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You Can Escape Darkness!
By Lazer Laurence
My primary goal with this guide is to get you, the player, more than competent at playing this game. I want you to be skilled at playing this game. This guide covers all topics from Items to Enemies to the Lore of the game world itself.
___1. Items ______i. Weapons _________a. Sharpened Stick _________b. Broken Bottle _________c. Pickaxe _________d. Ceremonial Bronze Warblade _________e. Magic Sword ______ii. Mushrooms _________a. Poison Shrooms _________b. Magic Shrooms _________c. Health Shrooms ______iii. Keys _________a. Spider Key _________b. Fire Key _________c. Pendant Key _________d. Sun Key _________e. Eye Key ______iv. Lights _________a. Flashlight _________b. Lighter ______v. Other _________a. Rock _________b. Explorer Notes _________c. Battery _________d. Broken Flashlight ___2. Entities ______i. Enemies _________a. Normal Rats _________b. Dark Rats _________c. Vine Cluster _________d. Vein Cluster _________e. The Darkness ______ii. Neutrals _________a. Wall Eyes _________b. Watchers
IV. Walkthrough (Heavy Spoilers)
___0. Heavy Spoiler Warning ___1. Floor 1 ______i. Floor 1 Dead Explorer ______ii. Fire Door ______iii. Shadow Hallways ______iv. Locked Teleportation Ring ___2. Floor 2 ______i. Floor 2 Dead Explorer ______ii. Twin Crypt ______iii. Mushroom Converter ______iv. Chasm Room ______v. Spider Door ______vi. Hidden Crypt ______vii. Surprise Monster Closet ___3. Floor 3 ______i. Sconce Hallway ______ii. The Living Maze ______iii. Floor 3 Dead Explorer ______iv. Hidden Crypt ______v. Hidden Teleportation Ring ___4. Floor 4 ______i. Second Mushroom Converter ______ii. The Main Crypt ______iii. The Stunted Tree ______iv. Hidden Great Tree ______v. Hidden Four Skull Room ______vi. Second Monster Closet ___5. Floor 5 ______i. Doom Crypt ______ii. The Heart ______iii. Cat Door ______iv. Eye Door ___6. Step-by-Step Walkthrough
V. New Game+
VI. Achievement Guide
___1. Rats! ___2. One Weakens ___3. Leap of Death ___4. In the Dark ___5. A Living Maze ___6. Plants! ___7. The Darkness’ Last Defense ___8. The Walls Have Eyes ___9. Freedom! ___10. Traitor! ___11. More Freedom ___12. Into the Light
VII. Lore (Extreme Spoilers)
___1. The Story ___2. The Darkness ___3. The Source ___4. The Watchers ___5. The Tomb ___6. Allegiances ___7. The Previous Explorers
I. 1. Forward I Can’t Escape: Darkness is a unique little game. It is, as its essence, a puzzle wrapped up in a bigger puzzle. More than anything else it’s a challenging game. After a few play attempts it came to my attention rather quickly that no guide actually existed for this game. I will confess, my interest in I Can’t Escape: Darkness was not as great then as it is now, and after a few failed attempts, I merely wanted to get the quick and dirty answers and see what the ending was. However, since no guide existed, I was forced to find out stuff on my own, old school way.
And, much like the old school approach where you might have a few friends also playing the game who were at different places and/or had found different things, I did glean hints from talking to other players and from the Steam discussion boards, mostly answers (read: vague hints) David Maletz has given on the threads.
After playing around for a while, I finally figured some things out and decided, “Hey, there is no guide, so why don’t I just write one? Sure, that sounds like a good idea.” And now you’re reading it! The final thing I would like to say here is that this game is really not that difficult to play once you understand what’s going on.
I. 2. About This Guide My primary goal with this guide is to get you, the player, more than competent at playing this game. I want you to be skilled at playing this game. I want you to be able to go into a play session without believing you need save points or believing you need to have the Map. And I believe this is very doable.
Do make sure you play the Tutorial, as this guide is written with the assumption that you have played through the entire Tutorial.
This guide will be in three main sections: Mechanics, Stuff, and Walkthrough. I intend for this guide to be all encompassing for the game. Each of these four sections will gain more spoilers as you read further. The Mechanics section is oriented to get you on your feet in this strange little game with minimal spoilers, but the Stuff section will provide further explanations and spoilers without giving away everything. The Walkthrough section will detail many things and get into many, many spoilers as you are guided through the whole Tomb down to the first ending.
There are two other large sections to this guide, the Lore and Commentary sections. Both of these are more-or-less irrelevant to normal gameplay, and both can be considered purely supplemental. The Lore sections details all the information about the game’s world that I have been able to correlate. The Commentary section simply includes some of my personal thoughts about both the game itself and some elements about the construction of the game.
I. 3. Game Overview You, the player, are trapped in the Tomb and you have to escape. It’s got clear influences of old point-and-click adventures, down to collecting keys and using certain items on the environment. It uses a sort of retro grid-based movement system too which can be a little odd to play for the first time, but you’ll get the swing of it quick enough.
The game is also a multilayered puzzle: exploration, escape, and mastery. Furthermore, the game has two mods: Normal and New Game+. There are numerous other elements and puzzles within this game beyond the main goal of escaping the Tomb. Gameplay time for a single attempt will be between 2 or 3 hours, but an experience player can easily escape in under an hour and a half or less. (I have speedrun the game in less than 16 minutes.)
II. Mechanics (Minor Spoilers)
II. 1. Light Light is your only ally in this game. I’d say a good 80% of gameplay revolves around Light, either in using Light or procuring Light.
II. 1. i. Flashlight The only item you start the game with and the most convenient Light source in the game. It’s portable, bright, and efficient. It keeps the Darkness away better than anything else and lets you see the Tomb and your threats clearly. The Flashlight Light source should be used sparingly though, as its effectiveness is balanced against its limited usability. You can and will quickly run out of power.
II. 1. ii. Lighter More of a tool than a Light source itself. The Lighter can be used to light Sconces that line the many walls of the Tomb. It can be used as an emergency portable Light source, but I definitely recommend against doing that. If you’re down to only your Lighter for Light, then you are probably going to lose (unless you have the exit Key in hand).
II. 1. iii. Sunlight Sunlight as a Light source is only a true factor on Floor 1. A small amount of Sunlight does trickle down into Floor 2, but not nearly enough to really matter. The main benefit of Sunlight is to let you keep your Flashlight off for 99% of the time you are on Floor 1.
II. 1. iv. Sconces These bronze fire holders are mounted on many of the walls in the Tomb, and the eyes of the snakes depicted on them glow green, making them very easy to identify even in darkness. They can be lit by either yourself with your Lighter or can be lit by the ghosts known as Watchers who float through the Floors. They can be lit from a distance if you are standing next to them, but not if you are standing across from them. They can also simply be lit while standing in the same square as them. Once lit, nothing will put out the Sconce’s flame.
II. 1. v. Wall Eyes Those creepy eyeballs in the walls actually give off a small amount of light when they are open. They only open their eye when you are looking straight at them though. They don’t give off much Light, but it is enough to make a difference and keep you safe from the Darkness. Don’t stab the Wall Eyes; there really is no reason to kill them.
II. 1. vi. Crystals These natural Light sources only appear in a few specific rooms within the Tomb. They give off a relaxing blue glow and will keep you perfectly safe from the Darkness while within their Light. Striking crystals in the wall with the Pickaxe will break them, so don’t do that.
II. 1. vii. Magic Sword A well-hidden late-game feature, this upgrade will give off Light for a short time and keep you safe from the Darkness. However, by the time you get the Magic Sword you are already winning, so its Light benefits are somewhat mitigated by that fact. Nonetheless, if you have run out of other Light sources near the end of the game, but you are able to get a hold of the Magic Sword, then it very well could cover your hide just long enough to help you escape.
II. Mechanics, continued (2-4)
II. 2. Magic Sight The Magic Sight is a key mechanic in I Can’t Escape: Darkness, because without using Magic Sight it will be impossible for you to acquire all the items or find all the secrets. Magic Sight is activated by eating the Magic Shrooms you find throughout the Tomb. It turns your vision blue and reveals hidden wall markings, magic bridges, and teleportation rings.
Magic Sight also allows you to see in darkness, like night vision. This will greatly help you conserve Flashlight power. However, Magic Sight will NOT protect you against the Darkness, so make sure you keep aware of how dark your surroundings really are.
Magic Sight can also be a little hit-or-miss. Given the short time period Magic Sight is active after eating a Magic Shroom, you can easily run out of Magic Sight without having found anything secret at all. This creates a sort of paradox in which it greatly helps if you have an idea of where to look for what you are trying to find before you actually find it. Luckily, there are some areas and landmarks that will help point to where Magic Sight will be most effective.
II. 3. Pits and Stairs Pits come in four flavors. There are open Pits, camouflaged Pits, weak floor tile Pits, and trap Button Pits.
Open Pits are the easiest to see and avoid. They are simply open holes in the floor. The only time you might be likely to fall into one of these is if you were walking backwards or sideways. Camouflaged Pits have either vines or blood veins growing over them. These Pits are still completely open and visible, but the growth on top of them can make these Pits hard to notice if you aren’t paying attention.
Weak floor tile Pits are the first of the two dastardly Pit types. These Pits are hidden beneath floor tiles that look fine at first, but upon closer inspection you can notice discoloration that is a clear indicator that this square of floor will fall away if stepped on. You can drop a rock or other item onto these weak floor tiles to break them and confirm their danger. Luckily these are somewhat rare. Keep one eye on the ground as you walk about and you should be fine. And be advised: weak floor tiles can also be camouflaged by vines or veins. On the bright side though, I have never seen a one of these weak floor Pits inside a hallway that is only one square wide.
Trap Button Pits are Pits that open up after a Button above them has been pushed. These are usually very easy to identify; however, usually this will only happen after you have already fallen for these traps at least once or twice. The best thing to do to avoid these is to always hit Buttons from afar by throwing a Rock whenever you can.
Stairs in this game are a much more straightforward concept. They connect the Tomb’s Floor in both descending and ascending fashion. Some Stairs will be blocked off after descending them, so make sure you are ready to proceed before going down to any new Floor.
II. 4. Buttons and Doors Buttons appear on walls throughout the Tomb. Most open Doors, though a few lite Sconces and a few more are duds that merely lead to trap Pits underneath them. For this reason I always recommend hitting Buttons from afar by throwing a Rock whenever you can. However, there will sometimes be Buttons you cannot throw Rocks at. Generally, if these are on Floor 1 or Floor 2, they will still be traps and you should not push them. If they are on Floors 3 or 4, they are probably okay to press yourself.
There are also a few hidden Buttons in the game that you can only see with Magic Sight. These hidden Buttons lead to really cool hidden items and rooms.
Doors in this game are opened either by Buttons or by Keys. Most Doors opened by Buttons are hidden Doors that blend almost seamlessly into the walls. Doors opened by Keys are large and ornate and very hard to miss. The carvings on these Doors help indicate which Key will unlock them, and each Key is unique and will only open one Door.
II. Mechanics, continued (5-9)
II. 5. Inventory Your Inventory is represented by a backpack you carry. It has 16 Slots inside arranged in a 4x4 grid. This limits the number of Items you can carry both by their quantity and their size, much like the Inventory from Deus Ex or Resident Evil.
II. 6. The Map The Map is an unbelievably useful feature, perhaps the most useful feature in the game aside from the Flashlight. The Map can only be enabled in normal games, not New Game+, and it fills in with the layout of each Floor as you explore them. The Map will clearly indicate visible Pits, non-hidden Doors, and Stairs. It does not show items or entities.
Navigating the Tomb is a simple matter with the use of the Map, and it is highly recommended for players first getting into this game. Do note though, there are events within the Tomb that I call “Shifts” which erase your Map on the Floor you are on. These Shifts are accompanied by a “door grinding” sound and erase all Map progress except your immediate surroundings. To that end, try to keep a general idea of the Floor in your brain so you aren’t relying on the Map 100% for getting around.
II. 7. Tomb Generation The Tomb you explore in this game is different every attempt, and the generation process is semi-random. What this means is that many rooms or features will show up in each game, either in a similar pattern or in an exact same layout. Rooms such as the location of the Broken Bottle, the Living Maze, or the Great Tree room are all the exact same through each playthrough, they will just be in different spots on the Floor. Once you know the general pattern, you can quite easily navigate any newly generated Tomb.
Consider the following image. The above is an example of a Map for Floor 1. The green, white, red, and blue circles all highlight areas that are semi-random: always the same themselves, just located in different places on the Floor on each attempt. The yellow circle highlights how some areas of a Floor may look cut off by a Pit, only to later discover these areas can be accessed through a hidden Door. The purple and orange circles we will discuss later.
II. 8. Combat Combat is probably the second most important mechanic to understand, right behind Light, because Combat keeps you alive. Combat is listed near the bottom of this section because it doesn’t come up too often in gameplay, and in fact you will want to strategically minimize your combat involvement. However, if you do not understand how Combat in I Can’t Escape: Darkness works, then you will have a rough time indeed.
Your own health is mostly indicated by screen effects. The health system seems to be a semi-regenerating threshold pool. What this means is that some things cannot actually kill you in the game, and you will only take permanent damage if are injured enough to move you to the next threshold. There are four states of health: fine, tunnel vision, limping, and dead. There are a few insta-deaths like being crushed or being consumed by the Darkness. The only thing that heals you in the game are Health Shrooms
Engaging your enemies is all about dancing with your foes. What I mean is moving backwards and forwards to engage your enemy on your terms in which you are hurting your enemy and your enemy is not hurting you. Generally this will boil down to kiting your enemy backwards and hitting it as it enters the square in front of you, step backwards, and hitting it again as it enters the square in front of you again. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes the enemy’s movement will leave you moving side to side instead of backwards and forward. Keep aware of your surroundings when doing this so you don’t fall into a Pit.
That’s all there is to combat really. It’s very simple. There is one last element to Combat though: throwing items. Rocks deal 1 point of damage when thrown, and they can be thrown up to 5 spaces away. Granted, this is only a small part of combat, and I rarely use it and I definitely don’t rely on throwing damage as a primary attack, but it is an option that is good to know about.
II. 9. Best Practices These “Best Practices” are taken from Gray Dragon’s “A few tips” Discussion in the I Can’t Escape: Darkness Community Hub on Steam. They are clear, concise, and very useful. I myself would likely have never beaten this game the first time around if I had not read these tips! (I did edit them slightly to make sure all the same language was being used between both this guide and these tips.)
Use portable Light sources sparingly. You will need Light to keep one particular creature at bay. Keep your Light sources off most of the time. Use them only briefly to scan the area before moving or to banish evil presences.
Make good use of Sconces. Not all denizens of the underground are hostile, and some will wander around, lighting every Sconce they encounter. You can also light them yourself with the Lighter, which uses very little fuel to do so. Each lit Sconce is a permanent, fixed Light source.
Hit Buttons from a distance. You can do this by throwing Rocks at them. Some Buttons open Pits directly in front of them, so pushing them directly could give you a painful surprise!
Don’t trade blow for blow with the Enemies. You can hit Enemies while aiming at a square they are leaving or entering. Try not to give them an opportunity to hit back, as you can’t take much punishment.
Make good use of Mushrooms. Every Mushroom is potentially useful. Even Poison Shrooms can be turned into useful ones by a certain device. When trying to identify a Mushroom, ignore the shape of it and look at the pattern and color of the cap. This is the clue that will help you tell them apart, although you may need some Light to see them clearly.
Watch out for weak floor tiles. These appear as noticeably darker patches of ground. They’re tough to make out in the dark and will break and drop you down a Floor if you step on them. If you think a section of floor is weak, drop a Rock on it. If the floor there is weak, it will break and the Rock will drop down to the next floor.
Use and abuse the Map. The Map clearly shows the location of Pits, Doors, and breakable walls, so if there are no Enemies around, you can use it to navigate without ever putting it down. However, note that weak floor tile, Buttons, and hidden Doors are not shown, and it can’t protect you from the Darkness!
III. Stuff (Moderate Spoilers)
III. 1. Items
There aren’t many items in this game, and to that end every item is important and serves at least two purposes. Even the items that seem useless can be quite surprising. “Slots” in the description refers to how much space this item takes up in your Inventory.
III. 1. i. Weapons
As a note here, the “Damage” values are based exclusively off the amount of hits it takes to kill something with the Sharpened Stick, the weakest weapon in the game. Thus, the Broken Bottle with a Damage: 2 means that each hit from the Bottle counts as two hits from the Stick.
III. 1. i. a. Sharpened Stick Damage: 1, Slots: 2 “A straight, solid branch. Must have broken off when I fell down here…”
First weapon and so-so. Better than nothing, but you’ll get the next weapon so fast you’ll likely only use this thing once or twice. It’s good to keep on you even after acquiring the Bottle because you can use it like a Rock to activate Buttons and break Pits from afar. And something else.
III. 1. i. b. Broken Bottle Damage: 2, Slots: 4 “A broken bottle. Very sharp…”
I do like how the weapons are all rather improvised in this game. Gives it a certain nuance and realistic grit. Anyways, this weapon is twice as good as the Stick. You’ll be using this for early to mid-game. It also does something else.
III. 1. i. c. Pickaxe Damage: 2, Slots: 4 “A sturdy pickaxe. Maybe I can dig my way out… Probably not…”
Again, improvised weapon, however, this is also a functioning tool used to breakdown Crumbling Walls and advance you in the game. You cannot escape without this item! You’ll be using this as a weapon in mid-game exclusively.
III. 1. i. d. Ceremonial Bronze Warblade Damage: 4, Slots: 4 “A ceremonial bronze Warblade. Though ancient, and green with patination, its edge is razor sharp.”
A real weapon! And also a tool, though a more esoteric one. The Warblade seems to have once been for some ceremonial purpose, and it has the ability to reveal the hidden blue text on walls and activate hidden Buttons without Magic Sight active. Furthermore, striking Mushroom Converters with this weapon with give you free Magic Sight without eating a mushroom. Very handy indeed. After acquiring this you’ll use it for all your late-game endeavors.
III. 1. i. e. Magic Sword Damage: 5, Slots: 4
A direct upgrade of the Ceremonial Bronze Warblade. This weapon is temporarily imbued with power that makes it glow and able to permanently kill the Vine Clusters. The Magic Sword stays charged with power for about five minutes while equipped, but keeping the sword inside your inventory prevents the charge from draining.
A fun item to have but--assuming you have acquired it on your own--its boon can easily be considered a form of “Winning More.” In other words, by the time you get the Magic Sword you are already winning, so its benefits are somewhat mitigated by that fact. It does open a few interesting gameplay possibilities though: exploration is far easier with this weapon equipped.
III. Stuff, continued (non-weapon items)
III. 1. ii. Mushrooms
III. 1. ii. a. Blue Mushroom with Darker Blue Stripes (a.k.a. Poison Shrooms) Slots: 1 Danger! Do not eat. These are poisonous and can kill you if your health is low enough. Make sure you keep these separate from your other Shrooms so you don’t accidently nom on it in a panic in the dark. And yes, you will still want to keep these, because you can use them later.
III. 1. ii. b. Pure Blue Mushroom with Light Spots (a.k.a. Magic Shrooms) Slots: 1 The Magic Sight mushrooms. These give you Magic Sight that reveals most of the secrets in the game. The Magic Sight does NOT protect you from the Darkness though, so do remember that.
III. 1. ii. c. Blue Mushroom with Light Spots and Light Green Tint (a.k.a. Health Shrooms) Slots: 1 The health kits of the game! They restore your health and one is usually enough to do the trick. It took me the longest time to tell these apart from the Magic Shrooms. Examining the Mushrooms under bright light is really the only way to see the differences. Please examine the picture below to familiarize yourself with these.
Notice the colloration, not the shape.
III. 1. iii. Keys
III. 1. iii. a. Spider Key Slots: 1 “A circular jade plate. An image of a spider is carved on the front. The back side has a complicated-looking mechanism sticking out of it.” Located on Floor 2. Opens the Spider Door on Floor 2 that gives you many, many mushrooms. These will get you through the early to mid-game.
III. 1. iii. b. Fire Key Slots: 1 “A circular ruby plate. A golden flame is emblazoned on the front. The back side has a complicated-looking mechanism sticking out of it.” Located on Floor 3. Opens the Flame Door on Floor 1 and gives you the Pickaxe.
III. 1. iii. c. Pendant Key Slots: 1 “Another key. There’s an image carved on it… looks like three keys handing from a pendant.” Hidden rather well on Floor 4, this key opens the final “not-final” door, the Cat Door, that gets you the Sun Key.
III. 1. iii. d. Sun Key Slots: 1 “A key plate, made of obsidian. There’s a sun emblem embedded on the front, made of what appears to be a blue crystal. This must open the main gate! Time to leave this awful place…” This Key finally lets you escape the Tomb by opening the bronze gate back at the beginning on Floor 1.
III. 1. iii. e. Eye Key Slots: 1 “Another key plate. This one’s made of emerald and obsidian, with a polished sphere of glass set in the center.” This is the most sinisterly hidden key. It’s somewhere on Floor 3. It gets you the Magic Sword once you solve a small puzzle behind the Eye Door.
III. 1. iv. Lights
III. 1. iv. a. Flashlight Slots: 4 “My flashlight. Good thing I had it on me when I fell…”
One of two items you start this game with (the other being the Battery inside the Flashlight). This is your best defense against the Darkness but a preciously limited source of protection. Its Light will begin to flicker once the Battery drops below half power. The usage of the Flashlight is mentioned in Mechanics and within Best Practices. Short version: use it as little as you possibly can to make it last longer.
III. 1. iv. b. Lighter Slots: 1 “A disposable lighter. Gotta make it last…”
A lucky find inside the Tomb on Floor 2. This was left behind by previous explorers and it lets you light the Sconces that line the many walls of the Tomb. These Sconces provide a permanent (though fixed) Light source and are very important to your survival. This item can also be used as a last resort Light source if your Flashlight goes out, but using the Lighter as a Light source itself should definitely be avoided.
III. 1. v. Other
III. 1. v. a. Rock Damage: 1 (if thrown), Slots: 1 “A fist-sized rock. Small, but heavy.”
Very useful for four main purposes. First, you can throw rocks to activate Buttons from afar which frequently prevents you from falling through their trap Pits. Second, they can be dropped onto weak floor tiles to break them to make the Pit clearly visible and help you navigate. Thirdly, you can throw these Rocks to do one Damage to enemies from afar. The fourth use I will leave undescribed for now.
III. 1. v. b. Explorer Notes Slots: 1 “A crumbling piece of paper. I can still make out the writing.”
There are six Explorer Notes that I know of (including the two duplicate Mushroom Notes). These items serve only two purposes. First, to give some backstory about the explorers who have come before you, and second is something else. An additional alternative use of these Notes is if you are playing the game without the Map turned on, you can re-position these Explorer Notes at strategic locations in the Tomb to help you navigate.
III. 1. v. c. Battery Slots: 1 “A double A battery. Still got some juice left…”
There’s only two in the game: the one you start with and the one you find on Floor 3. Make sure you don’t lose, misplace, drop, or throw this item. It is as vital to your survival as blood is to your body’s continued living.
III. 1. v. d. Broken Flashlight Slots: 4 “Looks like the bulb’s broken. Maybe the batteries are still good...”
Found on Floor 3, this item is a huge boon for all your Flashlight endeavors. It contains the only other Battery in the game, and that Battery is usually about halfway charged. The Broken Flashlight by itself is the only item in the game that is totally “useless,” but there is one other thing you can do with this item.
III. Stuff, continued (entities)
III. 2. Entities
III. 2. i. Enemies
The stats listed for the enemies here are based on in-game data. “Health” is counted by the number of hits it takes to kill the enemy with the Sharped Stick. “Hits” is the number of times this enemies has to hit you to kill you.
III. 2. i. a. Normal Rats Health: 2, Hits: ∞
These enemies cannot actually kill you. I have sat and let one wail on me for over 30 hits and I never died. They generally won’t try to attack you unless you are right next to them. They are more of an annoyance that anything else. They walk very quietly, but make a loud squeak when attacking or when getting hit.
However! They do have one other far more sinister ability that is not linked to the ability of the Rat itself: upon releasing the Darkness, it will resurrect any dead Rat you get near and its corpse will become a Dark Rat and start attacking you. Keep this in mind.
III. 2. i. b. Dark Rats Health: 3, Hits: 4
These Dark Rats are evil versions of the normal Rats. They have more Health and deal real Damage. Their eyes glow green in the dark, so they can always be identified regardless of the Light levels. They also walk very quietly, but make a loud squeak when attacking or when getting hit.
They have very acute hunting skills, and I believe they can track you from at least halfway across the Floor (especially in New Game+). A few times I have re-entered a room I had been before, only to find a new Dark Rat had been traveling toward me and was now in that room I had previously cleared. Furthermore, I have seen Dark Rats “lie down” on the ground in a behavior I think is to masquerade as a corpse. However, I have never seen them lying down for any period of time long enough to be a threat of a surprise attack.
III. 2. i. c. Vine Cluster Health: 4, Hits: 4
Described as a “monstrosity of vines,” this strange, animated plant won’t stay dead after you have killed it. Instead it will become dormant for about six seconds or so. When it hits you it does give you Magic Sight, which is a small benefit to taking damage from these things. They move with a distinct rustling sound, and they make a sort of slurping sound when attacking or getting hit. They make a different squishy sound while dormant.
The good news is that Vine Clusters will only become active if you are nearby, within five spaces or so. If you run away from them they will not hunt you across the Floor as Dark Rats will. Also, standing on top of the Vine Cluster will keep it down.
III. 2. i. d. Vein Cluster Health: 5, Hits: 2
A cleaver play on words. Instead of being an animated plant, this enemy is an animated collection of red, fleshy veins. It is only encountered on Floor 5 and it behaves the same as a Vine Cluster, but this one is far more dangerous. It can kill you faster than anything else in the game (besides the instant deaths). Be careful with this enemy, as it will be attacking you while you are trying to do other important things.
III. 2. i. e. The Darkness Health: Non-applicable, Hits: Non-applicable
The ultimate big bad in this game. It can be encountered as early as Floor 3 and can only appear on Floors 3, 4, and 5, unless you release the Darkness, at which point it can appear on every Floor of the Tomb.
This enemy does not do damage directly. Instead it will appear if you are in darkness and will eventually consume you if you stay in darkness, resulting in an instant game over. The exact mechanics is that the Darkness will appear as a green-shadowy demon thing always in front of you (unless you are facing a wall, at which point you will not see the Darkness until it is right on top of you). It will appear six times before killing you, each time getting closer and closer until the seventh time when it appears on top of you and kills you within a second. The time between each appearance is short, and seems to be consistent regardless of which Floor you are on.
III. 2. ii. Neutrals
III. 2. ii. a. Wall Eyes The first of the two things you will encounter that does not want to kill you. These appear as red flesh inside the walls and their eye will open when you look at it, and they will emit a small amount of red light when open. You can “kill” these Wall Eyes with any weapon by attacking them, though this is not recommended. Watchers will “heal” the Wall Eyes when passing by them.
If you are staring directly at a Wall Eye and it is open, from any distance, The Darkness cannot consume you. I have tested this multiple times and at distances in which I can’t even see the Wall Eye anymore because it was beyond the render distance. Keep that in mind as they can keep you safe while you fumble around in your inventory. Lastly, upon killing the Heart, all the Wall Eyes will die and close permanently.
III. 2. ii. b. Watchers Ghosts that watch the Tomb. These appear as hooded figures who are the ghosts from an ancient civilization. They will float around and light Sconces, but that’s about it. The only time they are overly helpful is on Floor 2 before you have found the Lighter. They don’t interact with the player in anyway besides giving you overly dramatic side glances. They neither interact with any monsters in the Tomb and neither do the monsters interact with the Watchers. Lastly, being ghosts, the Watchers are able to float over Pits and through some walls. They can also heal damaged Wall Eyes.
IV. Walkthrough (Heavy Spoilers)
IV. 0. Heavy Spoiler Warning
Everything beyond this point is irrefutably spoilers. While the sections above were descriptive while still leaving key things either vague or unmentioned, the below will delve into extra details about everything else in the game up to and including the endings. Read on only if you want all the puzzles and secrets spoiled.
IV. 1. Floor 1
List of stuff found in the normal hallways of Floor 1, not in specific rooms. • Normal Rats x5 • Stick x1 • Rocks x4 • Poison Shroom x1 • Magic Shroom x2 • Health Shroom x2
Floor 1 is almost like a “second Tutorial.” (You did play the Tutorial for I Can’t Escape: Darkness, right? It answers a lot of questions and you might not need this guide if you have played it.) Very little that can hurt you, plus there are a few good items to get you going. There is plenty of Sunlight flittering down into this Floor, so keep your Flashlight off at all times! You need to conserve that power.
IV. 1. i. Floor 1 Dead Explorer • Bottle x1 • Explorer Note x1 • Dark Rat x1 This dead explorer is discovered behind two hidden Doors. The starting room has a Button that opens the first, and through it is a new section of Floor 1 with an easy Button puzzle to open the second hidden Door. Within you will find the two items. The Dark Rat itslef does not spawn until after you have entered the hidden room. It will appear behind you and start attacking as soon as it can.
IV. 1. ii. Fireball Door • Pickaxe x1, a Required Item for Escape™ • Explorer Note x1 This door requires the Fire Key you find on Floor 3. This leads to the final dead explorer room, along with the two items. There is also a breakable wall. Behind that breakable wall is the first story crypt with a wall carving that gives some of the backstory and lore.
IV. 1. iii. Shadow Hallways Within Floor 1 are always one to three Shadow Hallways that look like a wall of inky water is blocking the way into them. Entering them seems to have no adverse effect and in fact can teleport you to different spots on Floor 1. These are discussed more in section VIII. Lingering Unknowns.
IV. 1. iv. Locked Teleportation Ring On Floor 1 there is always one small specific area. It is a hallway that ends with a Skull Door, a lit Sconce, and a dead Rat. This configuration never changes because it is a specific location: the Floor 1 teleportation ring. You will not be able to use the teleportation network for fast travel until later though.
IV. Walkthrough, continued (Floor 2)
IV. 2. Floor 2
List of stuff found in the normal hallways of Floor 2, not in specific rooms. • Normal Rats x3 • Dark Rats x4 • Rocks x2 • Magic Shroom x1 • Poison Shroom x1 • Health Shroom x1
Floor 2 is one of the two major “gearing Floors.” The Lighter you aquire you will be using all game, and this Floor has the highest count of Mushrooms on it.
IV. 2. i. Floor 2 Dead Explorer • Lighter x1 • Explorer Note x1 • Spider Key x1 • Magic Shroom x1 • Poison Shroom x1
The second dead explorer you encounter is in his own little room that requires nothing special to find. It is behind no Doors, but it isn’t marked in any way either. During your exploration of Floor 2 you will eventually stumble upon this room and find the useful items within.
IV. 2. ii. Twin Crypt This crypt is behind a Skull Door that opens automatically upon approaching it. Within are two sarcophaguses, two Wall Eyes, a Sconce, and sometimes a Button. Usually touching the sarcophagus on the left will awaken a Watcher who will start to roam Floor 2.
Now, I highly recommend staying out of this room for two reasons: firstly, the Watcher will eventually show up regardless if you do or do not awaken it, and secondly, there is a 1 in 3 chance you will get locked inside the crypt with your only exit being to fall into Floor 3, and falling down a Floor is always a bad idea.
From my experience, there are three scenarios this twin crypt follows: 1) There is no Button inside and the Door stays open when you enter. 2) There is a Button inside, the Door closes upon entering, and pressing the Button opens up a trap Pit beneath and opens the Door behind. 3) There is a Button inside, the Door closes upon entering, and pressing the Button only opens the trap Pit beneath.
Needless to say, a 33% change of failure is too high for me when I’m playing with no Saves. Worse still, if you DO see a Button inside the twin crypt, the true change of failure is 50%! I highly recommend NOT entering if you see a Button inside. The Watcher shows up eventually anyways and there is nothing else useful inside this room, so the costs far outweigh the rewards. Lastly as a small note, if you kill both Wall Eyes inside the twin crypt the Sconce in that room goes out and can’t be relit.
IV. 2. iii. Mushroom Converter • Mushroom Note x1
This is the single most useful feature of the Tomb you can use. This Converter looks like a skull with open eye sockets and an open mouth. The Mushroom Note you find inside the mouth simply says, “Mushrooms in, mushrooms out.” This however is a vast simplification of what this Converter really can do. In essence, this is your crafting station inside the game.
As indicated by the note, two Mushrooms placed inside the eye sockets will be converted into single different Mushroom that appears inside the open mouth. This is where Poison Shrooms can be made useful, as two Poison Shrooms can be converted randomly into either one Health Shroom or one Magic Shroom. You can also converter two Health Shrooms or two Magic Shrooms into one other Shroom, but this is not recommended. Your chances of getting a Poison Shroom seem to go up the more times to reload the game trying to get the other type of Shroom.
But that’s not all! There are five more recipes that work in the Mushroom Converter! You can turn two Rocks into one Poison Shroom (bizarrely enough)! You can turn two Notes into a random Shroom! You can even replenish your Light sources at this Converter! It’s true!
The Sharpened Stick plus the Lighter gives you more lighter fluid. It seems to refill about 50% of the Lighter. Moreover, both the Broken Flashlight and the Broken Bottle can be combined with a Battery to recharge the Battery! Again, this seems to be about a 50% charge, but that’s still huge. This is essentially like getting two Lighters and an extra fully charged Battery in one gameplay session! Highly, highly useful. Do not miss taking advantage of these recipes.
IV. 2. iv. Chasm Room The Chasm Room, a.k.a. the teleportation hub, is a late game fast travel system. The advantages of this should be obviously apparent; however, the teleportation rings can only be used while you have Magic Sight, which makes the teleportation rings an inherently limited resource tied to the Magic Shrooms directly. (Note: if you are lucky with your Floor 2 layout, you will be able to get unlimited teleports OUT of the Chasm Room once you possess the Warblade.)
Teleportation works as follows. After completing the Living Maze puzzle you will be able to return to Floor 2 and the Buttons across the chasm will begin to work. There are three magic bridges across the chasm, two leading to Buttons and one leading to a teleportation ring.
The Button on the OPPOSITE side of the chasm as the teleportation ring is A Button. When only this on is pressed, the teleportation hub will send you to Floor 1.
The Button on the SAME side of the chasm as the teleportation ring is B Button. When only this one is pressed, the teleportation hub will send you to Floor 3.
When both A and B Buttons are pressed, the teleportation hub will send you to Floor 4. The teleportation rings on other Floors will always take you to the teleportation hub inside this Chasm Room, regards as to which Floor the hub is currently set to.
IV. 2. v. Spider Door • Vine Cluster x1 • Poison Shroom x4 • Magic Shroom x4 • Health Shroom x4
This door is opened by the Spider Key you acquire on the same Floor. Within is a cavern known as the Mushroom Grove that is not directly part of the Tomb as its walls are rough rock covered in vines and not stone bricks. There is a small amount of light inside this cavern from a few glowing crystals in the ceiling.
This is a great location to stock up on Mushrooms, though you need to constantly be avoiding the Vine Cluster that resides within, otherwise you might lose more health than you gain in Health Shrooms. However, if you are min-maxing and playing very skillfully, it is entirely possible to totally ignore this room and not even worry about these extra Mushrooms. On a few of my playthroughs I have done just that and been fine. As a final note about this room, the Vine Cluster within will not leave the cavern and other Vine Clusters will not enter.
IV. 2. vi. Hidden Crypt • Dark Rat x1
The Floor 2 hidden crypt is behind a hidden Button. You must have Magic Sight activated to be able to push the hidden Button (unless you have the Warblade, in which case striking the hidden Button will activated it regardless of Magic Sight).
Upon hitting the hidden Button, a hidden Door will open that leads to the second story crypt with a wall carving. There is nothing else of note inside this hidden crypt.
Now, this hidden Button tends to be near the Mushroom Converter, conveniently enough. Usually not super close, generally 10-20 steps away. But I do believe this was on purpose to help the player find the hidden Button.
IV. 2. vii. Secret Monster Closet • Vine Cluster x1
“Monster closet” is a video game term to identify small sections of the map that contain monsters/enemies that are sealed off until some trigger opens the “closet.” Near the Floor 2/3 stairs is a hidden Door that only opens upon returning to Floor 2 from Floor 3. Upon this return, the hidden Door opens and releases a new Vine Cluster onto the Floor that you will need to deal with from then on. Keep that in mind as you are exploring.
IV. Walkthrough, continued (Floor 3+4)
IV. 3. Floor 3
List of stuff found in the normal hallways of Floor 3, not in specific rooms. • Vine Cluster x1 • Rock x3 • Magic Shroom x1
This is the first floor that locks you in, and it is also the first Floor in which you can encounter the Darkness. If you enter this Floor unprepared (read: without the Lighter and/or already low on Flashlight power) you will likely die on this Floor. The Door back unlocks after solving the Living Maze.
IV. 3. i. Sconce Hallway In Floor 3 is a section of hallway with about six Sconces that all light up after pressing either Button at either end of the Sconces. I don’t believe this feature serves any purpose besides just being cool.
IV. 3. ii. The Living Maze Another very important location in the game. You must solve the Living Maze if you wish to escape because the Door back to Floor 2 only opens after the Living Maze has been solved. Be aware upon entering, the Living Maze can and will crush you flat. Also, do note that there is a constant glow within the Living Maze, so the Darkness will never attack you within.
The Living Maze is comprised of many blocks that move around in a sequential pattern. The patter is no too difficult to understand and in fact the blocks that are about to move flash to indicate their impending threat to your life. The way they move is every other block will slide inward on the hallway currently created by the blocks. The other blocks around you will then shift around twice more before a new hallway perpendicular to the old hallway appears. The blocks continue shifting around making horizontal then vertical hallways until you have escaped the Living Maze. It is very easy to get turned around while avoiding the Maze’s movement, so checking your Map quickly can help keep you oriented. Sticking to the edges of the Maze is the easiest way to find the exit. And do note, any items dropped inside the Maze will be crushed and destroyed by the moving blocks.
This is also the location of the ever elusive Eye Key. I won’t tell you the exact details here. Read the section “IV. 6. Exact Walkthrough” below if you want the final spoiler. Upon solving the Living Maze you will be rewarded with the dead explorer room and a Button that opens a hidden Door back to the rest of Floor 3.
IV. 3. iii. Floor 3 Dead Explorer • Broken Flashlight x1 • Battery x1 (inside the Broken Flashlight) • Explorer Note x1 • Fire Key x1, a Required Item for Escape™
After solving the Living Maze you will find the penultimate dead explorer room. This room is almost always in total darkness.
IV. 3. iv. Hidden Crypt Behind the breakable wall on Floor 3 you will discover another hidden crypt that is the third story crypt with another wall carving and backstory. There is nothing else within this room.
IV. 3. v. Hidden Teleportation Ring There is a hidden door that you can’t open somewhere on Floor 3. It leads to a teleportation ring that can only be opened from the other side once you have teleported TO Floor 3 for the first time.
IV. 4. Floor 4
List of stuff found in the normal hallways of Floor 4, not in specific rooms. • Rock x3 • Vine Cluster x1
The rest of this Floor is rather straight forward and in many ways this is your final “gear up” area before moving into the final stage of the game. Your last weapon is found here, along with two new stockpiles of Mushrooms.
IV. 4. i Second Mushroom Converter • Mushroom Note x1
This Floor even comes with a second Mushroom Converter. It works the exact same as the Mushroom Converter on Floor 2. Useful for the Broken Flashlight you got on the last level or for the last of your Rocks. Don’t forget you can get free Magic Sight by striking the Converter with the Warblade.
IV. 4. ii. The Main Crypt • Rot Rat x1 • Vine Cluster x1 • Ceremonial Bronze Warblade x1
This main crypt has ten sarcophaguses within and a Wall Eye on every wall (assuming those walls are not Sconces or hallways or Doors). The abundance of Wall Eyes in this room makes it one of the safest rooms on this Floor.
To access the Ceremonial Bronze Warblade and claim your rightful weapon, you must first light all five Sconces, then press the hidden Button that you can only see with Magic Sight. This will open three of the Skull Doors. Behind one is a Dark Rat, behind another is a Vine Cluster, and behind the last is the Ceremonial Bronze Warblade.
The fourth Skull Door that can open in this room is the teleportation ring for this Floor. The other four Skull Doors are purely decorative.
IV. 4. iii. Stunted Tree • Magic Shrooms x3
This small room has a small tree growing inside along with a few more of the glowing crystals in the ceiling. This room too is quite safe and has a few of the Magic Shrooms for you if you’re running low.
IV. 4. iv. Hidden Great Tree • Vine Cluster x1 • Health Shrooms x2 • Magic Shrooms x2 • Poison Shrooms x1 • Pendant Key x1, a Required Item for Escape™
Behind the breakable wall on Floor 4 you will find an extensive cave system that leads to two places: a dead end and the hidden great tree. This room again has glowing crystals, but uniquely these crystals are in the wall, not the ceiling. To that end you can interact with the crystals by mining them, but mining them will merely break them, so this is not a recommended course of action.
There are more Mushrooms to stock up on, and, most importantly, the Pendant Key is hidden within the great tree itself. It is vitally important that you collect this Key before progressing to Floor 5.
IV. 4. v. Four Skull Room This room is locked away behind another hidden Door activated by another hidden Button. This hidden Button also tends to be within a short distance of the Mushroom Converter on this Floor; so again, I do believe that is always on purpose.
Beyond the hidden Door you will find a square room with a Wall Eye on each wall, hidden blue markings of skulls and bone hands pointing, and what looks like a teleportation ring on the floor but it is not a teleportation ring. This is probably the most difficult puzzle in the game, but also the most amusing. If you need a hint I would suggest examining each wall in turn and comparing what is similar about the walls and what is different about them. I would also like to note that you must solve this puzzle before killing the Heart.
The answer: Look at each wall until each Wall Eye opens up, and then spin clockwise in the direction the hands are pointing. The hidden Door will open after that.
Solving this puzzles gives you access to the fourth hidden story crypt with another wall carving.
IV. 4. vi. Hidden Monster Closet • Vine Cluster x1
One of the hidden Doors on this Floor near the 3/4 stairs in actually a trap. It leads to a 1x1 room with a Vine Cluster inside. I haven’t found a purpose for this room, so I assume it is merely to throw people off who are looking for secret rooms.
IV. Walkthrough, continued (Floor 5 + step-by-step)
IV. 5. Floor 5
List of stuff found in the normal hallways of Floor 5, not in specific rooms. • Rocks (either none, one, or two)
The final Floor! Do note, just because you can have the final showdown on this Floor at any time, you will not be able to escape without having acquired the string of Required Items for Escape™. This Floor is all blood hallways and this Floor also locks you in upon entry. Make sure you’re ready!
IV. 5. i. Doom Crypt Behind the breakable wall on Floor 5 is a crypt with four sarcophaguses and a Skull Door. This room is the location to unlock the “Traitor!” Achievement.
IV. 5. ii. The Heart • Vein Cluster x1
The final showdown! This is where the different endings branch off, and in a normal game only one ending can be reached. The other two endings are only possible in New Game+. What to do should be pretty straight forward, but as you go about your task be very aware of the Vein Cluster within this room. It behaves the same as any other Vine Cluster, but it is twice as deadly and will quickly put an end to you. Several times I have gotten all the way to the Heart just to be struck down by the Vein Cluster by a clumsy mistake.
IV. 5. iii. Cat Door • Sun Key x1, a Required Item for Escape™
Accessing this Door requires the Pendant Key which you should have with you by now. Inside is a final crypt and the final Key, the Sun Key. Get it and go!
IV. 5. iv. Eye Door This is the final puzzle, the culmination of all that has come before, the point at which all lines converge between gameplay and story. If you have the Eye Key, you will be able to enter and behold a very interesting sight indeed. I shan’t go into detail, as I think this is best to experience firsthand. It is largely straightforward, just a small puzzle, and then you have the final reward of the Magic Sword. The only thing I will say is to make sure you bring a Magic Shroom with you.
IV. 6. Step-by-Step Walkthrough
This section of the guide is a step-by-step walkthrough for beating I Can’t Escape: Darkness. Assuming you don’t get killed by any enemies, crushed by walls, fall into Pits, or get consumed by the Darkness, you will be able to beat the game and get the first ending just fine by following these streamlined steps.
First room, pick up the Stick and both Rocks, then hit the Button to open the hidden Door.
Explore the new section behind the hidden Door in order to find the Button puzzle to the dead explorer and collect the Bottle. Keep the Stick and the Explorer Note.
Keep exploring this section to find all its goodies and to find another Button to hit, usually with a Rock.
Go back to the first room and the second hidden Door should be open. Go in and locate the Fire Door and collect and goodies in this section.
Return to the first room and explore the rest of Floor 1. Keep your Flashlight off whenever you can; there is no Darkness on this Floor. Proceed down the 1/2 Stairs when finished.
Explore Floor 2 until finding the Lighter and the Mushroom Converter.
Optional: Use the Spider Key now to collect more Mushrooms, or, set the Spider Key aside somewhere convenient for later when you return with the Fire Key.
Use the Converter to change the Explorer Note and the Mushroom Note. Also convert the Stick into more Lighter fluid.
Finish exploring Floor 2 to get all its goodies. Keep your Flashlight off whenever you can; there is no Darkness on this Floor. Store extra Mushrooms or Rocks near the Mushroom Converter for use later.
Proceed to Floor 3. Remember the Darkness is here.
Explore until you find the Living Maze. Enter it as soon as possible. Stick to the edges to find the exit easier.
BIGGEST SPOILER! EYE KEY LOCATION! Explore the Living Maze until you find the small holes in the blocks. One of those holes has the Eye Key inside. The wrong holes will bite you, but they cannot kill you and do not do permanent damage, so don’t worry about that.
In the other half of Floor 3 you have now accessed by solving the Living Maze, locate the dead explorer that has the Broken Flashlight and the Fire Key. Take both.
A Button will connect this half of Floor 3 with the other half. Return to Floor 2.
Use the Mushroom Converter to combine the Broken Flashlight and a Battery to give the Battery 50% more charge.
Return to Floor 1 with the Fire Key.
Optional: Use the Spider Key now if you set it aside to collect more Mushrooms.
Use the Fire Key to acquire the Pickaxe. Keep the Bottle.
Return to Floor 2. Use the Bottle at the Mushroom Converter to charge up the other Battery.
Return to Floor 3. Locate the 3/4 Stairs and go down.
Interchangeable with 22. On Floor 4, locate the Main Crypt with ten sarcophaguses. Light the Sconces inside and use a Magic Shroom to see the Button. Defeat the enemies and claim the Warblade.
Interchangeable with 21. On Floor 4, locate the breakable wall and go inside. Find the Pendant Key within the great tree.
Proceed to Floor 5 once ready.
Locate the sphincter that leads to the Heart. Avoid the Vein Cluster. Kill the Heart.
Proceed through the Heart chamber into a newly opened path with more moving walls.
At the end you will find the Cat Door. Open it with the Pendant Key and claim the Sun Key.
Return to Floor 1. Be aware the Darkness is now on all Floors.
V. New Game+
New Game+ follows in the long tradition of replying the game also being a continuation of the game. There are a few differences to New Game+: no saves, no Maps, more enemies, less Sconces, and new endings. The items on the Floors are the same as far as I can tell (I think Floor 1 had one less Rock), but the enemy loadout is quite different. Consider this example: in the normal game, Floor 1 has five normal Rats and one Dark Rat. In New Game+, Floor 1 had three normal Rats and six Dark Rats.
I have also noticed starting the game with less Battery power and getting less fluid in the Lighter when first picking it up. I have not noticed the Darkness being more aggressive or any faster, but that might just be because there are less Sconces to use anyways. I believe the number of Wall Eyes is about the same though, so they are still useful. And! There are two Vein Clusters now! Do be aware of that and don’t die to them at the last moment like what happened to me once.
Also, there are two more endings in New Game+, one not new and one definitely new. They are both representing by their own Achievements and they are discussed in both the “VI. Achievements” section. Beyond that, there is nothing crazy different in New Game+.
VI. Achievement Guide
VI. 1. Plants! Easy. Get killed by one of those horrible Vine Clusters.
VI. 2. Rats! Easy. Stand around and get killed by a Dark Rat.
VI. 3. In the Dark Easy. Let the Darkness get you.
VI. 4. A Living Maze Easy. Just stand in the Living Maze and get crushed.
VI. 5. The Darkness’ Last Defense Pretty easy too, though specific. Get killed by the Vein Cluster on Floor 5 inside the Heart chamber.
VI. 6. The Walls Have Eyes Get the ending in which you are trapped in the Maze forever by touching the Heart as requested of you.
VI. 7. Leap of Death Easy. Jump into the chasm of darkness on Floor 2.
VI. 8. One Weakens Also pretty easy. Eat Poison Shrooms until you die. Or, my method, get hurt by something else and then finish yourself off with a Shroom.
VI. 9. Freedom! Kill the Heart and escape the Tomb in a normal game.
VI. 10. Traitor! After destroying the Heart, backtrack to the breakable wall on Floor 5. The Skull Door behind it will now open and you can cast yourself into the final Pit within to unlock this.
VI. 11. More Freedom Beat the game like in the “Freedom!” Achievement, but on New Game+.
VI. 12. Into the Light Do not kill the Heart! In New Game+, use the Warblade to force the second sphincter door open in the Heart chamber. Go through and collect the Sun Key, then leave the Tomb unhindered and guilt free.
VII. Lore (Extreme Spoilers)
This is all the lore from the game that I have correlated together into a more linear story. This might not be 100% accurate, but I quote as much as I can from the game directly to support my theories.
VII. 1. The Story Thousands of years ago, an ancient civilization read in the stars of the location to “the Source,” a magical wellspring of power. This civilization built a “vast temple to harness the Source,” and soon after they built a “great city” with “towers touch[ing] the heavens” around this temple. The civilization believed themselves to now be total masters of the Source, but they “did not sense the doom therein.”
An event recalled as “the Sundering” was a time when “the Darkness fell.” The Darkness destroyed their city, “the heavens blackened, and [their] dead rose against [them].” Upon retreating to the Source they tried to harness its power again to drive back the Darkness; however, their every attempt only strengthened the Darkness because “the power of the Source and Darkness are one and the same.” The Darkness almost overwhelmed them entirely, but the survivors of the ancient civilization “chanced one last desperate spell.”
The remaining survivors sacrificed themselves to create a living cage to contain the Darkness. For “thousands of years [they] watched, keeping the Darkness at bay.” Their once great city and the old Temple, now Tomb, were forgotten and crumbled over time.
Eventually, sometime in the recent past, a band of four explorers entered the Tomb and were completely unprepared for the terrors of the Darkness contained within. Each one perished in turn, but their expedition ended up leaving behind a few tools that eventually proved indispensable for a future explorer.
At this point you, the player (probably either an archeologist or explorer) arrive on the scene. You accidently break through crumbling section of the Tomb’s roof, and become trapped within. The Leader of the Watchers, now a ghost, contacts you through whispers and helps guide you through the Tomb. And thus the events of I Can’t Escape: Darkness unfold.
VII. 2. The Darkness Little seems to be known about the Darkness itself. The ancient civilization themselves didn’t know “the true portent of the heavens until much too late.” (The “portent of the heavens” being the location of the Source as “read in the stars.”) The Watcher Leader claims that “the power of the Source and the Darkness are one and the same,” which leads to some interesting possibilities.
The Darkness itself is characterized by its singular drive to “consume.” It hunts through darkness and shadow, appropriately enough, and stalks its victims until it is able to close in and finally consume them.
What happens after someone is consumed is never mentioned. I would say the best hint is in the Darkness’s ability to raise Rats from the dead a corpse Dark Rats. The Watcher Leader describes these beings as “mortal puppets [the Darkness] watches through.” Given this fact that is can resurrect Rats as “puppets” I would conjecture that the soul or life essence is what is consumed, and the body is left behind as an empty husk. As mentioned above, when the Darkness attacked the ancient civilization so long ago, their “dead rose against” them, so it is safe to assume that the Darkness was once able to resurrect Humans as well. Why we never see “Dark Humans” is either because of a lack of Humans that can be resurrected (the previous explorers were potentially all physically unfit for resurrection upon their deaths) or because the “living cage” that traps the Darkness also limits its power to resurrecting small things like Rats.
The exact nature of the Darkness seems to be as some sort of cosmic embodiment of darkness itself. Furthermore, it seems more like a force of nature, like a hurricane, than a proper thinking entity. The Darkness never interacts with you besides trying to consume you, it is entirely linear in its actions, and it doesn’t seem to care that it is trapped. Just like water in a barrel. If the water has a crack it can leak out from, it will do so, but if it has no crack for escape, the water will not try to make one.
It is heavily implied that the Darkness is slowing spreading through the Tomb, but I do not believe that this is by any desire to escape, but rather from the simple base desire to spread, just like water. The Darkness and the Source are the same thing, and the Source is locked away on Floor 5, which happens to be the most dangerous Floor. Almost every Wall Eye is dead on Floor 5, but these Wall Eyes had once been alive. Upon walking down to Floor 2, the Watcher Leader says, “The Darkness has not yet conquered this floor,” which implies it is spreading.
I would wager that when the living cage was first created, the entire Tomb was perfectly safe to walk through, but over the course of thousands of years, the Darkness has slowly seeped through metaphorical cracks in the cage and slowly spread upwards through the Tomb. If that trajectory continues, it seems entirely possible that the Darkness would eventually escape all on its own. This possibility would only reinforce the Watcher Leader’s underhanded dealings with you, and why he would want to force you to unwittingly join them in containing the Darkness: to become another life to strengthen the living cage.
VII. 3. The Source The Source is a power supply of some sort, either natural or supernatural or metaphysical. The exact nature of the Source is never told, however, the Source can be visited directly. At the very bottom on the Tomb is an altar which is described by the player as “an unnerving altar made from a roughly cut, stone slab, marred by a curious scorch mark… The air around it is icy cold and tastes of death…” Now, this definitely sounds a little more like a description of the Darkness, but, as the Watcher Leader also said: “the power of the Source and the Darkness are one and the same.” Furthermore, the wall carving on Floor 2 shows “two figures in an underground chamber tend[ing] to a dark hole cut in the stone.” So to see the Darkness is to see the Source, and vice versa.
The Source can be tapped into in some esoteric way, and the Source is what upgrades you Warblade to the Magic Sword. This would further reinforce the Warblade being some sort of ceremonial item and imply that totally natural means can be used to manipulate the Source. The Source my very well be less “supernatural” that it seems. But as the saying goes, any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.
VII. Lore, continued (Watchers + Tomb)
VII. 4. The Watchers The Watchers are the ghosts within the Tomb that help guide you through the Floors. The Leader talks to you directly, and his brothers wander the hallways tending to the Tomb. The Watchers are also the remnants of the ancient civilization that first tried to harness the Source by building the very Tomb you are exploring. I have always referred to these Watchers as “monks” for two reasons. Firstly, the Watcher Leader refers to the other Watchers as “my brothers.” I rather doubt that all these individuals are literally blood brothers. Secondly, these people were able to tap into magical forces and cast spells. With these two facts, they must be from some sort of esoteric order, such as monks or perhaps priests of one type or another.
They are the closest thing to allies you have in this game, but they are far from good. In the past they willingly and freely tapped into the power of the Source, and as described above, the Source gives off an icy and deathly vibe. Not something that most people would be too keen on using. But it seems that they had no problem with it, which leads me to believe they had quite a strong thirst for power. Furthermore, they willingly and deliberately lie to you and manipulate you simply to further their own goals. Yes, the goal of keeping the Darkness trapped is inherently a good goal because it keeps the world safe, but you cannot overlook the fact that they will suck you into the fabric of the living cage without your knowledge or consent.
More evidence to their ambiguous nature: the defenses they have constructed within the Tomb seem to be totally indifferent if they harm the Darkness or if they harm an innocent. Consider the Living Maze. It isn’t called the “Living Maze” for no reason: those blocks inside can move and even bite you. They must have some awareness of their surroundings; otherwise they would not know to start moving only after someone has entered their area. The Living Maze in no way tries to avoid killing you, and regardless if it itself cannot deviate from its set patterns, surely the Watchers themselves could direct the Living Maze to stop moving in a way that might kill you.
Lastly, the images and icons that adorn the Tomb (which was once a temple) are a few shades on the sinister side. The Sconces are all bronze snakes, and the many urns in the Tomb are all decorated with snakes as well. Their sarcophaguses are decorated with snakes. The stone pillars in the walls are all snake-like and topped with skulls. Many of the Doors are carved like skulls, the Mushroom Converter is a skull, and they use skull iconography in their writing. One Door is carved with more snakes and a spider web in the center, perhaps reflecting the mazelike structure of the Tomb. There is an undeniable theme of skulls and snakes, neither of which any mythology or spiritual practice has held as “good.” Especially snakes. Few things say “evil” like snakes do.
Just look at it: snakes everywhere.
VII. 5. The Tomb The Tomb you explore throughout the game was once part of a “great city,” as described by the Watcher Leader who communicates with you. It is the same Watcher Leader who describes this place as a Tomb.
As described above, many items and surfaces within the Tomb are decorated with either snake or skull iconography. The only other animal actually depicted is a cat, interestingly enough. It is depicted with three heads and what looks like rays of light coming from its heads. I highly suspect this is a deity of some sort, likely a deity associated with the sun because of the rays of light, and probably also a deity of protection because cats frequently symbolize protection. (Consider cats eating rats, the Egyptian goddess Bastet, or the Maneki Neko from Japan.) A god or mythological being with more than one head is usually depicted as exceptionally powerful or exceptionally wise. It is strange though that this multi-headed cat is only depicted once.
Another being depicted on the Fire Door is a “four-armed being wielding two curved blades and holding what appears to be a fireball.” The multiple arms holding weapons is a clear indicator of a war deity, and fire only strengthens that theme. It is entirely possible that the ancient civilization went about trying to harness the Source to further their war efforts to amass more land, wealth, and power: a possible detail that the Watcher Leader would undoubtedly, and conveniently, leave out of his story when talking to you.
Another small but interesting detail is the depiction of the Watchers on their sarcophaguses. They appear to be depicted with four arms: two outstretched to the sides, and two folded over the chest. If this is the case, it would highly suggest they wish to emulate their war deity.
Now, the location of this Tomb in the world is unclear. Given the vegetation and the architecture, Central America or South America would be good guesses. The fact it has been left largely untouched for thousands of years would support this too, given colonialism didn’t really get started until the 1500s, so that would be a nice time buffer to explain why few people would have been around to mess with the place.
Originally, this Tomb had been a glorious temple build to harness the Source, but what changed? Why is it now called a Tomb? It is because of the final sacrifice that wiped the ancient civilization off the face of the Earth. When the “living cage” was created and the ancient monks “sacrificed their lives” in “one last desperate spell,” all who were still living died and became something else. They became woven together with the old temple both physically and spiritually. Their souls became trapped inside the temple as the Watchers who tend to the place, while their bodies morphed into the living constructs throughout the Tomb: the Heart, the Wall Eyes, and the Living Maze. In the end the temple became a Tomb and all fell to silence as the proud monks were cursed to become eternal guards against the eternal Darkness.
VII. Lore, continued (allegiances)
VII. 6. Allegiances When I first played this game, I had assumed that everything within the Tomb was either a part of the Darkness or allied with the Darkness, the only exception being the Watchers themselves. Slowly, over the course of my playthroughs and note taking, I began to realize how wrong I was. Now, most of the ambiguity that arises is because of the 100% overlap between the Darkness and the Source. In many ways the Watchers both emulated and courted the exact thing that destroyed them.
The only truly neutral thing in the Tomb are the normal Rats. They are just Rats that happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A little like you, in fact.
The Dark Rats are also clearly an evil presence, given their rotting form and their high aggression.
The first assumption I had that was wrong however, was about the Wall Eyes. Consider their demonic appearance, the extreme unnaturalness of their existence. “Surely, these are evil,” I thought, and thusly I would stab them out every chance I got. It wasn’t until I realized the Watchers were healing them that I began to question my assumption. After more investigating and piecing together the Living Maze and the back story you’ve already read, I can definitely say that the Wall Eyes have nothing to do with the Darkness.
The Living Maze is the exact same scenario as the Wall Eyes. A thing that looked totally demonic and evil, but was in fact a part of the Watchers and their magic, and a part of the cage trying to keep back the Darkness. Also, as a side note, this is really the only clue you have to point to the location of the Eye Key.
The final piece to the puzzle that I don’t fully understand though, are those pesky Vine Clusters! Of course, the most annoying enemy in the game would also be the most annoying lore wise as well. The clues seem to point to the Vine Clusters being a minion to the Watchers, but there are a few clues that seem to suggest the opposite.
Watcher Alliance Clues:
When you take damage from the Vine Clusters, you gain the Magic Sight that is only associated with the Watchers.
On Floors 3 and 4, the Rats (both types) stop showing up. Instead, there are several Dark Rat corpses on those Floors, usually within close proximity to the Vine Clusters. The Dark Rats are known minions of the Darkness, so this seems to put the Vine Clusters in opposition to the Darkness.
Vine Clusters are used as traps within the Tomb, and all other traps were created by the Watchers to hold back the Darkness.
Vine Clusters are animated plants, and the other plants in the game seem to have an affinity for the Tomb in a positive light: such as the Pendant Key being hidden in a tree and the magic crystals helping a tree to grow. Furthermore, the Darkness’s minion affinity is zombies, not plants.
All other times you see entities with a “blood vein” design, they are part of the living cage, and therefore part of the Watchers.
Why and how would the Darkness take over part of the living cage to create the Vein Cluster on Floor 5? And if the Darkness controls the Vein Cluster, why doesn’t it just make it kill the Heart?
The Vein Cluster protects the Heart, which is the most important part of the Tomb to the Watchers. But… look at clue 5 below.
The Darkness Alliance Clues:
One Vine Cluster only appears on the Chasm Room’s bridge if you let the Darkness out.
In the game files, the Vine Clusters and Vein Clusters are referred to as “shells,” and that makes me think of zombies more than anything else: consume the soul and resurrect the body as an empty minion.
Vine Clusters and Vein Clusters try to kill you, even when you are following the instructions of the Watchers.
The Watcher Leader called the Vein Cluster on Floor 5 “the Darkness’ last defense.” (This could be part of the lie he is telling you, as the Leader does apologize for his deception, but I don’t understand why he would lie about that part.)
Building off of the above, the Vine Clusters and Vein Clusters are hostile toward you. Why would they attack you if they are part of the Watchers? Furthermore, why would the Vein Cluster ever attack you? If the Watcher Leader wants you to touch the Heart so you can strengthen the living cage, it would be incredibly counterproductive if you were killed instead by their own minion. However, referencing back to clue 7 above, if the Darkness controlled the Vein Cluster, it should not let it attack you so as you could access the Heart unhindered because you have a chance of killing the Heart and freeing the Darkness.
Basically, my theories fall apart upon examining the Vein Cluster. The Vine Clusters seem to point very clearly to a Watcher alliance, but what about the Vein Cluster? The motivations of the Vein Cluster seem contradictory no matter which way you slice it. I’m almost inclined to chalk this up as an oversight in development: a desire to have a more elite enemy at the end of the game, and the Heart chamber is the most logical location to put such an enemy, but given the things described above, it seems contradictory. If the Vein cluster only attacked you after you killed the Heart, I would know it belonged to the Watchers.
One other odd thing of note is the Magic Sword. The properties of the Magic Sword are unclear, especially the creation of the Magic Sword. Since the Darkness and the Source are the same thing, can my Magic Sword be “more Darkness” or “more Source?” If I knew what the Magic Sword was charged with, I might have another clue as to where the Vine Clusters come from due to the fact that the Magic Sword can kill them permanently. Am I “un-animating” them? It is an active “dispelling?” Or a more passive “cut off from their power source?” I just don’t know. At the end of the day, I can only hesitantly categorize the Vine/Vein Clusters as allies to the Watchers.
VII. Lore, continued (explorers)
VII. 7. The Previous Explorers Four explorers enter the Tomb: a drunk, a pragmatist, a coward, and an idealist. They all die.
The long story, as I’ve pieced together from the four notes, is as follows (with some elaboration). Malone is the drunk, Stevens is the pragmatist, Blake is the coward, and Howard is the idealist.
They become trapped in some manner similar to the way you become trapped. For the first day they are concerned with practical things: an exit, food, a safe place to sleep. But on the second day, something goes wrong. Something they can’t explain. Something that either they all saw, or only Malone, the drunk, and Howard, the idealist, saw. They see a Watcher. A ghost.
Regardless, the whole group is shaken. That night Malone, the drunk, hits the bottle hard that he had stashed away for the expedition. Perhaps they had planned to toast to their success, or perhaps had planned to use that spirit for their celebration upon completing their find. Either way, that morning, the rest of the explorers find a horrible thing: the body of Malone, the drunk, hung by a noose of his own fastening. There are now three.
The suicide shakes the group even worse. Malone, the drunk, handled seeing the ghostly Watcher by killing himself. Howard, the idealist, handles it by trying to follow and find out more. He wanders off at times over the next few days, insistent that something bigger is a foot in the Tomb. Something they must figure out. Stevens, the pragmatist, thinks Howard is losing it. Blake, the coward, remains silent and has nothing to contribute.
At some point the group discovers both the Spider Key and the Fire key. Howard, the idealist, listens to the Watcher Leader emphatically, and perhaps this is how the group found the two Keys. Stevens, the pragmatist, tries to get Blake, the coward, to leave Howard behind and simply try to dig their way out of the Tomb.
By this point Howard, the idealist, knows about the Darkness and the threat it possess. Since Stevens, the pragmatist, won’t listen to the tales about Darkness and danger, Howard comes to the conclusion that he must lock Stevens on Floor 1 where he will be safe from the Darkness. On day nine of being trapped in the Tomb, Howard uses the Fire Key to trap Stevens, the pragmatist, in a small room in an attempt to protect him. This backfires, as at some point Stevens is still torn limb from limb by something.
Now, with only Howard, the idealist, and Blake, the coward, left, they both try to descend down to the Heart as the Watcher Leader instructs them. Here they both come face to face with the Darkness in all its demonic horror. Blake breaks and runs, even though Howard tries to stop him and explain that Light will keep them safe. It is no use. Blake separates and makes it back up to Floor 2 with only the small flame of his Lighter keeping him safe. He stumbles through the dark hallways, Lighter fluid draining fast. But by good luck he has the Spider Key and enters the mushroom grove, seeking some safety. However, his unfortunate fate soon becomes sealed. By the tiny light of the flame, Blake cannot tell which Mushrooms are safe and which are poison. Hunger gnaws at Blake’s stomach, and finally he tests his luck on a Mushroom. And loses.
Meanwhile, Howard, the idealist, kept pushing forward with his Flashlight, trying to find a way out, believing blindly in the lies the Watcher Leader was telling him. By some accident, Howard discovers the truth of the Heart and the living cage before becoming trapped in it himself. He regrets hindering Blake’s escape, and thinks with some hope that maybe Blake found a way out now that he himself knows that the Watchers hold no chance for escape. Howard, now stuck on Floor 4 with a dying Flashlight, decides he must return to the higher Floors, and makes a break for the stairs. By the trusty light of his Flashlight he makes it to Floor 3 and even back to Floor 2. He thinks he can make it out. Maybe find Blake again. Maybe find Stevens again. Maybe use that Pickaxe like Stevens had been saying… maybe still escape. But he can’t. One wrong step and he breaks through a weak floor tile and falls back into Floor 3. And breaks his neck. Thus the four explorers who entered that forsaken Tomb are now entombed themselves.
The story is over, but their presence suggests a few things about the game world.
Your character is neither surprised to see other explores had come here before, nor saddened to learn of their fate. This leads me to assume two things.
First, the ruins of this Tomb and ruins of the surrounding city are known to more people than just you. Perhaps some aerial exploration or tour of the area happened to spot the location by chance. Or perhaps some old record was uncovered that detailed the location of these ruins. Either way, a group of people know about this location: either academics or some sort of “explorer’s guild.” Enough people where your character would know that other expeditions either have happened or could have happened. These explorers also must have set out on their expedition recently because the Flashlight they used is the exact same model as the one you possess.
Secondly, since your character is not upset at discovering the grisly fate of these explorers, I think it is safe to assume that you did not come to this Tomb looking for them. They were not missing colleagues or friends. In fact, your character probably had no idea he would find anyone here. This ties into the first point: that this is some new discovery that hasn’t been fully explored yet.
I shudder to think what will happen when the government eventually gets involved and discovers real magic and demons…
VIII. Lingering Unknowns
These items here are a record of the things I still don’t fully understand or still have questions about. When I started this guide and started my notes, I had dozens of questions, dozens of unknown, and dozens of mysteries to solve. Now, even with so much of the game explored and named and categorized, there are still these things that elude me.
VIII. 1. Vine/Vein Cluster Allegiances I have already gone into great detail of this question in section “VII. 6. Allegiances” because the information contained seemed to fit over there better. However, this is still a Lingering Unknown and I wanted to make sure it was clearly still on this list.
VIII. 2. Map Resets (a.k.a. Shifts) * All the below on this topic is from before Feb. 7, 2016. As of the major sound update 1.1.21, the sound heard before a map reset is much different. It is far more drawn out now and much more grindy and rattling. I interpret this as good evidence for the map resets being from small quakes in the Tomb, shaking the structure and leaving the player character unsure if his/her surroundings have changed. *
Every now and then, while either traveling through a Floor or standing still somewhere, there will be a “door gridding” sound like a Door or hidden Door is sliding open, and the Map of the Floor will erase, leaving you with only your current surroundings still filled in. For the longest time this was the most confusing thing about the whole game to me, but I did get conformation from Maletz himself that it is not a bug.
Since then, I have finally some to a solid hypothesis! As I was playing through the game another time for research and recounting the number of items I found in each Floor, I discovered on Floor 2 that my count of the number of Rocks was one less than before. I got a little annoyed with myself, thinking that I had accidently double counted one before or something.
Then it happened. The “door gridding” sound happened and the Map erased. I trekked through Floor 2 again, checking again if anything, anything at all, had changed. And I found it! I found a new Rock! A Rock that had not been present before the map reset, or “Shift.”
At this point I remembered! A number of playthroughs ago, I had seen the same thing! A new Rock appearing at a location where I knew no Rock had been before.
My current guess is that these Shifts are the Tomb’s structure literally shifting a little around you in an unstable way, like bricks settling and making the whole thing quiver just enough to loosen a stone from the ceiling that falls to the ground. This possibility is hinted at by examining rubble that says, “This place looks like it could cave in any minute...” This would be a nice feature too, as it is a way to give the player more resources, but in a nice random way that is over time.
I still need more examples to confirm this. However, there is one major logical problem with this guess: the sound heard during the Shift is the exact same sound as a Door opening. A different sound would be far more indicative of a different event. So, I’m not 100% sure. I just have a guess.
VIII. 3. Shadow Hallways On Floor 1 there are always 1 to 3 Shadow Hallways. These Shadow Hallways are easily distinguished, because they look like they have a wall of inky black water blocking their entrance. I have absolutely no idea what the purpose of these Shadow Hallways is supposed to be.
Upon entering a Shadow Hallway, it will either flip you around or teleport you to another Shadow Hallway on the Floor, and what a single Shadow Hallway does is always consistent. Now, originally, I had thought that Light of some sort might help, perhaps even a magic Light--like the Light from the Magic Sword--might get me through somehow. But it did not. Nothing was different upon wielding the Magic Sword inside these Shadow Hallways.
I have even tried a most extreme test: Magic Sword equipped at full glow, Flashlight on, Lighter held out and lit, and Magic Sight activated, but still nothing different happened. These Shadow Hallways seem impenetrable. But, if they are impenetrable, I can’t help but feel that they are incredibly arbitrary and don’t have any reason to exist. If they do nothing, why are they there? Nothing else in the game does nothing!
More information is needed.
VIII. 4. The Floor 1 Stair Pit What in the world is that, you ask? Only a really strange feature that keeps popping up through the Tomb’s semi-random Floor generation.
In a vast majority of my playthroughs, there has been a Pit very close to the Stairs on Floor 1 that lead down to Floor 2. And when I say very close, I mean like within five squares every time it shows up.
I know this one probably sounds ridiculous, but given the fact that I still don’t understand the Shadow Hallways on Floor 1 either, it is possible these are connected. Why would there so frequently be a section of Floor 1 that is completely impassible? Now, I have looked at the game files, so there isn’t any other item unfound or sprite that I didn’t recognize. There’s a good chance that this Floor 1 Stair Pit is indeed nothing, just a quirk in the generation process, but the fact it has shown up so many times just keeps making me wonder...
Look! It's this picture again! Now I can go over the other circles marked on it.
Purple Circles: Theses ones mark the three Shadow Hallways that were generated in this Tomb.
Orange Circle: This one marks the strange Floor 1 Stair Pit.
VIII. 5. What Killed Stevens? If you read the story I put together about the ill-fated explorers, you know that Stevens died on Floor 1 by means unknown. When you find him, his skeleton is torn apart: head and limbs all separate from the torso. What in the world did that? The Darkness is not on this Floor. Was it the Rats? Malone’s hung body is missing its feet, and your character wonders if something had nibbled on his corpse. But, if it was the Rats, why did they not also tear apart Blake’s corpse on Floor 2? Maybe because he ate that Poison Mushroom and his whole body was poisonous now? Entirely possible. (There are no Rats on Floor 3 to tear apart Howard’s body.)
The problem is that I just don’t know if Rats, even a group of Rats, would tear apart a corpse so much as to leave its limbs and head “strewn across the entire floor.” It might just have been Rats, but it also might have been something else.
Things like this, and the haunting footsteps that sometimes follow you, create a lingering fear in the back of my mind that something more is lurking within that Tomb. Considering that Lingering Unknowns 3, 4, and 5 all revolve around Floor 1, I worry that whatever it is might be on Floor 1. Something as-of-yet still unseen…
VIII. 6. Halloween Update Having played through the Halloween Update once, I didn’t really notice anything different at all besides the green Sconces and the orange Sunlight. I did stumble across a ton of Watchers flying up out of their sarcophaguses in the Main Crypt on Floor 4 that gave me a little jump, but that’s all I’ve seen, and, I honestly don’t want to play through the game again at this time to try to find the other cosmetic changes. If you find other things, let me know, and I’ll add them here.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Δ. I must say that I have surprised myself that I’ve played this game as much as I have, and replayed the game as much as I have. I usually don’t obsess over things like this anywhere near as much, but I think this was just the right mix of elements to set the whole things off: a short enough game, engaging enough puzzles, a neat environment and setting, and the fact that no dang guide existed! It was almost like a challenge I had to accept, I suppose.
Overall, I did enjoy this game. I would recommend it to people who like puzzles and exploration games. Maybe even to people who just like fantasy games in general. It is, however, lackluster in a few spots, primarily in the learning curve, I’d say.
In many ways I feel that reading the Mechanics section of the guide would greatly enhance anyone’s enjoyment of this game. Not because I wrote it or anything like that, but just because so many of the game’s rules are so opaque when you begin. To a certain degree I understand this--you want to focus on exploration and discovery--but I think it was not implemented as well as it could have been.
Given the fact that this game is also a little bit of a roguelike, it is imperative that players understand the game rules because they only have one shot before needing to replay the whole thing. Making progress and then being afraid to test how something works because you don’t want to die isn’t good gameplay. Making progress and then being afraid to try something because you understand the risks involved is good gameplay. A player must understand what is going on if you only give them one shot.
I didn’t really feel comfortable with the game until I turned on Saves because I was so constantly afraid of getting killed by something I didn’t understand. When I didn’t understand something, I felt powerless more so than curious. That is, until I turned on Saves. Then I could figure out what I was doing. If a player doesn’t understand something, they’ll usually just end up doing the same thing again and again and get more and more frustrated.
Consider Portal: that entire game is like 70% tutorial. Every level builds on the last, logically continuing without needing to explain things. Clues from the previous experiences clearly build upon future ones.
Δ. I mentioned earlier how knowing the Lore of the game is really the only clue as to the location of the Eye Key. You have to know and understand: the Watchers -> the living cage -> the Wall Eyes -> the Living Maze. You also have to realize that the Keys were all hidden, that the Spider Key and Fire Key had previously been found and that’s why they are lying out in the open, and you have to make a logic leap to extrapolate that the Pendant Key’s hiding spot might be similar to the Eye Key’s hiding spot. After all the above, the player might thing to check all the holes inside the Living Maze. And that is the final point of failure: the multiple holes that hurt you. Upon an earlier playthrough, I had in fact noticed one of the holes inside the Living Maze and had decided to examine it. It hurt me and I thought, “Oh! Living Maze! Got it! Totally dangerous in every way! Even these little holes will bite me!” I didn’t even think that another hole might do something different. It is illogical to think another hole that looks the same might do something different. To that end, I would say the Eye Key is the only thing unfair in the whole game. Maybe just having the holes look different might solve this.
Δ. I would say the only thing the game really needs is more clues and a bit more consistency. More clues that might help the player make good guess rather than just leaving them to guess blindly. Encouraging good guesses creates rewarding gameplay that leaves the player feeling good about themselves, like when I accidently solved the skull pointing puzzle on Floor 4. More consistency in everything else. The consistency was pretty good, but there are some things (like the Vine/Vein Cluster allegiances) that I have still not pinned down. In a puzzle game like this, 100% consistency is even more important than the clues themselves.
Δ. On another topic, there was one thing that I found odd with the “Into the Light” game ending. In a normal game you kill the Heart and everything ramps up: music, walls moving all over Floor 5, Wall Eyes all dead, your Flashlight dying, Rats resurrecting, the Sun darkening! It’s great! A really fun, stressful rush back to the exit. But… if you get the good ending, it feels incredibly anti-climactic. You walk past the Heart and you walk back upstairs. Nothing else happens. You just, walk upstairs.
Granted, after playing the game so many times “just walking upstairs” was nothing new for me. I had been backtracking and zig-zagging and crawling all over that Tomb for dozens of playthroughs. Simply walking back upstairs with the Sun Key was nothing new. It was nice to know I had gotten the good ending, but I simply knew it, I didn’t feel it. Not like I feel the game change when I kill the Heart. Perhaps even something simple like the Watchers lining up to watch you leave would have done it for me. I’m not sure. I just didn’t like how there was nothing new or different at all.
Semi-related, I can’t help but feel my character is a total fool upon completing the “Into the Light” ending. When you leave, you leave every single Door inside that Tomb completely wide open. From the entrance on Floor 1 all the way down to the Heart on Floor 5, it’s all a “straight shot” to it (or at least as straight a shot as you can get in a Tomb possessed by a primal, demonic force of darkness.) If I knew that the whole Tomb closed up behind me and locked up tight, that would have made me feel a lot more secure about the safety of the Heart I so painstakingly just avoided damaging.
Δ. To wrap it all up on a good note, I was highly impressed by the amount of backstory I was able to eke out of this game from the few Notes, the few bits of dialogue, and the construction of the Tomb itself. Perfect example: if you’ve read the four Explorer Notes, you know that there are only a few sentences in each one of those. But, those few sentences, the locations of the dead bodies, and the items each explorer died with all come together to paint a surprisingly vivid picture.
Finally, there is one sound design element in the game that I love more than any other. Every now and then in the Tomb, after walking along and then stopping to fumble in your Inventory or to check the Map, you might hear another set of footsteps for a split second after yours stop. That gave me goosebumps every single time.
These are all the cool people who helped!
For having the closest thing to a guide with their “A few tips” Discussion. Their tips were pretty much the only reason I got through the game in the first place and therefore directly responsible for this guide existing at all! (Pardinuz also submitted tip 7 to the list.) Gray Dragon also kindly allowed me you copy those tips directly into this guide.
The only person (besides Maletz) to have unlocked “More Freedom” and “Into the Light” when I started writing. They gave me some game play pointers before I had even started writing this guide.
Helped confirm a few things in game, and also discovered the Battery recipes. We also found the Magic Sword together.
Gave me the Lighter fluid recipe.
Told me about the Note recipe and we had some lovely conversation as fellow explorers.
Gave me the specific instructions for the “Into the Light” achievement so I didn’t have to keep wandering around the Tomb for an extra five hours. Also, mgantimail helped refine my knowledge of the teleportation rings.