The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 4: Dan the Bandit Man

Dan the Bandit Man

Last time on ATOM RPG, we killed the world's dumbest bandit and were told to go do all the bandit quests with the help of our new rusty pistol. Today we're going off to meet the bandits.

I try stealing this beer off the table for a quest but I get caught. Let's chat up Katya, shall we?

: I just came to have a chat. Can I ask you some questions?

The reign of questions is eternal.

: Tell me about yourself.

: I'm a lonely tavern keeper lost in the Wastes, waiting for my valiant knight to appear.

While I personally find the other two options funnier it's time to dive deep into Bear's romantic side. Look at that face. That is the face of an incurable romantic.

: Hell, I don't have a horse but I can still be quite valiant.

: [She raises one brow and looks at you with interest, an amused smile on her face.]

The writers are struck with a conundrum. How can you prove your intelligence to a mate without coming off as a condescending dickweed? Clearly, the answer is to quote self-help books and spew deepities. Bear will not be doing that.

: [Strength] My strength for example! I may not have a sword, but with these fists I don't even need one. Take a gander at these pecs, girl!

You might remember that Alexander failed with this exact approach, but he didn't get roofied like we did.

: Heh heh. Very well, I won't keep you.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Can you answer my insipid questions so the developers can pad out the playtime?

: Yes!

: Tell me about yourself.

: I'm hoping some player character can come along and sweep me off my feet!

: Interesting...what if I said I was a PC?

: And why would I go out with you?

: Me stronk! The game's narration will point out how stupid this is, but boyoyoyoyoing!

: :blush:

Whatever! I regret nothing! This stuff is hard to come up with funny summaries for because it's so inane.

I do find the shovel behind the house, so that's going to be our melee weapon for a little while.

I also dig up all the graves. There's crafting materials and 10 rubles. It's totally not worth it. Sure, I said we weren't doing it, but that was before I learned nobody reacts in any way.

We also buy this vodka at the bar for a very important-ish upgrade.

: You were asking for some liquor, weren't you?

: Here's some vodka.

: [You hand the bottle to the fisherman. He quickly takes it from you, quickly checks the label out, and puts the bottle into his bag]

: Hey, that's some good vodka you got! Stuff made for importing, you know? Now it's gonna keep me company. And help me lose some radiation, if I get unlucky and catch the sickness. Now that you fulfilled your side of the deal, it's my turn. Listen carefully and remember!

: [Hear the guy out]

: [The fisherman explains to you how to field dress the bodies of giant ants, wasps, and spiders. Every critter has its own nuances, but all can be dismembered even without a knife! Even a sharp stone would do. You also learn that the favorite food of the local fishes are ant spit-glands, wasp legs and spider brains. The world is surely a marvelous place!]

: Wow. Thanks for all the knowledge. I better go, and think on what I learned here.

I'm 99% sure that's an Elder Scrolls level up reference?

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Here is some vodka like you wanted.

: Wow, this is some good ass vodka! It also cures radiation, player! Anyway, here you go, now you can mutilate the corpses of dead mutant bugs to get bodyparts for fishing!

: Is the fishing minigame any good?

: Fuck no!

We'll come back to fishing. There is a reason to do it. I'm gonna hate myself for it.

Now, the bug bait isn't valuable, but this also lets you butcher rats for meat which absolutely is, especially as the developers were so enamored of having lategame players fight tiny rats.

Now we get to the overworld for the first time, and this is where the game shows it has no intention of respecting the player's time. Unlike, say, Tyranny where you pick a location and the map lights up with the occasional random encounter and it's done quickly, ATOM RPG wants you to slowly walk across the overworld map to wherever you're trying to go, and random encounters proc a lot. You can spend skill points to cut down on them, but skill points are kinda rare right now!

The secret bandit base is only a short walk from Otradnoye.

Fuck this shit. This encounter never goes away. It's not very threatening (with one stupid RNG exception we're about to see) but serves to waste the player's time to get them meat and wasp legs that...aren't strictly necessary right now.

I click attack and...we're not in combat. See, the random encounters spawn on absolutely massive maps so you might not start in combat with the enemy, and depending where the exit is you can make a break for it and just skip the fight. You don't get any XP that way, but you do get valuable time back that you can spend not playing ATOM RPG.

As we have to go through the rats and wasps to get to the exit, we spend 2 entire screens running until combat finally starts.

I'm going to spare you the exciting footage of rats and bugs being hit with a shovel for the most part.

Then this happens. I have never seen this at low levels, but the rat just blinded Bear. It's a really low proc chance, and we require either a rare item we haven't seen yet or walking all the way back to Otradnoye to cure it. Now, we can still win this fight, as far as I can tell, Blinded doesn't affect your melee performance. But I don't want to deal with the attention penalty at the bandit camp, so I reload that shit!

This puts us right back outside Otradnoye again, and on our slow trek we proc another random encounter. These guys are usually worth checking out, as they might have secretly good weapons, more drugs for our habit, or a bunch of rubles to buy all the crap we looted from other, more dangerous random encounters.

However, this is ATOM RPG, so instead of loading us right next to the caravanners, it loads us into a big ass map we need to search.

This truck is the same model as many of the caravans use, but I don't see any guys.

It turns out the caravan is in THIS corner of the map, and it's an oxcart caravan which usually means less stuff. Yes, that TAB indicator means Bear is offscreen, so after searching this overly large map for the caravaneers we have to wait for Bear to make his way over.

Riveting. It turns out they have nothing useful, but there's an empty garbage can on the map, marked as an interactable container! Maybe there are rubles, or crafting materials?

Nope! Empty! If you're getting the impression that ATOM's gameplay is tedious and doesn't respect the player's time, you are absolutely correct!

We finally make it over to the bandit camp.

: [Streetwise] Chill out, dawg. It's ya boy, comin' straight from the underground!

Please don't make me do this, ATOM.

: [Show him the <<Thief's Passport>>] Does this piece of paper tell you anything?

: [After looking at the card, he smirks and takes a few steps towards you, relaxing his hold on the assault rifle]

Unfortunately, "this" does not refer to the dialog.

: Yeah. Where else?

: Who are you all then?

: Us? We're the next closest thing to a legitimate force of law. Our chief's already been talking with the Krasnoznamenny Trade Council. We're asking them to recognize us as an official strike force in the region.

: I sure do love the law.

: [The man looks at you with a smirk]

: So, how about that job?

: I see. Well, gotta go.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Why are you here?

: How do you do, fellow criminal "homie"? Am I using that word right?

: Hmm...that is slang, and criminals use slang because we never learned to talk good and skipped school. But are you a real criminal?

: Don't you see? I have this card that says "crook" on it. I am a MASTER CRIMINAL!

: Oh, that's legit. Where'd you get it, Krasnoznamenny?

: Duh, in that place where I did all the CRIME!

: Oh, yea, the mafia, I disrespect the mafia!

: I thought we were doing crime...together!

: Nah, we're actually petitioning the Krasnoznamenny government to make us a real legit government, so it won't be theft, it's taxation!

: Wut?

: No worries, you can still do crime with us. Talk to Dan the Bandit Man, he's the boss!

Well, let's go check out the camp then. Cythereal in the thread predicted that the bandits were holding back even worse guys, and Cythereal wins the award that they don't have to play ATOM. Unfortunately, I miss those discussions in favor of... other things.

: Hehe! Hello, my brother in Satan! Admiring my armor, are we? I totally understand, I'm very proud of it. Made it myself, I did.

: Yeah, good armor. So you say you've made it yourself?

: Can you tell me how exactly you assembled it?

: [The man looks at you suspiciously but then shrugs and gestures for you to come closer]

: I should probably ask you for compensation... but I'm too lazy. Ah, what does it matter anyway? We should practice doing good deeds for the sake of doing good, not for another reason to pat ourselves on the back. We do that enough already, don't we? Heh. So...

: [He tells you what resources you will need, how to bend steel sheets, how to sew leather patches together with a makeshift bone needle, how to tie up seams, and, eventually, how to make it all work]

This actually gives us the recipe for Thorn Armor, which is pretty good for early game.

: As you wish. Can we talk about something else?

: The tattoo on your forehead is impressive...

: [The man curls his lip and slides his long fingers across his forehead]

: I thought you were just a big supporter of the Communist Party. What with the red star and all...

: Hehe, I don't even care about Communism. No, my friend. The Demon Formula is much more intricate. It means recognition and acceptance of all that is. Get it? I doubt you do.

What does the above add to this scene?

: [Continue listening in silence]

: You ever dream of sleeping while you're asleep? That's what was happening to me. I was looking at myself as though I was outside my own body. Anyway, the real fun began when I looked at the sky and saw the Morning Star shining up there. Hesperus, people call it. It was so bright it was burning my eyes!

: It was a star and at the same time not a star... It was a cute broad! All plump and hot. And there was a rabbit and a dove on either side of her. There were poppies, roses, and some green bushes with bluish-black berries at her feet... My mouth opened so wide in my sleep that my jaw popped!

: When I blinked there was suddenly no woman anymore. Instead there was an ever-morphing kaleidoscopic vision! A horned demon with diamond eyes gave way to a fiery dragon which in turn was replaced by a giant whale and then a ball of light...

: So what did all this brouhaha lead to?

: [With a sly smile the man sends another puff of thick black smoke in your direction. You wave it off]

: [Continue listening in silence]

: So while I was squirming, great Lucafair told me that the end of the world that had come after the war was just the tip of the iceberg. Great cataclysms await our planet that will raze everything. It won't happen soon and it won't happen at once... but it will be sooner than you think...

This is also foreshadowing the main plot.

: He told me many wise things. Many things. So many that when I woke up, I forgot almost all of them. But I remembered that I had had this knowledge once.

How is this so fucking boring? The writer/translator is literally describing a dream about Satan prophecying destruction upon the earth and they manage to use a dull hyperrealistic tone that sucks any kind of interest out of it.

: [Shrug]

Then again, these are the same people who had our foreshadowing Satan dream at the beginning look like Christmas trees.

: I have some ideas but I don't feel like sharing them...

Then we go and offer to trade.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hail Satan! What do you think of my sweet ass armor?

: Can you show me how to make it?

: I'll even do it for free!

: Score. What's with the tattoo?

: Oh I worship Satan.

: I thought you just liked communism lol.

: No, I had a sick ass dream that will foreshadow the main plot. I was asleep, and there was a star, but it was also a naked woman. There was a bunch of cool fuzzy animals, and you might think it was the Whore of Babylon but it was totally not. Then it was actually Satan, and he warned me of cataclysms that would destroy the world, and a bunch of trippy shit, but most importantly, that I needed to deliver all this information in dull, realistic prose to prevent player engagement. Foreshadowing!

: Cool, let's trade.

I don't want to spend the money on this now, but this cologne is pretty good loot - it sells for a lot, but you can also wander around in a death cloud of Commie-Axe body spray to pass one-time only personality checks.

I buy this knife and sharpening stone, and thus it's time to meet this game's wonderful crafting system.

This is the most important mechanic of item crafting. Why? We need to start with the Tinkering skill. Tinkering governs crafting. In a more competent game, raising Tinkering might let you craft more advanced items or work with better materials or enhance your items in some way. Unfortunately for us, this is ATOM RPG. What does Tinkering actually do?

To answer that we're going to combine the knife and the sharpening stone. You might think the stone is an item you "use" on the knife. You'd be wrong.

Motherfucker! THIS is what tinkering does - reduces your chance of failure. This is one of the tamer failure messages as well, most others will mock the player for being an incompetent idiot who lost all the weed when attempting to roll a joint. Thus the crafting system is both a joke at the player character's expense, and a complete waste of the player's time as I save scum to make this damn thing. Fortunately, it only takes one reload.

Much better. Now we have... a sharpened knife, which does more melee damage and won't break. Score!

Anyway, meet Dan. We're going places.

: Aren't you Denis Denisovich?

: The same. And who are you? Your real name, please.

: Bear Bearovitch.

: I'm... Well... I was sent here by Kozoy. It's about a job.

: I see. And why did Kozoy think you'd make a good candidate? We are looking for a very specific type of person.

: I have a thief's passport.

: That's right. Can you help me with that?

: Job? A job. Hmmm....

: [The boss clicks his tongue]

: It will be done. I'll be back soon!

: I like your eagerness. Come back when you're finished and we'll discuss your future.

: [Nod and leave.]

I try to get info out of this guy along the way but I don't have the skills. Alas.

If you're playing along, do not talk to this guy!

: Hi. Dan sent me. Are you by any chance Shishak?

: [He looks at you with a sly grin on his face]

: He told me to speak with Shishak about a test assignment...

: Very interesting! And it would be even more interesting to Shishak if you would tell him that. Or maybe you just did? I don't know...

: I've had it with these motherfucking games in this motherfucking camp! Are you Shishak or not?

See, it's funny because it's what Samuel L Jackson said in Snakes on a Plane!

Please tell me this guy isn't a whiteface Samuel L. Jackson.

: [The man looks at you quizzically]

: [Streetwise] Listen vick, you can talk like that with your hoe or whatever. Say it straight before I shank yo ass!

: Hey! I don't want no drama! I just got bored and decided to play a little practical joke at your expense. You need to speak with that dude over here.

ATOM RPG is just dedicated to going out and wasting the player's time, isn't it?

: Hi. Dan sent me. Are you by any chance Shishak?

: Dan just told me to speak with Shishak.

: [The man spits and fixes you with a cold stare. At last he takes out a bunch of keys, and begins to reluctantly sort through them]

: Yeah, whatever.

: [Shishak starts whistling to himself. He goes through the keys again from the start, happy to take as much time as he needs, and maybe a little more]

: I understand perfectly. Hmm...

: [Shishak yawns and lazily stretches his neck. He then proceeds to search for the right key. He takes his sweet time, periodically grunting out a meaningless observation to the man standing next to him.

Look, I get that they're trying to get the player to hate Shishak and characterize him as a petty bully. I just wish this wasn't piled onto a game with so much wasted player time.

: Such is life.

: [Time passes, or at least you assume it does. It seems as though Shishak's forgotten about the right key, about you, and about everything else in this weary world. He slowly and deliberately runs his finger around the keyring, stretches, and only occasionally raises his eyes to you with a slight grin. Finally, he snaps his finger and removes an unremarkable brass key from the ring]

: Finally!

: Lookie here, kid, we keep our guest in this room.

: [He squats in front of the prisoner, who instinctively recoils and shrink[sic] down on himself even further. Shishak then starts clapping his hands near the man's head in a constant rhythm. The prisoner winces with every clap]

: He was a little tense. His silence made no sense. I saw the little piece of crap, and put him in a body bag, ha! Why're you so antsy? Stop shivering and look me in the eyes, you stupid fuck!

: [Blinking uncontrollably, the prisoner raises his watery eyes to Shishak. The Bandit[sic] clicks his tongue and clenches his large fist in the prisoner's face. The man flinches back, but Shishak only grinds and dusts off his pants. He looks at you and spreads his hands]

: Who is he?

: Okay, what do I need to do?

: Your job is easy-peasy. Look here.

: [Shishak reaches into his jacket, pulls out a polished TT gun and hands it to you, grip first]

: This is a gun with one bullet, and here's this muttonhead. The rest is up to you. You've got carte blanche! Kill him right away, or extract a little payment first. I don't really care since he only plays one sad tune. *I don't have any money, I'm not a millionaire*. Only the grave will fix what's wrong with him, that or some vigorous abuse of vital organs.

It's the exact cliche you think it is. The gun isn't loaded.

Beating up the prisoner does nothing except for getting Shishak's approval, aiming at Shishak turns the entire camp hostile (and gets you killed this early in the game), and we're going to do nothing.

: [Do nothing]

: [You look at the gun in your hands, then at the sad prisoner. Then you cross your arms and gaze silently at Shishak. He glowers back at you]

: [Do nothing]

: [Shishak spits and shrugs irritatedly. He looks at you with sullen dislike and says hoarsely:]

: [Do nothing]

: [Shishak cracks his knuckles and puts his hands behind him, as if about to get something from his back pocket...]

: [Do nothing]

: [Shishak swiftly draws a knife from behind his back and points it at the trembling prisoner. A sinister grin forms on Shishak's face]

: [Do nothing]

: [Shishak displays a cold and unfriendly smile as he puts the knife away. He wipes the sweat from his forehead and suddenly delivers a fist right to the prisoner's face. With a quick "Ouch!" the poor guy falls on his back. Shishak takes the TT gun from your hands and frowns]

: So he wouldn't think he could get off lightly. In any case, this lucky bastard can still come in handy. I still feel like he didn't tell us everything. But we also got to see you from an interesting angle. Shinyr, komm zu meir!

: [Rubbing his knuckles, the man beckons his friend and, without taking his eyes off you, whispers something into his ear before giving him an encouraging slap on the back. Shinyr runs out of the room]

: Interesting what passes for a test around here. See ya.

For pulling a Gandhi we level up, earning us this thoroughly worthless perk.

We could turn the entire camp hostile, or we could not do that.

Shishak runs up and whispers to Dan for a little bit.

: It's ready, I've done the test.

: [Dan nods, extricates a notebook from an inner pocket and consults his mysterious notes. After returning it to the depths of his jacket, he says]

: We both know that already. You're a curious case...

: Why's that?

: Shishak is a sadist. I don't like sadists.

: That is for you to decide.

: Okay. I had a different task in store for you, but seeing as you have such a sober mind I'm giving you something else to do. It requires using not just muscle but perhaps even your brain.

: Tell me the details.

: I had a visit recently. Three brothers came to me asking for a job. Just like in a fairy-tale the eldest was smart, the middle one neither smart nor stupid, and the youngest as slow as a snail. All three were rather unpleasant, but not too horrible, what I'd call an average level of post-apocalyptic cruelty.

: Perhaps they just failed the task and flew the coop?

: They very well might be dead. What then?

: Understood. Where should I start?

: Visit the farm they were heading for. Ask the farmers what they know and whether they've seen the brothers at all. Give me your map, I'll show you where it is.

: [You hand the map to Dan and he pierces a tiny hole where the farm is located. Then he returns it to you abruptly]

: I wanted to talk about the captive.

: Who is he?

: What is he doing here?

: Can I free him?

Let's try lowballing Dan.

: 300 rubles.

: [Speechcraft] Maybe there's a way I can get him off your hands a little cheaper? What do you think, Denis Denisovich? He's not worth your time, not to mention the waste of food.

: I'll think about it.

We then hit Dan with the standard barrage of questions. He deflects most of them because we're not charismatic enough to get it out of him he IS ex-KGB, after all, but we do get this rumor:

And with that, we're off!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Yes?

: Are you Dan the Bandit Man?

: Yes. Who are you? No fake names like "I.P. Freely" or "Uranus Hertz" please.

: Bear Bearovitch. As you can see, I am a real criminal because I have this criminal ID. Can I get a job?

: Yes. Go talk to Shishak, he will give you our secret bandit test.

: Are you Shishak?

: Mayyybe. Do you have any funny references? Bitches love funny references.


: Ha ha, yes! YES! I love references! Why bother coming up with anything original or witty, when we can just lazily plaster references anywhere! We can totally squander the potential of a game set in the Soviet Union by lazily copying Fallout!. When we do come up with original ideas it's crap like our perk tree! Anyway, I'm not Shishak, Shishak's over there.

: Let me take five hours with these fucking keys so I can be characterized as a despicable bully. Now, it's time for the old test of loyalty with an unloaded gun cliche. Isn't this like, a moral quandary? Trolleys!

: Nah.

: Kill him!

: Nah.

: Kill him!

: Nah.

: Kill him! Huh, I guess not. I'll go report to Dan.

: Wow, I'm impressed, why did you sit through all those text boxes when you could have pointed the gun at his head and skipped like ten boxes of dull prose?

: Shishak's a sadist and I hate sadists.

: So do I, but cruelty can be useful, so I've turned Shishak into an asset. Now, you seem actually smart, so I have a job for you. I sent three brothers I barely knew to a farm who's refusing to pay taxes. Find out what happened to them. Can you do that?

: Sure. Can I free that Otradnoye handyman guy? I got... 300 rubles.

: 500 or fuck off, buddy! And no, I won't answer your questions! You don't have the right to know SHIT!

So Dan here is our introduction to one of the game's recurring themes: do you submit to unjust or immoral authority to prevent destruction? I missed the conversation with the gate guard (I think, it will go in the next update) about how Dan and the Factory gang fight all the legions of mutants and rapists and shit that are just slavering to go after Otradnoye, but can't seem to parley this into any kind of respect from the citizens. If we somehow killed Dan and the camp here (which we can't do, Dan has an endgame automatic weapon and will tear us a new asshole) Otradnoye's ending slide is that it's overrun by bad people and destroyed. Really. We'll be seeing a lot more of Dan as the game goes on, so strap yourselves in! We're doing the whole Factory questline!

Next time: We must kill them so no one thinks we're murderers.