Part 1: The TorontoPart 001: The Toronto
Tom wakes up in his quarters aboard the Toronto after a trippy-ass fever dream, and we're instantly given control over the game.
Eagle-eyed watchers(or anyone who's played this game before) may notice that the bottom of the screen is cut off. This is for two reasons: firstly, all it displays is the party line-up and one-line observations on stuff we "examine"(gripping stuff like "this is a chair" for the most part) and secondly because I'm an incompetent goof who couldn't manage to get it properly cut off. This part is only going to be relevant later in the game, for now all it would do is clutter up the screen.
We can walk around either by dragging with the cursor or with the keyboard(good for PRECISION which we'll need in some later sections...) and we can hold down mouse2 to create a little selector we can use to interact with specific environment items. you can see it as that semi-opaque square currently on top of Tom.
On most items it'll give us an option to at least Examine them, but others also have an option to Manipulate. This is a catch-all for opening doors, pushing buttons or looting containers.
Tom's closet contains some food, some shoes, a ring and some drugs. Obviously it's all gonna get yoinked, we have both a weight and space limit but we're well far from challenging either for a good long while yet.
In our inventory some items can be used(like the healing drugs), all that aren't quest-vital items can be dropped and all can be examined. Examining, obviously, tells us the item's stats and also who can use them. This ring, for instance, can be used by everyone, including a vast array of character types we haven't met yet. So, yeah, the game at this early stage more or less just straight up tells you that there are gonna be wizards later on. Awesome.
There are also occasionally items lying around that we can just straight-up Take, but most of these are sadly just pointless decorative items that we can't use for anything or sell. But if we wanted to we could build up quite a collection of ornate pots, jars and boxes over the course of the game.
Approaching the door, the game takes control away from us so Tom can say hi to his girlfriend.
Well, that's certainly a start to the day, what's either a technical accident or sabotage has splattered one of the two government officials aboard this massive corporate-owned spaceship all across the room he was in. Probably just a technical fault, though, nothing suspicious.
Most of the rooms here are people's private quarters and thus not accessible, so we head northwest to find some other people to ask what's going on, and on the way, we find a news console we can hit up for some updates on what's happening back home on Earth.
From this we learn a couple of important things. Firstly, what blew up was our only communications link with Earth, and secondly back in 1995 they had some charmingly wrong ideas about the future of the EU. Also there are clearly tensions between corporations, states and employees brewing. Clearly none of the three groups quite trust the others.
While we unsuccessfully try to strike up a conversation with the red-uniformed security guy, Rainer, the other government official aboard the Toronto, comes sprinting in from off-stage to talk to us.
Rainer is, uh, apparently not too worried about his colleague's demise. "Well, he was an idiot for getting himself blown up. Sucks for him, now I get to go to an alien planet! When are we leaving?" In general people seem remarkably unworried about the government inspector that got himself blasted to gibs just next door.
Alright, let's poke around the dead guy's room. It's not stealing if it's from dead people and also the game generally doesn't care if you steal from people, there are no morality or alignment meters in this game whatsoever.
We raid his fridge and his, uh, ammo locker? I get the feeling that he wasn't supposed to have bullets lying around. Cartridges are the catch-all ammo for firearms in this game, in this case, and rather than reporting this to the authorites we are gonna yoink those sweet shells because they're rare as hell.
The last couple of conversations were essentially cutscenes, but most conversations in Albion will make use of this screen. The first option is like yelling JOB and NAME in an Ultima game, the second is a list of keywords(generally derived from the JOB/NAME interrogation, though we can also enter our own), the third lets us show the NPC an item in case they have something to say about it and the last option ends the conversation. It's pretty straight forward.
As an example.
If we follow the pre-established trail, this guy will mostly tell us about the technical operations of the Toronto, some of which is reasonably interesting. The sci-fi in Albion is relatively hard, we don't have laser guns and lightsabers all over the place.
Huh, so the government inspector that exploded was also doing his job very seriously and being a pain in the ass for the captain. Nothing suspicious at all about that. Good thing ol' Robert here is a card-carrying Libertarian who's convinced that these government regulations are just because the governments fear the POWER OF FREE ENTERPRISE.
One last comment from Shaw and then we go hassle another guy in the break room, Akira. One of the ship's more technically-minded crewmembers.
This was in response to asking Akira what an "Indi" was, which paints a picture of a future where we're not all amazingly rich or free to do whatever we want, possibly with a slightly worse living standard than the actual present, in fact.
In response to asking him about "Joshi," looks like "Nugget" isn't the first big extrasolar expedition and, uh, it sounds like we're about to learn why there are government inspectors along for this one.
Tom rarely actually says anything in these conversations, but it's implied that he has comments from some of the replies. For instance, I think we can extrapolate that Tom wasn't totally a fan of what happened to the "flop-ears" and also Jesus Christ, humanity. Two sentient species, one of them "accidentally" caught a disease when their rich planet was in the way of being dug up by corporations, and the others were casually shoved into "reservations" by settlers. Yeah, I think it's good that Beegle and Rainer got dragged along on this mission.
And in response to asking him about robots, Akira tells us that we apparently brought battlemechs along. A sensible idea. He doesn't have anything else to say, just recycled dialogue. Generally a lot of characters in the same area, unless they're specifically story-significant, will answer the same prompts with the same questions. For instance, most would say the same things about the Flop-Ears, the Hoika, etc.
Let's go hassle the lady in charge of the break room/canteen.
Most characters with specific interactions, like buying stuff for them, finishing or starting quests, that sort of thing, will have explicit prompts at the top of their standard dialogue selections. In this case we can get Anne to toss us some free rations to go with all the other snack bars we've been hoarding so far.
She seems nice, but she doesn't have an awful lot to say about the mission or game world. Then again, she's not a technical specialist or a politician, so why would she? Let's bail on this place and get moving, we do actually have a semi-soft time limit for this section.
Just walking down the corridor, and what's this? A container on the far side of a wall?
It's a good thing that Tom is apparently psychic and can use his telekinetic powers to plunder it across the reaches of space and time. There are a few other cases we can exploit this including, if I can make it work later in the game, a glitch that permits a telekinetic five-finger discount. Also the contents of this container are lockpicks. Lockpicks are actually reasonably rare, of limited supply throughout the game and you can break them by using them on the wrong containers, so getting more of them is always an advantage and you should always save before using them.
Huh, more security goons. Maybe we can wriggle some info about Beegle's demise out of them.
Everyone else on board the ship has been reasonably nice, but Priver's kind of an asshole. Let's see if we can ruin his day by fucking with him.
Hahahah is that even a question? Of course we're doing this. This entire little section is actually optional, but it'll both give us some important info about what's happening on board the Toronto and a piece of gear we otherwise wouldn't be seeing for quite a while, and something that's absolutely necessary if you're going exploring on an alien planet.
Alright, enough chatting with Joe, let's get exploring and, incidentally, encounter the most dreadful challenge they could possibly have put into this section of the game. The worst opponent ever conceived by the minds that built Albion.
A fucking sliding bar for entering numbers, and this thing goes all the way to like 99999, so good luck hitting somewhere in the neighbourhood of any specific code or number.
Please turn your subtitles on for this one. There's not an awful lot to talk about down there, but there is some. At the end of this brief "dungeon crawl," we then emerge on the other side of Colonel Priver and his goon, inside the FTL comms room.
Wow, someone really fucked this place up, or the exploding console did. Nothing too interesting, though, so let's head back out and get chewed out by Pri-
Hell yeah, we've got a GUN now. Something(i.e. having played this game before), tells me that bringing it right back out the front door won't go too well. So let's save before we do that, because we're not idiots.
Hm, okay, turns out that Priver is a dick, but not a total idiot. He actually frisks us and takes our gun, even takes all our cartridges, too! Let's reload and not be idiots. Instead of going out the front door, we'll head back down to the dungeon level, to that suspiciously empty wall cabinet and...
We get a level-up and this time that fucker Priver can't find anything on us. Now, the door closed behind us going past the wall cabinet, but as long as we go no farther than the cabinet, we can still go down, reclaim our gun and bullets, and then head back up to Joe.
On the way, we get this message. This is what I was talking about with a semi-soft time limit. We start getting these announcements that it's time to do our job, and after we've gotten a sufficient amount, we can't just ignore them because some sec guys come along, pick us up and haul us off to the hangar. Not that it matters greatly, we may have missed one or two people to talk to, and one or two very minor things to loot from cabins, but once we've got the gun, the lockpicks and the stimpacks we've basically gotten all the really important shit.
Oh, we've got everything we want, Tom. We've got a fuckin' GAT.
At this point we can probably also piece together that Beegle discovered something he wasn't meant to, and when he was about to phone home to Earth about it, someone blew his brains out while also wrecking the communications gear so no one else could try pulling the same trick. Considering that we're aboard a ship full of armed security who are probably on the killer's side, considering their surly disposition, and the fact that they don't really care to ask how we found a gun that everyone missed at the crime scene, we might not want to talk too loudly about it.
In fact I don't believe we can even try, Tom is just in this for getting armed.
I ignore the next call as there's one more NPC I'd like to find before we launch. And 30 seconds later I find him, it's Ned, the android body of the ship's AI.
After that, I submit to the next call to go do my work, putting us into cutscene mode again...
BE WARNED. This video contains two(2) nipples. They're presented in a thoroughly unerotic fashion, but if that either weirds you out or you've got a boss looking you over the shoulder while you watch LP videos, keep it in mind!