The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 21: Choose Your Own Terry Goodkind Adventure!

Choose Your Own Terry Goodkind Adventure!

Last time, we picked up some kind of weird slime ball critter and then finally proceeded with the main quest because I forgot we had at least two more side quests we could do. Thus we are in the lair of the deadly assassin Matkina.

You will not be surprised to learn this cliffhanger continues in the most Numenera way possible.

: Where did you come from? How did you know how to find me?

As you might have guessed from the portrait, Matkina here is our last party member.

: Her started expression becomes a dark glower. A keen blade flickers through her fingers. You're sure it wasn't there a minute ago.

So yes, when the game says Matkina is an assassin, they mean the D&D style lightly armored combatant who fights with knives and sneaks around. What, you thought you could get something different in your mysterious sci-fi RPG like attack drones or something? Fuck right off!

As you can see, Oom lets us know what actions raise what Tides.

: [Raises Silver Tide]: I followed your trail.

This obviously raises Silver Tide because we are bragging to the famous assassin and - you know what, fuck it, I'm not going to justify this shit. The writers clearly didn't.

: [Raises Silver Tide] I was born as my body fell from an exploding moon.

I guess this raises our egotism because it's legendary...but it's also the truth, so who knows!

: "What of them?" She points her finger at your companions. "If you think you can overpower me with mortals, you're mistaken."

To repeat, our companions are an infinite number of parallel universe magic women, some kind of goop thing, and a useless small child. One of these is more threatening than the other two.

: [Raises Gold Tide] "Trust me. We mean no harm."

We did kinda break into her hobo cave.

: Why are you hiding down here?

: What are you planning?

This is a surprisingly reasonable response.

: What can you tell me of other castoffs?

: "Self-absorbed, treacherous, leave a trail of misery and suffering...shall I contine? Also, powerful, scheming, ambitious." Her smile is crooked and quick. "But you want names, don't you?"

: She barks a laugh that's half a sob. "You won't get them from me, though. Not now. I remember Aadris, and I remember the First, and I remember Tash... and I killed Tash for what he did to me, for the hole he cut in my memory, but that hole grew and grew, and..."

: I heard you might know who can repair a device I found in the Reef, something called a resonance chamber.

It's an RPG, so of course we need to do some bullshit quest to progress the plot.

: What's a Merecaster?

: Ha. Am I really the first one to say the word to you? Oh, you're in for a surprise, sweet sister.

"Every castoff has one, just like every castoff has this." She taps the tattoo on your head. "No one knows what they're for. Aadris used to think they were a byproduct of the transfer process - just like us." She seems lost in thought for a moment.

: Can a Merecaster be used to spy on other castoffs?

That sounds like something any intelligence agency would appreciate, but what do I know?

: Why can't you enter the Mere?

: What is a jahk?

So it's a magic flute, and I would much rather be listening to Mozart than reading this garbage.

: If the jahk is a key, what does it unlock?

: How do I enter a Mere?

: Why shouldn't I try to change anything in the Mere? What did you mean by that?

: I'll do it. I'll enter the Mere for you.

Are you ready, goons?

So, yes, every time you use a Merecaster you get thrown into these Choose Your Own Adventure segments. Unlike normal dialogue, you can't use items to replenish your pools, so we are making it through this with that 1 intellect you see above.

I also like that the distant fires get more attention then the ritual pyre here.

: Continue.

: [Perception][Raises Blue Tide]: Stare at the distant campfires and try to see what they are.

: What's going on here, Matkina?

: Wait until the ritual is finished.

: Continue.

: Continue.

I should...probably care, but I don't. The Sand Knights were mentioned as fighting in the Endless Battle earlier, but as that battle seems to have no clear goals and happens entirely offscreen...I don't really care.

: What happened to your eyes?

: Read the crumpled note.

: [Raises Gold Tide] You don't need to trust Paj Rekken. Just trust 'Kina.

: [Persuasion][Raises Indigo Tide] The only time it's too late to start a new life is when you're dead. Give your people a chance to survive!

: [Amanesis] Try to dredge up the memory that is troubling you.

Flashback in flashback!

: What exactly are these 'hill-people', Matkina?

: Continue.

So...they're sci-fi werewolves. Got it. Seriously, why is there no creativity in this game?.

: Gesture toward the gate. "After you."

So, let me get this straight, Numenera. You hired artists to draw the backgrounds for this specific section. Then, instead of drawing the interior of the cave with the McGuffin in it, you hit us with a long text description. Do you not see a problem with this?

: Continue.

It just keeps going! They leave the image of the tunnel gate but describe how we got this thing at the end of the tunnel! Oh well, better ask Matkina for more exposition!

: What do you think this place is?

While I enjoy the tacit acknowledgement by the writers that most of this attempted weirdness is cheap, unoriginal bullshit, none of this is in any way interesting. We walked up a hill to get a flute for a dude trying to evacuate his village from a pointless war we are not invested in.

: Examine the jahk and it's pedestal.

Just to drive home the point that this is just sci-fi D&D, the McGuffin is trapped.

: [Lore: Machinery, Quick Fingers] Disarm the trap.

Note that despite having to go into a techno-tunnel and disarm a laser trap, the art is still the cave door. Which we are currently behind.

: Continue.

Oh no! The Sand Knights! Who's next, the Sand Witch?

: [Raises Red, Gold Tides] Attack them before they have a chance to hurt Matkina or take the jahk.

: Continue

: As your consciousness rises from the shadow of the Mere, something... clicks in your mind. Something has changed deep within you, but what?

: Matkina stares at you, the shock painfully obvious on her face.

So uh, yea, this is basically "rape but sci-fi glossing" instead. The point wasn't to find the MacGuffin, but to go back in time and prevent Matkina from getting raped. I'm sorry, but when you use language like "forcing me on the ground" and "violate me" I don't know what else to tell you.

Yup, through the magic of time machines we have fixed Matkina's, erm, violation. I didn't see Terry Goodkind in the writing credits.

: There's a castoff sanctuary?

: Great. Where can I find Miel Avest?

: Word of caution. They won't believe you in Miel Avest. They'll treat you like they treat every new castoff - as a pawn in their games with each other. Look out for that.

: She walks to her table, and unrolls a map of the Sagus Protectorate.

: Thank you. Can I ask some other questions?

Trust me, I'm getting to the big elephant in the room, once this conversation is done.

It is a small act of mercy that these idiots didn't put "[Raises Blue Tide] What did Tash do to you, exactly?"

...That's number two, isn't it? I'm not clicking that shit right now.

: Would you travel with me?

: Farewell, Matkina.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Who are you, and why are you in my hobo hole?

: I followed your trail, me, The Last Castoff.

: Fuk. I didn't choose the hobo hole life, the hobo hole life chose me.

: Wow, she's nuttier than Aligern, who suuuuuuuuuucks!

: Why the hell did you bring them? That's a small child, she can't beat me.

: I am strangely excited now.

: We come in peace. Anyway, why are you hiding down here, and what are you planning?

: It's a secret lair, and none of your business, sister! Also, the other castoffs are assholes and I owe you nothing.

: Do you know anything about a resonance chamber?

: I do, but first I need you to pick up this time machine and go into the Flashback Zone to get me a magic flute. It's my right as an RPG character, and I can't do it myself because of my trauma. Anyway, don't change the past!

: Sure, why not?

*Flashback Zone*
: Huh, I'm a man now, this is really weird.

: Oh no! The evil Sand Knights are going to genocide all the nice werewolves!

: We're here to help.

: Why are you blind lol, what happened to your eyes?

: I'm going to shrug it off and pretend you're not a rude asshole.

: Hey, werewolf dude, you should leave so you don't get genocided.

: That makes sense, but instead of leaving I want you to go get the magic flute from the technocave.

: To the technocave!

: [Amanesis failed]: Fuck. Hey, Matkina, who are those guys?

: They are werewolves who are also my family. They are cool and good and do not deserve to be genocided. Anyway, look, we're in the technocave, there's the flute.

: Hey, a trap! Good thing I didn't blindly click through this boring backstory shit or we'd be fucked! I got the magic flute, let's go!

: Not so fast! It's time to genocide all the werewolves!

: Eat knife, laser cannon wielding fiends!

: Get rekt lol.


*The Last Castoff is killed by laser weapons and leaves the Flashback Zone*

: What did you do? The guy who you were possessing in the flashback zone forced me to the ground and violated me, but now I remember he didn't! What the fuck?

TheGreatEvilKing: What the fuck, game? What the FUCK?

: No, now I realize what the truth is. You changed the past! My rape trauma is gone forever! We are BFFs now! Go to Miel Avest for the next part of the plot, but remember, other castoffs are assholes!


: Hey, player, can I ask her about her trauma now?

TheGreatEvilKing: NO! Just...see if she wants to join the party or something.

: You've got a four person party limit there buddy.

TheGreatEvilKing: I feel dirty now.

We're gonna have to talk about the elephant in the room, and that elephant is that the main quest of this game has a sequence where you go back in time to unrape a woman. That is not me trying to be funny on the internet, that is what this quest presents us with. When we meet Matkina, she is obviously traumatized by this incident, after we time travel and change the past, she describes the former timeline with words like "violated me". The fact that it is cloaked in sci-fi bullshit about "Tides" and psychic powers does not make it any less what it so obviously is - disgusting.

Now, remember that the main sell of this game is that it is supposed to be an extremely well-written, novel-like experience that examines the human experience deeply, and this is exhibit A in proving that these writers are not capable of doing this. This is not a realistic look at trauma or sexual assault, this is a lazy genre trope where some poor woman's backstory is "she was raped" much like Terry Goodkind throwing his female characters to the literal rape pit. It is not merely lazy and inept, but offensive and offputting. Ultimately it reveals that for all its pretension this game is meaningless genre garbage.

On a somewhat brighter note, we have all the party members and I can have a vote.

Choose our main party for the rest of the game!

Select three from the following:
Aligern OR Callistege: They are mutually exclusive. Keep in mind that Callistege can actually fight and has levels, and Aligern does not.

I am going to go play literally anything else now.