The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 16: The Secret of Bunker 317

The Secret of Bunker 317

Last time on ATOM, we hit a new low for these authors. I'm gonna be honest, I'm kind of done being fair after that shit. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of this garbage game to get through (and under no circumstances am I going to do all of it), so buckle up and let's plow through it.

We're still outside the video store after the postman revealed he was part of an evil conspiracy that wanted to shut down Redlettermedia Pizzagate to run their own evil conspiracy. That really happened.

We're off to Red Fighter to see our cool new house, because, hey, this makes us the post-apocalyptic 1%.

Unfortunately for us, every single random encounter is determined to waste our time.

The ATOM developers are on record as wanting a dangerous seeming world, but very few of these encounters are actually dangerous! These giant spiders look intimidating, but they die to a single application of Cossack Steel. Fidel and Hexogen even shoot a few.

I escape from a later encounter of rats and wasps, which are enemies so weak a starting character can kill them with a fucking brick.

I think it's fair to say that one of the things this game really suffers from is a failure of imagination. The base idea that you are wandering through a post-apocalyptic wasteland unraveling a giant conspiracy to do, uh.... fuck if I know?.. is not a bad one, but the problem is that the post apocalyptic landscape is just so fucking boring. Look, a giant spider. Some ants. A regular sized rat with the "mutant" descriptor. It's supposed to be a hostile wasteland full of mutants and whatnot, but it's just boring! Even the conspiracy isn't doing anything you couldn't find on 4chan. Arrgh!

No! Don't waste those! We can use them to kill guards!

: I'm already here! Looking around!

: You're quite fast, you old pendejo!

: A wolf is fed by its swift legs.

: Red Fighter... Recaptured, from the nasty paws of the expanding mutantry!

: Where's my house?! Or was it just an empty promise...

: Quit yer hollering! Let me show you where it is. It's a nice house, too! With a cellar. Although we didn't explore it too much, so it's up to you now. If you need some help, you can ask my buddy Pasha the technician. He waits for you there.

: Lead the way.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, made it here! Just checking things out, you know.

: That was fast, you little bitch.

: You snooze, you lose.

: Hooray! I will cheer in a way vaguely racist against mutants!

: Where's my house?

: Right over there! My buddy Pasha can help you fix it up!

Meet Pasha.

Pasha is that archetype from videogames immemorial, where he's the guy you throw money at for base upgrades.

: Aren't you by any chance Pasha the technician?

: And how will you help me out?

: [Pasha silently looks over the room. His eyes finally stop on the open hatch, that leads to the basement. The man slaps his hand on the table]

: Look! I fixed this place up for you, right? But I never touched the downstairs! There's so much work, it's downright scary! But...

: ..chief, if you'll pay for the parts, I'll fix up your pump to get the water level down. 500 rubles should be enough. But if you're too greedy for that, you may try to clean it yourself.

500 rubles for less ATOM gameplay? SCORE!

I legitimately cannot tell if Fidel is being serious or sarcastic here.

We throw the 500 rubles at him, 500 more for the generator, and 1000 more to get the poisonous mushrooms out of the basement. We can easily make that back executing random encounters. We have to come back in a day. I think the end result is that you can craft ammunition here, which is good for some of the rarer guns you encounter on your travels. Of course, it's still ATOM, and the optimal play is to be a lone idiot with a sword.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey boss, it's me! Pasha the technician! You can pay me fat stacks of cash to fix up the base, and skip ATOM gameplay too!

: :homebrew:

Oh our way out we're accosted by Gozhin who wants to tell us that we got the cool house.

: A house well done. Thank you.

Seriously, the guy fixed it up and gave us a free house that we don't have to pay rent or mortgage on. It's at least 2 stories and a cellar and it has working electricity. I know the narration is that it's a "small house" but we literally live in a post apocalyptic wasteland. You're all right, Gozhin.

: Glad to help you out! We picked the best of the bunch! The conveniences are outside, but where can you find a better deal...?

He's not wrong! I think we're supposed to feel cheated that our free house isn't a McMansion or Stalin's old dacha or something, but again, it's a free house in a post-nuclear wasteland that Pasha fixed up for us.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, we screwed up the event flags, here's your house!

: It's a small house! Do you feel cheated, player?

: Cool, thanks, an actual fixed up house while everyone else lives in crappy post apocalyptic Fallout references! This rules!

: I am vaguely untrustworthy and want you to feel cheated, but I also had Pasha the handyman fix up your free pre-nuclear war house that has actual non shitty furniture and stuff. Ta-ta!

This guy talks about his cattle herding adventures. It's more ATOM "worldbuilding" that has nothing to do with any of the rest of the work, but I guess players would feel cheated if they couldn't force every nonhostile humanoid model into answering four questions.

I don't even fucking know. I'm sure it's a Fallout reference, but I could literally just play Fallout instead.

Sometimes you get lucky with the trading caravans and get interesting stuff. I grab the explosives and the tobacco, because we have at least one more guard I want to smoke to death.

This is a unique encounter I'm going to quickly sum up.

There's a guy in a cave who leaves this journal behind, where he got paranoid about the skies and thought maybe something was going to kill him, but the stars are going dark and blah blah blah.

This poorly proofread journal ("profecy") is supposed to help set the tone of the game that the nuclear war ended everything and maybe tie back into the devils at the beginning (which, incidentally, the developers refuse to explain) but it just kind of runs into my apathy, because this game has burned away any goodwill I had left with that pizzagate quest. The thread mentioned a bunker family, and now I'm mad that i had to remember that future encounter which is just as bad. Oh well!

I'm skipping a lot of this, and on one level it can probably tie into our bullshit conspiracy deal that's running through the entire game, but on the other hand... who cares? The problem with the ATOM protagonist is that we have no real motivation to do any of this shit and all we're doing is weird odd jobs for money. The conspiracies are bad, but we have no real ties to anything that could be affected by these conspiracies.

Then we run into more tinfoil hat wearing doomsday cultists, which would be funny until you think about it and realize every dumbass conspiracy thing is true. The RLM BBQ guys were kidnapping people in the basement and serving them as sex slaves to the leaders of Peregon, Trudograd, and Krasnoz. We work for a conspiracy (that has absolutely no leverage over us). There is an actual mysterious cult that introduces itself to us on the street so we can stalk a horny new age lady.

Thus the intended joke of "lol these conspiracy guys believe in conspiracies" isn't actually as funny, because all the conspiracies are true. This encounter also glitches out and permanently locks me in combat after the last cultist is dead, so I have to flee in turn-based mode to get out of it. ATOM!

I have 141 speechcraft and Kovalev won't give me his backstory. I think I might have to progress Dan's quests for that, but that requires going back to Peregon, which will be an adventure for another day.

Anyway, we're going to progress the main plot and head to Bunker 317. For those of you who've forgotten (and I absolutely do not blame you in the slightest), we are searching for ATOM General Morozov, who led an expedition to Bunker 317 which disappeared. Due to manpower shortages, they sent out one guy and told him to meet Fidel to figure out what was going on.

Notably, we don't actually have a means to get in touch with ATOM to report back, but these are the same people who wrote a mystery plot as going around town asking if people like bandits.

Thanks to throwing enough money at Abraham, we have enough survival to trigger the dog encounter.

They kill the guy, but we apply Cossack Steel to the random knife bandits and rescue our new furry friend.

We can't do anything to him unless we loot his old owner.

This is what you're looking for, we can show it to the dog and he'll recognize us as a friend.

Pass one of these and we're all set! Dzhulbars seems like a big badass fuckoff dog until you realize that most of our enemies are packing heat and he's still a dog. Now, there is a solution to this, and it's to trade with all the junk scavengers to get armor to put on the dog so that maybe he doesn't get immediately shredded by AK-47 fire.

He also comes at level one, because fuck you, that's why! He has his own skill tree, and usually what people take is the one that improves his survivability because otherwise he gets torn to shreds. He also can't use most of the skills because he's a dog, and despite what Dark Souls would tell you, dogs can't use swords.

Actually going to Bunker 317 gets us a little cutscene.

There's a helicopter outside! This seems really cool but it's irradiated because the ATOM devs won't let you have nice things. Oh well, let's keep exploring!

The bunker is sealed off, but you can spend a bunch of dialog and skill checks to fuck with this minecart and program it to ram the door with explosives. Fortunately, I came prepared with explosives.

This opens the door so we can get in and discover the terrible secret of Bunker 317.

These guys run up to say hello. You can actually get them to open the door for you, at which point they try to rob you when you get out of the bunker. It's a fight that caused me to reload a lot, but fortunately for us Bear has a silver tongue.

Also Jesus wept, the description is literally "a mustached man with a mustache". This is presumably something that was written in exchange for money. How? Did the nuclear war kill ATOM team's editors?

: What's it to you?

: Well, call it interest. We spent days checking that place out, risking our hides for it... And you? Were you spying on us in turn?! That's not too honest of ya, isn't it? We do all the work, and some dude just jumps in and takes all the fruits of our struggle! That's not too nice... No, it's not...

What irks me about the narration is how it assumes the reader is stupid. The bandits readying weapons is enough to tell an astute observer that yes, "Something is about to go down". The developers want to provide a virtual reality level of description (when they have the entire Unity engine and piles of animations and particle effects) but also explain what every detail means because this text is designed to be dully clicked through while waiting for the next inane battle.

Now, we can try to intimidate gunmen with muscles, or we can use our stupidly high speechcraft skill.

: [Speechcraft] ...And here I was, thinking I met someone honest for a change. Now you're trying to rob me?

...Was the shameful apology not enough to tell us that we reached this man?

: Now, when this unpleasantness is behind us, maybe we'll talk like the civilized folks we are?

We can cash in our social capital by shaming these robbers.

: You mentioned a troop of soldiers. Know anything about them?

As a matter of fact, our veteran buddy here didn't. Now, here's the thing, there's a lot you can explore here, in that this man survived the nuclear war, fought in the Soviet army, maybe even fought in Afghanistan, and is probably suffering some pretty severe PTSD. Instead we get a description of a mustached man with a mustache and a shameful apology followed by the game explaining that he's shamefully apologizing.

: Some military types, yeah. We observed them from that village... What's it's name... Otradnoye, I think. They looked pretty serious. Packing some real heat. Equipped for war, I'd say. We even joked that they're the guys from ATOM. But jokes aside, they sure as hell weren't locals.

For context, these bandits are very heavily armed themselves.

: Interesting... I have another question, though.

Back up the tree, we get the same screen.

: Tell me about yourself.

I won't lie, despite the atrocious writing it's hard not to feel bad for this guy. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was brutal, and after that traumatic experience he suffered through a nuclear war.

Before you assume too much of these guys, if you ask them for help with the bunker they send you in and then ambush you outside. It's kind of dumb, because even the most loot-happy character will leave a ton of sellable stuff behind, but...

More questions!

: What do you know about this place?

: Not too much. As some locals would tell you, it was a highly restricted area before the war. Barbed wire fences all over, military snipers shooting trespassers on sight, and all that.

: Heard any rumors?

: Wars are a nuisance, I'd say. We just got through with Afghanistan, but then the bombs fell. And that's not all; even the older wars still haunt our lives. For example, I heard that some boys were cleaning a field not too long ago, and what do you know? Blown to bits when they struck an ancient shell. Yup. That's wars for ya.

: People came to look, and in the crater there were five more dud shells, and rotten boxes filled with rifles and ammo. And those rifles, man... They were the sort used back in the Civil War, no less!

This ends our questions and we can run on our merry way.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Look, a mustached man with a mustache!

: Wow, did you blow the door open? Not cool man! We were just sitting here trying to remember what women looked like while staring at the bunker, and then you opened it! You should feel bad! We are going to rob you now!

: Don't you know robbing people is morally bankrupt?

: I...fuck, I'm so ashamed of myself right now. I'm really sorry.

: He shamefully apologized!

: You can make it up to me by answering questions. The script says you said you saw a troop of men, but you never said that.

: Oh, yea, those guys! We joked they were men from ATOM, but no idea where they are now. Isn't that funny?

: Who are you, anyway?

: Oh, I fought in the Afghan war, but then the nuclear war happened which was a lot better than Afghanistan, I'll tell you that! Now we just sell old Soviet equipment.

: Know anything about the bunker?

: They were apparently doing secret experiments, which I don't care about as a reseller of old Soviet equipment.

: Heard any rumors?

: Duude! Our past is defined by waaar!

I have to come back to what I said about this game having a real lack of imagination, because every time it approaches something that could be interesting it runs off shrieking in terror. This guy probably has a lot to say and could provide some interesting perspective on stuff we've seen, but he's a throwaway bandit encounter 99% of players are just going to shoot in the head. We're about to see a secret experimental base doing experiments we can't interact with. The pacifist run showed off interdimensional ghosts that we will never hear from again. We met an actual god who blasted us with magic lightning to give us good fortune, and we will never hear from that guy again. There's a lot of stuff scattered throughout the game, but there's no real depth to most of it, and when you do get depth it's for gross shit like the Pizzagate questline - which, incidentally, still isn't over after we rescued the truck driver, killed the slaver ambush, convicted Beard, and destroyed Comet Barbeque. The game wants to talk about things, but doesn't have anything interesting or deep to say about them, so we end up with these extremely shallow interactions punctuated by clunkers like the mustached man with a "huge fluffy mustache".

It's OK, we've got another example ahead of us shortly.

Welcome to Bunker 317. The terrible secret of Bunker 317 is that it's a boring slog with things that could almost be interesting if the game wasn't written by ATOM team.

I want you all to know that unlike Xander77, I am playing this unmodded which means sitting here dully as the game vomits out "you failed to open the lock" messages. This game, as a reminder, was made in 2017. There is no purpose to the RNG here aside from wasting the player's time.

I will leave you all to speculate as to why there's a condom in the decontamination shower room.

The bunker is also filled with rats and ants. The lower left corner states that one of the ants was killed by automatic weapons fire, but I am pointing this out as this is the gameplay here. Bear one-shots the boring enemies, his party members all run around uselessly to save ammo, and we loot what's left. Between "ant takes 130 damage!" and "you failed to open the lock" you should have a pretty good idea of how this dungeon goes.

This is the example I'm giving of how the game desperately avoids anything that might be interesting or fun. It's an old secret Soviet combat robot! That's cool as hell! Look at those machine guns, maybe we can take it with us?

: [Look at the body]

: [Lockpicking] [Pick the lock and remove the plate]

: [Technology] [Try fixing it]

Alright. Astute readers may notice that I didn't exactly prioritize technology, even though I'm confronted with a machine gun wielding murderbot that requires 100 technology to repair. There's a reason for this. However, I must cross a shameful line for a TheGreatEvilKing LP: I'm going to cheat.

To enter any commands in the console, you need to enter youshallnotpass for some reason. It registers as an invalid command, but then you can enter "Hero" which sets all our stats to 10 and gives us 100 to all skills. I'll be reloading a save to clear this, but I want to show off our robot friend.


Ha ha ha...yes!

YUP! So, if you have 100 technology you can repair the robot, which immediately crashes and explodes. No, this does not start a sidequest to find the broken parts or any of that shit, fuck you! The only other use for technology is looting old vending machines. Again, any time ATOM approaches something that might be fun or interesting, the developers yank it away because, well, you have a basic turn-based combat system and their inept writing to read! Isn't this funny?

Now go sword this rat we found in the Unity asset store.

The game will occasionally throw codelocks at you. The lockpick skill bypasses them just fine.

This magazine gives +10 to technology, and also makes a lame attempt at meta humor because "could we play games on the computer lol". So you only need to waste 90 skill points on the game neener neenering away a cool battle robot. They already made this joke by having your character hallucinate he's in a game. Ha ha.

There's a dialog hello world programming puzzle I'm going to bypass by just unlocking this elevator and taking it down.

Blah blah blah boring blah blah blah.

Painkillers are great for tough fights as they can be the difference between being one rounded or surviving long enough to get turbohigh.

Characters will also whine if you push them aside to get at lootable objects. It's a nice touch, although I suspect that effort could have been spent making mechanical systems that aren't complete trash.


These are always worth having.

I can't really sugarcoat this one. It's just tedium. I'm not cutting out any spooky scenery - there are the green poisonous mushrooms, the lockers, a swimming pool, a few offices, but nothing really secret experimenty or like a secret Soviet laser weapon or Tesla coil or something.

The best part is that due to the isometric perspective, we can see a human modeled behind a door.

: [Look around]

No, don't bother to change the lighting or anything, just provide dull realist prose of how totally scared I am and how hard the room is to see when it's lit the exact same as the rest of the base.

: Who's there?

Ah, I see we're back to using the accent marks instead of quotes.

Oh, and we interrupt this terrifying, spooky encounter to slowly describe the ant suit while displaying a picture of a man in an ant suit. I'm sorry, a "strange watcher" in an ant suit.

Look, I know it's low hanging fruit going after the dev's English writing, but they are selling this as a game where the writing is very important and desperately trying to make the writing compensate for the graphical work they could not or would not do. This isn't even like science fiction where you ignore Asimov's questionable writing because you like the idea of Hari Seldon, the game has real problems figuring out what it wants to say.

: Human.

So we get shit like this. Now, I will freely admit that after last update I'm not particularly inclined to give the devs any leeway, but we literally just threw away a functioning AI and a traumatized man with an interesting perspective on the setting so we could get this shit about a man in an ant costume.

It's weird, and possibly insane to see an old man pretending to be an ant, but I can't say I care too much about why he's an ant or what other idiocy he's up to. There's also a nonzero chance he's a reference. Maybe Fallout 3's AntAgonizer? Kafka?

: Man, did you happen to be an ATOM employee?

It's kind of funny in these games that no one ever asks these questions to us.

: Who... or what are you?

: What do you mean by this <<rebirth>>?

So I guess it's a trauma reaction? Because it comes off as a lame attempt at humor to me. Lol, he thinks he's an ant, lolrandom!

: I see... I have another question.

: Did a squad of troops pass by here?

: Ant Gavrilov indeed has seen the big squad... [coughs]... of humans recently. They entered the bunker laboratory by breaking down the first door and blowing up the second one. Ant Gavrilov did not follow them after that... [coughs].. but he heard gunfire...

If we think back to those bandits at the door, the mustached man with a huge fluffy mustache (I'm sorry) told us that they were watching the troops, but he didn't mention that fewer left than went in. He did mention watching them leave, and you'd think that people who are wasteland scavengers would notice this. Oh well.

: Hmm.... Then can I ask another question?

: I'm doubtful of course... but have you heard any rumors?

: Yes, that's old news... I have another question.

: Tell me about this bunker.

: Ant Gavrilov doesn't know why this... bunker... was built...[coughs].. but Ant Gavrilov has own... suspicions. Ant Gavrilov supposes some experiments were carried out here to invent a new type of weapon or to improve the old ones...

: Listen, can you help me somehow with the bunker?

: Human perhaps noticed a lot of working systems here should be broken by now. Ant Gavrilov keeps himself busy... [coughs] barely repairing equipment to stay alive. Besides, Ant Gavrilov knows codes to many bunker doors. The first door key to the labaratory[sic] - 4334.

No, you cannot ask Gavrilov for help fixing the battle robot.

: Thanks. Can I ask you another question?

: I have no questions anymore.

: But listen, you're a human!

: Wait, but how did you become an ant? It's impossible.

: [Speechcraft] But this <<rebirth>> didn't make Gavrilov into a real Ant...

: The surface world isn't exactly rainbows and butterflies nowadays! You didn't miss a lot. But now a guy with your skills is in about as much demand as clean water!

: [The man raises his eyes to you. They're full of hope.]

: Be careful out there. Good luck!

TheGreatEvilKing summarizes this shit posted:

: The developers of this game have no actual way to inspire terror, so I'm going to tell you this area is dark and spoooooky!

: They didn't even change the lighting! I can see there's a guy right there! We saw that guy in the isometric perspective when we entered the room! I know the developers can hide areas from that perspective because we're about to see it in a few minutes!

: There's... a man! Watching you! OoOoOoOoO!

: What the actual Central Committee loving fuck?

: You can see he's wearing... an ant suit!

: Ant Gavrilov talks like asthmatic Dobby! Are you hu-man here to see Ant Gavrilov?

: Yes, I'm human. Yes, I have questions. Who the fuck are you?

: Ant Gavrilov was maintenance engineer, before his rebirth as an ant!

: What the actual fuck.

: Ant Gavrilov suffered brain damage from living in this stupid game.

: Did you see a squad of troops pass by here?

: Ant Gavrilov saw them blow down the doors, then he heard gunfire, and fewer guys came out.

: Did you hear any rumors?

: There was a nuclear war!

: So, what's the deal with this bunker?

: Ant Gavrilov doesn't know, but he thinks it was to test new weapons.

: Do you know anything useful?

: Door code is 4334.

: Cool, bye!

: Ant Gavrilov doesn't have any friends because he talks in the third person and thinks he's an ant.

: Dude, I have 144 speechcraft, and I am telling you you are not an ant.

: Then Ant Gavrilov would have to realize he wasted his life hiding in the bunker.

: You are a pre-war engineer and people would pay you tons of real money to maintain old generators and stuff.

: Really? Cool, bye! Hopefully I won't get stabbed because people find my unfunny verbal tic annoying!

We find the code 5 minutes later in the commander's office. There is a reason to deal with that bullshit, and that reason is that Gavrilov shows up at Red Fighter to craft bug armor.

No idea what this means?

You'd think that a bunker that had experimental weapons testing would have more menacing enemies than chihuahua sized ants and rats. You'd be wrong.

If your technology is low you can't even identify what this is. As it stands, we can't do anything with it.

Something ominous happened at this hospital.

Alright, let's stop fucking around and check out the lab.

Dog kennels?

This is more like it! Bodies everywhere, and cloning vats and whatnot.

There are some bodies in the tanks, but it will not surprise the observant reader to learn that the player cannot interact with them in any way.

Also, the ATOM operatives got killed by gunfire. The game in no way indicates this, but General Morozov is not among them.

This guy has a mushroom talisman and a map with Krasnoznamenny circled on it.

: What can you tell me about this trinket? [Show him the mysterious charm you found on the murdered exposition member]

: [Fidel examines the item with interest and finally smirks, surprised]

: What do you mean? Tell me what you know!

Fidel was in our party when we did the job for the Mushroom Cult guy. You could have told us this at any time, dude.

: A Mushroom Cult? Are they named for a mushroom cloud or a fungus?

The game, of course, does not register that we followed the crazy cult lady around on behalf of a guy who seems to be working with a murderous conspiracy. I guess if we're being generous we thought he was a harmless idiot rather than someone capable of causing the ATOM expedition to start killing each other.

: What do you know about them?

The screenshot is provided to show that we are once again in the land of quote marks.

This would seem to be the explanation for why Fidel didn't mention anything when Igor approached us.

: Curious... Well, what shall we do now?

Fidel now conveniently forgets we did the job for their propagandist. I will admit, I did actually had to look up what to do here on the solo run as I'd sold the mushroom trinket and done a ton of sidequests between this moment and wanting to continue the main plot.

There's absolutely no need to hit up the informant as far as I'm aware.

: Alright, Fidel, let's hit the road then!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Find anything?

: Just this mushroom talisman and a map to Krasnoznamenny that says "go here to continue the plot".

: Oh, it's the mushroom cult lol! Those guys are New Age weirdos claiming to be scientists. I'd never pegged them as a threat before, but they do have money! We can either go visit that propagandist guy I completely forgot we did the quest for, or go pay my informant a bunch of money!

The plot thickens. It seems Morozov's expedition turned on itself - as neither Ant Dobby or the mustached man with a huge fluffy mustache reported another force of armed men entering or leaving the compound - on the behest of the Mushroom Cult, who has the Illuminati headquarters in Krasnoznamenny. Let's look around and see if we can find anything.

By swinging our sword in the opposite direction, we damage this bookcase to reveal...

A secret passage! This gets you an achievement, and you should do it with a melee weapon so you don't waste explosives or ammo. The loot is pitiful, you get 8 bullets off the dead scientist, but more interesting is what's inside.

One of the supersoldiers? A mushroom sample? We'll just have to wait and see!

When I said this was a conspiracy game, I meant it. I can requote Oushakine about how Mr. Hexogen has everything really be the product of vast, shadowy forces moving behind the scenes (The Mushroom Cult infiltrating ATOM, the city leaders running Pizzagate, Dan's bandits answering to the Krasnos Chamber of Commerce) but I think I am going to leave that discussion for a retrospective update discussing the conspiracy theme of the game.

Next time: Trying to figure out what happened here.