Hadean Lands DLC is a $35 PDF Certificate

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“Marooned in an alien, airless wasteland — your starship fractured — your crewmates missing. Can an apprentice alchemist learn how to survive?”

Steam game Hadean Lands is a classic interactive fiction text adventure where all you gotta do to play is to type in commands. No graphics, no voice acting or dialogue trees, not even point-and-click! Just plain typing, type those commands away and read the next line that comes out.

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It’s a game of alchemy and exploration with complex puzzles to solve, ingredients to combine and rituals to learn. There’s a goal-tracking system that allows players to experiment with whatever they want. Rituals learned can be done again with a single command. Puzzles that were once solved can be resolved instantly. The goal system will show where the keys are and help out with the puzzles, though some of which might have multiple answers and demand the player to search for alternative solutions if needed.

Hadean Lands is available for MacOS, Windows, Linux, and iOS. “Exciting” isn’t it? Wait till you get your hands on the DLC.

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Also known as The Solo Adventurer Pledge Certificate, the DLC is, well, a certificate. In PDF! But hey, the digital document allows you to promise to finish the game without any tips or guides. No walkthroughs, no Steam forums or whatever cheap trick on the Internet to help and make life easier while playing the game. All for the price of $35.

So what exactly do you do with the certificate? As its Steam page points out, a player may print out the certificate, sign it and hang it on the wall. Because honor system actually works. Does it do anything else? Nope. Nada. The certificate won’t change the game’s behavior at all.

To be clearer, the developer Zarfhome Software even posted the following FAQs to clear out some confusion:

  • The DLC is just a certificate? Really?
  • Yes. You get the certificate in PDF format and, what the heck, I’ll throw in a JPEG too.
  • Does it unlock new puzzles or rooms or other game content?
  • Nope. Just a certificate.
  • Where?
  • Look in the Certificate folder in the game directory.
  • I don’t need to buy your silly certificate! I can just make that promise for free!
  • Absolutely. But… it might be easier to stick to that promise once you’ve laid down some cash on it. Just a thought. It’s up to you.
  • You can’t stop me from looking at hints anyhow!
  • Yes, that’s true. It’s between you and your game-playing conscience.
  • What if I get really, REALLY stuck?
  • You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Maybe you could work on the puzzle with a friend.
  • Can I look at the game map?
  • Yes, that’s a freebie. It doesn’t spoil any puzzles.
  • What about the in-game tutorial?
  • The tutorial only covers the first puzzle in the first room. You get a pass on that too. If you really want to skip it, use the TUTORIAL OFF command to silence it.
  • You can’t be serious about this.
  • I assure you, I have never been more serious in my life.

The DLC’s getting a lot of praise as people think it’s a great idea to make players pay for a promise certificate.  “Thanks! I was hoping people would be amused. (And I hope some people will put down money for it, of course. But that’s not a requirement.)”, says the developer. “Really, I think everyone gets the joke. I haven’t gotten any really angry comments,” the developer wrote in a more recent post. “Sure, there’s always someone who says, ‘It should be cheaper!’ but that’s true of every price tag on Steam. You learn not to sweat it.”

Genius. Now, who wants to have that certificate up on their wall along with all the bragging rights?

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