The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 31: What Does One Life Matter?

What Does One Life Matter?

Last time on Torment: Tides of Numenera, we learned that the Tides are dangerous and that our magic fart blast caused Callistege to break up with her boyfriend Aligern. Callistege had absolutely no reaction to learning this information.

First, I do want to make a correction. You actually get a +1 to all stat pools for completing the Infestation quest, making it worth doing.

Miel Avest has its own special loading screen.

Anyway, I want to finish up this "Phoenix's Wisdom" quest because that's 40 XP we'd just be leaving on the table.

Naturally, I fuck it up immediately. See how I've got the wrong note open?

Time to leave Miel Avest. We'll be back by the end of this update.

Naturally you input code numbers via dialogue tree.

Anyway, I fuck up and go to the wrong tomb. This is OK. You want to read every single one of these gravestones for a secret unmarked quest.

Anyway, Motley's note (Motley was the leader of the hostage takers) leads us to yet another wordy and pretentious Tides NPC.

God damn, shut up!

: You're a strange one, aren't you? You're...a blur. There's something about you that shivers space. You're not quite anywhere that I can see.

For fucks sake. He's standing right there, and we encounter shit that shivers space on almost every sidequest.

: I see. You're not just crossing reality. You step through higher dimensions.

: What can you tell me about yourself?

: What are you doing here?

Am I supposed to be invested in this? It's a work of fiction. Oddwald might have great powers or whatever but those are a dime a dozen, and he's not using them to deliver a dark prophecy against us or give us warnings or anything. He's maybe just trying to impress Callistege.

The best you can say is that he's casually rattling Callistege and that we're supposed to be frightened, but he's not on the long list of things that can permanently kill us.

: Tell me what you're doing here again?

So we can ask him about the Gate and Choi but all we get is shit like

Thanks, shitlord, for a powerful prophet you have no insight whatsoever. Fuck you.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hi, I am a very powerful transdimensional prophet!

: Wow, your transdimensional bullshit is vaguely better than mine!

: Can you tell me anything I didn't already know? Maybe some foreshadowing?

: Nope.

Well, fuck you too.

Anyway, we can rifle through his jank box. Despite being a powerful time traveling dude he doesn't do anything except whine as we steal from him. That's his punishment for making us sit through more text.

That's right, fucker!

Wait, a merecaster? Nooooooo-

Wait. An actual sci-fi segment? In my sci-fi game? People aren't fighting with swords and other stupid D&D isms?

: How is our side weathering the Calcedon's assault, Lieutenant?

: Look around at the wasteland.

: Tell me about this work of yours, priest.

: And why wouldn't this weapon blow up friendly weapons as well?

: March on.

Is it me, or does the Aeon Priest look like Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame?

: [Raises Indigo, Blue Tides] "Very tempting, but I need more information. Vostiel, send a scout to check out the monolith. The company will wait here."


In hindsight this may have been a bad idea.

: Landi, fall back to the trenches and protect the priest. Vostiel, pick four scouts and come with me. We're taking it to the ambushers.

Wait, hang on, are these guys using sci-fi weapons and not swords? Shit!

On the logic that our goal is to retreat with the priest rather than fight a drawn out battle, I go for the heater.

: That heater will cut off our escape if we don't take it out. Straight ahead.

: There's too many to pick off one at a time. Try the Singularity Detonator.

So the game doesn't make this clear, but this is not the prototype weapon that makes sci-fi weapons explode. This is a random grenade we had lying around.

In the grand tradition of choose your own adventure games a reasonable plan goes wrong without input from us.

Wow, gee, thanks.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: You are in command of a sci-fi military unit! You're escorting some asshole with a prototype weapon!

: You couldn't possibly understand the workings of this gun! It blows up enemy weapons!

: How do you prevent it from blowing up ours?

: You are very smart!

: Do you want to go attack a random monolith, or complete the mission you were actually assigned to do?

: Send scouts I guess.

: You are ambushed! Surrender the priest?

: Nah, I'm gonna lead a team to ambush their heavy weapons while the rest of the squad fortifies. Eat scifi grenade, fuckers!

: You died! Git gud scrub!

No, we can't do that again. Yes, we went back in time and apparently got an entire squad of soldiers killed. No, the prototype weapon doesn't actually have an effect on the Endless Battle. Googling didn't indicate any rewards for doing this, so I'm not reloading.

It's at this time I realize that I've been looking at the wrong note this entire time. Oh well, still got closer to unlocking the unmarked quest.

Which we just unlocked! Meet Silver. He is a techno-lich who is looking for a phylactery so he can wander around and be malevolent. Or something.

Silver: You are a fellow seeker, yes? Tantalum has sent me to learn the secrets of the Valley. I can smell the desire on your skin, but not the success.

: Who are you?

: So you believe Tantalum?

: What have you found in these tombs?

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: OoOoOoOo! A spooky technolich!

: Yo I'm just here to loot the tombs. The gun salesman sent me and I seek knowledge.

: Cool, bye.

Anyway, this is Phoenix's tomb. Or something. They'll reuse that face model for another one.

: You recognize the face. It is that of Phoenix, the enigmatic man in the Valley.

Oh look, a mystery no one asked for or cared about.

I too, am tormented by the shittiness of this game.

: I found your marker in the Necropolis. The note contains a code to your tomb.

Woah he's a time-traveling undead! Is your mind blown? Is this deep yet?

Good fucking riddance! Thanks for the XP, you pretentious, uninteresting fuck! Cal finally wants to talk to us.

I don't know Cal.

: [Raises Blue Tide] He was looking for the reason behind his existence.

This is, of course, Numenera and there is no spiritual significance.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Whoa! Phoenix was dead the whole time! He was just missing part of his consciousness somehow! OoOooooooOooOo It is very mysterious!

: Hey Phoenix you're fucking dead dude.

: Oh no! I am dead! Remember to keep seeking knowledge, for it is very important!

: What the fuck was that?

: He was looking for the reason behind his existence, in a non spiritually significant way.

Anyway, if we go back to Choi's tomb, then Ronos' tomb. then the Labyrinth we can upgrade Choi's Balm to give us a huge pile of stat boosts. You have to talk to Ronos but we did that.

On the way to the Labyrinth I get distracted a little.

You can try stepping into the darkness, but, uh, this happens:

Letting the darkness stick its lance in us gets us +1 to our intellect pool. Really.

It was very rude of the party not to give The Last Castoff some privacy as she gave her virginity to the darkness.

Anyway trying to step into the darkness gets us a Stim cypher and uh...yea. We're done with the darkness. It was a strictly one-night thing, darkness.

I sure hope you weren't watching what we did with the darkness.

Alright! 5 stat boosts! That's a huge buff, and we keep the max health skill boost. This is why we put up with the game constantly whining about Choi.

Callistege talked to Tantalum about this, and this will help her do whatever shit she's trying to do with regards to the datasphere, so off we go!

Basically you have to fuck around with it to tune it. It's a space instrument made by space aliens with holographic strings or something similarly uninteresting. I'm skipping screens.

4 whole XP, keep going high roller!

I want to point out this is set a billion years in the future, and that minor keys are explicitly Western European things. There are scales that have smaller intervals than the smallest on the Western scale, there are church modes that predate our scales...there's a lot of ways to notate music is what I'm saying, and I'm honestly shocked they didn't make up some sci-fi bullshit.

Then again, this game is written by Patrick Rothfuss, a musically inexperienced man who thinks making an easy tune sound difficult is "funny" while in real life it marks you as an incompetent.

I've been trying to avoid focusing on this game's prose because everything is so awfully written and none of their metaphors make sense, but every time I do I find something new to hate.

One of the screens I skipped points out that this was not made by human hands, but I guess the Mysterious Space Aliens use human musical notation. Fuck this!

: [Lore: Mystical, Lore: Machinery] Try to decipher the image.

A schematic is a structural diagram. You know what would work? Show us the fucking schematic! You have the entire unity engine! It is more than capable of showing a static image of a drawing!

God damn, shut up! Shut up shut up shut up!

You know, Callistege, as a trained expert looking for this stuff, could have just summarized the diagram instead of having a shitty anime repetition moment.

: What do you see?

You already did. You have datasphere link as a nano ability. TLC can get it too.

Wow, are you impressed yet? We surpassed the Changing God with no effort whatsoever.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Despite having no musical training or demonstrating no musical aptitude, I am able to tune a space alien holographic stringed instrument! Shit, how do I know which notes are right again?

: I know how to play this! Now, think the minuet in G!

: Wow, this mysterious schematic appeared! It is the datasphere! A big tower is sticking into a circle!

: A big tower is sticking into a circle! Wow, holy shit!

: What?

: We did it! You've surpassed the Changing God! I can connect to the Wi-fi! I'm wet in every reality right now!

We have the coordinates for the tomb of one "Najma" from a note we found on the dead hostage. There's not much of note in the tomb, except...

Get ready for more choose your own adventure!

Can you guess what real-world topic we're about to explore?

That's right! We're going to explore racism against mutants.

: What's going on here?

: [Raises Blue, Indigo Tides] "You restore human rights through assault and murder? Doesn't seem like you thought this through."

: Talk to the mother and her boy, see what they think.

: Talk to Sucya to see how she is.

I guess we're some kind of mutant musician?

: Talk to the chirugeon.

: Talk to the large mutant watching the chiurgeon's ministrations.

So, we can prepare for a mutant-human war or we can go talk to the authorities the racists seemed scared of.

I went to the Burgrave because I remembered how well it went last time I fought in one of these things.

: [Raises Red, Indigo Tides] Leave the Grotto to get help from the Burgrave.

Remember, the racists we insulted realized the Burgrave would punish them if they went too far.

: Wait patiently for the Burgrave to finish speaking with the couple.

...really, dude? I hope the Changing God kills your ass.

: [Raises Indigo Tide] I've just talked to the Burgrave. If you kill me, he'll know what you're doing and take action.


TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: The future KKK is beating a mutant! She wants you to help! What do you do?

: You guys are dicks.

: Oh shit! She might call the cops! We'll be back!

: We should kick their asses!

: You should tell the authorities.

: I don't know that we can fight a human-mutant war without pulling the authorities down on us, so I guess I'll talk to this Burgrave dude.

: Boo! Fuck mutants! Booo!

: Guess I'll wait in line. Hey, Burgrave, the racists are attacking mutant town.

: Oh? Well, unless they do something that is not beating a mutant, I can't do anything. You also waited in line so I guess you don't really care. I'm not gonna even bother to investigate this.

: Guess I go home.

: Hey! It's that mutant! Let's beat her to death!

: You're right outside the Burgrave's tower, dumbass. He's gonna haul you off to jail.

: Nuh uh!

: You died! But in so doing, you diverted the Racist Trolley away from Mutant Town. Git gud scrub!

No, we can't redo that either, and I'm not reloading. This is the part where you mash random buttons on the consoles to visit more graves.

This guy shows up. I'm cutting his dialogue, because it's just ranting about how Tantalum the shopkeep sent him down here and all he found is a shitty useless Merecaster he dumps on you.

He leaves to go argue with Tantalum, and we keep jumping around.

We get it Cal.

Silver appears again and starts rambling.

He's a cursed technolich. I'm sparing you the dialogue of "must...know" and whatnot. You're welcome.

We ask him how we can help.

In other words, keep going to random tombs and clicking more gravestones.

With enough digging we find the lich's phylactery we can do things with in a totally not D&D derived way.

We can use it to summon a not-zombie.

Look, I've suffered through enough inanities in these tombs.

: What will you give me if I do?

: Let him use the device.

Ok, I know you fuckers can do a basic in-engine cutscene with particle effects because you did it on the levy quest.

Not gonna mention that "caged malevolence" phrase at all, huh?

We're not taking that bottom option.

: What can you offer me?

I'm not asking what happened to him. We know what happened. He's a techno-lich.

The rewards are:
+1 to Lore(Machinery)
A cypher that does psychic DoT in an area. Pass, we have a ton of cyphers I never use
A ranged weapon that does relativistic damage and inflicts bleeding.

: Give me the ranged weapon.

Oh, I guess the immortality machine Silver was in was evil? Whatever, don't care.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Silver: Give my phylactery and I'll hook you up with cool stuff.

: Done!

Silver: You want a gun that deals relativistic damage, or-

: Gun!

Silver: Yes! I'm free! Have the gun! Woohoo!

This thing does more damage than our other guns and inflicts DoT as well.

Naturally, I give it to Rhin. We're gonna give that punk Joseph Kony a run for his money!

Anyone who has played this game before hates this pyramid. We'll be showing off why in a few updates.

Anyway, that's all the shit we're doing in the Necropolis. We're done. There aren't any more sidequests. All that remains is to do the main plot.

Aardiriis wanted us to talk to Melnoth here, so we're going to do that.

Melnoth here runs the cannibal cult we let eat us.

: Aadiriis told me to come speak to you about the Tides.

I suppose we have finally reached the level of discourse of a stoned goth kid.

: Aadiriis thinks that a Tidal Surge on my birth was responsible for a devastating argument between two humans.

Are castoffs not human? Serious question. What is with this "humans" shit?

: Now a corpse-eater is offering me advice? My thanks, but I will keep my own council.

: How do you know so much about the Tides?

I give Oom shit for being a Tides Dog, but the fact of the matter is he did teach the Changing God about the Tides. We'll go into this more later.

: Why do you think the Sorrow pursues us?

: What did you mean when you said the Tides were an inextricable part of us?

: What are the Tides, anyway? Where did they come from?

Why were we able to go through the entire game without asking this?

This is a hint for the big dumb twist at the end of the game.

: Let me ask some other questions.

: Tell me about yourself.

: His lopsided smile seems like more of a grimace. "I'm Melmoth Leviarm. I'm the creator of the Dendra O'Hur, the greatest - or at least most innovative - of the brotherhoods that seek to pass along knowledge from one generation to the next."

We know the Changing God had access to the innovative technology known as "books" because he wrote one we gave to Callistege.

: What can you tell me about the Dendra O'Hur?

: With all your acquired knowledge, you must have a unique outlook on the Endless Battle.

: I'm looking for Mazzof.

: I need him to fix a resonance chamber.

: What can you tell me about the other castoffs here?

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Aardiriis said I had to ask you about the Tides before I can advance the plot. Lay it on me.

Melnoth: The Tides are super duper awesome and I use them all the time! Yea, it might hurt people, but people hurt each other all the time, so I don't see how this is any different.

: But I caused the pathetic mortal Callistege to break up with her boyfriend.

Melnoth: Ha, humans argue all the time. This her? Ha. You look like you've done a ton of dumb shit. Don't do that.

: Fuck you cannibal, I do what I want!

Melnoth: Eh, don't listen to me despite me being centuries old and having a bunch of wisdom. Where was I? Yes, the Tides are awesome. They might or might not attract the Sorrow, but who cares?

: Seriously, what the hell are the Tides? Apparently they're important to the setting somehow, but I don't know what a Red Tide is or why it affects me.

Melnoth: They're a natural psychic force. Civilizations have grown up and fallen using the Tides. Tides use is awesome! Woop woop! Tiiiiiiiiiides!

: Who are you anyway?

Melnoth: Oh, I'm the guy who founded the Dendra O'Hur, an extremely cool cannibal cult that preserves knowledge!

: You must have seen a lot of shit, what's your take on the Endless Battle?

Melnoth: An incredibly hackneyed plot point that happens offscreen. What a waste of wo- lives. Lives and ammunition.

: You seen Mazzof? I need to fix a resonance chamber.

Melnoth: The crystal thing? No idea where he is, but that might be important.

: Who are these other castoffs?

Melnoth: Morons.

: Bye!

Ok, can we advance the plot now?

First I grab this from Lady Anshe. Permanent bonuses are always good.

: He said that the Tides are within us all, and that we should use our powers as necessary.

: He said I should ask where your powers come from, if not the Tides?

Aadiriis: I awoke with them. They are not, as far as I am aware, any manifestation of Tidal energies. It's not as though we have a measuring apparatus, of course, but I think I would know if I were using these forces.

Sure you would.

: [Raises Blue, Gold Tides] I can't claim to know what's in his head.

Aadiriis: In any case, you have done what I asked. However, if you're keen to enter this Mere and take control of the life of your siblings, then I believe you should have practice resolving their conflicts while they're still in control of their own lives. Help them change for the better.


: All right. Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Aadiriis: Was that deep? What was its meaning?

: Can I have the plot device now?

Aadiriis: Not until you mediate between those fighting children.

: Awww.

: This man's face is flushed and angry. Veins throb on his forehead, and his eyes are focused on his companion.

: "Stop. Talking. Raima." He spits each word, gripping his weapon belt with bloodless fingers. "Stop talking, or I'll prove you wrong right now."

: "Ah, but it wouldn't do anything of the sort," Raima replies, grinning as though she intends to eat the man whole and screaming. "Even this argument is part of his plan. Do what you have to do, Andronus."

: "If not for the law, you'd already be dead," he says, and spits at her feet. "Traitor. Fool."

: [Raises Gold Tide] This is no way for family to behave.

: Aadiriis asked me to mediate your dispute.

: They react like - exactly like - sullen children. Andronus folds his arms and turns away from you. Raima flushes, and stares at her feet.

: First, what exactly are you arguing about?

: The two watch each other warily for a moment, as if speaking first will somehow forfeit the argument.

: Tell me what's troubling you, Andronus.

: "I just don't understand her," he says, flinging his hand in Raima's direction. "The Changing God abandoned us at birth, then fed us lie after lie when he chose to speak with us at all. She claims he has a master plan. I see a man who serves himself, first and always. He doesn't care if we die. Even I care more if Raima dies than our sire does.

Andronus Sandhand: [Dominant Tide: Blue] There's a fine line between wishful thinking and suicidal idiocy, and she's dancing on it. She has to face the truth - we're on our own, and this battle is going to get us all killed.

: Let's hear your side, Raima.

Raima Cyro: It's simple, sister. The Endless Battle is a test, and Andronus's side has been failing it for centuries. Our creator managed to annoy the First enough that she stormed off in a huff...he even did it in Andronus's body. You'd think that this big oaf, of all people, would understand what our sire was thinking.

I don't understand why we need 3 screens for "Fuck you, Changing God" and "No, Changing God Dad is awesome".

: Oom stirs restlessly at your side, and a soft wave of nausea uncoils through you.

: [Dominant Tide: Blue] "You have to admire our father's logic," she says with a shrug. "We deal with the weakest among us before we face the enemy that wants us all dead."

: [Raises Indigo Tide] Before I make any decision, what sort of solution would satisfy you both?

: "I don't know," he says, glancing at Raima. "Nothing you could say would make us take each other's side. And with apologies to Aadiriis, I don't want to get along with Raima. I've hated her for too long. No offense."

: I've heard your arguments. I'm ready to resolve your dispute.

: [Raises Gold, Indigo Tides] Do you really want to break the truce, to kill each other, over a point of view?

: "All right," she says, letting out a ragged breath. "Just...let's talk about something else. Andronus. Can we do that?"

Jesus Christ, shut up!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: What are you two arguing about?

Andronus: The Changing God sucks! Blah blah blah blah blah for three whole screens!

Raima: The Changing God will save us! Blah blah blah blah for three whole screens!

: Neither of you are going to compromise, huh?

Andronus, Raima: Nope.

: Well, if you two don't stop this you'll be kicked outside to face The Sorrow.

Andronus, Raima: We're done fighting now!


: I managed to persuade them to their senses. They've agreed to a temporary peace.

: She claps her hands softly. "Well done. Well done indeed."

Aadiriis: To be free to choose a part of life in Miel Avest. We must own our choices...just as we own our responsibilities for the outcomes of those choices.

So the various castoffs scattered around are various commanders and whatnot in the Endless Battle. I think we've heard enough Endless Battle bullshit though, haven't you?

: I can give you an opinion on the Endless Battle now.

: There is no point. It's a waste.

Ugh, shut up!

: [Raises Gold Tide] No. It is a waste of innocent lives.

Really what I object to is that it's all offscreen violence that ends in an uninteresting stalemate. Yes, we get Merecaster flashbacks where five guys get gunned down by a not-mortar, but we've personally killed more people than that just by wandering around. Usually if someone launches a war there is a clear path to victory and a way to actually win, unless you are George W Bush or Dwight Eisenhower. I do not understand what either side considers "winning" at this point, and while that may be intentional there aren't any goals stated! Supposedly this is to save the castoffs from the Changing God's plan, but it's not like they're going after his space station or blowing up his devices. It's stupid. Even going into Iraq there was a goal that Saddam would be dead and the Iraqis would have a functional democracy. Here the goal seems to be to run around the offscreen wastelands with a sword asking everyone whether they think the Changing God sucks or not and then stabbing them based on their reply.

Oh, right, we better listen to Paj Rekken the warcrime rapist!

The clapping makes her seem more like a hyperactive child than the wise peacekeeper she's supposed to be.

: You wanted to expose me to other viewpoints.

Aadiriis: Precisely. When we have incomplete information and are exposed to alternate, opposite viewpoints, how do we judge which is true? We must reach a conclusion at some point, but unless those conclusions are backed with incontrovertible evidence, you must never imagine that you have the sole grasp on the truth.

Wow...critical deeeeeeep.....

: To resolve a dispute with regard for both parties' feelings and motivations.

Aadiriis: That is exactly so.

Aadiriis: My intention for you in this task was to have you change the lives of your siblings for the better... while they still control their own bodies. To offer than alternatives, and see if you can provide them a route through their troubles that maintains their core goals.

What are their goals? Is Andronus trying to kill the Changing God? Is that the First Castoff Team's end plan?

: To learn more about the battle and understand the truth behind it.

I want to ride the trolley! Ring ring, go the trolley bells! Toot toot, goes the whistle!

Ha ha, really? This is what you're going with? The game is all about guiding us to an answer but all it can offer is a list of preselected options?

Fuck it.

Decisions Lie Before Us!

I want you goons to vote on what one life matters. We've all seen enough trolley problem quests in this game to make an informed decision, but really, I want you all to come up with something stupid. I don't respect this character or this half-assed philosophical debate. Go nuts!


: [Raises Indigo Tide]: One life doesn't matter, except insofar as it serves a greater whole.

: [Raises Gold Tide]: Each life is important. Every person carries a world of potential. Each life should benefit others.

: [Raises Blue Tide]: One life doesn't matter. It's an infinitesimal spark against the timeline of cosmos.

: [Raises Silver Tide]: It matters only as much as we let it matter. We make our own meaning, our own truths.

: [Raises Red Tide]: Life matters only if you experience it. If you let it wither and stagnate, it doesn't matter at all.

: [Raises Silver Tide]: What is life but the memories we leave behind? You're not dead until you're forgotten. What matters is money. Power. Fame

: [Raises Blue Tide] One life can find new knowledge. Making new discoveries, passing along knowledge, making humanity greater...that's the purpose of life.

: [Raises Red, Gold Tides] If you're talking about legacy, who cares? What matters is that you build something and use your life constructively.

: [Raises Blue Tide] What matters is continuity of life. Having children, creating more life, passing along experience.

Choose wisely! Your vote will count for double if you attempt to justify your choice!