Part 55: Is it over Caim HexogenIs it over
: Let's open this final update with some thrilling screenshot action. Are you ready for the tensest fight in the game?
: Right above the demon-infested station, on the very edge of the city, we have a big crater with a lot of Shadow dudes.
: No, I mean A LOT of Shadow dudes.
: In retrospect, I should have had Fidel using an automatic weapon rather than sniping. Theres only one Shadow Mother (mini-boss that spits acid) so being able to drop several enemies at once is more important. Still, the team did well, even without me contributing. That's the thing - your companions are playing by the same rules as you, and can be just as effective, as long as you spend forever babysitting their stupid asses and wrestling with the terrible companion command UI.
: The loot is so-so. Weirdly, this is the only (?) location in the game with two entrances on the same map screen. You can lure the shadows to one side, run away to the map screen and come in from the other side to get the loot.
TGEK talked to the artifacts woman in the Stalker base, but only had one artifact to present (as they are appropriately hard to find).
: Look at this little stone... [Tell the story of how you found the Paleolithic Venus]
[You tell her about your misadventures in the Roaring Forest and the tunnels beneath.]
: [The woman listens politely, but at the end shakes her head and returns the figurine to you]
Sounds like a fascinating adventure, and this figurine would most likely be of great interest to historians, but it's not for me. Sorry, I am more interested in... "special" items.
: Look at this jade figurine... [Tell the story of how you helped out Rudolf who was stuck in a dream realm]
: We take a walk around the city, hand over the nutcracker, waste more time and finally return to deliver the third artifact:
: [The woman looks tense. She shudders as you approach, but then a smile flickers across her face. You feel that something new is hiding behind that smile. Could it be uncertainty? Or is it fear?]
: This gets us the achievement. When we next to return to the STALKER base,
: Did you get all three secret artifacts?
: Yup. Had to consult a guide, because at least one of these was too well hidden for me. Sure hope all the effort was worth the-
: Right, right. So you sell an artifact and get... a thousand rubles!
: That's absolutely worthless at this stage.
: But then! You have to wait for a day before you can sell her another artifact. Then you wait for a day and sell her the artifact.
: But now she's thinks something spooooooky is happening. So you wait for another day, and sell her another artifacts, and she's freaking out! So you return a day later to discover...
: A portal to OUR timeline? Cthulhu invading the station? A apocalyptic log explaining what the shit is happening?
: She died. Of something or another. Scared herself into a heart attack, maybe. The end, no moral.
: Yeah, this just doesnt work at all. For all the mockery of Lovecrafts signature style, you just cant achieve that there are things MAN WASNT MEANT TO KNOOOOOOOOW effect with that "dull realistic prose" TGEK hates to much.
: Rraawr! Rrrawr!
: This one speaks human talk too, oh confrere.
: What? You also ate the gray stuff from twolegs head and developed speech, confrere?
: Together we will find more gray things... More twolegs, more brains! We will teach confreres speech, knowledge, understanding!
: Quiet now, confrere. We are being listened to. These twolegs! We must take their gray things!
: Like I said, I find the rat creatures fairly creepy. Even when they're being stupid stupid rat creatures.
: Concentrated Metro 2033 influence.
: Thats like, right next to the main room. Probably the one case where something in ATOMG RPG is too small and not lifelike enough, rather than too full of empty space.
: You can only open the station doors from the inside. Doing so raises and alarm and summons a bunch of shadows, including this non-hostile fellow who disappeared when I reloaded the game.
: I actually had a toadstool in a companions inventory but I forgot and had to trekk back to the looter base to buy some
: [You blink a few times and wipe your eyes to make sure this isn't some trick of the light. Yet the apparition of a fair-haired woman does not disappear, or even lose focus. It continues to hover at the feet of a dead stalker, who for some reason is hugging a blackened skeleton. With a shiver of dread, you notice that the skeleton's tattered dress is the exact same style as the ghost is wearing]
: I appreciate the break; I was getting tired of walking around this place. But I'm getting a bit freaked out by the way you've been standing there for, like, ten minutes, looking at nothing and moving your lips as if you're talking to someone. What the hell is wrong with you?
: Prithee, do not let the bald one interrupt our parley!
: I bet there's a big story behind all this.
: This girl will be disappointed with me... for I am not what she wants.
: How can I put you to rest?
: [The ghost girl slowly ﬂoats over to an old, mangled skeleton clothed in the remnants of a dirty dress]
Our bones are not yet buried... They remain uncovered, playthings for the draft, food for the rats, seedbeds for rot and fungus. Cover us, protect us, I beseech thee!
: My sweet child... So you've ﬁnally gone all the way off your rocker, eh? Boarded the psychedelic bus, express route to Crazytown. Where can I ﬁnd some of the Haldol they used to silence political prisoners back in the day? Uhh... Ahem! What I meant to say was, good luck, child! Go on and commune with that spirit, kiddo! Papa's little shaman is making me so proud! Yes, proud is the word.
: Thy father dost not believe I exist, but I do exist, I do! Help me!
: This dude's diary says whenever he ate a toadstool here, he'd see a hot ghost. Then he killed himself to be with her, which is hella funny.
: All right. Toadstool time it is.
: The ghost is there. She speaks in faux-Elizabethan theatrical dialog, and your companions think you're hallucinating nonsense, so who's to say whether any of this is real, amirite?
: She wants you to bury her bones. Right alongside the stalker, who isn't a ghost despite being unburied as well.
: Fuckkkk. Do I need to get the shovel again?
: Nah, you can just... get some rocks or whatever. You now have... some xp and the ghostbuster achievement!
: Lets get on with the main quest.
: This skips having to discover stuff about the bunker personnel, fighting the rats (and since you can sneak past the rats on the surface, this is quite pacifistic).
: This shuts down the other doors, but not the robot.
: The robot fight is infuriating you cant manually toggle combat mode and the party members' pathfinding hates the door, so piling into the robot before it deletes you is a chore. Thankfully, I have just enough damage redaction from Think Like an Enemy to survive a round before Hexogen finally makes his way in and machineguns the fucker. I forgot what the reward was, but nothing particularly valuable.
: Dead City is very much the endgame, so dropping foreshadowing (or even backshadowing) here is odd.
: We let the cultists go, and finish up with the city before we head back.
: Visual storytelling which the game could honestly have more of.
Face McPunchy, from the hit game
: See, because the actual actor is covered with oh, we already did this joke? Get ready, because the tattoo thing is a whole sidequest.
2000 each. I stole it back mostly as a matter of principle, its not like we have anything to spend the money on.
: I'm here for the competition.
: [The old man claps you on the shoulder]
I really hoped we'd get a first-timer into the tournament. Watching the amazing professionals you've followed all your life isn't what makes these things fun.
Anyhoo, here's the deal: each contestant, including you, will be given a volunteer to act as a canvas for your tattoos. The creator of the most purdy tat will get a fabulous prize, a nice stack of money or a unique tattoo from me personally. You like?
: Um, why are you even asking my friend to join this tournament? I bet he's never drawn a single tattoo in his life.
: I don't care about that. I just wanna know what he thinks of my proposition.
: In case this wasnt clear were getting some STALKER bandits mixed in with our Metro experience, and this whole sidequest goes into prison tattoo culture, which you need to be vaguely familiar with to succeed. Im not sure if its edgy bullshit per-se, but its kinda gross regardless.
: [After all, is doodling on the walls of a bunker as a child really that different from permanently marking up a buff and probably violent man who wasn't warned about your complete lack of experience? You really hope the answer is "no"]
: [Pick the man's chest] [You start working on the beauteous, rockhard chest of your model, until you're interrupted by crazed laughter. Hake Merluccius's model is giggling as Hake's marker tickles the skin of his chest You give your head a shake and try to focus. Now is the time to pick the theme of your piece]
[Dexterity]: 6 [Intellect] [Attention] [Draw a huge rat in a hat] [Success] [You quickly yet naturalistically draw a rat in a fedora on your model's body. The job looks quite impressive, but it's not ready by a long shot. You need to decide on the details surrounding the main drawing]
[Crudely ink in a bucket of fecal matter next to the main drawing]
[With the tip of your yellowish tongue curving up to touch the tip of your nose, you look at the real looking rat in a hat and add a bucket of fecal matter to the empty space next to it]
: JFC, someone is really fond of yellowish tongues all of a sudden. Thats the third one in Dead City alone.
: [Where's the third one? you ask yourself, and discover the answer seconds later. Kind on the outside, but unfortunately rotten on the inside, that bloated bastard Hake Merluccius darts in front of you and spits on your partially finished tattoo! Hastily wiping away his vile saliva, you lose most of your sketch, leaving you with no guide to finish your work]
: Oillo puppelle! I be so clumsy! Perkele, do forgive me! Nyeh heh heh...
: [Stealth] [Sucker punch the bastard when nobody's looking] [Success]
[Happily, not all of the drawing was washed away by Hake Merluccius's stinking snot, but the dirty cheater is already preparing a follow-up sneeze at your work. You quickly grab up the rag you're using to sponge away your model's blood, and hold it out to Merluccius as if to offer him a handkerchief]
: [You wait for a moment when the crowd's attention is ﬁxed on another contestant, and then quietly spit into Rabinovich's coal and ink mixture. Dobrovid is none the wiser, but he will discover too late that any images he creates with this diluted mixture will turn out runny and blurred]
: [Pity the fool]
: Even before reviewing the tattoo itself, I really must compliment the kid on his choice of canvas. It's an ideal spot. Neither the scarred gut, nor the hunched back attracted the kid (or anyone else I imagine). Instead, he picked the ripped chest. That decision alone put this contestant on the road to victory.
Next, I'll look at the rat in a hat you drew... Oh my! Flawless. Such depth, so much detail! This kid has talent, ya hear me, guys?
Now let's review the small details. Quality isn't too important in this category, the main thing is the juxtaposition of the central image with the background stuff. In this case it works perfectly, kid. The tattoo of a rat in a hat is a perfect fit for a bucket of shit next to it. Airtight.
: Hey, do you have above average attention, dexterity AND intelligence?
: As it happens, I do.
: And do you know enough about Russian prison culture to choose three complimenting tattoo components to assemble into a coherent whole?
: Nope, but I can google the answer.
: Then you can get... +1 Dexterity!!!
: Kinda far from +1 to Luck in exchange for three pieces of meat back at the start of the game
: Well, if it isnt the consequences of my actions.
: Low level thugs. But they do have some newly published pulp fiction in their inventory.
: Before we head out, a few last bit of chatter from random Stalkers at the station:
: We're back on the mainland. One more bit of conspiracy stuff before the endgame:
: You can only get this quest the first time you talk to this Peregon official, so I had to rewind a bit (LPs are one of the few times my habit of saving early, often, and in different slots actually helps)
: Clear out some trash bandits
: And it turns out that KRZ (and possibly the Mushroom cult, of which Ivanov is a member) has more than one way of pressuring Peregon to join.
: Grabbed some weapon and armor upgrades I dont really have anything to spend money on.
: Or rather, I saved, rested until merchant inventory refreshed, reloaded as it didnt have anything good, and kept up until I got something useful. Great system.
: Just for fun, I tried killing the ATOM task force. Forgot to show it off, but every single one of the fuckers has a bunch of super-stimpacks (understandable) and grenades (!) in their inventory. When you pick a fight, their first reaction is to focus fire a dozen grenades, which will knock people down and out.
: At least fighting them doesnt agro the rest of the city, for once. I used my pickpocketing skills to relieve them of the grenades, then abused AI pathfinding the closer companions are behind a door the ATOM dudes have trouble pathing through, while my snipers are tearing them apart from across the hall. For what its worth, killing these guys doesnt influence the ATOM took over the city end slide one bit.
: One last Luck roll.
: The later stages of mushroom infection? We never see that in-game, because we never learn anything about the cult (as opposed to the Mushroom itself)
: Everything (everything!) is connected. (There's also a project involving mind-control drugs in the water supply, which I forgot to screencap).
: As an aside, theres actually some different dialog if youve officially joined the Death Gang.
: The only way to resolve this situation is the Uniﬁcation of humanity into a single mind. Our mind. Only then will civilization develop quickly enough to counter this threat that will otherwise destroy the planet. Only when we have achieved Unity.
: Hee. Heehee. Hurrah! I always wanted something like this to happen! Yeah, right on! The sheep deserve to burn. I'm not scared at all! Haha! Thank you, Baahl-Zebub!
: We know what you've done. We know that you lead violent monsters into this land. Do you know the magnitude of the danger you put the planet in? These marauders will soon be upon Us. We won't be able to stop them in time. The destiny of this world is sealed. The probability of mass extinction - 99.99%!
: Not sure if you can talk your way out of this one, but that would be kinda against the Death Gang ethos.
: Sickos. Kinda a difficult fight with just Galina, Alexander and the dog (Hexogen and Fidel fuck off when you officially join the DG)
: A formerly well protected city held on for some time, but a massive fire in the commercial district quickly placed the final stop in it's story. The memories of the city scattered, along with its ashes...
: I occasionally wonder whether Ron Perlman or someone could imbue these lines with some pathos. There's no attempt at the emotional or poetic weight that Fallout ending slides have.
: Most of the men travelled the world, searching for work and a roof above their heads. Some became a new gang of lawless marauders, who waged war against the trade caravans and villagers they were once sworn to protect.
: Soon after, a slaver camp grew in its place. Terrible rumors surround that place... Some of which are so horrible, they will make the bravest man shiver.
: Gozhin fled to the lands of the Gasoline Barons, where he died, by falling into an open manhole while drunk.
: (Same as in TGEKs playthrough)
: Her dream abruptly ended as she fell in love with a handsome peasant, found faith in God, and became a housewife and mother of six.
: The companion endings are the same no matter what you do, as long as they're alive as the game ends.
But joining the Death Gang (even at the last moment) and massacring the Mushroomers kinda goes against the pacifist ethos. How about we just join the cult?
: [The former General turns to you and sighs heavily]
We also understand that there may, theoretically, be other ways of solving the problem our planet has gotten itself into. Therefore, you may leave. Look for alternative solutions! Who knows? Our plan might not be the only one that could save us.
: Man, you can't even join the cult in the very endgame. Why?
: Go now. And... Good luck. Who knows? Perhaps-
: Oh no you don't! Go away and leave the locals alone with this disgusting thing and its schemes?! Over my dead body! I will kill every single one of you! No pasaran!
: Damn it, Fidel!
: Yeah, party members are actually a pretty good source of xp I guess its a direct function of level, and nothing else in the game is actually powerful due to its level, rather than stats or equipment.
: I might as well use this opportunity to reposition and murder the Mushroom cult in a more advantageous fashion (the only reason this fight is usually difficult is that the game automatically walks your character into a crossfire while leaving your party members stuck behind a door). The only reason not to do so is Fidels freakout.
: Oh, and the fact that the game doesnt account for every single Mushroom cultist and the Mushroom itself being dead at all.
: After poisoning the drinking water and most of the city's supplies, the Mycelium Society quickly overtook Krasnoznamenny.
: I didnt get the water filter, so I presume none of this is affected by other sidequests.
:Quickly, did it's citizens become meager parts of the united fungal mind. Their wealth was used to continue the spread of Unity all across the Wastes.
: The people of Otradnoye could hardly cope with the raids, after Dan's gang dispersed. This is why, when some kind people came over, offering humanitarian help and protection, they quickly agreed. Soon after, travellers started noticing something strange about the people of the small village. It was as if they all had one mind...
: Right. Take three, this time with the pacifist approach.
: The still extremely dead, piled up in the Mycelium building, forces of ATOM.
: Not everyone was pleased with the new leadership, and many old citizens left the city, just to be dissolved by the Wastes... Still, those who stayed, started building civilization with doubled strength. However, progress came with a price... For the sake of survival and revival, the military rule of ATOM took most of the freedoms, people of Krasnoznamenny used to enjoy.
: Under the protection of the Factory Gang, led by Dan, this dream came to fruition, at least partially. Even though Otradnoye eventually grew into a large, rich city, settlers from the Wastes usually ignore it, because of the high levels of corruption, spread in the local government.
: Thanks for keeping up with this alternate playthrough, slow though it was. I posted an updated review below, but I do have one thing of note to say about the pacifist playthrough - there's only one way to get the Mushroom to put a hold on its plans, and that's to prove that it will have to kill a lot of people to take over. It's not quite as complicated as finding all the evidence that the Master's Plan is flawed and doomed to failure, but does require thoroughly exploring all those empty bunkers, figuring out how the Mushroom thinks and taking it seriously. TGEK killed the fungus every he encountered it, citing how every person in the game lies to you, but the Mycelium isn't human - it's an untainted creation trying to save humanity in its own way. Like a lot of ideas here, this modern Frankenstein could have been interesting in another game.