Key & Compass presents:
by Owen Parish

Cacophony is a Z-machine version 8 interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2009 by Owen Parish.

In this very surreal game, it's not at all clear who or where you are. You feel incomplete and the world seems unreal and mutable. Eventually, you will learn of a mission to complete. But will you carry out your orders or try to escape this situation entirely?

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 3 of the game.


Map 1: Dream World

Kitchen Laboratory u Jungle Garden IdolRoom Study Library Archives TV Room DarkRoom d

To get from the dream world to "real" locations, you must wake up. Where you wake up depends on what's in the picture frame in the Study:

Map 2: Your Home

Void d d Grotto EntranceRoom Stairwell Street Hallway WorkRoom RealKitchen DeadEnd Bedroom u

To return to the dream world, enter the bed in your Bedroom and sleep. You'll arrive in the Kitchen.

Map 3: Storeroom


To return to the dream world, enter the hammock and sleep. You'll arrive in the Kitchen.

Map 4: Chimera Building, Ground Floor

1stFloor d in Back of Building WestofBuilding GroundFloorNorth GroundFloorNorth-East EastofBuilding GroundFloorEast BreezyOffice GroundFloorSouth-East Front of Building u out

To return to the dream world, enter the car at Front of Building and sleep. You'll arrive in the Kitchen.

Map 5: Chimera Building, 1st Floor

in d GroundFloor out u SecurityRoom 2 InsideBooth 1st FloorNorth-West 1st FloorNorth 1st FloorNorth-East 1st FloorWest 1st FloorEast 1st FloorSouth-West 1st FloorSouth 1st FloorSouth-East



There seems to be nothing to accomplish in this room, but you can take a knife.

> x me. i. (Carrying nothing.)

> x table. x plates. x cutlery. take knife. x knife.

> smell. x wall. x blood. taste blood.

Normally, I'd suggest leaving an unpleasant room like this and exploring elsewhere, but this time, I'm going to suggest just waiting here for a few turns until a "Mr Green" percolates out of the floor. I want you to see his arrival.

But it's okay to explore elsewhere. Mr Green will still spawn here and walk to your location, and then follow you wherever you go.

> z. (Repeat waiting until Mr Green arrives.)

> x Green. (He gives you a note.)

> read note. ("You're dreaming, fool.")

> wake up. (You do so...)


The poster will talk to you at random times. It's an irritant best ignored.

> x me. i. take all. (wallet, badge, blanket)

> x poster. ask poster about poster.

> x wallet. x badge. x blanket. x bed. x window.

It is actually necessary for you to try to open this window. You don't need to succeed at opening it. You just have to try doing it. It's one of four try-to-escape-the-apartment-scenario actions you need to do, and no, that's not explicitly stated or even clued anywhere. This is me, the walkthrough author, trying to explain a read-author's-mind puzzle. Note the strange sensation this action has on you. It's the only feedback you get that this action is somehow significant.

> open window.

> n.

Work Room

There's a lot to obtain from this room.

> x workbag. take it. open it. look in it. (empty)

> x desk. look under desk. x screwdriver.

> take all from desk.

> x crowbar. x hammer. x folder. open it.

> take all from folder.

> x card. (phone 02312345673)

> x photo. (of a storeroom)

> x newspaper. (has photo of the Chimera Corp building.)

Note: Because of the way Inform 6 works, you only need to type in the first four digits of any crazy-long phone numbers you find. You're welcome.

> x phone. call 0231. (interference like running water)

It's so easy to overlook this key:

> x door. x apartment door. x key.

Get into the habit of putting everything into the workbag:

> put all in bag.

> e.

Real Kitchen

> x TV. (It talks much like the poster does.)

> x boxes. (phone 06634734521)

> x microwave. x table. x shelf.

> w.

Work Room

Might as well try calling the pizza place.

> call 0663. (The pizza place is closed.)

> w.


The lizard bauble talks to you too. Don't lock your door; leave it unlocked.

> x door. x lizard. x bulb.

> s.

Dead End

Attempting to go south through the fire exit is the second of the four try-to-escape actions you must do.

> x exit. push bar. s. (You're too afraid to. The door closes.)

> n. n.


> u. (Too afraid to. But why?)

> d.

Entrance Room

> x mailboxes. look in mailboxes.

> x leaflet. (DIAL 05231453257 for a taxi.)

> x floor. (Uh, I think it's saying the floor is coated with a blue plastic finish? There's no bits of plastic you can pick up.)

> s.


The cardboard cutout also talks to you.

> x graffiti. ("HELP", eh? You'll come back to this later.)

> x cutout.

> x tree. x nest. (Feather stuck in it.)

> hit treeorshake tree. (The nest falls.)

> take nest. break nest. x feather.

Before heading back inside, you must try to get further away from the building by going west or east or south from here. This is the third of the four try-to-escape actions you must do.

> woreors.

Now head back to your work room:

> n. u. s. e.

Work Room

Call the taxi number from the leaflet. This is the fourth of the four try-to-escape actions you must do.

> call 0523. (Something's wrong; you hang up quickly.)

If you've done all four try-to-escape actions (the order you do them in doesn't matter), you should now have a nightcap in your inventory. Does this make any sense to you? Would you have figured this out without a walkthrough?

And why do you get a nightcap? Well... trying to escape your apartment made a disturbance, so I think the nightcap is meant to be like a pacifier, to calm you down.

And who sent you the nightcap? Well, it might've been your captors/employers who you've never met. Or it might've been the leprechaun in the dimension next door.

Just... just accept that you have a nightcap, okay?

> i. x nightcap.

> s.


> put all in bag.

> wear nightcap.

> enter bed. sleep.


You're back in the gory kitchen, carrying nothing.

The "Things seem different somehow" message was caused by wearing the nightcap to bed. There's, uh, a new trophy case in the Idol Room to the west. I suppose that would have been more obvious if we'd actually visited the Idol Room before wearing the nightcap.

Also, in this dream, eventually you'll be joined by Mr Red. There are three masked men in total: Mr Green, Mr Red, and Mr Blue. You'll only see one at a time and, in general, they cycle to the next color in sequence with each new dream as long as you stay long enough in the dream for one of them to spawn. You'll see.

> i. take knife. w.

Idol Room

> x man. x bowl. x pedestal.

> x case. x lantern. take it. open case. (It's locked!)

> e. e.


> x desk. (drawer, notepad, in-tray, out-tray)

> x notepad. (Has description of the last thing you examined.)

> take notepad.

> open drawer. x mirror. take mirror.

> x in-tray. x out-tray.

The suitcase is special. Anything that's inside it is also inside the workbag and vice-versa. It's how you can move items between this dream world and the real world.

> x suitcase. open it. (Has everything that you put into the workbag.)

> take suitcase.

It may not be immediately obvious, but the picture frame and its picture, the bedroom photograph, are two different objects. Weirdly, changing the picture in this frame changes where you'll wake up.

> x picture. (Framed; photo of your bedroom.)

> take picture. (Which picture?)

> take bedroom photo. (The frame is too tight; you'll need to loosen the screws.)

> take screwdriver. unscrew frame. take bedroom photo.

> put storeroom photo in frame.

> x newspaper. cut newspaper. (with knife)

> x newspaper picture.

So, let's see if we can do anything with Red.

> x Mr Red. ask Red about Red. (Not talkative.)

> show screwdriver to Red. (Not responsive to "show".)

> give screwdriver to Red. (He takes it.)

> z. (Red mimes unscrewing a head bolt.)

> z. (Red drops the screwdriver.)

> take screwdriver.

> give crowbar to Red. (He takes it.)

> z. (Red bashes the floor with the the crowbar.)

> z. (Red drops the crowbar.)

> take crowbar.

Hm. Red demonstrates how to use tools. But perhaps he uses tools too. Maybe if you give him the right tool in the right place, he'll do something useful?

Return to the Idol Room:

> w. w.

Idol Room

> pry trophy case with crowbar. (You're not strong enough.)

> give crowbar to Red.

> z. (Red easily tears open the trophy case with the crowbar.)

> take lantern. take crowbar.

> put all in suitcase. wake up.

Mysterious Storeroom

You wake up somewhere new. And if you had the workbag when you slept in your bedroom, you'll have it here too.

> i. x crates. open crate. open crate with crowbar.

> look in crate. (It's empty?)

> x crate. (It's not empty. There's "imagination soil" in it.)

> x soil. x hammock. x chest. open chest. (locked)

> x depression. (Something square is needed.)

> x blueprint. take it. put all in bag.

> enter hammock. sleep.


Hm. We always arrive empty-handed in the gory kitchen when entering the dreamworld. Where did our suitcase go?

During your third visit to the dream world, eventually Mr Blue will arrive and follow you around. Ignore him until we get to the laboratory.

> e.


Oh. The suitcase is back here. And closed. And the notepad is back on the desk.

> open drawer. (And the mirror is back in the drawer.)

So, yes. Dream objects tend to return to their original locations when we start a new dream. So there's no point in picking up anything in the dreamworld until we need to use it.

> x frame. take suitcase. open it.

Hm. But the picture frame still has the storeroom photo we put in it, and the lantern is in the suitcase, not back in the trophy case. Permanent changes can happen in the dream world.

> s.

TV Room

> x TV. turn off TV. (It stays on.)

> x armchair.

> n. e.


Because "lamp" can refer to either the lantern or this room's lamp, temporarily close your suitcase to get around a disambiguation problem.

> close suitcase.

> x shelves. x abacus. (Set to 3.)

> take abacus. (Can't.)

> x books. x carpet. x chair.

> x table. x lamp. x clock. (Currently at 15:00.)

> turn knob. (left or right?)

> turn knob left. (As far left as it can be.)

> turn knob right. (barely shining.)

> g. (shining dimly) g. (shining brightly). g. (glaring.) g. (As far right as it can be.)

We don't know what to do here yet. Come back later.

Note: "set clock to 1200" if you want it at 12:00, for example. It wants a single number without the colon.

> open suitcase.

> w. n.


> x instruments. x books. x tables.

Mr Blue should be with you at this time. Maybe give him the blueprint, if for no other reason than they're both blue?

> give blueprint to Blue. (Blue mimes using a door knob?)

> give key to Blue.

Blue takes the key, and following the blueprint, makes a device which he gives to you.

> i. x gadget. (It's a metal cube thing.)

> s. w. s.

Dark Room

You can't do much here yet.

> listen.

> take lantern. turn on lantern. look. x figures.

> n. n.


> x fruit. x vines. x fountain. x coins. x walls.

> take coins. (Too cold and you can't grasp them.)

> take fruit. (You automatically eat it.)

> n.


> x plants. x eyes. (of a lizard)

> s. s. e.


What if there's no photo in the frame? Where will you wake up then?

> take storeroom photo.

> put all in suitcase. wake.


Normally, down goes to the stairwell of your apartment building, and if you just flounder here for four turns, you'll return to the gory kitchen in the dream world.

But because you have the lantern, you have a third option:

> take lantern. turn on lantern. look. w.


> x leprechaun. (He'll chat to you on his own for a few turns.)

> x plants. x pool. x moss. x rock.

> z. z. z. z. z.

He tells you that you need to get things out of your head and produces an object to help with that.

> look. take cenofloger.

He then produces a stone that will help you find out your past.

> take round stone.

You have a chance to ask him some questions. Unfortunately, his response is usually either or "I have nothing to say about that!" or "You must supply a second noun."

Still, he's the only character in the game you can have any sort of conversation with, so do your best.

> ask leprechaun about grotto. ask him about Chimera.

> ask him about void. ask him about dreams.

> x cenofloger. (incomprehsible.)

> x round stone. (pulsing?)

Annoyingly, the response to "break round stone" is the misleading default message "Violence isn't the answer to this one."

> hit stone with hammer. x seed.

> e.


Because this is your fourth turn in the void, you'll go immediately to...


The next incarnation of the color-coded men is Mr Green, but we don't quite want to meet him again yet. Wake up right away before he spawns and it'll still be Mr Green in the next dream.

> wake.


> d.


> d. s.


IMPORTANT: Don't examine anything after you've examined the graffiti. Mr Green communicates via notes. The torn note he first gave us came from the notepad we saw in the study. And that notepad always shows the description of the last thing we saw.

The description of the graffiti is "HELP". We want to give the notepad to Mr Green with "HELP" written on it, and the only way to do that is to examine the graffiti, and then give the notepad to Mr Green as soon as possible without looking at anything else in-between.

And yes, this is another read-author's-mind puzzle. I truly sympathize with your frustration.

> put all in bag.

> x graffiti.

> n. u. s. e. s.


> enter bed. sleep.


> e.


The notepad is the only item you can safely look at until your interactions with Mr Green are complete.

> take notepad.

> z. (Repeat waiting until Green arrives.)

> give notepad to Green. (He gives you a remote control.)

> give notepad to Green. (He gives you a gizmo.)

> give notepad to Green. (He gives you a suicide pill.)

> give notepad to Green. (He has nothing more to give you.)

Okay, now it's safe to look at things again.

> x remote. push button. (All the closed doors open.)

> x gizmo. touch it. (beep.)


> x gizmo. (The green light is now red.)

> look. (Mr Red has replaced Mr Green. That's useful.)

> x pill.

> open suitcase. put all in suitcase.

> take storeroom photo. put it in frame.

> wake.

Mysterious Storeroom

> x workbag. take gadget. put it in depression.

> open chest. take all from chest.

> x blueprint. (For a stealth cloak.)

> x discomforter. (Disc-shaped with a switch.)

> turn it on. (You feel a bit ill.)

> turn it off.

> put seed in soil. (A plant rapidly grows.)

> x plant. take plant.

> put all in bag.

> enter hammock. sleep.


> e.


> take suitcase. open it.

> open drawer. take mirror.

> w. w.

Idol Room

It's at least clear you're meant to burn something in the bowl here, even if it's not obvious what.

> put plant in bowl. (Purple smoke fills the room; the bowl is gone.)

> look. (A trapdoor is now here.)

> d.


Thanks to the leprechaun's gift of the round stone ⇒ seed ⇒ plant, you can finally get some answers about what's going on.

> x pages. take pages. read page. (Page 1)

> drop page. take pages. read page. (Page 2)

> drop page. take pages. read page. (Page 3)

> drop page. take pages. read page. (Page 4)

> drop page. take pages. read page. (Page 5)

> drop page.

That was the last page. If you continue reading, you'll go back to page 1.

So, is everything clear as mud? Here's my interpretation of it all:

Alien scientists unexpectedly found humanity infesting the energy field of their machine. Perhaps they were trying to make a new universe and didn't expect to find any life in it.

Rather than exterminate all the humans and possibly damage whatever they were trying to do in the first place, the aliens decided to capture, cage, and reprogram one human: you. That's why you can't get away from your apartment building. Your bedroom poster, your television, the lizard bauble, and the cutout on the street are likely what they used to reprogram you with.

These are also the things in your head. The music in the dark room. The television. The lizard in the jungle. The idol.

However, you've evolved into something new. With your abilities to access the dream world, you're no longer just human any more. The leprechaun hinted that, unlike the rest of humanity, you've woken up in a way they haven't and you're moving around bumping into things.

The aliens want to use you against the Chimera, which sounds like another alien race, except they'll appear just like normal boring ol' humans to you when you meet them. Weird huh?

> u. e. e. n.


By the way, if you give a blueprint to Mr Blue, he'll always carry it here so he can start building whatever the blueprint is for.

> give blueprint to Blue.

> z. (Blue mimes wrapping something around him and shivering.)

> give blanket to Blue.

> z. (Blue holds his hand up and stares at it while adjusting his mask and collar.)

> give mirror to Blue.

> z. (Blue mimes dropping something then straining his ears.)

> give feather to Blue.

Blue finishes making a cloak and gives it to you.

> x cloak. wear cloak. (You're invisible!)

> remove cloak.

> s. w. n.


The badge is a metal disc. That's like a coin, I guess?

> put badge in fountain. (Eruption below; vines rustle; something's changed.)

> s. e.


A stone tablet is now in the in-tray.

> x in-tray. take tablet. x it. (It shows a fire burning brightly, a sundial at half past five, and the letters XLII.)

> e.


> set abacus to 42.

> set clock to 1730.

> turn knob left. (to brightly)

With abacus, clock, and lamp correctly set, a book falls onto the table.

> x book.

The mission book has the same thing on every page:

Attempting to take the book makes it fly back into the shelves.

> w.


> take storeroom photo.

> put newspaper picture in frame.

> put all in suitcase. wake.

Front of Building

> take cloak. wear it.

> x car. (The seats are folded down as a bed.)

> e.

East of Building

> x window. enter window.

Breezy Office

> x woman. x desk. x paperwork. x box. (3 doughnuts)

> take box.

> w. s.

Ground Floor South-East

The cleaner blocks your way west, but that's okay. Our business is elsewhere. We're just looking around.

> x cleaner. x stain.

> n. n. w.

Ground Floor North

> x revolving door. x booth. x guard. (He's neat and alert.)

> e. u. w.

1st Floor North

> x revolving door. x booth. x guard. (This one is rundown.)

> z. (Repeat waiting until the guard closes his eyes.)

> drop box. (The guard takes it and starts eating the doughnuts.)

> z. (Repeat waiting until the guard has eaten all three doughnuts.)

> turn on disc. (The guard leaves his booth and heads east.)

> turn off disc.

> in.

Inside Booth

Note: A bug in the game lets you enter here even if you didn't get rid of the guard.

> x switch. turn booth switch on. out. w.

1st Floor North-West

You got the code from the mission book earlier.

> type 28635 on keypad. n.

Security Room 2

> x shelves. x cubes. take cubes. (You take Cube 5.)

> x cube. put it in workbag.

We're done here. Go back to the car.

> s. e. e. d. s. e. out. s.

Front of Building

> open car. enter car. close car.

> remove cloak. put all in workbag.

> sleep.


> e.


> take suitcase. open it.

Time to make a hard final choice. Do you want to be a good programmed slave and complete your assigned mission? Do you want to kill yourself and escape that way? Or do you want to break free and reach your full potential?

> save

Ending 1: Offline


> put cube in out-tray. (It sinks away.)

A voice congratulates you. Then your surroundings fade and you sleep.

*** Offline ***

> undo

Ending 2: Peace


> eat pill. (You fall.)

*** Peace ***

> undo

Ending 3: Free


We need Mr Red.

> z. (Repeat waiting until Mr Green arrives.)

> touch gizmo. (Mr Red is now here.)


> give cenofloger to Red. z. (He benodates with it.)

> z. take cenofloger.

> benodate cenofloger. (Surroundings twist.)

> z. (Surroundings stabilize. Okay, that was weird.)

> s.

TV Room

You can only turn the TV off while your surroundings are unstable.

> benodate cenofloger. turn off TV.

> x TV. (It's still off.)

Back in your apartment's kitchen, the television there is now silent.

> n. w. s.

Dark Room

> benodate cenofloger. listen. (The music gets louder, then fades away.)

> listen. (The music has stopped.)

Back in your bedroom, the poster no longer speaks.

> n. w.

Idol Room

> benodate cenofloger. (The idol wobbles.)

> push statue. (It tips, shatters. It's gone.)

> look. (It's better in here.)

Back on the street, the cutout has gone quiet.

> e. n. n.


> benodate cenofloger. kill lizard.

Back in your apartment building's hallway, the lizard bauble ceases its taunting.

With your last tormentor gone, reality changes and your mind expands.

*** Free ***



At the Chimera Building:

Some inanimate objects in your apartment talk to you:



From the end of the game's response to HELP:

Thanks to Graham Nelson (and others) for Inform 7, and to Emily Short for the Basic Screen Effects extension.



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