Scorpion's Tale #8 (Deadline)
Feature by Scorpia
Computer Gaming World Volume 4 Number 5 (October 1984)

Ah, October! A good month; after all, if October is here, can November be far behind? Of course, here at the Tale, it's always November (I arranged for that personally). Anyway, the rush is over, and Fred is back from the Grues Convention. I see he's pouring out your favorite beverage, so settle in by the fire, and we'll talk about Deadline.

So, you've had enough of fanciful adventures in underground caves and strange alien spaceships, and now you want to "get back to reality" with a nice, quiet, murder mystery. Heh! Being a detective isn't as easy as it seems in the books; after all, YOU are the one who has to do all the work!

There are a few things to remember as you go along playing Sherlock Holmes. Time is important. Events will occur in certain places at certain times, whether or not you happen to be around. If you come late, you may very well miss something important. On the other hand, there are also some very neat red herrings in the game that can lead you to false conclusions, so be alert!

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can't get a conviction unless you have some solid evidence. No matter how sure you may be of the guilty party, without evidence you won't be able to prove your suspicions in court. So, don't arrest anyone until you know you have enough to put 'em away for a long time.

Finally, the game can be frustrating in some ways, as you have to spend more time talking to people than in any other Infocom. And when and where you do so can be extremely important. Saying the right thing in the right place at the right time to the right person is not always easy! It will take some trial and error on your part to figure out when and how to ask questions, but in the end, the effort will payoff. Talk to people whenever you see them, it's good practice. So, with all this in mind, let's go catch a killer.

Well, there you are at the Robner front door. What to do? Probably what most people do when they're at someone's door. After all, you won't get very far with the investigation if you don't get into the house! The grounds of the estate are also important, but we'll come back to those later. Right now, it's time for some indoor snooping.

You'll have to map out the house, of course, but you'll find it's not all that large a place. However, you should pay careful attention to the room descriptions (if you have a printer, you might want to print them off the first time you go through the rooms), particularly in the library, where the crime was committed.

Speaking of the library, you'll find it has a few interesting items in it. The blank pad and the calendar are especially noteworthy, but there are other things to look at as well. Go over the whole room thoroughly. And don't overlook the balcony outside; careful examination there might give you a few ideas!

Having finished with the library, you need to go poking about in everyone's rooms. Don't be shy; open doors and examine everything you possibly can. There is evidence to be found, if you know what you're looking for (you might want to re-read some of the material that came with the game). While you're doing this, a few things will happen. Somewhere, a phone will ring. You might want to listen in on the conversation. You also might want to intercept the mail that will arrive a little later on. And even the newspaper shouldn't be overlooked; never know what ideas you might get!

Now might be a good time to snoop around the grounds. There's a shed that certainly ought to be looked into, and you never know who you might meet while you're wandering around the estate. In fact, it's a smart move to talk to anyone you see; you could dig up some very important information (provided, that is, you know what to do with it!).

However, don't spend too much time in the great outdoors; you want to be back in the living room for the reading of the will. Everyone will be gathered for this occasion, and you have the opportunity now to pull some fun stuff, although courtesy demands you wait until after the will has been read.

Ok, once the will has been read and the dust has settled, it's time to get the show on the road. A little exhibition of some items from the library ought to produce some interesting results. Someone seems to be a bit nervous, eh? Well, don't let that person out of your sight!

Then again, there may be more here than meets the eye! I wouldn't be surprised if the person you're watching is up to something! Now, how can we find out what that might be? Hmmmm, well, as long as you're in plain sight, probably nothing will happen. Ah, but if you could hide somewhere....

Let's see, what would be a good place? You need a spot where you can watch from, without, of course, being seen. At the same time, you don't want to be too far away from the action, either. Now, you think about it, and the right place ought to come to mind after awhile.

Ok, now you're settled in, so be patient. Remember, suspicious actions alone are not enough! Let a little time go by, to be sure you don't miss anything (timing is so important here). Proper action will be rewarded with some very interesting (not to say incriminating!) material.

Look it over carefully. The case seems to get getting clearer, doesn't it? Now that you have a better idea of the situation, you might want to mosey on back to the living room. Somewhere along the way, you should be getting a lab report that will really heat things up (what's that? What lab report? My my, didn't you get your hands dirty before? Better read this again from the beginning, cause you missed something!).

Now, you are approaching the climax of the investigation. I'll bet your new findings are really going to come as a surprise to some people! So, don't be selfish, share the wealth. Got some interesting reactions, eh? You should have by now almost all the evidence you need, as well as a pretty good idea of how the murder was committed and who was involved. But, there is still a little more to be done yet; you need just a tad more proof to close the case. So, it might be wise to slip out of the room and see what happens.

This is the critical point of the game. How you handle the events that follow will determine how successful you are in solving the case. A partial success is possible, but having the whole thing neatly wrapped up is better, and you really don't want a second murder, right?

Thus you must be careful now. Keep an eye on your main suspect, and overlook nothing. You'll have to move around a little, but even if you lose sight of the suspect, you should have an idea of that person's destination. Be patient, but don't wait too long to make your arrest. Once everything is in place, make your move.

Whew! The mystery is solved at last. Agatha Christie was never like this! Looks like "getting back to reality" isn't all it's cracked up to be! Maybe a little trip into the realms of fantasy again is what's needed. Where to? Ah, I think I'll leave that as a surprise for next time. Until then, happy adventuring!

Remember that if you need specific help with an adventure game, you can reach me in any of the following ways:

On CompuServe: GO GAM-310
On the Source: SMAIL to ST1030
By mail: Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope, along with your questions to:

P.O. Box 338
Gracie Station
NY NY 10028

Copyright 1984 by Scorpia.


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