Wizardry IV: Cosmic Cube Continued

By now, I’ve thoroughly mapped out the Cosmic Cube. Past a certain point, you can be pretty sure when you’re on the right track simply because it becomes harder to follow. You get choices about where to go, and most of them lead back to things you’ve seen before, the maze trying to shake you off. It’s a familiar pattern — the level immediately before the Cube, the Wandering Maze, does something similar, the final approach to the stairs onward being lined with one-way walls just to make you redo large portions of the maze if you make a single misstep.

But I followed things to their conclusion, and I was rewarded with a sign telling me that I had finally found “THE EGRESS” — right at a blank wall. I know from my maps what’s on the other side of that wall: a staircase leading up, which I saw early in my explorations, but was unable to reach, due to a couple of hidden chutes that send you deeper into the maze as a sort of prank. It’s the prank aspect that really convinced me that it was in fact the actual egress, and that the sign marked the place I could access it from if I solved one more puzzle — one that I didn’t remember at all from my first playthrough, decades ago.

I said in my last post that the whole Cube section begins with a Smullyanesque logic puzzle, but it didn’t seem to make a difference — no matter what passageway you took, they’d join up after a while. Maybe the choice really did matter? In earlier titles, this would be impossible: there was no persistent state other than your characters and their inventory. But I had evidence that Wizardry IV was different. Throughout most of the game, Werdna is hunted by the ghost of Trebor, who moves about slowly and intangibly, making threats as he approaches and providing a new purpose for the old “locate dead people” spell that would otherwise be useless in this game (and was barely useful even in Wizardry I). He’s generally easy to avoid if you keep moving, but it’s still a relief when you find a way to get rid of him for good: by applying a relic of Saint Trebor. (Saint? The Mad Overlord? History is written by the victors, I guess.) The point is, once Trebor’s ghost is gone, it’s gone, even if you ditch the relic. And that means the engine is capable of setting flags.

So I tried starting over from the beginning of the Cube — I’ve been keeping a save just before the stairs in, just in case something like this happened — and this time I made sure I went through the correct path in the beginning. No dice. The egress was still unegressable. But then, the warning didn’t just warn about that one choice, did it? It said to watch my step in general and keep to the golden path, whatever that is. Maybe I had to plan my route more thoroughly? As I said before, the Cube is basically a directed graph. I’ve drawn that graph out, the better to plan. The final few steps are unambiguous, but the rest? Maybe I need a path that goes through all the “This Way to the Egress” signs. Maybe I need to avoid chutes. There are two particular places where you pick up important items; the correct route, if there is such a thing, probably goes through both of those. I have a bunch of possibilities to try, and it’s going to take a while to try each one, because wandering adventurers keep truncating my progress.

While writing this post, it occurred to me to check if I could avoid falling down chutes by wearing the Winged Boots I had picked up earlier. I can’t, it turns out. But at least they’re useful for not taking damage from pit traps.

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