It’s Twine Week on Electron Dance. This is the third of five posts.
Richard Goodness and Julius “PaperBlurt” Olofsson made a Twine RPG called TWEEZER (Goodness & Olofsson, 2014). Well, that’s what they said, right? Sure. Cheap laughs are not for me. Sadly, I had committed myself to engaging every Fear of Twine entry and I couldn’t skip TWEEZER without drawing undue attention to myself, so my fate was sealed.
What is surprising about TWEEZER isn’t how much work has gone into its visual presentation nor that it is silly fun. What I find surprising is how complex TWEEZER is.
I recommend everyone have a go because I am about to tell you the brief story of how I tracked down TWEEZER’s Secret Achievement.
In TWEEZER, you are an “adventure tourist” in the land of Tuisere and you get escorted around by your pixie guide Syd. You get three days to explore this land of fantasy then it’s back home for you. Literally. The twine just stops. That sudden halt is jarring but makes sense.
It’s important to understand that TWEEZER is a parody of RPGs by someone who has been writing extensively about their love for the Might & Magic series. It’s a parody which pokes at fantasy tropes with love not snark. It’s not about winning, it’s about exploring and finding things. If you find a death ending, high fives all round, because you, Boss, just discovered something.
Against my better judgement, I kinda fell in love with this twine and spent way too much time digging through its alternative paths. There’s so much content in here – so many additional narrative branches that are triggered in unexpected ways – that I cannot imagine how much time and effort it took to put it all together.
I’m about to get into serious spoiler territory so if you want to experience TWEEZER yourself, leave this page right now. Last chance.
TOO LATE SPOILARZ
You effectively have “six turns” in the game, three days and three nights. In each turn, you can explore one shop in town or go off on an adventure somewhere. Different locations are available in the day and night. Encounters in the town do not change from day to day but the adventure encounters are different each day. There’s no randomness; this game is entirely predictable. For example, in the forest on the first day you would always meet the centaurs while on the second, the Dryad.
Although the game doesn’t assign you fetch quests, they exist, lurking in the text. They look so innocent.
For example, Gurgur at the Smythyteria mentions he would forge a powerful Blood Sword if only he had some research on monster weaknesses. You can acquire this documentation from Doktor Igor (who made all the monsters in the land and turns out to be Syd’s dad) in the castle on the first night. The Smithyteria will then make the Blood Sword for you and, well, I’ll let you discover precisely how powerful the sword is.
Also, the Alchemist would sell you the Antidote of the Miraculous if only he had dryad leaves to make it. I’ve mentioned you can meet the Dryad on the second day. If you’ve first armed yourself with the right weapon, you can kill the Dryad. When you go back to the Alchemist he will then tell you he needs another item which won’t be possible to get in the short time you have in the game – and I had to laugh. (Not to mention, killing the Dryad destroys the forest and Queen Ghoulia will question you about that if you talk to her on the final night. Just saying. There’s commentary on RPG story here if you’re looking for it…)
But on Twitter, Goodness kept taunting potential players. Can you find the SECRET ACHIEVEMENT? He begged Twitter again and again. Please find it. Someone must find it.
Like an empty leaderboard with the top slot vacant, I was attracted to this challenge. I was going to find this damn achievement. I went after everything that looked like a fetch quest. Blood Sword? That’s not it? How about taking Queen Ghoulia’s throne? No? Uh, killing everything that can be killed? No? What the Hell, Goodness? Where is this thing?
I want you to know that I don’t feel dirty sharing this, okay. There’s no shame here: I opened the twine’s source HTML code.
To my joyous surprise, Goodness had not encrypted the code. Thank God. Thank Goodness.
I searched for the word “achievement” and came up with nothing. Damn it. Then, a brain wave. Goodness doesn’t call them achievements, he diminishes them with the word cheevos. Could this be it? I searched for cheevo.
Alright, so I had to kill the vampire. What? Kill the vampire? The vampire that Doktor Igor told me was almost indestructible? The combat in which the only safe option is “Run”? What?
Time for more source searching, I thought. Let’s look for the vampire dying…
Aha, a Golden Cross, great. But where the bloody Hell is that? I never heard of such a thing. Is this even in the game? This was like the opposite of progress. Search more. Search harder. Search smarter.
Ah, okay, it was the King who was supposed to leave a cross behind. I realised there was one daytime adventure I hadn’t been on yet, which was King Callegnam’s Ruins on the last day. I went back to adventuring and left the source code behind.
The first thing I encountered in the ruins was a lot of snakes. I was okay, though, because I had picked up a Scroll of Animal Magnetism from a haint which summoned mongooses to eat the snakes. Good, then I encountered rats. The Scroll summoned… the rats. They bit me and I caught plague and died. Well done, I discovered a new ending. It’s discovery, I kept telling myself.
Now, Doktor Igor’s Anti Plague Elixir was no help because the potion kills you. Another discovery.
Eventually, I went back to the source because I was out of ideas but it turned out the answer was too obvious. What does every adventurer do with rats? Kills them with a sword, of course. (Punching, I should note, is not very effective.)
After the rats, there were spiders. I was sure the way to deal with this was to burn the spider’s web. But then… things became a little tricky. I needed a sword, a lighter and a Scroll of Animal Magnetism. I needed to scribble down where I supposed to go in each “turn” of the game. I sketched out a makeshift node map.
After burning the spider’s web, I finally met the King… who was bored with me. He didn’t leave a cross behind or anything. Now what? I was already up to my eyeballs with “stuff” – what was I missing? Back to the source.
Oh, the King wants a Centaur Trinket. Where do you get a centaur… oh. Ohhhh.
When I first played, I was asked to make a donation to the centaurs. I said no. I was asked Are you sure? I said yes. I was asked Ask you suure? And I kept saying yes until, finally, Syd told me: You cheap bastard.
I went back to the start again, got the trinket and, look, you know how this story ends. With Golden Cross in hand, I defeated the vampire. Everyone was happy. Achievement Unlocked.
I know I could have written about TWEEZER’s gentle ribbing at RPG conventions or even how its clever use of speed and pause are important to its impact. But, hey, anyone could do that. You go do that, you fucking tourist. And while you’re at it, go punch a haint to death.
But this thing? This achievement? This is truly mine.