Part 13: The Amount of Sheer Fucking Incompetence On Display Is AmazingLast time, on Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, we watched the devs try to rewrite "The Terrible Old Man" into something other than Lovecraft's fantasies about killing immigrants because they were stupid lazy criminals...by having the Terrible Old Man's pirate ghosts kill immigrants who were stupid lazy criminals. Then again, considering nearly every character we've encountered is some kind of racial stereotype, that's about par for the course.
The Outsider wants to talk to us, but doesn't really have dialog other than his usual whatever. I'm not transcribing his stuff honestly, it's all some variant on how he's a sad, lonely nerd who likes books. He's not interesting! Nothing in this game really is!
Seriously, if you ask him how he's doing, he gets all awkward because he's never had any friends except Bertha-senpai. We're done.
We're pretty close to being done with this game, we have...three more areas? I'll probably throw up a halfway postmortem after this update.
The game thinks it is critical to show the Terrible Old Man walking off to...I dunno, post on 4chan or something. I miss him in the screenshots. Back to Arkham!
We get forced into combat with these lunatics. It's not a very interesting fight.
Children of Pazuzu hits really hard in an area and has a fairly decent DoT as well.
And here my troubles begin. See, the game has hunger and exhaustion mechanics that hand out debuffs if you don't eat or sleep. We have four rations, we should be good for hunger, right?
Ok, but we had four rations and usually you just eat one to stave off hunger, so why are we eating penalties?
I buy a bunch of rations off Rathsack offscreen, that should take care of -
Wait, what the hell? We're still hungry? (Astute audience members may notice something in the lower right corner...)
I don't really have time to process this, because we get treated to a cutscene.
These cultists have literally never appeared in Arkham except when they murdered Cornelius, but I guess they do rituals and then never hang around Arkham again.
I...yup. This is how we're introducing the Necronomicon. The game literally gathers fifteen cultists to stand in the middle of town and yell at the player about it.
: We beg you Greatfather! Accept the blood of this illiterate!
The Necronomicon is the classic Lovecraft book of evil knowledge and magic, which literally every single horror videogame has ripped off. Hell, it was even in Golden Sun! Having the Necronomicon in your game is not a shock, and it's cliched enough at this point that you need to try really hard to make it interesting!
: Show us the way to the Book...
Now literally every Lovecraft protagonist has read the Necronomicon to some degree, mostly so we can get quotes of "I had read about <spooky thing> in the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred..."
UUUUUUUUUUGH! No! Read the actual stories! People like Dr Armitage use the knowledge in the Necronomicon to fight Mythos creatures! Yes, I get it! You are entitled to adapt the stories as you wish, but the problem is that you want to have slavish devotion to Lovecraft on one hand but his themes seem to be flying right over your heads! This is cartoonish, not horrifying!
Pictured: The average nerdy fan critically engaging with their fictional identity of choice.
: Guide us to the Book!
: Show us the way!
The cultists just...awkwardly wander off and our journal updates to tell us the book we need to find is...The Necronomicon! Wow!
There's not really a lot to say about this scene. It combines Stygian's love of spoonfeeding the player the coordinates to the next "exciting" Lovecraft reference with their traditional inability to actually read the stories they so proudly parrot to the sheer amount of stock vaguely Lovecraftian scenes born of an inability to take the interesting parts of Lovecraft and combine them into something new.
So, guess what the deal with the rations is? Bertha is consuming all the rations instantly and they're not curing her hunger! I literally bought all the rations Marino had and Bertha ate them all. Immediately. See, the way hunger works is that rather than you choosing to eat when you start taking penalties, your character automatically eats a can every time the hunger clock ticks. Because the cans aren't actually suppressing our hunger apparently (but we get the log message they are) Bertha will automatically eat every single ration we buy in the span of 10 seconds.
But wait, there's more!
See that? Normally your exhaustion is cured on sleeping, but the exhaustion is instantly reapplied after we stop resting! It's amazing!
I buy Marino's entire food stock again because I'm a moron and am legitimately not sure if there's some cutscene curse requiring us to eat 20 cans or something. This is not a game full of good ideas.
I have learned nothing.
I even burn a camping supply to try to rest off the exhaustion and it just doesn't work! Finally I save, quit, and reload the game and that lets us actually eat and sleep normally. I have no idea what kind of awful spaghetti garbage is holding this game together, and frankly I don't want to know.
Isidore and Krogh are our local occult experts, so let's go ask Isidore about the Necronomicon.
First, though, I sell our haunted pirate gun, some spells we've learned, and a bunch of keys to pick up a cursed saber. It gives us more crit but...I'll save the curse for later.
: Do you know anything about a book called Necronomicon?
This book is nearly as iconic as Cthulhu, and we are a wizard initiated into a secret occult society. Why do you do this?
Like I said, the only comparison I have to the "who is...Cthulhu" stuff is how Jack Chick assumes all the white people who grew up in America never heard of Jesus. It's nuts!
: (Immediately upon hearing that word, the old man's face turns a pallid, almost ghastly white) Hush, you stupid woman! Don't even say that name aloud in my shop!
: On the contrary. I know exactly what I'm dealing with. Like I know that it is called Kaib al-Azif.
: The word is used to designate a specific nocturnal sound which is believed to be the howling of daemons [Occult]
Why do we know shit like this, but not who Cthulhu is? Cthulhu is well known enough that you can go to an archaeologist convention and the professors will know somewhat of who he is.
: (Isidore cautiously nods his head) A saner scholar would have answered that the word refers to the nocturnal chirping of desert insects, but all right.
We get 15 XP for our incredibly useless occult knowledge.
: Just tell me where I can find the book so I can damn myself somewhere else.
: I had heard that the Miskatonic University library kept a copy of the Latin translation. I've never had the interest nor the courage to check it myself though.
This is where all the Lovecraft protagonists get their dark knowledge.
: You may also have a hard time reaching it after what those Mob brutes did to the main gate. Considering the rumours about what's lurking in there, they may have done one good thing for this town after all.
: How can I reach the university?
: Where's the Pilgrim's Parish?
: To the northwest, where the avenue called the High Street used to be (Shows the location on your map) That place has become sacred ground to the fanatics of the Cult.
: Tell me about the Blasted Street.
This feels so off because Isidore has never really referred to the player character in a gendered way before.
: I better go there.
I...wha? STYGIAN ACTUALLY CHANGED SOMETHING TO BE LESS RACIST! They changed the "mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred to the "mad poet". I would give them credit but Coaly Willie is literally right outside this store.
: There are some accounts where the history becomes deeply intertwined with the myth, the lines in between growing translucent, vague, hard to separate.
TheGreatEvilKing summarizes this shit posted:: Hey what is this Neckernomnomicon I keep hearing about?
: You skank! Don't mention that evil book in my store! You don't even know what you're talking about!
: Uh uh! I totally know! It's also called the Kaib al-Azif!
: Oh yea? What does that mean?
: Well, that's kind of correct, but it also means bugs. You are on the way to damnation.
: Tell me where the book is so I can get out of your store.
: Hmm, there's a secret entrance to Miskatonic University in the Pilgrim's Parish, but that's holy ground to the Cultists. You could try the Blasted Street. Both those places are very dangerous, and you are risking death and damnation by reading that book.
: Eh, whatever, bye!
As we're about to leave we get ambushed by carrion dogs in a cutscene. I don't know why. I think they're vaguely affiliated with the cult? I don't understand why this needed to be in the game. It's not an interesting fight.
The only things of note that happen are that the Outsider gets a -1 physique (constitution) penalty...
..The Outsider's combat menu literally breaks mid-battle, not letting him take actions until I reopen it...
...and the cursed sword affects Bertha. See, when you kill anyone with the sword you become a psychopath. This overrides our schizophrenia and we get an achievement for it. Now, in real life a psychopath is incapable of empathy or remorse. In Stygian, you get a critical chance bonus but you lose sanity when you kill people because...um...you have a mental condition that in real life makes it easier to kill. Sure.
This grants us enough ANGST to get another Defect (the game really calls them this). I go with Hysteria because it does literally nothing except unlock more of that stupid Madness dialogue.
On the way to Pilgrim's Parish we have a random encounter. It's three text screens about getting lost in a SpoOoOoOky maze and then losing 5 sanity because it is just so spooky! WoOoOoOoOoOoO!
We also get five ANGST, because of course we do. Talking with an incestuous brain in a jar? Whatever. A spooky maze? Literally makes us defective.
I try to assign the Outsider to do medical treatment on himself, but the game starts breaking down and won't actually let me assign him things to do. It's nuts! I am going to try to get through the game, but if it breaks to the point where I can't finish, that's going to be the end of the LP. No way am I playing through all this trash again.
People are yelling. Let's see if we can join the cult or something, we are a powerful mage and know all about the Necronomicon.
This guy is guarding the entrance. We can talk to him, and he starts yelling about how we can't get it because we're unclean and soon all their doom will be coming and blah blah blah blah.
We could try to turn in Krogh, but that's probably instant death and why would we do that? Dude sells us powerful magic!
Again, this is the gist of the conversation. I choose the madness option to start a fight (isn't this funny! Ha ha! Ha ha!)
OK, we're surrounded and outnumbered, but we have powerful guns and magic. We got this.
So, the cultists. They have...actual abilities. You might think they'd attack by casting spells and stuff, but they hit you with their torches (which sets you on fire) and brand you which reduces your AP for the turn. It's actually kind of a hard fight.
Fortunately, they're vulnerable to Damnation to Stone.
They have a TON of HP too, and the game spawns a second wave of cultists.
First character death of the LP! Death is permanent of course, even if you are an undead monster, so this calls for a reload.
I completely forget the Blood Circle bug and have to restart again as...guess what! The game hangs!
New plan, we pull everyone to the left so I can open up with my AoE Children of Pazuzu.
Cthulhu lives underwater, so his cult is associated with...fire. Sure.
Ok, we're gonna set up Children of Pazuzu, try to spread the bugs...
Hang on, I still have all my action points...
Yea. The game has glitched! I can input the order to cast CoP again, but it had no effect on those two cultists! Fuck this! I'm done with this update! The game is literally disintegrating as I try to finish it! Who playtested this shit?
Next time: Eduardo leaves us, but sleepy titty lady returns!