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A carefully-worded set of hints and nudges, and a few outright spoilers, for the main plot and all endings.
Since Elsinore is very much a game about figuring out the twists and turns of the plot, I wanted to put together a walkthrough that gave away as little as possible for people who just need help over their current speedbump.
I wrote this initially during the beta, so I'm currently in the process of double-checking everything against the final release. Please feel free to message me concerning incorrect information or a point of difficulty for which you think I should add a hint.
If inanimate objects are named, you can click on them, and you should click on them all at least once.
Resist hitting the “Reset” button early on. Even if you know where things are heading, you might be surprised, and every unique ending can provide new information.
Go ahead and abuse the fast-forward. I know for me that hanging around waiting for things to happen led me to try other things in the meantime, and those experiments sometimes derailed each other. It’s okay to leave Ophelia standing around for days waiting for that right moment to try something.
On Sunday, if you don’t have other places to be, try to stay in the Great Hall. If you get caught in the conflict outside you’ll miss the actual ending for that timeline.
The “instant” text speed setting exists for a reason.
The central storyline, revolving around the “why” of the timeline resets, requires you to take actions over multiple timelines and reach multiple endings. Some of these are one-time-only events, or make permanent alterations to the timeline, so they’ll override other events and endings.
If you’re having difficulty with the main plotline, here are some extremely unspecific and low-spoiler hints:
Search the library.
Ask EVERYONE about the history of Elsinore, especially dead royalty and nobility.
Your brother will help you follow your mother.
Your father is too stubborn to be persuaded.
Are you sure you’ve asked EVERYONE?
You don’t need to stop the war, just delay it.
I’m still going to try to be vague, to keep some of the surprise, but there will definitely be spoilers below.
Your first task is to uncover the spy so you don’t die on Saturday. There are multiple ways to get there, but the key event is to be at the docks at 3 AM to watch the meetup. You’ll need to get the spy arrested at least once.
Lurk around the barracks after dark to figure out the gate guard’s secret so you can freely access the area outside the castle. You’ll want to take Quince up on ALL his offers. I’d also recommend letting the entire story play out at least once without interfering, following Hamlet, so Ophelia learns some important plot elements (that the player likely already knows). If you do either as Brit or Irma asks once, you’ll have permanent access to the Queen’s room.
At this point you need to gather information. Most of this is accomplished simply by asking everyone everything pertaining to your mother, Queen Astrid, and Simona. When you find a door you can’t enter, ask Laertes. Your father cannot be talked out of burning his papers, so you'll have to stop him by force. Tell Hamlet about the letters as early as you can on Thursday and be at the confrontation.
Another crucial piece of information will only appear if you navigate a timeline in which Hamlet dies before both the King and Queen. There are multiple ways to accomplish this, though the easiest is to convince Laertes to stay and then otherwise don’t interfere. You’ll know it’s the right ending because it finishes in the graveyard.
The final piece of the puzzle is to ask Othello about Simona, which gives you a clear goal: be in the inn on Sunday sans invasion. You don’t have to stop the war, only delay it. This can be accomplished by befriending Brit. You must solve both of her problems and then find her in the inn when she’s drinking and take her up on her offer. The first problem is fairly straightforward, since Horatio will give you a list of ingredients. The second is a problem created by the Queen, and she won't help you. Maybe you could toss a coin in the well and make a wish. In the next timeline, you’ll be able to delay the invasion.
Obtaining the book marks the end of the main mission. At this point, you have your choice of endings.
Endings - The Book of Fate
The book offers 11 possible endings. This includes the default ending, in which you shuffle off this mortal coil. The rest must be experienced at least once in order to be selectable in the book. Be aware that once you select an ending from the book, your save file will be erased and you’ll have to play the whole game through again to experience a different ending.
Fairly Blatant Hints
Sacrifice PERMANENCE for PASSION That barkeep is an interesting fellow.
Sacrifice PRESTIGE for FAMILY Can you convince your father and brother to leave Elsinore with you?
Sacrifice PREDICTABILITY for ADVENTURE The open sea calls to you.
Sacrifice INNOCENCE for POWER Maybe Simona had the right idea.
Sacrifice FAMILY for LEGACY Can you give Hamlet a second chance?
Sacrifice REALITY for JOY Tell the truth.
Sacrifice PEACE for SURVIVAL You can keep your enemy jailed if everyone survives.
Sacrifice EVERYONE for MYSELF Let them do as they please.
Sacrifice RESPONSIBILITY for INDULGANCE Guildenstern is dead!
Sacrifice INDEPENDENCE for PEACE Perhaps the prince can be persuaded into peace.
There will be spoilers here, but again, I’m going to try to minimize how much I spoil so you can enjoy the story yourself.
Several endings require ensuring that Claudius dies early in the timeline. There are multiple ways to make this happen, and most will work for any of the endings. If you’re having difficulty finding one, my personal favorite requires following the Innocence/Power plotline until you have an opportunity to check the vase in the King’s room. Give the resulting information to Gertrude at the start of a new timeline.
Sacrifice STRUGGLE for RELIEF The default ending. You die.
Sacrifice PERMANENCE for PASSION Follow “The Barkeep and Me” to its conclusion by saving and then romancing Othello. (If you’re having trouble with the saving part, the people you need to warn are the two named guardsmen.)
Sacrifice PRESTIGE for FAMILY Have Laertes stay and get Brit arrested. Have Quince perform a play based on the hearsay of Hamlet killing your father.
Sacrifice PREDICTABILITY for ADVENTURE Tell the King his plan will fail in order to persuade Claudius to send you on the ship with Hamlet. After the takeover, two men will start chatting: you must catch all three of their conversations. Then cooperate fully with the captain.
Sacrifice INNOCENCE for POWER By following Claudius, you can learn something he’s keeping from Gertrude. At the beginning of a new timeline, tell this to Gertrude. Follow Claudius and keep saying yes. (You may be required to delay the invasion, I haven’t checked if this works without delaying.)
Sacrifice FAMILY for LEGACY Ensure that Claudius dies. Get Brit arrested in the first two days. Meanwhile and afterwards, renew your relationship with Hamlet. Have at least one sensible character give Hamlet advice (Horatio, Brit, Polonius, NOT Rosencrantz or Guildenstern). Be in the Great Hall at the end of Sunday.
Sacrifice REALITY for JOY Convince your father and/or Claudius that you’ve lost your mind. (You’ll probably hit this one by accident, it’s not hard to do.)
Sacrifice PEACE for SURVIVAL This ending can only be found by arresting Fortinbras and then keeping everyone alive until the end of Sunday. Note that you can’t allow someone to die and then try to arrest him; either the arrest will fail or Bernardo will refuse to try. To preserve the outright spoiler, I’ve placed the full walkthrough in its own section.
Sacrifice EVERYONE for MYSELF This is the default ending if you wait in the Great Hall at the end of Sunday and everyone is either dead or refuses to surrender.
Sacrifice RESPONSIBILITY for INDULGANCE As early as possible, warn Guildenstern she’s going to die. Do everything she asks. Make sure to tell both Hamlet and Rosencrantz. Again, get on the ship with the three of them and cooperate with the pirates but keep an eye on Guildenstern. When you get back to Denmark, wait with them in the courtyard.
Sacrifice INDEPENDENCE for PEACE Ensure that Claudius dies. Get Brit arrested in the first two days. Don't romance Hamlet (or you'll go down the Family for Legacy ending path instead). Have at least one sensible character give Hamlet advice (Horatio, Brit, Polonius, NOT Rosencrantz or Guildenstern). Be in the Great Hall at the end of the day on Sunday.
Keeping Everyone Alive
No more vagueness here. If you're having trouble with PEACE for SURVIVAL, here's the full walkthrough for the most difficult ending.
First, you need to have gone through several other endings in order to obtain key hearsay:
Read the note on Polonius’ desk to find out about the missing lute.
Witness Hamlet kill your father by obtaining the key to the Queen’s chambers and hiding there before the play on Friday.
Befriend Lady Brit in order to locate Fortinbras (which you should have done already for the main plot).
Shatter Gertrude and romance Claudius (Innocence for Power route) so that you can check the vase in Claudius’ chambers and find the poison.
Then, on the morning of a new timeline, do the following: (technically you don’t have to do exactly this but if you’re reading this you probably want a step-by-step at this point)
When your father finds you on the landing, first warn him that Hamlet will kill him, and then tell him about the poison stash.
Go down the hall to Hamlet. Ask him about the missing lute.
Go downstairs to Bernardo in the Guard House. First warn him that Hamlet will kill your father, then tell him about Fortinbras’ hideout, then ask him about the lute.
Go to the docks. Tell Laertes that Lady Brit is upset.
Now you can hit fast forward. You’ll be interrupted several times by various announcements but as long as you wait inside Elsinore (NOT in the streets) you should be fine. The biggest risk is that sometimes the final conversation of the lute plot doesn’t happen, and Laertes kills Hamlet, in which case try waiting until after the Thursday morning court to tell Bernardo about the lute.
The Final Ending
You may have noticed that there are still some interesting hearsay options regarding Quince. There’s more to be done here, although be warned that there is a Point of No Return after which the other endings will no longer be selectable. You do not have to have unlocked all the Book of Fate endings.
The secret ending requires the completion of two tasks: convince the ghost to turn against Quince, and then convince Hamlet of the same. This will take two cycles, since you need to talk to the ghost after Hamlet does, but THEN catch Hamlet on Thursday after he meets Quince but before midnight and talk to him. Follow Hamlet’s plan. Enjoy.
You thought it was over, didn’t you?
When you next have control, wait for Quince to find you. (Since this is a one-time event I haven’t been able to check but for me this happened when I waited for Quince at his morning show at the street theater.) As the many bold text warnings suggest, once you start down this path, you’ll hit a point where you can no longer select the endings in the Book.
If you have trouble, try paying attention to who tries to stop or reveal you and who you can leave for later, and which groups tend to form at which stages. You’ll need to leave as many non-assailants as possible for the end. Generally the men will attack and the women will cower, but there are definite exceptions.