The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 7: I'm A Doctor, not an Overused Reference!

I'm A Doctor, not an Overused Reference!

Last time on ATOM RPG, we discussed some of the authors' literary influences. What I haven't mentioned in the thread is, since that time, Xander77 was awesome enough to reach out to the devs to ask some questions about the game and translate their replies. Massive shout out! The developers were pretty cagey about giving us answers (there was quite a bit about how the game did not have any "parallels with reality" in a game about a superpower that existed maybe a generation ago), but they did have this reply when asked about literary influences:

Dev Interview posted:

We were really inspired by the Strugatskys, for example, their trilogy about Maxim Kammerer (Xander's note - i.e, and the sequels). The themes of totalitarian states, human choices and their consequences. However, you need understand that each of our authors brought their thoughts and ideas with them to ATOM, based on life experience, watching movies or reading books and it is rather difficult to single out any main source of inspiration.

Incidentally, the specific Virgin Spring reference - as opposed to the folk song - seems to be the work of the fan translators the devs hired, hence our confusion. Anyway, we've gotten enough into the Prokhanov Zone last update with Dan the Bandit and the Untrustworthy Worm Gang, so let's go visit a completely different leader.

So, we can actually update Kovalev about the bandits here.

: I have something to tell you about the bandits...

I made a big deal about how in theory you could organize a trap for the bandits or a popular uprising or whatever by being a double agent secretly working for the villagers while pretending to be a card carrying criminal.

: I have intel on the captive inside the bandit camp.

: I can try and do that.

The problem is that any sort of resistance would be led by Kovalev, and Kovalev is kind of a fuck up. We've already seen the scene where he goes "of COURSE! The man who straight up said he was a bandit... is a bandit?" and bemoans not listening to him.

: I see. Well, I'll try and do just that. Bye.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hmm, our tech guy is held captive? Well, go break him out!

There's a lot more to Kovalev that we haven't seen yet, but he never really comes off as competent or the sharpest tool in the shed. His backstory includes a lot of fuckups over both his personal and professional life, and it says a lot that even though he's probably the most moral leader in the game he has you go stealth murder a man while muttering weak rationalizations about how it was totally necessary and he had to do it. Whatever! Let's go atone for our murder by trying to save a man's life.

: I need your help, doctor.

: [Doctor Mikoyan checks your pulse, your blood pressure, even your pupils. He finally steps back, looking disappointed.]

: We have a patient for ya, doc...

: [Doctor Mikoyan looks surprised]

: I'm not talking about myself, doc. There's a badly wounded man dying in the Factory. You need to help him.

: [Doc Mikoyan takes a step back, his face contorted with disgust]

I think they switched translators here, because I am 99% sure this is supposed to be a McCoy "I'm a doctor, not a rapper" reference. You know, from Star Trek.

: But he was wounded protecting the people of Otradnoye from a raid.

: [The Doctor's face turns beet red]

: [Speechcraft] But his intentions were good, doc! Have good intentions ever lead to something bad, huh? Like, ever?

Hoo boy, this sure is a line in the USSR game.

: I got it, doc. Let me try a different reason.

The irony of the strength option - we never gave our word as a bodybuilder, so that is a lie - is actually kind of funny. Kudos.

: [Personality] Constantine, this is harsh. You're putting me in a tight spot.

: [Intellect] Sometimes to save a life, it's not enough to simply offer medicine, doc.

: [The doctor's ironic smile rapidly fades. He's starting to consider your words]

: Thank's[sic] doc! I always believed in you.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey doc, I need your help.

: You appear perfectly fine! Stop wasting my time with stupid shit!

: It's not for me, it's for a dying man in the factory.

: Well, fuck him, maybe he shouldn't have become a bandit.

: Look, doctor, I got two whole screens of skill checks I can try. Please?

: Sure, but only because we're friends.

Eh, I'm sure this won't be important later.

We have this encounter on the way to the factory. We attack, as we want XP.

They have dinky rusty pistols, and we have a very sharp knife.

This gentleman gets shanked for his troubles.

A lot of your life as a melee guy is going to be spent running at gunmen. Don't sweat it. Enemy guns are hot garbage right now and would be even more laughable if I'd remembered to craft the armor we got from Satan Guy.

We proc a stun on this idiot and shank him to death.

They have some loot. Of course, while the game is mocking the conspiracy theorists, their real crime is that they believe in the wrong conspiracies - the microwave mind control shit instead of, say, the existence of ATOM. We'll get to that later.

Have a fallout reference.

The good doctor beat us here, presumably because he was not stopped by doomsday cultists and I imagine any Dan Fans in the area helped him out.

: Lift up your shirt, young man.

: Um... Ah... are you gonna stick me with that needle or what, doc? I need meds!

: In due time. I'm a doctor, not a slave to your craving for drugs!

I'm a doctor reference count this update: 2

: Just kidding, doc.

: This wound was sutured by a blind man? Look at all that disgusting puss!

I guess George Carlin fucked up the sutures and is nervous about it, ha ha!

: Bite on this, you man. I need to open this wound.

: Aiiiiaa!

: Don't whimper. I'm a doctor, not a pre-school teacher.

This is the third time you've made that reference, and it's rather predictable seeing as the doctor is Bones from Star Trek.

: Ow! Aaaah!

: This shot will take away your fever.

: Ooooh! So good...

In case you're wondering, the bandit straight up dies if you don't get Mikoyan.

: Time to stitch you up.

There's a lot of screaming from the bandit I omit here.

: Never thought I would be helping this sort... although I suppose people are people. So why should it be? Why should us and these bandits get along so awfully? We're of different professions and different creeds but all of us get hurt from time to time and need medical attention.

: It happens, young man. Now kindly let me do my job. We can talk again when I've returned to the village. Don't worry about my safety. The local banditry promised me an escort.

: I won't hold you back, doc. Do your thing.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Yo, doc, got any drugs? I wanna get hiiiiiigh!

: Give me a bit, I'm a doctor, not a fuckup.

: You just made that reference!

: Damn, this wound is really bad! Good thing I'm a doctor, not a fuckup!

: Fuck!

: Ok, all good. Why can't we get along with these bandits who rob us and bond over our shared humanity? Oh well, you go on your merry way.

Now, you might think that Dan has something to say about the dying man we saved, and... he doesn't.

: I wanted to talk about the captive.

A lot of the English speaking fans of the game will talk about how interesting it is that Dan is actually protecting the villagers, and the TvTropes page (I'm sorry, I know) talks about how Dan is a "borderline tyrant".

: Can I free him?

: Here it is. [Give him the money]

This is wrong. Dan is absolutely a tyrant who doesn't care about the lives of his men. I mentioned that if you don't do the quest to go get Doctor Mikoyan, the wounded bandit dies. George Carlin even gives a speech about his dead friend.

You don't get the mission to save this man from Dan, you get it from two men who are desperate enough to promise all their possessions to a man who got admitted to the bandit camp two days ago because he was literally a card-carrying crook.

: Nice doing business with you.

: Okay, I'd better go.

: I came for the prisoner.

: [Shishak's eyebrows shoot up in surprise]

: You don't say. Can you prove it? Do you think any old bum can just wander in and say that?

: Here's a note from Dan. [Give the note to Shishak]

Dan is a smart guy with a fair amount of resources and leverage over Otradnoye. I find it difficult to believe that he couldn't find something to offer the villagers in exchange for Mikoyan's services, even if it was just a temporary reprieve from raids.

: [Shishak takes the note, throws you an incredulous look, and frowns at it while he reads. He looks at you again, crumples the note in his hands and finally shrugs his indifference]

: Everything seems to be in order. Okay, wait a second.

: [He takes his knife and cuts the ropes binding the prisoner's hands and feet]

: Yeah, well... Bye.

The prisoner becomes a temporary party member until we leave the map. I'll go over this stuff once we get someone permanent like Fidel.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Here's 500 rubles, can I free that guy?

: Ka-ching! Take this note to Shishak and fuck right off!

: Huh, no option to ask about the dying bandit guy. Oh well! Hey, Shishak, I got this note from Dan, you gotta free that guy.

: :(

Anyway, back to Dan and the dying bandit. Kosoy told us a few updates back that Dan isn't working alone, but he's actually working for the government of Kraznosnamenny.

Kosoy posted:

: 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.

Kroznosnamenny has an entire hospital full of doctors. It's entirely plausible that an alternate version of Dan might ask for permission to send his men there, or even for a doctor to be assigned to the factory to see to the wounds his men take fighting off fanatical murder hobos. I would imagine that if they're talking to the Krasnoznamenny government someone has permission to get into the city, and those doctors will happily treat outsiders for money. It's not that Dan can't save the dying man, it's that he doesn't care. Is this sounding a bit familiar?

You go back to your own game! The parallel isn't perfect, as there are a fair amount of surprisingly decent people at the bandit camp we haven't met yet, but already the characters we met are Kosoy the idealistic gate guard who believes in Dan's vision, the weird Satan guy who taught us how to craft armor asking nothing in return, a mostly harmless guy who was just fucking with us for snakes on a plane references, George Carlin trying to help out a dying man, said dying man who took a bullet protecting a bunch of innocent villagers... and Dan and Shishak. Unlike Ashe, Dan actually does have to deal with some of the consequences of his actions, but we'll get there. It ties right back into the theme the developers discussed above - living in a totalitarian society - as we see Dan is just another petty tyrant motivating young men with dreams of a statehood and being cool Robin Hood outlaws who protect innocent villagers, but who is actually just interested in setting up a new tyranny ruled solely by himself. He even says this.

Dan the Bandit Man posted:

While working on this update, I realized that there's another thing every single leader in this game has in common.

: I have something to tell you about the bandits...

They're all physically isolated from the people they lead. Kovalev is probably the closest to the villagers, as his house is in the middle of the village next to the tavern, but no one ever goes inside to talk to him and he won't talk to the player until you do Katya's dumb mushroom quest. If we look at Dan's office, it's in a separate building from the rest of the factory where he can take notes in peace and ignore the screams of the man dying a slow death on his behalf. This theme is going to recur in the other towns we visit, and one town in particular heavily features it.

: I freed a captive in their camp.

Yeah, we paid 500 rubles to the bandits that they will probably use to buy new weapons with. We're taking that reward.

: [Nod silently]

: Right, I just remembered the part about a reward...

: Yes, yes. Let me just find the... Aha!

It's 500 rubles. We make no profit on this operation, and I'm not confident in Bear's skills to not aggro the entire bandit camp breaking out the mechanic.

: [Speechcraft] With all due respect, Comrade Kovalev, could you add some more money to this reward? It was an extremely risky mission, as you know.

: What can a man do? See you later, comrade.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, I rescued that technician guy, can I get a reward?

: Here's 500 rubles.

: That was literally the amount I paid in ransom, can I have some actual profit please?

: Lol nope.

Whatever. Let's talk to the technician guy.

: I can understand that. It's okay.

: [The man looks down and scratches the back of his head]

: I just did what I thought was right.

: [The man nods with respect and looks you straight in the eye]

: Now this is what I call a man with high moral values! You did what was right! Many forgot what it's like, to live life following an ethical code... You're a strong person, friend.

: Don't make me blush now...

: Hey! I need to thank you for the rescue somehow, right? Look, brother... Most people around think I'm poor. But it's actually not true. I'm actually really handy, and I don't repair stuff just for the village. I have a stash...

: There's an empty house behind the gates, filled with all sorts of garbage. This is where I keep my lockbox.

: There's a switch left of the entrance. Push it and you'll see light coming from under the old bed. Push it out of the way and boom! You're in my personal little cellar. The safe is in there, welded to the floor. This is where I keep all my extra cash.

: The code is 8904! Not hard, right! Only four digits. Take everything I keep inside, don't be shy. There's not a lot of money in there. But I hope it'll help you in your travels.

There's actually an amazing item for early game in there.

I'll spare you the questions, basically he got drunk, bragged about being a millionaire, and the bandits grabbed him for ransom.

: I better go then. Good luck, man!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: God damn that was awesome when you stood there and trolled Shishak. Here is the combination to my hidden safe, take ALL my possessions, you moral man you!

We also level up and Bear picks up this perk. This perk is all you ever need for offense in this game. Remember how we're an unlucky optimist and thus do more critical damage for a critical chance penalty? This completely negates that and lets us do sweet ass wombo combos that one shot most enemies in the game save one incredibly badly designed boss.

I buy a rope like an idiot, because we'll need it soon.

Welcome to Steblev's cellar! We're about to run into a totally batshit reference.

Anyway, meet Mouserinks. As you can see, our DPS has gone way up - that's a first round critical that takes Mouserinks from full health to almost dead.

Despite being a named enemy she goes down in two strokes of our mighty shiv. Mouserinks is apparently the Mouse Queen in the original tale of the Nutcracker, and you might be asking yourself "why does this abandoned house have a nutcracker reference?"

I have no idea but we're going all the way!

I am honestly baffled by this entire sequence. This gets you the achievement "Bustin' nuts" by the way.

There's a specific use for this much later in the game, so we're going to hang on to it.

Also, there's a rope on the shelves. Oh well! There's also a toy gun for some reason.

Opening up the safe...

Score! This thing rules. There's a better backpack you can get later in the game, but these sell for a lot and your only other competition are shields that don't work against guns. You are not going to take a shield.

This is the problem with the game, ultimately. There is an interesting undercurrent to the writing with regards to things like Dan and the bandits or Kovalev's ineffectual leadership, but it's all drowned out by weird shit like overusing the "I'm a doctor, not an X" or this weird fucking Nutcracker reference out of nowhere. This is not helped by every single gameplay element being abysmal. However, at least this game is going somewhere, unlike, say, Stygian.

Next time: The Roaring Forest, and maybe Kovalev's backstory.