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TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016









TheGreatEvilKing, What is This?

Encased: A Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG is a roleplaying game inspired by the first two Fallouts and the Strugatsky Brothers' Roadside Picnic, more the latter as far as story goes. The developers describe it thusly:

Steam Page posted:

A tactical sci-fi RPG set in an alternative 1970's, where an enormous and inexplicable artifact –the Dome– is discovered in a remote desert. Fight enemies, explore the anomalous wasteland, level up your character, join one of the forces in the ruined world.

Oh god, is this game dogshit? I saw those ATOM, Stygian, and Numenera LPs and those were terrible!

No, actually, I really like this game! The writing is good and effective, and the developers know how to employ both their writers and artists together to convey effects much better than either alone. The mechanics are a little janky, but they never really screw you over, and the game is very true to the spirit of Roadside Picnic - which also inspired games such as Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl - while being original and having its own things to say. Heck, I even bought the five dollar kickstarter backer reward DLC because I liked the game so much. Granted, I've only beaten it once - which puts me in the top 10% of players if Steam Achievements are to be believed - but this is a genuinely good game, and I hope you'll experience it with me!

I've never read Roadside Picnic. What's it about?

Roadside Picnic is about the discovery of six anomalous Zones that a bunch of aliens left behind, and humanity's - or more accurate, Red the stalker's - struggle to come to terms with how little they understand. The titular picnic is summarized by one of the characters, a Nobel-Prize winning scientist, as follows.

Roadside Picnic posted:

A picnic. Picture a forest, a country road, a meadow. Cars drive off the country road into the meadow, a group of young people get out carrying bottles, baskets of food, transistor radios, and cameras. They light fires, pitch tents, turn on the music. In the morning they leave. The animals, birds, and insects that watched in horror through the long night creep out from their hiding places. And what do they see? Old spark plugs and old filters strewn around... Rags, burnt-out bulbs, and a monkey wrench left behind... And of course, the usual mess—apple cores, candy wrappers, charred remains of the campfire, cans, bottles, somebody’s handkerchief, somebody’s penknife, torn newspapers, coins, faded flowers picked in another meadow.

This is referring to the alien technology left in the Zone, which ranges from perpetual motion machines to a rumored wish granting device - as well as people coming to terms with mutated children, relatives rising from the dead, and people who leave areas near the zone causing catastrophic accidents by their mere presence. We'll go more into the book as we go through the game.

Alright, So What's Happening In This Game?

This is an alternative universe game set in 1970s where a Dome full of weird alien artifacts, anomalies, and other insanity was discovered. The people of the earth put aside their differences to end the Cold War and the Vietnam war and establish the CRONUS foundation, which sent people into the Dome to figure out what the hell was going on and also get some of those super sweet alien relics that did crazy stuff. Also, people discovered how to use psychic powers. You are a new CRONUS employee going into the Dome to work in this wacky environment full of alien technology - oh, and it's a one way trip, because you can't leave. Have fun!

That Sounds Great! Why Would This Have A Bad Ending?

The CRONUS corporation is named after Cronus/Kronos the Greek god. You might have heard of him, he fathered Zeus and the rest of the Olympians that show up in Hades while you awkwardly try to feel out if Megaera is down for, uh, a private punishment session. Those goons familiar with Greek Myth will remember what Cronus is most famous for: devouring his own children.



We will go into this farther as the game goes on. Let's begin, shall we?





This is all dumped on us before we get to character creation, by the way.

Opening Narration posted:

We still don't know what it is.

An alien city? Some kind of testing ground or storage?

Whatever it is, no living thing trapped under the Dome can escape it.



You know, for a corporate office, those are some heavily armed and armored guards. Yes, that person on a stretcher IS wearing a prison uniform. We'll get to that in a bit.

Opening Narration posted:

The major powers created the CRONUS megacorporation to develop and explore the Dome.

Its secrets became a lucrative business.

The Spire Station was built on top of the Dome



Opening Narration posted:

The city of Crystal Sands grew at the foot of the Dome, eventually becoming a major transportation hub.





Opening Narration posted:

swarmed recruiting centres around the globe, seeking jobs at CRONUS.

You were one of those people.

In 1976, your application was approved, and you went under the Dome, towards the future.



Audience Participation!

We need an intrepid CRONUS employee to go under the Dome and have exciting adventures in this wonderful land of company scrip and hostile alien anomalies. Here's what we've got.



We need a Name, Age, Gender (Male, Female, or Other), Body Type (Man, Woman), and a Portrait. (These are the game's terms, but we have one trans companion for what it's worth). We have a few options for portraits here:







I am also accepting custom portraits! Submit them in the thread as an image file of 256x256. If we want to play as the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert, why not?



We need a combat skill. Our options are Light Weapons (pistols/smgs), Heavy Weapons (Machine Guns, Grenade Launchers, and a few exotic weapons), High-Tech Weapons (lasers and other nonsense), Melee Weapons (mostly improvised tools and knives but there are a few wacky melee weapons out there), or Psionics (in electric, telepathy/telekinesis, fire, and ice varieties). I've personally only played a psionic character to completion, but we will start the game with a DLC heat laser. From what I've seen we can make anything work.

Lastly, we need to figure out what wing of the corporation we're in. There are five, and while they all favor specific weapons if we want to make an Orange Wing psychic we can make it work.

Orange Wing

Character Creation Screen posted:

Every person deserves a second chance, especially those willing to make amends for their crimes by working for the betterment of humanity. Orange Wing was created especially for these people. Its employees are everywhere, providing every kind of domestic service, from cleaning and delivery to manufacturing and construction. There's a lot of work to be done under the Dome, and every employee of Orange Wing will be find[sic] a way to make their own contribution.

Orange wing gets a bonus to deftness, carrying capacity, and crime skills. These guys are pretty much exactly what you think they are, second-class prison laborers who have to do all the dirty jobs while being kept under armed guard and forced to use separate elevators and poo poo. Remember how we talked about how CRONUS was bad? The game wants you to build Oranges for knives.

White Wing

Character Creation Screen posted:

It is often said that the time of great discoveries has passed. Preposterous! Just like Galileo and Newton, White Wing employees are launching a new era of science. They represent the best minds of humanity, working diligently in laboratories equipped with the most modern tech to uncover the mysteries of an ancient civilization.

Scientists who favor energy weapons and get bonuses to intelligence, science and medicine. Science, unsurprisingly, favors upgrading energy weapons but we can make a pistol scientist if we really want to.

Blue Wing

Character Creation Screen posted:

The Dome laid dormant for centuries and came to life only with the arrival of people. Today, this region is a gigantic (30,000 square kilometers) construction site with thousands of cars, snow white cities, and a network of motorways spanning the inhospitable desert. CRONUS is rightfully proud of its world class infrastructure, built from the ground up thanks to the hard work and knowledge of the employees of Blue Wing.

Blue Wing are the hands-on technicians. They get an experience bonus, guts, and bonus tech skills used for repairing things and upgrading guns. The game wants you to use blunt weapons, but once again, if we want to we can hand out a machine gun to our angry tech and be just fine.

Silver Wing

Character Creation Screen posted:

Determine the first priority out of a thousand. Find experts who can suss out the best solutions to every problem. Equip workers with the right tools and ship the necessary materials where they need to go. Every base build and every successful expedition is a testament to the hard work and deep wisdom of Silver Wing managers.

Silver Wing are the managers, but instead of doing hard work and having deep wisdom their encouraged skillset is more about prioritizing white collar crime. I'll say it right now, Silver Wing are the upper caste of the employees and we get things like admin passwords and the ability to call in bullshit favors as management. Silver Wing get bonuses to psionics, extra skill points for showing up, and influence (persuasion et al). Notably, the influence tree in this game has a lot of skills to help people get away with crimes. My only playthrough so far is as Silver Wing, so I know it the best, but I'm perfectly happy to try something new as well!

Black Wing

Character Creation Screen posted:

Using the most powerful weapons and advanced military equipment, the employees of Black Wing protect humanity from the myriad hazards of the Dome. Black Wing's command is made up of the best officers from the most highly trained armies in the world, who coordinate their subordinates to provide maximum security for everyone from every Wing under the Dome.

The Black Wing get a bunch of bonuses to using conventional weapons. This is also corporate speak, because a large portion of the Black Wing's job is keeping the Oranges in line while also sallying forth to fight mutants, undead, and rogue former employees. Again, if we want to be a Black Wing with a laser instead that is absolutely fine.

Suggest characters below! The combination of traits that gets the highest vote proceeds to the magical land of capitalism and aliens!

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BraveLittleToaster
May 5, 2019


My curiosity is piqued. The premise seems interesting from what I've heard, and what you're presenting. This game seems like it knows what its doing, at least. Compared to ATOM

I'm putting up Jonah, a Male and a Man body, using the sixth portrait on the male portrait list. Sporting some psionics and from the Blue Wing.

BisbyWorl
Jan 12, 2019

Knowledge is pain plus observation.




White Wing are scientists in a sci-fi setting, so there's a 90% chance that they've racked up some heinous experiments in the name of progress.
Silver Wing are the execs, so gently caress 'em.
Black Wing are the cops, and ACAB.

I'm thinking a Blue Wing specializing in High-Tech Weapons. A working joe taking all management's fancy toys for themselves.

VolticSurge
Jul 23, 2013

Just your friendly neighborhood photobomb raptor.





I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

Android Blues
Nov 22, 2008



VolticSurge posted:

I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

It's gotta be this. The time period is even right!

Viola the Mad
Feb 13, 2010


Dr. Hatshepsut Wright, Hattie for short, age 35, Female, Woman. Portrait is top row, second from the left, the black lady with the glasses. High-Tech weapons, White Wing.

Born to a pair of hoteps, little Hattie Wright rebelled against her parents' bullshit with a hard-nosed pursuit of SCIENCE. SCIENCE has driven her straight through the school system into a full scholarship at Stanford, a doctorate at MIT, a post-doc at NASA, and now the Dome. As she packs her bags for her one-way trip, Hattie reflects on the irony of it all: her childhood refuge from her parents' crackpot conspiracies has led her to the most crackpot place on the planet. But SCIENCE hasn't failed her yet, and so into the Dome she goes.

Nyaa
Jan 7, 2010
Like, Nyaa.

:colbert:


I played many Fallout-like games in recent time (wasteland 2, atom, underrail, etc) and this really is the one that done it right with its own innovation and inspiration.

I would prefer to see low Int speech run that this game self-promoted so hard about, but it’s also nice to read through them with more context from the novel.

Edit : voting for Dell. Melee is as powerful as gun in this game.

Nyaa fucked around with this message at 12:26 on Dec 8, 2021

BraveLittleToaster
May 5, 2019


VolticSurge posted:

I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

Ahh, heck, why not? That's a lovable face. Changing my votes to this.

That Italian Guy
Jul 25, 2012

We need the equivalent of the shrimp = small pastry avatar, but for ambulances and their mysteries now.

VolticSurge posted:

I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:
+1 for Engineering!

Tombot
Oct 21, 2008


I remember in one of the trailers for this that you could go through the entire game completely in stealth and with nobody seeing or interacting with you, you'd even get a special ending just for doing so. As amazing as that might be, I'd think it would make more sense just to play it normally.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Let's be the world's "best" boss as a Silver Wing Psionic.

idhrendur
Aug 20, 2016



Oh hey, one you like. That's fortunate, I had to stop reading the Atom one because it was just too much.

itry
Aug 23, 2019






VolticSurge posted:

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

Nyaa posted:

I would prefer to see low Int speech run that this game self-promoted so hard about, but it’s also nice to read through them with more context from the novel.

Joke entry for joke playthrough


Name: Mmph Mmmph
Age: 33
Gender: Other
Body Type: Woman
Wing: Orange
Combat Skill: Heavy Weapons
Portrait:

disposablewords
Sep 12, 2021


Since this has a classic SF inspiration, I'll propose James diGriz, occasionally known as "Slippery Jim," a 30-something man (with male body type) in the Orange Wing who doesn't like killing but has a fondness for High-Tech Weapons and related nonsense when he has to get out of a bind. Though he'd much rather talk or sneak his way through a situation. Default Male Portraits, Second Row, First Column.

dervival
Apr 23, 2014


VolticSurge posted:

I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

Ah what the hell, another vote here for Dell.

Glad to see you're LPing a game you actually like, TGEK. I know Tyranny was close, but you definitely need a palate cleanser after the garbage that is ATOM.

peachsynapse
Dec 22, 2007

The sea monsters appreciate your good taste.

disposablewords posted:

Since this has a classic SF inspiration, I'll propose James diGriz, occasionally known as "Slippery Jim," a 30-something man (with male body type) in the Orange Wing who doesn't like killing but has a fondness for High-Tech Weapons and related nonsense when he has to get out of a bind. Though he'd much rather talk or sneak his way through a situation. Default Male Portraits, Second Row, First Column.

Stainless Steel Rst seconded!

HereticMIND
Nov 4, 2012
Probation
Can't post for 2 hours!


VolticSurge posted:

I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

I have NO idea what ANY of the words in the introduction post mean, but this guy right here has my vote.

Jesenjin
Nov 12, 2011


VolticSurge posted:

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

I just wanna see how this will end up.

Dirk the Average
Feb 7, 2012

"This may have been a mistake."


VolticSurge posted:

I've heard good things about this game, even if the latter half seems to be contentious.

Anyway, submitting a 30 year old Blue Winger named Dell Conagher, a Man with the Man body type, specializing in Melee Weapons like his trusty wrench.

He's using the following custom portrait:

This has my vote as well.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016







We're going with Dell once I find the time to put up the update.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016







Management In Action

Welcome! Last time on Encased, goons voted to make our character a Team Fortress 2 reference.



We're going to be playing on Classic, which honestly is not that hard.



Here is our intrepid hero.



He is a master of beating people with wrenches, and we hope to one day expand into making wacky contraptions like the Armageddon grenade.



He is also skilled in science and technology, chiefly because they allow us to upgrade weapons and we are all about that.



We're grabbing the Prodigy trait, because it gives a whopping +4 brains at the expense of gaining 50% less XP. You get XP in this game by grabbing everything not nailed down, and we really need 10 brains for our future build (melee autocrits again).

Most of the traits in the game have at least some use and can be built around, I won't go into them unless there's interest.



Off we go into the wonderful land of corporate management and mutations!





Ignore the message from Mr. Kingsley, it's just informing us we have the pay2win items. We're in this transportation pod going down into the Dome with five other new employees. May as well chat them up.



I made a big deal out of the Silver Wing being corporate looters and whatnot, but the vast majority you interact with are just generic middle managers, administrators, and HR people like Monty here.

: He glances down at your badge.

The Cronus Icon will be our narrator for this LP.

: Ah, it's you! I found your file extremely interesting. And your CV - wonderful. Inspiring, really.



We have the option to either bribe Monty so he likes us more or barter with him. None of these guys have much so we're just going to chat.

Another thing I like about the game's writing is that it never shoehorns your actual dialog - you get general responses like "ask what he saw in your file", but you can fill it in with as much snark or whatever you want.

: Ask him what he saw in your file.



Interesting.

: [Blue Wing] Admit you're fond of technology, comics and sci-fi, and that you've dreamed of finding yourself in such a place.

: James smiles condescendingly.

: Yeah, my little schoolboy nephew's the same. He loves all those bizarre space travelers. Like Captain What's-his-name... Hyena? No matter. You two would get along well.

: An uncomfortable silence rises between you, and Monty abruptly changes the subject.



We leave.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Monty James, Silver Wing! I abused my position of authority to snoop on your file! You're super qualified!

: Anything interesting?

: Well, you were super low in the queue but you got bumped up to only a 16 month waiting period! Not much beyond that... why are you here?

: I'm a massive goddamn nerd and this is sci-fi in real life.

: Ha ha you're like a child!

: :mad:

: Uh...poo poo! Look at the storm! It has all kinds of green lightning! Is that normal?



Let's talk to this guy.



Oh great, he's giving off Gift of Fear vibes.

: Ask him how he ended up in prison.

: The Orange's face stretches into a broad smile, baring his dentures to the world.

: Like everyone, duh. In a black car, under guard.



: Ask about the bracelets on his wrists.

: Quentin raises his hands to examine the devices.

Encased unfortunately does suffer from the excess narration common to most RPGs in the genre. That was an entire screen.

: They call 'em "Humane Handcuffs" How 'bout that? Truth is, there ain't nothing humane about 'em - they zap you real hard the moment you get your hands on a gun. But they sure look nice.

: Bisley lowers his hands again and smirks.



Away we go.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: This guy has a shiny new prison uniform, and while his expression is seemingly friendly you are getting MAJOR Gift of Fear vibes.

: What are you in for?

: Lol.

: What's with the bracelets?

: Oh, these? These are "Humane Handcuffs" that zap us if we pick up a gun, lol!



: She glances at you and offers her hand in a businesslike manner.



: Ask her what's so dangerous about this Orange.

: I just follow orders. Even if his crime was embezzlement, I have to keep him cuffed. Those are the rules.

: Olafsson shrugs in a sharp, mechanical way, as if racking the slide of an assault rifle.

I do like the metaphor.



TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Don't turn your back on him.

: What'd he do?

: Corporate policy says every Orange needs to stay cuffed during transit.

: Elsa shrugs in a way that lets you know she is anticipating violence!

: He could be a serial killer for all I know, drat Silvers didn't tell me poo poo!



We are sadly not nearly cool enough to pantomime across language barriers with our fellow engineer.



: We've crossed the border. No way back now. Even traveling the funicular wasn't so... thrilling.

: The White presses small hands to her blushing cheeks.



So this is a train car right now, and we are literally descending from the top of the Dome down into a hell from which there is no escape. Glorious!



: [Perception 5] Ask Kimura if she sees the dark stain on the outer surface of the Dome.

: Kimura peers through the glass in the direction you indicate.

: Oh, that's the aircraft that crashed into the Dome during the first expedition. I believe that's a wing fragment, and there's some white canvas. What do you think it is, maybe a parachute?

We haven't even gotten here and already in the real world - under the Dome - we're casually discussing mass death events like plane crashes. Compare this with the intro - the Dome ended all wars, and the people of the world came together to exploit its sick alien technology to advance human science immeasurably.



Kimura is pretty oblivious.

: Ask what she meant by, "We've crossed the border."

: Tomoko shoots you a surprised look.

: You are familiar with the details of the briefing, right? To put it simply, the Dome is a selectively permeable environment.



: [Science 30] Propose a hypothesis: the lack of fertility in women under the Dome is related to field activity.

: Kimura listens without interrupting, as if considering your every word.

: It's quite possible... I would like to set up an experiment to test this in practice...

: She cuts off abruptly.



Well poo poo even I picked up on that one.

: Offer to help her test her hypothesis before it's too late.



REJECTED!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Oh my god! We're in the Dome now, we can't go back! I'm so hype! Anyway, I bet you're wondering why no children are born under the Dome, and I have a theory, but I'm not sharing yet.

: Do you see the stain over there, on the outside of the Dome?

: Oh, yeah, it's a crashed aircraft from one of the first expeditions. I bet they all died trying to get out. Huh. Meh, whatever. EEEEEEEEE ALIEN SCIENCE EEEEEEEEE!

: What do you mean, we've crossed the border?

: Jeez, didn't you watch the briefing? We're stuck in the Dome for, erm, an indefinite period of time, and if we try to leave, we die. But we can send objects out!

: You know, I bet women can't have kids because there's a tachyon field or some poo poo.

: Interesting hypothesis. Maybe we could set up an experiment, and - uh - :blush:

: I volunteer as tribute.

: No thanks.



Well, we're stuck in the Dome forever now, may as well leave the transport pod.



I actually like these little segments. Yeah, it's a lot of functional narration, but the art sets it apart from just reading the prose.



Granted, the narration can be unhelpful. Can't win em all!



Of course, we see the generic warehouses and observation deck while the art shows us what we should really be worried about - some kind of purple tornado looking thing.



This is a major plot point. Remember how the introduction promised us this?

The Sick rear end Crystal City That In No Way Exists posted:



We've been tricked! At least we'll be employed at least.



Eh, it's some boring weather poo poo, maybe the Forefathers left a spaceship pad!



: Stay where you are, trying to see if you can spot the mysterious Forefather's structures, until landing.







Alright. We haven't even stepped into Concord station, and the game has told us a lot with just four NPCs and a look out the window. Let's step back a bit, shall we?



We know from these four characters - in the tutorial zone - that:

-CRONUS actively lied about the conditions under the Dome to convince people to come live in the cool cities
-The Orange Wing is made up of convicted criminals who are kept in line with the threat of violence and must be constantly kept under guard (contrary to the official CRONUS line of rehabilitation and second chances)
-We're stuck under the Dome, but also no children can be born under the Dome, so you can never start a family and the population is only increasing due to the constant influx of people seeking CRONUS jobs

Great!

We'll compare it to Roadside Picnic for a minute. Roadside Picnic doesn't have a massive megacorporation, it instead has the Zone (which is its equivalent to the Dome) which is officially studied by the Institute, a scientific organization. The protagonist of the novel is a "stalker" named Red who enters the Zone illegally to find and smuggle out alien artifacts. The government does not approve of this, so the military surrounds the Zone with orders to shoot at anyone unauthorized who is caught inside.

Here, CRONUS is given carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want. We'll see more as we go through the game.



: A badge reading "Ludovico Nuzzi, Scientific Analyst, Export Department" dangles loosely on his clean uniform, which still smells pungently of washing powder.



: Take the binoculars and look where he's pointing.



That looks pretty bad, like maybe we should go nowhere near it.





: Ask him what it is precisely that you're looking at.



Well, that's just great.



: Ask him what "Scientific Analyst, Export Department" means.

: The scientist looks blankly at you, then down at his lab coat.

: Ahhh, this! This!

: He lets out a blaring laugh.

: Ludovico points at the building behind him.

: I work in Concord Station, categorizing relics! My job is to classify them by rarity. Then the Blues package them, Silvers issue the documentation, and Oranges move them to the cargo capsule. Just like the one you arrived in!

So this man is a scientific expert on the Dome who can tell us nothing about the magical storm message. Great.





: Tell him you need to go.

: Nuzzi looks from you to the capsule, and to the landing terminal entrance.

: He flings his arms up.

: Oh, mi scusi! Excuse me, I'm so sorry! You'd better get going or you'll be late for check-in! Your colleagues are already inside. And the storm is growing stronger...

: Yeah, the storm is growing stronger...

: The White mutters in frustration, eyes glued to his binoculars, which is fixed on the spinning whirl of clouds.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, take a look at this! Here, use my binoculars!

: You look through the binoculars and see some kind of screwed up green tornado! Maybe it's trying to communicate?

: Yeah, if you analyze it in the red and blue spectrum it's totally a message! Maybe?

: Seriously, what the hell is this?

: gently caress if I know!

: What exactly do you do around here?

: Oh! I analyze relics by rarity, so we can sell them to the outside world. Look, it's not great, but we gotta make a living. Oh, I'm sorry! You'd better go or you'll be late for check in! Yeah, that freak storm is definitely getting stronger...



In we go.



Incidentally he's not wrong, if we take more than 24 hours to complete the tutorial the station goes hostile.



I keep showing off these loading screens, because we haven't even gotten to the tutorial and the game makes it clear the contrast between the official CRONUS position of the Dome as a cornucopia of wonders for the taking, and the actual experience of the Dome as an inescapable prison filled with weird anomalies and other nonsense.





: The employee glances at you indifferently. His upper lip is ever so slightly curled in contempt.

: All new employees must register first thing. Come up to the desk, please.

: The nameplate on the desk tells you you're talking with "Dean Rayhet, Administrator"

: The administrator slaps himself on the forehead.

: I almost forgot the regulation pre-registration greeting! Just a second.





: The administrator clears his throat and continues.

: By joining our company, you chose the path of science and progress. You are among mankind's best, and we ask that you live up to this.

: Dean squints down at the monitor.

: ...deserve this title! Do your job honestly, obey the law, respect your colleagues, and...

: The music fades, and the administrator finishes his speech.

: ...and together we will build the best possible future for all mankind!



: Say you're ready and begin the registration.



This is really just a flavor thing, so we go with 2.

: Pass him a note upon which you've written out your information in advance.

: The administrator squints at the paper in his outstretched hand before setting it next to the keyboard and entering the information into the database.



Huh. Is there something that makes us special we don't know about?

: Dean snaps the docking port of your pass to a recess in the casing of his computer.

: The administrator returns your selectrone.

: Now you have first level clearance for a Blue Wing employee. You have access to Storage, the repair bays, and various workshops. Your selectrone also has a built in universal key that opens the hatches accessing the air shafts.



: Say you'll be satisfied with the short version.

: Rayhet snorts.

: To make it short, get your uniform from Storage, your weapons from the Armory, pass the psi abilities test, and complete your weapons training in the Training Zone. Then learn how to use the scanner, avoid anomalies, and properly catalogue anything you observe. Last, go to the waiting room and wait for the bus to Magellan.



: Respond that you have no more questions.

: Rayhet claps his hands in satisfaction.

: Great.

: He reaches for the tape recorder, but thinks better of it.

: Protocol calls for a little welcoming preamble but dash it all, that's nonsense. Welcome to Concord Station!



This doesn't get used a lot, honestly.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Come on up and register or whatever.

: Oh, one moment, I need to say the regulation greeting. I have the metronome and music here... right! Welcome to our totally ethical company, where we will hold you to the highest standards to make a better future for all mankind or some poo poo. Give me your info... and you're in! Go do the rest of the tutorial stuff, than welcome to Magellan station!

We get a message in the data tab telling us to do the tutorial stuff. However, even here, there are sidequests - and because Dell has a -50% experience penalty thanks to me building him to stack stupid amounts of damage modifiers late game, we're going to go do them.



The first is that our nerd hating acquaintance Monty James apparently is an unperson and didn't get registered. We can help him out.



While I unironically love option 2, we're going to register Monty as a Silver Wing employee because you can always use friends in high places. The rest of our options are just reading CRONUS propaganda, so we'll pass.



Maybe Monty's not such a bad guy after all.



Looting a trashcan reveals the currency of the game - Combonds! Combonds are literally company scrip, because what are you going to do, leave? CRONUS is the only employer under the Dome and they employ a legion of ex-military personnel. Good luck, idiot!



We can also kick open Monty's suitcase he left behind and no one cares. Sucker!

Our next guy is a shopkeeper who gives us equipment. I'm not going to paste all his dialogue, but I want you to contrast these.





Dammit. He also gives us our DLC boots and heat laser, so it's not a total loss.



The heat laser is unique in that you can use energy pistol skills with it but it does heat damage instead of energy. Given that this game is very much about swapping damage types to hit the lowest resistance on all kind of nonsense, this is a lot better than people give it credit for. Probably not worth five dollars, but no one ever accused me of fiscal responsibility.



This is kind of an important background conversation for reasons we won't see for a while.





Man, it's been less than a minute since Dean Rayhet gave us the world's least impassioned speech on how following laws is good and this guy's already pressuring poor Kat to commit fraud.



Ah. Of course.









It's corruption all the way down, and did I mention CRONUS has a chokehold on supplies coming into the Dome?







Katarzyna addressing this guy as "Mr. Krachkov" should make it clear who's got the power here.



We go pick up our weapon from the armory.





She makes fun of your weapon choices if you don't pick some kind of firearm, and if we ask her about the baton's drawbacks -



Onward!



I also realize that the heat pistol having a 600% crit mod will make it do wonders as a backup weapon for us. There's actually some synergy between the melee and energy weapon trees, if we can find the skill points.



This guy gives us poo poo for having a low psyche score so we're crap at psionics but gives us a free psi-glove as well. We won't use it, but I can think of at least one companion who will benefit. If you are a psychic it's worth trading with this guy to get all four of the psi gloves to unlock all the powers.



This man gives us a lockpicking tutorial. He doesn't have much of importance to our narrative, unless you ask him about fixing hab pods.



Do you get it yet?



This lady has a corporate presentation. If you have a high influence you can tutor her, you can also shove her away and she starts crying (and no one cares).



This guy tells us to go in and do the combat tutorial against a bunch of holograms.



I'll go over combat when it's more relevant. These guys literally cannot damage us. Every weapons skill gets a set of special moves that you unlock as you go up in skill level, but honestly 99% of the time you're spamming the basic attack unless you're setting up a combo.



:toot:



This man is important to what the game is trying to say, so you get his full dialogue.

: The man turns at your footsteps. He's holding a paper clipboard and a pencil.

: His shimmering silver badge reads, "Sebastian Van Ulden".

: He glances from you to the glistening watch on his wrist.

: I want us to respect one another's time. Please speak loudly, clearly, and to the point. You must be the newcomer I was told about. Nice to meet you.



: Greet him and say you're here for your briefing.

: The scientist puts the clipboard aside, raises his watch for a closer look and sets the timer.

: He shows you his watch dial.

: According to the rules pertaining to this briefing, I have to touch on a large number of topics. Therefore I will do so very briefly. Do not interrupt me. When I'm finished, I'll answer your questions. Within regulations, of course.

: Sebastian produces his handheld and clicks some buttons.

: I checked your scanner. It's working and is connected to the MINERVA database. Every scan will earn you CRONUS or Forefathers' knowledge points.

: The instructor watches you with displeasure.

: Are you listening? Scan everything that might be of scientific interest. First of all anomalies. They could be dangerous. Make sure to always have medication with you.



Yeah, it's, uh... exactly like STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. To be fair, they have the same source material and Encased is a much different game than STALKER.



He calls you an idiot for most of these questions, except...

: Ask for a list of useful medications for researching anomalies.

: You'll need some one-use stimulator injectors, bandages to stop bleeding, and antiradiation agents and radioprotectors, including ARAD-3.

: The White ticks these off on his fingers.



: Say that you have no more questions and you're ready to proceed with practice.

: The scientist glances at his watch again.

: You're within the time limit for questions. The next step is training in the artificial ecozone.

: He casts one finger on the button in preparation to start the timer.

: You're going to go downstairs and scan relics. I will be monitoring your progress. Please note: there are several radioactive anomalies in the ecozone. These are the same conditions you'll be working in the field. Radioactive zones and relics are quite common under the Dome.

Wait, poo poo, let me go buy the helmet and gloves now!

: He smoothly extracts a jar of yellow pills from his pocket.

: Here's your ARAD-3. And one more thing. Just a moment...



I run back to buy a shovel for reasons. I would buy the engineer hat, but they patched out the XP bonus and we'll find better stuff on our adventures.



Specifically, for this secret here.



We can use it to upgrade our weapons, and it's not common either. The general rule of thumb is to grab everything not nailed down because it's all useful in crafting recipes.



The practical part of the exam isn't that interesting.



We do, however, loot the medkit.





: Wait and see what Van Ulden will say next.



It doesn't matter what you pick here.

: [Blue Wing] Suggest that the anomalies can sense electronics.

: The scientist assumes a superior expression.

: I knew you'd come up with something like that. I see you understand nothing about the nature of anomalies, so let me added a couple of points.

: He glances at the shimmering blue light in the ecozone.

: The truth is, we don't know the precise reason for these phenomena, either. We actually know nothing, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise.

: Sebastian points a thin finger at the clustered lightning.

: I personally believe the anomalies are the Dome's security mechanism. The ones you see are relatively harmless, but there are different anomalies in the desert, phenomena that toy with the human mind...

: Van Ulden clasps his hands behind his back.

: I know you don't care, but I'll say it anyway. Scientists today are required to be wonder workers who can heal cancer with a wave of their hand and solve the secrets of the universe during their coffee break. For some reason, no one wants to understand that fundamental science is always an investment in the future. It produces no answers here and now.



TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I want us to respect one another, so no wasting each other's time with stupid poo poo. I'll make this quick. Scan all anomalies and/or CRONUS nonsense you come across. Here is a pouch of bolts you can throw at anomalies just like STALKER, and be sure to bring meds. Any questions?

: Uh, what kind of meds?

: Antiradiation! There's all kinds of radioactive nonsense in the field, and we expect you to deal with it - just like how there's radiation in this tutorial zone!

: Anyway, good job! Now, do you have any ideas about what causes anomalies?

: Uhhh... they like electronics? Sexually?

: Ha ha, sucker! The truth is we don't loving know! All we can do is guess! I think they might be the Dome's security system, but who knows! No one is investing in the basic science to understand this poo poo, they just want to use it! If something goes horribly wrong, science will not save us!



Now, we could go start the main game, but where's the fun in that? There are sidequests and other nonsense to do!



Like talk to this rear end in a top hat.



: Wonder aloud what the boxes are for.

: Bokshezh! What a thing to shay... 'Bokshezh'! Thezhe are coffinzsh!

: Nelson reacts as if you've insulted him deeply.



I'm not transcribing this drunken accent.



: Agree - lying down in a coffin is an "all wight" idea.



: Lie down into the coffin like the Snow White from the cartoon and ask for an apple.



: The lid swings shut, and with the bang you hear a soft metal click.

This was of course a completely idiotic idea.



: Open the lid and climb out.



It doesn't matter what you do here, it all leads to...





RIP!

For what it's worth, you can also lock Nelson inside the coffin by asking him to demonstrate.



I'm not sure why Nelson decided to murder us, honestly.



This guy has a sidequest to scan the relics and write them in a notebook. We do it for XP. If you're fast enough you can probably steal some relics, I've never been able to pull it off.



Huh. Wonder who this Abbot fellow is? We do the quest offscreen, it's very easy.



This guy wants us to steal some crap for him as a stealth tutorial.



Stealth is stupid overpowered in this game and these guys are coded to be unable to detect you.



Seriously, we can stand up and kick the boxes open and no one cares.





We lie to the guy and give him only 1 relic dust. We did do all the work!



Even though we're master criminals these guys won't play cards with us.



This guy is having a thing for a relic "Miss Norway" that creates imaginary companions in your head you can talk to. We may see this later in the game!



Also we find our very first relic in a discarded briefcase! Score! All this guy does is raise our carry weight, but we'll be finding some pretty powerful ones on our travels.



They can't have anything on us! It's our first day! :tinfoil:



This man intercepts us and tells us there's been a change of plans and that we now have to go to a separate briefing instead of on the usual Newbie Bus. You can ask him about the other newbie in your wing and you're told that you're the only one qualified to do...whatever this is.



If you're playing along, always scan your relics! That will reveal hidden properties for useless seeming items!



Oh, and drawbacks. No one likes to learn that the new relic they grabbed is radioactive.



We also level up and become a stronger melee fighter.

So, what's going on? We'll find out... next time!

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




Any chance you can make the dialogue screenshots a bit bigger? They're kinda hard to read.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016







We're Totally Screwed, Aren't We?





: He leans close to the camera, his glasses glittering.

: My name is Martin Kingsley. I am Chief Officer of Magellan Base. We were supposed to meet in person, but unforeseen circumstances prevented that. One moment, I'll grab your file.

: He reaches for something out of view and produces a thin folder with your name on the cover - apparently, your file.

: Kingsley opens the folder to thumb through the pages.



You have one awful answer for every wing. Silvers can answer that they love power, for example.

: [Blue Wing] Say that you like tinkering with machinery.

: The quick strokes of the administrator's pencil suggest he's added two big plus signs to your file.

: There's around 6,000 vehicles inside the Dome now, and that number will only keep growing. You have enough work here for years to come.

: Kingsley closes the file and folds his hands in front of him.

: Thank you for your reply. I learned a little more about you. Now I want you to learn a little more about us. Keep in mind, this is not a rehearsed speech.

: He assumes a serious expression.

: When the Dome was discovered in 1971, it became a scientific and media sensation, a worldwide phenomenon and likely the most significant discovery in the history of mankind.



If you haven't gotten the message from the prominently displayed coffins, hellstorms, casual dismissal of lethal accidents, and the small fact that we're trapped here for life unable to have children, Kingsley is going to spell it all out for you.



Of course, he's still a CRONUS manager so he can't go all out and scream "gently caress the police".

: He looks back at your file.

: I say, "Do what must be done," because that's what the concept of the five Wings is all about.

: Kingsley points at the camera.

: You're from Blue Wing. You're looking at the world's most complicated infrastructure, and that complexity keeps growing. Your duties are not limited to maintenance and service. You'll be keeping up the image of the world in its accustomed form. Without hot water and electricity people will revert to beasts in astonishingly short order, though it might seem that...

Kingsley is letting a bit of his inner cynic slip through.

: Putting the folder aside, he sits back and stares at you in silence.

: It gets so quiet that the ticking of a clock can be heard through the speakers.



: Say that so are you.

: Martin nods slowly.

: I apologize once again for this long-distance meeting. Now, as we don't have much time, I'd like to get to the point. I'm sure you're curious why you were taken off the bus to Magellan and brought here instead.





...How the gently caress are you short on personnel? I want to remind you that Dell was something like 63,000+ on the waiting list.

: Martin nosily clears his throat.

: Maybe you've heard about Nashville base? While preparing the materials for this mission, I came across a short documentary film about the complex. I think you should watch it.

: Watch on.



Assume I'm picking "Watch on" until it's no longer relevant.











: The camera glides through dim caverns as the silhouettes of bizarre mechanisms emerge. Metal structures loom up from the dark, surrounded by earth moving machines and exhausted miners wearing orange jumpsuits.





Well, hold the phone, what the hell is there?

If we're going in we should at least know what we're up against.

: Tell Kingsley you need to know why Nashville is so special.



Well, poo poo.

: Ask who else is in your group.



Uh....

: Ask what your task is.

: Martin adjusts his glasses.

: So, the task... Nashville base stopped transmitting and receiving signals yesterday evening. A reconnaissance group was sent out earlier today, but we haven't heard anything from them yet, either.

: The chief officer rubs his forehead.

: Normally I would never give this task to a newcomer like yourself, but I just don't have enough people.

Remember how the intro was all about how hordes of people wanted in on the expedition, and there are hundreds of thousands of people on the employment waiting list?

: He looks down at the documents again.

: Furthermore, the group was lacking someone with your specialization. The communication problem appears to be more severe than I thought. Nashville's technicians could use another Blue Winger's help.



I guess it's better if we think the group is still alive?



: Say that you have no questions and are ready to get started.



: Leave.

TheGreatEvilKing dialog summary posted:

: My name is Martin Kingsley. I'm Chief Officer of Magellan Base. Unfortunately, I have to postpone meeting you in person thanks to these unforeseen circumstances. Let me grab your file, why are you in Blue Wing?

: I just like messing with machines.

: Well, we've got tons of cars here so you'll never be out of work. Anyway, let me give you the lowdown, and please note that this is not a rehearsed speech. CRONUS is pretty big on portraying the Dome as a cool and fun place where you can play with alien technology, but it's actually a dangerous hell zone! Now, we can get through this if we all work together, but as a Blue Winger your job isn't just to fix machines, it's to maintain the creature comforts so that people don't devolve into beasts and start killing each other...

: An awkward silence ensues and you get the feeling Kingsley's mask slipped a little.

: Anyway, that's the real lowdown! Nice to meet you.

: Nice to meet you.

: Anyway, I found this short video about Nashville base you should watch! Take a look!

: Blah blah blah CRONUS history blah blah. Then some people discovered a weird network of underground caves, which Nashville base was built around, and then they mined relics, and found a weird obj -

: Whoops that's classified! Ha ha! Anyway, Nashville requires high clearance and special qualifications! You've got...maybe half of that, but it's an emergency!

: Come on, man! If I'm gonna go there it'd be nice to know what's going on!

: I said it's classified, you little poo poo!

: So is it just me, or...

: You and a driver. The rest of the group already departed, but I'll tell you everything you need to know as long as it's not classified information like "what kind of weird alien poo poo is at Nashville that's loving with communication"

: What exactly am I supposed to do?

: Well, Nashville Base lost all communication with us yesterday evening. We dispatched a recon team but they also lost all communications. Your job is to find out what happened and restore communications. Work with the reconnaissance team. Normally I'd never give this task to a new employee, but I just don't have enough people. Also, they could use another technician. Any questions? No? Good luck!

I was waiting for Kingsley to give his speech before we discussed any of the obvious red flags in the tutorial, but it should be clear to the reader by now that CRONUS is a complete shitshow. There are corpses in coffins literally strewn about the side room, a token effort is given to a corporate integrity speech only for us to watch poor Katarzyna get pressured into committing fraud literally in the next room, manual labor is done by enslaved prisoners kept under military guard, and disasters like the plane crash are written off as "meh" because CRONUS is cynically exploiting people's excitement to change the world in the service of making a profit by selling alien artifacts.

But wait, there's more! Nashville is to the north. You know what else is to the north?

Last update posted:



This weird anomalous storm none of the scientists in the base can explain. It's very easy to write Kingsley off as being on the level, because he gives us the "real picture" speech where he points out that CRONUS wants to make the Dome seem like a playground, but we should be very skeptical of Kingsley's claims that he has to send us because he's short on personnel.

CRONUS is not short on personnel posted:



CRONUS has to keep turning people away because of all the applications they receive. It's not clear how many people are in the Dome - Kingsley gives us a number of 6000 vehicles, but there's no correlation between people and cars as far as I'm aware - but the idea that Kingsley just doesn't have anyone else to send is complete nonsense. It's also clear that someone values keeping the classified nature of Nashville under wraps more than actually going in and figuring out what happened to the people, as even when we point out that we need that information to do our job Kingsley tells us to shut up. Why is Kingsley like this?

Last update posted:



PR! We can't just let it get out that Nashville base was lost to some kind of weird alien bullshit, because people might start asking questions about what CRONUS is digging up and what they're hiding from the world. It would ruin the carefully cultivated image of the Dome as a magical wonderland playpen where you can frolic with all the cool toys left behind by the nice aliens and most likely get world governments to start investigating some of CRONUS' shadier practices, like defrauding them on relic prices. Thus the best way to handle this is to grab some random newbie with no contacts who can't blab to anyone and send him to figure out what the hell happened. Sure, you could mobilize the Black Wing, but that just makes everyone look bad and thus we're sent to investigate it on the down low.



We're not cool enough to drive cars, but we can honk the horn!



Loot as much crap as you can!



We should probably get going.

: The driver's side door is half-open.

: A young woman is sitting sideways in the driver's seat, legs hanging out.



: Introduce yourself.

: She smiles.

: Glad to meet you, too! How did you like the load capsule? And the funicular? I've got nuts, you want some? Or candy? Oh, I've got chocolate-covered fruit, try some! Did you know candied fruit are dried, then boiled in syrup?

Clara, you seem very nice but not a person I'd want covering my back in a deathtrap situation. I get the impression she has no idea what has happened. Great!



: Lean back in your chair.

: Clara slams her door.

: Are we going, then? Should probably go now - the roads are bad, very little asphalt, dirt tracks mostly. God willing, we'll get there before that storm hits. Mind if I turn the radio up a bit? Do you like music? Blues, gospel? I, for instance, like -

: You can't make out exactly what Clara likes. The roar of the engine smothers the rest of her sentence, and the truck lurches into motion.



Yeah, it's a reference!



This is, of course, more CRONUS bullshit, and we know this because Clara just told us the roads were mostly dirt tracks.



: Clara lifts up the hood and thoroughly examines the steaming radiator.



: Ask her what you should do next.



: Ask her to tell more about these relics.

: Your companion perks up a bit.

: This place is registered as a resource anomaly zone. Do you know what that is? It's when the relics mined there have been studied and deemed useful.



: Ask about anomaly storms like this one.

: The Blue looks at the storm once more.

: There've been more and more of these lately, and they're getting stronger. I personally think it's divine judgement for how we've squandered the riches under the Dome.



More confirmation that people die all the time under the Dome.

: Find out what's interesting about this gas station.



: Leave, saying that you'll go to the gas station and figure everything out.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hi I'm Clara Morgan and how are you doing whats your name do you like nuts or candy or fruit snacks or we could listen to music or

: Nuts, the radiator's burned out.

: What do we do?

: Wait. That storm is worrying, but we can grab relics here that protect us from it. God is very mysterious that way! There are a lot of... bronze apples here!

: Wait, are these common? These storms?

: Yeah, I knew a ton of people who died in them, God rest their souls.

: Anything interesting about this gas station?

: There are a lot of anomalies and weird poo poo, and it's called Roadside Picnic!

Yes, I will be looking into resizing the dialogue screenshots next update!

Next time: Zombies... in a basement!

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016







Cooked Auto posted:

Any chance you can make the dialogue screenshots a bit bigger? They're kinda hard to read.

Hopefully it should be improved next update!

Keldulas
Mar 18, 2009


This is a good game introduction. Tells us all we need to know, and tells us enough to be intriguing.

This feels pretty cyberpunk honestly in general. Corrupt rear end corporation who does whatever it wants. The sheer amount of lies and corruption the game just demonstrates off the bat sets the tone.

Anticheese
Feb 13, 2008

$60,000,000 sexbot
:rodimus:



This is such a refreshing change from ATOM!

Gideon020
Apr 23, 2011


We better not wind up fighting a cult named after a free-standing stone structure during all this.

Not The Wendigo
Apr 12, 2009


Two anomalies in and this is already better and more mysterious than anything in Numenera.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

Anticheese posted:

This is such a refreshing change from ATOM!

Yeah, this is people who have some actual ability to write, especially doing a great job hinting through observation of the world that something's going on you're not being told without removing all mystery.

idhrendur
Aug 20, 2016



This was already a positive enough LP that I bought the game.

Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


disposablewords posted:

Since this has a classic SF inspiration, I'll propose James diGriz, occasionally known as "Slippery Jim," a 30-something man (with male body type) in the Orange Wing who doesn't like killing but has a fondness for High-Tech Weapons and related nonsense when he has to get out of a bind. Though he'd much rather talk or sneak his way through a situation. Default Male Portraits, Second Row, First Column.

You mean to tell me someone else has read the Stainless Steel Rat books? Holy crap!

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Deadmeat5150 posted:

You mean to tell me someone else has read the Stainless Steel Rat books? Holy crap!

They're are dozens of us! Dozens!

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




Seems like a cool game, keep up with the commentary.

Keldulas
Mar 18, 2009


Honestly after ATOM I’m just glad that you’re LPing a game that isn’t explicitly dogshit anymore. I honestly had to stop reading ATOM because it was just getting tedious with how unrelentingly terrible it was.

disposablewords
Sep 12, 2021


Deadmeat5150 posted:

You mean to tell me someone else has read the Stainless Steel Rat books? Holy crap!

My brother was on a big Harry Harrison kick when I was around 15 so that meant I was shortly on a big Harry Harrison kick. And fortunately my library had almost all of the books. Not that I remember too much in detail after all this time and also binging the series, but hey.

Also this is proving to be a real neat game so far. Not doing anything too unique just yet, but what it does, it seems to do well. I'm keeping a serious eye on it, though not yet to the point where I want to abandon the LP to just go buy and play through it myself.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016







Zombies... in a Basement!

Welcome back! Last time on Encased, we... you know what, Kingsley said it better than I can.

The Theme of Last Update posted:



Also I kinda let the thread slip over the holidays! Sorry! Anyway, we need to stop at the "Roadside Picnic" gas station and cafe because our truck boiled over and we could also use a relic to protect us from the anomaly hellstorm.



We'll take the opportunity to talk a little bit about Roadside Picnic, which is the novel that inspired the game.



In the novel, there are six Zones scattered across the world which were left behind by aliens. They're very similar to Encased's Domes in that they were filled with strange anomalies and odd technological artifacts and are extremely dangerous. People who enter the Zone have weird mutant children - the main character, Red, has a child whom the Strugatskys refer to as "the Monkey" - and even just being close to the Zone has adverse side effects, to the point the government has to step in and prohibit people moving away from the Zone because they cause fatal accidents and dead people next to the Zone come back to life.



Encased differs in the addition of CRONUS. In Roadside Picnic, characters can leave and re-enter the Zone freely, but the military surrounds the Zone and shoots anyone who comes out. The Zone is studied by the scientific Institute, and governments are trying to get their hands on Zone technology to weaponize, but all of the characters in the novel are very clear they're playing with fire and it's common knowledge in the Strugatsky's setting. The novel opens with an interview with Dr. Pillman.

Roadside Picnic posted:

DR. PILLMAN: That's correct. But I'm not involved in the research on extraterrestrial culture. As a consultant, I, along with my colleagues, represent the international scientific community on decisions about the internationalization of the Visit Zones. Roughly speaking, we make sure that no one outside the International Institute gets access to the alien marvels discovered in the Zones.

INTERVIEWER: Why, are there others with designs on them?

DR. PILLMAN: Yes.

Here we have CRONUS, who, rather than emphasize the danger and try to control access to dangerous alien artifacts, makes the ethically bankrupt decision to advertise the DOME as a cool alien theme park so they can sell dangerous and poorly understood alien artifacts for money.



Now, in Roadside Picnic, alien artifacts have become a common part of everyday life. Cars no longer use internal combustion but are powered by "spacells", which are apparently some kind of organism that outputs enough energy to power a motor vehicle. Of course, Dr. Pillman - a Nobel prize winning scientist - is on hand to explain that despite all our science and all our intellect, humanity ultimately has no understanding of what it's dealing with or even why any of these items were left here.

Roadside Picnic posted:

We've found many marvels. In a number of cases, we've even learned to adapt these marvels to our needs. We've even gotten used to them. A lab monkey presses a button and gets a banana, presses a white button and gets an orange, but has no idea how to obtain bananas or oranges without buttons. Nor does it understand the relationship between buttons and oranges and bananas. Take, for example, the spacells. We've learned to apply them. We've even discovered conditions under which they multiply by division. But we have yet to create a single spacell, have no idea how they work, and, as far as I can tell, won't figure it out any time soon. Here's what I'd say. We use them, although almost certainly not in the way the aliens intended. I'm absolutely convinced in the vast majority of cases we're using sledgehammers to crack nuts.

That said, the same greedy impulses that motivate CRONUS motivate the military-industrial complex to mess with things they don't understand, but we'll look more at that later.



: The old man angrily sets the magnifying glass aside.

: A grandmaster! You're a piece of junk, not a grandmaster! And a cheater to boot...



: Ask Melville why he's so unfriendly with visitors.

: The old man frowns and sniffles loudly.

: You want to write a complaint? Go ahead.

: He looks at you for a minute.

: When he realizes you're not going to complain, the surly expression slowly leaves his face. The angry look turns to a sad one.

: After a brief pause he speaks again.

: Yeah, well... I do have some problems.

: The old man lowers his voices almost to a whisper.

: The Oranges pick on me. Escapees, by the looks of it. They demand food, money, gas. I've got a turret at the entrance, but it doesn't do poo poo. My stand-in screwed something up with the circuitry in the basement, gotta take a look when I get a chance. But with my leg acting up, those rickety stairs just ain't my cup of tea, heh.



: Say your truck broke down.



: Ask why people are sitting in the cafe when it's supposedly closed.



: Move away.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: God drat cheatin-rear end chess computer! Hey, you! We're closed! gently caress off!

: Why are you such a rude dude?

: What are you gonna do? Complain? Please? Ok... fine, I'll admit it. A gang of Oranges are bullying me. I keep getting robbed. Look man, can you fix the generator? My dumbass standin broke it and now my di- er, turret don't work.

: Can you help with our truck?

: No.

: Why are those two in the corner if you're closed?

: gently caress if I know.



Anyway Melville gives us his key so we can go fix the turret.



I love the loading screen snippets in this game.



Anyway, it's trivial to fix the generator with Dell's sick technical skills and thus we go in and loot everything that's not nailed down. Encased works on the ABL system - always be looting! You get XP for it, and we need every bit of XP we can get. The game also has a crafting system that you are going to need materials for, and to do that you need to grab everything not nailed down.



We also knock on this pipe to dislodge some rats we can kill for XP.



They're not very interesting. I can talk a little about combat at least. Combat is your standard turn-based affair, where you have a set number of action points per round and movement and attacks take action points.

What's different is that based on your weapons skills, you unlock new active abilities - and everyone gets them! Right now we have a desperation attack that has increased crit chance when we have low health, a finishing blow that resets cooldowns, and the basic attack we will use 99% of the time. There's also a gap closer later in the melee tree we can use to avoid blowing a bunch of AP on closing to pipe range.



: Say you repaired the turret.

You need to talk to Melville to progress.

: The old man squints and gives you a silly smile.

: Huh, so it's like that. Well, thank you, thank you. I didn't think you'd be any good, heh.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: gently caress everything sucks.

: I fixed the turret.

: Thank you. You do not suck.

The two people in the bar are hippies. I can sum it up in two screenshots.





Onwards!



We need to talk to Melville about the anomalies.



Not much more to say really, I cut out a bit about how we should only take the device and we should be charged for it because it's all company property. To the basement!



Thanks, jerk!



We of course loot both the gas station and the basement under the ABL system. This wrench will help us on our adventure. All we have to do is go down to the basement and -



WHAT THE gently caress



Uh, great! Some kind of... "disfigured body".



Get out the heat ray. ULLLLLLLA!!!!!



Alright. This fight. This fight stuffs a lot of new players into the dumpster. It's not bad if you know what you're doing, but you're up against a fairly powerful enemy who will actually heal himself by walking into those poison anomalies all over the floor.



Someone has conveniently left a bunch of explosive barrels lying all over the floor, so our goal is to blow them the hell up with the heat ray so they damage this extremely unattractive...creature.



This is a hell of a lot easier if you're a ranged character or ideally a psionic. He poisons on hit as well as inflicting another debuff.



Alright, we are doing to debuff the poo poo out of this guy so we can kick his rear end.



We sufficiently weakened it enough that we can end it here with a savage wrench beating. You absolutely do not want to get into a melee slugfest with this thing - you can and you'll burn through a lot of medkits, but those are in short supply right now and we have a bit of an adventure coming up.

Also, see that little moon and ZZZ icon? That's our fatigue bar. When using certain abilities -usually ones that don't consume items like psionic or melee abilities - you inflict fatigue on yourself, and if you inflict enough you collapse in exhaustion. Certain abilities inflict fatigue damage as well, and it completely bypasses your hitpoints - if they fatigue you out, it's a game over.

This is also how you do combat without killing people, if you care about that.



The developers were kind enough to add a secret passage so you can skip the fight, but if you do both the fight and the passage you get more XP, and that's what we're all about here at CRONUS.



We also find this magazine, which gives us +20 tech for 2 hours. These stack. There are a lot of these magazines for various skills in the game, and you can absolutely use them to get past dialogue skill checks or various other checks you couldn't normally do. Want to upgrade your weapons but you dumped tech? Read comic books!

The portal takes us to a tree I totally missed the screenshots of, but the tree also has one of the unironically best relics in the game.



More action points are great, and precision, per the game's tooltips, only applies to ranged attacks. Now, you should always scan relics because it reveals hidden properties, gives you XP, and gives you some fluff.



Remember how a running theme of the game was how CRONUS and humanity as a whole has no idea what it's doing here but is idiotically messing with this stuff anyway? Look at the presumed function of this section - it's a transformation! It's for sports! It's a ball bearing! It's a toy! It's a pet?

It goes right back to Dr. Pillman in roadside picnic explaining that while you can use the spacells to power cars nobody knows what the real use is and the aliens are presumably laughing. This is a fairly harmless relic, but other relics in the game are unbelievably dangerous and some will kill you for wearing them.

We put this one on anyway.



We can't use this yet, but it might come in handy later.



Ah, crap.



It turns out that using a menial labor force of criminals and treating them like poo poo causes crime! How could this possibly happen?

: Examine the car.

: The car is in awful shape, despite being brand new. Jupiters first got chrome-plated fender moldings in February 1976, which means it can't be older than six months.



: Examine the intruders.

: The people standing around the car are so filthy, you barely recognize their CRONUS uniforms under the grim. The name tags have been removed, of course, but the ruffian's tattoos make it clear you're facing Oranges.

: You quietly call out, and the bandits turn to you.





: Answer that you've got a better idea.



So influence in this game is kind of weird. You unlock persuasion types via secondary stats - you need 6 charisma for charm, 6 intellect for conviction, and 6 muscle for intimidation. We aren't trained in influence at all, and I only have the one business magazine.

: Answer that you're going to stress test some skulls yourself.

: The racketeer responds with a fake, self-satisfied smile.

: Y'know, I appreciate your attitude. Wanna dance? Okay then, put your ballet slippers on!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey! We're robbing you and the old man! Give us money!

: Bitch I have Coss -, er, a wrench!



This starts a fight. Assassin's Regards is a pistol ability. It doesn't matter because the gas station turret warms up and everyone pours out of the gas station to shoot their asses.



Oh hey, it's a spacell we don't have the skills to yoink right now. I'm actually not sure what this does, and we don't have 50 survival needed to get it. Oh well!



Melville is much happier to see us now that we helped hit some bandits in the head.



You know, I bet Melville would know about that weird thing we fought.

: Tell him some strange creature attacked you in the basement, and you killed it.

: The old man scrubs his bald spot.

: Ehhh... That'd be my stand-in, I think. And here I reckoned he'd gone and quit on me. Could smell the stench from the cellar, thought a rat croaked down there.



So, yeah, whatever the hell is in this place is turning corpses into undead mutants with supernatural powers. That's not the only kind of Necroid we're going to meet, oh no. The game really wants us to realize that this is not a theme park, and we're stuck here. Oh, and the "post-apocalyptic" part of the title? We're getting there.

: Ask Melville how's life.



Time to leave.

: Move away.

: Hey sweetheart! Wait a minute, hold up...

: The Blue claps you on the arm.



Why not? We haven't eaten anything since we got here, and that truck still needs to cool down.

: Say that you don't mind sitting down and having a snack with him.

: Aaron smiles. His expression is both silly and sincere.

: Look, there's a cliff nearby, lovely place. Got a cook pot all ready there, a comfy piece of tarpaulin too, and the logs are a'lying. Even got a little bottle stashed away, heehee...

: Melville grunts, reaches under the counter and pulls out a bulky bag smelling of onions.

: The old man lays out the bag's contents on the counter: canned pork, onions, eggs and potatoes. He looks quite proud of his stash.

: What's a picnic without snacks? Here, I'm gonna teach you my family recipe for pulled pork. First, you have to boil the eggs. And then...

: Gesturing excitedly, the old man reveals the secrets of Melville family cuisine.

If anyone in the thread knows how to make pulled pork with eggs I'd love to hear it.



It's also kind of a crafting tutorial. I do it offscreen, it's literally just click the option in the menu.



We return to Melville.



: [Pulled Pork] Say you made some pulled pork with Melville's original recipe.

: Squinting skeptically, Aaron pinches a piece of pork and tries it.

: Well, whaddayaknow, that came out pretty good!



TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I'm sorry I was a dick to you, sweetheart. Hey! Anyone want coffee!

: I got attacked by some weird hosed up undead thing in the gas station basement.

: Sounds like my idiot standin who broke the generator. Wait, you said it was disfigured? And had some kind of weird poison, and healed from anomalies? What the hell.

: How's life?

: I'm old and it sucks.

: I'm off.

: Wait! Before you go, I owe you one. How about a picnic? I got snacks and booze?

: That sounds great.

: Alright, check it out. I got the stuff for pulled pork, but I think you can cook it better and you haven't had a crafting tutorial. Use the stove behind me to make some pork, go on.

: Here it is.

: drat, tasty! Go round up everyone and let's have a picnic!



The hippies are totally down for free food.



This man is upset that we killed all the bandits. He agrees to go to the picnic.



He does give us some useful info on the Clean Slate program. In CRONUS PR land, it's a way to rehabilitate criminals by giving them honest work. In reality, it's a way to get a bunch of slave laborers who have to work off their crimes while also providing an easily despised underclass that the Blue, White, and Black Wings can hate instead of resenting the Silver Wing assholes who steal everything and get preferential treatment.



This anomaly researcher will also go to the picnic.



He also doesn't give a poo poo about all the corruption because he gets to do cool science here and the critics are like, totally stupid, mannn! For what it's worth, he is studying the Forefathers' battle robots and I'm not going to show the science because it doesn't produce much and doesn't really give any deeper insight. Remember what Sebastian von Ulden said about how science will not save you from the Dome, and no one is working on getting fundamental science to the point where we could have an intelligent conversation with the Forefathers?



Clara is immune to Dell's manly charms (read: I didn't train influence) and hangs out at the truck instead.



So, the picnic!



It doesn't necessarily progress the story at all, but I like it.

: The sun peeks lazily out from behind the clouds. Even the distant howling of the storm seems to have calmed a bit.



It's a very human moment in a hellscape of corrupt bureaucracy and unholy monsters.



: [Pulled Pork] Serve up the pulled pork.



At their cores, both Roadside Picnic and Encased aren't about aliens or weird technologies or psychic powers or whatever.



It's about how people react to these - how does one react to the knowledge that there are advanced intelligences out there with which you cannot communicate, and the inexplicable wonders and terrors they leave behind?



So we have this human moment because at the end of the day it's a story about people, which is something that a lot of science fiction and fantasy media tends to forget and get bogged down in magical nonsense.

: You're sitting on a log, gazing out into the hazy desert and scarfing down pork. With half an ear, you listen to what's happening around the campfire.







We again get the theme of people trying to understand the incomprehensible. The game describes the MOBIOSes as "combat robots built by the Forefathers" and they assimilate electronics to reproduce. I don't think this is quite correct for reasons we'll get into later.



It's all postulation, like when von Ulden proposed we'd triggered the Dome's security system.



Of course, we are talking about aliens. We don't even know if biological organisms from wherever the Forefathers came from even need to defecate or secrete anything. I don't think it's a spoiler to say we will never meet the Forefathers or even find a picture of them.

: The pork platter is nearly empty. The picnic is coming to an end.



Once again we see characters trying to put things into a little box they understand - Melville understands poo poo, so he goes with that. Brightman understands Earth biology, so he assumes the same concepts apply to an alien system. Clara previously explained that the anomalies were the wrath of God. It's like the three blind men and the elephant.



We even got a buff - and a debuff for being tipsy.



: [Anomaly Protector] Say that you have found a relic that protects against the effects of the anomaly.



: [Tech 20] Say that you yourself will install the relic into the truck.

: Clara slides off the truck's caterpillar track, letting you get to the motor compartment.



: [Anomaly Protector] Install the relic under the hood of the truck to protect it form anomalies.

: You insert the relic in the space between the filter and the block.



: Get in the passenger seat and when Clara joins you, head for Nashville.

I'm sure this will go great!





Famous last words.



Yeah, let's be honest, we all knew this was a deathtrap when Kingsley told us not to ask about what the hell was going on.



: Order her to step on the accelerator to reach the entrance faster.



: The road turns left and you're on the main road leading to the complex.



: Stop here: going further might be even worse.

: Clara swings the vehicle into a short, controlled skid, positioning it to shield you as you exit. As the turrets swivel to catch up to your truck, the two of you are already on the ground - outside the kill zone.



Oh, gently caress! We're in the anomaly zone, kids!





TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I got the thing. Let's install it and go.

: The relic sprouts roots that wrap around your engine! Isn't that weird? Oh, by the way, the Nashville turrets are shooting your truck.

: poo poo, Clara, floor it!

: There are bodies everywhere! Clara crosses herself and prays!

: We need to stop, who knows what's up ahead.

: Clara pulls a sick rear end stunt move you don't get to see and shields you from the turret guns with her truck.

: Also, holy poo poo, Nashville is on loving fire and there's an anomaly storm ruining everything!

: We need to scout the area. And by we I mean you.



Well, crap. We got lured here by the promise of cool alien technology and it turns out to be a deathtrap where we get paid in worthless company scrip, we can't leave, and we'll never have children, and now our employer's guns are shooting at us. May as well go in, because what else are we supposed to do, join a gang of hardened criminals and roam the desert?

Next Time: Oh, you thought this was bad, huh?

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




A rockin' good time at Nashville.

biosterous
Feb 23, 2013
Probation
Can't post for 2 hours!


yes good this rules

disposablewords
Sep 12, 2021


This actual little picnic they have feels like an opportune time to share one of my favorite quotes from the book and in literature in general, also from the conversation that gives the book its name:

quote:

"Wait a minute," Valentine said. "Listen: 'You ask me what makes man great?'" he quoted. "'That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future.'"

(I'm running off of the original English translation from the 1970s, which is the one my library had and which is not too hard to find the whole text of online now. TheGreatEvilKing is, I am assuming, using the retranslation published in 2012 and which I really need to get my hands on.)

It's this perfect mix of cynicism and idealism about humanity that, to me, captures the essence of the story so perfectly. It's hard to overstate how influential this line was; the whole book left a strong impact on me but this specifically got right under my skin back when I first read it. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing if and how the game handles this theme as well.

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By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




I hope to see some visual inspiration from the movie too, it was an amazing experience.

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