Hadean Lands
Developer/Publisher:  Andrew Plotkin aka Zarf

Walkthrough by Steve Metzler (2015)

Last updated: 23rd June, 2015

In all my years of playing interactive fiction (IF) games on my computer - and that's a serious amount of computers I've worked my way through - I've never been so blown away by an IF game as I have with Hadean Lands. No wonder it's on the favourite games list of 2014 for so many people. I'm also late to the party, as usual. Although there is already a very comprehensive walkthrough out there, and I admittedly had to refer to it a few times to get me all the way through the game, I felt that the web could do with at least one more Hadean Lands walkthrough that was written in that inimitable Metz O'Magic style :-)

So as not to inadvertently spoil things for you, I never provide a table of contents for my walkthroughs. And for this walkthrough in particular, you won't see just one page that contains all the puzzle solutions in sequence, allowing you to accidentally spot solutions for future puzzles while you're scanning the walkthrough for the one you're currently stuck on. Rather, I have presented the walkthrough as a series of frequently asked questions (FAQ), with each answer on a separate page. And, somewhat like the Universal Hint System (UHS) approach to presenting the puzzle solutions, I don't just throw the full solution to each puzzle out there, but rather try to nudge you in the right direction before exposing everything. I'm also going to be explaining the why behind what we're doing, because a lot of times it's not exactly obvious how you were meant to arrive at a particular puzzle solution.

Another thing that spoils a game for me personally is knowing all the room locations in advance (your mileage may vary). And for that reason I purposely didn't look at either of Andrew Plotkin's beautifully drawn game maps until I had completed the game. Instead, I have accrued 4 pages of painstakingly pencil-drawn maps as an artefact of playing the game, and I've transferred these to images in the same format for your reference. Really, there's no substitute for creating your own maps as you progress through the game. It's an important part of the overall experience when playing a text adventure, IMO. But hey, this is a walkthrough, so... Map #1, Map #2, Map #3, Map #4. But please beware that those maps tell you where all the items in the game are to be found. If that's too much of a spoiler for you, then just use Andrew's maps. You should be able to blow up the maps to full size in your browser, if you are unable to make out some of my scratchings. A few minor details are missing from the maps, but by the time you get that far into the game you probably won't need the maps anyway :-)

Even if you've played a lot of IF, you should find this section of the walkthrough to be quite useful - for Hadean Lands has some unique features that you may not have encountered before in other games. I know, I know, we all like to rush into technical things nowadays without RTFM, and there's a certain thrill to be had with that approach... when it works. But you can save yourself a lot of angst and keystrokes if you at least skim through the following tips. No spoilers in this section, guaranteed.

Rituals, formulas, and facts
At any stage in the game (yes, even in the middle of performing a ritual) you can enter one of the following commands:

> recall rituals
> recall formulas
> recall facts

and the game will spew out a handy list of everything in that category that you have learned up to this point. Rituals are the alchemical rituals you will be performing during the game, and each one is in itself a puzzle: you have to find the necessary ingredients (or, make them using another ritual :-), and also the necessary formulas (the phrases you need to vocalise during the rituals). What are facts? Well, they can be things like memories of lectures that you had in the past - triggered by something you come across in the game world - or something that has been explicitly written down on a piece of paper like the combination to a safe. Equally as important to keep in mind is: anything that appears in one of these lists can then be recalled individually to obtain more detail on it, for instance:

> recall chocolate fudge recipe

would give you details on how to make chocolate fudge... if the game allowed that. Once you have performed a ritual (or gotten past an obstacle), the game will do it for you again automatically. Say you type (assuming that you've been to the biology lab before):

> go to biology lab

The game even remembers what you did to get through obstacles like locked doors, and repeats all the steps for for you. Has that sunk in yet? That 'automatically' bit entails finding and collecting all the necessary ingredients for a ritual. If an ingredient has already been consumed by another ritual though, then tough luck. The game will grind to a halt right there, and you'll need to figure out another way. Which leads us right to the next tip, and it's an important one:

Save often, and save methodically
This isn't such an important maxim right at the beginning of the game when things are relatively simple. But further on in, you might have to do 20 things in order to produce the 'slime of incomprehension' (just kidding), and if you get one of those things wrong you may be forced to start over. While there is a way to stop a ritual in progress and clean things up a bit (the 'unsealing mantra'), that's not going to be of much help if you used up a one-of-a-kind ingredient in the process. Sure, you can use a string of UNDO commands to get you back to a known good position, but it's easier if you use 'checkpoints' to record your progress. Note that I'm not trying to discourage you from experimenting, because that's a large part of the fun to be had with this game. It's just that it's useful to have a recent fall-back position so you don't have to needlessly repeat a long chain of commands to get you back to where you were before you messed up. So here's my save game methodology, which I use in almost all adventure games that have a file-based save system, like this one:

  1. Create the file names in alphanumeric order. That way, the very last saved game in the list is where you have progressed to in the game. Your first save should always be at the very start, before you have touched anything, thus: '001-Start.sav', then '002-Some-Checkpoint.sav', etc.
  2. Your checkpoints should refer to what you are trying to accomplish next. For example, if you are trying to make 'slime of incomprehension', before you even attempt the ritual, say at a point where you have gathered all the ingredients (heh. You think you have!) and are standing in the correct room to perform the ritual, it is then you create the save game called '023-Slime-Of-Incomprehension.sav'. Then, when you finally do manage to make the stuff and save for the last time to that file, you can always restore from that file to get said item straight back into your hands again.

Rooms and doors
The game also keeps track of which rooms you have visited. Not all locations that you can visit are considered to be 'rooms'. There are portions of hallways that aren't classified as rooms, even though you must traverse them, and they show up in the current location bar at the top of your screen. But, unlike actual rooms, the game doesn't recognise them as valid places for the GO TO command. So to get to one of these you'll have to go to an actual room first and then navigate there with 'e', 's', 'd', etc. But anyway, to get a list of rooms that you have already visited:

> recall rooms

There is also a command to let you know which obstacles in the game - that you know about - you haven't got past yet:

> recall doors

Beware that there are quite a few obstacles in this game that you will never get past, so this command isn't all that useful, in my opinion... except for one aspect of it that I can't tell you about yet. Later, when the time is right...

Finding stuff
As with most pieces of IF, there are a lot of things to find and keep track of as you progress through the game. Hadean Lands is perhaps one of the first games that largely removes this particular bit of tedium by providing a FIND command. So if you've come across a particular object in your travels, say a paintbrush, then all you need do is type:

> find paintbrush

and the game will take you straight to the room where the paintbrush is located. Then if you type:

> take it

straight after that, the item will be added to your inventory (if that's possible. Some things you obviously can't take). Note that you needn't have previously acknowledged the presence of an item by examining it for this to work. The only requirement is that you've visited the item's location. For that reason, there's rarely a need to pick up anything in Hadean Lands. This will become more evident (and more useful!) as you progress through the game. There are so many diverse items used in so many rituals that you would go bonkers if you had to remember where you found something, or where you dropped it. But there's an even more subtle use of 'find' that comes in handy when you're trying to parse one of the alchemical rituals to determine the ingredients that are required: often the ritual will refer to it with a different/synonymous name to what the location description refers to it as. But the FIND command will find it for you nonetheless. And that's about as much of a hint as you're going to get from me on this subject; for now, anyway ;-)

Once more into the void
Throughout the game you will encounter exits from your current location with uninviting descriptions like this:

"To the south, a few steps lead down to a dark doorway."

If you head into these (the Void), they have the effect of 'resetting' the game. But what exactly does a reset mean? It's quite simple:

When the game is reset, all objects, locked doors, etc. are put back to the way they were at the start of the current phase of the game, *but* you remember everything that you have learned up to that point in the game. This includes: all rituals, formulas, and facts.

Well, hmm, that 'current phase of the game' bit is kinda hard to explain when you're just starting off. But the reason you need to reset is - and believe me when I say it is an integral part of the game - that certain rituals consume one-of-a-kind items that you require to perform more than one ritual. So... once you consume one of those items, you'll need to reset in order to perform another ritual that requires the same item. But perhaps that item got you the combination to a safe that is now part of your facts list, so you don't need to perform that ritual ever again. Are you getting this? No? But you will, eventually :-)

You can just type 'reset' at any stage in the game to accomplish this feat. One of those dark, uninviting doorways is always reachable no matter where you are. Yeah, sure, if you want to stay 'in character' you can use the doorway. But be assured a reset can never cause you to lose any meaningful progress. So don't be afraid to use it when you think you have run out of options.

Well, that's enough tips to get you started, and what I have told you just fleshes out what Andrew himself told you in the READ-ME.html file that ships with the game. So now on to the actual walkthrough, presented in FAQ format below.

Additional resources
Now this is a real spoiler, but here is a list of all the rituals you might encounter in the game.

And there are some one-of-a-kind items that are used by several rituals. So again, a real spoiler, but here is a list of all the item dependencies, and possible substitutions.

This is the walkthrough, cleverly disguised as an FAQ
The main walkthrough page you are currently viewing is the only place you'll see any of my writing in non-italicised form. The answers to the FAQ, which are all on separate pages, are presented in such a way that you can easily distinguish my notes (in italics) from the in-game text.

Q. Who am I, where am I, and how do I get out of the Secondary Alchemy Lab?
Addresses the situation at the very beginning of the game, in a little more detail than will normally be provided, to get you through the first few puzzles.

Q. How do I open the rusty hatch in the ceiling of the Mech Lab Crawlspace?
Q. How do I open the extremely corroded cabinet in the Mechanica Lab?
Q. How can I get past the mold-encrusted door preventing exit from the Mechanica Lab?
Once you exit the Mechanica Lab, a lot more opportunities present themselves.

Q. How do I make a resonant oculus, and what can I use it for?
Q. I found an "elemental earth loan" in the Opticks Lab. But how can I find the "earth-shard" that it refers to?
Q. How do I open the fire door in the Lab Wing Hallway?
Doing this just might prove useful.

Q. How do I open the safe in the Main Store?
Q. How can I open that gunk-encrusted cabinet in the Medical Wing Hallway?
Q. What is the procedure for creating elemental fire?

Q. I've found several locations now where I need to hold my breath for a long time underwater. How can I do that?
And what breath-taking places these lead to, indeed.

Q. How do I open the locked cabinet in the High Tower (Captain Hart's quarters)?
Q. How can I open the locked Deck Suite cabinet?
Q. There's a pine door with a Venture File lock on it in Chasm, at Bridge. What lies beyond that door?

Q. How do I lower the ladder in the Observatory to gain access to the ironwork bridge above?
Q. How can I navigate the Paper Maze?
Q. How do I get into the Birdhouse?
Q. How can I gain access to the Barosy?
Here be dragons.

Q. How, and when, can I perform "The Great Marriage"?
You won't Adam and Eve what happens.

Q. OK, so I performed "The Great Marriage" and some things have changed, alright. What should I do next?
Q. I've revived one of the dragons and my crewmates have moved again. Is that significant?
Q. How can I open the lead hatch in the Storage Nook?
Q. How do I open the marble door in the North Arcade, and the obsidian door in Burning Hall East?
Q. How can I get into the Chancel?

Q. Can I venture outside the marcher?
The line between bravery and stupidity is a thin one, but sometimes it needs to be treaded.

Q. I found a huge wreck outside with what seems to be a hexagonal door on the side of it. Can I get in there?

Q. I found a ritual for making a 'dragon fulcrum'. How do I make one of these, and how do I use it?
Possible complications along the already rocky road to salvation.

Q. How do I visit the interior of the alien wreck beyond the Strange Airlock?

Q. How do I know when I am ready to perform the final ritual in the Chancel, and how do I go about it?
The beginning of the end.

See also the review of Hadean Lands.