The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 28: Three Million Dollars for THIS?

Three Million Dollars for THIS?

Welcome back to Tides of Numenera! Last time we went to the hell of no spiritual significance and convinced our abused brother to commit suicide to close the gate to hell so no more people could be damned. Or something.

Anyway, that didn't happen. That's one way it could have happened. This way is the "optimal" way that gets us more buffs and shit. It's also significantly stupider.

Anyway, remember that Choi kid? The right way to do this sidequest is to leave the teleporter and go talk to Beltrax. The game wants you to ask around but I don't want to submit myself to any more ToN dialogue than I absolutely have to.

Beltrax is one of those losers we saved from the Endless Gate cultists.

: Do you know anything about a dead girl named Choi?

He gives us the teleporter coordinates.

This lets us teleport down to Choi's tomb and do some stuff.

: Allow the wind to guide your eyes.

: Cai'sul...that was the surname of the Memorialist you met when you entered the Valley. Ronos Cai'sul.

: Follow the wind's guidance.

The tombs also contain stuff with what I think is kickstarter backers? Whatever.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: The bad cult men killed Choi! The Memorialists have sworn ETERNAL VEANGEANCE, which they will make you do instead! Look, do you want the stat boost or not?

I'm not going through all these. Anyway, we need to go back to Coward Guy #2 and ask about Choi.

: I found a tomb for a girl named Choi Cai'sul. Is she any relation to you?

You are a fucking coward who hid while women and children fought for your life. Fuck you. Anyway, we have to go to another tomb to eventually get some phat loot, so off we go!

Thanks for the code, shitlord!

So Ronos' Tomb has a LOT of info to dump on us. Go get some popcorn or something.

Blah blah blah. I get the whole air pushing your eyes is supposed to be weird and decorative, but I'm so burned out on this game's attempts to be "mind-blowing" that I just don't care. None of this weirdness is going anywhere and none of the characters react to it.

: Examine archives.

There is something about "protection of archives enabled" that just rubs me the wrong way and I don't know why.

Thus with the worst password ever we unlock his porn stash.

: History.

I just want to point out the Children of the Endless Gate were a 3 million dollar kickstarter goal. Three million dollars to create a bunch of unimaginative black robed Satanists with no spiritual significance.

It's kind of weird because looking at the marketing for the setting, the adventures they advertise aren't spiritual voyages of discovery but cobbling together enough lost technology to found a new civilization.

: Continue with history.

I showed this LP to a friend and he pointed out that Numenera is based off of the works of Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe.

The problem is that neither the works of Jack Vance nor Gene Wolfe are really applicable to what we're seeing here.

: Experiments.

Jack Vance's works are very pulpy and he doesn't really delve into mystery. I hate to just rip off BravestOfTheLamps, but it's a good essay on Vance that I can't just let go to waste. Vance is never spiritual, Vance is comic and while he presents many odd mileaus and cultures, they are so absurd as to be a joke. Vance does not digress for long discussions of transdimensional whatever or how the magic system works, and the magic of Dying Earth is so formulaic because it signifies the death of wonder upon the earth. There is no yearning spirituality or quest for self-discovery, Vance presents lone heroes struggling through an absurd world and never gets stuck in the details of trying to blow our minds or rubbing in how "weird" everything is. Vance trusts his dialog to speak for himself, something this game just cannot master.

: Bequests.

Gene Wolfe, on the other hand, presents intensely spiritual works. If we take a look at the Book of the New Sun, it's very much like Numenera with the weird lost technology and characters revealing themselves as space robots and shit, but the story is intensely spiritual. The entire thing is covered in Gene Wolfe's Catholicism - Severian is literally Jesus, with the power to raise the dead and returning to rule as king over earth - and heavily filtered through Severian's limited and uneducated perspective.

Whatever. We have a lot of this shit to get through

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Ronos had a very sad backstory! He had a child killed by evil cultists, so he swore revenge. Then his wife died, and he realized the cults' leader, Inifere, was actually a big victim of the spiritually insignificant demons! He used to be a dimensional psychologist! Anyway, you can go to the Gate to continue the quest now - there's a woman named Marcysa buried there, and she might be important! Hint! Hint!

These uncreative, uninteresting people are back. Anyway, we need to search the tomb on the left side to get a plot device.

: Look more closely at the Children's writing.

: Touch the symbol.

Alright! You cannot get this item if you don't do the back-and-forth bullshit jumping between tombs and learning the deep lore of one former therapist's doomed crusade to save the man who murdered his daughter.

: Try to read the name.

Ok. This is the tomb of that Marcy lady. Can you say her name? I can't say her name.

Alright. Back into the Spiritually Insignificant Hell. I don't want to fight the cultists because Numenera combat is awful and unfun especially if half the enemy team goes first.

Kiyatawa has nothing interesting to say, same old "oh ha ha my escape was railroaded". I go through the convo to keep our Tides.

However, we have more shit we can ask him about!

: There was a man named Ronos Cai'sul who hunted you down.

: Ronos Cai'sul wrote that you were a prisoner. A slave.

Remember, Ronos was literally a transdimensional therapist. That sounds like me making a joke about how everything in this game has "transdimensional" added on to make it seem more mind-blowing, but his history talked about how he specialized in "cross-dimensional" psychoses. Really.

Oh, hey, a typo! "Safe from the haunts the hound him".

: Who was Marcysa?

: Speak plainly. Who was she?

The problem with Inifere's "mad" dialog is that it's just as verbose as these writers' "sane" dialog and communicates about the same information. Normally this would frustrate me, but having him repeat loopy made-up words is such a welcome change from frowning unhappily.

: What happened to her?

: You loved her.

The amusing thing is that "memory in a handful of dust" is coming from the insane Inifere, presumably as a way of showing how insane Inifere is, but these writers have used these same kinds of inane metaphors in a desperate attempt to seem well-written.

Every time this game touches on sex it manages to be weird and creepy.

: I want to ask you about someone else.

: Tell me about Choi, the murdered girl.

I just want to point out that whatever dramatic effect they are going for is ruined by "skist-stuffed". We get it, it's shit. You literally just gave me a monologue on fucking your cult chick, why do we need to censor poop? anyone else hearing this with vocals by Amy Lee?

: Her name was Choi. She wasn't some carcass or fading star. She was a little girl!

I, too, associate hate with sanity.

Fuck! Shit! Numenera combat! Reload!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, did you know that Ronos Cai'sul guy? Sounded like he escaped World of Warcraft?

: Yes. He was a fool - a well intentioned fool, but a fool nonetheless.

: He said you were a slave.

: We're like...all slaves, mannnn! Even the Changing God, mannnnn!

: Who's this Marcy chick?

: She was like, a woman, who helped me with my cult.

: You and she a thing?

: There is no love. But we fucked a lot. The Changing God burned love out of me! It was very sad! WAKE ME UP INSIDE!

: So, what about that Choi kid? What the hell, dude?

: She's fuckin dead! There was shit everywhere! Everyone dies though. So help me, if you mention her one more time I will kill your as -

: Choi? Choi? Choi?

: Ok asshole, get ready for Numenera combat!

: Fuck! Reload!

: This broken's yours, isn't it?

For those who don't remember, the Merecaster was the time travel machine Matkina had us use to, erm...unrape her.

Get ready for another Choose Your Own Adventure segment!

: I think you wanted it found. Why else would you hide it in a tomb that is tied so closely to you?

: [Raises Blue, Gold Tides] Because you want someone to look into it and understand you.


: [Persuasion] You're not a fish, Inifere, and I'm not an angler. We're in the same boat, and we need to pull together.

So, remember how we went into Matkina's flashback to the village of murder werewolves and changed the past? Remember that now.

: [Concentration][Raises Silver Tide] Tell your mind, <Stop fighting>

I really don't understand why The Last Castoff is so fixated on this kid. I know why I as a player am, she gives you 3 free stats for your stat pool.

: [Raises Gold Tide] Force yourself to swim toward Choi.

There is no spiritual significance in Numenera. People like to point to Lovecraft for supposedly nonreligious horror like this, but the truth of the matter is that he was basically emulating Moby Dick and other Christian works where you were a worthless irredeemable sinner in the eyes of God unless you accepted Christ's sacrifice. This evolved into the Cthulhu mythos (which includes things like a parody of Christ's crucifixion) and would inevitably be copied by lazy nerds everywhere who refused to open a book that didn't have a dragon on it. Thus any potential horror sinks deeper into cliche and banality.

: Inifere?

: [Raises Gold Tide] I'm a castoff, like you. I came here through a Merecaster. To help you.

I spend a few screens dicking around here. You have to wake up.

: Fight Inifere. Force yourself to wake up.

I suppose combining the Endless Gate with the Flagellant cult is one way to half-ass that backer goal.

So, uh, yea, you can be a real dick to Inifere in this segment.

: [Anamnesis] [Raises Red, Blue Tides] Force your way into Inifere's memories of Marcysa.

It is taking all of my willpower not to make more Evanescence jokes, I swear to God.

So, uh, yep, it's abusive codependence! Are you expecting a nuanced look at abusive relationships? You shouldn't be.

: [Raises Gold Tide] Say aloud: "Stop! There's no salvation in the Gate-you're only hurting yourselves and others."

This is basically Dante on Hell again - except there is no spiritual significance in Numenera.

Oh, yea, they were really dedicated to half-assing that Kickstarter goal. The goal was to have the Endless Gate cult and an order of flagellants.

This is supposed to be really deep and tragic, but the only readily available comparison is to the scene in The Life of Brian where they all start grabbing Brian's random shit to proclaim him the Messiah.

: Get out of bed.

: Listen! I am telling you to stop worshipping me!

This is grimdark Life of Brian. It really is. This is the part where Brian tells everyone to go home.

You know what? This cult is terrible and awful and has murdered a ton of people. You would think murdering our brother's girlfriend might have some kind of Tidal consequences. Apparently not.

: Kill Marcysa, and put an end to this cult.

Ah, there's that trolley action we all crave!

: They're killers already. I saw what they did to Choi Cai'sul.

: [Intellect][Raises Red, Indigo Tides] He's wrong. She must die for the greater good. Force your body to act.

Ha ha of course we're not getting out of the Flashback Zone that easily, sucker!

: [Raises Silver Tide] Inifere, stop fighting me.

I omit a few screens of fucking around again, it just kicks us to the same three options until we pick the last.

: Try to focus on the nagging sensation.

No fuck YOU dad!

: Inifere, listen to me. I want to talk to our father.

This could actually be a chance to get something interesting going. The Changing God? In person? Shit!

It's the harpoon from Moby Dick! Except not baptized in the name of Satan because there is no spiritual significance in Numenera.

Also notice how much better the scene works with illustrations?

Anyway, get ready. We're about to get a huge revelation!

Yup! That is the true form of the Sorrow. A robed figure with tentacles. That is the best the Numenera writers could come up with for the ancient monstrosity that is supposedly hunting us across the Ninth World.

: Inifere, listen to me. This thing, it's called the Sorrow. It will kill you all if you don't act!

: [Raises Silver Tide] Attack, Children!

Wait, the Tides can let you use telekinesis? What the hell! We're trained in Tidal Affinity, why can't we do this shit?

: [Raises Red, Silver Tides] Flee.

We can't actually hurt this thing. The Changing God couldn't hurt it, and he had a space station and an army of robots. We have a shitty Moby Dick devil spear and a sad woman who occasionally gives our brother a pity fuck. Neither of those are going to stop a horror movie monster that looks like something your middle school Dungeon Master drew.

: [Raises Gold Tide] Inifere, your mind's bleeding into mine. Can you give me Choi's remains, before it's too late?

Fuck this.

: [Raises Red Tide] Force him to give her to you.

We might be able to do this without a check because we tried to kill Marcy earlier. I'm not sure.

: [Raises Blue Tide] Enough with the charade, Marcysa. I know you don't believe any of this.

Now, these words actually bite a lot harder because we can see Marcysa there. She looks beaten and exhausted. If the writers had engaged their art team more, they could have done a much better job of conveying what they wanted with less words.

Of course, there's still the hilarious problem that telling Marcy she's been a good servant is the Gold Tide option (horrifically insulting imo) and while you can yell at her for being a bad trolley conductor it seems that she and Inifere actually loved each other in a really fucked up way. Maybe Inifere should have just asked the Changing God if they could do a date on the space station or something.

: [Raises Blue Tide] We can't escape suffering with lies, Marcysa, only with understanding.

No. Spiritual. Significance.

Ok, with "cyclopean monsters" I know you're just cargo culting Lovecraft now.

What the fuck is option four? How is that helping him? We are sending him to his death against his will against a monster he can't possibly defeat so he can die three seconds ahead of the woman he loves. It's also weird to me that our character is supposed to be a master manipulator, but doesn't think to goad Inifere into trying to protect her now he knows she actually cares about him and isn't just full of shit.


: What *is* this place?

: Inifere?

I don't actually know if we can use this later. I don't think we can.

: [Raises Blue, Gold Tides] Open the vault door and face the Sorrow. Inifere has suffered enough, and you can learn what your foe does to castoffs.

: [Raises Indigo, Red Tides] Think, Inifere. The only escape from your suffering lies through that door. Beyond the Gate is just more pain. Forever.

The thing is, he's completely right here. This is the equivalent of telling a depressed person to kill themselves because that will end their suffering, and the game mechanics tell us this is helping him. This isn't presented as the eternal damnation we the readers know it is, it's a trolley problem where dying will prevent the gate from giving Inifere pain units.

: Just wait.

: That's why you protected Kiyatawa. She reminds you of Marcysa somehow, doesn't she?

: Inifere, you need to close the Gate. Now. Before they take control of you.

Huh? Who the fuck are they? Inifere opened the Gate of his own free will and let Marcysa and her weird band of suicidal losers tag along. Yes, he claims they wouldn't listen to him, but it's pretty clear from his emotions toward Marcysa he didn't really want to let her go anyway.

: Your brother nods. "This place has brought but woe and false hope. Let it go."

: Inifere seals his eyes shut and begins to howl. You feel the world about you shifting and churning. Everything grows dark and empty, save for voices almost as soft as silence itself.

Have I mentioned this game's prose is bad?

Things proceed as normal from here.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Oh, hey, did you want me to find this flashback device?

Inifere: Nuh-uh!

: I think you need someone to understand you. Come on man, let's go to the Flashback Zone!

Inifere: Sure, why not.

: It is the Flashback Zone! OoOoOoOo! There is a lake of corpses with an unimaginative Lovecraft ripoff! OoOoOooOoO! Including that Choi kid the game decided was super important! OoOoOoOo!

: Ok, time to wake up now.

Inifere: No! I don't wanna!

: Wake the hell up!

: You are surrounded by cultists! They are whipping themselves! There's also that Marcysa woman!

: Hey, everyone! Stop being cultists! Being a cultist is bad!

Inifere: I tried this, but it did not work.

: Let's get out of bed and do stuff.

Inifere: No.

: Isn't that Marcysa woman responsible for all these horrible deaths and suffering? We gotta kill her, dude.

Inifere: What? No, she's my weird hatefuck buddy.

: It's for the greater good! I'm greasing the trolley wheels right now!

Inifere: How am I supposed to get my nanopenis wet? Fine. We can get out of bed. OH SHIT! IT'S THE CHANGING GOD! MARCYSA, GET THE MOBY DICK SPEAR!

: Yes, lord.

: What?

Inifere: The Changing God is an asshole! I've covered this spear in my blood and blessed it in the name of the devil, just like in Moby Dick, and I'm gonna stab him with it. I have a fuckton of bombs set to blow his ass to hell!

: Doesn't Ahab die from his own har-

Inifere: Spoilers!

: Come on bro let me talk to the Changing God!

: Sike! It's the Sorrow, bitches!

: Uh, uh, shit, Inifere, do something. Uh...cultists! Attack!


: It is vaguely implied that this is the incident that made the cultists killers! Also, the Sorrow is immune to shitty medieval weaponry.

: Run away!

: Hey, master, how are we gonna get out of this one?

: Why do you keep saying all this cult shit you obviously don't believe?

: I love you Inifere, and I wanted to help you.

Inifere: Man, I've been an asshole to this woman.

: Lying isn't the way out of suffering. Don't take this as spiritual advice, though, nothing in Numenera has any spiritual significance.

: Oh, by the way, Inifere, your life sucks, so you should go out and die to the Sorrow right now.

Inifere: Fuck you, you selfish asshole!

: Gold Tide increased for helping others!

Inifere: Guess I better call the devils so I can hide in Hell. WAKE ME UP!


: Here's Johnny!

: I die for you, Inifere!

Inifere: SAVE ME!

: Wow, that was a flashback. Guess you saved Kiyatawa because she reminded you of your hatefuck ex who sacrificed herself needlessly to stop the Sorrow, huh? If only there was something I could have done to prevent that. You should close the gate.

Inifere: Well, let's see. When you went into my past, you tried to mind control me. Then you tried to make me kill my girlfriend by muttering something about trolleys. Then you ordered all of my abused followers to rush to their deaths with clubs against an unstoppable horror of the ancient world that can wield the Tides as a weapon. You helped me realized that Marcysa cared for me in her own way and then tried to force me to commit suicide. After all of this, you did nothing to save her when the Sorrow appeared. Despite this, however, I trust you enough to close the Gate and leave you all of my worldly possessions so I can be damned in Hell forever.

: Hot damn, free stuff!

Callistege wants to talk again and I take the option that somehow raises Blue Tide - and is us not asking questions - over the answer that makes sense. Cal yells at us for being a dumbass.

Anyway, we got that sweet ass relativistic sword.

This also gets Callistege to tier 3. I don't know why she outlevels us, but she gets better at nuking scrubs.

Unstoppable Force is bonus spell damage. I've never gotten work out of either Entropic Field or Gravity Manipulation, but I take the Field in case we need it.

Amusingly Nanos get 2 abilities every tier up while Glaives and Jacks get 1, making it even clearer that they are the Best Class.

We can try to use this thing again but it doesn't do anything. It will get sold eventually. Back to FakeHero McCoward for the reward we browbeat out of his worthless ass!

Choi is mad this guy stole her dad's name while being a worthless coward.

We get this artifact. It gives us 1 Might Edge (reduces cost of all Might expenditure by one, basically a free point invested on every check) but reduces our might pool by 2. We might use it.

The Last Castoff hits Tier 3, and has now gone from being a useless liability to a highly evasive crazy woman with an unresistable life drain attack. It is really easy to debuff people in this game.

To talk to Choi, we need to get into the labyrinth. To get into the labyrinth, we need to die, so I have The Last Castoff drink all this acid piss until it kills her.

You're not my mom, Cal! Jeez!

Tune in next time as we do stupid shit in the Labyrinth!