The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 38: The Game Doesn't Respect Me, I Don't Respect It

The Game Doesn't Respect Me, I Don't Respect It

Last time on Tides of Numenera we got quid pro quo sexually harassed into sending Rhin home. A normal person would have quit the game, but you all wanted all the trolleys, so here we are.

Just throwing this out there for future events. Remember, the Gold TIde goes up if you take Rhin back to the slavers or help Omadon stalk Perseia. The Gold Tide goes down if you send Rhin away on the ground that we are literally being stalked by the Angel of Death.

That said, she was right about learning to fight better because she can hit harder than half the scrubs in the party.

So Qianne the hobo innkeeper was getting robbed by these two mutants.

You can't see his face but he looks like the woman next to him! Numenera! Paradox! Mystery!

Popinjay is such a mild insult it's hard to take seriously.

: Who's the girl with you?

: [Perception] For the briefest moment, you think you see the face of a victim in her shadows. She casts a despairing eye at you, and then the darkness fills her face with a sneer.

Oh, look, the Numenera writers are writing another abuse of women quest.

: I asked who the girl with you is.

I was going to make fun of how much of a dork he sounded like, but that might be the point.

: Are you the pair who've been harassing Qianne?

: Why does the girl's face keep changing when you talk?

It really amazes me when sci-fi writers manage to make thought reading completely redundant. It's like how Counselor Troi on the next generation would be confronting Space Hitler and she'd earnestly tell Picard she sensed hatred. She couldn't even tell you what part of a statement was a lie, she just "sensed deception."

He has a bunch of exposition, but we know why we're here.

: The psychic bond you have on Delny...remove it.

Is that...oh my god, yes. I AM BECOME TROLLEY, ENDER OF QUESTS.

: [Might] Strangle him.

Tides dog always comes through when you need him.

The Last Castoff just executed a child! We're going to take a Gold Tide hit for this, right?

Nah, even the narration is describing him as a weasel-faced sneak. It's weird. First, there's an allusion to real world animals that they deliberately tried to avoid. Then we reference a weasel instead of the Traditional Numenera proper noun. I don't even think real scumbags like Tash and Omahdon got this kind of treatment.

The only conclusion I have is that yet another writer remoted in, wrote something completely at odds with the rest of the game, and then it got approved to meet the ship date. Or it's a kickstarter backer written quest, perhaps.

The other big tell is that normally the game doesn't give us the option to just straight up kill people. The only other time this happens that I can think of is when you fight that kung fu guy in Sagus Cliffs, and if you kill him you get a +1 speed bonus. Trolleys!

Where's our red tide?

NOW I can treat you all to that exposition you crave!

: Tell me about yourself.

Holy wall of text, Batman!

That sounds kind of useful. Want to join our party? We could use someone with that...oh. I guess we're just stuck with deep and interesting companions like Tybir.

: How did you fall in with Vrung in the first place?

: You've had quite a time of it. How are you feeling?

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Look at this rat looking asshole lol.

: Yea! I am a cool and tough gangster! Don't piss me off, punk.

: What are you doing to that woman?

: Help me!

: I specced her into my l33t sidekick, nerd! She's mind controlled! Ha ha!

: Are you robbing that innkeeper?

: Yea, punk! What are you going to do about it?

: Release the girl from the psychic mind control.

: Or what are you going to do? Run me over with a trolley?

: Toot toot, bitch!

: Wow, you just ran over a child with a trolley! But he was a weaselly looking asshole. Fuck him! His life didn't matter!

: My hero! Let me tell you about my life story. He seemed so cool but it was an abusive relationship made easily solved by sci-fi bullshit! He just wanted me for my psychic powers! Now I must apologize to everyone for being a robber!

Heroically murdering a child in cold blood gets us a healing potion and some shins. Yes, there are a zillion different ways to do this quest without killing Vring, but to be honest I'm kind of done with treating this game with any kind of respect whatsoever after last update.

Also, party friendship chat!

: ...what did you just say?

: I don't know where that threat came from. We're friends in this world, yes?

: Are we? Don't worry. It was refreshing to hear you speak honestly for once.

We take a nap, then I omit a bunch of Numenera prose about the Changing God sabotaging a pylon to get a turret.

This is the part where I regret sending Rhin home. This is even better for a Breathes Shadow castoff, because if you attack a blinded target all your damage becomes relativistic.

Next up: Remember that lightsaber handle we got from that goblin? Let's deal with that now.

This is Qianne's space trolley that crashed. It was very tragic.

The ghosts of the passengers still haunt the train.

That's the boring, ineffective Numenera prose we all love! It's funny, I was just reading The Remains of the Day today and much of Stevens' first person narration and mannerisms are desperately trying to come across as detached and professional as befits a butler. This is to set up the incredible self-delusion that comes crashing down at the end of the book because Stevens is lying to himself that Lord Darlington is a worthy master, he doesn't care about Miss Kenton. and his service as a butler is for the good of humanity and not just denying him personhood. It's a powerful book.

This, by contrast, is just stuffing everything full of imagery because that's what "good writers" do.

Then you get shit like this where the ghosts materialize intangibly.

Ha ha! It was an AI hologram the whole time! Is your mind blown yet?

: Who are you people?

: One of the men, his fine clothes looking slightly disheveled and stained, looks at you for a moment as if waiting to tell you the truth. At last, he says, "I am Anstoll. I do not exist."

: The other man takes up the thread of the conversation. "I am Ceredig, a merchant-noble. I was on a pleasure cruise and sought to expand my business. Neither do I exist."

Ah, yes, the well-known merchant-nobles of the middle ages, combining a love of capitalism with a work ethic that places them "above" having an occupation.

: Do you know that one of the passengers survived? A woman named Qianne still lives nearby.

: Why would you create a memorial for your passengers?

There is something very specific I am after, and I proceed to fuck it up later.

: Another ghost steps forward. "I retain memories of my passengers' actions. I watched them live. I felt them die within me. What else can I do but provide a memorial for them? They would have lived for many more years, were it not for my failure."

: I may have a way to give your passengers a more lasting memorial. I carry a shared mindspace in my psyche. If we can link our minds, we could preserve the memories of your riders.

: One of the ghosts - Bndari, you think - says, "In your mind." It's not a question. "None of my medical records indicate that such a thing is possible."

You know, periods generally indicate statements and not questions. I would not be so hard on this if this was good, enjoyable prose but it's overwritten trash. I wish I had more insight to offer, but I don't.

: [Persuasion, Deception] Your power will not last forever here. Transferring your knowledge to my mind will ensure the survival of your memories.

We literally can't fail this.

: [Anamnesis] Place the jagged crown atop your head and attempt to absorb the catena's intelligence into your labyrinth.

If the AI thinks this is medically impossible why does it have the perfect tool to do it?

It also amazes me how much of this old, complex technology works without any maintenance for centuries. I assume the nanomachines are doing it?

: Remove the power source from the containment device.

This is the other reason to do this quest, and it's incredibly disappointing.


TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Ooooooh! Ghosts! They are very spoOoOoOoky! The spirits all surround you! Spooky Mormon Hell Dream!

: Long ago, when I was five, I snuck on the trolley late at night, and then I died in a horrible blaaaaaaze!

: I've lived with that guilt, all of my life, and the terrible visions that I saw that niiiiiiiiight!

: Please, no, not a spooky exposition dream!

: Down, down to Colin's realm!

: Ok, seriously, just get in my head so I can get the buff. I'm not sitting through all the exposition again.

: Done.

It took them four dialogue screens to describe putting a battery in a lightsaber knife. Admittedly, there was a skill check. I have cut it down to one.

Now that we did a sidequest to find multiple pieces of a weapon from the ancient world so terrible the Bloom sealed it away, what did we get? It probably does a ton of damage or some nasty status effect, right? Right?

Aside from the critical effect and hitting resistance, this is the exact same as Matkina's starting weapon. You know what the best part is? All jacks can take infused edge which lets their regular attacks do transdimensional damage, making this thing a complete waste of time. The critical effect can be duplicated by handing out the status sharing rings we got earlier with Callistege's teleport. Fuck this thing.

The buff lets us dump an additional point of intellect into any intellect check, but I have to disable one of our existing Labyrinth buffs to get it, like the +3 strength/+2 int or the +1 to all stats. That is not happening.

This old man is a trash diving hobo. He spends three dialog screens telling you about the cool ancient technology he found in the trash.

Eventually he tells you about this stupid burping music box, which we can try to steal like an asshole.

So smashing an old hobo's prized possession doesn't invoke the Tides to judge us at all. It's weird. You would think the empathy and charity tide would go right down. It's almost like the Tides are being incoherently written by a bunch of nerds who primarily consume nerd literature over a web conference call.

Having ruined this poor old man's life it turns out that by smashing his nanomachine whoopy cushion we get a cypher that performs a full heal on a party member. Yay.

This guy is the king of the local mutants. He also has more exposition for our lovely castoff, so let's jump write in, shall we?

Don't worry! He will explain all of these proper nouns in the inevitable expository dialog!

: [Raises Silver Tide] Because I could. It's in my nature.

Now, I believe our dominant tide is still gold. I am trying to get us to blue and silver for...reasons.

Gar-koto: The flux in the Bloom, and thus the Memovira's weakness, is apparent in the instability of the Maws we use for trade and transport. The old Maws are closing, and new ones open to take their place. There is a new Maw here in Little Nihilesh - one I would like to see opened - but the Memovira refuses to aid me. She won't even leave her fortress.

: [Raises Blue Tide] What was the proximate cause of the fight between the Memovira's guards and your people?

So the current Memovira is considered illegitimate because she can't control the Bloom. Good to know.

: Where did your people come from?

: Tell me of the Steadfast.

Why do I do this to myself? We're never going to visit the Steadfast.

: What can you tell me of the Fahat?

: Tell me more about Nihilesh.

This crap was all added because the devs felt exploring was an important part of the Numenera experience. It's just another way the decision to use Numenera for this game is completely baffling, because you're supposed to be fleeing the Sorrow and on the run looking for a weapon, but we have all this time to fuck around.

: I have other questions.

: Why are the Maws changing and closing?

: Do you want to take the Memovira's place?

: Farewell, Gar-koto.

A sidequest and he's offering us cash. Dope!

: I'll look into it.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Thank you for stopping the violence. Why did you do it?

: Uh...Silver Tide points?

: A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. You know the current Memovira isn't doing her job. She's supposed to stop the Bloom from doing stupid crap, and it's just...doing stupid crap.

: So where did you guys come from?

: Oh, we came through a portal from a city called Nihilesh. Have some worldbuilding.

: So, what's with these maws?

: Oh, the Memovira is a complete fuck up who can't do her job.

: Do you want it?

: Nope. I do have a sidequest for you though, go check out that maw in the corner. I got money!

So Gar-koto is trying to find a way home via the Trolley Doors. Let's help Oscar out shall we?

: As you approach, all the sounds of Little Nihilesh seem to fade. The hushed conversations of the mutants recede into the distance, replaced by the hissing, chittering voices of the Bloom.

Matkina used to hang around the Bloom a lot.

: [Intellect] Use the Magmatic Annulet to find out what the Maw wants.

So when I record these sessions I screenshot the text and click next most of the time. Then I realize it's listing off synonyms with ellipses faster than an anime protagonist.

Now, there's an NPC a few feet away we can feed to it. We can feed that poor mindslaved mutant girl to it. However, I want this over with, and I'm not sure if cutting it open with the scalpel is going to screw me over. I guess that is the reason to get it?

: Offer yourself to the Bloom-tongues.

: As soon as you step into reach, the tongues surge toward you. Most of them grab your head and wrap themselves around it, while another probes the surface of your tattoo. The tip of the tendril passes through your flesh, igniting a prickly hot-cold sensation that blazes across your skull.

Remember those AI ghosts we just promised to memorialize forever?

: You can sense the overpowering guilt of the machine intelligence as the tongue greedily slurps it up. The faces of the catena passengers flash briefly before your eyes, surrendered and forgotten at last.

: As the last of its guilt is devoured, the machine intelligence collapses. Fragments of its consciousness skitter away, tiny confused voices shrieking meaningless words, growing fainter... falling silent. Guilt, it seems, was all that held its mind together.

Oh no not the trolley robot, such a deep and interesting character.

Now that I've sacrificed the buff I'm never going to use, we can see that we ended up on a generic spaceship.

It's full of space marines.

Those of you who have played this game before are probably groaning because you remember some of the fuckawful sidequests here. I just discovered them. Rest assured we are descending into this pit.

: Tell me more about your people.

Captain Janur: We lived here, on the Anchorage, as did our ancestors for countless generations. Trapped here, they grew old, intermarried, and raised families. Our laws came one by one as we built a new society here in isolation.

: Can I help you leave the Anchorage?

: Tell me about the Ship.

This is going to get very stupid, very fast. Also ignore the steam notifications, I really need to turn those off.

: How long have you waited for the Ship?

: What's that pinging noise?

: Are your ancestors the ones who built this place?

: Tell me more about your society.

: "I lead. As captain, the Anchorage is my command. Marriages, I approve. I lead the rites. To me falls all responsibility for survival." She smiles. "But such duties are onerous. I delegate, as captains did before me. So we have pilots, majors, jemadars, and others. They prove themselves through work, rise through ranks."

: What is that Cortex you mentioned?

: Why can't I visit the Cortex?

The Last Castoff really comes across as a five year old sometimes, doesn't she?

: Can you tell me anything about the outworlders who tried to steal the Cortex?

What exactly is Dracogen going to do with a starship's navigational computer?

: Farewell, Captain.

Captain Janur: We will speak again, I'm sure.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Janur: Welcome to our spaceship.

: Holy crap! Do you guys have plasma cannons for sale, or a functioning civilization not destroyed by Monte Cook's idiotic desire to copy Dungeons and Dragons but with sci-fi instead?

Janur: Nah, we have a vaguely militarized state waiting for a spaceship to come pick us up so we can go home. Every 10 years people do puzzles designed by our nav computer to see who gets to be captain. Don't ask about the nav computer because some jackoffs tried to steal it.

: But why?

Janur: Some assholes tried to steal it, so we killed them all and tortured the last one to death.

: Who were these assholes?

Janur: All we could get out of them was something called "Dracogen".

This unlocks a sidequest to steal the Cortex for Dracogen, because why not?

With Oom's help we open the door and steal a bunch of cyphers. Callistege comments on how different they are. No one cares.

On our way back to report to Gar-koto to see if he'll give us money or something for the Cortex, Cal and Matkina have another conversation.

: I meditate. A well-honed mind is as good a weapon as any blade.

: At last, something we can agree on!

We take the money because the job wasn't "find the mutants a way home," it was "investigate the maw". Gar-koto is sad because he has to live in the intestine.

Callistege levels up and gets Maelstrom, the ultimate nano attack. Weirdly she can't take mind control like the castoff nano can.

You want to dig through the trashpile for this helmet. I'm cutting the conversation because this update is super text heavy, but it belongs to the space marines and has the coordinates to their home planet.

Also if you put it on it's full of skull bits and Callistege makes fun of you.

Moving on!

We talk to Captain Janur and ask to keep the hat. Clicking on enough dialogue prompts we can.

This is the game's way of telling you it's time for a stealth mission.

Dracogen is totally down for you stealing the Cortex, but he tells you the last team he sent never returned and you should use guile.

Remember when I said the climactic Sorrow battle in part 2 where the game lied about going to the teleporter pads was the worst encounter in the game?

: Tell me about the anchorage.

Get ready for one that manages to be even worse!

So this guy is promising us a tour. Behind him is the door to the nav computer. We need the nav computer to analyse the hat we found in the trash to get these guys home. We also need to steal it for Dracogen.

I think we see where this is going. First, exposition.

: Tell me about the Ship.

: What do you do here?

Yea, he has the dumb thing we need.


: What is the Cortex?

Oom is very impressed. Whatever. We're not here for exposition.

: I'd like that tour you offered.

Fucking hell. This sequence isn't unpleasant enough...yet...

: I found this lascar helm in the Bloom.

Anyway you have to touch the door to get him to do the tour.

So yea. The tour.

The tour is a fucking crisis. Everything goes to turn based battle mode, but we can't just attack the lascars to steal their shit.

The gimmick is that you want to keep asking the Pilot inane questions about stupid shit to tie him up before he sees you fucking with the door.

So your first instinct is going to be to send someone to fuck with the door while he's distracted.

This wall of text lets you know the door won't close, and now this turns into a big dumb. Remember, no one is trying to kill each other, so we can't actually use stealth or items.

So now that we're in the cortex room we can analyze the hat at least, right?

Ah. Of course. Ok, start the removal procedure.

Sure, fine, we'll do your stupid captcha.

So, we solved it, we can move to the next step, right?


So, can you guess what you have to do?

Yup. Go to the middle and, under direct observation from the repair guy and presumably the pilot, fuck around with the control panel in plain view of the lascar military.

There are three stages of this shit, while the pilot walks in a circle. Someone needs to make a skill check on the cortex, then they need to make a skill check on the panel to push the button all while keeping the pilot from noticing the door.

Once you complete step 3 you can analyze the hat.

Once you verify it of course.

Cool. Now we can fuck off!


Of course, Pilot guy abandons the tour if we leave him alone. Shit!

Every lascar in the place goes hostile, and they start spamming immobilization attacks so you can't just sneak out. They have good perception, too!

Seriously, these guys have functional laser weapons and gravity grenades. They could just...rule the Ninth World if they wanted to.

It's at this point I start breaking out all the cyphers. These guys will absolutely fuck you up because their lasers deal heavy damage and nasty status effects. Do not take them lightly.

Captain Janur goes down.

Matkina goes down.

I am on the verge of killing the last lascar and escaping when the game crashes my computer.

Decisions Lie Before Us!

As I have to do this whole shitty quest sequence over again, Vote!

Do we steal the nav computer, or leave it with the space guys and give Dracogen the Annulet? If we steal it, are we doing it sneakily or violently?

If we do it violently we can't get the space guys home.