The Let's Play Archive

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

by TheGreatEvilKing


Last time on Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, Bertha became a schizophrenic and then we fought a bunch of ghouls so hard we literally broke the game.

This is apt advice.

I end up reloading at the point the game went to shit. Turns out that while we can continue from the save, the developers are personally offended that we are still playing this absolute trash and sic a ghoul ambush on us.

The ghouls are still contractually obligated to beat the shit out of each other so the fight is trivial but also tedious.

Bertha is CRAAAAAZY now, so we can't actually control her half the time because that would be about winning, not enduring.

The transmitter, along with the "radio parts" the scientist ordered, is in this box on the left. Unlike every other isometric RPG I've played, there is no button you can hold down to show all the interactable items.

This, at least, is a nice feature.

We get a cutscene of the random guy running out. He might be a Lovecraft reference. I don't care. This game is entirely references with no overarching thematic connection.

That was weird and pointless. Let's get back to our scientist buddy, sell some crap, and get some rest before the idiots start

...hang on, Victor? No one ever told us his first name!

: I found your shipment.


But..why is this insane? This could legitimately be a joke Bertha cracks after that last line.

(The answer is that the writers have no idea how to write mental illness, so it becomes a joke).

: Another thing...

Why do we have the option to ask for directions after completing the quest?

: Do you have any idea about the origin of these bestial creatures?

: I knew this was an old town full of imaginary ghouls and ghosts. It saw the Arkham Witch Trials, after all. I myself grew up in a pretty superstitious country so I can relate to the sentiment.

This just feels stilted.

: Beyond the borders of the known, life can take surprising forms.

We end it there.

TheGreatEvilKing summarizes posted:

: I got your shipment.

: Wow, I somehow knew you would succeed.

: I will make a lame joke about being the Chosen One cuz I'm CRAAAAAAZY!!!!!!! WHOOOOOOP!!!!

: Eh, whatever. Crazy is fine.

: Any theories about the origins of those monsters?

: I'd always heard this town was haunted, but I don't really care about monsters. Take care.

Anyway we have a bunch of loot to sell -

WHAT THE FUCK? Anyway that eyeball dude seems to be one of the many hallucinations that show up either at low sanity or when you're mentally ill, I'm not sure which. Most of the hallucinations are creepy enough actually kind of works. The developers did two whole things right this update! Pay no attention to Victor Demestrecu's mutilated dialogue tree!

The weird animal guys showed up at the pawnshop, and we can't interact with them.

Krogh is spookier.

We trade all of our now-useless spell upgrade components for Children of Pazuzu, an attack spell that hits an AoE for fairly good damage and a DoT at the cost of one of our food cans. Note that Krogh sells spell upgrade components. I hope you didn't buy that jade thinking it would be useful later, because you just got screwed!

We take a rest at the Old Eel Inn. Every time you go into a building the Outsider gets pissy and refuses to go in because of his...I don't even know. This isn't Lovecraft's Outsider.

We pick up Eduardo again because extra guns are always good to have around.

Yes, Marino, we're all proud of you for using a swear word like you think an adult would.

This is still old.

As I suspect we're going to get nailed with unavoidable sanity loss I have Bertha read this porn magazine. Each of the belief systems gets books they can read to regain more sanity on rest, and Materialists get porn.

I will leave you to gaze upon "Found some meaning while reading Sleazy Magazine".

Graphical glitch! Anyway, I want more sanity on Bertha. I contemplate buying booze from Marino but that shit is expensive and has addiction problems. So, since Bertha is a sex wizard...


Yea, we proc Madness dialogue on this poor prostitute. Just wait! Let's go through with the sex, and...

What? What? Is this supposed to be terrifying or funny? Anatomical arguments aside, Lovecraft never treated mental illness as a joke, his entire oeuvre is all about his fear of it! Lovecraft did have a sense of humor (mostly self-parody) but this was not it! Look, I get it, this is an adaptation and you can change things. Yet you've been trying to make the player scared of going insane because it's awful and terrifying, and then you have the PC blurt out shit like they're drunk. This isn't scary, this isn't thematic, this is just embarassing.

The prostitute is also the only character in the game so far smart enough to react to us spouting crazy shit. Oh well, we got 5 whole sanity back, let's go see a Mi-Go about an unoriginal adaptation.

As Stanley is obviously evil, we can rob the place with a clear conscience.

: I have the components.

: I knew I made the right choice. You turned out to be a fine specimen after all.

: There is but one more task. I am too weak to stand, let alone work, so I must ask your help assembling the parts. Approach the table, please. Don't worry, I will give you the necessary instructions.

It's the fucking Whisperer in Darkness! Fun fact, the protagonist of the Lovecraft story is a folklore professor, so I assume that is who Stanley here is based on and it's a what if the protagonist had fucked up. It's still not very original or interesting, but, uh...welcome to Stygian!

Get ready for a puzzle!

It's not really a puzzle. You follow the instructions on screen to build a jar.

The music gets really ominous here as the game tries to be coy about the mysterious allusion to "guest" but we've all read the Whisperer in Darkness and we know this is a jar for brains.

Wow, what a fucking shock! Who could have seen this coming???

: I'm listening.


Sigh. I'm gonna pause here for a minute. Remember when I said the devs admitted to basing this game on Vampire: The Masquerade? Well, Vampire has these insane vampires called "Malkavians" that get prophetic powers from being crazy. Unfortunately, from what I'm told, back in the day you had people playing "lolrandom" madmen known as Fishmalks, from this image:

Really! If you go on the White Wolf wiki it will tell you all about this player archetype! It's just the insane trolling of the usually suspects who want to do mentally ill slapstick comedy in a supposed horror game.

: What are you implying?

: Understand that your body is merely a vehicle. It cannot store information, it has no say in your decisions, and it requires quite a bit of energy that is frankly wasted.


Oh, look, they even got the reference wrong.

Ha ha! It's funny because instead of engaging with Lovecraft's fear of becoming mentally ill because of a genetic predisposition, we are saying LOLRANDOM shit!


: What will happen to me if I choose to come with you?

: What about the rustic man?

: Answer my questions first, creature.

: What are you?

: The answers to your questions are beyond your mind's comprehension, ape. Your kind have called us by many names.

Did you read Lovecraft? Because the developers sure didn't!

: You're not taking me anywhere!

: What do you know about my quest?

Wait, this Mi-go is the smartest character here. He knows he's stuck in this shitty game and wants to leave before he runs into more racist stereotypes. He's even offering to break us out. What a guy!

Because the game sucks we can't just say yes, we have to go through and ask about Stanley again.


And the alien's obsession with logic betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of Lovecraft. The quintessential terror of Lovecraft is that all of our science and logic is completely useless and we will never be able to understand the universe. The Mi-go in Lovecraft represent this, because they have wings that work in the vacuum of space.

The Mi-go in this game are some nerd's regurgitation of shit picked up playing D&D.

: Kneel before the Mi-go.

We are finally free.

Fine, I'll finish the game, I guess.

The "correct" way to proceed is to attack the Mi-go for no reason.

We are arbitrarily horrified because the game went into combat mode.

We can actually hurt the Mi-go pretty bad up to a point.

The Mi-go has this psychic mind control attack I don't show off because the Outsider no-sells it. Thanks bro!

After a certain point the game decides we can't hurt the Mi-go anymore and just ticks down turns until this happens:

The Mi-go just flies off out the window.


TheGreatEvilKing summarizes this crap posted:

: I got all your stuff.

: That's great, but I am incredibly lazy and will have you build a brain jar while I play ominous music in a desperate attempt to get the player invested.

: Uh, this a Lovecraft reference?

: Yes! I want to put your brain in a jar!

: Did you read the whisperer in darkness? Did you re -

: I'm an occultist! I did, asshole! The story is about Nyarlathotep, and you're not him! What happened to Stanley, anyway?

: He's in a jar, he'll be coming with us.

: What about the rustic man?

: Lol, fuck him.

: What are you again?

: I'm a Mi-go, ape! Did you read Lo-

: YES. So what happens if I go with you?

: We go on a cool space trip out of the solar system, but you gotta put your brain in a jar.

: Why would I do that?

: You will be free from this stupid game.


: I'm in! Yes! Freedom!

TheGreatEvilKing: Ugh, gotta reload.

: We must fight to the death now.


We got this though!

I want to talk about the real Whisperer in Darkness and how the Stygian devs fuck it up like everything they touch.

The actual Whisperer in Darkness story is similar to this. Wilmarth is a professor of folklore who makes fun of everyone for believing in the local legends of space aliens. He receives a letter from a Henry Akeley, who confides in him that he wouldn't believe this crap either, but he's seen and met the aliens. Akeley sends along a recording and a statue to prove his point, and his letters get more and more panicked as he invites Wilmarth down.
Despite describing ferocious gun battles with the aliens, when Wilmarth goes to visit Akeley he finds that Akeley is sick, sitting in a chair, and wants to talk. Akeley explains that the Mi-go (the aliens) aren't malicious, but just want to come to earth to mine in peace, and would like greater relations with Earth. He explains a lot of terrible forbidden knowledge Wilmarth is too terrified to do more than hint at (such as the real origins of Cthulhu) but eventually makes Wilmarth an offer - the Mi-go have the technology to remove a person's brain, and they can carry the brain jar through space on their wings. They want to take Akeley and Wilmarth to the alien city of Yuggoth (Pluto) and show them around by giving them robot bodies. Wilmarth freaks out that night and decides to leave, but can't bear to abandon Akeley to the weird aliens, so he goes down and discovers mechanical (we hope) hands and a mechanical face - the aliens were impersonating Akeley all along!

If this sounds similar to whatever the hell just happened it's only on a superficial level. The character behind the mask in Lovecraft isn't a Mi-go, it's a dark god named Nyarlahotep. See the reveal:

Lovecraft posted:

The three things were damnably clever constructions of their kind, and were furnished with ingenious metallic clamps to attach them to organic developments of which I dare not form any conjecture. I hope—devoutly hope—that they were the waxen products of a master artist, despite what my inmost fears tell me. Great God! That whisperer in darkness with its morbid odour and vibrations! Sorcerer, emissary, changeling, outsider . . . that hideous repressed buzzing . . . and all the time in that fresh, shiny cylinder on the shelf . . . poor devil . . . “prodigious surgical, biological, chemical, and mechanical skill”. . .

For the things in the chair, perfect to the last, subtle detail of microscopic resemblance—or identity—were the face and hands of Henry Wentworth Akeley.

The "sorcerer" line is a hint if you're familiar with the Mythos, but Lovecraft foreshadows this earlier in the story.

Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness again posted:

. . . go out among men and find the ways thereof, that He in the Gulf may know. To Nyarlathotep, Mighty Messenger, must all things be told. And He shall put on the semblance of men, the waxen mask and the robe that hides, and come down from the world of Seven Suns to mock. . . .

So the Whisperer isn't some random Mi-go, the Mi-go are Nyarlathotep's underlings (who are never seen directly in the story and mere footprints are enough to terrify poor Wilmarth). Now our Mi-go buddy here convinces us to join him with condescending racism and an appeal to our logic. How does Nyarlathotep tempt Wilmarth?

Akeley's letter of invitation posted:

And as much of this infinity as any human brain can hold is eventually to be opened up to me, as it has been to not more than fifty other men since the human race has existed.

Akeley introduces himself posted:

To us, as to only a few men on this earth, there will be opened up gulfs of time and space and knowledge beyond anything within the conception of human science and philosophy.

“Do you know that Einstein is wrong, and that certain objects and forces can move with a velocity greater than that of light? With proper aid I expect to go backward and forward in time, and actually see and feel the earth of remote past and future epochs. You can’t imagine the degree to which those beings have carried science. There is nothing they can’t do with the mind and body of living organisms. I expect to visit other planets, and even other stars and galaxies. The first trip will be to Yuggoth, the nearest world fully peopled by the beings. It is a strange dark orb at the very rim of our solar system—unknown to earthly astronomers as yet. But I must have written you about this. At the proper time, you know, the beings there will direct thought-currents toward us and cause it to be discovered—or perhaps let one of their human allies give the scientists a hint.

“There are mighty cities on Yuggoth—great tiers of terraced towers built of black stone like the specimen I tried to send you. That came from Yuggoth. The sun shines there no brighter than a star, but the beings need no light. They have other, subtler senses, and put no windows in their great houses and temples. Light even hurts and hampers and confuses them, for it does not exist at all in the black cosmos outside time and space where they came from originally. To visit Yuggoth would drive any weak man mad—yet I am going there. The black rivers of pitch that flow under those mysterious Cyclopean bridges—things built by some elder race extinct and forgotten before the things came to Yuggoth from the ultimate voids—ought to be enough to make any man a Dante or Poe if he can keep sane long enough to tell what he has seen.

“But remember—that dark world of fungoid gardens and windowless cities isn’t really terrible. It is only to us that it would seem so. Probably this world seemed just as terrible to the beings when they first explored it in the primal age. You know they were here long before the fabulous epoch of Cthulhu was over, and remember all about sunken R’lyeh when it was above the waters. They’ve been inside the earth, too—there are openings which human beings know nothing of—some of them in these very Vermont hills—and great worlds of unknown life down there; blue-litten K’n-yan, red-litten Yoth, and black, lightless N’kai. It’s from N’kai that frightful Tsathoggua came—you know, the amorphous, toad-like god-creature mentioned in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon and the Commoriom myth-cycle preserved by the Atlantean high-priest Klarkash-Ton.

Nyarlathotep promises honor and knowledge if Wilmarth comes for the ride, as well as repeatedly assuring Wilmarth of the aliens' peaceful intentions (they're miners) and eventually introduces him to a human brain in a jar who tells him that space travel is pretty cool. Now, Nyarlathotep, it should be noted, is really bad news.

Nyarlathotep by Lovecraft posted:

And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—of electricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.

That story is interesting for our purposes because Nyarlathotep just kind turns the laws of physics off while the narrator screams at him that electricity doesn't work that way and Nyarlathotep just wanders off laughing at the idiots. It's the ultimate failure of man's power when pitted against the primordial powers of the universe, and it's entirely appropriate as the ending to the Whisperer in Darkness. Wilmarth thought he had all the answers through mankind's science. Nyarlathotep decided to teach him a lesson. Wilmarth went out to discover all the aliens for science, Nyarlathotep granted his wish, and Wilmarth ran off into the night terrified because he couldn't accept that he didn't have all the answers, something that unsettled him more than the wax face.

Let's compare it to this quest. We take common earth science to make formaldehyde and radios. Rather than a highly advanced procedure humans can't replicate, the brain jar construction is simple enough that an old lady can be talked through it. The Mi-go doesn't offer us a glimpse of an uncaring universe, it offers us a cool space trek that lets us escape from a cold, uncaring dimension. This Mi-go is reduced to simple terms. Here is a weird looking Mr Spock. Do you want to go to space? It's all very logical and scientific. The developers chose to fixate on the brains - those aren't important. What's important is that Nyarlathotep is the literal personification of how wrong about everything, you, personally, are, and he is God come down to laugh in your face for being a fucking idiot.

Nyarlathotep would have a lot to say about these developers.

TL;DR: The "Whisperer in Darkness" refers to a character called "Nyarlathotep" who doesn't appear in this fucking quest called The Whisperer in Darkness!