Part 19: A tale of tech, demons and theSo that bit with the Stellerex trap got me thinking. This game REALLY isn't too heavy on making sure you know everything you need to before proceeding.
So I got to wondering what the minimal gameplay experience is. How much of the plot do you REALLY need to be exposed to?
Oh boy, let's find out.
Disclaimer: I didn't show a screenshot of every screen between places all the time - backtracking especially I cut out intervening screens. But NOTHING of importance happens that I didn't take a screenshot of. This is the totality of the story/information you could be presented with, in this playthrough.
This isn't especially obscure. It isn't even difficult. Heck, this is closer to the first play a regular person would get than the 100% completion run I've been showing off.
So, ladies and gentlemen. Forget everything you know about the Bureau 13 story. Settle back into your chairs, and prepare yourself for...
So we start out with the same training video you're all used to. We're looking for Withers. Withers killed a sheriff. Almost did, whatever.
No RV for you, two-member team. GO.
We are picking a team not seen in the normal LP. This mission is going to require stealth but power. Magic, but mundane ability. Pretension, but stupid accents.
It's going to require:
- Alright, time to start th' mission! Y'ready for this big guy?
- I assure you, agent Suttle, I am more than prepared for whatever is to come.
- Hey, speaking of what's to come, could you recap the mission briefing for me? I kinda fell asleep.
- H...how unfortunate.
- ...Don't tell me you did too.
- They had it during the day! I was sleepy!
- Oh boy. Well they didn't give us an RV, so that means no contacting base. Um....
- Want to screw with the townspeople?
- DO I! Let's go!
Heading right, our "heroes" find and enter a police station.
- Alright watch and learn big guy. This one's a classic.
- Perfect. Glued shut. You want to do the honors drac?
- Happy to, sneakthief.
- OH NO OH CRAP. Stupid fire extinguisher! I'm gonna be fired for this, and I can't afford to be out of work right now! What with the bills and the new kid, and.. auuuuggghh!
- What now?
- NOW we steal crap!
- Score! Free fuse!
- Should we check the evidence room?
- I don't know, maybe there's something useful in th-
- Booooring. You do that, I'll find something awesome to steal.
- Hahah sucker.
- I'm rich I'm rich I'm rich
Stealing the least valuable thing in the electronics store, Suttle leaves to find Alex waiting for him. Having no success breaking into the evidence locker (he isn't a very good vampire), they join up and continue to head east, past a massive tech building that they decide to prank.
- A vampire must be practiced at the art of subterfuge, agent Suttle. Observe as we make our entrance. First, a disguise...
- See dat's weird. You say "disguise", and all I see is you digging in a filthy dumpster. What could we possibly find of any use in-
- An empty box. Gosh, I take it all back.
- Oh come on. There's NO WAY any guard would be dumb enough to-
- You coming?
- Dis place is boring. Just grab something and let's go.
- THIS looks interesting!
- Eh, it's bad odds that we'll ever run inta that lock. Still, alright. Pound it.
Leaving Advanced Instrumentations without once wondering about their weird logo, our "intrepid" "heroes" go west past their original drop-off point.
- Sneak mode: ACTIVATE. You keep dis guy busy Vlad. I'm goin' upstairs.
- Ugh. All this chatter is making me hungry.
- Huh. Sounds like screamin' from somewhere. Oh well, time to replace this fuse.
- Bingo! What's in here?
- Withers. Withers. Hmmmm almost rings a bell. Oh well! Free car!
- So what'd you get?
- Dude, I got us a CAR.
- By the way, what was dat screamin?
- Oh, that clerk was dreadfully annoying, so I drank all his blood out of his body! Hahaha
- Eh? EH?
Heading south, the boys encounter a car lot
- Oh man! I bet that's what this goes to!
But it doesn't for some reason. I'm not sure why myself actually.
- Hmmm. Mayhap this will be useful?
- "Mayhap"? That's... medieval, right? That's totally the wrong period!
- Don't tell ME how to be English, boy!
- Behold! A box of things!
- You and your boxes. Hmmm. Bomb part bomb part bomb part... KEY CARD.
Zooming away in their RV, team Nightblade goes to one of the pre-set locations. The forest
- I HATE the forest.
- Ugh, I KNOW. Let's go to that installation in the distance.
- What are you doing with that branch?
- Watch and learn.
- I'm feeling a little parched you know. Hi. Hello there. My name is Alex. My what an interesting vein you have...HERE.
The forest muffles the sound of screaming as Alex drags another unfortunate body into the woods. Somewhat unsettled, but glad to be bros, Jimmy drives them into the compound.
- First rule of thieving? Always check the sheds.
- Aw yeah, grab that hacksaw!
- You know, agent Suttle, this is the second time you've passed up valuable-looking gear for a common household tool. I was wonderi-
- No time! Hit that power, vampire man!
Riding the scaffolding up...
- Man, this place looks SECURE. How are we gonna get in there without a card. Those blast doors are like three foot thi-
- EXPLODE INTO MIST!
- There is NO WAY this is working.
- Hmmm. It WAS a good thing we picked up that code!
- ...How did you get down here?
- Don't worry about it.
- Lethal security? More like a stupid tripwire.
- I'm getting dangerously bored here.
- You don't... want to enter that room? The one we just broke into?
- Eeeeeehhhhhhhh no.
So, realizing that the suburbs were opened in the RV as soon as the tripwire is cut, our team heads back to the RV, and rides it right into the residential district.
- Can you look at my eyes? And tell me if they just turned into dollar signs?
- I... what?
- Never mind just follow me.
- Are you ever going to stop sneaking?
- Any why would I do that?
- Because it looks stupid?
- IT IS PERFECTLY FUNCTIONAL AND SNEAKY AS WELL.
- Man, this place is a dump. And... a shovel, garlic, and stake in a bag?
- Ew. Let's try the kitchen.
- Alright, I'll take a cue from you and try the trashcan. Ooo. Look at meeee, I'm getting loot from th-
- ...So ok, maybe it DOES have some merit.
- It strikes me that I'm doing a lot of lockpicking lately.
- Hmmm. You may be right MIST EXPLOSION
- Hack hack hack
- Well it IS nice in here, but fairly sparse. Maybe the garage...?
- How do you keep FOLLOWING me?
- Master. Thief.
- Look: a book on bomb construction!
- It's just that it's not the most... masculine look.
- Yeah, that's rich coming from YOU poindexter. Could a wuss steal a book on botany?
He does, off-screen
- I HATED school.
- It's unlikely to have anything interesting. Let's move on...
Passing a bar, the agents enter an herbalist shop.
- Oh for... NOTHING in here has any aura at all! This shop is a fraud. Wait, this talisman has something...
- You may have this BACK, madam.
- Ugh, I HATE cats. Let's get out of here.
- Mightn't that be Elmo?
- Haha bro you are HIGH. Come on now.
- MIKE AND THE NIGHT STALKERS! Oh man we HAVE to chill with them. Come on, let's score something so they'll want to hang out with us.
- Score? What do y... hey, wait!
- Hm let's see let's see... ballet poster.... HERE.
- A drug lord! Agent Suttle, let us prepare to arrest... agent Suttle?
- Ok. Uppers and downers, whatever they want tonight. Let's go.
- Eh, I didn't want the paperwork anyway.
- HEY MONKEY. TICKET. MOVE.
But it was a warmup band playing onstage, instead of MatNS.
- What happened to this man?
- What HAPPENED, ALEX, is that the greatest PARTY BAND in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD happened. And now we're going to find them, and PARTY.
- DANG IT! They aren't HERE. And there's just some PAPER AND GARLIC in their coffins. Alright think, think Jimmy. Maybe they passed out and got stuffed in their luggage compartment like last year?
- All this excitement is making me hungry...
- Is this them, agent Suttle?
- ARGH, NO.
- So... you don't care about him?
- Not at ALL. Wh-
- EAT YOUR BONES, DRINK YOUR VISCERA
- Ahhh. What now?
- Hmm. Maybe they skipped the concert and went to that bar we passed on the way here!
- Stupid friggin' cat. Let's get in here.
- You back off, or I'll OFF her!
- Man, we should do something about this. Alright, maybe we advance on him, making him shoot the ceiling until h-
- CRACK YOUR BODY, SPILL YOUR SOUL
Fortunately, this is a rough bar, so nobody even notices. Our agents leave quickly anyway.
- So you're.... evil? Yeah?
- I'd say more amoral. I'm a sort of different organism, you know? What really is the moral imperative to abide by...
Haranguing Jimmy all the way back to the RV, Alex ignores the stream of blood flowing down his cheek. Jimmy barely restrains a desire to point it out.
- Aw fer. Look, we don't want any.
- masterstellerexcommandsmetokillyou masterstellerexcommandsmetokillyou
- We... we don't want any.
- He seems to have booby-trapped our RV. Or someone did at least.
- Ugh. It just never ends with these Jehovah's witnesses. Let's get out of here.
Following the only remaining location on the RV's map, they end up at a different forest.
- A dogwood tree! I recognize this from the book!
- But why would you want a... limb of it?
- The LAST tree limb we had let us get in a secret base, right?
- Hm. Point.
- Man check out that TOMBSTONE.
- You Americans are so sacrilegious.
- I don't think they ordered it that w... hey! You're a DEMON. How do YOU get to talk?
- Let's go back here.
- I KNEW I detected magic back here. Let's see what's in here?
- This woman seems distressed. Perhaps I should... CALM HER DOWN
- DRAIN YOUR LIFESOUL EAT YOUR FLESHPOD
- I'm serious man, you scare me.
- Oh fear not agent Suttle, I would never eat a friend.
- Good to hear man.
- That said, I AM still a little peckish.
A short RV trip later...
- Ugh, is this guy still here?
- Not for long.
- Wha? Oh, for...
- BLEAGH! BLEAGH!
- Should we hide these bodies? Or...
- Come on. You've seen how competent the police are here - falling for the old glued shut fire extinguisher trick, not catching Withers...
- Hm. Point. Although I should mention WE haven't caught him either.
- Are we even supposed to? Do you remember the briefing?
- Point 2. Hey, let's check that magic lady's house for stuff to steal!
- Sounds good.
But on the way
- Hahahah what. What kind of awful demon is this?
- No man, it's probably just a hologram. See, the projector would be buried here...
- Huh. Guess not. Well still - free fingerbone!
- Hey I thought I saw a church over there... let's go see if the priest can get rid o' this demon for us!
- I might wait outside. Churches make me itchy....
And that's it! At this point they are right up to where we are now! They'll find a pool of blood, dip the fingerbone in the blood, write a thing on the piece of dogwood, steal the cross and the exorcism book, and banish Stellerex!
All of this without:
1) Ever seeing Withers at all
2) Hearing the name of Stellerex even once
3) Hearing about the AI even once, or drones.
So yes. The minimal path through the game to this point is NO PLOT AT ALL.
It's a bit like in Laura Bow when it turned out you didn't need to see any murders at all, only that was cool, and this is... a little depressing.
NOW: A few notes about procedure.
The nightblade team was intentional, although honestly Team Subtlety would have worked too. The vampire means you don't have to get the level 4 card from the sheriff, and so you don't have to see withers. The thief/mech is there to open doors.
I picked the thief because with Littlepanther, you have to get into the locker room through the showers, which adds 2 additional screens we didn't have to see.
Technically, you never HAVE to enter AI (with the box) to get the code: you can simply guess that it's 2112. That said, it's a stretch that somebody would cycle through all the numbers before 2112 to guess it, so I left in the AI infiltration.
Yes, cutting the tripwire in AI is the trigger that lets you go to the suburbs, not entering into the lab, or getting the drone book, or reading the book. No, I don't know why.
I avoided hearing about drones or Stellerex in two ways:
I attacked all the drones, which is a totally legit way to beat the game. It's hell on your score, but it's very likely you'll never check that, as it has no in-game bearing.
Second, I didn't kill the witch last. As we found in the thread, not killing her last avoids you seeing the part where Stellerex gloats.
It's maybe a little hard to believe that a person could assemble the demon-killing amulet without the how-to book, but, if you'll remember, I did, so I left out breaking into the house to get the magic banishment book.
This is a totally legitimate run, too. The only thing that was out of ordinary was killing the witch last, and even that is really believable if you find the amulet before you find all the other drones.
So uh... there you do!