Litil Divil: Traps

I keep mentioning the traps in the maze, but I haven’t really described them. Let’s do that now.

Traps are, at root, things that hurt you a little bit if you’re in the wrong place, and play an animation of both the trap triggering and Mutt reacting to it. The most basic trap is the spike trap: a row of little holes in the floor, stretching a little less than half the width of the corridor, easy to walk around or jump over provided you notice it in time. Noticing it is less trivial than it sounds: you can only see a rather short distance ahead, and Mutt himself blocks a significant portion of your view. When exploring new areas, or areas with known traps, I inch forward a bit at a time to avoid blundering into things.

There are barred windows, from which emerge hands that punch you in the ear if you walk too close. Bow-and-arrow traps that fire if you’re too far away. Open pits, which can appear left, right, or center of the corridor, don’t merely damage you but also impede your progress: after Mutt falls into a pit, he climbs out on the near side. There are grotesque faces that appear in pairs, one on either side: one of them will emit a gout of flame when passed, forcing you to hug the opposite wall, but as far as I can tell, it’s impossible to predict which. You just have to suffer the effects once, then remember which side is the bad one, or mark it on your map, or just resign yourself to taking damage every time you pass that way. These things are then combined, in recurring patterns, like two windows on either side of the corridor and a pit in the middle. The obvious answer is to jump over the pit — but then the game introduces a monstrous hand that reaches out of some pits and grabs you when you’re overhead. (The game is fond of hands reaching out from holes in general, really.) The designers are blatantly trolling the players here. As with the faces, you have an opportunity to memorize which things are and aren’t safe. Jumping diagonally seems to help sometimes. There exist fields of massed inconveniently-placed pits where it’s basically required.

One thing that’s not quite a trap in the same sense: Every once in a long while, there will be an X chalked on the floor. Stand on it and press the action button, and it might fully heal you. This is essential for extended exploration, as there’s no other source of unlimited healing — there are bits of food to be found, but they can only be consumed once. But sometimes, instead of healing, a piano falls on you. This perfectly encapsulates the game’s attitude.

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