Maniac Mansion: Art therapy

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1987’s Maniac Mansion. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

I have vague memories of early adventure games in my youth where the player would be given some strange house to explore. The allure was always in the “what will be behind the next door?” so you wanted to keep going. I get a lot of this feeling with Maniac Mansion’s rooms.

After all, this is a game where you’re given very little in the way of exposition or even — in contrast to most adventure games — descriptions. The characters can’t be told to look at things and give a better explanation, so the best you can hope for is that by bumping against stuff they might utter a short descriptive phrase. Or you can just take in the room and deduce your own explanation.

Such as it is with this bizarre art room… that also has a vat of purple slime in the corner? And some really bad drawings? I don’t know what’s going on here, but it looks like art class for kindergarteners.

Up on the third story, there’s a sentient green tentacle. Of course. And unlike the other inhabitants of this house, he doesn’t seem that hostile. Hungry, yes, but not hostile.

Up on the fourth floor, Dr. Fred’s room has this confusing wanted posted. Apparently a “slimy meteor” has been doing some hardcore violence around the place? Enough to warrant a poster from the authorities? This is so confusing…

Another cutscene, another bewildering interaction between the blue-skinned family. I guess this is what life is like when you live with a mad scientist.

I’ll say this: At least this isn’t your typical haunted house. Every room here is just so strange and funny and begs for an explanation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mummy pin-up before.

Fifth floor now? This is where green tentacle lives — or should I say, pouts. He’s all depressed because he’s having problems getting his band going, which you would think would be right up Razor’s alley, being a punk rocker and all.

In true adventure game fashion, I’m stealing everything not nailed down and trashing the place. Here, Razor plays a loud cassette tape to break a chandelier (and a window) in order to get a key. Hey, it’s their fault for putting keys up there in the first place!

Man, I’d love to be taking what looks like a jet-propelled car out for a test drive, but alas, it lacks wheels.

Maniac Mansion: Ding-dong!

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1987’s Maniac Mansion. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

One of the reasons I love doing the Retro Gaming series here on Bio Break is that I get to correct some great oversights in my own past and visit games that I didn’t get to (or was unaware of) at that time. So one of these big oversights is LucasArts’ 1987 classic Maniac Mansion. All I really know of it is that (a) you can play through it with different characters and skills, (b) it was the sort-of prequel to Day of the Tentacle, and (c) it existed back in the text parser era. Other than that, I’m going in pretty fresh!

I do applaud the idea of creating different parties for the game to alter the playthrough experience. Considering that adventure games had very little in the way of replayability back then, this is a cool design. I went with the nerd Bernard and the punk rocker Razor as my picks (you have to use Dave as well, so he kind of doesn’t count for personal choice).

The intro is very barebones. We’re shown a meteor crashing down near a mansion “20 years ago,” a catchy theme song plays, and then we arrive at a group of young adults who are on a rescue mission. Apparently “Dr. Fred” has kidnapped “Sandy,” but nobody’s really giving me any overt context for this, so I’m assuming that we want Sandy back.

The sign in front of the mansion says, “WARNING: Trespassers will be horrible mutilated.” That’s a good sign, right?

The interface here took me a second to get it, but it’s actually pretty slick for 1987. Instead of typing everything out, you use the cursor to select verbs and then click on things in the environment to make full commands. I like that there’s a limit to how many verbs we’re talking about here. Plus, there’s the ability to swap between kids, which has a Lost Vikings puzzle-solving feel to it.

As Bernard starts poking around the mysterious mansion, a brief cutscene shows tube top Sandy in the clutches of blue-faced Dr. Fred. He’s doing the mad scientist thing of gloating about his evil plan — something involving sucking brains out — and he leaves Sandy to her doom.  This cannot stand!

One part of this game’s design I’m not too keen about is the fact that it uses a (semi?) real-time system, so that events start happening around the house in particular order. This puts pressure on to do things quickly or wait for certain other events to happen — such as Weird Ed here going for a snack — and that kind of raises the stress level for me.

Meanwhile, Razor gets captured in the kitchen by Nurse Edma and thrown into the dungeon. I think the characters here are like additional lives, in that you can lose one or two and possibly win, although you might be backing yourself up into an unwinnable scenario if you can’t have access to a character with a particular ability.

Yes, this looks like a totally normal door that anyone might have in their house, eh? At this point, I don’t know if this Sandy is worth all the trouble!

Eye of the Beholder 2: Vast, dark, and still

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1991’s Eye of the Beholder 2: The Legend of Darkmoon. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

The party decides to take a little break from crawling through the first dungeon level to poke around upstairs in the temple. There’s an angry priest who’s not too happy to see them, and so I guess he must die. I’m not quite sure why everyone’s all evil in this place, but hopefully the game will answer that at some point.

Many dead priests later, the party comes upon a room where there’s a pile of bones and a note. The cool thing is that by returning to the rez shrine, those pile of bones can be turned into the party’s fifth member, a mage named Amber. Welcome to the party, pal!

The crew also overhears some voices talking about people roping in victims for the temple, whatever that’s about. I’m starting to suspect this place isn’t on the up-and-up.

Doors with talking lips on them are always a little unsettling to me. Where are the eyes?

So it’s here that I got stuck for a good hour, because I couldn’t progress any further in the first dungeon without a grey key. The problem was that I had already used the one grey key I had and was worried that I used it on the wrong thing — dead ends are possible in games like this! I spent a lot of time roaming around both levels that I had unlocked, poking through everything, until I finally found another grey key in an alcove. Whew!

As an aside, it was at this point that I also figured out that I could use the number pad to move, which is WAY faster than mouse-clicking on the move icons. I know, I’m a bright one.

Combat is still a little too cumbersome for my tastes in this game. It’s a frantic click-fest between different icons and trying to open up mage and cleric books to click on specific spells and then direct those spells to their targets. I really wish this game had hotbars or, lacking that, a more traditional turn-based menu system.

The party descends to the second level of the underground dungeon, and everything gets a lot more ominous. “Vast, dark, and still” it is called.

In another prison block, the group discovers a Dwarf Cleric named Shorn. He’s from another temple, having traveled here to address whatever great evil lies within. The team welcomes him aboard as their six and final member!

The enemy clerics down here are supremely annoying. They start fights back casting hold on two random party members, taking them out of action. I’m sure there’s probably a spell to reverse that, I should look it up.

Continuing through the second level of the dungeon, we learn a very helpful fact that head crushers are  not meant to be comfy. Good to know, Eye of the Beholder. Good to know.

The party stumbles upon yet another prisoner, Calandra, who is definitely there as some early 1990s eye candy. She offers to join up and help, but alas, there’s a six-member limit on the group size and I have all the help I need. We also find a whole lot of useful gear for Wolfy, including +1 scale armor, so that puts me in a good mood.

Kind of wish I had more than six guys, because let me tell you, these skeleton warriors kicked my BUTT the first time I encountered them. I’m still in that awkward phase of trying to flip through menus while they are bashing me in real time, and I didn’t even manage to kill one before Wolfy died and required a reload. This totally violates the RPG rule that the first skeletons you encounter should be little anemic things that, I dunno, slap you ineffectually.

So here I am going to put a bookmark in my adventures through this game, because as I write this, it’s been over two weeks since I last played. I think it’s the combat system that killed my desire to wrestle with this, because it’s too prominently featured and too poorly designed to be enjoyable for a long haul. That’s a shame, because otherwise this is a genuinely interesting world to explore!

Eye of the Beholder 2: Jailbreak!

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1991’s Eye of the Beholder 2: The Legend of Darkmoon. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

After exploring a small forest outside, the brave band of D&D adventurers enter the Temple of Darkmoon. At first glance, it’s a pretty unusual “dungeon” — it looks nice and spiffy, with a pair of dapper robed figures wandering around.

It’s really hard to tell with still screenshots, but Eye of the Beholder 2 isn’t 3D at all. Instead, each view is set and stationary, allowing you to instantly switch between the four cardinal directions or move in one without any gliding transition. So still shots with the occasional wandering sprite that may change based on its distance or action.

The clerics are siblings, and both of them are unnerving at first glance. The girl for her eyes, and the guy for the weird way he’s holding his hands. Maybe he’s aspiring to be a vampire? The two say that everything seems peaceful and normal around here, so I’m going to guess that they’re evil in disguise.

Nearby in the lobby is a lady who’s freaking out because she’s searching for her sister — another lost soul. Something very hinky is going on around here.

This isn’t an adventure game, so types of interactions with the environment are limited. I did discover — to my great delight — that you can whack at things with weapons to see if they break. Time to go smashin’ windows! This kind of upsets the clerics, who come at me charging. The party quickly hacks them down, with Syl sending a fireball to finish off the last guy.

Further exploration of the temple’s main floor turns up a secret room that holds an ankh — and a promise to be able to resurrect party members three times. I’m sure that’ll come in useful! Of course, I’ll be save scumming like crazy, so hopefully it won’t be needed too often.

The party heads down in the catacombs, where the dungeon crawl begins in earnest. The party talks about this place seeming evil and being built by Drow, which seem related. Bad elves doing bad things is not going to make a rumpus room in your basement.

I have to say, I do like these little narrative cutscenes. They work well to inject a little bit of color and D&D spirit into the action.

I’m just glad I’m finally getting the hang of how this game works. Combat encounters are starting to go better, with Zinn and Wolfy taking up the duties of front-line fighters whacking people while Katriana tosses out spells and heals and Syl casts fireballs, acid arrows, and magic missiles. I mean, I’d love a hotbar for all this, but it’s very workable with just a mouse.

It’s not all fighting, either. There’s a proper amount of puzzle solving as well, such as finding a rock to put on a pressure plate to keep a door open or figuring out how to break someone out of a jail cell.

Hey, it’s a toddler in a diaper! Or a halfling in a loincloth, same difference. He wants to tag along, but something tells me that he isn’t that trustworthy… so no, you’re on your own, baby Frodo.

The team does find a secret passage with a ton of spider webs — and some angsty arachnids to boot. Happily, there’s some good loot hidden in this alcove, so the trouble is worth it.

Eye of the Beholder 2: Forest trails

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1991’s Eye of the Beholder 2: The Legend of Darkmoon. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

A while back, GOG.com handed out free copies of Eye of the Beholder 2 to everyone, and you know me — I’m never one to turn down free games. At the time, I took note of the fact that a few gaming outlets were gushing about how great this game was back in the day, and I made a vow to get to it sooner or later. This is that sooner AND later.

Eye of the Beholder 2 is, at its core, a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon crawler. Make a party, crawl the dungeon. That’s it. But it has a great reputation (generally this second installment, made by Westwood Studios, is the best-reviewed) and I am curious to look at it from both a modern perspective and from an imaginative one of wondering if this would’ve been my jam back in high school if I had only been aware of it.

The introduction of the game is pretty stereotypical for D&D — and very quick. The archemage of the town in concerned about something bad happening in a temple, and sends the player party to investigate. There are some really pretty 1991-era VGA graphics going on here. This is definitely one of my favorite periods of computer gaming, visually.

I had some fun with character creation, using recent names on my Twitter feed to populate my four-person party. This group includes:

  • Zinn, a lawful good Paladin with a heart as sterling as her hair is silver
  • Wolfy, a sketchy-looking Fighter/Thief who doesn’t have all of his teeth
  • Katriana, a mysterious Cleric who is all-green for some reason
  • and Syl, a Mage and constant thorn in my side.

I also have graph paper on the desk beside me, because I hear it’s one of those games. Let’s do this!

Our adventure begins in the woods outside the temple. I don’t know about you, but it’s a little harrowing trying to figure out brand-new game controls while a wolf starts clawing you like crazy. I actually dropped a sword thinking that’s how you attacked.

Syl’s sharp eyes spotted a secret area beyond some bushes, so we investigated and found a hidden cellar. It’s a small place that has a magic missile scroll for Syl and some leather armor and rotten food. Yum!

I’m starting to get into the groove of combat and casting spells, so we wander around the forest getting a handle on fights and seeing what else might be here. There’s a graveyard tucked away in the back of the forest, but Zinn — our lawful good Paladin — kicks up a fuss about desecrating the dead.

Fine. Take all the fun out of graverobbing, why don’t you?

Fortunately, the game does send an old lady to lead you right to the temple door if you are a little lost. Considering that there’s no map feature in this game — easily the biggest oversight — I’m grateful for the assistance.

Well, I *could* click “no” and stay out in this small forest forever. Doesn’t seem like that would be much of a game, however. Into the temple we go!

Rimworld: The odds of survival

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2016’s Rimworld. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

As the fall heads toward winter, the struggling Bio Break colony starts to show signs of actual survival. All three members are up and working with minimal injuries, hunting down muffalo and elk for meat and leather. The newest colonist, Bentley, proves to be a great shot with the revolver, and food finally looks like it’s no longer such a dire concern.

Ahaha I spoke too soon. Lozano snaps — again — and starts wandering off in a daze. Normally, I’d let him be, but it’s so cold that he starts developing hypothermia and frostbite. The only way I can get him inside is to arrest him, which is a dicey prospect. Wallis takes the job, and the two tussle until both are bleeding and Lozano is back in the base. Bentley, meanwhile, breaks and goes on a food binge. I guess there are worse ways to have a breakdown.

A big part of the problem here is that I’m not quite at the level of basic survival that I need to be right now — nevermind providing niceties and luxuries to make everyone’s mood better. So the colonists’ mood keeps dropping and people keep snapping. It’s a bad cycle.

Two small strokes of fortune: The jackets I made at the tailoring bench are helping stave off the cold, and something or someone killed the nasty timber wolf that was stalking the area. For food, the colony is now depending almost entirely on herds of muffalo, caribou, or elk passing by.

It’s proving to be very difficult to keep Lozano in a good mood, especially as his grief for fallen friends and a dead dog continue. Once again he breaks, but this time it’s with an eye to stab Bentley to death. Once again, the only recourse is to try to arrest and detain Lozano before he can do much damage.

This… does not go well. Lozano puts down Wallis and Bentley with savage ease, leaving them bleeding to death in the snow while he huffs and puffs. All I can do as the player is watch my two sane colonists twitch on the ground and hope that Lozano snaps out of it fast enough to enact a rescue.

No man-in-black-type situation here; Wallis succumbs to his injuries and dies at the hand of his brother.

Bentley follows suit eight hours later.

Lozano eventually comes out of his rage, exhausted and losing an ear to frostbite in the hard snow and -24 degree temps. He grabs some berries to eat and struggles home, but collapses along the way. After a few hours, he wakes back up and gets home.

The next day is the first day of winter. Snow piles against the sides of the mostly-empty colony. The murderer Lozano sleeps in a bed, trying to heal while he enjoys two days of catharsis before his mood dives again.

A glimmer of hope arrives with another transport pod crash and the release of another prospective colonist. But Lozano is too far gone in a daze to come help, and Crosby — sweet, sweet Crosby — dies alone in the snow, unrescued.

I keep thinking the game is over… and then something happens to give me a slight chance at continuing. Lozano heads out to ambush a rebel assault, and in the process, he’s able to capture — instead of kill — the rebel. This gives me a shot at converting him.

But what I didn’t think about was Lozano’s state. Turns out that as he’s capturing the rebel, Lozano is also bleeding pretty heavily. On his way to grab more medicine for the prisoner, Lozano collapses in the storeroom and dies on the floor, the last of my colonists.

And that’s the end of this colony’s story. Not very inspiring, was it? The tundra locale was a huge obstacle from the very start, but having a character who kept breaking didn’t help either. I think that there were a few moments when I could’ve made it through the first year if things hadn’t gone wrong, but there was one too many problems, and a colony collapse proved inevitable.

Hope you enjoyed this playthrough! Next week, we’ll start a brand new game — and this time, it will be a genuine retro experience, I promise.

Rimworld: Even the dog gets it

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2016’s Rimworld. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

As you can see in the picture above, Lozano has been battered like crazy following two raids and two elk attacks — and he’s the better of the two. Wallis tended to him with his last bit of energy before collapsing himself and bleeding all over the carpet.

I don’t know, folks. I really don’t know. I don’t think there’s a way that I can pull this colony through this mess. They’re freezing, they’re starving, and they’re on the doorstep of death.

The first day of fall arrives for our sad colony, and Lozano wakes up from his medical coma to rush to Wallis’ bedside and frantically tend to his wounds. At this point, Wallis was five hours away from bleeding out completely.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Lozano snaps again, this time deciding to slaughter the base’s little puppy dog, Connor. Dang Rimworld, just when I think you’ve gone as dark as you can, you push it a little further. Did I mention that Connor was Lozano’s dog and the two were bonded to each other?

The next day is a total joy, too. Wallis throws a temper tantrum and breaks a bunch of stuff, a raid injures Lozano even more, and a fire breaks out on the fields. There’s also a timber wolf stalking the base, hungry and waiting.

Food stores going into fall are 84 units of potatoes, 40 units of rice, one dead elk, and one dead dog. No more pre-packaged survival meals. There’s not much either of them can do, either, because they’re in such pain that they spend most of the day resting and depleting what few medical supplies are left. I really need them to go out and harvest what berries and healroot they can find scattered all over the map.

I really, *really* need another colonist.

Hey, whatcha doin’ there, Wallis? Butchering your former loyal pet for a few pounds of meat and some leather scraps? Alrighty, then. Probably a good thing that Lozano has gone catatonic for a few days.

Wallis has to feed Lazono in this state, and Lozano gets food poisoning from the berries that he’s fed. I can’t catch a break in this playthrough, I swear.

Wallis actually gets a day of good work done, butchering animals and even hunting down an elk. As the weather turns colder, I try his hand at making a jacket (for whatever reason, I can’t make parkas with elk or dog leather). This, naturally, makes him snap mentally and he wanders around in a daze. At least Lozano wakes up from his coma, healed and ready to do stuff.

Stuff like getting hunted by a timber wolf! I can’t help but think that Lozano deeply hates me for everything I’ve been putting him through, intentional or not. For whatever reason, however, the wolf loses interest and wanders by. Whew.

As the first snow of the season arrives, a transport pod crashes nearby with a guy named Bentley on board. We rescue him and hope that he’ll like us enough to join the colony. Plan B is to arrest him if he tries to leave and then start the recruitment process. Sorry, but I really need another hand around here.

And, wonder of wonders, Bentley joins up! It may be cold, it may be snowing, but I’ve got a third colonist and it looks like we might be getting operations back on track. Is there hope for this colony after all?

Rimworld: Playing with dead things

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2016’s Rimworld. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

The morning after the Great Elk Massacre, as it’s now being called, Wallis and Lozano somehow make it back to their base. They’re not in great shape, but they’re not bleeding to death, either.

Visitors arrive to trade, but they don’t have anything really useful — parkas or submachine guns would be great — so instead I send my guys to go sleep it off and try to get back into working condition. They’re both at extreme risk for breaking, which is another thing Rimworld has you worry about. Colonists have a mental state, and if they experience too many things they don’t like and don’t have enough good things to balance that out, they can break and go wandering or start fires or even start attacking each other.

My two survivors are right on the threshold of disaster, again, but there’s little I can do other than just wait it out and hope the situation improves. After burying Gallagher and heading out to watch a sunrise, Lozano snaps and starts wandering around in a daze. The only good thing that comes from mental breaks is that there’s a positive period of catharsis afterward, but I’m worried that Lozano’s health might not last until then.

Then Wallis breaks, and he decides to go play with some dead bodies. I’ll admit it, that’s a new one that I’ve never seen before in this game. Sometimes Rimworld can get really dark and twisted, you have no idea.

Hey, it’s Hoffman! Hoffman’s back, everyone! Wallis starts toting around the remains of his former shipmate, maybe planning on doing some Weekend at Bernie’s activities with her.

What he actually does is haul her body back to the base, plop her on the dining room table, and then eat a meal on top of her corpse. Let’s just hope Lozano doesn’t choose this exact moment to come back from his wanderings — it would probably set him off again.

Huh, actually he’s pretty OK with it, being in catharsis finally. Meanwhile, Hoffman turns into a dessicated corpse and why am I writing about this? This is the most macabre thing ever, but it’s also weirdly hilarious.

I think this is why you HAVE to play Rimworld on commitment mode. If I could reload past saves, I know I would have by now — but I would have missed out on the ongoing struggle of the colony in order to play it safe and perfect. This is how stories emerge, without a safety net of saved games.

During a dark and stormy night, a mad elk breaks into the base like a horror movie villain and starts going to town on poor, poor Lozano. At least this time, Wallis and the dog (Connor) are able to down the creature relatively quickly. That’s the first time that dog’s ever done anything useful in this game.

Finally, some semblance of normal life returns. Wallis is fully healed and starts harvesting potatoes. I’m deeply worried that the colony is going to starve over the winter at this rate. I should have a lot more food stored up, and I’m not sure how feasible hunting is going to be after the elk incident. Right now, at least, I’m focusing on the fields and seeing if I can get another crop in. I doubt it — the days are already turning cooler at the end of the summer.

Much, MUCH too cool for my tastes. A cold snap arrives, which sends the temperature plummeting. Not only is this going to kill off any crop I haven’t harvested, not only is this going to prevent new crops from growing, but it’s going to pose a health risk to my two colonists in their unheated dorm room. Quickly, I tell Wallis to build a heater and get a power cable into that room.

And the hits just keep on coming! Another raid is launched against Bio Break colony, and while the pair are able to kill the slasher who comes at them, both Wallis and Lozano are hurt. Again.

I don’t know how much more everyone here can take. But at least there’s one more corpse in the ground to play with.

Rimworld: The Great Elk Massacre of 2021

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2016’s Rimworld. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

So let’s talk about my colony as it stands in mid-summer of the first year. Starting from the top down, I have five fields growing food and one growing cotton in rich soil, hopefully coming to harvest before the cold sets in. For power, I’ve got a wind turbine and a second one in the making, but no batteries or solar panels yet. There’s a large store room for misc. supplies, and a freezer for food. Then under that is the single common room/bedroom with beds, a table, and the research bench, and finally at the bottom is a jail cell.

I’ve got a lot of goals that I want to accomplish by the end of the first year, such as getting batteries to even out power demands (don’t want heaters turning off in the winter!), making cold weather clothing, and hunting all the animals I can find before they migrate away. I’m also hoping to carve out the interior of the hill here to put in different bedrooms.

One cool Rimworld trick I learned a while back is that the nutrient hopper is one of the best additions to your colony for food. It takes any food source and makes meals for people without needing a cook, which frees up a person and cooking space. Yes, there’s a small hit to morale (people don’t like eating nutrient slime all the time), but it’s worth it for the convenience and additional colonist.

Weirdly enough, I discovered in this playthrough that I can’t recruit the “wild man” I arrested — but I can try to tame him. Like an animal. DON’T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY.

Alas, Hoffman isn’t doing that well after being savaged by a rabbit. The infection is burning hot, and while Lozano tries to tend to her, his doctor skill is only 1 and her immunity isn’t rising fast enough to help out. I’m really worried that she’s going to end up in an early grave, which will be a huge setback to my small colony.

And sure enough, on Jugust 7th, Hoffman perishes. If I had a medical facility and a proper doctor, I could’ve tried to amputate the foot as well. As it stands, we’ll just need to make do with two colonists for now. The only upshot of that is less food needed.

Lozano buries her a distance away and then has a light snack. Weird guy, that Lozano.

To kick me while I’m down, immediately after Hoffman dies the colony gets raided. Normally, this isn’t a huge deal in the early game, especially since it’s just one chubby guy with a club versus my expert brawler and another guy with a rifle. But no, the raider absolutely thrashes both of my guys — and, to top it all, the wild man escapes his jail cell.

So is this the end of my very short colony? Well, there is hope:

This is an interesting event that sometimes happens when all your colonists are downed. The game’ll send you a bonus free colonist to come in, help defend, and hopefully help get your colonists to safety. My man in black is Gallagher, a kind guy who rushes in from the west.

At the same time, the raider attempts to kidnap an unconscious Lozano. I tell Gallagher to attack the raider, but he’s too far away and the raider is clearly going to win this race. At least, until the raider collapses from blood loss and drops Lozano to the ground before finally dying. Hooray!

As Gallagher tries to rescue both colonists and get them to their beds, the game decides I need another challenge. Oh hey, now my corn crop has the blight, which spoils the food and spreads quickly if I don’t cut down the harvest right now. You know, with my zero free people.

Long story short, we squeak through this crisis. Lozano and Wallis are patched up, Gallagher cuts all the infected crops, and the colony starts functioning once more. A day later, my first rice crop comes in, and that’s great news — it’ll feed people for a while and won’t spoil if power to the freezer cuts out.

Hunting many types of animals, especially in the northern climes of Rimworld, is a risky proposition. I really need the fur and meat, but there’s always a chance that the hunted animals will try to get revenge. Gallagher finds this out firsthand as a herd of elk team up on him after he plugs a few of their own.

The angry elk herd doesn’t stop there, but starts gunning for the other colonists. Poor Lozano, who’s already had a hard week with the death of his friend, getting pummeled by a raider, and then kidnapped, finds himself on the receiving end of a whole lot of unforgiving hooves.

Wallis then finds herself under siege in the base by elk. At least they can’t get in the door, so she’s safe… but the other two are dying unless she can get to them.

Gallagher dies from blood loss, but Lozano — bless his heart — wakes up and staggers to his new friend’s corpse. He grabs some food and tries to make it home. The elk… the elk have other plans. Lozano gets ambushed feet away from the door — but maybe that’s close enough for Willis to grab him. We’ve got to try!

Oh no! Now the elk are in the base! Repeat, the elk are in the base! Oh the humanity!

The elk take down Wallis — not a death-threatening move, but definitely inconvenient — and then get trapped in the freezer with them. Finally, after a lot of braying, the elk batter down a door and escape, leaving my guys writhing in the ground in agony.

Rimworld: Crashlanded!

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2016’s Rimworld. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

For this new series, I’m going to break one of the cardinal rules of Retro Gaming and go through a game that’s fairly recent: Rimworld. I’ve been wanting to blog a full playthrough of a game, and I think this format would suit it best.

If you’ve never played Rimworld before, it’s a colony simulator in which you take a handful of semi-autonomous crew members who have crashed on an alien world and try to create a settlement to survive. There are a lot of settings for a new game, but here’s what I’ve decided for this playthrough:

  1. I’m going with the standard “crashlanded” package of three crew members and an assortment of weapons and supplies.
  2. I’m picking “Cassandra Classic” on “Strive to Survive” difficulty for the AI storyteller.
  3. I’m choosing “commitment mode,” which means I can’t reload past save games.
  4. I’m asking the game to pick a random site and biome on the world to build a colony. In this case, I got a small hilly batch of tundra (not great) with some plants, berries, and animals.
  5. I’m going to pick three colonists from the eight that the computer rolls for me (no re-rolling).

I didn’t have the best options from these eight, but I think I have a workable crew. My three survivors are:

  • Wallis, an older guy with creepy breathing who will me my main construction guy and probably my hunter as well. He’s super-immune to disease and infection and has decent stats across-the-board.
  • Lozano, a “tortured artist” with a grumpy disposition who is a good hand-to-hand fighter, a quick sleeper, and can help out with everything except research and crafting. Probably be using him for a lot of dumb labor.
  • Hoffman, a younger lady who can’t fight (boo) but is also a quick sleeper (which means more work time) and has a higher mental break threshold. With a planting skill of 6, she’ll be my farmer.

All right, let’s do this!

The very first day in Rimworld is crucial, so careful planning is needed to get off to the right start. The main goal is to get a basic structure up with some beds and then start hauling useful materials to a stockpile. As this area is tundra, I know I’m in for a more difficult challenge since there are fewer trees and not as many animals.

The first thing I always do is pause the game and survey the land for a good base location as well as spot where various other supply caches are. A great base is near steel/machinery mining nodes and rich soil deposits, and if you can move into a partially built structure, all the better. A third consideration is to have the base toward the middle of the map so that colonists are never that far away.

After looking over this map, the two most promising ruins are too far toward the edges, so I’m going to build a more centralized base that’s near good mining and farming areas instead. I think I’ll have the base grow into the side of a mountain and then tunnel out additional housing rooms in there.

So here we go — the starting point for Base Bio Break. With a short growing season, I really need to get crops in the ground, but I also need to go hunting for furs to turn into parkas to help stave off frostbite and hypothermia. It’s summer… and the high temperature is only 65, with the lows in the 40s. This first year is going to be a race against time.

Wallis, my builder, comes down hard with a case of cryosleep sickness and then has to spend the first day in bed as she gets her asthma tended to. Lozaro keeps gathering while I send Hoffman to start clearing out farming area over a patch of rich soil to the north of the base.

Wallis wakes up later and works around a puddle of puke to finish the basic one-room base. I always like to start with a single room, just to get the colonists out of the elements, but I’ll need to make individual bedrooms before long to keep morale from diving.

The first challenge arrives when a snowhare decides to go stark raving mad and attack Hoffman while she’s harvesting some birch trees. Unfortunately for Hoffman, she’s incapable of defending herself — even against killer bunnies — so she had to run to base while getting nibbled on the whole way. She then develops an infection in her left foot from one of the bites.

That’s not a good omen for my colony’s toughness.

But then, a stroke of somewhat good luck — a wild man wanders into the area, ripe for arresting. Why arrest him? Because then we can lock him up and start the process of eventually recruiting him into the colony. It’s all for his own good, trust me. And I really need a fourth colonist at this point.

All things considered, Bio Break colony is off to a good start. We’ve got a lot of the essentials laid down, a potential fourth member in the works, and still some time to go before the long, cold winter sets in.