The Let's Play Archive

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 17: Duel of the Cornutos

Last time the game sent us into the Witch House to begin the endgame sequence, and it's about time, because this game is irredeemable garbage and it needs to be over.

The Witch House's gimmick is that you have to match the symbols with the symbols on the second floor, then they start rotating the floors and whatnot. It would be kind of interesting if, again, I hadn't had my tolerance for this game's bullshit burned out eons ago.

The actual gameplay consists of clicking these symbols until they line up.

Once you have it right they glow very spookily because WOoOoOooO it's the spooky Witch House!

Repeat again.

Oooh a journal.

The standard references to non-Euclidean geometry which are all over Lovecraft. This is also a reference to Dreams in the Witch House where dreaming in the Witch House caused the protagonist to dream about dark bargains and blah blah blah blah originality is hard.

Fun fact: There's no area to rest any more, so we can never learn this spell. Cthulhu ate the game designers apparently.

Clicking this mirror shows us a variety of spooky locations until...

A spooky shadow jumps out in a jump scare that loses us 5 sanity! WoOoOoOoOo!

Incidentally this also reveals the way to progress.

Bertha falls from the ceiling, and...

Oh look it's the spooky familiar from Dreams in the Witch-House and blah blah blah reference yakkity smackity.

This room is different because Bertha is behind the walls and can only be seen through the mirror, but there's also a SPOOKY shadow that's chasing us and blah blah blah blah.


I'm running out of things to say about the Witch House.

We go into another room...

Are you even trying? It's a fucking rock! How is a rock spooky? You might recognize the symbol on the right as the symbol from the game's logo, which I think got vaguely referred to by the dead man and nowhere else.

So, two things here. If you click on the eye in the upper right, it changes positions with the symbol in the far upper left, so you need to click that one. The other?

This is going to require us to do stupid stuff, isn't it? Oh well, leave the room, and...

Wooooo! Spooky! He's cutting himself!

He leaves behind the "Maledicere" ritual knife we pick up, which translates to "slander" or "curse".

Now we go to the last part of the Witch House, and here things get stupid.

Yes yes it's very spooky.

There have been various verbal diarrhea descriptions throughout the Witch House I've cut out for your sake.


Ha ha it's funny because PISS! PISS! Seriously, if that doesn't defang this entity I don't know what else would.

: Doom arrives. (The black lips smile, revealing the ghostly teeth right behind them).

You're trying too hard, game!

: A mark... Some kind of a star-shaped glyph.

The problem with having this be an obviously evil entity jerking us around is that we've been pointlessly jerked around all game. Instead of a "wow this is spooky" we get a "oh look, another asshole is wasting our time on this montage of stupid pointless shit we're doing for no reason."

: I do.

Of course, these writers can't write for shit either, so we get things like "the voice that dashes your hopes" or the glint of satisfaction. Fuck, this isn't hard! Write about how it smiles like baring its teeth or something! Why is this so bad? It's a simple formula for Lovecraft stuff: play up the unknown and how bad it is, then let the reader run wild with picturing the worst they possibly can! Use the monster imagery and provide just enough to get started! Why are you so incapable of this? Why did you waste all of this time making this half-assed piece of shit?

: What toll?

It's amazing how little respect they have for the reader's deductive abilities. You could have just written that the lops are silent and let the reader infer the threat, but nope. What are you going to do, asshole, make me lose the game and not play? That would be a relief at this point.

: I am.

Please stop.

What tongue? We never mentioned a - you know what, fuck it. Yay. Spooky.

: I am.

We know he's asking a question because there's a question mark.

: I do.

: I can.

: Crimson.

Pfft, ha ha, really?

: Blood.

: Mine?


We are an occultist! We literally started with a ritual knife and a blood ritual! This is not new, this is standard operating procedure for Bertha! Who wrote this crap?

This is a device that works well in a game where your choices matter, but nothing we've done has mattered! Nothing! We've been led from shoehorned reference to shoehorned reference in pursuit of nothing in particular other than the developers trying to get that warm fuzzy glow of recognition that gets nerds to write wikis. The toll is our blood. Wow! We've literally been making blood sacrifices from the beginning of the game!


This lands with the impact of a wet fart.

Wow, draw a mark in blood? Like the Blood Circle spell? 2spooky4me

So we cut ourselves and draw the mark on the wall. How spooky. I'm aware there's clumsy foreshadowing about the second toll, can you guess what it is? It's a fucking trolley problem!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: (The entity looks at you like it was written by a bunch of hack game developers with no idea how to code, much less write effectively) Are you here to pay the spooky toll?

: The what now?

: BAWWWW! You have to stick to the script! You gotta let me do my stupid foreshadowing thing where I slowly reveal how to solve the puzzle! You can't DO that! BAWWWWW!

: Fine, sure, whatever.

: Do you seek...the mark?

: Uh, yea, sure.

: What color is it?

: Red. Look, we all know this is building up to me drawing it in my own blood, and I'm an occultist who does that all the time, can we -

: And what red is the most valuable red?

: It's blood, isn't it?

: (You get the sense that the mouth is hot and bothered) Yes...and whose blood is the most valuable?

: Mine, yup.

: Now, do you pay the toll? It must be paid...twice.

: Fine, whatever. The toll is my blood. Look, I cut myself and drew the spooky sign, can I go now?


We get this before our two wayward companions wander onto the screen. Let's talk to the Outsider and see what great insight he has to offer us, shall we?


: I had to pay a price to come here.

: I had to make a pact with my own blood to reach the attic (Tell him what happened)

: It did.

We get it the lips thing is super spooky.

: You don't remember anything?

: Let us leave this forsaken place.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, player, I don't know if you got this from us heavy-handedly mashing it into your face that the thing in the Witch House is super spooky and will exact a terrible price, but the thing in the Witch House is super spooky and will exact a terrible price! WoOoOoOoOoOoOoO!

We click the door and it gets into spooky geometry or whatever.

This could be any generic sci-fi computer or teleporter or whatever.

Suddenly space!


This weird bendy eye thing comes up in the last 30 minutes of the game and we just pretend it's a visual motif we've had the whole time! Wow!

Aliens! Wow! Spooky!

Bertha collapses in front of this spooky black pyramid surrounded by aliens.

The eye again.

Don't worry, we're not pulling an "it was all a dream" sequence, this is just...a thing. Note the Dreaming Baroness on the left.

So close to the end of the game...

: Which, uh, uh, whyya...

: (However hard you try, you cannot form the sounds coming out of your mouth into cohesive words)

: (The doctor continues with a pitying look on his face) Mrs. Bertha, you've been experiencing what we call a malignant catatonic seizure, which is directly linked to your condition of advanced mental illness.


We get it, the doctor is Nyarlathotep and this entire waste of time quest was Nyarlathotep fucking with us. The doctor's face shifts to the Dismal Man's.

: You see what I mean? I'm afraid that these delusions of yours have become more and more disconcerting lately, Mrs. Bertha, but rest assured, they will be solved very soon. Once and for all...

: Jack... I know a Jack...

: (With an inconsiderate look in his eyes, the doctor turns to you one last time, then walks away)

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Welcome to my spooky mental institution! You are crazy, and I am not the Dismal Man! We're going to do an operation that will fix all your mental problems forever...bye!

Is that...that's not Marino behind the cart, is it?

An accurate description of playing this trash.


: (He makes sure the doctor's gone and lights the cig he pulls out of his shoe) Since you're awake, let's talk about the ciggies you owe me.

Yup, he pulls the exact same scam.

: This trick is getting old, Marino.

: But I'm sure you did. Don't you trust your giving bartender, cornuto?

: You'll have all my Cigs soon. Why the hurry?

: Tell me about these cocktails you mentioned? Do they let alcohol in here?

: Cornuto, you still amaze me to this day. (He lowers his voice while glancing around) You know this! I have ways of getting what I want, especially when it comes to precious "medicine".

: The rest involves sharing my trade secrets. Mai? I won't fucking do that. Just keep in mind that Marino produces the best and only drinks that make this place a little more bearable.


: Let's see what you got.

Yea, uh, all our stuff is gone. Marino has a bunch of stuff that helps us do various skill checks to progress, but all that stuff is superfluous when compared with one specific item.

Anyway, I quit and go back to Marino and -

What the fuck are you talking about?

I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be a response to the "I need to get out of here" where Marino promises to mix you a magic potion or some shit that lets us finish the game.

: I need you to mix that cocktail for me.

: And I need to feel the cool Adriatic breeze of Rimini, instead of being locked up with the likes of you.

: In life, nothing's ever easy, cornuto. (He puts out his current cigarette to light another one) Briefly, I don't have the main ingredient of the cocktail, a medicine called... What was it?

: I'll find a way to get your thingamijig.

: I believe you. You are a maniac after all. Also, the cabinet is numbered 0. It used to be 10, like Ward 10, but the 1 dropped off.

It's a callback to the beginning of the game, when it seemed this game had a plot!

We get a cutscene of the doctor and his evil orderlies walking in.

: (The doctor returns to you) Mrs. Bertha, I wanted to inform you that I will start the operation to cure your condition shortly.

The doctor and his minions retreat to go get lobotomy supplies or whatever.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: It's a-me, Marino! Hi, cuck! You owe me cigs, cuck! From your friendly local bartender!

: That's getting really old, Marino. Wait, you have booze?

: Nah, I just have friends who steal dangerous psychiatric medications I mix together like an idiot.


: I knew I liked you cuck, want to buy something?

Three seconds later

: Hey, do you have the thing?

: The what?

: I need a dangerous psychiatric medicine for the Magic Escape Potion! The one we totally talked about? It's in safe 0, so we can pretend this game has a plot.

: Marino, stop making shitty booze out of the hospital drugs! That is very wrong!

: You're not my REAL dad!

: Also, Bertha, I'm going to lobotomize you and I'm not the Dismal Man! See you in a bit! It's time to get lobotomy supplies!

So Carrion Jack has the key and I'm gonna go beat his ass for it.



: (Raise your bare fists) You know, I'm tired of being harassed by you. Not this time.

The ensuing fight sucks. If you actually want to fight him you basically keep leapfrogging to hit him in the back.

See Marino yelling there? That is your only indication that you are on a timer to beat up Jack. What happens if you take too long because you're stuck with 3 damage fists?

Yea. You don't even get a cutscene or anything, you just get lobotomized in a text box. Let's do this the right way, shall we?

We have literally no use for Cigs and this item one-shots Carrion Jack.

We also retain the ability to cast all our spells so we could have trivialized the last fight, but let's do it the funnier way.

Jack loves violence against women but cannot abide misspelled words so we take him out and get the key.

: I do.

Pretty sure that's supposed to be "vixen" but what do I know.

: My cocktail will usher you to planthood in no time cornuto. And don't you worry. I've heard that the plants at least have a lively love life.

That...gets a yikes from me.

Tell me you are not implying what I think you are implying. You're a sick fuck.

: (Drink the hyperiphydal mixture)

Because the game cut out half the dialogue tree, did Marino give us a date rape drug? I legitimately cannot tell.

Wow spooky lobotomy!

They keep trying to make this a motif and I don't know why.

Oh look it's the spooky Lovecraft aliens from before who are going to do...stuff? These are the Elder Things from "At the Mountains of Madness", and they are sympathetic because the narrator concludes they're just like white people. The Shoggoths, on the other hand, are evil because they performed a successful slave rebellion. Lovecraft, why? Why do you do this?

That does not look good.

Mi-go to the rescue! Seriously, the game keeps trying to portray them as evil bad guys when all they ever do is help us out.

They proceed to punish me for my earlier statement by starting Stygian combat.

The Mi-go and the Elder Things are fighting each other, so our job is to run the hell out. Per the guide I'm referring to this is an unwinnable fight.

Unfortunately the game decides Bertha is too scared to retreat (what) and we have to spend another round being beaten by Mi-go.

This gives us another ANGST level. It doesn't matter. We have 1 more fight and then we can finally reach the end of this game.

Alright. From here it's a straight run to the west.

I have no idea what this does and frankly I don't care.

The exhaustion mechanic is still a thing when there's literally nothing we can do about it anymore. Thanks, Stygian devs, for your endless fount of bad ideas!

This is the Lost Man. He can't talk but he'll come with us in the henchman slot. He has a crappy shiv, but there's literally one more fight standing between us and the exit.

The next screen is a mandatory stealth section where you just avoid the shadows on the ground. It's super easy, actually!

For some reason we get dragged into this on the Elder Thing's side (read: because Lovecraft made them analogous to Space White People) instead of the Mi-go's, despite the Mi-go literally saving our lives. Go figure.

While we killed the first Mi-go the other two ripped apart the Elder Thing. Oops. Oh well, we are so close to finishing this travesty of a game.

This is the little psychopathy dance Bertha does when she kills something.

We pick this up. If you press A it just slaps the translucent overlay over the screen with no text. Stygian!

Is this it? Is it the ending?

It's the black pyramid! This game is almost over!

This is going to be stupid, isn't it?

I sure am glad you weren't meaningfully foreshadowed anywhere in the game until the last half an hour! Maybe this is another form of Nyarlathotep like the dismal man but the only evidence we have to suggest similarity is the black and white color palette, ruined by the pink tongue here.

The other hint is that the Mi-go served Nyarlathotep in the Whisperer in Darkness, but this is still kind of grasping at straws.

: (Draw the ritual knife Maledicere and get ready to cut yourself)

Remember how we spent all that time in the attic playing around until we came to the conclusion that "The toll is my blood"?

Oh no! It's Colin McComb! Choo choo! Choo choo!

: Whose blood are you asking for?

You could have cut the worthless overwritten stage directions here and it would have had the same impact.

I'm pretty sure this is the only time a companion cuts into a conversation to say something.

: It's an entity I met inside the Witch House.

: I don't understand.

Neither do I, buddy. I'm just as confused by this pointless twist as you are.

How the hell does this tie into anything we've done?

Ugh. All right goons, we need to pick a companion to die. We can't sacrifice the Lost Man, he only exists so you can bypass this stupid choice on a solo playthrough. This last idiotic trolley is standing between us and the end of the game. Choose wisely!

Next time: Our long Stygian nightmare is finally over.