The Let's Play Archive

The Chzo Mythos

by Quovak

Part 35: 6 Days, Part 6: 140% Recidivism

Don't worry, I only intend to make you guys wait endlessly. I don't intend to deal with the ramifications.

6 Days, Part 6: 140% Recidivism

We managed to get him back to Earth from the Caracus galaxy in a mere seven months. Turns out space isn't nearly as big as we thought.

Visitor: The Mephistopheles killer?
Yes, you'll remember it was all over the news. Last year, the EFS Mephistopheles was relaunched with a skeleton crew of six. The appointed ship's counselor was one Doctor Jonathan Somerset, and he reported for duty punctually and on schedule. Unfortunately, shortly before the launch, it was discovered that the real Doctor Jonathan Somerset was dead. Pushed down a flight of stairs, presumably by the imposter who had taken his place. Off-world security was dispatched to intercept the Mephistopheles. Its last recorded communication was an SOS distress call to the EFS Charisma.

This is the first in a long series of retcons this chapter, and it's one of the few that actually makes the plot even worse. At the end of 7 Days, the Charisma staff tell you that "He was killed six months ago by an unknown assailant. We only discovered last week that an individual was using his identity". 6 Days goes one step further: Not only did nobody suspect that this thirty-year-old with no psychiatric knowledge wasn't a sixty-year-old who, by this series' standard, probably also had no psychiatric knowledge, but now they didn't suspect any of that despite having already discovered that the man he was impersonating had been killed. I'm amazed they even came up with the decision to put him in prison.

Visitor: So... who is he?
His name is Malcolm Somerset, the only son of Doctor Jonathan Somerset. He was a student of psychology at Ganymede University, wanting to follow in his father's footsteps. But he failed the final examination and dropped out. It seems becoming a shipboard counselor was his dream, and when his father was called up he couldn't hold in his jealousy.

He just wanted to escape his disgrace.

For some reason, everybody in this thread seems to have realized that Malcolm was at least a Somerset, despite that never being explicitly stated, but I didn't pick up on my first time through the series.

As for Ganymede University, Ganymede was "the most attractive of mortals, which led Zeus to abduct him, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer to the gods." In other words, a needless classical allusion that shows Yahtzee once heard that sometimes people allude to things. Sound familiar?

Visitor: So... why did he kill the Mephistopheles crew?
That's partly why he remains under psychiatric study; it's a complete mystery. His profile is completely inconsistent with a spree killer. He may have been trying to cover his tracks, but that doesn't explain the demented creativity, the sheer bloodthirsty relish with which his crewmates were slaughtered. One man was impaled, another was blinded... the first official had her head twisted right around. Many of the corpses were dismembered and stitched randomly together into Frankenstein-like monstrosities, certainly not the actions of a man simply trying to cover up a far less serious crime. But let's leave him for the moment and move on...

When there's a mentally unstable person who you want to stay alive for study, it tends to help to pad the walls of his hard metal cell. Just saying.

What do you know? The future is retconned to be about Vladimir. I'm amazed Yahtzee had the self-restraint to avoid suddenly making Vladimir be Trilby's fence from the first game.

I was beginning to think you'd gone forever.
This shall be our last meeting.
Will you help me out? You owe me at least that.
What makes you think I owe you anything?
You're the one who made me kill my father.
I only encouraged you to do what you already intended.
You promised me I wouldn't get caught.

This scene has what is probably the best writing in the series. When you consider Malcolm's past that was established ten lines earlier and realize that a mysterious man pushed him in the direction that would lead to him being accused of murders, this dialogue is actually pretty reasonable. High marks.

You wouldn't have been caught, had the Mephistopheles left that locker alone.
You knew about that? Did you know about John DeFoe? Was it all part of some plan?!
I did not scheme it, but I did know it would come to pass. All I did was encourage events to take place as I had seen.

In keeping with my inability to praise any game for more than a paragraph, I continue to hate using fate as a catch-all. So... Vladimir does things because he's fated to help other people do what they're fated to do anyway. They try stopping something that fate says can't be stopped, and bad things happen that would have happened anyway because of fate. The player's involvement in the story? Watch people do things that they would anyway while emotionally distancing yourself from moving bodies with no autonomy. Fun.

You know they think I did it? I've been locked up in here for six months! I don't care about you or any of your bullshit, just get me out of here and you'll never hear from me again, I swear.
I very much doubt that. But rest assured, I am here to release you.
What do I have to do?
Just use the key and leave by the door.
What? Maybe you haven't noticed, but the lock is on the outside.

What key? Who are you?

I would personally think that "Who are you" would have been asked somewhere around the "kill your dad for me" stage of the relationship, but perhaps social norms have changed by the future.

Thankfully, deus ex machina FATE intervenes, and we get a knife. This is the package delivered in the Countdown series, which offers a slightly more detailed explanation that still boils down to "fate" - this game's version of the "a ghost did it" sections of the first two.

Using the knife, we can open the wall and carve through some flesh. Note that the next section borrows heavily from Killer7, by which I mean it's basically the third part of the Smile chapter but in the future. All the spoiler tags later on in this update are just elaborated-upon versions of what I'm going to point out, so you won't miss much by skipping over them.

The people who built this prison were nice enough to make a walkway right outside the wall of a cell where they kept a mass murderer. Quite courteous.

In Killer7, the third part of the Smile chapter takes place in a Philadelphia hotel that you had previously visited in part 1. Unlike before, there are no enemies, leaving a very disconcerting effect. There are blood stains, however, and examining them shows fragmented black-and-white scenes of a mass shooting that occurred before the game took place  when Emir Parkreiner (now going by the name Garcian Smith) shot the original members of the Smith syndicate. 

In Killer7, blood appears on characters' clothing to mark them as traitors. Kaede earns her bloodstain by  not warning her fellow assassins about Emir's rampage, choosing to hide instead , and a similar bloodstain appears on Garcian when he  recreates the suicide that ended his original killing spree and opens up his briefcase, revealing the weapons of the entire syndicate. 

The entire purpose of the Killer7 sequence is to show that a character we're familiar with is actually  Emir Parkreiner , a much more mysterious character who clearly impacted the storyline of the game but whose role was never fully understood.

The entire thing is meant to be symbolic, falling apart if taken literally. Nonetheless, the symbolism is designed to recall earlier moments in the game (this being similar to the hotel's bloody stairs in Notes, while Killer7  references the cut that Garcian received on his head when he opened the safe containing Harman's original body. The cut was representative of the "third eye" on Emir. 

In other words, Yahtzee continues the proud tradition of being "inspired" by good video games the same way a tenth grader's Great Gatsby essay is "inspired" by Sparknotes. Still, I do have to hand it to Yahtzee; he knows which sections of games to steal. As a fan of Suda/Kojima/Lynch style mindscrew, I have to admit that I love this kind of thing.

So, what did we just see? The commentary brings up the theory that Malcolm actually did kill everyone on the ship, and what we saw in 7 Days was just him horribly misremembering petty things like his motives. He refuses to comment on if this theory is accurate, but it probably isn't; while it would make the machete lodged in the elevator make a bit more sense, the fact that William never commented on the suspicious amount of fresh meat you stashed in his room makes the whole thing a little doubtful.

The bottom of the staircase leads us here, a picture of which was released as a teaser for this installment. That's probably because every other environment in the game was a series of gray walls or a reuse of the first game's areas with a bit of a Gaussian blur.

You're alive?

You just received a magic knife, descended a staircase into a sinew cavern, and became a victim of premature balding, but your primary shock is that somebody you started talking to is alive. Never change, Vlad the Impaler who's apparently Malcolm.

Of course. Chzo will not let me die.
Who are you?
You ask a complex question. The name by which I know myself is Trilby, but I strongly suspect that I am not the original. I am probably a clone, given over to Chzo as a plaything. Or perhaps that is my arrogance talking. Perhaps I simply cannot bear the thought that the real me would ever be imprisoned like this.
You're the one who sent the idol into space.
Certainly I have memories of doing so. And you must be the man who found him.
How could you know that?
After the hotel, Trilby spent many years researching Chzo. He requested a vision of the idol's future from the Ministry of Occultism. He was well-respected by them, and his request was granted. Whether I am the original or not, I do possess memories of that vision. I saw what you became, and I realized that I'd seen you before somewhere.

Hey, fate again. I almost forgot that I have no control over anything that happens in this series and thus shouldn't care.

This is the Trilby who does things (like dying) on his own terms. Why did he passively accept that there was nothing he could do? I would think he could at least try writing this in the letter.

What do you want me to do?
I want you to kill me, and don't pretend you're a stranger to killing. You have Frehorn's blade. It's infused with Chzo' magic. It's the only thing that can release his hold on me. I want you to drive it into my heart. The nature of the blade will infuse you with energy. Call it my soul, my life force, we don't have a proper name for it. I want you to give it to the one who needs it. You'll find him nearby.

Frehorn's Blade is the knife he used to kill the 12 people during the point in his life where he did whatever Chzo said (shortly after the point when he cut up the soul of Chzo's servant, which in turn was shortly after a different point when he decided he would do whatever Chzo said). Next update a file will explain all of this in case the subtlety was getting to be too effective.

What is this place?
I knew you'd ask that. No-one who knew what this place was would ever come here voluntarily. You're inside the body of Chzo.
How did I get here? The last I knew, I was in an asylum.
On Earth? Then I can't explain it; there's no possible way to get from there to here. Not corporeally, anyway.
Who's Chzo?
A more appropriate question might be "WHAT is Chzo", or even "WHERE is Chzo", since it seems he is a place as well as a fiend. But to answer you, Chzo is a pain elemental. There were once many of his kind in the universe of magic, small and largely harmless creatures that fed on the petty anguishes of others. They fought for more power by killing and absorbing each other. Chzo is the very last of his kind, a bloated mountain of gristle whose very essence crackles with residual magic. And now nothing but the most hellish torments will sate his hunger. He's the closest thing to a God of Pain.

How exactly does Trilby know about this? Sure, there's the Ministry, but it's not as though it had much to go off of either. There's Frehorn's writing, but he only knew how not to get killed because he had researched Chzo himself. Then there was a single druid who knew about him somehow. It's especially odd because Chzo doesn't do anything; he sits around waiting for a bridge to be built while having Cabadath kill people in an apparently inconspicuous manner.

I won't kill you, I'm gonna bust you out of here.
Even if you could, I have no place to go. To the pain elemental, time is non-linear. It sees the past, present, and future all at once. Were I to leave this place, I could end up at any moment in time, or no moment at all. It's the reason you and I are able to interact like this despite, from my perspective, being in the twenty-first century and you in the twenty-fourth. Now, kill me, both our destinies demand it!

Can we go back to talking about body/mind/soul every few sentences? This is getting a bit excessive.

I'm sorry.
None of it was your fault. Remember that.

Now we use the knife on Trilby to kill him and take his life essence, which we'll use to save the other him who's now a few feet away. Sure.

This is what happened at the end of Trilby's Notes. Of course, that gave the impression that Vladimir Malcolm was wise and all-knowing, when it turns out he's pretty clueless and was basically bullshitting his way through all of that. It also apparently took two seconds instead of the minute of convincing it used to.

I would think that, as a God, Chzo would make use of some intelligent design to get rid of that eye positioned solely to look at some tendons.

I think I should get out of here.

We're going to catch hell for this, aren't we?
Why'd he have to cut his own throat out? Couldn't he have just hung himself with his pajamas like most of them do? It's like he knew we'd have to clean up the mess.

That black guard's portrait looks weird because he's crouching. He's not too horribly deformed.

Personally, I'm more worried about how he got hold of a knife.
You and I both know if a freak wants to kill himself there's very little we can do to stop them. Can you honestly say he doesn't deserve it? I've got a little brother just joined the Navy medical corps, the same age as that poor doctor on the Mephistopheles was.

Why are they not concerned about the prison's "give knives to dangerous psychopaths" policy, exactly?

I can assure you right now that's not how Doctor Laslo will see it.
Come on, then. Let's fetch a body bag.

Free of that place. Free of physical form. The ebb and flow of time flutters against what passes for my body, caressing me like a lover.

Unfortunately, while Frehorn's Blade can make people incorporeal and unconstrained by annoying things like cause-and-effect, it does little to improve one's poetry.

When I was a man, I was destiny's prisoner. Now, I will be her servant. There are men and women who must be guided.

Remember how I've been saying the last two days make up for the first four? This is why. Remember how 7 Days had absolutely nothing about this besides an apathetic scream of principles? Yahtzee managed to save face on that.

I mean, seriously, holy shit.