The Watchmaker: Slow Start

Not much progress in The Watchmker today. I keep exploring the castle and its grounds, and I keep on finding not much of importance or interest. It’s like the game doesn’t want me to play. Not that it’s hostile to the idea and puts up intractable obstacles, but that it’s totally indifferent to whether I play or not. It just gives us a large collection of rooms to explore, and no reason to explore any of them. The rooms are full of a vast array of furniture items with utterly generic descriptions. Occasionally there’s a locked door, or an NPC who won’t let us search their room, which provides some hope that there’s something interesting that the game isn’t letting me see yet. But I won’t be surprised if at some future point I manage to unlock a door and find it conceals just another roomful of generic furniture.

The NPC dialogue, too, is mostly fairly bland and uninformative. You can ask everyone about their relationships to each other, but you can’t ask them about the cultists or the doomsday machine you’re looking for. I suppose part of the problem here is that this is a mystery in which the crime hasn’t happened yet, giving you nothing in particular to interrogate people about. But also, part of the problem is just that the game is trying to take itself seriously. I’m thinking that there’s a reason that the best-beloved point-and-click adventures have been the ones built around wacky humor. If every line of dialogue is likely to produce a punch line, that in itself provides a motivation to ask everyone about everything.

Just one thing of real interest has happened: On first exiting to the castle’s grounds, a greenhouse vibrates oddly, then blows out two holes on opposite sides, as if shot through by an invisible cannonball. The player characters observe the direction that the glass fell on the side “towards the mausoleum”, which I suppose is a hint to explore the mausoleum, although left to myself I think I’d feel like checking out the direction the shot came from is more likely to yield answers about how it happened. At any rate, the mausoleum contains what appears to be a genuine adventure-game puzzle, involving a chessboard whose squares make clicking sound when pressed. Perhaps I’ll feel better about this game once I’ve solved that and been put on the track to more puzzles.

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