, maybe she was. A part of me thought perhaps, she'd just knocked herself out by dodging the shot, or maybe she was playing dead until the gun-wielder had been gone. I couldn't be sure until I took a closer look.

It took all my will to gather up my courage for this. To look reality... in the face.

Jasmine? Answer me, already...



Just as quickly, I stumbled backwards until my body hit the large screen. I fell over in surprise, only to get back up, unable to believe it. That sight, that grim, loving sight was unmistakable. Now, I was confronted with the worst case scenario I imagined.

Jasmine... you're...



She was dead. Jasmine- the bright, vivacious girl I'd known since childhood- was dead. Both of my hands held my face in the shock of the moment. I couldn't scream. I tried, but nothing would come out. The realization was far harsher than I could've ever imagined.

I didn't want to face the truth anymore. A lie was better.



Jasmine was dead. Jasmine was dead and I wouldn't see her again. Jasmine was dead and I wouldn't hear her speak again. To top it all off, her killer... was on the loose. I kept repeating it in my head. I couldn't... believe it. I finally moved but it was all pointless. I balled my hands in firsts, then relaxed them. I was trembling and I had no tears, no matter how much I tried to cry.



At that moment, I remembered she'd mentioned something about a remote, but... There had been nothing like that on her when I checked her. Had it been taken by the person who shot her square in the head...?

Was that the reason behind her murder, that stupid remote? I had no clue what was going on, I couldn't even fathom what happened. Perhaps, due to my amnesia, I'd forgotten something important. I'd forgotten who the culprit might have been. Important clues... I needed to remember them.



You don't know what you have til it's gone

I felt a chill run up my spine... because that message had been aimed at me. No wonder the words had felt so ominous earlier. But... if I remembered... maybe I could figure it out and make them pay. Would that bring her back? No, but...

All of a sudden, as I contemplated those words, an earthquake took place, shaking the room. I quickly lost my footing.


(Imagine the background shaking so hard it hurts to look at even if you dont have image sensitivity issues and you've basically got the visual of what's happening here)

I managed to catch myself as I fell, only to roll over under the continued movement. I slammed into a wall and gave a small scream of pain.

Perhaps, as a result of this shock and the hit on my head, that was triggered my memory to come back. It all came back at once, leaving me breathless for several moments.

Mix. fucked around with this message at 20:16 on Sep 13, 2021

Epicmissingno
Jun 30, 2017

Thank gooness we all get along so well!


This looks like it could be interesting! Not a huge fan of the game wresting control away for the tutorial puzzle; hopefully future escape rooms give a bit more player control.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Having the character who actually knows stuff die in the first 10 minutes is certainly an interesting way to start off.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Epicmissingno posted:

This looks like it could be interesting! Not a huge fan of the game wresting control away for the tutorial puzzle; hopefully future escape rooms give a bit more player control.

The original version of this game didn't actually have the ability to poke around environments at all, it was just dialogue and puzzles (think something more like layton), which, since it was the dev's first time making a game, it makes sense it'd be limited like that. During development of the sequel they took the time to teach themselves how to make more interactive segments in response to feedback, and then retroactively changed things in this remake using what they'd learned from the sequel.

While the art style is more obviously updated, there's a lot of writing cleanup and added conversation beats, too. If people are interested I can post comparisons to show what the art/environments were like in the original; for example, the lounge Simon wakes up in looked like this in the original game:

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


Got this bookmarked, never would've heard of it if not for this LP!

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Silence


Some colors were missing, so it wasn't a rainbow. I was just staring blankly. My eyes followed the colored lines slowly. First the green... Then I followed the blue... the yellow...and finally, the orange one. That was the one I was on.

All I could see were those four colors. That was because my eyes were fixated upon the poster in the train. I didn't know why I was looking at it.



No, I couldn't remember already. It wasn't important, then. I tried to remember why I'd been looking at the map.



I was going to fetch her at the airport, and-



She and I had gone through school together up to college. We took the same course at the Artistic Institute of Vancouver, and then we went our own separate ways. While I came back home to study further by taking courses at the University of Montreal, she remained there. That meant she and I hadn't seen each other for years! As for Marco? He'd never met her, obviously. Not face to face, anyway. I mentioned her a few times, which always made him crack some horrible stupid joke. This was their first time talking together.

At least, it was their first time sharing space together, because nobody out of the three of us was saying anything. Naturally, this was the metro, so most people were quiet. If we'd said anything, we'd be drowned out by the noise coming from the metro moving. Some people didn't care, though, such as a group of five teens close by. If I strained my ear, I could almost make out what they were saying. Shooting a glance back at them, I saw one of them had long pink hair in two pigtails. I looked back at Jasmine who had the same hair color.



Colors, again. My thoughts were back on the subject of colors. Maybe I'd just turned into a zombie from waiting in the metro this long.

The announcer spoke the name of the station we were at but it wasn't our stop. I dismissed it, pulling myself to the side a little to avoid a woman leaving the train. Right afterwards, two men entered and took her place. Both were businessmen who probably had a lot of success, judging by their very stern allure.

Meanwhile, I was just a pizza deliveryman. I was also a student... but that wasn't quite true. While that had been the case before 3PM today, now I was entirely free from University. Assuming I passed my exams, anyway.



Tonight, we were going to party, because not only did I finish my exams, but so did Marco. That meant we potentially had a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in the same apartment. Granted, mine was in Fine Arts and his degree was in some science thing I never understood.

I picked up some party games we could play on Nimbus, the multi-platform game store. Hopefully that would be a hit. The real hit was not having any more stress from dealing with exams, tests, and homework. I was now my own man. That thought was reassuring me, because I wasn't the strongest guy at heart.



She had no idea of what I truly felt.

Once again, the train stopped. It did that every few minutes, depending on how far apart the stations were. Walking from one to the other would take ages, so this was great, but... This place was always so drat cramped. The woman leaving earlier had left some vacant space, but since she was replaced by two men, not much came from it. Normally, I was sitting and it was a lot more relaxing but now I was on my two feet.

I was also holding onto the pole in the middle to keep my balance. I hated that. This thing was covered in germs. I needed to wash my hands soon.



So many topics were flying through my head. Was I really no longer stressed out? I didn't know, to be honest. But luck had it that this stop had an elderly woman walking out of the train. It had been occupied before and now... Now it was vacant.

As usual, some kind of psychological warfare was instantly triggered. Everyone would be going for that seat. Of course, those who needed it had priority. Thankfully, I was the closest to the seat, so I took a quick glance to see if anybody who needed it was going to take it. The coast was seemingly clear. The businessmen were looking at their folders and exchanging hushed words. The group of teens from earlier were on the other side, so them coming here was just a pipe dream. They wouldn't go for it; its too far.

A bunch of people didn't even notice, so they were out of the match as well. I noticed all of that very quickly. It was stupid how my attention processed all of those details so well in moments like these, but not during my exams.



It was a hollow victory but a victory nonetheless. You had to take them where you could get them. I could tell I won something or another when Marco took a glance at me, as he apparently had been pining for the seat too. Better luck next time, buddy! Simon: one, Marco: zero. Still, we were a ways away from home, which meant the battle I won didn't win me the war yet. While we got to each station very quickly, we had a number of them between now and then. I looked at the clock to ascertain the time, sine I'd left as soon as my exams had been over.

It was 5PM. I still couldn't believe it took around two hours to head to the airport, pick up Jasmine and come back with public transport. It might have been faster had I possessed my own car but I wasn't that lucky. I could barely afford my studies. Still, since we were a decent way off, I figured it wouldn't be so bad if I took a small bit of rest. Nothing fancy, just closing my eyes.



Nothing fancy. Yet, when I closed my eyes, all movements ceased. The train stopped moving completely. I didn't feel the presence of anyone around me anymore. It was like...time stood still.

Or maybe I was asleep. That was the likeliest explanation. I must've been really tired, but as I was drifting off, something grabbed me back.



Who was it? I could barely hear it. She repeated herself, louder this time.



Asleep? I wasn't asleep. I could hear what she was saying. Couldn't she see that? My body felt like lead anyway, I couldn't stand up just yet.



She was so insistent too. Who was this girl? I'd never heard this voice before. As the seconds passed and my body became operational again, I felt stiff all over, as if I'd been deep in sleep. Perhaps she was right, maybe I dozed off really hard there.



BGM: Ambient Strain


I took a look around and noticed things were just as she said: the train had stopped. It never came to a standstill like this unless it offloaded a few of its passengers...or if it was no longer in service for the day.

Huh...



Yeah, I don't know what happened and I'm pretty weirded out. I sat down for a moment and right after that, I was alone here with you.

It seemed like that fact was making her embarrassed too, because her cheeks took on a slightly rosy tint. I had to assume she wasn't lying about it, then.

I have no idea where Marco is. This is a bother. Did he leave us behind?

No, he's not the type. He's probably waiting outside to jump scare us.



Okay, okay, I get it! So you fell asleep too, and..

No, no, my eyes were open.

Suuuuure.

I teased her. For a moment I thought I got through to her but she shook her head with an exasperated sigh. My companion threw out her arm to expose the rest of the train.

And this place is very strange. Feel free to have a quick look around before we go. Don't worry, we have plenty of time: I woke up several minute ago and it still hasn't moved.



Oh, shut up!

Either way, I decided to conduct my own search around this place. The strange panel in the back of the train was especially interesting. When I'd be done, I'd just go for the exit.



Before we talk to Jasmine, we should see if there's anything useful in the train car, starting with where we were sitting.

These were the seats furnishing the train's compartments. They were pretty small and snugly squished together to maximize use of space. They also weren't comfortable. Probably done on purpose so people didn't sit down if they could avoid it, or maybe... so that they wouldn't fight over the seats. Clearly, that didn't work out in the metro's favor.

What about the poles?



First of all, this pole's covered in germs. People held onto it to keep themselves balanced when the train was moving, since most had to stand up. Sometimes, the train was so packed you were squeezed like sardines against one another and it was pretty drat hard to breathe well.



By shifting my weight accordingly, I could fight off the pull of gravity, and then I didn't have to hold onto those things. Immortal against those drat germs.

Simon is such a loving weirdo, in true ZE protagonist fashion. :allears: As for the windows...



Normally, trains passed on both sides as well, but if what Jasmine said was true, the fact this one didn't move and the fact no other passed by was very strange. Still, my destination was right outside of the train. Perhaps I'd better understand what I was seeing out there. The walls were covered in metal plates too... This wasn't what the stations looked like normally.

Speaking of weird walls, we should probably look at the panel in the back of the car.



Had that always been there? Maybe. I was perhaps only noticing it now because I was looking around. Maybe it was just my imagination but I felt like I was caged in. Looking around, on the opposite side, I saw they blocked off this compartment from the rest of the train.

No... a wall with a large red X had been installed between each slice of two compartments. It was as if the only accessible ones would be these ones. Something strange was going on.

Why would they put up this wall...?

Time to find out what Jasmine has to say about this.



I know I said “woke up” but I really didn't. I sat down and everyone instantly vanished. It was... instantaneous like I keep telling you.

That's pretty whack.

I know, right?

I couldn't believe what she was saying. She definitely fell asleep but she's too proud to admit it. I looked outside of the train through one of the windows; there was no telling which station this was.



I don't know why it's stuck here. But I don't think we missed our stop. For some reason, I think this is it. On one hand, the fact it's not moving is weirding me out. On the other, it means we didn't miss our stop, so maybe it's a blessing in disguise?

Maybe something happened, they evacuated the area and we just missed it. If that's the case, we should hurry outside then.



But, and consider this, if it was an earthquake for example, maybe we're just between two tremors. We should hurry out of here.

Oh, there are no earthquakes here! Where do you think we live?

...In Montreal.



There's nothing else to look at, though, so we should leave the traincar.

Okay, I'm ready to go.



Yeah, good thinking. Now that we're done, let's go.



The door to the train closed behind me, which made me turn around quickly.

It's going away now?

My question fell on deaf ears as Jasmine and I watched it roll away. Soon, it was gone, just like that.

Should we have stayed inside?



Trains don't wait for people, Jasmine. It's the people who wait for trains.

At any rate, I also noticed something strange earlier...

She pointed at me. Before I could act indignant, I took a look behind myself and noticed a welcoming committee of two was coming towards us. Was she pointing at them?

No, she was definitely pointing at me. Directly at my neck, in fact. But that could wait. For now, I stared at the two who were coming up to us. They were strange enough that I would've considered her words were meant for the two of them.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


His outfit was all sorts of strange. Hunched over, he wore several layers: a white shirt, a gray vest with golden stripes and two metallic shoulder pads. He also had a bag at his side.



However, there was a clear difference between us. Namely, she was adorned with very strange things. There was a headset on her, along with that facial plate mask. Was she playing some sort of game?

Stranger even was the rest of her outfit. It made me think of... Japanese shrine maidens? It wasn't exactly clear what the dress was supposed to be but it was a sharp contrast to the technology on her head.



I averted my eyes for a moment while Jasmine took the lead.

Um... hello. Sorry to bother you but we're kind of lost, and...



We had been discussing about investigating when you came out and now the train is gone.

Ah, right... so anyway, my name is-



While I'm glad you're willing to trust me that much, it doesn't matter if we call ourselves by something else, no?

I didn't understand what he was suggesting. Jasmine did not seem to share my confusion, instead considering his words carefully. Perhaps she figured this meeting was too strange, as she backpedaled on her decision.

You are right. I feel like this is a little... unorthodox, so, fine then. You can call me J, how about that?

Jay? Or do you mean the letter “J”?

The letter is fine. It's like a nickname. Not much of one but one nonetheless.



No, Simon, you had to stop thinking this way. There had to be some kind of explanation.

And then I'll be, um... S.

Very well, that seems sensible enough. The lady at my side will be E, in that case. As for me, I will be A, as in a knight of justice, at your service.



It was as if a part of what he said didn't seem... sincere?

I have several questions.

And I have several answers! Please, don't be afraid.

Well, first of all, you two are dressed a bit... weird, no? I hope that doesn't come off as rude of me...

Oh, it's quite alright.

Yeah, I wasn't saying anything but it's a little out there...



I squinted a little. That's right: around his neck was a strange black collar. It was also present around E's neck, and when I looked at Jasmine, it seemed she had one too.

When I said “we”, I meant “all of us”! You both have one just like ours too. I'm afraid that is not part of my usual fashion...

Yeah, I noticed it earlier.

That must've been what she was pointing at before the two of them came up to us. I wanted to examine it closer but I couldn't, obviously, see mine and I didn't think it was polite to ask either of the two others.



Oh, huh? Okay then.

Just as I thought, in the back was a strange circle. Like some kind of red scanner? Or more like a large button. Perhaps pressing it would release the collar, but if that was the case then why did we wear these? It was equally possible the button was dangerous. I left it alone for now, unwilling to take chances. Still, while examining it closely, a thought flashed by me. I remembered when I'd been in the train earlier...



Right, speaking of which, were was Marco anyway? He didn't try to scare us like I thought he would.

There's some sort of lock in the back, I think. There's a glowing red button but I don't think it would be a good idea to press it. I just don't know what will happen.

I see... oh, something's coming!

I pulled away, looking in the direction the “something” was coming from. It was another train and it arrived at our side of the station, just like ours had been stopped earlier.

Interesting. I can see two men in this one.



But all those thoughts were dispelled when I noticed one of the two men inside the train was Marco. The other was a large, buff man. He didn't look particularly young. I could tell because he was a redhead, even if his hair had several long streaks of gray hair scattered throughout. Neatly combed on one side, the other was a bit more of a mess.

So it was like that when we arrived, too...?

Think we need to open those doors? I don't see how we could do it, but...

Let's try, I guess.

BGM: Ambient Strain




As you can see here, although there's multiple characters now, we're considered one group so the talk option covers all three. First though, we have a new Map option...



...that is completely pointless as it only covers the immediate platform! :v: Before we talk some more, let's check out the train cars.



I really wanted to go there so I could look at the train from up close but that was ridiculously dangerous for a few reasons. First of all, the rails were electrified, so if I touched them directly I'd definitely be incinerated. The voltage was no joke.

Second of all, if I went down there... I could get hit by the train if it took off again. That's just a risk I didn't want to take. Both of those were lovely deaths, and I at least had enough self-respect to want to die another way.

So much for that. Maybe it would've helped but... too dangerous for sure.

However, the fact that the middle of the compartments was otherwise made of a rubbery surface gave me an idea.



No, even I can tell that's not going to work. It might be rubbery but that's just so it allows the train to turn. If it's wide open inside... which it is...

She pointed at the opening between the compartments.

Then it has to be solid and hermetically closed. Even if it's softer, I doubt we can break through this part.

I crossed my arms as Jasmine continued examining this spot even if nothing came of it.



Together, if they combined, they'd form a giant robot. On a more serious note, I wandered to the back of the train to try and see if I could catch a glance of who was driving us around.

But as much as I tried to look inside, I couldn't see anything. The view through the windows was completely dark. If anyone was inside, I wouldn't know. It was the same for the other side too. I knocked on the frontal driver compartment door.

Hey, anybody home? Special pizza delivery straight to the train!

The slightly hollow sound resonated on its own without any answer from within.



Wait, they wouldn't be able to come out even if they wanted?

Precisely. There probably is no one in this cabin, then.

I thought that was strange. Trains didn't work that way.

Sometimes the best solution to a problem was a direct one. I went to the door and tried to see if there was any way for my fingers to fit underneath to pull them open.



Jasmine saw what I was trying to do and I had to admit, she was right. I reluctantly let go of it.

What now, then?

Let's regroup and think about it again.

Well, poking around the train didn't turn up anything. She's right, let's see if A or E have anything new.

I was about to talk to the others when something interrupted me. As soon as I moved, the train's doors finally opened. Almost immediately, the older man walked out. He looked at us with a frown. For a second, he looked as if he was going to speak, but he went off on his merry way alone instead.



I muttered the last part under my breath to avoid aggravating him. A man that size, you just didn't screw with. It seemed as though he and Marco had woken up during our search, as the latter followed behind, exiting the train similarly to the mountainous man.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


He looked joyful to see me, but almost instantly, Jasmine frowned and put her hand over his mouth.

Shh! This place is all sorts of weird; we're not using our real names, just aliases. Right now, he's going by 'S', and I'm 'J'. Okay?

Marco looked at her with all the surprise in the world before he nodded, acknowledging her request. After making sure he understood, the girl let go of him. In a way, I was a little annoyed that my name was now known to old man A and eccentric girl E. However, neither seemed bothered in the least.



I wanted to make sure neither of them would spill the beans, just so I could stay on level with the rest of the field. But first, I needed a bit more information.

I've been wondering, do you two know each other? You introduced her, so...

Oh, unfortunately the companion at my side is unable to do so herself, because, as you may be able to see, she is unable to.

Unable to what? Unable to be unable?



He reached for her hand, which she took without hesitation. Their fingers then touched in strange ways. I tried to make sense of it- was it some kind of tactile alphabet? The whole process took about a minute, after which she lit up.



It was the first time she spoke since she came by us. Her voice was kind of... soft? It was even softer than soft, in fact; it was melodious? It...resonated within me. I looked at the others to see if they had the same effect but Marco was simply waiting for things to happen and Jasmine was otherwise unaffected. They didn't seem to get the same effect from it, then.

Something else struck me as odd: despite the fact she was blind and deaf, she could speak extremely well. If she had been disabled since birth, it would be much stranger. That probably meant she hadn't always been... but I didn't want to press into a complete stranger's past.

Acknowledging her words, I nodded at E. I immediately rectified my behavior when I remembered she couldn't see.



Embarrassment struck again, this time forcing me to bring a hand behind my head to awkwardly rub it in derision. Jasmine was finding my reactions funny. At least someone was having fun.

You do understand what I mean by “making communication difficult”, now.

He touched E's hands once again and the girl beamed, apparently understanding the predicament. This must've happened to her countless times. If anything, she didn't look annoyed by it.

So anyway, sorry to interrupt, but what's going on here?



He was alone, next to the big door in the wall, examining the little consoles next to it. The more I looked at him, the more he looked frustrated with them. He'd been trying to leave the station, but from what I saw...

BGM: Ambient Strain
The door was locked and we couldn't leave. And of course, I noticed the train had gone much like ours had left earlier once we'd stepped out. It seemed automated somehow.

Hey, um, it seems we can't leave.

I interrupted their topic to bring that to their attention. From what I gathered, Marco was now nicknamed M in the eyes of the others.



That's not cool. Who would do something like this?

That I do not know. However, we all share one element. Namely, we are all wearing one of these dangerous looking collars.

Marco checked his own, looking at Jasmine and me to confirm we had them too.

That's right! I didn't even notice.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


How many of these trains are going to get here? We're six here already... but if we all arrived in pairs, then we'd be eight? I looked through the window, while feeling like I was part of the welcoming committee now. Inside were two girls who weren't asleep, unlike Marco and the man had been.

The doors opened almost instantly. It was perhaps presumptuous of me to assume such, but was the opening of the doors tied to our awakening somehow? No, that was a little strange. How would someone rig it in such a way? Perhaps... Perhaps they could see us. I looked around for cameras while the two girls left the train. I saw none. Instead, I focused back onto them. They looked...remarkably alike.



One of them was fiercer-looking and she stood in front. The other was a little nervous, halfway hiding behind who I assumed was her sister.

Don't worry, young ladies. We are in a strange predicament but we are not hostile, I can assure you.

Yeah, this is still weird, but don't worry! We're not tied to whatever this is. Welcome, by the way!



Yeah, it's okay, we're all in the same boat here!

They really didn't look reassured at all. The old man cleared his throat before extending a metaphorical hand to them.

Due to our circumstances we have chosen to call ourselves by nicknames. I am A, this lovely girl by my side is E, this boy is S, there is M, and the pink lady is J. What may we call you?

The twin in front spoke after a moment of hesitation.



Right afterwards, the man who'd previously ignored us approached us again. He either wasn't a fan of being excluded, despite the fact it was his own doing, or he noticed the group grew big enough for him to care about it.



We are currently attempting to make sense of this situation, so perhaps we should do it together, don't you think?

The man thought about it. His presence was frightening the twins, who clammed up again.

But first, we could use something to call you by. Surely you must have heard our nicknames, yes?



The train had long gone by this point. No other came by. I wondered if this meant we were a complete group now? We had... a joker, an old man, twins, a childhood friend, a disabled girl, and... a big idiot. Oh, and I was there too. The big idiot was Ray, of course. For some reason, I felt as though his head might've been a bit empty with the way he acted.

He even bellowed at us post-introductions, asking us to check around again for a way out. We did so begrudgingly but the fact of the matter was clear: there was no way out. Well, that wasn't quite right. There were two ways out.

The first was ridiculous: if somehow, the television screen allowed us to pass into another dimension... Nah, there was no Midnight Channel for us, that wouldn't happen. The only other way was to take the train- so, through the tunnel. However, that was dangerous.



One of the twins called to us. Deep inside a dark maintenance hallway right next to the tunnel, there was a locked gate. Its bars were thick.

What do you think this means?

It means it's locked. Use your eyes, you've got some unlike the e-girl over there.

Can't you just break through it?



The door remained firmly locked.

What the hell is this door? It's like the other in the metallic wall. They're so fuckin' solid.

Unless we're fine throwing ourselves onto the tracks, I guess we're stuck here for now. Let's deliberate on what to do among ourselves, okay?

It was then decided that we'd split up a little, talk about what to do and reconvene, Jasmine and Marco split up from the rest, and I was going to follow up on them but A stopped me.



Ah, well, I guess. You think it would help them make up their minds faster?

Yes. As much as I wish to give everyone their space... we need to be sure of what we're doing sooner and not later.

I understood what he meant: we couldn't stay here forever. With a nod, I left him to head over to my friends.

BGM: Algorithm Simile
Actually... I wasn't bound to that. Perhaps I could just speak to someone else instead. I figured I could go check up on the twins, Ray, or my friends. There was the option of talking to A again, but that was possibly just a waste, as I'd talked to him just now. I couldn't hide my curiosity over the duo he formed with E, though.



And here we have an actual choice, though not one that causes a branching path. I'll post the other scenes we're missing here in a supplemental post, but for now we should decide which group do we want to talk to and learn a little more about?

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Ray seems like a man of action and that's probably what we need right now.

Nick Buntline
Dec 20, 2007
Doesn't know the impossible.




Oh hey Sou, how you doing.

I'll vote for the twins, we've got the least info on them.

Level 1 Thief
Dec 17, 2007

I'm busy, and I'm having fun.


I actually played these earlier this year and I totally agree with the "interesting but flawed" assessment. Miracle Moon really just cut open Zero Escape and started flinging its guts around everywhere. It's such a shameless copy in a way that I actually kinda respect. Some pretty clever sci-fi shenanigans as it goes on too. One particular scene in BMC really put me off, unfortunately, but I'm still interested in where the third one goes.

Mix. posted:

I'll holler if something's wrong. Like if some slime monster crawls out of the sink now that I woke it up by running the faucet...

I'm pretty sure this is a reference to Singularity by William Sleator, a book nobody else I know ever read and one I definitely didn't expect to come up in a random VN.

Ray seems like the friendly sort, we should introduce ourselves.

Level 1 Thief fucked around with this message at 07:27 on Jun 14, 2021

Ignatius M. Meen
May 26, 2011

Hello yes I heard there was a lovely trainwreck here and...



I like the music a lot. It's definitely inspired by Zero Escape's music but it has its own unique flavor that's just a bit more tense on the whole (which is funny since the obvious stakes initially appear a lot lower; the protagonists have no time limit, have no apparent restrictions on how they can go about solving rooms or who to solve them with so long as they get solved, and even when Jasmine dies it just comes out of nowhere*).

Twins because they might actually want to converse vs. Ray who might just tell us to gently caress off unless talking is strictly necessary.

*: Contrast 999's opening where (minor spoilers for 999) the protagonist gets inspired to leave his starting bunk by the window breaking and letting water fill the joint, then the group is told they have 9 hours to finish the game or else the ship sinks and everyone drowns, then suddenly the Ninth man decides he's above the rules only to prove a visceral example that 1. he is not and 2. the collars will kill you if you violate the rules. It's a relatively minor thing and possibly unfair to compare the game against, but still...

Ignatius M. Meen fucked around with this message at 10:37 on Jun 14, 2021

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I remember playing the sequel to this and being really annoyed/turned off/disgusted by the last hour or so, which was a pity because it really was a pretty strong zero escape-like before that.

It did make HAC one of those games I didn't really want to pick up, so it's good that someone else is lping it! :v:

whitehelm
Apr 20, 2008


Mix. posted:

Additionally, the second game in the series is not an immediate sequel, but there are a lot of connections and references, so that falls under the umbrella of spoilers too. I have every intention of LPing the sequel once I've finished with this, so don't worry, you're gonna get plenty of knockoff Zero Escape action here :v:

It might not matter depending on how long this LP takes, but you should probably at least wait for Birth ME Code's upcoming second patch (see most recent Steam news post) so you can include whatever's in the "Lexicon" to LP that game.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Algorithm Simile


The votes were tied when I went to prepare this update, so I flipped a coin. We're talking to Ray, and I'll grab the others for a future update, probably after we get our first ending.





Eh, maybe. If there's nothing else to do I ain't loving staying here any longer than I need to. I was on my way five stations deeper and this is such a huge waste of time.

He held onto his wrist with his other hand. I noticed something was hidden under his cuff.

Do you have a watch? Can you tell the time?



I checked my pockets. I did have a cell phone but not a smartphone. Either way, it wasn't there, so I had neither now.

You lost it? Ugh... Fine, it's...

He looked at his watch.

It's close to 6PM. ...What the hell is this cacophany?



I looked at him and, seeing the others gathering back up in front of it, we both went towards it to understand what was to come.

BGM: Ambient Strain
When I joined the others, I quickly made an inventory of everyone's state of being. The twins were holding their hands over their ears, since the noise was pretty loud. Honestly, I was close to doing much of the same. Jasmine and Marco watched it, waiting expectantly. Of everyone, they were the calmest of the bunch.

Ray was being aggravated by it. His hands were curled up in fists, as if he was about to punch the thing into next Tuesday. E didn't seem any different than usual- granted, she was deaf which explained why she couldn't hear it. A was slightly nervous, despite his usual countenance.



BGM: Alarming Silence




I looked at the others briefly. Everyone seemed as puzzled as I was, except for E. A would have to communicate everything to her afterwards, most likely. The distorted voice resumed its speech.

You are in the metro, Montreal's underground transit system. Much like how Montreal survives on its population, you are my lifeblood. Your goal is to win this game we will play together: the Dating Game.



You all have a collar with a number on each of them. Specifically, the numbers 1 through 8. To see those numbers, you will need someone else to push the red button on the back, which is when it will temporarily appear. This collar is extremely important, as it is both your salvation and your demise.



This would be rule #1: to escape this place, you must team up with an additional person. If you break this rule by leaving through one of the many scanner gates before you find them, you will be severely punished.

So... we have to find a ninth person, team up with them and then we can leave?

Shh, it's important!

Smiley continued as if this was only a recording.



As for rule #2, it is closely tied to the name of this game. The Dating Game, as you may have realized if you remembered how you arrived here, is meant to bring you to numerous stations... in pairs. On every single station except for the one you are currently on, you are forbidden to enter the staircase with more than one partner. Breaking this rule will instantly punish you as well.



In essence, you must solve each station as they come. For now, you may only go in one direction, unless you would like to take your chances by crossing over the rails. I would strongly suggest against it. It is not forbidden, but if a train should arrive at the same moment, your death will be a terrible accident.

It's locking our progress...

And for rule #3. It is more of a piece of information than a rule. If you are to be punished, it will always be in the same way. Decapitation.

BGM: Alarming Situation


I did say that the collars were two things: your salvation and your demise. The interior has a feature you cannot see from the outside: a red lining, which is the demise part. Breaking any of the rules will cause that lining to form a full circular laser which will detach your head and cauterize the wound. I wouldn't want to make any more of a mess than necessary.



I believe I have spoken long enough. Please do not underestimate the collars you wear; they are made of a nigh-indestructible alloy. Even the strongest among you will not survive their punishment. Let us wish you never see me on a screen again because my smile... is a smile which can kill.

BGM: Ambient Strain


We're gonna die... aren't we?



Well, this sucks big time. Can anybody here call a helicopter?

You think a helicopter's going to help? You moron, we're underground if you didn't notice!

Hey, hey, I was just making a joke!

Is this the time to make a joke...?



I agree. We can't let this bother us or we've already lost. Please don't panic until we make sense of this!

But Ray disregarded her words, instead reaching for his collar. He slid his thumbs underneath it with great effort, as the collar was snug against his neck.

gently caress that, I'm gonna destroy this bullshit collar. I don't care what this smiling fuckhead told us, this poo poo is tiny and should break in seconds!

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


But he was already pulling on it. Almost immediately, the back of his collar lit up like a red alarm. He instantly released it, realizing that it indeed was a strong alloy.

Ahhh, gently caress! I'm not dying here, you hear me?! Stop this poo poo right now, I get it!

BGM: Ambient Strain
Everyone watched from the sidelines, but ultimately the alarm stopped. Ray seemed to have gotten lucky. He leaned over, looking extremely tired. I couldn't blame him.



Ray grumbled something but I changed the subject to something more important to the matter at hand, while he went to punch the door, without any results.

Did you guys notice how he spoke? It was like a recording, like that was said a while ago.

What's the problem with that? I sure wouldn't want to do this live if it was me doing it, I'd be stressed out like hell!

No, consider the reason why it's set that way. What if it's because.... he's among us?

If there is an actual loving Among Us reference in this remaster I am going to loving scream :v:

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


That is possible. I suppose we will need to keep our eyes open, then.

That was ironic, coming from him.

That guy... he kinda has Gray's build, doesn't he? Maybe it's him...?

Why would I put myself into a death trap? Think before you speak. And my name's not Gray, it's Ray. You said two dumb things back to back.

I thought it was pretty good for a joke at least. Maybe the twin was trying to lift the mood a little. Jasmine sighed very loudly and shook her head.



Could be, for example, S wearing a bunch of foam under a robe to appear bigger, standing on stilts to appear taller. And then you've been had, thinking its Ray.

Yeah, that. See? She's not dumb at least.

But more importantly, I know none of you trust anyone else now, but we need to do what he says. We need to check our collars and take the train.

Oh, that's right! We still don't know our numbers. Let's do that.



BGM: Ambient Strain


Of course it wouldn't be so easy, huh... And what of these weird colors...?

It wouldn't be much of a game if we could solve it in seconds.



Is... is the train waiting for us?

Jasmine stared at me accusingly. I shrugged in retaliation. I was the one who opposed that thought earlier, but... maybe it was true?

Well, we don't have a choice. I don't think anybody really wanted to go down the tunnel earlier, and this is safe- safe enough, at least.

Ray grunted in dissatisfaction.

Let's split into four groups of two, then. I think for many of us this will be rather easy to determine.



You're the one who's afraid of that? But no, you're wrong. It's safer this way, actually, because, listen. If we're in groups of two and someone comes back alone... what does it mean, you think? ...That's right. The only one who comes back will be super suspicious. I don't think anyone will act out if we all take a station at the same time. Which means this is the best course of action.

Marco changed the subject, inquiring about our location instead.

This side of the station- it's going towards the north side, right?

It wouldn't make any sense if it went the other way, that's true.

We're going north, then.

We'd been heading towards the north earlier, after all. If we left the train, we were on the east side of the station.



Like a fight breaking out, I thought. With Ray around, that was possible. He already looked angry again.

The sooner we're out, the earlier we can return to our lives, right? For now, at the very least, I'm in favor of doing what Smiley says. Otherwise... we can't get out right now.



All of them nodded. The groups all naturally split up among those who arrived together. H went with G, A was the only one who could communicate with E so he went with her, and for us... It was actually more complicated. I could go with Jasmine or Marco, but Ray would be alone...

However, if we were meant to split up depending on our links, that meant I needed to go with Marco. What sort of link could Jasmine and Ray have shared?

Hey, earth to S, respond.

Huh?

We can split the team any way you like. I don't mind if you pick who should go with Ray.



Ray narrowed his eyes in his direction. Yeah, I didn't trust Marco with Ray, in the end. I felt like... a fight would really break out if I put them together, which meant I really didn't have much of a choice.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
I felt like Jasmine could handle whatever Ray could throw her way, so I went with Marco. Besides, maybe this was how the pairs were meant to be. We all had a link, somehow... No, wait; wouldn't it be the other way? I'd known Jasmine for far longer than I'd known Marco.

Huh...? What was I thinking, all of a sudden? Was I trying to crack some kind of weird code? It's like I was taking pleasure at solving this situation. I shook my head to clear it up. Maybe I'd just been underground for too long if this kind of kidnapping was any fun to me.

Okay, J, you're with Ray and I'll go with M. Is that fine by you?



Everyone had their team set now. Since we couldn't access the other side of the station, there was only one direction we could take. The twins entered the train first. After noting it wasn't moving yet, my group followed suit. I figured the system was automated to some degree, or... maybe the mastermind behind all this could see us.



Don't think too much about it. I did earlier and, well, things didn't go well for my head.

She sighed in discouragement, closing her eyes for a moment. I wordlessly agreed with her.

BGM: Silence
The doors closed and we were greeted by a pre-recorded speech telling us what the next station was.



With all this, I had almost forgotten- the train had French diction here. It seemed the next station was a... “garde-manger”, whatever that was.

A garde-manger is a French term for a food prep area specifically designed for cold food like salad, hors d'oeuvres, terrines, and so on. :eng101:

Normally, I'd just sit down and stare blankly at the wall to see which of us would blink first, but since we were just a handful, I figured some chatter wouldn't hurt. The real question was about the best topic to pick.



None of these choices matter in the slightest or give us any useful information, so I chose the age spread one :v:

Whatever reason we've been kidnapped for, Smiley didn't discriminate, huh?

What do you mean?

I mean, we have two teenagers, four young adults, a middle-aged man and an old man in the group. It's quite an extensive age gap.



He cracked his knuckles menacingly.

Whoa, whoa, there, that doesn't make any sense!

Heh, you know they call those the “Dark Ages”? Yeah, you're not gonna see anything anymore when I'm done, so hold your tongue kiddo.

He dropped the topic momentarily after I stayed silent for a few seconds. He grabbed his flash instead to drink from it. Maybe he thought alcohol was going to clam him down, but I didn't think it would help. Having narrowly avoided a beating, I decided to let the topic rest too.

The air was so tense once we arrived at the station that I caught myself holding my breath. The doors finally opened but nobody was in a hurry to leave.



BGM: Ambient Strain
Well, I guess we don't have a choice? The doors aren't closing, so if what Smiley said was true, two of us have to leave here.

I don't mind going first, but if anyone else wants to, I also wouldn't mind that...

Knowing him, he really didn't want to leave the train yet. Maybe he was afraid of what could happen. I looked at the others and eventually, the old man smiled.



I examined the station outside the window while he was doing that. It was remarkably similar to the one we were previously at. Large metal plates covered the wall. Whoever Smiley was, whatever he did in life, somehow, he could have the equipment to modify every single station of this subway.

Before I managed to frighten myself more, the old man saluted us to take his departure.



He left the train, followed by the girl. The two of them waved at us. Rather, the old man waved at us, but E waved at an empty compartment. Poor girl. The two of them continued forward until they stepped through the open doorway. As soon as E vanished inside, the door slid to a closed state with a soft thump.

BGM: Silence
After that, the doors to the train closed as well and we set off once more, this time without two of the passengers.



I figured I could keep talking to the others while we were in here... but before I could do so, Marco said something.

I'm starting to get hungry and I don't really know why.

Yeah, me too now that you mention it...

Hey, you know how hunger works, right?

What do you mean?



Yeah, that's how I know I'm hungry.

In reality, it's just some kind of signal. Your body is like... “Hey, I'm not digesting anymore and there's free space. Send food!” and then your brain receives the message.

I guess... you're the science man here, so I dunno about all that.

Man, didn't you have biology classes? You should know all this already.



Yeah. Besides, we don't have the time to really talk about it.

Oh yeah, the next station's coming. If you wanna, I'll tell you all about it later.

I'll pass, I think.

Noticing how his expression dropped, I sighed and surrendered myself to his wiles.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Fine, okay. But later.



Alright, M. It's our turn now.



It wouldn't make any sense if it did, don't you think?

At any rate, let's see each other later, everyone? Come back in one piece, too. That means you're not allowed to lose your fingers, or your arm, or even your hair-



So, what now?

I looked around; the station seemed the same as the previous ones. Giant metal plates, open doorway.. I pointed at it.

I think that's our destination. We'll have more time to talk once we search this place proper.

Lead the way, Mr. Intrepid.

He made an exaggerated gesture towards the entrance, almost folding himself over, like some sort of butler. Some things never changed, I guess...

I took the lead anyway. How could I not have done so after that display of politeness?



The moment Marco walked through the doorway to ascend the staircase with me, the door closed behind us with a soft sliding sound. Right next to it, on the inside was a small keypad. It took numbers.

I see, so we're trapped. I guess we have to find the code to reopen the door or just move further in. You'd think Smiley would've put us in here directly and avoided the train business.

Whatever the case is, let's get going already! I'm starting to get really hungry. Maybe we'll find some food here. I don't think Smiley would let us die from starvation, since we're his lifeblood, yeah?

Food seemed to be wishful thinking. Still, there was no point in wasting time, so we went up the stairs. What awaited us there was rather strange, to be honest...

Mix. fucked around with this message at 20:22 on Jul 31, 2021

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



I also have an update about this LP itself, specifically due to a thing I myself didn't know about until working on the update that'll be coming after this. So I've played and beaten the original in full (more than once, actually), and had planned to LP that version until the remaster was announced and released a couple months ago. So while I did test out the remaster and go through the first few sections to see what the new AS exploration system was like, I didn't go through it in full because, well. I've played and beaten the original! This remaster was specifically stated to not add anything new to the story (no new endings, basically), so it's basically like the Nonary Games remaster of 999. It's not like the creator would do something completely baffling like cut out a lot of the actual puzzles for no explicable reason, right?

:suicide:

I have done enough digging now to know that not ALL of the puzzles were cut, only some of the ones that apparently people kept complaining were too challenging in the original, but still, you'd think that'd be the kind of thing that would be mentioned at some point when talking about the remaster of a game you are making!!! So what I will be doing to ensure you guys get the full experience is making note of where a puzzle was in the original version (during the escape room segments), and then including the puzzle from the original version at the very end of the update so it doesn't disrupt the update itself. I'm also updating the OP to reflect this inclusion. What I want to know is if you want me to include the solution alongside it, or wait to post the solution later?

whitehelm posted:

It might not matter depending on how long this LP takes, but you should probably at least wait for Birth ME Code's upcoming second patch (see most recent Steam news post) so you can include whatever's in the "Lexicon" to LP that game.

This won't be a problem, because the Lexicon update is purely cosmetic- part of the issue the sequel had is they did some REALLY wacky poo poo with the flowchart and UI- which was really cool, in my opinion. but unfortunately also caused it to be really incomprehensible when you first started interacting with it. These latest updates have basically been making it read better for the average player- the previous big update actually revised the ending a bit as it was ALSO kind of obtuse (I won't say any more about this right now because, again, we aren't there yet, we have to get through HAC first! :v: )

Mix. fucked around with this message at 08:01 on Jun 16, 2021

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Post the solution at the start or end of the update after the puzzle is posted, so people can speculate.

If that turns out to be inconvenient, post the puzzle solution alongside.

I'll eagerly await hearing about the changes to BMC.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Leraika posted:

Post the solution at the start or end of the update after the puzzle is posted, so people can speculate.
This seems like a good compromise.

Also, the robe using the exact color scheme from 999 is a bit over the top. At this point, the only way they could be less subtle about their homage is if we find out Smiley's real name is Zero.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


I like the character designs. :allears:

MagusofStars posted:

This seems like a good compromise.

Also, the robe using the exact color scheme from 999 is a bit over the top. At this point, the only way they could be less subtle about their homage is if we find out Smiley's real name is Zero.

If the characters were to wear cat ears, would this be Nyan Hours, Nyan Persons, Nyan Doors? :v:

Tylana
May 5, 2011



Pillbug

Quackles posted:

I like the character designs. :allears:

If the characters were to wear cat ears, would this be Nyan Hours, Nyan Persons, Nyan Doors? :v:

Now part of me wants a Nonary Game style game, but with like Hatoful Boyfriend style photographs of animals as all the other contestants.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


There were rows upon rows of books. The bookshelves were completely filled to the brim. Here and there were a few little computers scattered around, but most importantly was the fact there were windows. Unfortunately, all the windows had metal plates bolted over them. We weren't getting those open any time soon.

There was one window which was uncovered, but when I looked through it, I saw a very bizarre sight. It was some kind of weird, small room. I assumed this was the scanner Smiley mentioned previously. So this was our exit, then... Not that I'd have been able to leave at that moment since going through there would've probably killed me if I tried.

Our search eventually also showed us there were a bunch of benches to relax or read books on and some tables and seats were off to the sides. And this place was rather big, at that.



That would certainly come in handy; this place was decently big.

I'll take care of this side and you look through the other side. Just let me know if you find anything cool or interesting.

Like an ice pop?

I said cool, not cold. I'm obviously talking about leaving this room ASAP. Codes, objects we can take and such.

Roger then.





BGM: Active Search
First, a look at the map of the room we're searching:





There's a lot of stuff to look at, so I'm going to start with what looks like terminals on the right.



He pushed a few buttons. Nothing happened, so he pushed some more. At some point, he stopped pushing buttons and started mashing his hand down against the machine.

Hey, woah! Stop with the rage against the machine!

This thing isn't working and now you're telling me I have to stop listening to music, too?

It's probably not even an ATM. Why would there be an ATM here anyway? This is a library.

Yes, but... ...okay, fine, it's a library, so stop making so much noise.

I abandoned the pursuit, choosing not to point out that he was causing a much bigger ruckus than I ever would've done.

Might as well check out the pillar and tables while we're at it.



Next to it was some kind of painting. I didn't recognize what it was, just some kind of landscape. A few of those were disseminated around these parts.

I really wanted to sit down, but if I did, I knew Marco would make fun of me. Even worse, it would make our search go by so much slower. I decided to abandon that idea but if I ever had a reason, I'd definitely take it.



Maybe the desk and tables at the back have something?

Hello, yes, I am here to return the first edition of Her Bright Immaterials.

There's no one behind the counter.

I'm behind the counter.

No, you're in front of it...



That doesn't... it's... hmm...

While he thought about what I said, I slipped away unnoticed.

There was an area back there with a desk, a bin, some bookshelves and a chair. It was a little cozy but there wasn't enough space for anyone to really study there. Looking up, I saw there was a hole in the middle of the second floor, surrounded by more railings. Falling over would prove difficult, though that hole was a little silly too.

It would be what I'd expected out of a mansion or something, but this corner was far too small to constitute that.

Probably just for aesthetics.

I couldn't get up there alone. There were no ladders tall enough in this room and unless we stacked enough books, which would take a year to do and be very dangerous to climb, we weren't getting up there.



Maybe it's not meant to be accessible because it's not a real library. What if it's just a replica? Or if the books up there are duds?

But why?

I dunno. Maybe it's supposed to make this into a believable living space? Like a big study room? Anyway, maybe we can get up there if one of us lifts the other.

If you think I'm gonna lift you up there, you've got some kind of delusion.

It's all good, I could do it instead! I'm okay with it.

Maybe if it ends up being necessary, then fine. Just don't drop me.


:rolleyes:

We've been poking around a lot, I wonder if Marco's found anything yet?



Driving around the city delivering food for people with futures, that's my job. What about it?

Why are you in that get-up today; didn't you have some exams?

I had a shift this morning before the exams, and you'd be surprised how much people order pizza in the early hours of the day. They're absolutely insane, I'll tell you.

Well then, if delivering food for people with futures is your job, you should pay yourself a pizza then. The finals went well and you got a future, right, Simon?

I tried to avoid outright declining to get pizza even if my grimace was probably telling.



He shrugged, not pursuing the topic any longer. It seemed like just as I'd dodged the topic of the pizza, he'd dodged the one about the future. We all had our fair share of worries.

And don't call me Simon here, call me S! We have nicknames for a reason!

:v: Marco still has stuff he wants to talk about afterwards, so I went ahead and humored him again.

Marco!

Polo! I'm here, what's up? And what happened to calling each other by our first letter?

I shrugged in defense, truly having no retort to that. He was right.



Do you remember something?

Yeah, he was my teacher maybe two years ago.

So he's a teacher of science things?

These aren't only science things! These are also important life lessons. Essentially, you're right though; he was teaching “some science class”.

And any clue about the others too while you're at it?

Marco looked pensive.



I shook my head, knowing full well Jasmine had never gone there.



We haven't found anything particularly useful still, but I want to finish looking at stuff on the ground floor first.

I saw Marco staring at a plant. That was pretty rude of him so I went over to tell him to stop doing that right this instant and learn some manners instead. However, when he came nearer, he lifted a hand as if to tell me to stop.

Hold on... plant... plant...

Another one of your dumb jokes?

They're not dumb! And no, I just remembered... I knew a girl named “Plante” before.

Good to know Marco moonlights as a JRPG party member :v:

Really? That's kind of weird. It's not really a name, maybe more like someone's last name.

No no, it wasn't her first name, you dumbass. It was like... oh yeah!

He snapped his fingers and his face lit up as if he'd discovered the secret to immortality or something as equally important.



Anyway, at least her name wasnt Anasteurope or something even weirder, like Anastamerica.

Didn't even know you knew other people. We learn things every day.

He looked at me like a sad little puppy as I chose to disregard his dumb joke, and then, after I gave him a pat on the shoulder to reassure him in this trying time, we split up again.



Do you read that, M? I guess we have to be silent now, or else... We'd anger the librarian and then we'd be banned from the library.

Well, there doesn't seem to be anyone around. So I guess I'll be the librarian, then, and my first action will be smash our exit open! Though, all I currently have in order to do so are my bare hands.

If you really want to do that then go ahead. I don't want to hurt my fists just pounding on it. Remember Ray and how he tried to slam open that door?

Yeah... Our best bet to escape this place is someone saying my name three times in rapid succession.



Still trapped because you summoned me here, where I already was, you buffoon!

Between us both, I definitely wasn't the buffoon.

All that's left is the trash can, and then we'll go upstairs to poke around there.



If Smiley wanted us to live here for a long time, at least we're not short on suitable housing for Ray.

He patted the top of a bin.

Leave it to you to turn everything we find into a joke.



It looks like there's something inside the trash for us, which means that is probably progress, so we should look upstairs first.

I ascended the stairs. On the second floor, there were about as many books as there were on the first floor. And yes, first floor, because it was first on the ground. I didn't live in England.

Actually...I was wrong about that. This wasn't the first floor, was it? We were underground. I took a moment to contemplate that idea. If we hadn't been underground, I would've been on the second floor, but since we were, I probably was on something like...



Oh! We're above ground! Maybe there's a way to leave this room and escape to the streets.

No chances. The windows are bolted shut and... this is just a secret between you and I...

He spoke to me from below.

I actually managed to pull one of those plates off, and behind was just a flat solid wall. The windows here?

He shrugged in disbelief.



While we're up here, we might as well look at that weird clock that has letters on it.



Wow. Very helpful Simon. Thank you! :v:

Since I was up there already, I chose to check for anything special I could find in the bookshelves. There were just so many books, though! But there also were some empty spaces between them.

In one of them, I found a gold key. The handle was shaped like an eye.

All you have to do to find this key... is to open your eye.

Done with the second floor, I walked back down the stairs.



Time to root around in the garbage. For clues! :v:

I looked inside the bin. Who would hide anything inside a bin anyway? Wasn't that unsanitary? Smiley didn't know proper hygiene etiquette. After much consideration, I didn't either, since I assumed there would be something inside the bin. I tried moving it but it was strongly bolted to the floor, preventing me from doing so.

Hey, are all the bins stuck on the ground?

Yep, I checked the others already. Actually, that reminds me, one of them had something!

He produced a book out of nowhere. I repulsively grimaced at that.

Marco, that was in the trash.

Doesn't look terrible to me. I think it'll be useful.

The book is called the “Cephalocodex”. The title is... “A Study On the Variables of the Head”. Weird. It has a key with an eye for a handle on the cover.



The MTS stood for the “Montreal Transport Society”, which was the company that regulated everything related to the metro from the trains, to the tickets, to the staff. I thought Smiley might've been a member of that staff, now that Marco brought it up. If he wasn't, how did he manage to do all this?

I'll keep the book, do you mind?

Nope. Feel free to go study it if you want.

I had to look for somewhere suitable to read this.

Like those desks over there!

I opened the book after I sat down. While open, it became clear that this book had nothing in it except a large compartment void of pages cut out in the middle of it all.

This is where a puzzle was in the original version. I'll be posting what was in the book at the end of this update, if you want to try and solve it yourself.

A golden lock guarded that compartment which I soon made quick work of by using the key with the eye handle.

Nice. The cover was a dead giveaway.

Inside the compartment was... another key, but this time it was black and the tiny handle was shaped like a clock. It was actually really, really tiny too.



Inside the compartment were some instructions for the key: “My spot is at the end, after every other. As the milliseconds add up to hours, line me.

This is everything needed to solve the puzzle, so I figured I'd mention that now, in case you wanted to try to do so yourself before you keep reading to where Marco and Simon solve it. However, since you can't really zoom in on anything, I went ahead and made a copy of the thing needed to solve the puzzle from the original room art. :v:

I felt like I was really close to solving this room. I figured the key I'd found which looked like a clock would be used on the clock itself. Standing before it, I pushed it inside the middle bits regulating the hands. They could move!

My spot is at the end of the line... The end of the line... After all the others...

Looking at the clock and what letters were on it, I realized what was weird.



Four letters...

Try “LAST”, maybe? It's at the end after everyone else and it has four letters.

Marco sprung up next to me, having overheard what I'd been solving.

Here goes!

I twisted the winding key to work the hands over and once they were aligned to make the word LAST, the clock opened. Behind, in the wall was a safe that seemed a bit cold to the touch.

It's refrigerated. Let's see what's inside.



That's most likely our password to get out! But why is there food here?

I don't care, I'm hungry.

He swiped one and I took the other. I didn't trust the sandwiches because this seemed really strange but... since Marco was biting into his own and didn't fall dead, I figured there may not have been any problem with them. I just couldn't understand... why?

A few minutes passed while we ate our sandwiches. Marco was looking at his half-eaten sandwich. Something struck him and he pointed at it.



Swallow then talk. It's not polite to talk with your mouth full and I don't understand anything you're telling me.

He took a few seconds to do that, finishing up the bite he was chewing. I shook my head in complete derision. What he wanted to say was apparently so important he'd risked not being understood.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


I remember that, but it doesn't make any sense.

Well, think of it that way. When you get hungry, your stomach goes “grooowl” and you go “oh my god, I'm hungry!” That's because your stomach sends a signal to your brain to tell it “yo, I gotta eat bro, how long do I gotta starve?!”



Your stomach would still growl but you wouldn't feel it. You wouldn't “feel” the hunger anymore. That means the stomach is what gets hungry and the head is what “knows” the stomach is hungry. Does that make sense? Like, it's a signal, that's what I'm trying to explain.

But isn't it enough that you get that signal, anyway?

Yeah, that makes you feel hungry, but you aren't hungry.

He poked my stomach. I pulled away a little to avoid his finger but he'd already poked me.



And your shirt, well, it's connected do your skin, which is connected to your nerves, which are connected to your brain. Even touch is a signal- a sense. But did I really touch you? Now that's the question.

In the interest of transparency, there was a really tasteless 'bad touch' “””joke””” that was here that I've elected to cut because fuuuuuuck thaaaaaat :negative: I went and checked and it was not in the original version, either.

BGM: Ambient Strain
Even though we were done exploring this place, evidenced by the fact we had the password to escape, I felt as though we had yet to see one of the locations. Back out into the hallway, a locked door barred my progress. It quickly came open with the password that we found. Inside was a stranger room.



And that hallway also had a strange blue glow on the walls, ceiling and floor.

Some sort of checkpoint...? Looks dangerous. I definitely don't want to cross this until we know what to do with it.

Since we were on a bit of a schedule with the other groups also most likely finishing their exploration, I decided against looking at things more closely here for the time being.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


What? Did you find the exit? No, wait, that's believable. Hmm... did you find... the queen of England?

I found the exit.

Great! Let's go then.

No, I don't think that's a good idea. Wee, it had these... scanners or something. I think it's going to check if we have that ninth person with us. If we don't...

Marco didn't seem like the adventurous type today so he wordlessly agreed to leave that alone for now.



Oh, I went downstairs and entered the password. Both sides are now open.

Alright. Let's head back.

Sure. We could also head further in by using the train on the same side we came here on but... that would cut us off from the rest, probably not wise to do. Then again, what even is wisdom?

I waited for him to continue on that thought but he simply shrugged.



Yeah, I bet you know a lot about that.

While I gave him some sass, I moved downstairs followed by him. He grumbled some sort of retort, but I knew that he had nothing to strike back with.



He probably wouldn't want whatever he's trying to make us do take forever. The train arrived just as I'd guessed, and we boarded it momentarily. As we stepped in, I caught myself wondering exactly what the purpose behind this was.

BGM: Silence


Why did Smiley even make us do this? Why lock the doors? What exactly did we do here? We certainly hadn't accomplished a great thing. All we did was make a tablet boot up. Then we were fed the answer.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Finally, we arrived at the station the old man and the strange girl had disembarked at.

Oh, that's surprising. They're waiting for the same train.

Huh? Oh, look at that.

A and E entered the train, with the old man carefully leading the girl by the hand. He gave us a smile when he entered, patiently waiting until the girl was inside too before speaking to us.

BGM: Silence


No, not really. Sandwiches are kinda special, but nothing else out of the ordinary.

Hmm... We did find the exit. Well, I found it. E was, unfortunate to say, not too useful for this sort of thing.

Right, we also found one. Did yours have scanners?

Scanners? Ah, the blueish light! Yes, it did have that too. I thought it more prudent not to take chances with it for now. Besides, we can always return to these stations.

I remained quiet, content with following the movement of the train as it went towards the midpoint station. I was wondering about what we'd find up there, once we'd get the doors unlocked. We had found a library, but what did the others find?

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Alright, let's go. Old man A and girl E already left the place.

When Marco called me over, I realized that was the case. If we didn't head out promptly, the train would leave without us. Quickly, we stepped outside.

I hope they'll all decide to come back here...

-----
Here is the original library puzzle, found inside a book. I'll post the answer at the end of a future update.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





A approached us while I pondered on everyone else's motives. The train drove off and he made me an offer.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


Would you like to do it?

Oh, uh, sure. But aren't the gestures you both share kind of... complicated?

No, this wasn't the coward in me rearing its head again; I just didn't want to accidentally insult E by mistake, or just fail to formulate basic sentences to begin with. In the face of my question, A simply guffawed.



From his bag, he produced a pen.

This “braille pen” can condense the matter within the air into a solid form. It is a little like deposition, the process of turning something from a gaseous state to a solid one. In reality, it is a little more like a miniature 3D printer. This one is for the letter A. They only work on perfectly uniform surfaces, such as these.



Uhh, that's high technology. Are you sure you're fine giving this to me?

It's only temporary until we make our way out of here, so of course! E can read braille, and these will print out the sequence of pins that would let her read it. We're still working on getting them into a single pen, but...



I pondered if this man wasn't a little senile.

It's all well and good but I can't... carry this. I don't have the, uh, means to do so. You know?

I illustrated by pointing at his hands which were struggling to carry them all. He answered by dropping them all onto my arms, which I had to cross in order to carry them.

Hey, hey!

Give me a moment. I'll solve that dilemma...

From his bag, he produced yet another object: a bag like his, but smaller.



He opened it at me and I dropped the pens inside. Carefully, I also inserted the sheets of paper I'd been carrying alongside them.

This bag will hopefully not be too cumbersome. Ahh, it is nice to be lighter too. I have quite many a thing inside of mine...

That reminds me, Smiley took all of our stuff, but they didn't take away your bag?



BGM: Ambient Strain


Marco called from the consoles next to the door. He was examining them closely. We approached and he pointed with his thumb at the second one which showed a bunch of asterisks.

There are four keypads on the wall and we're four groups. So I thought, maybe I'd enter the password we had at our station and lo and behold, the console's broken now.

Wait, did you break it?

No, I just can't do anything else with it. I can't erase or enter anything.

Ah, perhaps it has recognized your input. Have you tried putting it in the other consoles too?



It seems it has recognized your input, then. Let me try putting in the code we had for our station in the first one...

As the old man was doing it, I observed carefully. Indeed, much like what happened to Marco, his console stopped responding once the code was in it.

Perfect! Now to wait for the other teams. We are making progress, my boys.

Almost as if fate had been waiting for us to enter the codes, the train arrived. I turned around to look at the station, wondering who would be coming out next.



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Oh, you're all fine! I'm glad. We're still missing some people, huh.

The twins weren't with you?

Negative. They must be having some difficulties with their puzzle room. Ours wasn't too terrible. But uh, we found some... stuff.

What kind of stuff?



BGM: Abyssal Snarl
You want me to show them that?

Yes. I think it's fairly important.

It's not like I really care to help anybody. On the other hand, the sooner we catch that fucker, the better it is... so whatever. Here.



Considering the fact none of our rooms contained anything like this, I was rather curious.

This thing says... “One of you isn't like the others.” And then there's this stupid part full of grammar errors, “NONE SMIILE WITHINE MY MASK”. Look how “smile” is spelled with two “I”s, and “within” is spelled with an “E” at the end. That's kinda stupid. Smiley can't even loving write, what an idiot.

I dunno. Isn't it suspicious how there are those additional letters?

Suspicious like what? Wait...

Suddenly, the man had an idea. I could tell with the way his eyebrows were furrowing. It wasn't just anger- this was advanced anger.

Oh, I loving get it. I get it now, Smiley. Your little accomplice- did you think I wouldn't notice?

Uh, you didn't, in fact, notice...



Actually, I can corroborate the fact she has no involvement in this.

Yeah, you can't know that. I bet she can hear and see us too and she's just playing us for fools.



No, she's also legitimately blind and deaf. This isn't going anywhere, stop this madness at once.

Step out of my way, old man. You're as easy to swat as a fly.

Yet, A did nothing of the sort. He remained there like a wall. An old, easily-pushed wall but a wall nonetheless. I watched on the sidelines. This situation had quickly escalated into a fight but I couldn't do anything. Jasmine was looking disapprovingly at everyone and Marco also looked as though he didn't want to get involved, averting his eyes.

Unsurprisingly, E didn't move. I assumed she still had no idea of what was happening. Since A stood up to Ray and he was an old man, I felt as though... Well, gently caress. I felt terrible. I'm a boy who's still young, healthy and not too bad, physically-speaking.



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
What a relief...

The reason why Ray abandoned his battle soon became apparent: the train had arrived at the station. The twins stepped outside. Perhaps the man hadn't wanted to cause violence in front of children, but that was most likely giving him too much credit. He was already drinking from his flask again, back to his isolation.

That was probably alcohol.



The first twin to disembark looked at us all in turns, having figured that an event or another had just taken place. We explained things to her, with the other joining her momentarily.

BGM: Silence
…...

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


The twin was explaining her reasoning to us once we talked about the strange paper.

Life's full of traitors, so I wouldn't be surprised. Sometimes they're really close to you.

But it doesn't specifically say it, right? It says... “not like the others”. What is the link between all of us that the eighth wouldn't share?

Well... that's hard to tell.

Everything will be fine anyway. That note was probably just put here to sow generalized madness among us.



Yes, but... well... hmph.

Jasmine decided to shut up past that.

Before this devolves into a fight again, we should get a move on.

The door is closed, though.

J, I'm gonna need your help, and yours too, uh, G, correct?

Correct. What will we do?

Well, we already entered our codes in the first and second consoles on the wall. They stopped responding, while the others still work, so we're thinking if we enter all four of them...



I waited while Jasmine entered the one her team found and G entered the one the twins received from their room. In the meantime, I had the option of talking to some other people.



To prevent this from being a really short update, I'm going to choose the losing option from the last vote (which tied), so we're talking to H.



What are you doing? That's extremely rude.

Is it? She can't even see me, so she doesn't know what I'm doing. To her, I'm not doing anything.

That's right, but we can see you. At least, I can since everyone else is too busy.

Do you care, then? I want to tell her something, but I can't. Disabilities are dumb, and all of them should go away. I hate them all.

It's not so simple. But I do have a way to talk to her. The old man gave me these pens that can write letters in Braille...

As soon as I showed her the pens, she snatched them along with a piece of paper.

Hey, wait, I wasn't done explaining!



The girl quickly wrote something before stuffing the pens back into my bag. She gave E the paper, though E looked more and more puzzled the more she read her hands upon it.

Um... I don't really understand what you're saying, sorry.

What?! But I thought these pens would...

Hey, calm down. There's a way to use the pens that I didn't have the time to explain...

I glanced over at the rest of the group. Apparently, they'd finished opening the door.



Later, more like, never. I'm sure I asked it correctly. I guess she just didn't want to answer, and that's fine, but I don't like that.

The twin grabbed E's hand and pulled her along. The poor blind girl followed, uncertain of where she was going. Putting my hands in my pockets, I followed along too. Together, we all stepped into the little lobby beyond the station.



There's hardly any space here for all of us...

Stay calm, okay? If we fall down the stairs it won't be funny either, so go through one by one and stop trying to go first.

I'll do what I loving want.

Here comes the rear end in a top hat again, watch out sis!

After a brief moment of cacophony, we all came up the stairs and entered a peculiar room.



Doesn't this look like a lounge to you? Isn't this supposed to be part of the train station?

This is very different, but the station we investigated didn't look like a station at all either... It was some bedroom.

The others chimed in.



Funny enough, our own looked like a library. We had to solve some puzzles and there was some stuff hidden around. In the final safe was also a pair of sandwiches.

Ours had food too... which is pretty strange. Why would they do that?

Ah, ours had food as well, but it was a little different and not hidden like yours. It was more like storage for food.. a pantry, that's the word. I suppose we could use it to dine, if the food is even edible any more.

How did the stations change that much?

Asking that question is pertinent indeed, but we should give this room a good search too. Let's meet back up once we've done so.

I decided to take this side with Marco, Jasmine, and A. On the other side, the twins were examining the bar along with Ray, with E just standing around. The man was getting angry at the girls because they weren't allowed around alcoholic drinks.

Heh... well, no time like the present. It was time to search this.



We've been here before (Or have we? :v: ), but we didn't get to look at the map at the time, so lets take a peek:



I'm just gonna start from that machine on the left side.



That seems like a time travel device.



Maybe not yet, but one day...!

Probably not. The intricacies are, as far as I'm aware, a little too steep for us to access it. To begin with, time travel would require the involvement of a gravitational force...

What are you two talking about?

Oh, A was being a little senile, don't mind him.

I am not senile!

I gotta give you props, it seems like it's actually an air conditioning device. No time travel here.

I'm starting to get the impression Simon is kind of a prick :v:

A threw his hands in the air while moving away, exasperated while murmuring “young ones these days” or something like that. I tried turning it on but I didn't know what to press. Jasmine was taller, so she helped me flick some switches. The machine didn't turn on, though.

Looks like it's not working. Maybe it's not powered on. Is it even plugged in?

Heh, it sounds to me like that AC needs some DC to work.



I heard my nicky-name! Did I miss something?

I dismissively waved at him to dodge his next jokes by moving on from the air conditioner.



Interesting! I know these lamps. They are powered by yttrium batteries. I suppose the more common term would be “LYP batteries”.

Very, uh, interesting. I'll go look over there now.

...

I felt a sense of dread when I looked at the portrait. It was... foreboding, in a way. I couldn't describe it.

Deja vu...?

What are you talking about?

Oh, I had deja vu while looking at this portrait. What do you feel when you look at it?

You know, for a place supposed to be for comfort, it's kinda giving me the creeps...

It's just a lounging area, there's no reason to be afraid.

The twin had crossed over to our side momentarily.



They're just words, anyway. Are you really gonna turn tail at that? Words can't hurt you.

No, it's just... I dunno... Words can hurt, you'll understand when you're older.

I am older! I'm older than I was ten seconds ago, in fact.

:rolleyes:

That's technically correct, but...

I had other things to look at, so I left them alone.



What are you doing exactly? You're gonna leave your dirty footprints all over the couch.

I'm testing its comfort level.

By...standing on it?

What else? My full weight is on it. If it can't retain its shape even after that, then it's garbo!

He leaped off it and turned around to see the results. The couch retained its shape regardless of Marco's weight and it wasn't even marked by his shoes either.

That's a good couch.

Go figure you'd be the one who's looking for a comfy couch...



Huh, Marco was right. This couch was really comfortable. It might've been comfortable enough to take a nap on it, which was extremely rare for me to consider.

If you sleep there, I can't guarantee your safety.

Eh?

The others may choose to leave you behind if you do so, that's all I mean to say.

He was right. I stood back up and chose to forget about the couch entirely.



This looks really rich. Did Smiley have all these antiques, or are they replicated objects?

Just because they look old doesn't mean they're old. I think they're not real antiques, and even if you touch the gems and they feel real, they're probably not actual rubies.



Or maybe Smiley didn't care.

Yeah, that's what I said- if they were stupid. That's the only way someone wouldn't care.



All that's left is the water cooler. Assuming nothing else pops up, the door probably is just the signal for 'I'm done looking around'.

This is empty. It looks like it has water, but it's empty because those drat plastic containers play tricks on your eyes!

No use getting so angry over it.

I could've gone for a drink but I guess it'll have to wait.

Might have a better chance with the bar on the other side.

Once A moved away, following his advice, Marco leaned towards me a little.



Right, your allergies.

Then again... who knows. Maybe I'm being too paranoid about that kind of thing.

The chances of there being a drink with coconut here are pretty slim, I agree. You should lay back a bit and not worry over it!

Does, uh, the creator not know about like...pina coladas? Or other mixed drinks like Malibu Sunsets? I think the odds there's coconut milk or coconut rum at a bar is pretty high actually :v:

To the bar, then!

I had other things to look at first.

I was about to leave the room when A held my shoulder to stop me.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


Did we find anything special or something?

Not much, I'm afraid. It doesn't seem as though this room even has a way out like the stations we explored.

Maybe this is set up here so we have to come back here every time...

Do you think so? I thought this place was a little homely. We should consider this our base of operations, for whenever we've solved an escape room.

That seems like a good idea. Let's make our way back here to report our findings every time we get out of a station, then.

Ray grumbled something. He didn't seem in agreement, but instead of replying to their words, he simply drank from his flask once again. That reminded me, there was a bar counter here...

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Just what I was thinking. Nothing in here has a price tag, so I guess it's free?

Are you two willing to get drunk now? That's so irresponsible. I can't believe you're both like that. We should just rest before heading out, we need all our focus!

Hey, not really getting drunk, just, you know... having a sip. Just the sip.

Do not worry, J. I will make sure any drink I prepare will not be cause for concern.

And who named you the resident barkeep?



Well, that's probably the most help we can get in making good drinks around here, other than...

I glanced over at Ray. He didn't catch me, since he was already sitting on a stool, taking sips from his flask. Was that thing bottomless or something?

Someone who drinks doesn't necessarily do a good job at mixing those drinks. I understand your reticence, but as soon as you have a taste of the drinks I'll make, I'm sure you'll be fine with it!



Hard one on the rocks, my good sir!

Ohoho, like I said, no alcohol here. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to have this little lady here too.

Hmph... I wanna take a look at what you're doing there.

She leaned her head over the counter, frowning as she watched what he was doing. After a moment, she sat back down, looking slightly dazed.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


Wouldn't be a Zero Escape-like if we didn't have hard subject swerves like this sometimes :v:

Which one? The one from two years ago in Beirut?

No no, the one from like a month ago or so. It happened in New York, I think.

She was frowning, as if she was having issues thinking about it.



Oh, yeah, that thing. That was a real atrocity, wasn't it?

Though, I believe you have an element wrong in your description. Only one station exploded, if I remember correctly?

Huh? But... weird, I remember that differently...

Pfeh, that was done by terrorists. If you get scared, they're going to win, so don't let it get to your head.

Well, some people apparently died, so it's hard to not let them win when you're dead. Besides, I'm pretty sure that was just a cover-up for an internal incident. You know how big companies are. They can't afford to show that kind of weakness, so they pinned it on “terrorism”.



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Please, do have a taste and let me know what you think afterwards!

I decided to throw caution to the wind and have a good sip. As soon as I drank it, my eyes lit up with newfound vigor. He wasn't lying when he said he was good.

Oh, it tastes like lime. Just a little, not too much. It's pretty perfect!

I told you I was good at this, young man.

How did you know that was my favorite taste for a drink?

I'm simply good at what I do, nothing else.



BGM: Alarming Silence
While I enjoyed my drink in silence alongside the others, I couldn't help but let what H and Ray said weigh upon my mind. Terrorism... station exploding... would the same thing happen here?

Would this place explode too? Was I caught in some kind of international terrorism? This brought me back to the note Ray showed us. Someone who didn't belong... like a terrorist? Like Jasmine said, it was easy to dismiss it as some kind of scare. Perhaps it was what it was, but I couldn't be sure.

Did I really think that was the case? Did I think the message was important?

Mix. fucked around with this message at 21:03 on Jul 31, 2021

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Ah, that... sure is a puzzle, huh.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Yeah, the original game's puzzles were just... that, lol. Which isn't a bad thing, to be clear, especially since it's basically one person making most of this, it's better to know your limitations instead of dropping the ball completely. It feels weird to cut them out completely in the remaster, but the impression I got is that the creator is really eager to get to the third game (for understandable reasons), so the updates being primarily cosmetic is fine.

For those who havent played it, the sequel has the same kind of poking around/exploring system that this remaster does, but it also has an actual inventory system in the escape rooms so it's closer to the actual escape room segments that zero escape has, so it's basically all upwards.

EDIT: Also, I forgot to mention this, but we have a conversation choice coming up in the update after next; the choices of who to talk to are Jasmine, A, or E, so I'll start taking votes for that now.

Mix. fucked around with this message at 02:27 on Jun 19, 2021

whitehelm
Apr 20, 2008


Every Zero Escape fan knows what that note means...where's Phi when you need her?

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


whitehelm posted:

Every Zero Escape fan knows what that note means...where's Phi when you need her?

The real question is, where's Akane when you want her to run a death game for you? Or have her blow up a nuclear reactor?

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



whitehelm posted:

Every Zero Escape fan knows what that note means...where's Phi when you need her?

Akane gets one in ZTD but yeah, Phi has the best track record. And… someone in Q team also gets one. I forget whether it’s Mira or not, but it definitely couldn’t have been Eric…

Ignatius M. Meen
May 26, 2011

Hello yes I heard there was a lovely trainwreck here and...



E because she's the person we've interacted with the least and we should know something about her besides that we have to use Braille pens to communicate.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Yeah the puzzles in BMC were actually pretty good - I'd say better than ztd's lowest points, which sounds like damning with faint praise but ztd wasn't a one-man show.

I'll refrain from saying more because op is planning on lping it.

let's talk to E.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




I'm with Simon, the "part of the subway system was shut down because of an explosion" sounds like total bullshit. Perhaps whatever the real cause of the shutdown happened in a bunch of cities and NYC was just the only one that people heard about - which would also explain how Smiley had space/time to renovate and modify Montreal's subway for the game without anybody noticing. Or I guess there's also the possibility that he's lying about us being in Montreal and we're actually in the closed section of the NYC subway.

Ignatius M. Meen posted:

E because she's the person we've interacted with the least and we should know something about her besides that we have to use Braille pens to communicate.
Agreed, let's chat with E.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Ambient Strain


The reason behind our abduction might become more apparent if I did that. I already could tie Marco to the university I attended before. Jasmine had never gone, but... Ray gave me the feeling that he belonged there. I couldn't, in good conscience, disregard a possible lead three of us might be sharing.

That difficult decision made, I stood up from my seat and approached Marco.

Hey, let's go have a chat with the volcano.

The volcano? Isn't that dangerous?

Only if it explodes on you.





Mind if we talk a bit? I'm trying to determine exactly what links us all here.

You're from the university too, right? As a teacher, I mean.

I looked at Marco, surprised.

What? I remember him, even if he doesn't remember me. He looks like one of the teachers I've had there.

Ray ran a hand through his dual-colored hair, slightly annoyed. But then again, this was his natural state of affairs, so nothing was too different than usual.



He stood up, stretched his legs and arms, and took off. We followed him to the couches in the other corner, opposite to the one Jasmine and G were occupying.

So what do you want to know? If I'm from the university too?

Actually, it's about...



Obviously, we have to choose one of the unrelated questions, to see what happens :v:

About your drink, what even is it? Is it alcohol or something?

I was getting away from the topic, but perhaps if I brought up a familiar thing first, I would get him to open up more easily.



Oh, sorry, did I touch on something bad? We can just skip that, then. What I meant to ask about was if you had a link with the University of Montreal, yes.

Ray grumbled something at our insistence before he sighed, clearly giving up opposing our questioning.

Yeah, I'm employed by the university, and you were probably students from it then, right? I can tell you're both about the age all of these fucks graduate.



Okay okay, there's no point being too rude. We're all trapped here and we all want to make it out, so we just need information. Are we good?

I looked at Marco. He stared back at me and closed his eyes, letting his frown dissipate. This also seemed to calm down Ray. The man seemed more reactive than proactive when cornered like this.

So what exactly is it you want to know? Why I'm here? I don't have a drat clue myself. I'm stuck in here with a bunch of zoomers and a boomer.

:rolleyes:



The girl with disabilities, well... sucks for her, but she wouldn't be admitted. We don't have classes for blind and deaf people. That's if she's even both of those, which I don't believe in.

Man, like half of the cast at this point have dunked on this blind girl, who has done nothing to cause suspicion at any point, just because she's disabled :v: Thanks guys!

The teens? They're teens. They don't belong in the university. They probably just graduated high school or something. Having fun with their boyfriends and doing gently caress-all because they're too insecure about their futures.



As for the pinkette... I don't think I've seen... her before. ...No... I think I have...

I narrowed my eyes. What would he and Jasmine have in common?

Wasn't at the university, before you jump to conclusions. It was... elsewhere. I can't remember exactly. There was a... waiting room. I didn't recall before because my memories of that are a little muddy.



He gave us a dismissive wave. At least he was polite enough for that. Marco and I had remained quiet during most of his monologue. This information was, ultimately, somewhat interesting. Still, his hesitation at the end made it sound like he was embarrassed about it. I shrugged at Marco.

Well, maybe we'll know more later. I think I'm gonna group up with J so I can ask her about it.

Aw, man. You're gonna leave me with Ray?

Or one of the twins. Try to use that to also find out what they're all about, okay? Maybe they have a... parent from the university or something.

Marco wasn't too enthused by it, but he agreed. At the same moment, a yell caught my attention. It came from H, who had joined Jasmine and G on the couch during our discussion.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


What's going on here?

Mind your business, blandie, I'm gonna give this bitch a piece of my mind!

She lunged at Jasmine but Marco grabbed her to stop her from moving.

Let me go, nerdlord!

I took a glance at Jasmine, who looked completely lost in all of this. Her eyes were wide open in surprise.



H was gesticulating wildly, while G was a lot calmer, trying to make sense of the situation as much as we were. After a while, she snapped her fingers, as if she just got an idea.

Ah, I know what it is!

You don't know anything, sis!

In the end, H slammed her foot down on the ground, surprising Marco who let her go after a short moment of inattention. This time, it was my turn to snag her up so she wouldn't lunge on her.

Let me loving go!



A joined us in the commotion.

It's okay, I can deal with this. H, please, let it go, and don't worry. Come over here...

She reached for H's arm. I let go of her and the moment I did, H's legs gave and she fell down to the ground. The girl was trembling all over.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


Come over here. It's okay.

G repeated herself while helping H over. The two of them sat down on the far end of the other couch and we moved away to give them some privacy. I pulled Jasmine over by her wrist.

We should leave them alone for a bit.

That would be...for the best. She's just sensitive about some stuff ever since things... happened at school. We'll be ready to head back out shortly.



It's okay, H. There's none of that here.

We moved even further away until we could barely hear what they said anymore. Jasmine was looking at me, following absentmindedly as if she wasn't all there either.

What did you even say to her?

Like I said... something about getting out? I don't know... She must be whack in the head.

I scratched the side of my cheek a little, playing with my sideburn. What a trait to differentiate the twins...



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


That thought made me truly feel sad, but I couldn't take those on a date. I had to go with Jasmine so I could inquire about the event she might've shared with Ray.

So how are the teams going to work? I'm going with Jasmine this time, if I can shotgun that.

I'll take the punk.

He pointed at Marco. Strange, I thought he might've opposed my idea, but perhaps he didn't want to team up with Jasmine again. But to go to the length where he'd willingly pick Marco? Perhaps something I'd said shook him up to his core.



She's not... n-never mind.

Jasmine giggled at his ascertainment of the situation. Apparently, she found that line very funny. Great. My chances with her were probably at a round zero.

That's okay I guess.

He didn't look enthused about it. Our teams, ultimately, weren't very different than the first round's groups. Nothing was in place to force us to mix up, so the twins went together again.

Do we have our teams? If that is the case, let us go at once.

Obviously, A would go with E since, other than me, he was the only one who could communicate with her. I could've simply handed the bag to someone else though. But I did want to investigate her situation again later. For now, we all walked down the stairs in pairs.



I, too, was happy because that was the only person I really figured I could go on a real “date” with. E was nice, but also difficult to deal with. Marco and the other guys were out of the question since I didn't swing that way... And the twins? That's illegal! Never in a million years!

Thank you so much for appraising us about your romantic considerations, Simon :rolleyes: The no homo is a great touch!



But why that name in the first place? It was embarrassing. It was almost as embarrassing as admitting to Jasmine all that I thought of her. I glanced at her again. Come to think of it, she was a little different now, beyond her peppier step.

She's a pretty nice person, but in here she took the lead a lot and she was unafraid of confrontation. Those were traits that she did show before, but not to this extent. Either she changed during these years, or Jasmine being away from me stopped me from extending my cowardice to her.



BMG: Silence
The train closed its doors... And finally, it took off. This time, we were heading in the direction we hadn't explored earlier. Very little words were exchanged comparatively to our earlier escapade.

I zoned out after a bit. Apparently, while I did so, the twins left at the first stop we had. I forced myself to wake back up from that moment after a while. Looking over the others, they were all naturally segregated in their teams of two.

I was very close to Jasmine, so I could tell something was a little different about her. She was a little nervous.

Do you want to leave at the next station...?

Oh, huh? Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.

BGM: Ambient Strain


I only questioned her after the train stopped, once we were outside of it. I figured what was making her nervous might have been something the others weren't meant to hear. We stepped into the lobby and the door did its magic.

I wondered what would happen if only one of us stepped inside of this place. Would the door still close? I chased that thought away since I needed to address Jasmine over what she might've found.

Anything specific on your mind, J?

BGM: Alarming Silence


I listened. For all I knew, it might've been incredibly important.

This place is kind of... you know...

It's weird, right? Did you figure out...

=BGM: Silence=

:v:

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
I looked at her, somewhat surprised. All of this for bathrooms.

Oh, um... I haven't seen any... I don't think? But maybe if you look around here...

She went up the stairs at my suggestion. I followed after her, but I was much slower. There wasn't the same kind of desire welling up in me. I was also still in shock from the sudden shift. I really thought she figured something out... but this...

BGM: Algorithm Simile


She stated the obvious once we entered the main room of this station. A lot of stuff was scattered around; stuff that I wasn't too familiar with. Dissection tables, pots containing stuff in formaldehyde, complex computers... even a microwave oven was here. All stuff that I wasn't too familiar with.

Except for the microwave oven.

Jasmine didn't look disgusted by any of the formaldehyde, but I couldn't stare at them any longer than a few seconds and only if necessary.

I really hope there are bathrooms here too...

I felt my stomach turn a bit at the contents of those pots.



What does the other one lead to?

That's... I think that's the exit hallway. That means the bathrooms are outside.

She left the room to wander the hallway outside, giving me a head start in the search.

BGM: Silence
I wasn't too happy about that since she left me alone with all of those disgusting things in the jars here... I chose not to look at those things until she came back.



BGM: Auxiliary Search


As always, first things first we gotta check the map!



The little detail of the bathroom being allllll the way at the very end of the hallway is really funny to me :v: I'm gonna start with the computer on the desk.

I tried to turn on the computer, but nothing was working. No button did the trick. While there were many ways to turn on something, the only way that was available to me was the use of the power button. Maybe if I had been more suave... Well, I could always give it a shot.

What's a beautiful piece of electronics like you doing in a place like this?

I spoke directly at the computer screen. Obviously, nothing happened. It was a bad pick-up line anyway.

So...come here often?

Even worse. I was thankful Jasmine hadn't been here to witness this stupidity. No wonder the computer refused to talk to me.

Well, uh... let's look at the door on the far left. :gonk:

That's the door Jasmine took when she went to find the bathrooms earlier. Suffice it to say, it led to a hallway and... you guessed it... the bathrooms. When I opened the door, it squeaked a little. The door hinge needed a good dose of oil to be serviceable again.

Come to think of it, door hinge... door hinge... Why was door hinge the only rhyme for the word orange? And was that true or was that some kind of urban legend? If only I was a master linguist, I could've known the answer to these questions.

Why be a master linguist when you can be a cunning linguist? Oh, that's a good one. Hey, J!

:rolleyes:

I called for her and she came by momentarily. Her trip to the bathroom was over.

I was thinking about oranges, and...

Oranges? Did you find weird food in here too?

No, it's about...

Oh, so the color then?

No, no, it's about the door hinge and the cunning linguist.

Crap, I'd told this whole thing out of order. Jasmine was nothing but confused at my words.



Um...n-never mind. It was just... a dumb thing. Nothing to do with an actual person.

Despite my failure in delivery, Jasmine was back and would now search this place alongside me.

So, there's different dialogue when you examine stuff once Jasmine has returned... and since the flowchart hasn't unlocked yet (and the game auto-saves when you return to menu), the fact I accidentally brought her back immediately also locks us out of any more of Simon's weirdo dialogue while she's out of the room :suicide: If you guys reeeeally want I'll throw it in with the other stuff in the supplemental updates, but something tells me we aren't missing anything of value. :v:

How goes the search on this side?

Jasmine had been staring into the microscope. She rose back up and offered me a shrug in these trying times.



I didn't think so either.

This thing won't turn on.

Um... it's not plugged in.

:sigh:

I cursed. How could I have fallen for the stupidest mistake? I leaned down under the desk and looked at the plug. Just as Jasmine said, it wasn't plugged in.

Do you see an outlet anywhere?

One over here!

She called from the corner. I had to twist my arm a bit to throw the plug that way but Jasmine managed to catch it. The computer booted up. Jasmine rose up and took a look at the screen.



No... n-no I didn't.



So I guess the “puzzle” for this room is finding that password. There's still some places we haven't checked, but I want to look at the big metal door first.



J, look at this. It's weird, isn't it? And the door doesn't even have a handle either. Can't open it.

I can't see with your head in the way. What's weird?

There's another room that looks like this one a little. It has a big tube in the middle...

Let me see.



That's very strange... and you say we can't open this door at all?

There's no handle. It clearly opens from this side too. It's just... not accessible for some reason. What do you think it is?

Maybe it's like, a bunker. You know? The door looks solid enough for that.

But why would someone want to make a bunker in a science laboratory above a metro?



She made a good point. I backed off from the door entirely following that exchange. It still nagged at me, though. I didn't know what its purpose was... or what was behind it.

I guess we should probably poke around the table in the middle of the room.

Look at all this stuff! J, what do you think all of this is for?

These? These are cooking utensils.

Huh? How do you...

Do you want me to bake a cake?

I didn't answer for several moments, too horrified to put my wits together.

I think... I think I'm good.

:confused: Is there, uh, a joke or reference here I'm missing??? There's no followup, so...



And over there was another science item too! So much science. Among the science, I saw something a little more familiar. It was a USB stick.

Finally, something I recognize and can use...

As for its purpose, I had no idea. At least, I had it now.

I'm obviously supposed to use it on the computer, but I haven't talked to Jasmine yet, so let's get that out of the way first.



Oh, I looked into some drawers over there. They contained knives of all kinds. It's kind of dangerous so I closed them back. Think we could do something to lock them up better?

If they didn't have locks, not sure what else we could do...

Maybe we could put something in front, or... just remove the knives.

Hmm... nah, I don't think we need to do that. After all, we'll probably be the only ones who will explore this place. Nobody will take one or anything.

:v: Place your bets on whether this line will become ironic down the line!

Despite my words, she didn't look convinced. Oh well, I wasn't going to mess with the place just for that! What if we had a need for those knives later, too? We couldn't just get rid of them.

While we're at it, what's up with the switch on the wall?

That was one big-rear end switch.

That's one big-rear end switch.

Yeah, that's one big-rear end switch, as opposed to two big-rear end switches.

Better not touch it. It seems like it's connecting two things already. If we took it off, we might...

Jasmine flipped it down without even paying any mind to what I was suggesting not to do. I frowned and crossed my arms accusingly after replacing it how it was before. She shrugged at me.

Nothing happened, it's fine!

But one big-rear end switch could cause one big-rear end explosion if you don't do it right. Do you just press all the buttons you see when you enter a room?

Yes.

See? Even you wouldn't... huh?

She left my surroundings, probably to go push more buttons and flip more switches. drat it, Jasmine!



There's nothing else worth looking at now that we have the USB drive, so...



Wait, did you try Smiley's birthday too?

Do you know the date? Otherwise, we have 365 possible outcomes.

She didn't know it and neither did I. As I spoke, something happened on the screen. The USB stick I inserted triggered something to run despite the account not being accessed.

Hey, what's going on?



I just put this thing in the PC and it started doing it on its own. Really weird, if you ask me. Is Smiley playing a practical joke on us? Why would he give us a crack for his own password?

Hmm... maybe the goal is just not to see us fail? It's really odd though, I agree.

Two minutes passed. The password was still not found. Five minutes. I looked at Jasmine but I could see she had surrendered herself to the wait.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


But you know...miracles aren't that uncommon by this definition. You know about Littlewood's Law, right?

Uh, no. That seems like something not many people would know.

zero_escape.txt :v:

It's just that under his definition, miracles are one special event to a normal million normal events. So basically, a miracle is one out of a million. And when I say miracle, I don't mean a magic trick or anything, just “a special event”.



I don't understand. What do you mean by “not just one person”?

If you put two people somewhere, then you only need 500,000 events to happen to each of them on average to account for one miracle... And then, three people would further divide it into thirds, and four, quarters. If you have one million people in the world, then the chances of seeing a miracle happen is much likelier. And how many of us are out there right now?



Doesn't that sound crazy? Since we're a few billion people, thousands of miracles are happening at the same time every day, and multiple times a day most likely!

So what you're suggesting is that the computer cracking the password is doing the same thing?

I mean, it's trying a lot of times, so clearly, its hinging on the Law of Truly Large Numbers, which says that with enough attempts, you'll eventually see something happen... And it's working so fast I wouldn't be surprised if it resolved the password situation in only a few more seconds!

She looked at the computer intently, but such a thing wouldn't make it work faster, obviously.

Well... All I'm trying to say to pass the time is that the more attempts you have at making something work, then the likelier that thing is going to work. Unless you try over and over doing the same thing and never changing anything, because that's... that's just insanity.

Yeah, yeah, I know that definition.

BGM: Silence
And just at that moment, the computer finished its solving.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I gazed at the screen, and upon it was the sequence to enter for the doors outside, most likely. It read: 2022220427. It looked like a date but it also had other numbers on it.

Well, that's a long code. Do you think it's that easy? Would it really give us the solution already? This feels like we were set up.

Yeah... we were here maybe fifteen minutes or something. Is that really all we have to do?



It worked! The door opened with a sliding noise. Assuming Jasmine entered it correctly on the other side, we could now use both sides of the station again. Since I had the side that went back to the lounge, I patiently waited for Jasmine to join me again.



It looked like it was fully welded in place... Maybe we have to come back later.

Jasmine shrugged, and we waited for the train to arrive. This room had been... strange.

-----
There wasn't a puzzle here in the original version either, so instead, here is the answer to the book puzzle from the library (found at the end of Update 3):



Straight Answer: The answer is 5073.

Explanation: The goal is to figure out what the four question marks are. You have some of the shapes which already have their numbers provided, but you need to figure out the other shapes to be able to find the code. A means to Add, and S means to subtract, so by filling in the equations it gives you more of the shapes' matching numbers. After doing so, the only number not accounted for is nine, which corresponds with the circle, the only shape you can't solve for inherently. The black numbers denote what order the answer's digits should be in.

Ignatius M. Meen
May 26, 2011

Hello yes I heard there was a lovely trainwreck here and...



that's not how that works

the odds of someone seeing a 'miracle'/something that 'should' only happen one time in a million goes up, sure

but it is still not a guarantee that anyone will still see it happen

and it is absolutely not a guarantee that you are the one to see it rather than one of the rest of the million people if it does happen

and there's no way to know if whoever's figured the math right on how often that event in fact happens. it might be way more common for one reason or another than once in a million

and even if you could tell that for sure, there's definitely one-in-a-million chance events you wouldn't even recognize as such because the only delineating factor is that they're very uncommon, not that they actually feel like anything special, interesting, or valuable to our goofy monkey brains

at least when 999 talked about ice-9 it was in a way that didn't destroy suspension of disbelief. this might as well launch into a sales pitch for The Secret

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



It's a real thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_truly_large_numbers

Man, there's not really anyone who ends up looking good in the character writing for this segment, huh. :sigh:

Ignatius M. Meen
May 26, 2011

Hello yes I heard there was a lovely trainwreck here and...




wasn't saying the referred thing wasn't a real thing, just that it's being abused heavily to imply "miracles happen all the time!!" rather than the more accurate "just because something's statistically improbable doesn't mean that it being observed is significant; throw enough numbers at anything and you WILL get a weird result somewhere"

e: even more accurate: "throw an experiment with a big enough sample size at a theory and you can get 'results' to 'prove' it, no matter what the theory is"

Ignatius M. Meen fucked around with this message at 17:43 on Jun 21, 2021

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Leraika posted:

Man, there's not really anyone who ends up looking good in the character writing for this segment, huh. :sigh:

Smiley: You're here because y'all are jerks.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Leraika posted:

Man, there's not really anyone who ends up looking good in the character writing for this segment, huh. :sigh:

This is why Marco is the best character, he just simply doesn't get involved in everyone else's weird bullshit :v:

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Mix. posted:

This is why Marco is the best character, he just simply doesn't get involved in everyone else's weird bullshit :v:

E hasn't had a chance to leave a bad impression, too.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





I had something I wanted to talk to Jasmine about, but before I could say anything... The train arrived. It stopped at our station seconds after our arrival.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Wow, that's remarkably fast. It's almost like it had been waiting for us to come by so it could try to jumpscare us.



My perspective on trains has vastly changed since, J. You should keep your mind open. There is no gain in having narrow-minded cultural assumptions about our train friends.

What are you talking about?

It's simple: trains are people like you and I. That construct. The elegancy of the train's shape. The materials used within its construction. All of this couldn't have been engineered by anyone other than the world itself.



Is it too late to exchange our protagonist for a new one? The one we've got sucks right now. :v:

It's just a train! Let's go inside before it drives off!

She pulled me before I could place any other word. I admitted defeat and stepped in.

BGM: Silence
The doors closed behind us as a voice called out to us. It was an old voice...



No, not that voice- another voice had been drowned out.

There you are! It seems we have taken the same train after all.

I was taken aback by his sudden appearance. What were the chances we would take the same train again? E was along with him, though she was sitting on a chair further in the compartment.



A few seconds later, the train stopped at the station which housed the twins. Neither of them was waiting for the train, so it didn't take long for its doors to open... and then come closed again.

Finally, it took off once more. In the small amount of time we had before we made our way back to the lounge, I could probably talk with somebody. Just one person, though.



Per the response in the thread, it's time to learn how to use the Braille pens so we can speak with E.



I wrote about the strange secondary lab to her and she replied with an inquisitive look. I could tell, even if her upper features were obscured.

I can't say I know what its purpose is. You found a laboratory, you said? Can you describe it briefly?

I wrote onto the paper some more. I didn't have a lot of time, but if she asked for details then perhaps she figured something out that I didn't think about... I exposed the stuff that had been lying around. The formaldehyde. The computer. The password cracking and what I saw in the second room.

While waiting for her answer, I glanced at Jasmine. She was relaying what she knew to A, except she completely omitted the second laboratory.

I see... or, well, I guess I don't. Sorry, I'm not very helpful. I don't know what it's about. If it's a laboratory though, maybe...

She pensively brought a hand up to her headset. Was it related to that laboratory? Suddenly, I believed that perhaps the link she shared with this place may be more conventional than ours.

However, before I could ask her anything else, the station came into view outside of the windows. The train was going to stop. Extending this was an exercise in futility for the time being.

BGM: Ambient Strain


After you, then.

The old man went to fetch E while I left the train with Jasmine.

Are you sure we need all this secrecy?

Information is important here. You never know who you can trust.

We took our conversation further away, into the lobby. Then we went up the stairs ahead of the old man and E, who had just come out of the train.



The lounge was becoming out hangout spot rather quickly. It made me comfortable, but Jasmine's presence was slightly unnerving. I didn't truly believe the old man was suspicious of our secret, or that he had any right to be doubted. After all, he had been helpful so far. He gave me a way to talk with E and he shared information.

I think that's too paranoid.

Look who's talking, Mr. Afraid-Of-Everything!

Hey, that's not fair...

Life's not fair either but I shouldn't be this harsh, you're right. Listen, I just think... there's a bigger puzzle to solve beyond each individual station.

What makes you say that?

She closed her eyes and thought about it intensely, reclining on a couch. I joined her. Even if I got mad at her a little, it wouldn't last very long.

I don't know... I just feel that way, I guess. We found that door and we have no way to open it. Back in the first station we explored, Ray and me, we found some other stuff. There was a hidden room...



BGM: Alarming Silence
Jasmine was no longer merely thinking about the situation. She leaned towards me insistently as if seeking my approval. I could do nothing but nod. Something felt wrong but I didn't really have a grip on reality. Where were the others? Where were the old man and the disabled girl? Shouldn't they have come up the stairs too? Instead, I found myself prey for Jasmine's ideas. She was right, in a way. It was difficult to trust anyone but one's close friends. However...

The thought that Jasmine felt different flashed by again. I couldn't shake that feeling and it made me quite uncomfortable too. Jasmine was dependable, but Jasmine was also a person who usually went with the flow. She didn't really force it. Was she a leader? Totally. But she wasn't one to direct things and she'd been quite bossy so far. And yet, she was the only person I could fully trust here, other than Marco. I felt something against my cheek. It was her hand! She was holding my chin and she turned my head towards her. All I could see now was Jasmine.

Let's just get out of here alive, okay? Anything could happen here, and actions speak louder than words. Don't you agree, S? That's why some things are better left unsaid.

Her breath was heavier. Was she flirting? Was this her way of flirting? I couldn't understand. My heartbeat picked up. At that moment, I didn't realize how much of a dumb teen I was being. I was nervous like some sort of clueless, overeager virgin. But... if she was scared in here, she would understand that perhaps we might die here. If that was the case and my feelings weren't unrequited, then... what she was suggesting...

There's something very funny about the dissonance from Simon getting lost in his head at the slightest attention by the girl he likes while the music is this foreboding ambient horror track :v:

S-Sure. I want to get out of this alive too.

What she was suggesting was to make my attraction to her more obvious, to let my actions speak, instead of my words. Since A and E hadn't come up the stairs yet, we were still alone here. For all we knew, this game would kill me so there was no other option. I had to do something, and let her know that....

And maybe she felt the same way...



That was a strong memory. It was all the stronger now. Why was I thinking about this stupid train again? I had to think about Jasmine. Maybe I could do it... maybe I could tell her...

BGM: Silence


BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
In the room, two figures had walked in. They were A and E. Following after them, two more came in: Ray and Marco. They were both fine. My joker of a friend looked at me strangely and I realized I was still somewhat awkwardly sitting down. Thanks, Jasmine.

All of you are back! I'm so glad you're fine.

Yeah, we're back. No signs of the blond furies?

I had to calm down a little. Ray's tone made me feel in danger even if there was no danger at all. Why did I feel so tense? Was it because of Jasmine's actions? I stood up to prepare for a stroll. I needed to clear my head and the best way was to stretch my legs.

I'm just gonna have a little look around for a bit. You don't mind, right?



She gave me a complicit smile, as if she was aware of the effect she had on me. Meanwhile, Marco dropped himself onto the couch, taking my previous spot. He could enjoy the heat I left behind if he wanted, sure.

Ray sat on the one opposite to it, apparently glad he finally got a comfortable seat, since he'd only had a stool before. I didn't know which station they explored but it didn't look like he'd been comfortable there, either.



BGM: Ambient Strain
Cutting my thoughts short, the old man joined me in the lobby.

Ah, S, my legs could use a stroll as well. Shall we go? Do you want to head to a station or something?

I squinted a little, incapable of hiding my suspicion. This was very ill-timed. I did want to be alone doing this, so nobody else would think I was exploring a new station. Why was A here? Was he hiding something too? This was a little dangerous, all of a sudden. Perhaps Jasmine was right.

Or perhaps Jasmine's paranoia was spreading to me. Usually, I was the scaredy-cat, not Jasmine. This thought pattern should've been what I came up with, not something she suggested! I sighed to myself. The moment one started doubting everything, they wouldn't be able to trust anything. The old man arched a brow, unable to read my mind.

Well...



Jasmine's behavior weighed heavily on my mind, too. There was something a little... wrong... with her. If I stayed, perhaps something bad might happen too. Something bad might happen... such as getting into a real relationship. I was so afraid of commitment.

:rolleyes:

I scratched the side of my head in indecision.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I wanted to know more about him either way. Perhaps this would give me an idea for the possible link between him, E, and the rest of us. They were dressed in such strange fashion, and they clearly knew each other.

Alright, sure, let's go. Where to?

He smiled at me. Agreeing to his proposition was putting him in a good mood. He answered while we walked to the station proper.

I suggest we leave for the station you've explored before. Do you believe that would be a good course of action?

I mentally cursed. If I disagreed with him, it would look like I was hiding something, and if I agreed, then he'd find out about what Jasmine wanted to keep the others from. Him figuring it out at this point was an eventually, no longer only a possibility. Even if I chose to stay, he could go there on his own, and...

That was why it was probably better if I went with him. Now I understood why Jasmine was so paranoid: this man was cunning, more cunning than I thought.

Simon he has literally said like two things to you there literally has been nothing for him to be cunning ABOUT :v:

Fine, let's head over to the science laboratory. What exactly was in the room you explored with E, again?



But it will have to wait until we get to the station. The train is here, so let's go.

BGM: Silence
We entered the train. As usual, the little chime announcing the train's departure rang and the doors closed. I wondered if the ones still in the lounge could hear it. That thing was pretty loud.



In the train, we had two stations to wait for, so I could ask him some things if I wanted.



Well, I'm definitely not picking that last one, and unless they let me ask all three I think I'm comfortable skipping the 'age gap' one because that, uh, gives me a bad feeling :v: So we'll start with how they know each other.

-A and E's relationship

Are you and E related... somehow?

A was searching for his words. That was somewhat rare of an occurence for him.



The simplest way to explain it would be... I work for the company that has produced the headset and the mask she wears. The two of those objects are very complex. That same company has made the pens you have in your possession, too. My department specializes in... reproduction. Recreation. Printing, or many kinds of printing.



He put a finger in front of his lips, as if calling for silence.

I see...

The train came to a stop at a station. This wasn't our stop, but we were getting there soon. After a few seconds, the doors opened. After another few seconds, they closed. We remained silent as the train did its routine. The same chime from earlier sang its tune, and then we were off.



Since we had some time again, I quickly chose how to use it.

I highly doubt he's gonna tell me anything useful, but I might as well ask about the bag :v:

-A's bag and what it contains

Your bag is the only thing I've seen that hasn't been confiscated by Smiley so far. My phone, my wallet, everything's gone, and it's the same for M. What exactly is in there, if it's not too rude?



Though it would've been much simpler if he would've taken it away. I'm sure the fact I have more possessions hasn't escaped the eye of many others in the group. It is such a shame, perhaps they'll choose to trust me less as a result.

He sighed and gave me a sad smile, which made him look even older. I didn't really know what to think of his bag, to be entirely honest. One thing I knew... I didn't like that he had it. There was something in there he didn't want anyone else to find out about.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Let's get a move on. It would be silly to make this walk take any longer than necessary, after all. We do have to go back as well. Wouldn't you agree?

I agreed, yet I remained uncertain of this man's motives. We both left the train and just as quickly, we went for the lobby. The old man was leading the chase: he was moving rather rapidly, disregarding my pace. It felt as though he'd grown impatient. His manners were less polite than before. I felt it strange how he'd changed so much so quickly.



Once we were in the laboratory, he quickly examined the room.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


However, I will be straight with you: the company I am a part of is doing some... illegal activities.

That's surprising, shouldn't you want to hide this stuff?

He didn't stop moving as he spoke. He shook his head.


:prepop:

There are some branches in this organization that are less reliable. Problematic, to put it simply, if they came to light. This is a rather unique location.

He motioned at the entire room, but he didn't mean this room. Clearly, this old man meant that the entire refurbishing of the metro was a part of what he was investigating.

When I say unique, I don't truly mean it, because we had another one very similar to this one somewhere else.

He opened some drawers, looking at their contents. I looked over his shoulder and I noticed that there was a knife rack. One of the knives was missing.



You mean, the subway in New York?

I am unable to say anything else about it. Breach of contract. At any rate, I am here to bring Smiley to justice, and I require assistance. When we capture him, you will be hailed as a hero.

He offered a smile. I could tell that he was genuinely looking for help, but was that because he was unsure about his own chances of success? This was a deal in which I had nothing to lose, though.

Okay... but I'll need to know more.

I admire your inquiries, but I will be unable to provide you with more details. It's on a need-to-know basis, unfortunately. Otherwise...

He leaned in a little more. This whole time, he'd been talking very low, and I only noticed just now.

Smiley may catch wind of what I'm doing.

He pulled back to where he'd been before.



The old man took a glance towards the strong door. Crud, he found it. Not that it was difficult to do, since it was pretty plainly in the open...



He reached into his bag and pulled out what looked like a strange remote. It had over twenty-six buttons on its surface, each labeled with a letter. Near the top was a small screen showing a few asterisks. The man pushed a few more buttons, and pointed the remote at the door without a handle. The beep coming from it signaled an error, and the screen cleared itself.

I don't know how many attempts we have with this, but as I toyed with it earlier I thought to perhaps enter some digits. Turns out, this remote takes five of them. Unfortunately...

He sighed, as if his lack of knowledge weighed as would the world upon his shoulders.



Wait, aren't we searching for the ninth person?

Yes, but... let's just say that is no longer our priority.

Have you found them?

I was... slightly mistaken. It is not really a ninth... person. I have great cause to believe that this remote is the object we're supposed to find. The ninth person probably is...

BGM: Algorithm Simile


In there?

The best hiding place is a room people can't access. If I had to guess, this tool can be used to open any and all doors you may come across. Look at this door, for example...

He reached for the wall, and let his hand slowly come down its smooth surface.

It has no handle, and yet it clearly is a door with a window, tantalizing us with the contents it holds. This would have no purpose to be shown... if it wasn't something important. It may very well be where Smiley is as well, watching on all these monitors and orchestrating our every move.



Of course, as I am sure you are eager to leave, we cannot simply go right now. If you even managed to make your way out of here, maybe that, too, would've been part of Smiley's plan.



:v: Didn't you JUST say your company was doing illegal/unethical stuff?

Do you understand?

I guess... but if we can leave, then I will. Is that fine for my terms?

He didn't look too pleased with that, but he abdicated quickly.



He handed me the remote. I took it with slight surprise.

This is my gift for you right now. If you find anything that will let you use this remote by investigating other stations, you would do well to let me know. I leave it with you, so that you may check for yourself. I have already memorized what this remote looks like, what its function seems to be, and the engravings on the back.

As I held it, I realized there were little dots on the back. However, nothing of it meant anything to me.

What are those for?



I didn't like how he insisted on keeping me in the dark, but also wanted me to cooperate. This was increasingly becoming a one-way deal.

But wait, if this is where Smiley is, why would he give us a way to reach him?

I honestly don't know. Perhaps, in his insanity, he has decided to give us a “fair chance”. Let's not squander it.



You should not share any of what I told you with anybody else, even your acquaintances. I have strong suspicions that one of them is Smiley's accomplice. That is to say... a traitor.

My eyes widened in apprehension and disbelief. I didn't think Jasmine or Marco could've been allied with Smiley.

But even if they know, if everyone knows, wouldn't they be unable to act?

BGM: Abyssal Snarl




He put some emphasis on the mention of my friends. He did have a point.

Before we go, do you doubt anybody in particular?

I thought about the only people I really knew much about : Jasmine and Marco. I knew Marco; he did study in fields of science, so he wouldn't be incapable of setting this whole thing up... ...but I just couldn't see him in that role. He was a buffoon. Perhaps he was a smart buffoon, but a buffoon nonetheless.

Jasmine... had changed since I'd last seen her before all this. Perhaps Jasmine... Perhaps she might have been the accomplice. However, that was only a random guess, and I didn't want this man to suspect Jasmine.



Why is 'always took sips' on that list??? :psyduck:

E was disabled, and the twins were young. The chances they were involved in this were remarkably slim. After all, who'd ever heard of a situation like this being orchestrated by a teen or a disabled person?

No, I don't have any doubts. I'm trying to think about it, but nothing comes to mind.



The problem was... that hypothesis was that Jasmine was the accomplice, and I didn't like that.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Let us go down to take the train, then.

Before we left, I took another glance at the big door. Beyond it, between the door and the room, was a tiny... very imperceptible set of scanners. It was equipped with them, much like any other exit hallway.

What was the meaning behind this? Was this... an exit too? I kept it to myself- this meant we needed to get that ninth person, even if A believed otherwise. As we stepped down the stairs, I figured if A was right and this remote was the way to the ninth person, then those scanners wouldn't make sense.



I thought about it while we waited for the train, but nothing came to mind. That was a total enigma.

Having said all that needed to be said, our travel back to the lounge was quiet.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Ignatius M. Meen
May 26, 2011

Hello yes I heard there was a lovely trainwreck here and...



A is by far the most suspicious of them all, and if our protagonist were smarter than a box of hammers he'd at least have picked out Ray thanks to the use of "he" when referring to one of the other acquaintances A thinks is Smiley. But no, he's going to suspect Jasmine because she's chaaaaaaaaaaaanged. :rolleyes:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply