Part 26: A Real Dedication To Squandering Potential - and Genocide!A Real Dedication To Squandering Potential - and Genocide!
Welcome back! Last time, we watched as the Halloween event thoroughly destroyed the game, then we decided to avoid violence because the fight glitched out to shit. Today we're going to do more random sidequests in Kraznosnamenny, because it's what the thread voted on and because this game's main plot is surprisingly sparse.
Anyway, last time we got the "chainsword" which uses the same hilt and animations as a regular chainsaw. We can talk about it, I guess. It has 20 swings of ammunition and when those are out you can't reload it in battle. There's a 25% chance to panic an enemy when swung, and I don't even know what that does because I can count the number of enemies that can survive us critting the eyes on one hand.
It is, however, one of the two unique weapons this game has. The other is not worth it unless you have a sniper, and I'm going to cheese it hard because fuck this game!
Anyway, the guy whose quest I was planning to do next won't show up at night, so we're going to wander Kraznosnamenny, so we may as well wai -
Really. Ok. As it turns out we are also eating a str penalty from withdrawal, so I shoot up some stimulants to satisfy our sweet love of drugs.
We will instead pass the time by barging into this lady's extremely small house.
: [Eye the woman up]
: So insolent! You should be ashamed of yourself!
A Master of the Cossack Sword fears the judgment of no horny woman who is waiting for men to barge into her house!
: [The woman lowers her eyes]
Look, this is the sex and violence run. Well, mostly.
: An adventure for two... A very hot adventure... and very private...
: [The woman rolls her eyes and laughs primly, covering her mouth with her hand]
: What a husband! His gorgeous wife waits at home while he gallivants God knows where!
Also we've killed hundreds of gunmen with a damn sword.
: Whether he's good or bad is beyond the point, what matters is that he is my husband. And he's not just a cack-handed drunkard...
: [The woman winks at you mischievously]
: [Personality] It is a sort of hobby for me... Stealing other men's wives...
You know, it occurs to me that we can fuck at least two married women, this nameless lady and Dunya. Huh.
"In a very seducing manner" I don't even know.
Fortunately all the booze I've been hoarding comes in handy here.
: I happen to have some spirits with me, and the hostess will deal with the treat...
I admit I find [Condom] dialog labels hilarious because I have the mind of a twelve year old.
So, while Fidel, Hexogen, and the dog just kinda watch from the open door we cuck some dude we don't even know. There's a purpose for this, and it's not just the 69 XP!
Huh, I just realized she has only a single bed. Part of me is wondering if we went back and searched the house, would we actually find men's clothing, or am I overthinking this?
Bear has had a rush of brains to...something and realizes he can have sex with one woman multiple times. It is a harder lesson to learn than the riddle of Cossack Steel.
: Ahem... how about one more "date"?
: [The woman winces]
: I understand. Let's change the subject.
: Yes... let's do that.
: Ahem... there's nothing more to say. I'd better go.
: [The woman takes your hand, cautiously]
: What is it?
: Before you, there was another incident... I let go of myself, with a handsome man... Just a couple days ago. He even persuaded me to slip to a hotel with him. And then I realized I forgot something there in the suite...
: [Eye the woman up with a long, heavy look]
They are? We've heard a lot about Fidel and Margarita, but we don't even know this woman's name.
: Okay. When I'm in the hotel, I'll check the rooms.
: Yeah... Well, wait here.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Wow, you barged into my house! Just like a porno! Do you want to fuck?
: At last, I shall sheath my Cossack Steel!
: Just so you know, I'm married and you'd totally be cucking my husband, who might shoot you! Are you ok with that?
: I am...the maker of cucks!
: I'm so wet right now stick it in!
: Should we shut the door, because there are two dudes and a dog -
: Evidently not! You initiate insemination protocols all over this woman! Sit here for five minutes for a joke that was funny maybe once.
: Hey, I just realized! We could have sex twice!
: No...I wish I could, but I love my husband despite being dtf with a literal stranger whose name I never got when he busted through my door. I'm sorry. I do have a quest for you, could you go to the hotel and retrieve my underwear from the last time I cheated on my husband? I would, but I don't want people I haven't fucked to think I'm a whore.
: Sure, why not.
The underwear is in the Krasnoz hotel on the room on the far left.
This raises all kinds of questions, like "how did this woman get this rare and valuable item when she lives in a one room hovel" and "she's about 30, did she inherit this from someone?"
: About your undergarment...
There's a lot that doesn't add up here, but I'm not sure if we're supposed to notice it for the general unease that this game thinks it's projecting, or if it's just standard bad ATOM writing.
: [The woman snatches a crumpled brassiere from your hand and quickly hides it in her bosom. Her face, red with shame, is suddenly lit up with a tentative smile]
There is actually a surprising amount of adultery in this game and we haven't even seen it all.
: Well... okay, bye.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, I got your bra.
: You're very special to me, nameless man #2, but I can never let myself cheat on my husband again. Good bye.
: Eh, whatever.
It's kind of weird, because this quest comes close to actually evoking emotion - when you part with Madame Adulterer here - of what could have been, and for all the romantic-esque encounters in the game this is the closest to feeling actually meaningful. This, and the thing where Katya rejects you because she's too busy mayoring. It's almost, almost effective characterization of the protagonist as a lonely outsider that isn't reinforced through the rest of the game, and that's a problem! You can interpret the protagonist's usual flippant replies as a defense mechanism to avoid getting tied up in stuff like this and that adds a layer of characterization this game usually lacks. It's still not great, because the narrator helpfully interjects clunky exposition for dialogue that is fairly effective at doing its job, but it's not hard to imagine something here.
Or maybe it's just me projecting two years of COVID isolation.
I also can't shake the feeling we just got played somehow, but this woman is no Katje as far as I can tell. Whatever! Time for more quests!
Oh, sorry, we've only killed 89 men and a shoggoth.
As Xander77 mentioned in the thread, you can get into the Krasnoznamenny bunker if you did the election quest by namedropping Ivan Ivanovich. This spares me the trouble of cigaretting this guy to death.
I also dump our new level into melee weapons.
We can't take a perk because, not only are many of the perks useless dogshit, but the system is still trash.
Incidentally, never take this. You might think it adds 50% of our damage after the roll, but what it actually does is increases the strength bonus to 50 percent. Said bonus is bullshit small and never scales, and what's more, it doesn't raise the minimum, it just raises the upper range.
I never fail to be amazed at just how dogshit this game's systems are.
This guy has a pig and wants nothing to do with us.
This guy is a reference to a Youtuber called ReviewBrah, but he's also the next step on the coal quest we picked up a long time ago. I've never watched this guy at all, so who knows!
: How did you notice, if I may ask?
: Years of practice, my boy, years of practice. Nothing more.
: [The old man rests his hands upon his knees, and after a gentle cough asks]
: I'm looking for a job. Can you help me with that?
: Agreed. Now, can I ask you a few questions?
: Who are you supposed to be?
: Comrade Sabin, the head of the coal plant, says he's not getting enough fuel.
: Bandits? I kill bandits all the time. If you want them gone, hire me.
: Oh hoho! Sounds really inspiring, but I'm afraid even you can't rid the Wastes of banditry. However...
: [Sabin thinks for a while, then looks to you with a sly expression]
Basically, we give the Krasnoz denizens an in on their quest to rule the Wasteland and we get paid money for swording people to death.
: Thank you for the kind words, but what exactly do you want?
: Go to Peregon and speak with Comrade Mambetov. He oversees coal shipments to our city. He can be found in the hull of a ship they've set up for people to live in. Tell him you're our representative.
: [The old man gives you a friendly smile and straightens the cuffs of his expensive jacket]
So one of the things I've pointed out about this game is that all the leader characters are physically separated from their followers. Dan has a little hut aside from the factory/barracks, Kovalev and Katya claim the house with the only TV you need an introduction to enter, but the Krasnoznamenny leaders take it to a whole new level by isolating themselves in this bunker deep beneath the city while corruption and incompetence run rampant above. Remember, the headman at the coal plant had to ask us, a complete stranger, to somehow gain access to this bunker and report the lack of coal instead of having the channels to do it himself!
: Okay, then. I'll go find this Mambetov fellow.
: Please do. Believe me, you'll be a great help to this fine city.
: Okay, sure. I'll even make a note, "...need to talk to some Mambetov guy"
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Who are you?
: I'm Bear Bearovitch! Who are you?
: Alexander Sabin, the coal and diplomacy minister.
: Hey, the guy at the coal plant said to tell you they didn't have any coal!
: Hmm, yes, the shipments from Peregon have been blocked because of the bandits.
: You know, I kill bandits for money.
: Hmm...I can hire you to go see Mambetov in Peregon, he lives on the ship. Remember! Remember Mambetov!
: Sure, fine, whatever.
We can also talk to our buddy Ivan Ivanovich, who is the odd man out as the guy who actually goes into the real world. Remember, he nominally doesn't have the authority to call the election (although the bunker guard notes that he told everyone how cool you were for helping him, so evidently no one cares) but he seemed to be behind Krasnoznamenny throwing its full support behind Dan's Bandit Military or whatever it's called these days.
: Didn't you yourself invite me to visit? That's exactly what I'm doing.
: Not bad. Making my way up.
3 whole sex partners, bay-bee!
: Okay. By the way, I haven't had any work from Dan recently. Do you think you could give me a job?
: [The man slicks back his receding hair and moves closer to you]
: Actually, I may have just the right job for you. You've already shown you're no stranger to politics, so this shouldn't surprise you.
We're not going there for a while, but it is necessary to see the full "plot" of this game.
: And if they refuse? What then?
Now this is interesting. It's clear that Krasnoznamenny - or at least Ivan, as it's not clear how this place runs - wants to become the regional hegemon. It's also pretty clear that this is just a long shot attempt and if we fail Ivan's got some other backup plan, but if we succeed he's just out a few rubles and doesn't have to do anything resource intensive like deploying a detachment of Dan's gang or repairing a tank.
: Sounds interesting. Who do I have to talk to?
: I agree. Where do I have to go?
: For a start, Fogelevka. From there you can hitchhike to the Mountain Pass of Woes. Do you know the way to Fogelevka? Here, I'll mark it for you.
: I was wondering what you were doing in Peregon.
: [The official shrugs and waves his hand nonchalantly]
: Suit yourself. Anyway, I have to go now. Bye!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: What's up, homie?
: Doin good, thought I'd drop by for a visit. Got any work?
: Can you go to the Mountain Pass of Woes and make the Caravanserai acknowledge that they owe allegiance to Krasnoznamenny? If not, no biggie, I'll come up with something else, but it would be really cool!
: Sure, why not.
It seems clear that Ivan is a major player in The Conspiracy, and it's equally clear that the game is not going to actually let us engage with it. Remember, our old conspiracy diagram?
We don't have the Mushroom Cult on here namely, because we're not sure where they fit into all of this yet, but while the game is setting up this huge conspiracy where Krasnoznamenny is angling for more power over the Wasteland by marshalling Dan's bandits and other unsavory types, controlling the only TV station in the wastes and using it to pump out propaganda... and the game just kind of forgets that entire thread here. Our options are to do Ivan's quest or opt out. Now, if I had to guess, Ivan is fairly high up as the representative the Chamber of Commerce sends out when it needs things done like an illegal election or negotiating with Peregon, and he has the authority to invite people to the bunker which otherwise takes a 10000 ruble bribe.
Of course, while in Dick or Pynchon everything is related to the conspiracy ATOM throws random shit at us. Mind worms on the road? Maybe. That woman we just screwed who sent us to get her bra? Who knows. The Red Guard? Fuck if I know!
Anyway, let's meet the other power player in Krasnoznamenny.
: I have been notified of your presence here, comrade. It's high time we met and talked face to face. Let's put the formalities behind us. I am Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce, Gennady Nikolaev. You, Bear Bearovitch, are a man of mystery and uncertain occupation. But in the future, a potentially valuable ally to our city. What do you say?
Now, this is exactly the kind of ally we need. Remember how we were supposed to be finding General Morozov? While we do have leads, this man is one of the few NPCs who recognizes us on sight, is the dictator of Krasnoznamenny and could probably get us a ton of information to help us with our quest.
He's also mostly likely a leader in if not the leader of the Conspiracy, which again would give us something to do if the Conspiracy was, you know, actually relevant to our character or interests in any way.
: This is obscene! Playing leader to a tiny part of the great-gone, but great-Union! And to call yourself by the title of true heroes, the titans of intellect, modern day Descartes and Newtons such as Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev, and even... Goddammit, Stalin himself!
The game does a terrible job of conveying it, but this man should absolutely be one of the most dangerous men on our adventure. Right now we've seen that he's the undisputed leader of Krasnoznamenny - even Ivan, who's comfortable walking into Dan's factory full of vicious killers defers to him - he knows a lot about us, and he's charismatic enough to disarm Hexogen immediately. We could probably take him in a fight one on one sure, but the guy has at least two private armies at his command in addition to his wide reaching contacts in other cities as head of Krasnoznamenny.
: Am I correct that whether or not we become "allies" depends on my willingness to embark on some sort of mission?
: [Gennady Nikolaev smiles and nods]
: Yes. The times when people gained status in exchange for promises and letters of recommendation are long gone. Today, the only thing that matters are one's actions. And we, the state's loyal servants, have plenty to do. Take, for example, that disgusting circus that pitched its tents on our lands. Drug dealers, kidnappers, thieves, drunks, degenerates...
You know, seeing as they all leapt at the chance to star in "Horny Hussars, vol 1" he might not be completely wrong...
And the game ruins it with unnecessary narration. Go back to the dialog right before. Do you think he's angry about the circus denizens? Yes, because they are a "disgusting" circus of "Drug dealers, kidnappers, thieves, drunks, degenerates..."
So, yeah, we're going to be doing a purge!
: Wow, take out a whole circus? Are they really that much of a threat?
: [Your words have no effect on the Secretary General, except that his fists clench at his sides]
: Do I look like an enemy of all things humorous and fun? Why don't you send the guards if they're breaking the law?
: Can't we go about this without committing genocide? I'm certain I can convince them to leave peacefully.
Yea, this is the violence run, but "genocide the minorities" is... a little much.
: [The Secretary General frowns]
: Fine, whatever. I agree!
: [The General Secretary nods and makes a steeple with his fingers]
: Good. I suggest you start the purge in the cockpit of the crashed plane. That's where you'll find Madame Voovah. She runs the circus.
This is your not-so-subtle hint that it's personal.
: I'll report back when it's done. Adieu.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Greetings, Bear Bearovitch. I know all about you - you see, I am the powerful General Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, and we could be very useful to each other.
: What do you need me to do?
: It's time for a purge, bitch! You know those sick circus mutants? I heard they're public urinators, weird fuckers, kidnappers...and collaborators with that disgusting General Nasty! I want you to go kill them all!
: Don't you have an entire guard force for that?
: This needs to be done by you.
: Can't I just convince them to leave?
: Sure, but you should really kill them all. All of them. The women and children too!
: Yeah, sure, whatever.
Now, I need to reiterate that the theme of this game, according to the developers, is that it's about life in a totalitarian regime. Indeed, Tyranny, another game in the same vein, asks the player if they're willing to genocide the hated Beastmen minority to gain the favor of Graven Ashe, a fascist leader. This could be an interesting moral question - do you kill all the circus people to gain the help of a powerful dictator in achieving your goals?
It should come as no surprise to readers of the thread that this idea falls down on the ground with a weak plop. If you do the quest, you get...4000 rubles, some XP, and a backpack off one of the circus people. You can grind that many rubles in maybe half an hour of murdering bandits and random crap in the Wasteland? It's pointless.
Off to the circus!
When you see this carpet you're at the right place.
: And whom do I have the honor of addressing?
: [The woman knocks the ashes from the tip of her cigarette and sniffs loudly]
We're not doing the fucking rat quest. I'm not sorry.
: Madam Voovah? Well, well, well. Do you know why the General Secretary of Krasnoznamenny sent me here?
: [The woman shakes her head irritatedly and flicks a strand of unwashed hair away from her forehead]
: Yeah, that's one way to put it. He would like to have you killed.
: God, us mutants just cannot catch a break. What a bastard!
: The General Secretary is a mutant?
: What was he doing in the circus?
: For the most part whining and working hard at avoiding any work. My people were very kind to him, even gave him his own cage so he could display himself for public entertainment. It's the easiest job there is, just sitting around while people gaze and scream at you. You don't have to lift a finger all day and you still make good money!
No one else in the circus is in a cage.
: But that wasn't good enough for ol' Pee-Pants. "It's embarrassing!", "It's degrading!" and "I wasn't born to live like this!" After that, I moved him to sorting rotten fruit, which we provide our guests to throw at the other performers. But he started whining again: "This smells bad!", "The worm bit me" and on and on.
I'm noticing that almost every mutant in the game is some kind of awful, terrible human being and moments of humanity seem universally to disguise what awful people they are. Young "Pee-Pants" lived a life of vicious abuse which presumably prepared him for life as a dictator willing to order a genocide.
Yeah, uh, I wonder why?
: How did he become the General Secretary?
God damn if I never hear a dumbass whining about big words again I will die happy.
This lady is awful.
: Well, this is quite the revelation.
I should have had a vote here, but there are more quests to be had at the circus that we don't get if we kill them all, so...
: He ordered me to take care of you, but to be honest I don't feel like doing that at all.
: You're doing the right thing! Why can't that rat bastard get off our case? I'm tired of hearing rumors about him wanting to kill us. He needs to calm down, we're not going to divulge his secret.
: All right, I'll talk to him.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Yoo the circus is downstairs.
: Do you know why the General Secretary sent me?
: Oh goddammit, he's probably trying to genocide us again. I can't imagine why the kid we named "Peapod Pee-pants" hates us so badly.
: Wait, he's a mutant?
: Yup, but it's the kind of mutation you can hide with clothes. but he totally is one!
: What did he do at the circus?
: Oh, we displayed him naked in a cage, then we made him sort rotten fruit, and then he had to go around telling everyone he pissed his pants for entertainment! I don't understand why he wants to kill us after this abusive childhood!
: Yeah, I don't want to commit genocide, I'll talk to him.
: Yeah, I don't understand why he wants to kill us so bad.
It's really weird that the game wants to make these guys out as abusive sex deviants. Looking back at Nikolaev's rant he's not wrong that some of them are murderers, because Baboolah has an entire spiel about how he fucks women to death and won't fuck women anymore. Then the game uses the term "genocide" to describe what Nikolaev wants us to do, so we get this extremely odd dissonance where we should understand Nikolaev's request as abhorrent, but the game kind of wants to wink and nudge that you know, these are terrible people, like the rest of the mutants in the game, and if you want to do a little purge, we won't stop you... you know, it's not like mutants are real people.
Compare this to the Fallout series, where you can get super mutants and ghouls to join your party and they're actually faithful friends who you can learn things from. People rightfully crap on Fallout 4, but Strong never betrays you, puts his life on the line when you go into combat, and will teach you how to go berserk in combat. There are no mutant party members in ATOM RPG.
There's also the problem that Fidel is supposed to be the "good" party member who will chide the PC when they do things like lure Nastasya into the sewer for sex or when we assassinate Tawfiq, and he says all of fucking nothing when we are asked to commit literal genocide. That is not an exaggeration, that is what the player character labels it.
Nobody bothered to clean up this guy's corpse.
It's an interesting bit of characterization that shows our character doesn't completely trust him.
: About that mission...
: Gennady Nikolaev... I think Pee-Pants the Peapod sounds wa-a-a-y better.
So of course we offend the powerful and merciless genocidal dictator by taunting him in a juvenile fashion.
: [The Secretary General staggers in surprise and pounds both fists on his desk with a roar]
: [Speechcraft] All right, I know who you are but why do you hate your own past so much?
I know, this has been a violence-free violence run lately, but can you blame me?
Bear Bearovitch, Cossack Therapist. Also, holy shit at that first option.
: Well, you're not wrong! You're a mutant and a former carny, so what? Look how far you've come! Leave the past in the past.
Just let it go, man.
: [The General Secretary drops his head into his hands and contemplates everything that's happened. After about five minutes, he looks up again, seemingly much calmer]
That second option is...definitely coming from a place of hate.
: See you, goodbye!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Ha ha, powerful dictator man with two private militias! Guess what! I know you used to be... Pee-pants!
: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT NAME????
: Look, man, why are you so obsessed with the mutants who abused you and made your childhood a living hell?
: Is this guy fucking serious? Oh fuck me, that's 144 Speechcraft. Maybe I didn't want to live on fucking rotten garbage and be abused...but maybe I also hated myself, and that's why I decided to erase my past.
: Yea, but look, you used to be a carnival worker but now you're a sick ass dictator, that's pretty dope!
: Hell fucking yeah! Suddenly, I don't give a fuck about the circus anymore, and I can spend my time doing other things.
Now that we've become a dictator therapist and helped our new friend come to terms with his mutant nature - and have blackmail material that can absolutely destroy him - we can get him to help with our problem of finding Morozov, right?
Oh, FUCK you. This entire questline is dumb. Look, I get that on one level it mirrors Stalin erasing the past and the people who knew him to start his cult of personality, except that this guy is not Stalin. He's not even close. Yes, he starts the quest willing to order a genocide of the circus folks, but you can actually talk him down, unlike with real Stalin, where if Stalin sent your wife to the gulag you had to show up and tell Stalin how great he was. I think the inferiority complex is maybe supposed to mirror this along with the abusive childhood, but it doesn't really work when the resolution to the quest line is to tell him to believe in himself and he decides genocide is bad.
The theme of mutant discrimination goes pretty deep in this game, at a certain point - which I think might have to do with this quest - the Krasnoz TV station begins broadcasting this wonderful line:
ATOM RPG posted:
We must protect the sole existence of our people, and the future for non-mutated children.
Yeah, it's a slightly modified white supremacist slogan! I believe it popped up in my practice playthrough after I told Dictator Boy here to fuck off, but I can't replicate it in game, I just pulled it out of the Unity Asset file. The entire thing is just a mess. We don't even get hit squads sent after us or any of the logical consequences for being able to destroy this man's entire career, even if we blackmail him, and it will surprise no one that he in fact cannot help us with our quest.
The game has this bizarre desire to just silo everything but let a few references to other plotlines leak over. Working for Simon references the Pizzagate quest, but it also reinforces that we can't actually do anything to the conspiracy except follow the tightly laid out roller coaster tracks. We can't get Nikolaev here to help us investigate the evil postman conspiracy, even though that seems like the kind of thing that might be a threat to his and Ivan's plans to make Krasnoznamenny the new USSR. We can't even report the blackmail material to our supposed superiors at ATOM who might want it in case anything goes tits up at Krasnoznamenny. The ATOM plot is off in its corner and will never interact with the rest of the world. Dan's bandits are off in their corner, so if we hadn't done the election and we'd come here early we couldn't ask Nikolaev to put pressure on Dan to lay off Otradnoye. The end result is this incoherent mess where nothing means anything, and while the game tries to lean into it with juvenile humor and wacky hijinks the writers aren't nearly as funny as they think they are so it all callapses into atonality.
Next time: Time travel!