The Let's Play Archive

The Chzo Mythos

by Quovak

Part 15: 7 Days, Part 6

I keep seeing the other nine or ten horror tagged threads with new replies and getting disappointed that they aren't mine. To help my self esteem, an update. 90% of it consists of reading a letter.


Seven Days, Part 6:

Mr. John Somerset
287 Mephistopheles Blvd.
Caracas Galaxy, Space, 57630

Supposedly, Yahtzee attempted a double-bluff with Will, making his guilt so obvious that we started to believe it couldn't possibly be him. There's a fine line between acting confident when your hand is bad and throwing your cards into someone's face while screaming obscenities, however.

There's the access card. Let's get out of here.

We are mercilessly spared a pixel hunt as John quickly gets over his shock and instantly discovers a small card under some meat halfway across the room.

I must say, while the leadup is idiotic, this reveal is pretty creepy. It's a well-designed room that gets a point across fairly effectively.

Great, give it here.
You should have seen it in there. Body parts on every surface, blood all over the floor...
Oh god, please, let's just forget it.
I didn't think William could be capable of such a thing.
What other explanation is there?
That locker.

Throughout this update, John is very indecisive over whether Will is a killer or not. Perhaps, as a counselor, he should have picked up on his coworker's sociopathy, but I guess it's a bit much to expect talents to be demonstrated or ever brought up in a meaningful way. It would also be too much to ask for ask for sentence-by-sentence consistency, apparently.

Oh, come off it, John! There was nothing in that locker but...
But what?
No, you were going to say something. YOU opened the box.
I'm so sorry John. I had this awful dream. Something in the box had killed us all, and when I woke up I was so terrified. I just had to get a look inside the box, make sure it was harmless. I just couldn't have slept before I did.

Someone (well, everyone) brought up how appalling every single character in this game is. Because this is a short update, let me pad it out with a short recap, now that everyone else is going to die in the next five seconds.

Barry: Ignores a suggestion to ignore a metal box, then decides not to investigate it once it's inside. Dies after doing and saying nothing of importance.
Serena: Occasionally tells you things over the PA system. Supposedly dependent on regulations but has no problems letting the counselor go into space and drag captains around. Also dies uninterestingly.
Angela: "Logically" analyzes things in the least logical possible way. Utterly lacks basic human empathy. Dies idiotically due to not understanding what to do with a gun when someone warns you of an attacker.
Will Taylor: A distant descendant of Simone's, which doesn't factor into anything and isn't actually mentioned in-game but foreshadows Yahtzee's later love affair with arbitrarily making everybody related to everybody else. Starts out horribly meek and worried about screwing up as a doctor, then solves that problem by making sure there aren't any patients to treat. Except he just watches other people do all that while he gives them words of encouragement and high fives.
Adam: Thinks that doing his job and informing people of imminent threats are pretty unimportant, all things considered. Will die almost immediately.
John: Try describing his character without referencing his role in the story. That is, describe who he would be in a vacuum (In contrast to this game's idea of space ). I'll wait.
Lil' DeFoe: Has a last name that sounds like "the foe", illustrating his role as the antagonist of the story in a move that Yahtzee probably spent hours patting himself on the back for. The ghost of a retarded youth who never speaks, he has the most personality of anyone on the ship by far.

What was in it, Adam?
That's the weird thing. No human remains at all. There was a welding mask, a leather apron, and a machete. And a funny little wooden doll thing. There was this letter lying on top of it.

Oh god, brace yourselves. Trilby is slightly worse at condensing letters than he is at anything else he's ever tried to do, so prepare for 657 words of entirely unabridged letter. Annotations will provided to point out the many, many problems within.

Trilby's Letter:
If you are reading this, and the box has been opened, then you must understand that you are in extreme danger. Immediately after reading this letter, seal the box shut and flush it back into space. The evil must not be released upon mankind again.

This is typed verbatim. All of the awkward sentence construction is Yahtzee's, though I've changed some punctuation to make it work as a block of text rather than a line-by-line description

At time of writing, I am an agent of a joint M15-M16 operation called the Special Talent Project. Details of my post here should be on record with the British secret services.

Records that are easily accessible from space, where I'm sending this.

My real name is classified by my own request. I am commonly known as Trilby.

The Special Talent Project shows up a few times throughout this series. It's basically Yahtzee's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where all of the characters he's written hang out and talk about how cool their creator is and how none of them have personalities. Then the government gives them money to go on adventures and fight crime.

In the year 1993, when I was a cat burglar, I was intimately involved in what became known as the DeFoe Manor incident.

After five days, and the deaths of AJ and Harty, I was able to identify the ghost as that of Sir Roderick DeFoe's retarded son, whom I later named John DeFoe for the sake of convenience. I was able to exorcise the spirit with the assistance of Taylor and Fowler, and DeFoe Manor was destroyed by fire. I returned to my thieving lifestyle, confident that John DeFoe was at peace. In 1995, I was apprehended by the authorities, and in return for amnesty was offered the opportunity to lend my services to the government. I took a position as a field agent in the Special Talent Project.

This might seem like a reference to the fact that Trilby occasionally pretends he's a great thief, but in the later games it's pretty heavily implied that the STP is almost entirely for the supernatural. In other words, the government was so impressed with Trilby's abilities at reading a book and putting salt on things that they decided it was more important to get that talent than to prosecute him. You know, for those crimes he might have accidentally committed once.

In the early months of 1997, I was brought news that Simone Taylor had been murdered in her home by an assailant wielding a large slashing weapon. Sensing a connection, I immediately began my own investigations into activity around DeFoe manor.

Since bad things never happen to celebrities and nobody else uses knives, I instantly realized it must be related to that thing that ensures tenuous continuity between games.

It was as I had suspected. Looters and trophy hunters had discovered the idol intact in the ruins of the mansion, and it was constantly changing hands in the antique network.

I wasn't expecting wood to have survived a giant blaze that destroyed the rest of a house made of wood, but maybe it was ghost wood or something.

In the mansion, merely touching the idol would cause a person to be possessed by the wraith, mindlessly murdering everyone they encountered for as long as the possession lasted, usually a couple of hours. Calling in some favors, I had the idol brought to me, heavily sealed in protective casing. It had to be destroyed, that much was clear. I considered burning it, but I deemed that too risky. The evil could have remained in the ashes, spread out over a wider area.

Similar to what didn't happen at the house

I realized then that mankind would never be safe as long as any trace of John DeFoe remained on Earth. Fortunately, an unmanned space probe is to be launched in the September [sic] of this year, assigned to explore the outer regions of the solar system.

Now, this letter implies that there would be some fairly widespread knowledge of the supernatural in order to pull all of this off logistically. Notes doesn't acknowledge this at all.

In fact, Notes is set after 5 Days but before Trilby writes this letter and sends things into space. The most blatant example of complete story retconning in this series is this letter, since absolutely nothing Trilby discovers in Notes is reflected here. Maybe he just ran out of paper.

As soon as I have finished this letter, I will seal it into the coffin with everything else and have the package shipped to Cape Canaveral. I remain confident that this will ensure that John DeFoe remains exiled from the human race for the rest of time. However, the fact that you are reading and presumably understanding this document indicates that my confidence was misplaced.

I'm basically banking on the fact that you understand English and aren't an idiotic Engineer who will ignore this letter.

Please, no matter what year it is or how advanced you believe you are, do not attempt to combat John DeFoe. He cannot be destroyed by conventional means or reasoned with on human terms. You must eject him back into space immediately, and tell no-one of your discovery. The lives of you and everyone you love are at stake. The decision you make now you will have to live with forever.

[tl;dr version: Trilby was caught but began working for the government, where he used his connections to retrieve the cursed idol and launch it into space so the spirit (who he named John DeFoe) couldn't kill people anymore. He begs whoever might read the letter to eject the material back into space and think no more of it. Also, Simone died anticlimactically]

You read the letter? Why didn't you shoot the box back into space?
I didn't think it was for real. And how would I have explained that to the captain? Besides, I didn't touch anything else in the box, I just closed the box, left everything how it was, and went to bed.

In 5 Days, there was at least the hope that Yahtzee had good ideas that just didn't translate well, making his characters seem like idiots when they might not have been intended as such. This game's plot explicitly depends on everyone being an idiot. Hey, here's how you explain it to the captain: Bring it up at one of the daily board meetings and allow people to discuss it reasonably, probably coming to the conclusion that you should send it off. Hell, shortly after the first murder would be a pretty good time to read the letter warning people that murders might happen. If it was a huge dilemma you could always talk about it confidentially with the counselor who does your job.

If you pretend you care about any of these characters dying, stop lying to yourself and the thread.

Let's just get out of here. Here's the access card.

Unfortunately, there's no safety mechanism to stop you from being sucked into space, causing Adam to get sucked into space. Other than that, being exposed to extreme cold while oxygen is rapidly being sucked out of a room causes John few problems. The only worry is that he has to use his hands to use his feet to kick the switch that his sprite doesn't reach in the next five seconds.

This allows you not to die, giving you more time to contemplate the way physics should work and why you hate this game.

John doesn't bother using his stun gun, the machete, the towel rack, or space to fend off a known murderer unless you specifically tell him to, so one convenient day transition later and we're suddenly locked up. That's not the worst abuse of the day system; it's coming in about half a minute

William? What are you doing?
Oh good, you're awake. I wanted to be able to apologize. I'm really sorry about this, John, but he needs your body parts. We're so very nearly finished, and you'll be the last one. You forgive me, right John?
Of course I forgive you, William.
I'm so glad.

If you struggle for a while, you can get one hand free and grab the scalpel Will sets down next to you.

Then you can throw it at his knee, which causes him to instantly collapse and makes the rest of your bindings magically loosen.

Then it becomes Sunday already because Yahtzee was hugely attached to his title but ran out of ideas for ways to pad out his game. Would you believe that this still isn't the low point of this game's storytelling and logic? That comes next time.

First, however, something seems a bit... off.

By this point, nobody's all that skeptical of anything. In fact, nobody's been skeptical of all that much for a while, or even alive long enough to be skeptical, but what about that 7 Days part?

Day 1 of 7 involves establishing character (in theory) and finding a locker. Alright, that's a fair use of a day.

Day 2 of 7 involves finding a machete and then finding a dead black man. Again, fair enough.

Day 3 of 7 sees John doing the same things as Day 2 and finding Serena to be missing. Probably dead. Alright.

Day 4 of 7 has Yahtzee understand science for a few minutes as John looks for Serena's corpse and fails to reject the gender dichotomy.

Day 5 of 7 is about towel racks.

Day 6 of 7 is about birthdays.

Day 7 of 7 features John throwing a scalpel, presumably very slowly over an 18-hour period of time

Day 8 of 7 is about... Fucking hell.

Yahtzee, we've had our good times, and you've made me laugh on numerous occasions, but you are really, really appallingly bad at things sometimes. Like throughout this entire game.

Next time, we're still not skeptical for a block of time that isn't seven days long. The "a" will probably find some way to be wrong also.

Creator Commentary
The first day didn't count. It didn't have a day tag. That was day 0.

Originally you'd have to manually pick up the access card in William's room and take it back. But this would mean having to write dialogue should the player choose to leave the room, go all the way back to Adam and tell him about what he saw before going back to take the key. And as we've established many times up to now, extra work was avoided wherever possible.

The whole STP concept actually proved pretty useful. Yes, I didn't write anything from it that I didn't almost immediately want to burn, but a lot of my characters were author surrogates at the time and putting them all next to each other helped me figure out how to differentiate them and ultimately learn how to characterise better.

I think even I knew that Trilby carrying enough weight to make a special request of NASA, and there being a convenient shuttle launch taking place that soon, was completely absurd. I guess it was an example of the kind of outside-the-box thinking that impressed the government enough to hire him.

Maybe he told NASA it was the body of a cancer-stricken child whose request to the Make-A-Wish foundation was to go into space, but who had died before it could be arranged. I'm pretty sure if you refuse the Make-A-Wish foundation you legally have to be killed.

I think the big lesson one needs to learn when being a creative is 'you are not your work'. That proper criticism is far, far kinder than praise. That the best response to someone who didn't like your work is to make something better. I always get on extremely well with developers of games I've torn apart because they're usually the first to realise when the game has problems. Although I have a good friend who worked on the chariot races in Prince of Persia: Two Thrones and he's never let me forget about that 'needless and finicky' comment.