The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 27: Welcome to Hell - It Has No Spiritual Significance

Welcome to Hell - It Has No Spiritual Significance

So this update may not be part of our endgame run depending on thread decision, but with the thesis I've laid out - the devs want to tell a spiritual story in the thoroughly unspiritual world of Numenera - I can't not include this.

Not pictured - the game crashing after this screen forcing me to reload it.

Anyway, we have this console. We could try to use it to advance the main plot or dumpster dive around doing stupid-ass sidequests, but we have one sidequest we're going to jump right to.

: Enter the code to a location you already know.

: Enter the code for the Endless Gate.

Oh, yes, this goes exactly as you think it will go.

We press the buttons and get teleported, blah blah blah blah

This is the loading screen for the Endless Gate entrance.

It never fails to amaze me how fucking generic everything in this game is. I can't name a single visual in the game that stood out as being creative or having an interesting design. I really can't.

: Time for what?

The problem with the cultists is that they're thoroughly uninteresting and deliver nothing for the story except cheap bodies to blow stat pools on while waiting three hours for them to walk across the screen.

Usually cults have a charismatic leader, but this one doesn't. It has a weird idol figure idiots worship like in the Life of Brian, but this is pretty much Boring Lovecraft Pastiche 101 without any of the religious parody elements or soul crushing racism.

We know they're vaguely interested in a totally nonspiritual transcendence, and I'm just filling time until we get to go through the gate ourselves. There's some uninteresting crap in the room the cultists have spattered with blood in a totally nonspiritual way. Remember, everything in Numenera has a scientific explanation, so this is probably all just some dude's vore sex room that the guests all got to use the industrial strength resurrection machines after partaking or something stupid like that. There is no spiritual significance to the blood sacrifice, like, say, the Aztecs would assign. None.

We get a llttle "are you sure" prompt. This is actually quite nice of the developers, because dying in the Endless Gate gets you a game over where The Last Castoff is eaten forever. I won't lie, when I first quit playing the game I got stuck here at that game over point.

Anyway, in we go!

We are greeted, once again, by an astounding failure of creativity - a shadowed pathway in inky blackness. I think by this point we honestly all expected that. What I want to talk about is that this is the Descent into the Underworld and as a motif it is intensely spiritual.

The Descent shows up in a lot of places, from Dante's Divine Comedy to Orpheus and Eurydice to Xototl of Aztec myth to Jesus to friggin Anansi the Spider. It is usually an intensely spiritual journey - Xototl must fight his way through the underworld to protect the Sun so the world may be reborn, Dante must avoid the three beasts of sin and journey through Hell and Purgatory to be cleansed and meet God, Jesus of course descends to free the dead from Hell, Persephone is dragged to the underworld and her grieving mother causes Winter, and so forth. You can probably think of more examples off the top of your head.

Into the Outside, a Numenera tabletop book posted:

Of course, a traditional afterlife, places of spiritual punishment, and similar concepts don’t fit in Numenera.

Remember, much of Numenera's deal is that the world is coated in technology the characters do not have the education to understand, but at least eight prior civilizations did. None of this is a divine mystery beyond mortal comprehension any more than a modern nuclear reactor is. You may not understand how it works, but you could in theory go get a degree in nuclear engineering and you would be able to build one. There are no higher powers. So, you might be asking, what's the significance of this particular underworld? What lessons is our character going to learn about the gods or herself? Will she gain enlightenment?

I think you can all guess the answer.

It's another trolley problem!

Our terrible moral choice is to release these guys from their suffering and power up the not-demons that live in the gate or to not kill them and let them be tortured eternally.

: Leave them alone.

The real tradeoff is between fighting this trashpile of cultists or empowering the boss by killing the souls of the damned the nonspiritually significant victims. These fights are awful and suck ass.

So up in the top we have our initiative count. Three of the four cultists will go before our crew, and unlike the rest of the Endless Gate chucklefucks they actually attack the team instead of dicking around with the special Gate buff moves. Two go after The Last Castoff and nearly get me a game over.

The other gimmick is that the JRPG teeth demon here pulls people into its mouth to eat them. My guess is you can probably run everyone away from it and have the cultists get huffed, but that is more time sitting and staring at slow NPC movement than I actually want to deal with.

Tides Dog takes one for the team. He'll be back. Sorry, Tides Dog!

Callistege is still our only team member who can fight worth a damn. I guess if I was going to do a full combat-optimal party, it would be Breathes Shadow Nano castoff, Callistege, Erritis (for heavy weapons), and Matkina.

Anyway, the rest of the fight is pretty boring and involves Callistege blowing everyone up with yellow particle effects. Let's move on, shall we?

There are two more of these. I kill both sets of flayed skin weirdos because fighting the cultists is awful and has legitimately only ended in game overs.

When the not-devils are laughing you know you're almost to the boss.

These two should be vaguely familiar. Kiyatawa here is the murderer who got away from the Dendra O'Hur quest and Inifere is the guy from the crystal flashback who was worshipped by the cultists who killed a little girl in his honor.

Inifere is also the boss of this area.

The game seems to think we're actually interested in hunting down Kiyatawa, even though Fulsome didn't offer us a reward for doing it, we literally owed him nothing, and we had no relation to the victims. It might have made sense if we waited for Kiyatawa to kill more victims - including some women we barely met! - but this is really kind of a meaningless encounter.

I'm subjecting you all to it anyway.

: [Raises Blue Tide] You were spotted in the marketplace. That's what gave you away.

The stupid thing is that you can't actually take her into custody based on that, and we literally confronted her about it and got fart noises.

Rubbing in that the game railroaded her escape does not make this sequence more clever or interesting. Also, she literally ran away to Hell.

: We'll never know, will we?

This is kind of rude, but she's literally a murderer in hell. Virgil would have approved.

: Don't you feel guilty for what you've done?

So Kiyatawa was another victim of the probability engine. To my knowledge you cannot bring her along for the shut down the probability engine, and shutting it down doesn't actually cure her.

Then again, she has been making sacrifices to the Powers of Hell, and it's entirely possible the devils tormented her with the visions of becoming the Changing God's daughter for her obedience - her torment, if you will.

Dante's Inferno, translated by John Ciardi posted:

And all pass over eagerly, for here,
Divine Justice transforms and spurs them so
their dread turns wish: they yearn for what they fear.

Of course, as we know, there is no spiritual significance in Numenera.

: [Raises Blue Tide] I was wrong. You do feel guilty.

We could kill her, but she's literally in hell.

: Are you happy here?

With respect to the Dante quote above, she is seeking this punishment because she believes she deserves it. You should go read Dante instead of playing this game.

: I should have known I'd find you here.

: Why don't they trust you?

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Ah, the investigator. You were too stupid to catch me.

: Actually, someone saw you eating that corpse and I had the evidence to bust you.

: Then I deserved to be caught, but the game had to railroad my escape so we could meet here, in Hell.

: Do you feel guilty?

: The Changing God made me do it! The only way I could escape the probability machine was to sacrifice people to the not spiritually significant devils!

: Oh, you do feel guilty. Ha. Got any friends?

: No one likes me because I used to be a cannibal. Except Inifere. He felt sorry for me.

: Bye! Enjoy being in hell, murderer!

So, warning - this next section is a fuckton of words, and I'm going to summarize it below. You can fight Inifere, but I'm going to show off how to come straight here and avoid all the fights. Does this mean you can free all the damned souls like Jesus with no consequences whatsoever? Yes. Yes it does.

Inifere's gimmick is that he's insane.

This makes him a marginally more interesting character than 99% of the cast, because he actually has his own voice instead of happily vomiting the same style of exposition all over The Last Castoff.

He also is more up to speed on what's going on than most of the rest of the cast, because of the cliche that madness is insight because the authors spent too much time playing those crazy vampires in White Wolf games.

: I want to speak with you first, to ask you some questions.

: What is this place?

Blah blah blah it's hell.

You can see here the not devils castigated the Changing God for his hubris, in a totally spiritually insignificant way. If you're sick of seeing those words, I apologize, but I really need to drive this point home. The future science angle just does not work for this story.

Oh, yes, this is also our indication that the Sorrow is so terrifying Inifere would rather hide in Hell. I mean, this still doesn't work because the Sorrow is just a non-presence right now. It is supposedly hiding in our head but it's not bothering to torment us or anything, it's just kinda going to come back for us at some unspecified point.

: Where are we?

: Are we still on the Ninth World?

: Who are "they" that you say live here?

: Help me destroy the creatures that dwell here!

And just how the fuck do you plan to do that? You don't actually have the Changing God's arsenal, you know.

: What did you mean, "shelter from the Sorrow"?

And as one final fuck you, a last Trolley Problem decision. It's more an Elizer Yudkowsky Torture Problem, I guess.

: Would I be allowed to leave?

: No, I did not come here so I could stay.

: I want to talk about something else.

: Tell me about our father.

: I want to know about you, how you came here, how all this happened.

: Please, tell me about yourself.

Ha ha, don't get your hopes up, this game doesn't allow you to have anything cool.

: Why are your followers so bloodthirsty?

: Can you teach me about the Endless Gate?

Yea, no cool devil powers for you. You can't actually get any cool or interesting powers in this game.

: Can you teach me anything about the Gate?

Anyway, I've exhausted that part of the dialogue tree so we return to the root.

: You must stop your followers' violence, Inifere.

Lest you forget, we want him to close the gate, it's the whole reason we're here. The open gate is drawing armies of murderous cultists to harass the Memorialists and we were promised a reward for dealing with this.

Now, you can fight him, but why the hell would you do that? You really want more Numenera combat? Why?

: Close the gate, then. Your followers are destroying the valley.

I think he's supposed to come off as mad, but he kinda comes off as a sci-fi writer trying to imitate Shakespeare.

Again, he's calling for dream interpretation, but there's no spirituality in Numenera! Joseph and Daniel did a lot of dream interpretation to divine the will of God, but this is a purely science based endeavor here.

: Very well, tell me your dream.

We need to interpret the dream to proceed, of course.

Of course, you can argue that dreams are purely scientific a la Sigmund Freud, but we're talking about a man who hated and feared music because it made him feel things he couldn't explain and desperately repressed his spiritual side.

: The child represents the Memorialists, and the killer represents the Children. He winks because you are complicit in his crime.

The key here is to guilt Inifere over the horrible shit he's presided over.

No idea what happens if you pick the last option.

: [Raises Indigo Tide] Those who kill the innocent will burn, and the ugliness of their crime will be seen far and wide.

: [Raises Indigo Tide] Good can spring out of past wrongs.

This is Christian redemption doctrine, that God can draw forth good from evil and that you can redeem yourself!

Let's help our brother out. It's what Jesus would want, in a non spiritually significant way.

Now, these options are weird, because interpreting the dream a la Daniel - that God or someone is telling Inifere to close the gate. Except we know this is all science, so Inifere is just subconsciously coming up with reasons to stop inviting people over to the Autarch's Space Vore Sex Hangout. That's the Persuasion option, which implies it's the truth. Telling Inifere that his mind is kinda fucked up and he should close the gate and go see Dr Freud is the Deception, implying that we are lying about spirituality.

: [Persuasion] Yes, that's what it means. And there's a lesson in it.

Oh shit shit shit shit I don't want to fi-


And the gravity of castoff-Jesus being convinced to die for our sins is ruined by "cursed course coarsening" making this dramatic moment sound like a comedic tongue-twister. It's nearly as bad as "measured measure" from earlier. Whoever thinks this game is well written needs to open a damn book. A real book, put down the Black Jewel Trilogy and put your damn pants back on.

"Almost as soft as silence itself." I've started heavily tuning out the prose of this game because it's so awful and there's so much of it, but seemingly every time I turn my focus back to it I find a new turd hidden in the leaf pile.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: You're stuck in hell with me, sister! You had a good childhood, whereas mine sucked because the Changing God is a big poopy head! You even brought one of our father's toys, the little blob dude! He's getting busted, ha!

: Just hit me with the exposition already.

: This is hell. Literally, we are in hell right now. The Changing God tried to hide from the Sorrow here, but he was a little bitch and couldn't take being tortured by demons in a non spiritually significant way. Meanwhile, I can, so I hide from the Sorrow.

: Let's fight all the demons and kill them!

: That's dumb, they would kick our asses.

: So, uh, what was that about hiding from the Sorrow?

: The Sorrow will not face the not-demons of science here. I have a question for you. Think of it as a variation on the trolley problem, if you will. You can be run over by trolleys here for all time but not die, or die at the hands of the Sorrow as the trolley crushes your skull.

: Why the hell would I agree to be eternally tortured in hell?

: You are very wise to not be eternally tortured, though the demons might just torture you anyway!

: Sounds like you knew our father, what was he like?

: Oh, he was a selfish asshole. He ruined everything for everyone.

: Can you tell me about yourself, the cult, or the cool devil powers?

: Nope! You will take your PC particle effects, and you will like them.

: Anyway, can you stop these uninspired black robed assholes from stabbing everyone?

: They don't listen to me, but I can close the gate. Tell you what, I've been having a dream recently and if you can interpret it I will consider it. A cannibal man is eating a baby, and he winks at me. Then there is a great fire that scours flesh, then from the ashes a white flower rises that reeks of death.

: It's not too late to repent your sins and embrace Jesus! Just shut the gate!

: Praise Jesus! I'm born again! I go to Heaven, in a non spiritually significant way!

So, uh, yea. That happened.


God damn, shut up!

It wasn't a complete waste of time. We get some loot out of it. Also, Callistege wants to talk to us.

Note that Callistege, the most worldly and knowledgeable of our characters, calls what we witnessed Hell.

: He was hiding from the Sorrow.

I'm sure this has no spiritual significance, because that "of course" has no place in Numenera.

Anyway, that ends our chat with Cal.

Now we can get to the loot. There's 523 shims, some vendor trash, and an extremely awesome sword we want to use.

This thing fucks. There is no way to reduce the amount of damage it deals and every class that wants to use weapons (i.e. not nanos, the game's Best Class) wants to use it. The only reason not to use it is if you're running a Breathes Shadow nano who converts all their spell damage into relativistic by hiding, and even then someone in your party is probably going to want this thing.

Join us next time as we resolve this quest via time travel!