The Let's Play Archive

The Chzo Mythos

by Quovak

Part 31: 6 Days, Part 2: Originality!

6 Days, Part 2: Originality!

Last update, some people pointed out that things appeared disjointed. I hate to say it, but they'll appear doubly so this time, since 6 Days' exposition is all about jump cuts and very abrupt action. I'll try to explain what happens as well as I can, however.

Here, for instance, we walk into the next room and see non-murder ready John DeFoe. For some reason, the game sees fit to remind us of his original characterization (scared kid who kills people out of fear) before re-abandoning that in favor of his 7 Days characterization (let's kill everyone because I love killing)

I'm not going to hurt you. Is your mother around here, or your father?

Granted, It's not explicitly said this is John DeFoe, but there aren't very many other abused children in this series. As always, this scene establishes atmosphere and then falls apart once you think about it for a few minutes. More on that later.

First, squeezing every last bit of life out of this storytelling gimmick.

I in no way saw that coming after the last five times it's happened.

Edit: Theo can launch himself up surprisingly well for a very crippled man.

Ah good, you're up. Our next move will be to take Canning hostage. If at first you don't succeed... His door is being guarded by the Trilby guard. All you have to do is lure the guard away from the main corridor, giving me the chance to slip in. Call when you have achieved your objective, or if there are points you wish to discuss. I'm sure you still have many questions for us both.

You, severely injured man, distract the heavily armed guard who thinks you're trying to stop him and doesn't care for your life. I'll hang out here.

Book on Bed:
Twice did the twenty-eighth day of the seventh month pass, and the Prince gazed with great concern upon the land of Technology as the carving of a slave passed through the hands of a of a great many ignorant men of Technology, but the King would not let him take his vengeance. For he said "The Guide seeks the carving of the Slave, and it is through this desire he shall fulfill his destiny. It will not be long before the Guide learns that his duty has not yet been completed, and then he shall do as I have foreseen. And as the King said it, so was it so. For the Bridgekeeper did touch one of the ignorant men, and by their conjoined hands was the Thief-Wife thrown down, and truly did she know the name of the king. And with this act, the Guide said "I see you now, Bridgekeeper; I have found you and I have not forgotten." And he came to the tree that was the Prince's Soul, for it was here that the carving of the slave has been brought.

You're not missing much by skimming these. The Bridgekeeper is John DeFoe, who's also the Bridge, while Trilby is the Guide who will make the Bridgekeeper the Bridge by destroying the Bridgekeeper, one-third of whom is shared with the Prince, and I guess there's a Thief-Wife somewhere. I believe the Thief-Wife is Simone, who last I checked wasn't a thief or a wife. Some of this will kind of make sense later. Most of it won't.

In other news, here's a meaningless puzzle that makes no sense within the context of the game or as a gameplay device.

Yep. The puzzles in this game tend to be either very difficult to understand (like the whispering directions thing at the beginning), incredibly idiotic, or, more often than not, both. You were doing so well there, Yahtzee. How did we go from "Die" to this?

Tell me about the extent of my injuries.
Your neck broke on impact. If I hadn't gotten you into a brace before you regained consciousness, and if you had tried to move, you would be dead. You landed on your left side, so your left elbow and humerus are shattered, as is your left kneecap. There's also a hairline fracture in your skull.
No more, please.
Hey, you asked.

As always, there are lot of meaningless conversations. I only include that one because it makes it clear Harty knows exactly how bad an idea it is to have you do anything.

Note on Fridge:
Book of Prayers, 2:7 - The body is the physical form, it is the sum of what time has made it to be, and so it is of the past. The mind is sharp and logical, it concerns itself with the here and now, and so it is of the present. The soul is love, and hope, it is the dream of what is to come, and so it is of the Future. We give thanks for them all in the name of the King.

The ending of this game explicitly says there are four Books of Chzo: the Book of Victims, Book of the Bridge, Book of the Prince, and Book of Spoilers That I Won't Talk About. Excerpts from these were included with Trilby's Notes, but Yahtzee decided to contradict his own game within the game in order to repeat information that ostensibly helps you understand the game but really just consists of Yahtzee grasping for a way to justify this series' timeline. This is where parts of the series become unintentional self-parody.

Tell me about Trilby.
Well, he was the main character in a bunch of horror movie serials, which were based on a series of novels from the early 21st century, but someone sent me some rare old newspapers, and they suggest Trilby was a real person. The story goes that he joined some secret government agency. That guy out there, Canning's guard? Looks EXACTLY like the real Trilby. Of course, he's be over 200 years old by now, but the resemblance is really creepy.

For some reason, Yahtzee still hasn't realized that Trilby being a media celebrity and Trilby being a mysterious undercover rogue do not work together. It's not as though there's a shortage of legitimate mystery; "I wonder if these newspaper articles about him existing imply that he existed" is slightly less interesting than "He died 120 years ago, then he died yesterday, then he tried to shoot me."

[Welding masks have shown up in dreams they're both having, they're wondering about Bitch Lady's loyalties, and Janine called the police right before capture hoping for a swat team, but instead she got a man who is dull]

Trilby now wanders the halls, walking about as fast a critically injured man with one working leg, ready to not hinder you all that much. You'll see why in a second.

We'll see about your friends soon enough.

It's because of this friendly man in red again. For someone who was remarkably willing to let terrible things happen to better characters and stand idly by as everyone's plans worked out horribly, he's recently decided not to let you screw anything up at all. This is another one of the love-it-or-hate aspects of the game, since some people loved the tension of being able to die while others remembered that there wasn't any tension at all since you could save and load every second. Personally, I wouldn't mind if the game was actually designed around not being able to die, or at least if there was a bit of variety in getting out of traps, but as it stands you basically just get Red Man snapping his fingers as a shoehorned deus ex machina to get out of anything.

It also ruins much of the setting. There's no reason Harty couldn't have shown some degree of humanity and let you out, but having a wizard show up every few minutes to snap his fingers and rescue/railroad you somewhat undermines the whole idea of powerless isolation.

Anyway, our failure is rewarded by showing us exactly where we need to lead Trilby, encouraging us to be reckless for the rest of the game and to think of the red wizard with a miniature walkthrough rather than something mysterious beyond our comprehension.

Wait, what the hell is that?

This Trilby is pretty much identical to the first one, but soon Yahtzee starts giving the Trilbies completely different personalities since consistency is hard. On the plus-side, we have a very nice disembowelment graphic.

The Prince has a reason for killing Trilby(s), but he also has a very good reason to want to kill Theo. The only reason for him not to kill Theo is that there needs to be more of a game, all the plot holes arising from this be damned.

I got the guard away from the door.
Excellent. Meet me outside the office door.

This is why the phone is fairly pointless. You can use it to be reminded of what you need to be doing or hear about the three agonies for the umpteenth time, but most of the conversations end with "Come to where my sprite is anyway." Then you get to backtrack and have the same conversation a second time because the game doesn't keep track of most calls.

Theo's question in the first screenshot is referring to the nice dungeon motif that pops up. Every time Trilby dies, the complex becomes more like the DeFoe basement, foreshadowing the very, very bad explanation for why Trilby is here anyway.

Ready? Let's do this, then.
He's dead because of me. I led him to a monster. It tore him to shreds. A man died because of my actions!
You must not agonize over every little thing. If you did, you'd go insane.
You call it little?!
No, of course not. Come on.

Theo's dialogue is reasonable for a generic dull man who just became an indirect murderer. Harty's is very unreasonable, even when factoring in her calloused black soul, due to inexplicably not caring that there's apparently a monster wandering around. She works here and probably knows about the Prince, and by all logic should consider him way more of a threat than some guy in a nice robe.

Aren't you tired of this yet?
Your pet guard won't be able to help you this time, Canning.
I would say he was as much yours as mine, wouldn't you?
Shut up!
Has she told you about the work she was doing for us, sir?
I said shut up! And no funny business, or you get a bullet to the leg to help you along.

For three games, Yahtzee has tried to write competent characters and failed. This time, he tries to write an intentionally incompetent character... and somehow fails at that too. The implication is that Canning is unliked by the other cultists and kept down here because he's really bad at following orders, but he's much better at this whole villainy thing than, say, Lenkmann, who spent ten minutes telling you exactly how to stop his plan and taunting you with the fact that you wouldn't do it.

Okay, Canning. You're completely at our mercy, and you're going to tell us exactly what we want to know, understand? First and foremost, how do we call the elevator?
You don't. Looks like we'll have to get used to each other, my dear.
There's got to be another way up.
It's in the hub, but you'll never get past the security locks to open the blast doors.
You're going to tell us how.
Oh, this is laughable. You're trying so hard to do it like they do in the action movies, aren't you? What are you going to do, torture me? You really think I, an acolyte of the Order of Blessed Agonies, would be scared of pain?

[B.W goes to try to open hub doors, letting you question Canning]

You wonder what she hiding, do you not?
You understand so little.

[More rehashing of stuff we already know, with Canning assuring us there are more acolytes and guards and that we shouldn't consider ourselves successful. He also hammers this in some more:]

For an individual to be fully purified, all three aspects of themselves must experience Blessed Agony. The agonies of the body: physical pain, burning, and cutting. The agonies of the mind: boredom, fear, and insanity. And the agony of the soul, which is more refined. It's about destroying someone or something the subject loved utterly, relies upon emotionally.
And you do this to yourself again and again?
The agony of the soul can only be experienced once, but apart from that you are correct.

I don't understand this. Not only does this not factor into any part of the game, it ignores the fact that losing a series of loved ones would probably be slightly more agonizing than being bored a few times. It's not as though it's something you have to actively experience, even; losing your mother doesn't make your dad's death a casual experience to brush off so you can go back to stabbing yourself a bit.

Why are we being held here?
Surely that should be obvious. You are held to protect the secret that this complex exists.
Then why didn't you just kill us?
I would had I received the order, but I did not.

[He refuses to say anything of substance about Harty's involvement or the tall man, but he isn't familiar with the other man in red and insists said man wasn't a cultist.]

I'm tired of referring to him as "the man in red" or "red man" or anything similar. I'll call him Vladimir to keep the red connection alive.

I saw... some kind of monster. He was... like a man, but... so tall and thin, like a stick man. His face was just... white. There was blood everywhere.
Pull yourself together, Mr. Dacabe.
But the monster-
You're safe.
[More text about need for keycard and passcode]

Place your bets on what will happen to our annoying character with a plot-important past who denies the presence of dangerous things and is trying to access a mysterious section of the complex. Don't strain yourself too hard.

Part one of this puzzle is easy. We simply use the keycard we got from the worst safe combination in existence and unlock a crank because this door makes little sense. Part 2 is a bit more esoteric, requiring us to go to Canning's office and, well...

Pick up arbitrary solutions to equally arbitrary puzzles. Again.

Choose the one option that does something (the others give error messages) in a failed attempt at making things seem realistic and less game-like... a full five seconds after deciding a staple would be useful.

Activate this camera now that security is off, rewind the footage to when you can see a set of numbers on that pad, be thankful that this is the password to what you need instead of his PIN or a drawing of a kitten, realize this puzzle was shamelessly copy-pasted from Day of the Tentacle but made less reasonable despite suddenly being played straight, and wish you were playing Trilby's Notes again.

Then unlock the other crank. You might notice that you're given very little direction when it comes to these puzzles. Apparently you can connect the dots between a background computer, a previously-unusable camera, a notebook, and a passcode without any difficulty, but what if the audience doesn't understand the body/mind/soul triad well enough? I better remind them of it in some dialogue.

Excellent work, Mr. Dacabe. I wouldn't have thought a bureaucrat would have such a head on his shoulders.
I hope that was a compliment.
Now, I think we need to turn both wheels simultaneously. Can you manage?

You can't. I would think that, at some point, these "Even a man with two limbs out of commission can fire a gun" style comments would elicit some sort of protest.

You're the only one who can help.
I know, but... what if I run into... him?
Look... there's no-one else around. His guard is dead. Aside from us three, nothing else is moving. I'm certain. Come on now, this is our ticket out.
I'll be there soon.

This exact conversation will happen about a dozen more times. In all cases, you do the bare minimum of comforting necessary to get her to be submissive to a male.

Doesn't look like an elevator to me.
Wait here, I'll check it out.

Is Yahtzee completely out of ideas? This game doesn't have much middle ground between "Crazy flashes of action raising hundreds of questions" and "Remember these things from the first two games in the series? Let's do them again. Again."

Do you?
I would if she gave me any reason to.
I know what you mean, but right now she seems like our best hope of getting out of here.
Even so, there's got to be a reason why she doesn't want us to know about her work, and I'm not sure we should trust her to go in there alone.

A tad late for that. Later you actually do go inside and realize that it's a well-lit and small room that these characters should be able to clearly see. Superseded by the need for drama.

Hey, after you, man.

I'm out of original ways to point out the fact that Yahtzee does things in unoriginal ways.

I'm glad we dragged the body here, leaving a bloody trail that the various murderers can follow right to our location. It's worth it for this burial of someone we didn't like and who did pretty much nothing.

I can't think of anything.
We're going to die down here.
If we can get back into the hub...
You don't get it. He won't let me out, you have to stop him. I see... you. I see what you are.
I didn't do anything to you!
Why won't you stop him? How many times do you have to kill him?!
Janine, you're not making any sense.
I'm sorry, I... Leave me alone!

Remember that the only things Theo knows about Janine are that she's trapped here despite being innocent, her call for help went unanswered, and she's at least a little mentally unstable. If you think Theo is a decent human being, keep this in mind over the next few updates.

What about Janine?!
She is in no danger. Remain here until morning.
Tell me who you are. Are you with the cult?
My identity is meaningless. I am just an avatar, and I have no allegiances.

In a bit more not particularly funny plot discussion, I don't like the excessive focus on destiny as a plot device. Yahtzee uses it as a way to avoid explaining himself, and the game shoots down any delusions of an actual struggle before we even have a clear villain established.

For the obligatory nitpicking, there is no way in hell that walking around a bit and opening a door took a day.

Oh god... Stop this!
Stop what? You're the one pretending to be me.

I'm not sure if the implication here is that John wrote this on the wall of his dungeon. I suppose it could go either way; either he's very literate for a retarded and un-nurtured child or it's just there to look creepy without any thought given to if it fits the context of the game.

Boy, I sure did love this dreaming element at the very beginning of the very first game in the series. Of course, now it has Vladimir tucking you in. He's even more mysterious the tenth time you see him!


Next time, I come less close to my updating deadline.