(This is part of my journey going playing through 1992’s The Dagger of Amon Ra. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
Now that there’s been both a high profile robbery AND a gruesome murder, it’s probably time to clear out the museum and call in the whole police department, right? Nope! Instead, everyone gets locked in with the murderer(s), the one detective on site just wanders around, and Lara Bow is given free reign to explore every nook and cranny of this giant crime scene. Makes sense.
One thing I loved about these older adventure games is that they slip in a lot of little observational jokes and slapstick to amuse players spending hours pixel hunting and puzzle solving. Lara Bow’s humor is hit or miss, I find, but at least it’s there.
As a character, Lara is incredibly nosy, always the first onto the scene of any given murder, a nonstop kleptomaniac, and as we see above, perfectly okay wrecking up the joint if it suits her. Sure, go ahead and swing that dinosaur bone right into some brittle glass. You’ve had a long day, girl.
While it was pretty hard to die in the first two acts, Lara’s demise comes fast and furious from here on out. This museum is a giant death trap, and those deaths come in a lot of bizarre ways. Lara falls off staircases in the dark, or — as you see here — gets bitten to death by bats if she doesn’t have a lit lantern with her. That sort of thing always happens to me at home.
Act 3’s major themes are “nonstop death” and “nonstop canoodling with the French lady.” It’s almost a running gag how many times you can walk in on Yvette and someone else getting amorous, and her partners are so many that I’m pretty sure she’s started some sort of STD epidemic right in this museum.
Obligatory “We’re all in the Sierra catalog” joke here. I didn’t mind. King Edward is in another vat.
Favorite Lara death of this chapter? She pickles herself by hanging out in a room with tons of fumes for too long.
As I said, the deaths of the secondary cast start coming rapidly. There’s Dr. Carrington, Dr. Carter, and now Ziggy, who gets the distinction of being stabbed in the back by a pterodactyl AND beheaded by what Lara discovers is a paper cutter. I don’t really get the method here of the killer, who seems to delight in creating these bizarre death scenes and then sometimes moving the corpses afterwards to new locations.
Meanwhile, Lara gets tommy gunned to death thanks to a booby-trapped mousetrap. So… double trap? That head of security guy must really, really hate mice.
Then there’s death by desk porcupine, a murder which is so ridiculous — especially with the critter’s face there — that it completely fails to be scary or foreboding in the least.
I haven’t really documented this, but there is a whole lot of plot going on in this chapter, mostly between various characters who have alliances, plots, romances, and vendettas. Seriously, it’s almost too much to keep track of, although the old countess’ art forgery scheme seems to come out of nowhere as she’s lugging paintings around the place.
Ever the professional reporter, Lara identifies a dagger. Even better, it’s the titular Dagger of Amon Ra, just hanging out in a vat of warthogs for some reason.
And the Oscar for Most Gruesome Death That No Doubt Traumatized Kids goes to… Lara getting eaten alive by flesh-eating bugs that spring out of a steamer trunk full of skeleton. Of course, if you feed the bugs rancid meat instead, they start marching the meat around the museum like they’re on parade. I laughed when they randomly showed up in a future scene.
Before the act concludes, Ernie joins the murder club, drowned and then slung over a mastadon’s tusks. What amuses me is that you occasionally see the surviving party goers just milling about these rooms, not really bothered in the slightest by the bodies.
But you know who is bothered? Lara — and she’s going to get to the bottom of all this!