The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 35: The Magical Land of Trolleys

The Magical Land of Trolleys

Last time we resolved our companion's personal issues, and showed that stupid pet rock who's the boss!

So far so good, if we keep going down the road we can do things,

Anyway some kind of cave-in caused the road to be collapsed. These merchants bitch about it and also don't have anything to sell you.

This is another choose your own adventure segment, kind of. The goal here is to kill off the PoV character in as painful a way as possible to please the ass tumor in front of us and let it shit out an item.

I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be another horrible trolley moral choice, but the game keeps giving me XP as long as I click through these flashbacks, and honestly at this point I'm burned out on the "what does one life matter" bullshit.

This random goblin pops out of the cyst and jumps off the cliff. Why? Numenera!

This thing is part of a sidequest to make it into a transdimensional scalpel or something. I might do the quest, but to be honest we already have the ubersword so I don't give a fuck.

Thanks Cal.

It lacks power. It's energies are great. Which is it?

This guy sells shit, so I buy a mind bomb for Rhin so she can end fools.

I'm not transcribing this shit. Those idiots are cultists who worship the Bloom and want it to eat them, so they have a made up Bible the lead idiot makes with his own snot. Seriously.

You thought I was kidding about the snot thing? Anyway, in the house behind us there's a scientist researching the Bloom. This makes the Bloom very mad, and they want us to shut him down.

I'm sure this is another trolley problem bullshit thing about what the Bloom's wishes matter, but the important thing is that this guy sells futuristic weapons that I would expect to see in a sci-fi setting and not dumb shit like medieval swords.

He also lets us equip the Scan Thoughts power! Are you ready for what the good people of the Ninth World are thinking? Get ready!

These guys intercept us as we try to progress the game.

They let us through because we're a castoff, and you can see Scan Thoughts in action.

This next section is incredibly stupid.

: What is this place?

: If you're a military company, where is your standard?

This is a hint to how we could complete this. We could go over a screen or two and fight our way through a dungeon. Fuck that.

Maybe they were pissed that you were running a protection racket. I would be.

: Why would they be insulting you?

Maybe because they're racist assholes?

: Why don't you go get it back yourself?

: Why don't you send some of your troops to get it back for you?

TLC, folks.

The game really wants you to get the damn flag.

: I want to ask you about something else.

: Why do you keep looking over at that knot of Bloom-flesh?

: "The Maw? No reason, I just don't like the way the damned thing looks. I don't like the way it sounds." He takes another drink.

: [Raises Silver Tide] The best solution is to take charge. Command these troops, and lead them out of here.

: Why did you stare at my tattoo?

: What are you talking about?

What exactly is the Chalcedon doing with her life? We missed our opportunity to talk to her in part 2, but it's not like Team First ever found the resonance chamber to prevent the Changing God from firing it and killing all the castoffs. It wants to be Catch-22, but Catch-22 is funny and interesting.

: You're a soldier? Tell me about that.

: A condotierre?

: Why aren't you for hire?

: I don't care about any of that. I just want some questions answered.

: What's that you're drinking?

: [Endurance] You think you can outdrink me? I doubt it.

I fuck up here.

: [Endurance] Absolutely.

Realizing that I have no might points left, I inject this Stim (+45% on noncombat checks) to try to cheat like a motherfucker.

: [Endurance] Drink some rum.

35% chance! We are not impaired or anything. We're not slurring our words and we don't have the WoW filter.

We could get a shield that's a Planescape reference, but we're taking the plot option.

: Then do me a favor and stop whining about the Maw. Go confront it.

Yea, if you didn't realize, this isn't "confronting" the Maw like telling him to tell it to fuck off, he's straight up suiciding.

: Artaglio staggers over to the Maw, and the tongues tremble at his approach.

We get a short animation of Artaglio walking over to the maw while none of his aghast troops actually bother to do anything to stop him.

Naturally it's interrupted by a wall of text. This is supposed to be Vancian style humor, but these authors are incapable of portraying basic human relationships or anything relatable. Don't believe me? What do people eat in Numenera? Seriously. We have seen no food or food merchants in this entire game. There's the space jenkem in the psychic bar and the pisswater that the cultists love. That's about it.

Naturally we get a second wall of text.

They do actually animate Artaglio getting eaten here.

....yup. That's one of the Bloom's big gimmicks. It has trolley doors. Seriously.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: A castoff! Fuck castoffs! Fuck them in a nonsexual way! I'm Artaglio, and I'm running this shitty mafia here.

: What's your problem?


: Why would they do that?

: I don't know! Those thieving birdmen! Fuck them!

: So if you guys are a mercenary company why don't you just get the flag back?

: That sounds like effort. I wanted to save these men's lives, not fight birdmen for a flag.

: You guys are soldiers?

: Yup. Deserted from the Endless Battle. It sucked! We lost a bunch of guys in this dumb war! Fuck castoffs, I hate the Chalcedon so much I'm gonna misgender him! Are you here to drag me back?

: No, because the Endless Battle is an idiotic plotline. I just want to progress the plot.

: Cool.

: What are you drinking?

: Space rum, which I bet you're too pussy to drink.

: Get rekt scrub.

: Damn, I lost! I'll do you a favor. What do you want?

: Can you stand on those trolley tracks in front of the Zerg looking door?

: Yup! Oh no! I've been run over by a trolley! What does one life matter?

: Hell if I care, but I just got a 20% damage boost for the whole party!

As the summary stated, Artaglio can become a labyrinth reflection that hands out an aura that gives the party a 20% damage buff. You can do some shit with the apothecaries to trick the maw into opening or go get the flag, but this option is much, much stupider and thus it must be done.

Artaglio heroically gave his life so we could get a textbox describing what we are about to see. Fare thee well, brave hero! Truly, your sacrifice was not in vain!

The game proceeds to troll me with a textbox describing what's on the screen I can't scroll to because there's a textbox in the way.

I'm really surprised that the art team stood for this. The writers clearly have no faith in their abilities.

All we can do here is touch it awkwardly. We will be seeing a lot of these things in a certain encounter later.

It's things like this that make me believe someone on the dev team knew exactly what they had shat out. Anyway, through the portal!

Again. I can see the crystals. They are all over. The only thing this adds is the sun and that it's cold...which will never be remarked upon again. Of course they didn't add a shivering animation for our Castoff, are you nuts? These people couldn't even be fucked to have Callistege talk about being mind controlled.

Gee, thanks writers. You described a hum as a gasp, and wasted my time once again for...what, exactly? That Oom recognizes a lair of the Changing God?

Words, words, glorious words!

: Dracogen sent me.

: He raises his eyebrows. "Is that so? I'll leave you to your business, then. Unless there's something you wanted to discuss?"

: What does it mean that you're a prophet of the Changing God?

: What secrets of the Changing God did you find?

: Are you part of the cult of the Changing God in Sagus? Because I'm the Changing God.

: He narrows his eyes. "Possible, I suppose. But highly unlikely. Perhaps your actions will prove you out...but I doubt it."

: What are you doing in the Ascension?

: I'm looking for a circlet of dark, hyaline material known as the Magmatic Annulet. Have you seen anything like that?

: What can you tell me about this place?

: Farewell.

So this is kind of right, and kind of wrong. We'll get to why in a bit.

TheGreatEvilKing spares you Numenera dialog posted:

: Hello, castoff! What are you doing here?

: Dracogen sent me. Who are you?

: I'm Doran, prophet of the Changing God.

: What does that mean, exactly?

: Nothing, some idiots said I was a prophet after I found a workshop and sold half the crap in it. heh heh.

: Are you with those Sagus Cliff guys? Cuz I'm the Changing God

: No you're not. Heh heh heh.

: I'm looking for a MacGuffin. Have you seen it?

: Nope!

: Can you tell me anything interesting at all?

: Nope!

Whatever. Maybe the other guy will have something to say?

It's like they wanted to strip out any kind of impact with this shitty, dull passive voice everywhere.

Oh boy.

: Who are you?

Oh look, I'm sure he's going to spew something that sounds very deep.

: What do you mean, 'you act'?

If you think this is foreshadowing these idiots eating piles of transdimensional damage from an emotionally conflicted nano you win no awards.

: So, you do what Doran says?

I'm sure this is some pretentious way of saying that Doran spews vague foreshadowing that he acts on, but to be honest I don't care.

: That sounds an awful lot like taking orders to me.

Whoa, is this deep yet? Whoa! My mind is blown, mannnnnnnn! He's like, a free spirit, duuuuuuude!

: Can you tell me anything about the Ascension?

: I'm looking for a circlet of dark, hyaline material. It's called the Magmatic Annulet. Have you seen it?

: Why did you call me an echo?

: [Raises Indigo, Blue Tides]There are many castoffs. Even if you think we're weaker than our father, don't we have a large effect on the world?

: You think all castoffs are echoes of the Changing God. What are you, then?

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing saves you from reading this crap posted:

: Wow, you suck! Echo! I'm John Galt, and I act.

: What do you mean, you act?

: You're just a shitty copy of the Changing God, but I'm a real man and I listen to Doran and do what he says.

: Sounds like you're just Doran's little bitch to me.

: I'm not a bitch! I'm a real boy!

: Can you tell me anything useful?

: Nope! Doran says I can't.

: Also, what was that echo shit?

: You're just a shitty knockoff of the Changing God! You suck! Suckity suck suck! I rock cuz I'm a real boy! My pretentious penis is so big -

: I'm leaving now.

To proceed we need to go to the wacky crystal thing past these cultists. I hope you like bad prose, sci-fi proper nouns, and pointless, empty mysteries that will never be solved.

Half of this is shit we can see (there is a crystal, there are lights) and half is bizarro world telling and not showing. What makes this a shrine and not a zoo butterfly exhibit? The lights look like butterflies. "Shifts and increases" is vaguely redundant (an increase would be a shift) but leading with "shifts" makes it seem more neutral. Everything is dull clinical passive voice, robbing the scene of any excitement or wonder that this setting is supposed to evoke.

Yet again they use more explanation then is needed.

I try to clean this shit up posted:

"Revel-" the voice stutters. "G-greetings, Patterned One. I am the Speaker. Welcome to the Ascension of Kev-Lianish. I am sorry, but the Oracle no longer exists."

Was anything lost?

Here we see the game desperately trying to introduce mystery. The Oracle was immortal but died of old age. A contradiction, but real! I don't care at this point. I don't know who does. The game has introduced enough pointless mysteries that it's not going to solve that I don't care anymore.

The charitable interpretation is that this is a reflection on the failure of immortality, but as we've seen it's entirely arbitrary.

Oh look. It's more unrelatable psychic bullshit. What is the difference between a thought from the top and one from below? If anything this is supposed to be epilepsy? Maybe?

: Do you know anything about the other humans over there, Doran and his companions?

I'm really beginning to miss how Ash of Gods capped itself at four questions per conversation fork.

: Why did you call me "Patterned One"?

This is where we're going. We have traversed the incredibly limited Ninth World so we can talk to a hippie psychedelic crystal that is going to tell us about cognitive concepts taught in first grade.

: The man who shares my... pattern. I need to find something he hid. Do you know where it might be?

: You said 'revelation' in a different voice. What does that mean?

This really is five year old dialogue, isn't it? Why? Why? Why?

This ties back into the other running joke of the Numenera setting, that any of this is more than what it appears to be. This is a computer mimicking a divine oracle like the one at Delphi, which is why it keeps mechanically stating "revelation". Isn't this funny?

No. The game refuses to engage with this. If they'd wanted to ask what one life matters in the absence of God, this is not how you go about it.

: What does it mean that you're the Speaker?

Here we see the incoherent symbolism. What do the white and black tears mean? More importantly, who cares? They don't tie into the greater narrative at all, they're not funny or thought-provoking, and they just seem thrown in to provide the illusion of depth.

: Can you read my thoughts?

What does that mean? Is it strange? Are you out of your comfort zone? It's the exact same shit Lovecraft tried when he wrote about acute angles that behaved as though they were obtuse. It's fiction. You can literally make shit up. Superman in real life would be impressive, but Superman flying in a picture is not.

: What was the Oracle?

So I would guess that this is something they tried to build to discover God. The Numenera writers probably intended it as a Trolley Simulator.

Oh, I guess the Oracle just decided to die then. Why not. Look, it had to get on the trolley tracks so the phobits could live. How deep.

: Who are the phobits?

It's another weakness of the writing that they throw out incomprehensible descriptions and expect you to smile and nod. How are flashing lights "proud"? Are they using Morse code? Someone help me out here.

Then again, we're getting into that sci-fi bad prose of "our own job, our own specialization." Those words aren't synonyms, but when someone says we all have our own job that implies that they are different. I call it the "nerds striving hard for good writing effect".

Guess where this is going?

: If the other phobits are sentient, then could you speak to them for me? Or at least make them aware of my presence?

I can say this much, it's not a trolley problem where all the phobits line up on the tracks. I know, I'm shocked too.

Yup. We talked to a supercomputer a future civilization used to try to find God and turned it into a glorified bridge control device.. That's it. That's all the writers could do with this concept.

Notably the Speaker, despite being the emissary for a supercomputer that was believed to be able to find God, speaks like most of the other human characters we've met.

: What happened to the Lianish?

Another pointless mystery that will never be solved and has no bearing on anything happening in the game. They have never been mentioned before and will never be mentioned again. It's like "how can Phoenix self-reincarnate?" It will never be answered and no one cares.

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing wades through poop posted:

Generic Crystal Thing: Hi, patterned one!

: Do you know those guys?

Generic Crystal Thing: Nope, fuck 'em.

: What's with this Patterned One thing?

Generic Crystal Thing: The Changing God showed up before you, and you both have tides! As an advanced supercomputer, I can do basic pattern recognition! Yay!

: Can you tell me anything about the Changing God?

Generic Crystal Thing: Nope! I just relay information, the actual Oracle died a long time ago. Oh, did I mention, this looks like a shrine with an oracle from the gods, but it's actually a big computer! Checkmate, theists.

: What's with the weird multiple voice thing?

Generic Crystal Thing: Assuming direct control Huh?

: Are you reading my mind?

Generic Crystal Thing: Yes, but this is Numenera, so the description is extra idiotic and confusing!

: Ok, what was the Oracle?

Generic Crystal Thing: Oh, it was a computer some ancient scientists built to find god tens of thousands of years ago. Then it broke down after a hundred thousand. It left some phobits behind.

Generic Crystal Thing: Whoa, the oracle got run over by a trolley so we could live!

: Uh, phobits?

: The lights flash in a way that says proud.

Generic Crystal Thing: We're phobits!

: Could you help me on my quest, oh powerful God-finding computer?

Generic Crystal Thing: Yes! We can act as bridge switches!

Really. This game introduces a computer built to find God, and it's just a bridge switch. I cannot stress how disappointing and shitty this is. If I extend the game the generosity it in no way deserves, the Oracle is a comment on immortality and how no one really wants to live forever which is why technology dies and blah blah blah blah, and yet again this is contradicted by the game. There is a ton of old technology that still works perfectly and old AIs we can have do stuff. Much like the game is desperately rubbing in that immortality seeking and resurrection attempts are bad and then turning around and showing us characters who are immortal and can resurrect the dead with no consequences whatsover it just fails all around. The unfortunate phobits here are just another example of how when you peel away the layers the game has desperately shrouded itself there is nothing there. Nothing. It's not even half-assed D&D because D&D pulls from the same sources as Numenera. We have achieved nothing, we haven't contemplated any new ideas, the Last Castoff has learned nothing about herself and is still a personality-less blank slate with five dialogue options that correspond to five colors that are a half-assed version of divine judgement.

This big purple crystal is the door phobit. It is special because it gets a whole dialog tree to itself. Much like the rest of Numenera NPCs, it has nothing worthwhile to say and no insight to offer. It saw the Changing God. Hooray.

Gotta grab some loot and then go into that cave.

Decisions lie before us!

We are near the endgame. Right now we're progressing the main plot. The question is, do we actually want to do all the Part 3 sidequests? We have seen enough sidequests to know all about trolleys and the various themes of Colin McComb. Our party is easily strong enough to get through the end gimmick encounters. What should we do?

End this farce: We rush to endgame. We skip all character quests and just learn the truth behind all of this, or lack thereof.

Party quests only: We finish up Callistege, Rhin, and Oom's quests, then zerg the endgame and skip all the trolleys.

All character quests: As party quests, but we do Aligern and Tybir's quest too.

Trolleys!: I go through all the sidequests and point out how everything is awful.

I am happy to do whichever option, but I'm really running out of original things to say about these sidequests and the constant trolleys.