The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 44: The Butthole of the Bloom

The Butthole Of The Bloom

When we last left our band of...protagonists...they got pulled into the Heart of the Bloom. The Bloom is the area the game developers were most fascinated by, and it's just another weird viscera dungeon that has transdimensional portals that open based on stupid trolley puzzles.

There are a lot of these damn things, and you can either take damage or use the Tides to force the Bloom into doing what you want it to do.

: Use the Magmatic Annulet to communicate with the Bloom-tongues.

: [Tidal Surge]: Channel the pain back into the Bloom-tongues.

I don't actually like all this psychic crap. Colin McComb is on record as saying that Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" inspired the Fifth Eye (and I would imagine a lot of the rest of the New Age psychic shit) but it's just unrelatable bullshit that doesn't relate to mental trauma at all.

Yea despite this being probably one of the game's bigger dungeons it's just a pile of words.

: [Intellect] Take control of the Bloom-Tongues

It's kind of amazing how they put this many words into what is just a glorified switch, that you also have a random chance of failing to flip.

What about this represents the mental behavior of a normal human being? I guess we got Four Whole XP!

: Send the combatants in the middle of this chamber to some other part of the Bloom.

They actually play the generic Maw portal animation sucking these guys away while a text box is open, proving that they can but they just don't want to.

: Try to sense what's happening outside this chamber.

: Reopen the portal to the Shrine of Chila.

: Break your connection to the tongues.

: You release your grip on the Annulet, and the voices of the Bloom-Tongues fade.

TheGreatEvilKing summarizes this crap posted:

: Ha ha ha, player! You want to flip the switch? Here's five text screens about psychic bullshit! Make an intellect check! Isn't this great, descriptive writing? Isn't it? ISN'T IT?

Translation: We didn't trust the art and audio departments to do their jobs, so here is a description of stuff that should be in the ambience.

They really think their writing is this beautiful, that it must be shown off.

There's a ton of dialogue that's here for basically flip switch/fight murden and get items. Wacky psychic power bullshit abounds. Let's skip all that and see what he drops, shall we?

The synth egg is a plot item we need to solve a puzzle. The Candy Dispenser is a little more interesting.

Hoo boy. Zeniel in the thread had a tale about kickstarter backer items - namely, that their idea for a bic pen people in the future thought was a poison dagger (because of the ink) was rejected for not being mysterious enough because nothing from modern day would survive.

This is a Furby pez dispenser. It's a damn Furby. Really.

This is exactly how a Furby behaves. I get it. It's kind of funny there's a Furby pez dispenser, I just think it's a bit inconsistent to say the funny Bic Pen poison dagger is bad, but include the RPG Codex monument and the Furby. Anyway, you can use it twice to get two not-Pez candies that each increase your intelligence by 1. Do this! I suspect this was partially intended as a counter for how the Bloom fucks us over later.

Oh, and if you're wondering, the candies are cyphers, so they do the magic thing where everything explodes if you have too many.

We can finally take it apart for the Life Support Module. I just saved you like five screens of text. You're welcome.

So two things stand out immediately. That weird flesh plant thing you can interact with for some tubing. That is needed to solve the "puzzle" of stopping the stomach acid flowing into that hole. The second is that, of course, this NPC is going to offer us yet another Trolley Problem.

: What happened to your eyes?

Is this supposed to be another descent into hell? I'm serious. This guy is dead because the Bloom ate him, right?

: Why are you standing here?

: [Raises Blue Tide] You ever think that standing near this thing is what's making you want to die?

Seriously, is this another hell? We already went to not-hell that was spiritually insignificant. This is a not-hell run by a not-god that provides not-divine revelation to worshipers. We're not going to actually focus on that in this supposedly thought-provoking game and just focus on flipping switches as a reward to reading more of Numenera's awful writing.

: Why do you want me to kill you?

So this is not the afterlife, it's just Jonah in the belly of the space whale? Maybe?

: What happens if I kill you?

It's weird, because it seems becoming one with the Bloom IS an afterlife, but we're not going to answer that at all. The game is presenting the Changing God and the Bloom as false gods, but they do provide an afterlife for those they favor (the Labyrinth and being absorbed, respectively). It never really wants to tackle the question of whether or not mortals can transcend their mortality or what a god really is, because again this is just another set up for a trolley problem. Here is a man. He has 20 pain units from being tortured by the Bloom. Is that enough pain to mercy kill him Y/N?

: You shouldn't be so willing to throw away your life.

: "Really", he says, with a scornful smile. A thread of blood spills from an eye socket, and he wipes it, leaving a blurred arc of crimson across his cheekbone. "My life is over, stranger. The Bloom is digesting me, and I can't escape. Nothing I do here will matter."


: [Raises Red, Silver Tides] You're a stone in the Bloom's gut. You're fighting back by surviving.

You know what? I'm tired of the game forcing these idiotic ethical dilemmas on us. This is my answer to this entire tedious Bloom section.

: Slash his throat with the Transdimensional Scalpel.

I mentioned earlier that the Scalpel is a garbage weapon, but its real utility lies in being able to bypass the Bloom's desperate attempt to interact with the developers' beloved question and just slash your way past Maws and other stupid garbage.

I don't know why they bother tracking such piddly shit XP rewards.

TheGreatEvilKing dialogue summary posted:

: Kill me! I am stuck being digested by this monster! It hurts! I want to die! It's been eating me for so long, and then it will absorb me for eternal torment!

: Are you sure? You could be resisting the Bloom just by surviving.

: No that is stupid. Get the trolley out.

: Ok, you know what? Fine. *cuts his throat with the transdimensional scalpel*

: Hooray!

The hamfisted trolley problem insertion is getting really, really old. Fortunately we are very near to the end of the game and we can figure out what terrible game I'm going to LP next for you guys.

This is part one of the puzzle to get into the Bloom's hole. We need to find something else to seal the little bridge and then we're set. There is of course an entire text screen of inserting the egg into the hole.

There's even a second screen of text stating the acid level has lowered!

It's like no one playtested the finished product.

On our way to go get the second item for this puzzle we run into a familiar face.

: [Tidal Surge] Take his pain on yourself.

It's weird how emotionless this sounds. This is how the game describes a man being devoured alive. It will spend reams of paper ineffectually describing how the characters appear, but if it wants to describe anything with dramatic impact it's just not able to conjure that imagery.

: I can offer you more, Artaglio. I can absorb you into my mind, if you'll let me. Better than all this.

: [Tidal Affinity][Raises Blue, Gold Tides] Try to draw Artaglio into the Labyrinth.

Remember, this act of descending into hell, taking the pain of a poor sinner, and then showing him the way to heaven has no spiritual or religious significance whatsoever. Now we absolutely want Artaglio's broken buff, so we are going to drink acid.

Drinking the acid gets us this message.

Now, this isn't instant death, we just need to drink the acid, for two points of damage every time. Imagine me clicking that same dialogue option while the Last Castoff's "I'm hurt" voice clips keep going off, and you'll get the true Numenera experience. We need to die so we can get to the Labyrinth.

: Talk to Artaglio.

: How are things here, Artaglio?

: Are you happy to be here?

: Tell me a story from your life, Artaglio.

It's another mystery the authors feel compelled to insert, but it suffers from overuse and a lack of impact on our characters or the narrative. Numenera!

: Do you have any other stories from your life?

: Share a drink and form a connection with Artaglio.

We literally just got one of the best abilities in the game. The only better ability in my opinion is the Breathes Shadow capstone, which makes you literally invulnerable in combat.

: Leave him alone.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Fuck you! You tricked me into getting eaten! You better make this right somehow!

: I will use my Tidal powers to take your pain like Jesus, but in a non-spiritually significant way!

: The pain! It is very painful! We have an entire text box describing the fundamental brokenness of this man, but we cannot bother to describe it other than resorting to unimaginative cliches!

: Well, that's not so bad. At least someone will remember me.

: Would you like entrance into the Kingdom of He - er, the Labyrinth?

: Yea that sounds cool. Is there booze?

: Rest in peace, my son.

: I must die for his sins. I will drink the acid water, that should kill me and let me enter the Labyrinth, right?

: You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage! You drink the water! Take 2 damage!

: Thus, with an annoying sound clip, I die!

: I am reborn! Immortal in the Kingdom!

: How is it?

: I feel like a ghost, and it's kinda blah here.

: Tell me about your life.

: It was cool, there were like women and fighting and stuff. Also a mysterious disappearing village! OoOoOoooOooo!

: If we share a drink, can I get your sweet buff?

: Sure.

: Score!

Look at this! This is really good! 20% to all damage, 10% Persuasion, a Willpower boost, and an initiative boost for the entire team if they hang around TLC.

In all seriousness the writing of this scene bugs me, because it just goes to show how this game wants to be a work of profound depth and just settles for the surface layer. We descend into hell, find a sinner, ease his pain with semi-divine powers, and let him live eternally in the afterlife the Changing God constructed. It raises some serious questions. If the Changing God can do all the stuff a real god can do, like create life and grant immortality, does that make him a god? If the Changing God isn't a god, what differentiates a real god from the Changing God? Can a god even coexist with the science of the Numenera setting? If the Changing God is a god, do we have the right to judge him? I will grant The Genocide brings the last point up, but so far the game is determined not to interact with the questions it raises as much as just throwing more trolleys in our face. Here is Artaglio. If you give Artaglio to the door you can get past it and get a sweet buff. You can choose not to kill Artaglio and not get the buff. What does one life matter?

Once again we rise from the dead. I just want to point out that we've been collecting lost souls and giving them an afterlife all game, from Seria to Choi to Inifere and now Artaglio. Anyway you slice it that is a role with a lot of religious significance. Why is this set in Numenera?

You need to navigate through all the text boxes here to get the next plot coupon to solve the puzzle and slide into the Bloom's hole.

Thank you, Callistege. It's very mysterious. I also do not actually care. It's another Numenera mystery that will never be solved, and quite frankly I know none of this is going to be resolved, and I just don't care. It's a giant alien.

Really, the attitude I'm getting from these kinds of reactions is the attitude of a five year old proudly presenting their finger painting, and all the adults in the room cooing and putting it on the fridge. Wow, it's a generic sci-fi thing, but it's filtered through a nerd's idea of how a person in medieval times would see it!

Again, it's just an alien. In a sci-fi game. XCOM 2 is full of aliens, and it doesn't feature Lily Shen running around in a panic going "Wow! Aliens! Who would have thought it! Aliens! Wow!"

Yes, I'm skipping a lot of these text screens. You're welcome.

This asshole describes himself as a "life-taker" and tries to threaten us, backs down when confronted, and is very sad because he can't do more murder. You saw that "flat, affectless" sentence, do you really need more Numenera writing? No. No you don't.

This is another switch that opens a door to an optional area, but it takes nine text boxes to flip. Really. Even the dungeon crawls are pretentiously overwritten in this garbage game.

What you're supposed to do here is get one of those two loser ghosts here, because this Maw feeds on despair and those two are very sad, and which will you sacrifice? What does one life matter? It's time to ride the trolley! Yay!

Fortunately, the developers gave me the means to bypass all this shit and I whip out the Transdimensional Scalpel. Matkina has something to say about this.

: Yes.

I'm always amazed at how dull and lifeless the prose makes everything. They managed to make cutting through a monster's mouth with an energy knife boring and emotionless.

The Maw has chosen a truly fiendish way to punish us by making us endure Numenera combat. Unfortunately for it, its black demon seed monsters have 40 HP and Callistege deals 39 damage in an area with her Maelstrom.

This is again ruined by the Maw monsters' ability to teleport people as a reaction to getting hit, which doesn't really add a layer of complexity to the battle so much as just adding more animations to sit through dully waiting for combat to be over.

I apologize for the Nvidia overlay, by the way, but I'm not going back and re-recording this section. Sorry!

It's cumulative per Maw hit too, so Callistege is going to get hit 3 times, but these assholes are going to be left at 1 hp. Let's skip the rest of this.

This is another skill check switch that takes multiple text boxes to open a Maw.

This gets The Last Castoff up to Tier 5, which is kind of a weird Tier.

This is the tier where you can start looting abilities from other classes. We end up taking Press Advantage, which gives us +30% critical chance against enemies we debuff. We're debuffing enemies so we can use our health drain on them, and the rest of these abilities are kinda crap. Plague spirits shows up on the Nano list, and no, we can't get Onslaught or anything like that. Don't be ridiculous.

Going through the Maw basically lets us into a treasure cache. The hammer is a heavy weapon that no one in our party can use.

There's an armor upgrade for our half-bald protagonist, and...yea. Leaving the Maw leads to yet another inconsquential sequence of text boxes.

I'm going to show this in full because I want to show off, once again, how ineptly the game handles its themes.

: Examine the brain.

: [Tidal Surge] Restore activity to the brain.

Yea, the Tides can raise the dead. Remember how that was a whole theme with the Changing God trying to resurrect his daughter? I remember. Is this going to be significant in any way?

It's a start, I guess. What can we do?

: Try to scan the brain's thoughts.

Not pictured: Me slack-jawed clicking "continue" to get through the five screens of Numenera prose.

: Examine the nerve clusters at the base of the brain.

: [Perception, Lore: Natural] Try to determine what parts of the creature's body are controlled by each nerve cluster.

Ok, this is kind of an interesting puzzle, right? We can move the big monster and get somewhere new, or get loot?

: Manipulate the shoulder nerves.

: Manipulate the back nerves.

Ok, this is going to do something, right?

: Manipulate the intestine nerves.


: Step away from the brain.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: There is a great dead monster here. Will you use the mystical powers of the Tides to raise it from the grave?

: Sounds good. What can it tell me?

: It was a big monster! It wanted to eat the bloom! The bloom was not tasty, then the little Bloom monsters killed it! It is very tragic! Want to try manipulating the monster's nervous system?

: Huh, I could have sworn studying the Tides to raise the dead was thematically important to this narrative somehow. I guess I was wrong. Ok, I move the shoulders and back, I guess? Maybe this is a cool puzzle?

: Nothing happens. Try the intestines?

: Sure, why not. I'm sure this is going to be stupid.

: Big monster goes poopy! Ha ha ha! Plop! Ha ha ha ha! Get it? It's funny because there's poop!

: I...fuck this.


I just want to point out the Oasis of M'ra Jollos, the fourth area they had in the kickstarter that they actually made the stretch goals for, was cut because the developers thought the Bloom was too interesting and expanded this area. Thus they broke yet another kickstarter promise for such gems as Big Monster Goes Poopy.

It's such a weird tonal whiplash too, as we go from Artaglio's death and rebirth in our mind to Big Monster Goes Poopy. If you'd had Callistege feed one of the Callisteges to the Maw to get in here, she has a whole scene where the eaten Callistege refuses to rejoin her because she's finally free and doing something for herself, and then Callistege wonders if all the orphans she experimented on were worth it. Really. Then we break this up with Poopy Monster time. I get it. You want comic relief when things get too serious, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Mercutio's dick jokes are funny because it's in character for him as a dumbass teenager. This is just not funny.

You can rest in here. Callistege isn't happy about it. In the alcove above we would have met other Callistege who would give us some insight into her character. By doing the robot battle and/or the jar of Iron Wind sidequests we actively locked ourselves out of Callistege characterization, which was rather thin on the ground to begin with. Great storytelling, developers!

We use the sealant spray. It gives us a text box about how the acid water is blocked and then plays the animation. You all know the drill.

We have to sit through a text box, click "yes," and then sit through a description of us falling down the hole while they fade to black. I'm not pasting all that, you're welcome.

Welcome to level two of the Bloom. I'm breaking the update here, because this is pretty dense and we have a lot of plot to get through next update.