Shadow of the Comet – A Friendly Little Town

From The Adventure Gamer

Written by limbeck

So, here I am, in my not so austere room, getting to grips with the controls of the game. I can move with the arrow buttons, but only on four directions, which seems fair. Sometimes, though, you jump to the next screen by stepping at the wrong point.

Walking around the room, I notice that, as I pass close to an item, a line from my face to that object appears. Handy. I welcomed it with satisfaction at first, but I may reconsider, as it misled me into thinking that it works with all items. More on that later.

Look at my lasersight!

Fortunately, the all-keyboard interface is intuitive and not hard to grasp. You press O for objects in your inventory, U for using an item, G for getting. Even if you haven’t read the manual, you get the hang of it quickly. And that’s really it.

So, once I have perfected my baby steps, I explore the room and pick up whatever I can, which is BOLESKINE’s diary and a telegram from my provisioners. Reading the diary gives me my first clue: a 12-year-old boy had served BOLESKINE as a guide, so there is a chance he is still alive and can point me to the precise spot in the forest. Other than that, BOLESKINE clearly had a poor grasp of astronomy, not recognising the familiar constellations and just randomly inventing new ones.

The telegram was more annoying, because it said that I have to find my own photographic plates. This is critical to my mission, as Mr GRIFFITH really expects “spectacular photographs”. I hope this backwater town has a hardware store or something.

Request refund / STOP / Want speak to manager / STOP

Now that I have my first tasks, I am ready to head out to the outside world. First step is to head out of my room. I then explore the areas of the Doctor’s house that are available to me and notice some really impressive paintings around. The Doctor is not at home, so it is time to explore the town proper.

The immediate neighbours are an old barn-looking house with a bench and a locked door to the east, a forest without a guide to the west and a fancy house, also locked, to the south. The house to the south turns out to be the Mayor’s.

It’s good to be the Kin.. erm, Mayor

To the south and west of the Doctor’s house is the Pharmacy / GP’s office / hospital of the town. I see a guy with a white robe going in, so I decide to follow. Inside, I just catch a glimpse of him getting into his office, so I try to go in myself only to be stopped by a very unhelpful nurse, who is also the daughter of the busy doctor.

South of the pharmacy is the main square, which we briefly saw in our carriage trip. When I first visit, an old lady, Ms PICOTT is sitting alone, but says nothing of importance, so I leave.

One should never presume

Heading west, I arrive at the impressive (according to the description) Town Hall. The clerk in it is, as expected, unhelpful and does not let me see the Mayor, who is only accepting visitors for a few hours each week and only by appointment. I am starting to get really annoyed now. Why does nobody want to get out of their way just to indulge me? I am a visitor in their town after all. They should show some hospitality!

But I brought the forms for the animal census, and these fine leather jackets.

I decide to continue being nosy and I try the other door on the Town Hall building. Inside, it looks like a museum, with several exhibits from exotic lands. This is where I realised that my lasersight does not identify all the items that I can examine or interact with in a location. Instead, when I am close to something that looks interesting, I need to press L to examine it. So, before I continued, I went to all the other locations I had visited and furiously examined everything, but I mainly got background information.

A few minutes later, I am back at the museum, where I discover a lost page from BOLESKINE’s diary. It describes how the stars are really a pistol rifle shot away and closes with a quote from J.Keats: “Truth sleeps beneath appearance”. The remaining art is just flavour text, or so it seems for the moment.

Some of Parker’s lines have these “good lord” and “Oh my”, I suspect for added Englishness.

So, I continue into the door I can see to the north and into the Archives, where I meet the Master of Archives himself. He introduces himself as Tobias JUGG and he is the first person that seems genuinely excited to talk to me. Of course, true to the character of this little town, he already knows who I am. I ignore that and try to get in his good books, which I succeed by striking a conversation and proving my own love for books, by correctly recognising Shakespeare’s quote. I leave him for now and head to a nearby table, where a I search through a ledger and note down three names of men who were 12 years old when Boleskine visited. The names are Curtis HAMBLETON, William COLDSTONE and Thomas GREENWOOD.

Looking over my shoulder, JUGG confirms that all three of them are alive and gives me directions to their houses. I speak to him a bit more, engineering my responses so that they appeal to his love of literature and history. He appreciates that and invites me to his house for a chat later. He also says that he has a large library on local legends, which the locals believed in until recently. After that, he heads out and I leave the Archives.

I continue wandering the town and revisit some of the areas I was before. I notice that there is a couple sitting outside of the house to the east of Dr COBBLES house, which I now know belongs to one of the three people I am looking for. However, Mr GREENWOOD is deaf, mute and blind from an accident during his birth. This makes it very hard for him to be the one I am looking for. The other half of the couple is Miss PICOTT, whom we met earlier. She maintains her unhelpfulness and we move on.

Fortunately for you, he cannot see that smirk when you say that.

Some more wandering later, I arrive outside of the Dead Horse Inn, a name that seems oddly suitable to this town. Outside is Jed DONAHUE, who also knows who I am. News travel quickly in this part of the world. Not that they have to travel too far. Jed was complaining about…, but he didn’t offer anything else other than some more background. Inside the tavern, there is even more unhelpfulness. A group of card players in one table does not want to be disturbed, but is gossiping about RENATO, apparently a misled youth who doesn’t know better. The bartender is ruder than average and does not open up even after I pay an extortionist’s fee of $1 for his watered-down beer.

Dealing with customers: How not to

My little trek around the village then brings me to the post office. As I walk in, I see a map of the area and I hear some heavy object being rolled above. The lady behind the counter mentions that the DONAHUE boy (I presume Jed’s son) is sick and that she really has a lot of work to do. Clearly, she is only bothered by me and not by all the clatter right above her head. I leave.

Yes, like rearrange those mail sacks by the wall

Eager for some intelligent conversation, I head to JUGG’s house. At the entrance hall wall hangs a rifle, which, upon closer examination, turns out to be Lord BOLESKINE’s own rifle. I wonder how it ended up at the doctor’s house. However, despite his invitation earlier, Mr JUGG does not have any more insights to offer so I leave him alone.

Anyway, I keep exploring dutifully and I finally find the town’s general store. I enter from the south and I see the proprietor, Mr MYERS, dealing with a client. A hooded figure who apparently is in the business of direct parcels. He has left one with Mr MYERS, who informs him that another one he sent to some Mrs GUILDCHRIST was delivered successfully. I don’t know who that lady is, but I know the name the wooded figure goes by. HAMBLETON. To be fair, I was a bit careless at the time and I did not remember that HAMBLETON was one of the three people I was looking for. Anyway, the figure walks out, either on a limp or quirky animation, and I can speak to the shop owner.

Maybe townsfolk go to the general store for their mail because the post office is always “too busy”

I go directly to the point and ask for photosensitive plates, which he delivers with delight. Not only that, but he suggests trying them out first and, if they are not good any more, he will reimburse me. Now, that’s what I call good customer service.

Dealing with customers: How to

Loaded with my new plates, I head out from the north door and arrive at the square again. Heading west a few screens, I end up at the abandoned fishery that HAMBLETON lives in. Before getting in, I pick up a rope ladder, because who knows when I will need to go down a cave or something.

Inside, the place is a proper mess. My delicate British nostrils cannot stand the stench, but I persist nonetheless. The fishery has absolutely nothing of value, but I discover a loose floorboard used to hide moonshine and an old man sleeping on a pallet in a corner. As I creepily watch him sleep, I notice that his fingers are webbed, like a frog’s. I feel fascinated, and a bit lightheaded, but I compose myself and decide to speak to the old man.


Curtis HAMBLETON tells me that he indeed took Lord BOLESKINE in the forest, at a place with a cross. On the third day, BOLESKINE was painting / sketching when he saw a “thing”. I also learn of another name: WILBUR. He is HAMBLETON’s brother and probably very important. He apparently cursed CURTIS who ended up living in these squalid conditions. WILBUR is still alive as well and he says that in 3 days the comet will come back, and the THING as well. That’s just superstition, right?

After this conversation, poor Curtis goes back to sleep and I am left to think of my next steps, now that I have my plates and a potential guide that does not want to be a guide. I must also note that the Mr HAMBLETON I saw at the general store is most likely Wilbur, Curtis’ brother and he seems to hold some position of power in Illsmouth. I smell a cult, built on superstition and the old legends.

But we’ll have to find these out next time. I did not make much progress in the game, but I enjoyed walking around the town and familiarising myself with the locations. The outline of the city is logical and I never really felt lost, except for the time in the forest, which I assume was intentional. So far, the game does well in letting me play the stranger moving into a small, closed society, which doesn’t really like having anybody poking into its secrets. It may seem stereotypical, but it works. In the next post, I will try to get into that spot in the forest and get some photos taken.

Some other interesting locations that will probably become important later:

  • N. TYLER’s house is to the north of the pharmacy. It smells nicely of hot soup, but of course it is locked. Suspicious little town.
  • There is a well that is standing on its own, but I cannot interact with it at the moment.
  • The way to the port in which I arrived, is blocked by two burly guys.
  • The cemetary is a blast of fun, according to JUGG.
  • In the house south of Mr JUGG’s, I see somebody going in and moving on the top floor, snooping at me from the window. Yet, when I knocked, nobody replied.
  • There is also an abandoned mansion, with nothing to do.

END notes – CD ROM version

Somehow, addition of mouse control makes the game more frustrating. You do not click where you want to go and let the character find his way there. Instead, you hold down the left button and the character moves in the direction the mouse is with respect to him, but again only in the four main directions. You cannot mouse over items either, which makes me wonder why they bothered at all with adding mouse, other than to not seem backward. Outdoors, there is an option to go to a location using the map.

Time played: 1:30
Sanity lost: 1 (from seeing HAMBLETON’s webbed fingers)

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