Unlike Stylist, I did not get stuck in a bathroom for an hour. I did, however, get stuck at a concert for two hours – multiple times. And, let me tell you, there is a special ring of Hell dedicated to rotoscoped foreigners playing the violin and piano nonstop.
Okay, so I’m Robert Cath. I received a telegram from my friend, Tyler Whitney, to board the Orient Express. I was a little late and a little broke (probably because I killed an Irish cop and insighted a mob), so I hopped the train after it left.
I found Tyler dead in his sleeping compartment, and now I’m stuck in the middle of whatever he was doing. Amidst socializing, hiding from the police, and sneaking into people’s sleeping cabins to root through their belongings, I meet two interesting people.
The first is Anna Wolff, a fairly attractive Austrian violinist. Like a gentleman, I walk to her dinner table to introduce myself, only to be surprised by her cold shoulder: “Americans are all the same,” “How dare you introduce yourself to me,” etc. What is this, a Jane Austen novel? I wouldn’t mind so much if it weren’t for the fact that, two minutes later, a fat German walks over, introduces himself, says, “Don’t I know you from [insert random place here],” and, ladies and gentlemen, she buys it. I’m not about to be outdone by a German ginger named August.
It’s on, fatty.
Like any normal person (who just illegally boarded a train to find his friend dead, disposed of the body and stole the dead man’s clothes), I decide to follow these two. I already know that August is into some shady dealings (he thinks I’m the now-deceased Tyler, and he wants to see “the gold” before “the package” is loaded at Munich), so Anna obviously needs some protecting. And who better to protect her than this guy:
Eavesdropping on their conversation in the smoking car, the conductor approaches me with a message from “His Excellency.”
“His Excellency,” I say. “Of course. Let him know I’m on my way.”
Who the hell is His Excellency?
This guy has his own train car and manservant – a rather grumpy female manservant, to be precise. It turns out that he knows I’m Robert Cath and that Tyler Whitney is dead. (Oh noes.) He asks if I will take the deal he offered Tyler, assuming I know what he’s talking about.
Let’s go over what I know about myself, two or three hours into the game:
- I’m wanted for murder in Ireland.
- I’m a freight hopper.
- I’ve stolen someone’s identity. (This is becoming a trend.)
- I’m in the middle of some sort of illegal trade agreement.
I give the man a polite “Hell no,” and his womanservant sees me out. I return to Anna and August in the smoking car, and I continue my eavesdropping. The conductor interrupts their conversation to invite Anna to play her violin with His Excellency at 3:00 p.m. August and I are also invited. I’ve been in every room I can get into, but I still can’t seem to find a hint as to who killed Tyler; so I decide to attend. His Excellency plays the piano while Anna plays her violin.
I sit for two hours, thinking the prince will want to accost me about something afterward, and, therefore, move the plot along. Nope, concert ends, we arrive in Munich, and I get a game ending scene where two Russians kill me at the train station – halfway through my journey. What the …
Okay, rewind to the last checkpoint. I leave the concert, and, surprisingly, no one seems to care. I hunt down the Russians, and they (again thinking I’m Tyler, which seems to be a common misconception at this point) tell me that I have to go through with “the deal.” They’ll get the package off of the train before we arrive in Constantinople. No one will be the wiser.
I still need gold to show to August before Munich, so I re-start my room-to-room search while everyone’s at the concert. To my surprise, in the first room there’s a big fat golden egg hidden under someone’s sink.
I return to August’s room just in time for the concert to end. I show him the egg, and he laughs at me. He wants real gold. I put the egg in my cabin, and, as I’m standing in the hallway wondering what to do, His Excellency’s womanservant opens my room door, enters, and, before I can catch her in there, leaves.
Are you for real?
I go in my room and the egg is missing! She took the egg while I stood right there. (The nerve!) In its place, I find a suitcase full of gold. A suitcase means a lot of gold. Yes, that was a strange sequence of events, but you know what? I’ll take it. I return to August with the suitcase, and he says the merchandise will be loaded into the baggage car. Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and wait for the next stop.
Wouldn’t you know, I get the same damn end scene. REWIND.
I’m back at the concert for the third time. I leave, talk to the Russians, grab the egg, stash it in my car, and start searching more rooms. I’m missing something that is essential for me to get past this evil concert, and I will find it.
But I don’t this time around, and I have to restart the concert scene. Again.
In order to make it to Constantinople (and get a good ending), you have to do this many times throughout the game. You’re also racing against real time. I restarted the concert sequence at least a dozen times, and, the few times that I received a different end scene, I considered it a success. I was one step closer to figuring out what I needed to do to stay alive. The real time is large element in the game, but I don’t want to downplay the varying end scenes. Because I die, I do things differently the next time, resulting in a different effect. This forces me to spend more time with the characters and environment and to think through my decisions. I’ve became attached to these people, and I want Robert to get to Constantinople. So I’m going to do everything in my mouse-clicking power to get him there.