No one had quite what I needed on the power issue, so I had to look up spoilers. What I had interpreted as power arcing from tower to tower was in fact a bunch of loose cables flapping in the wind. It took me a while to figure out how to repair them. I ultimately had to use a pair of pliers on a spool of cable, and then use the cable on the disconnected wires. There was at least a half hour of bumbling about before I got the sequence right and was able to do it without killing myself. After I was electrocuted the first time, I wasted a bunch of time trying to psychically manipulate the cable with berries before I realized I had a pair of rubber gloves.
|"I am a lineman for the fossae..."|
I confirmed the power was restored to the planet by opening some doors and extending some bridges that had previously been inert. Next, I figured I should probably figure out how to flood the canals. The map showed three power stations at the north pole. The first was close, so I walked to it.
There was a power tower there, but it was covered with vines. I had been waiting for an excuse to use a bunch of weedkiller I was carrying. Only it didn't do anything. I realized I probably needed to use it in conjunction with a sprayer, which I hadn't bothered to pick up. I knew there was one back at one of the landing sites.
I walked back to Olympus and checked out the teleport tube transport system. It was simple enough. Northwest goes to Elysium, northeast to Olympus, southwest to Hellas, and southeast to an area outside Argyre (which remains locked).
|This should cut down on some of the walking.|
I figured I'd walk to the landing sites from Hellas, but I found a sprayer in a building there, saving me the trouble. While I was there, I extended the bridge to the other side of the city (half the buildings are on one side and half on the other), explored, and encountered my first Dream Machine, which looks like a dragon's head. It seemed to be broken.
|The dude standing north of me doesn't really stand out very well.|
I nearly walked out of Hellas without noticing that there was a man in one of the buildings. My color-blindness has trouble with the congestion of icons--or perhaps it's a problem for you, too. Anyway, he was an actuary named Marcus. He had been kicked out of Olympus for being "tainted" by the Dream Machine, but he seemed sane enough. He told me what I already knew: that most of the humans were trapped in the dream world while the Martians at Elysium took their bodies. He also told me that if I entered the dream world, simply talking to myself would wake me up.
|This would suck. You'd never bring yourself to throw anything away again.|
He also suggested that I talk with the Dream Machine by eating one of the berries. I think they're green. Eating them let me "communicate" with the machine, which indicated I would need to put a chunk of radium in the power bin behind it.
I knew where there was radium: in Marie Curie's house in Olympus. I returned there via transport tube and picked it up, injuring and irradiating myself in the process. It turned out I needed to use a pair of tongs and a lead case--both in Curie's house--to handle and transport the radium chip.
Upon return, the chip did nothing. However, the machine had said it needed an "unusually large chunk" of radium, not a chip.
|I guess that was predictable.|
I didn't know where to find more radium, so I returned to my previous quest to restore the canals. I revisited the power tower with the weed problem and used my Round-Up to kill it. That worked, but it didn't seem to make the station operational. The control panel at the station said something about lenses not working.
|Why would a plant-based species even have a defoliant?|
I walked to the other two stations shown on the map. At the first one, I found a broken lens. The second had a broken tracking motor. I brought both back to Olympus, asked around, and got Edison to repair the motor. Admiral Peary recommended that I ask Tiffany--of stained glass fame--to repair the lens. Problem is, Tiffany is possessed by a Martian who lacks that skill. The dialogue option didn't even produce a response.
Okay, clearly I needed to free the humans trapped in the dream world first. The only other Dream Machine I knew about was in Olympus. The door guard, Legrande Couillard, wanted me to find his lost brother, who had been prospecting in the Olympus mines. I correctly guessed that said mines were under Mons Olympus, surrounded by canals but accessible from a "dungeon" beneath the city.
|Rockworms are animated like the silver serpents in Ultima VI.|
The caves were full of monsters, including long creatures called "rockworms" that did severe damage and poisoning to my party. As I explored, I found Legrande's dying brother, who bade me take his Masonic ring to Legrande. There were also a few radium chips and--eureka!--two large chunks of radium. Thankfully, I still had the tongs and lead box. I also found a "heat ray" gun that's powered by radium chips.
|I feel like there are one too many words there.|
The monsters killed me before I could exit the cave, but I resurrected back at the module. I sucked up the experience point loss.
Legrande was devastated by his brother's death, but he kept his promise and opened the door to the Dream Machine. Inside, I found a "headset," but the machine was smashed. Between Legrande and Edison, I got the idea that I could repair it by finding a control panel beneath the city. That didn't take long, and Edison patched it up for use with the machine. After spending a while futilely trying to get the Olympus Dream Machine to work, I realized that it really was smashed beyond repair, and the game intended that I use the radium, headset, and control panel back in Hellas.
Even then, it took me forever to figure out how to get the control panel to work. The first difficulty was getting the panel on the console. USE didn't work and neither did MOVE. It turned out I needed to DROP it there. That's not a huge deal except that it's not the way that most inventory interactions work. Anyway, even in place, the game simply told me that "the panel is not installed." I had to look up a spoiler to find out that I needed to use a wrench on it to fasten it into place. That's not very intuitive.
|I guess I was supposed to extrapolate from "insure the connections are firm."|
The game is like this in general. More than an RPG, Martian Dreams is a game of inventory puzzles, and it's not consistent in the ways that the inventory is manipulated. To use pliers or a wrench, you USE them and then point to the thing you want to use them on. But to use tongs, you equip them and then MOVE the item as normal. To open a chest, you USE it, but to open a backpack you LOOK at it. To repair the conveyor belt, I simply had to USE the new belt on the rollers, but to repair the console, I had to DROP the new panel on the console and then USE a wrench.
|That was a little arcane.|
Some more bumbling before the Dream Machine worked. I had to use headset on it and then put the chunk of radium in the hopper. Then the Avatar had to stand (or sit) in the right place while someone else operated the controls.
After a cut scene, the Avatar awoke in the dream world with no equipment. I was in a small area with five obelisks. It turned out that each obelisk took me to a particular dream or nightmare, where I had to solve a puzzle.
|In the obelisk world.|
The first one took me to George Washington Carver. He was in a dream where he was trying to live a Martian's life cycle, starting from a seed. He explained that Martians start as seeds, which grow into plants, which produce pods. The pods are cut open with a "ritual knife" and the adult Martian emerges with the memories of his forebears contained in the soil that he grew in. Carver kept attempting to replicate the process, but cave worms kept eating the pods. He instructed me to plant some defensive pods, water them, and hold off the worms while he experienced the life cycle. I followed his instructions and his dream ended; he appeared in the "outer" part of the Dream World. I awoke in the Dream Machine after he told me that he'd leave the dream world when everyone else could.
|The Avatar becomes a horticulturalist.|
Obelisk #2 brought me to Vladimir Lenin. He was standing in an area with piles of rubles insisting that he had to evenly distribute the wealth among 25 people. I picked up all the rubles but there were 253, plus a gem. I re-entered dialogue and explained the problem, and Lenin said that the remainder would be taken for "the state." I had to DROP 25 piles of 10 rubles to solve the "puzzle" before Lenin expressed his satisfaction and took the 3 remaining rubles plus the gem as an agent of the state. The dialogue was a little heavy-handed about this. Yes, we get it: Russian communism was corrupt.
|This game came out the same year the Soviet Union fell. Coincidence?|
Obelisk #3 took me to a room with a book on bullfighting and a red rug. Soon, I came upon a scene of a literal bull in a china shop--specifically, a minotaur rampaging through Tiffany's. After some trial and error, I solved the puzzle by using the rug to lure the bull through the door and then trapping him outside. Mr. Tiffany awoke from his nightmare.
|"Bullfighting at Tiffany's" would be a good name for a sequel.|
Obelisk #4 was the hardest. It took me to a series of pathways in which I kept getting "dizzy" and the directions would change. I might have to press the NORTH button to go south and the WEST button to go east for a while. Then it would change and I'd have to press EAST to go south and SOUTH to go west, and so forth. The level was riddled with "dream stuff" which, when used, turned into useful objects like weapons and a spray bottle. A vial of green paint found in the level filled the spray bottle.
|H.G. Wells must not have been a fan of M.C. Escher.|
The level culminated in a meeting with H.G. Wells, who insisted he was surrounded by invisible Martians. Sure enough, after I talked with him, footprints appeared everywhere. I had to spray the Martians with green paint and then try to kill them with the weapons I'd managed to find. But there were a lot of them, and they kept killing me (causing me to wake up) before I could kill them. Eventually, I realized the secret to use some telekinesis berries to acquire "dream stuff" from otherwise inaccessible locations. Those batches of stuff turned into an elephant gun and ammo, which allowed me to kill the Martians much quicker. H.G. Wells woke up.
|Spraypainting and killing invisible Martians.|
The fifth obelisk took me not to a human dream but the collective dream of about half a dozen Martians hanging out in a grove. This was the first time I saw a Martian character portrait. They mostly told me what I already knew: that Raxachk had destroyed their race with a plague; that the Martians in Elysium had possessed human bodies over the Hellas Martians' objections; and that I would need to help the Martians by growing new bodies so that they'd leave the humans'. They also told me of one of their kind named Kaxishek, who was researching "a new type of body that would be immune to the effects of the plague." He had a laboratory at the north pole.
|Tell me something I don't know, alien.|
Between the dialogues in the dream world and Elysium, I think I have enough information to find the materials necessary to grow a Martian. I'll explore that next time.
|A Martian gives me the location of some seeds.|
- I ran out of bullets ages ago. I suppose I should find time to trade some Oxium at the trading post, but my characters have been doing okay with melee weapons.
- In Hellas, there was a big gong and a gong hammer. I tried it out. Nothing happened.
|We'll be right back with more...stuff.|
- The green berries don't seem to let you talk to very many pieces of equipment. I tried several.
|The power tower has nothing to say.|
- The developers continue to waste opportunities with NPCs. George Washington Carver did have a response to PEANUTS, but Lenin had nothing for STALIN, TROTSKY, MARX, TSAR, or RUSSIA. Tiffany didn't respond to GLASS or BREAKFAST. H.G. Wells had nothing to say about ELOI, MORLOCK, TIME, or MOREAU.
|He wrote the book this year, so there's no excuse.|
I'm warming up to the game a little. The puzzles in the dream world were fun, and I like the way they referenced the characteristics of the real-world NPCs. But this is beginning to feel a lot more like an adventure game than an RPG, and the inventory inconsistencies are irksome. I'm hoping I'm at least somewhat close to the end.
Time so far: 22 hours
Reload count: 5
Time so far: 22 hours
Reload count: 5