If you've played Melkhior's Mansion and haven't got a clue what's going on, then you've come to the right place. The game is based on an old ZX
Spectrum game called Atic Atac from way back in the 1980s. Games back then were hard, and didn't give much away. Melkhior's Mansion follows this
tradition, but the "figure it out yourself" style isn't for everyone, especially the modern gamer, and that's fair enough.
So what's going on? Well, it's based in an isometric mansion spread over 5 floors. You start the game at the main entrance on the ground
floor. Above you are the first floor and the attic, and below you are the basement and the caverns. The object of the game is to escape from
the mansion via the main entrance. More on that later.
You control one of 4 characters, each of them having a different task to complete. You can move your player using up, down, left and right, press
the fire button to shoot at enemies, and the pickup/drop button to, well, pickup and drop objects. Only objects on the floor can be picked up, ignore
stuff on tables, it's just for show. Controls can be redefined in the game settings screen and modern controllers should work too. Also, if you don't like the
isometric movement, then you can change the angle of movement to more straightforward directions by adjusting the "Control Rotation" setting. Try
it and see.
Default keyboard controls are:
- Cursor keys to move
- Z to fire
- X to pickup/drop, open chests and use map consoles
- Esc to pause the game and show in game options
You start the game with 3 lives. Energy will drain slowly over time, and drain faster if you get hit by enemies. Current energy level is indicated
by the large character graphic in the control panel, along with your remaining lives. If your energy level reaches the bottom, you lose a life. Energy
can be replenished by eating the food found all around the mansion, or by consuming objects found in chests. Food regenerates over time, so you sholdn't
run out. The game ends when you lose all of your lives.
Large areas of the map are open to explore from the outset. Normal doors have a mind of their own so you'll have to wait for them to open. Coloured
gates are locked and somewhere around the mansion you'll find the corresponding coloured key that opens them. Once opened, they stay open. As you progress, more keys
will be found and it's up to you to decide which keys to keep hold of. If you drop a key, remember where you left it, you'll probably need it later.
As well as keys, there are various other objects dotted around the place. See below for a full list of these. Some are related to the chosen character's
quest, some aren't. All objects have a purpose, but you don't have to find them all in order to complete the game.
Each character has their own secret shortcut that they're able to use. Sir Stamperlot can walk through clocks. Zouch can walk through bookcases. Lester
can walk through the large blue barrels and Princess Ashby can fire at mirrors to smash them in order to walk through them.
So how do you complete the game? Well, when you select which character you want to play, you're given a brief overview of that character's
quest. Here's a bit more detail:
Sir Stamperlot - This is the traditional Atic Atac style quest. To escape through the main entrance you need to find 3 pieces of the large
key, ensure they're in the correct order in your pockets and then simply unlock the main entrance by running at it. Sounds simple, but there
are a lot of rooms to explore in order to find the key pieces, and you'll also need to find the coloured keys in order to access certain areas of
the map. One piece of the large key is always found in the attic.
Zouch the Witch - The pentagram pillar is found somewhere in the caverns. To destroy it, you need to drop the 5 runestones in the room where
the pillar is found. The runestones are scattered around the map in chests. Once they're all dropped, and the pillar is destroyed, just head
back to the main entrance which will now be open.
Lester - In addition to the normal enemies that spawn in every room, there are also 5 special enemies that can only be destroyed by special
weapons. Lester's task is to locate each one of these weapons in order to kill each of the special enemies. Once that's done, he can head back
to the main entrance which will now be open.
Princess Ashby - This is the hardest task. First you must find Melkhior's room, which is located somewhere in the attic. In there, you need
to approach his cauldron which will fire out an empty potion bottle. Take this bottle to the room mentioned in the popup message to locate
the Clagmyres. They just look different to other enemies. The potion bottle will twitch when you're in the right room. Shoot them and run over
their remains to gradually fill the potion bottle. Once the bottle is full, return it to Melkhior's room and drop it on the stone slab to
activate the appropriate Dinoki statue, then approach the cauldron for the next potion bottle. There are four potion bottles to fill by
locating the Clagmyres in four different rooms. Once they're all done, Melkhior will be free and you just need to head to the main entrance.
So that's about it. There are a few other little secrets to the game, but let's not give everthing away.