The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 25: The Revenge of Kickstarter

The Revenge of Kickstarter

Welcome back! Last time on Tides of Numenera, we concluded that this game can't be fixed and could never have worked. Anyway, we can now start off the second part of the game where we have committed a brutal, violent assault on some cultists.

Specifically, we can talk to this coward who made a small child risk her life on his behalf.

: I'm looking for the Tomb of the First Castoff.

This has something to do with finding the hidden castoff sanctuary so we can find the magic man who made the blue chamber that will do "something" to stop the Sorrow. Maybe.

The major gimmick of Part 2 is exploring the Necropolis. It looks...generic and sci-fi, but we'll get there.

: Tell me about the Valley of Dead Heroes.

: "It has been a burial ground for the world least millions of years. Yet," and he holds up a finger like a lecturer, "yet we have uncovered no bodies in the Valley itself. Oh no. Despite all the memorials, obelisks, and urns above the ground, we have not been able to find evidence of a single body."

It never ceases to amaze me that these people do not trust their own dialog they presumably think is "literary" and "philosophical"

: Tell me about yourself.

: Tell me about the Memorialists.

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Cool, I killed those guys for you. Where's the Tomb of the Last Castoff?

Ronos: Dunno.

: Ok, tell me about this place.

Ronos: It is a Very Mysterious Graveyard, man! There are a billion tombs, but no bodies! Whoa! Mystery! (Hey, Colin, am I doing the themes right?)

: Who are you again?

Ronos: I came to bury my wife but joined the Memorialists instead because, like, their beliefs are super deep, mannnnnn

: *Sickeningly cute onomatopoeia indicating how deep this is*

: Ok, what are their beliefs?

Ronos: What if we were, like, dead this whole time, and the world was our afterlife? And like, once we realize this, we will get a magic thing that makes Numenera great again?

: For a deep philosophical game, I have nothing to say to this. Bye!

We can talk to the other guy but he explains the thrilling story of how those two idiots nearly got owned but hid while a nine-year-old girl fought to the death on their behalf.

Then there's these things. The game spends a ton of words explaining how mysterious and threatening they could be, but they're just teleporters of the kind that show up in every bad RPG dungeon. Numenera is convinced that its weird science is going to blow your mind, but they keep tacking it on to random shit we've seen before. A grenade is not especially mysterious, I'm sorry.

Oh boy. For those of us who don't remember, Perseia was the unfortunate woman Omahdon literally raised from the dead like Jesus so he could fuck her.

As you can see, she's clearly terrified of him. If for some reason you decided to help Omahdon he would be here doing his best "come to Butt-head" impression.

: [Raises Gold Tide] Perseia, isn't it? A man named Omahdon was looking for you. I convinced him to give it up.

Well, uh thanks?

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: A purple-haired anime girl..are you Perseia? That loser Omahdon was looking for you, but I told him to go fuck himself so hard he realized what an asshole he was.

: AAAAAH! Oh, you're not him, cool. Well, thanks, but I'm not giving you any sidequests, I gotta get inside the creepy tomb. Bye!

Anyway, I accidentally click on Oom here. Turns out we can shift him to match a tide, Blue Tide for a hit bonus and some bullshit cypher bonuses, or Gold Tide which does some healing shit. As we have Rhin in the party who all she can really do is healing (wait for it), we make Oom Blue Tide so he can maybe contribute in combat.

Oh, yes, there's combat in this update.

I also want to point out that, despite this being the second part of our three-act game, this is the first time we have ever seen any dialogue triggered by our Dominant Tide. It's certainly possible that we got some earlier that we just didn't know about because Oom wasn't around, but we will see some in the wild later and - spoilers - it's not very exciting.

This pyramid exists. You can touch it for a stat heal and then it asks if you want a full heal. It looks like a one-time thing, so I don't understand why no one has used it if there's a cult war going on. Numenera!

: [Raises Silver Tide] What do you mean? How do you know I'm not the Changing God?

As far as Tides go, Silver Tide is evil and selfish and Gold Tide is good and altruistic. Keep this in mind.

: She gives you a hard glance before scanning the valley again. "Changing God knows me. Knows what he'll get if I find him incarnate. So you're not him."

This raises our Silver Tide, but also raises the question of why people think they can step to the Changing God. I keep pointing out that as the owner of things like space stations and robot armies he's easily one of the most powerful beings in the setting, but he's also demonstrated that unlike the yahoos running around with swords, he actually understands and can use science. He literally genocided the Tabaht because they killed his daughter in an unprovoked attack on a city which he defended from an AI so powerful the Tabaht worshipped as gods. The man is literally immortal and his bodies are nearly unkillable.

Paj Rekken showed up briefly in Matkina's time travel, erm, unpleasantness. There you go, we've flashed back to two of the game's most offensive quests.

: Tell me about Paj Rekken.

: Why would you fight the Changing God?

Oh man! I wonder if this is foreshadowing anything? More importantly, it's setting up a big Trolley Problem!

Ha ha of course, you don't need to click on this spoiler to put this shit together with Blue Ghost Who Is Totally A Mental Projection And Not The Changing God. Oh, you think the game isn't gonna go for the obvious Trolley Problem here? Have you not been paying attention?

This seems...kind of important, Last Castoff. You want to ask about that? Maybe ask about the resonance chamber? Right now we know of precisely one way to stop the Sorrow that the Changing God left behind, and a suspiciously familiar blue ghost telling us that the Changing God wanted us to use it to stop the Sorrow. Anybody? Anybody? No?

: I thought the First was dead.

Wow we don't even get a reiteration option. Maybe we should ask about what happened to the First Castoff? Maybe? Seems kinda important?

You are giving Thorn Brenin a run for his dumbass money right now, TLC. I'm watching you.

: What's the message you have for her? Maybe I could deliver it.

Something the game never manages to convey is why we should care about the Endless Battle or what either side hopes to achieve. We see it briefly in Matkina's questionably written flashback where the evil sandknights attack the innocent werewolves who only occasionally go on murder sprees but pay the blood price so it's OK, but there's no real goal of why people think fighting the Endless Battle is cool and good or what exactly the combatants hope to achieve. They're not storming Sagus Cliffs to destroy the resonance chamber and save the castoffs, they're not trying to find an ancient orbital defense array to attack the Changing God's space station, they're just...fighting.

George Ziets explains the Endless Battle posted:

tormentsuperfan said: Is the Endless Battle an allusion to the Cold War era where two ideologies battle for supremacy in proxy wars? Are the altered realities supposed to represent media war? Also, this is the first time the ‘castoff community’ has been mentioned. How common are castoffs?

Colin came up with the original concept for the Endless Battle, and he says that it’s a more general comment on the futility of war, as opposed to an allusion to any specific conflict.

The altered realities arose from a discussion between Colin and me, and I, at least, was not thinking about media war at the time. But deeper meanings often arise in the midst of writing and implementation, so it remains to be seen where we’ll take that idea.

Fuck off! You're not commenting on the futility of anything, you're talking about a background war that really doesn't affect the plot at all, fought by people we never see in places we never visit for incomprehensible goals. The game is going to try to sell how terrible the war is by keeping it completely offscreen except for that one battle of the Sand Knights genociding the Nice Werewolves.

Moving on.

Also, the Changing God has a robot army and a space station, so I don't understand why he's not winning.

Ok, really moving on.

: Let's talk about something else.

: What can you tell me about Miel Avest?

: How are you going to get back to the Endless Battle?

The other thing is that the Endless Battle is never in anywhere important you visit. I can't tell if it's supposed to be a world war started by two truly exceptional and powerful individuals or just a stupid background thing. The Changing God is the patron god of Sagus Cliffs and his cult is headquartered there. Shouldn't the First Castoff's forces attack it? The Changing God's recruiters are active there, and I would imagine some of the cultists get sent into combat as well. If the game opened with some kind of attack on Sagus Cliffs that killed a bunch of people (maybe it kills Aligern or Callistege if you don't pick them) you would actually be motivated to care about it. As it, no one cares.

: What's cowardly about keeping the Sorrow out of Miel Avest?

When the Sorrow sends its black sperm monsters, it's not sending its best. Heavy handed foreshadowing too!

: I'll be seeing you.

At least trust your own dialog, damn!

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing spares you the reading posted:

: Hey you a castoff?

: Maybe I'm the Changing God.

: You're not the Changing God! I would kick your ass if you were the Changing God! Anyway, I'm delivering a message to Paj Rekken

: Who?

: Oh, the commander of the First Castoff's militia.

: Why are you fighting the Changing God?

: Oh, the Changing God wants to kill all the castoffs to stop the Sorrow because he's kind of a selfish asshole.

: *Sickeningly cute agreement*

: Isn't the First dead?

: We fight to honor her memory, because the Changing God's bad.

: Hmm...his plan to kill the Sorrow will kill all the castoffs...I'm sure that has nothing to do with the Resonance Chamber that will kill the Sorrow and I won't ask about it despite being willing to ask random sword merchants about it earlier. Can I deliver your message?

: No.

: Aww. What's up with Miel Avest?

: They're a bolthole to hide from the Sorrow, but they're all closed now. They're stupid morons because the Sorrow could get in there and kill them all anyway.

: Nice seeing you!

: You suck!

After typing that summary I realized that Paj Rekken is directly responsible for Matkina's assault, yet even with Matkina in the party there's no option to avenge it on this messenger.

These people have a sad backstory about how two of their friends got killed in the Endless Battle and now the lady is hallucinating them. It's very sad, but these guys exist to offer you a rest for 100 shims. You will never see them again.

What if you actually showed us the Endless Battle in a way that impacted our character, rather than having people repeatedly tell us about it?

Get ready for a vaguely interesting concept the game is going to totally squander!

: What... are you?

Oh, no, not the dumb polygamous sex conglomerate over here, no.

: When you say you need a fourth, what do you mean?

Blob-of-Three: A fourth to join us, to complete us, to square our circle. Someone to sing to us, to untie us. S-s-suggest someone.

: ::ssssss:: Oom says, shrinking away from the mass of flesh.

: I could join you.

Maybe I'll get a funny game over.

Oh, I guess TLC just has The Cooties.

: How did you come to be this way?

Oh my god, they're powergamers. Colin is getting his revenge for that stupid elf book.

: Tell me about this mask.

: What can you tell me about the area?

: Do you want me to undo what has happened to you? Or...put you out of your misery?

Jesus Christ! People of the thread, if you encounter a half-bald cyborg woman hitting on you, let her down gently!

Blob-of-Three: This perfect. L-l-like the forms of the ancients. Need only a fourth to But w-w-where?

: Farewell.

The GreatEvilKing summary posted:

: We need a fourth! FOURRRRRR! Bring us mask!

: What the fu-

: We are a glaive, a jack, and a nano, but we need a fourth to fuse together with us. Who should we pick?

: Nope nope nope nope get away from me you sickos.

: I think I'm woman enough for all three of you, ooh la la!

: No, you disgusting ho!

: Aww. How did you become like this?

: We went through the portal and entered a dungeon, and now we want to go back to minmax and get sweet loot. Take that, powergamer scum! This is a game for real roleplayers.

: What's with the mask? And this area?

: The mask gives a +20 perception and we need it to complete our build. The area is a place of ancient wisdom, but full of trash cultists we murdered.

: Still a little pissed about being turned down...can I mercy kill you?

: No!

On our way to go climb the obelisk or whatever stupid shit we pop this, erm, interesting encounter.

You may have noticed his similar mirror image effect similar to Callistege.

Oh boy, here it comes.

: You and Callistege have met before? What did she do to you?

It's amazing how this game manages to take common story elements and squander them on stupid shit like this. Colo here has a death foretold, and that is an amazing storytelling device which is completely wasted on what is a pointless random encounter. We will never see Colo again. This has no impact. It's not like ancient myths where you tried to go out boldly facing your doom, he's just some rando who Callistege ganked twice and he's so ignorant he thinks we can be killed by a knife.

: What do you mean, in every reality?

Colo: Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. She's like me. She can see into different realities.

It would be a much better metaphor if Cal wasn't wearing a dress.

: I don't particularly like your tone...or your actions. I don't think you're walking away from here.

: "I'll make you eat those words," says the big man.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Colo: Ha ha! I am an evil, violent man who enjoys murdering and eating people!

Colo: Oh shit! It's Callistege! Look, I don't want to get owned again.

: Git gud scrub.

: Uh, what?

Colo: That redhead killed me twice now, but I shanked you, so don't start crap, you hear?

: Time to die.

Colo: No u!

We're fighting again.

Like I said, the cultists all have moves with black-and-red particle effects that I have no idea what they do. It also doesn't matter, because they spend too much time apparently buffing each other and get owned.

Callistege does not give a fuck. It's hilarious when you're running a specced Castoff nano and Callistege. The combat's still awful, but at least shit dies.

I gave Rhin an artifact that lets her use this Sucker Punch attack and a laser gun. Hilariously she's out DPSing our castoff and putting out damage comparable to Callistege.

Unlike the professional assassins and weird amoral vivisectionist collectives, Rhin is actually horrified that we made her commit murder. What did you think was going to happen when you joined an RPG party, Rhin?

Not pictured: Cal going down to be revived by Rhin, Oom going down and eating an intellect edge penalty from damage. Oom has no intellect pool and cannot use intellect tasks. We don't care.

Rhin doesn't take Oom going down well. I'm just impressed they managed to hurt a nanomachine colony with an axe.

Despite having fought a destined encounter with a guy she's fated to fight over and over, Callistege doesn't have anything to say about it. Fuck this game.

This obelisk sucks and rocks at the same time. It sucks because it dumps a whole bunch of shitty writing intended to memorialize some guy's stupid space cat.

I'm pretty sure this is a reference to Coeurl from the sci-fi story "Black Destroyer" by A.E von Vogt. He was a space alien cat that ate people in a spaceship. This is a pointless cat obelisk you click through because...

You get XP. This furry fanfic is, to my knowledge, never mentioned again and it's just kind of a weird mystery you don't care about. What if there were monks, mannnnn? And they could see through the cat's eyes using science, mannnn! Is your mind blown, duuude?

Seriously, the game comments on how mysterious it is, because the game doesn't trust the reader to draw conclusions without four paragraphs pointing it out.

You can make a Quick Fingers check in this pool to get a cypher that boosts your highest stat by one permanently. We have a skill that lets us auto-pass one Quick Fingers check per day. +1 int for free!

Oh, and some other crap. The cloak is an artifact that boosts spell damage. You want this.

What the fuck is this word salad? "Impossible to determine whether the incline is real, or you imagine it?" It's right fucking there! The ground and the portal create a right angle! Now, if you were trying to convey that the slab isn't real there are better ways to do it, like maybe turning up the opacity on the slab or something.

: Examine the slab.

: It seems perfectly smooth. Some loving hand has polished it to a mirror gloss, though distortions beneath its surface change your appearance with every slight movement. As you lean in to examine it, your reflection appears unspeakably beautiful. A few centimeters closer, and it becomes a shrieking horror.

It's taking a lot of willpower to not just post the words emoji and move on. It's weird, because this game is super verbose unless it's describing something that might actually matter. What does the unspeakably beautiful Last Castoff look like? Is she incredibly sexually appealing? Is it a cold beauty like a statue carved from marble? Does it make her seem unattainable, or like you want to possess her? What does this say about the Last Castoff? Is this who she aspires to be? Does she want someone to see her this way? If so, whom?

What does it mean to pack "a culture's hopes and expectations" into a solid form? Seriously, I honestly don't know. If anything, this seems like it would lead into a discussion about art. Are Botticelli's hot ladies "a culture's hopes and expectations"? What about Rockwell's Four Freedoms? Medieval Christian art?

Of course, this game was written by nerds who exclusively read dumb nerd shit, so they regurgitate the pap garbage of market science fiction and believe themselves geniuses. We can't examine actual art and discuss it as a cultural reflection, we need to mutter some crap about psychic powers so that the nerds can relate it to their dumb power fantasies.

: Examine the statue.

: Climb the slope to the portal.

: You release your grip and slide to the ground, all your progress lost in a moment. A voice cries out in mortal terror, and the menhir crashes to the ground with a thunderous roar. A great plume of dust rises in the air.

: Take the mask.

: Examine the hand.

: Walk away.

The idea of a mad prophet creating a magic mask to see God is an idea that is legitimately more interesting than everything else in this game, and is of course squandered because the only thing you can do with it is give it to the fat threesome for 25 XP.

The Great Evil King's summary posted:

: Wow! A ramp leading to a portal, held up by a statue! This is very mysterious! Is the angle...real?

: Huh, weird slab.

: WoOoOoOoO! It's like a mirror! It leads to a better place! But it's a magic mirror! You can look really hot, or really ugly!

: There's a statue?

: He is holding a warhammer! And he holds the ramp up! There's a sign that he's the Saint of Proverbs! Isn't this mysterious? OoOoOoOoOh!

: Climb the ramp to the portal of a harsh and angular world, I guess.

: As you climb the ramp, you hear a great cry. The statue is screaming! He has been hit by a trolley! Oh no! This may or may not be an allegory of how authoritarian regimes trample their people in pursuit of a better world and collapse as a result!*

: Holy shit! A sweet mask that talks to God!

*Seriously, I'm open to a better interpretation. The fact that the mask is called "the face that never remembered" and that the idea world is "harsh" and "angular" suggest that The Last Castoff is desperately trying to trample people to get to a world that will never come.

Of course, this doesn't make sense at all when you think about it. Neither the Changing God nor the Last Castoff are actually seeking power over others as much as they're seeking master over the old science. The Changing God is a selfish asshole, sure, but he's not trying to set himself up as King of the World.

Oh, we get to pick our answer. I went with the false hope one.

Can anyone explain what this allegory actually means?

Fuck me! I looked it up!

The entire thing is a pointless kickstarter backer joke. It's perfect! Somehow the RPG Codex crew managed to perfectly shit on this entire game and create something so pretentious and dumb it fit right in. If any of you guys are reading this, my metaphorical hat is off to you all. I have no idea what this in joke is, and honestly I don't care. Googling more indicates some kind of derpy 3D mask model made by some forums member named Prosper that these guys dumped money into to get it into the game.

And on that note, I'm ending the update here.

EDIT: EggsAisle heroically shed some light on this.

EggsAisle posted:

That... is a very RPG Codex thing to do. I used to hang out there in the late aughts, until about 2012 or so. Their gimmick was being gamers who hate (or at least profess to hate) RPGs and being cranky misanthropes in general. Prosper was a newbie modder for Fallout 3 and Skyrim who posted some videos and images of his projects, along with breathless excited descriptions of everything he wanted to do. The kicker was that a.) all of his mods looked hopelessly amateur and ridiculous, and that b.) Prosper himself was eternally cheerful and undaunted, not an easy thing to do in that community. So after much scorn and bewilderment, the Codex finally shrugged its collective shoulders and he became something of a mascot.