Saturday Crapshoot: Fascination

Richard Cobbett

'Ooooooh, I knew I'd regret drinking so much on the plane...'

Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, put on your special adventuring bra for a game that tries to put the T&A into Point and Click, before realising that 'Click' doesn't have an 'a' in it.

"Somewhere between Paris and Miami... when ecstasy and angst mingle in a frenzied embrace..." whispers the intro, and already I'm feeling lost - especially knowing that our heroine, Doralice, is a pilot. Is that something she mentions along with the turbulence? It'd be awful if you were on the toilet when you hit that bit of the transatlantic flight, and probably very messy for the cabin crew later.

Welcome to Fascination, one of the most confusing erotic thrillers ever.

Quick! Name three famous corporate lawyers!

Fascination comes to us from a company called Coktel Vision, and Coktel Vision was... a weird company. It made one of the earliest attempts at a sexy adventure, Emmanuelle, along with strange stuff like Inca, the comedy Gobliiins series, and a hilariously awful interactive movie called Urban Runner, which was originally titled "Lost In Town" until someone pointed out that the company would do better by selling games than just shooting itself in the foot. Back in the 90s, it also released a huge adventure game called Lost in Time, which at least sounded cooler. Fascination is a bit of a prequel to that one, though only in the sense that both star a young woman called Doralice.

Doralice, incidentally, is what you get if you don't comb your doors on a regular basis.

From Emmanuelle onwards, Coktel never did well at sexy. But Gobliiins? That sold loads.

Fascination is a pretty typical sexy adventure, in that the entertainment comes from watching it try and fail to be sexy in 320x200 pixels than in any of the goods it actually serves up. Want to see an incredibly low-resolution cut-scene of Doralice taking a shower? You'll find it literally one click away as the game starts, and you'd better enjoy it, because that's all you get for a good long while. If you bought the upgraded CD version, there was even less. For some reason, all the smut was removed, making the whole thing about as pointless as a game called Max Payne Goes To Ibiza And Has A Lovely Time.

Here are a couple of other interesting things about Fascination. Like many games that took on sexuals theme beyond simply FMV or polygonal ladies bouncing around to the sound of grunting, it was written by a female designer. Completing it can be a pain, because while the puzzles never change, many of the phone numbers and similar do. It's also pretty terrible, with a heavy reliance on the other kind of pixel-peeping to get through the story, and a hell of a lot of sadistic dead-ends for missing objects.

Mostly though, what stands out is that it almost wilfully makes no sense . Few games have ever had a more confusing intro, from the bizarre attempt at an opening line that demands some ghastly 80s/90s sax music... in fact, let's add some of our own to set an appropriate mood...

...to the fact that no two scenes even seem to connect together. Talk of ecstasy and angst mingling end up fading into a seedy looking nightclub called the Blue and Red, where bad 3D was a gimmick long before its time, where a sinister deal is taking place. Two FMV men silently around a hotel bedroom, presumably on the 'angst' side of the opening montage, silently arguing over a briefcase. They shake hands and one of them leaves, only for the courier to immediately fall under the sights of a cartoon sniper. He's just lining up his shot when a woman with Spidey Sense runs in, points him out, and the two run away while the sniper tries to work out if he can be bothered to pull the trigger. Instead of finding out what just happened though, we're shown a newspaper about the death of a man called Fayard Nichols, right-hand man at a company called Q.U.L, who died of a heart attack while on a plane.

What?

\'Ooooooh, I knew I\'d regret drinking so much on the plane...\'

"I'm Doralice," explains Doralice, shown in a photo taken a few seconds after finally relieving a full bladder, "...the sexiest captain on the Paris-Miami flight. You like suspense? Well, you're invited to spend a delicious weekend with me. Fasten your seatbelts, we're ready for take-off!"

It looks nice, but the giant finger coming through the window every few minutes never stops being disturbing.

For some reason, Doralice lives in a hotel room built into a giant woman's head. It's quite nicely laid out though, with big windows that seem clear of earwax, a shower for gratuitous sexy-time, and the briefcase the guy in the intro was carrying. What happened to him after she saved him from the sniper? We're not told directly, and like a lot of the game, it's muddied up by inconsistencies, but it's not difficult to work out what we're supposed to think went on between scenes. This is an 'erotic' thriller after all.

"That guy who died in my arms... at least he enjoyed his last glimpse of the world..." Doralice sighs, happily oblivious to the fact that starting a game with a higher body-count than the villains she's going to be chasing isn't the greatest way to launch her adventuring career. No wonder she opted to keep her knickers on and pretend to be a different Doralice when starring in Lost in Time.

Fanservice dutily provided (up to three times, if you can't get enough of it, after which even she gets bored of performing on demand and claims to have run out of soap, as if cleanliness has ever been the point of these scenes), it's time to kick-start the story. Before you get a chance to do that though, you'll notice one of Fascination's oddest quirks - the music. You know how music tends to run in the background of scenes, providing what's usually known as 'background music'? Fascination's programmers couldn't do that properly, so instead decided to just occasionally play clips like the 'badoom-badooom' noise that starts, then shuffles off in shame almost immediately. I believe the CD version actually hired someone who knew how to write code and fixed this, but it was too little, too late.

The first objective is to open the dead guy's briefcase, but Doralice lacks either a code or a sharp object to force it with. The only clue is that the answer has to be in the room, because she won't leave it until she's gotten a vial that we've never actually seen her be told about that's hidden inside it. The fact she's not that fussed suggests she's used to odd conversations during random sex with strangers.

"Oh, oh that feels so good...."

"Oh... oh, baby..."

"Oooooooh..."

"Wouldn't go that far."

"Oh. Well, I've got a move I've been working on, but..."

".....yes?"

"Well, if anything happens, I'm secretly transporting a vial of top-secret chemicals around the world, and you can probably assume I'm telling the truth because I've already got your bra off and I'm pretty sure I don't need to make up any bullshit to stay in your pants at this point."

"One second, the sleazy sax music finished. Let me play it again."

"Thanks. Look, all I'm saying is..."

"Please. Please, don't say you love me."

"What? Balls no. It's just that.. well... if I spontaneously have a heart attack, I really need you to go on a dangerous adventure to make sure the chemicals I'm carrying get to their destination intact. Speaking of which, who the hell is flying the plane?"

Unsurprisingly, there are few clues to the briefcase's combination in a totally different person's hotel room, and it's a letter based code that would take lots and lots of tedious trial-and-error clicking to work out by luck. Even adventure games aren't cruel enough to inflict on players.

"I'm not leaving until I find the vial in the briefcase," declares Doralice. "Let's see, he told me the combination was... AAARGH!" And so you start looking for a way to jog her memory. Like three hot showers in a row, regardless of how much soap is left. Or checking the fridge. Or taking a sip of water. Or, eventually, remembering what kind of game you're playing...

Amazing! I have the same combination on my Monty Python joke!

After your head stops recovering from the concussion of slamming it repeatedly into your desk, the case opens to reveal very little. A pair of pyjamas, with Doralice making a point of mentioning have a packet of 'comdoms' in the pocket that she doesn't bother taking, an electric toothbrush, and no vial. A bit more messing around, and the vial turns out to be in the toothbrush, in a secret compartment that opens up when you switch it on. So, to recap. The guy brought condoms, just in case, but nothing to clean his teeth after an incredibly long flight. Truly, Doralice is a lucky, lucky girl.

Psychically aware that agents have travelled across the world to recover the vial of liquid and that every second not spent rubbing her breasts under a flow of hot water counts, she hides it away by the somewhat odd method of putting it into an ice tray and freezing some camouflage around it, before just ambling downstairs to the lobby to call the President of the company and let him know what she has to offer, and also that she has his science goo sitting in her fridge. All she needs is the number.

My god, if you squint, that\'s filth!

First though, it's time for one of Fascination's oddest censored moments. In the original floppy disk version, the lobby of Doralice's hotel has a porn mag just lying around, and she doesn't just read it for the articles! No, she reads it in the hope that there'll be a secret code on its pages which will be useful to her later. Though as she doesn't know this just yet, she phrases it slightly differently.

"Let's see, is it true the Americans like ample breasts?" she ponders, flicking the pages. Unless of course, it's the CD version, in which case it's a car mag instead, and she's instead forced to ask "Is it true the Americans like nice bumpers?" When a main character's eye-rolling line about boobs has more dignity than the censored replacement, you know things are pretty damn funked up.

The reason for the porn mag is obvious - three pages of bikini pictures. There's also half a phone number for the photographer though, a guy called Lou Dale, who will presumably be important later, and underneath a Who's Who type directory that just happens to have the personal phoneline for a company called QUANTUM Unlmtd Lab. As well as fighting James Bond in a really dreadful movie, they're described as working on 'Special 6th gen cerebro-cimical pdts, Weighs: $500 million.'

No, I have no idea either.

\'Arms... tired... sexy pose... exhausting...\'

"Oh! Good morning, Miss Dora!" Miller greets her. "Delighted to hear from you. I heard what happened in your plane." How? "Poor old Fayard. Fortunately, you have the vial. Above all, keep it somewhere safe! Don't carry it with you! I'll explain the whole business... then we'll think things over. Come and meet me at my office. The entry code for the building is B5874."

So, obviously, he's desperate to get it back. You can tell by the way he waited not only for her to call him, but for a newspaper to be printed about the death of his employee, and now she's got in touch, he's not even sending over some armed goons to collect the package. Apple made more of a fuss when Gizmodo got its hands on an iPhone 4 from some guy in a bar. But hey, whatever. Right?

Doralice isn't much more fussed after receiving a phonecall on her way out of the room from a man called... from a man called... and I swear I am not making this up... Robaire de la Cafetiere. He's a fellow pilot, in from Mexico, who invites her down to the pool to have a drink, and possibly sex. Since the vial is nice and safe in the fridge, that seems harmless enough. She runs straight down, pausing only to change into a bikini, and also completely swap out her face, body and skin color.

"Hi Dora, my darling little firefly!" Robaire de la Cafetiere greets her. "Haven't crashed your plane yet? Hmm! When will you marry me?"

"No way, you old macho! Why should I make one man miserable when I can make a lot of men happy?"

"Well, yeah..." he concedes. "Don't worry, I adore you anyway! And do you love me?"

And they kiss. But nowhere passionately enough for the Night Man music.

"Hi, Robaire," says a topless woman called Prisca who is also there. "Hey Dora, did you know I was asked about the death in the plane at the airport? A man in a wheelchair with a cat..."

"What's this all about?" demands... Rob... "Are you murdering your passengers these days?"

"Oh, nothing serious. A heart attack," grins Doralice, the sociopathic seductress.

"I managed to get this flashlight off him," continues Prisca, as the game fails to realise that what she's admitting to is stealing from a man in a wheelchair, unless we're supposed to believe he was handing out free samples. "And a pendant I dropped somewhere around here. It's stupid, I can't find it any more."

The flashlight has words on it, but no battery. Doralice ponders this, before psychically deducing that this would be a good time to order a coffee and take a sugar cube for later use. God only knows what. She also hands the topless Prisca a hat, saving her the horrors of walking a whole two feet to pick it up herself, and the remaining i and two ls of her name. Behind the hat was a switch to turn on the lights in the hotel pool, which illuminates the pendant in the water, which she dives in and collects and discovers was really a micro-transmitter. "Pity I can't find out who was the receiver!" she sighs, having apparently forgotten that she is not in fact a spy and would probably need more to accomplish this feat than a fake toothbrush and a dead man's condoms. Or maybe not. She is reasonably industrious.

"What are you doing now?" asks Rob, as she heads out. "Can I kidnap you?"

"This evening, if you like," she tells him, heading off to QUL. Then, presumably realises she's still in her bikini and hurries back to put some actual clothes on first.

Okay, be very, very careful where you put that mouse cursor...

QUANTUM turns out to be situated downtown, in the middle of a naked lady. The rates are presumably good, but the working conditions very cramped. Doralice calls Miller, who warns her "I've just had an alarming call and I must leave immediately!" Either her reputation precedes her, or it doesn't.

"I've prepared some instructions for you... the reception people know you're coming. Oh, by the way, you need a secret code number to move around in here." Isn't an ID badge more conventional?

Rushing to attend the man who couldn't even be arsed to stick around the five minutes to talk to her face to face, it turns out that Miller is a lying sack of crap. All you get from the receptionist is a brush-off, followed by a stern "I can let in only authorised personnel. Adios, Miss!" and then finally "Ok, listen, you're starting to make me angry! I've had enough of your sob-stories...! I'll get my colleague. He knows what to do with pretty girls who won't mind their business..."

Remind me, why am I bothered about helping this company, exactly?

Not willing to let a little thing like rape and murder get in her way, Doralice sorts this out by steal a key from the reception desk and feed a lump of sugar to distract the receptionist's dog, and sneaks in via the parking lot instead. Here, she's greeted by a raving madman who demands "Get your tits out of my face! I was having this great, sexy dream!", but still manages to be the friendliest employee she's met so far. He even helps her break into the cleaning woman's car to steal her keys!

Miller turns out to be dead by the time Doralice gets to him.

"So the body count is rising: 2 deaths in 24 hours!" she declares, ignoring the fact that her vagina was apparently the murder weapon in at least one of them. "Anyway, it's too late for small talk now... I have to find the information he left for me... Where could he have put it?"

It's a room with exactly one obvious piece of furniture - a bare breasted statue lamp. Guess where the button is she needs to activate it is is? You get two guesses. The lamp isn't used for light though, but to let Doralice retrieve a message from... uh... a solar powered dictaphone he has hidden away in a secret compartment behind his bookcase. Which he expects her to find, but hasn't so much as hinted exists, making it either the world's worst hiding place, or him the dumbest man on the entire planet.

Again, you get two guesses to figure out which.

A solar dictaphone? That sound you can hear is a designer pulling a muscle straining for a puzzle idea.

"Miss Dora, you're accidentally in possession of a sample of my most important invention," Miller tells her from beyond the grave. "I've decided to give it to the government because I'm constantly threatened and in fear of my life." Yet still spectacularly lazy about retrieving it. "Only three prototypes exist, but the formula can be obtained by analysis. One is with my son - I trust him completely. Fayard's sample is with you, but the third... was stolen by that maniac Peter Hillgate better known as "Doc". He's probably synethesising the product right now in his secret Coconut Grove laboratory hidden under a women's lingerie store. Go there, get in without being seen and get it back! Only you can handle this mission... Then give the two vials to my son, Kenneth. You're my only hope."

...and you haven't just called the police... because?

And for finding the secret passage, Doralice was finally invited to join the Knight Sabers. Huzzah!

Unsurprisingly, the women's lingerie store (and what other kind is there, exactly?) is another fine building built in a giant naked lady. "I can look round while I pretend to try stuff on..." decides Doralice, though it takes about a fraction of a second to find the private door to behind the scenes. Through a door protected with the most incredible security ever... a bell... she finds a wall covered with exactly what you'd expect to find in a lingerie store stock-room - pin-up posters of naked girls called 'Greedy Fanny', 'Chantal the Perverse Ingenue' and 'Isabelle the Rebel'. There's also one for a naked man called 'Stormy and Tender Roland', with a very prominent bulge. Which turns out to be a key. Behind the poster. His penis is not a key. This gives Doralice everything she needs to open a nearby safe, which in turn opens a secret passage under the store to a top-secret laboratory. Because whatever.

Fishing around in a lab coat, Doralice finds a key, and cheers that for once, it's not hidden in a weird place. Unless you include the whole 'Bond villain under a branch of Victoria's Secret' thing, which I think we probably should. This unlocks a closet full of lots of random pictures of some naked man taken by a photographer called Lou Dale... that sound you can hear is a densely woven plot weaving itself together before your very eyes... and the remaining two vials of whatever QUL's secret project is. Doralice snags and bags them, before heading home for tea and sex, her task complete.

EXCEPT NOT!

They don't call her Dora the Ex-Hoarder for nothing.

Back at the hotel, she staggers up the stairs to her room where Rob is waiting for her. Unfortunately, he's waiting on top of her bed, still breathing but comatose, surrounded by a completely trashed room. Doralice is deeply sympathetic until she notices he brought her chocolates, at which point she's more interested in those. The actual damage is pretty minor. No windows broken. The phone not even moved. A couple of books are on the floor. And for some reason, her knickers are lying around. "This bra will never support anything again," sighs Doralice. "Well, it doesn't matter, I never wear one!"

What? Then why do you own one?

But what of the vial of mysterious liquid? Good question. Rob has apparently drunk it, though given that it was a sealed vial frozen in a box of ice-cubs, I'm not sure how or why.

"Wow, what a mixture!" exclaims Doralice. "What kind of a state will he be in?"

In probably her first sensible act all game, she calls reception to let them know, and is warned that a police inspector is here. His name is Pedro di Helgos, and he's the man in the wheelchair that Prisca took the flashlight from earlier. And quite clearly a villain, to the point that if Fascination had music, the Villain Song would even now be playing. Everyone, sing along.

VILLAIN, VILLAIN, YOU'RE THE VILLAIN

NOT GONNA TRUST A WORD YOU SAY.

MIGHT AS WELL JUST TWIRL YOUR MOUSTACHE

GONNA KICK YOUR ASS IN THE END-GAME.

EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS BULLSHIT

WOULD NOT FOOL A DUMBASS SLOTH

YOUR IDIOT BALL HAS BEEN PRE-DROPPED AND

FRANKLY I HAVE HAD ENOUGH

AS A CROOK YOU'RE NOT TOO SUBTLE

AND YOUR PLANS ARE TRITE AT BEST

I COULD BEAT YOU WITH NO WALKTHROUGH

BUT FOR TIME, I'M KINDA PRESSED

"I'd like to question you about the death of Mr. Nichols..." he warns, and quickly interrogates her. The correct responses boil down to "None of your business, piss off," which doesn't seem particularly smart, but works about as well as anything else here. The detective's presence does however reveal a scrap of paper with the second half of photographer Lou Dale's phone number on it, so she goes upstairs to call him... idly noting that Rob's body has vanished, but not with any particular surprise or concern. Pretending to have a job for him, Dale gives her his address.

Incidentally, have you noticed how there's been no sex in this erotic thriller so far?

Try to remember that people paid money for this back in the day.

We could have done something, but decided... nah...

A newspaper outside Dale's house promptly redefines the words 'STOP PRESS' by telling Doralice that "in the last half-hour, 13 women have brought complaints over assaults committed by a maniac running loose.' Who is this maniac? Supposedly, Rob, though it's hard to tell from the picture.

Clearly, time is now of the essence!

Lou, who turns out to be a woman - I'm not sure if that's meant to be a plot twist - is tied up in her house and guarded by one of Doc's minions. Doralice promptly mixes up poison gas using kitchen supplies, with the game skirting over the fact that she just killed a man. To recap - the villains have so far killed one person on screen. Doralice has ended two . One more, and her heroine card gets withdrawn.

\'Can you hurry up? These straps are barely holding on, and we\'re in serious danger of sexy happening...\'

Lou promptly infodumps like the story swallowed a whole pack of laxatives.

"I'll tell you everything," she promises, and does. "6 months ago, I was contacted for an undercover job. I was supposed to seduce Kenneth Miller, the millionaire's son to take his photo... It was tricky because he hates photographers. Once the mission was over, I wasn't supposed to see him any more... but I continued for a while, discreetly... he certainly didn't mind... it was going well until perhaps 1 month later - he suddenly disappeared. When he showed up again, he was weird! He didn't seem to recognize me, he avoided me! Perhaps he knew!"

"Incidentally, stop grinning at me like that," she doesn't add. "It's really fricking creepy."

\'...and can I just check, you are planning to untie me before leaving, right?\'

Doralice shows her the pictures from Doc's place, and Lou confirms he was the client - a surgeon with several known faces, who fixes up crooks. There are inanimate objects who know where this is going, but Doralice is a bit behind the train of thought, deciding she has to run to clearly-not-Miller and warn him about what's going on. Lou agrees, and gives her a signet ring to give to him.

"Say, do you have an idea where I can hide these vials? I'd better hide them in case I'm searched."

And Lou does. "Yes, these Love Eggs!" she suggests. "There's space inside. No-one will find them inside you, even searching very closely! But don't get too involved with any men..."

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew.

Sax and death. If we get rock and roll in this game too, we\'re sorted!

Without pausing to say "I was actually thinking of your laundry basket or something", Doralice heads to the Red and Blue club from the intro with her squishy bits full of secrets, trying not to think that she's basically walking around with two balls of rape juice. Incidentally, not wanting to nitpick or anything - heaven forfend - but if both this and Doralice are in Miami, which flight did the guy from the intro die on, exactly? What was that nonsense about ecstasy and angst mingling in a frenzied embrace somewhere between there and Paris meant to be about? Also, why am I trying to make sense of this?

At the club, she either blags her way in using a pin found in her hotel room after it was ransacked, or reloads a saved game to pick it up, having completely missed it and not being allowed to just go back for another scan. In fact, no. It's even crueller than that! There's actually a second, identical pin at Lou Dale's house, but you're only allowed to look at it, not actually pick it up.

Inside, she quickly tracks down Obviously Not Miller, and expresses the sheer urgency of the situation by suggesting he take her "Somewhere we can relax a little... I could use it!"

"Okay, you win," he tells her. "I'll take you home with me! But you'd better not be bluffing!"

\'Green knickers under a red dress? You know, my evil boss owns a lingerie shop. Can I interest you in a store card?\'

Back at his place, Doralice wastes little time getting out of her clothes - though not without one reservation. "Right, I have to avoid going all the way!" she monologues. "Usually, they go to sleep afterwards. This time, he has to go to sleep first so I can search..."

Wait, so, has she worked out that this guy clearly isn't Miller... or not? Oh, so confusing.

"Now, honey, I'd like a taste of your talents!" Not-Miller tells her, apparently no more bothered about the game's plot devices than his dead not-father.

"You won't be disappointed, my angel! But first, I'd like to show you something!"

"No way! You can show me afterwards! Unless it's a concealed beauty spot."

"Not exactly... But I think it will interest you too..."

No, of course not. She gives him a box of chocolates which she had no way of knowing were drugged... and luckily they turn out to be drugged and he crashes right out on his bed. This lets her check out a tattoo on his buttocks that shows a heart and the names Archie and Lucy, because guys often have those, and it's not something a criminal plastic surgeon might consider worth covering up.

Heading downstairs, she finds that Miller has some unusual tastes - specifically, an office built out of a giant fish that makes the naked lady of QUL seem positively sensible. Here, there's a secret passage opened - obviously - by stealing a cigar from a parrot and a pearl from a pirahna tank to shoot a laser across the room to reveal a secret panel opened by the skull on Not Miller's signet ring - which takes her... back down to the lab from earlier, with nothing actually accomplished beyond blowing her cover. And her cover alone, which at least is something to be grateful for.

\'No! Don\'t touch me! You don\'t know where I\'ve been!\'

The lab isn't as deserted this time though, and she's immediately knocked out and wakes up the next day, still in the villains' villa lair, and up to her cleavage in trouble.

"Where am I?" she asks, having not read the location card. Also, think about how long she's been carrying the vials around by this point. That has to be pretty uncomfortable... right?

"Well, you wanted to play the private eye!" says the host of Smash TV, or rather, the inspector in a wheelchair from earlier. "You took Doc by surprise, busting into his place like that. He'd surely have rubbed you out if I hadn't been on his trail! But I was able to act in time!"

And you didn't just kill her in her hotel room... because?

The Inspector asks about the vials, and Doralice tells him flat-out that she has them.. uh... 'on' her.

Closets, shoe boxes, bowls of pot pourri... loads of them. Snake, why are you blushing?

The Inspector hears her story in full. "Right, you did well not to give in!" he tells her. "At the moment, Doc and Archie are locked in a secret room here somewhere. You can trust me with the vials now!"

"Yeaaaaaah... no," Doralice thinks to herself, though she phrases it "Lend me your bathroom a few minutes so I can fix myself up, then I'll join you!" and waddles off to think up a plan. The Inspector lets her, despite the fact that the bathroom contains not only the equipment she'll need to escape, but a jar of human eyes and a secret passage full of women's underwear - including her own panties, for reasons I really don't want to think too carefully about. She whips up a perfume bottle full of formaldehyde and blasts him in the face with it. Justified though, since it was kinda in self-defense.

"Now I'm sure: Pedro di Hilgos and Peter Hillgate are the same man!" she announces, which is lucky, because otherwise she'd just have assaulted a disabled police officer, and I'm fairly sure that's the kind of thing that gets the book thrown at you until your face is completely flat.

You\'d never have gotten away with that if Mutoid Man had been here!

Another newspaper in the lounge warns Doralice that Rob is still on the rampage, still being pursued by photographers who can get shots of him in his rape-drug fueled rage but who can't apparently be bothered to stop him. Poor Rob. His penis is going to be a withered husk by the end of this game, though at least that's not far away now. Finding out the real Miller's birthdate from a microscopic inscription on a signet ring - I know, just go with it - Doralice opens a secret passage via one of the most needlessly convoluted puzzles ever to cap off a stupid game. It involves setting a clock labelled with the signals of the zodiac to a random setting based on the month of Miller's birth, then playing a specific code on an organ via a close-up shot that doesn't actually tell you what notes each key plays. Don't know the symbols, which months correlate to which sign, or how to play the piano? You're not going to be able to finish the game. Do know? Doesn't seem to matter, since it won't necessarily work anyway, and you get exactly no feedback on where - if anywhere - you're going wrong. Because it hates you.

But don't take my word for it! This one even confuses online walkthroughs...

You need to play B A D G E on the piano keys while the Zodiac is set for 2:00, which is the Roman Number 2. This doesn't work the first time, and the sequence must be repeated over and over for about 10 minutes. A secret door will finally open when you do this enough times. Do not give up, it literally takes 10-15 minutes before it will work.

Make sense? Here's another version...

Since this is a euro ware, you must know that the europeans write dates in the order of date, month, then year.So for example if the date from the ring is 13-09-50, then just click on the wheel's left button 2 times(it moves counterclockwise) so that it faces just like a nine on a regular clock.Next play the notes that are inscribed in the flashlight on the organ.

Let us never speak of Gabriel Knight 3's cat-moustache puzzle ever again.

I\'ll be honest, this is not the organ I expected Doralice to be playing with more than any other.

Opening the secret passage leads Doralice to the jail cell where Miller is hiding, which has been conveniently fitted with a smoke alarm to help her escape by just starting a fire with the newspapers of Rob's raping spree. And then... for all your hard work... the ending...

...is perhaps the stupidest ending of any game in history. Doralice emerges in the light to find the entire cast waiting for her - the good, the bad, and the actively dead. Why are they here? And alive?

"Well done, Doralice darling! So what do you think of this life-size murder party?"

What?

"We all thought you were wonderful; you did remarkably well! Let me explain. I've set up a live role-playing games business with the actors here, and I wanted to try out the storyline before offering it to sensation seekers!"

What?

"I wonder when you realised that Doc and me were the same person," chuckles the Inspector. "Good thing it wasn't really formalin in the jar!"

"A clever idea mixing those dangerous chemicals, but do you think you can really eliminate a man of my size with so little poison gas?" adds Lou's kidnapper.

WHAT?

"Me, I was supposed to have drunk the vial's contents, a super-powerful aphrodesiac that brought me Miami infamy as a mad rapist," chips in Rob. "Don't you think that went a bit far?"

Just a little bit, maybe, yes...

And so it goes on, with Doralice surprisingly laid-back about the number of times she's been horribly killed in getting here, getting knocked out, pushed into having sex with random strangers, seeing a loved one on the run for a horrific crime that's at least in part her fault, the trauma that anyone not quite as sociopathic as she comes across as would be feeling at many of her actions, and pondering what kind of film The Game would have been if Michael Douglas had been forced to insert a set of anal beads to hide a microfiche. A very different one, perhaps. Though still with more dignity than eXistenZ.

Lamest, most abrupt ending ever? Lamest, most abrupt

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