(Join Syp as he attempts to document a complete playthrough of The Secret World from start to finish. What will The Secret Adventures discover next? Find out in this exciting installment! WARNING: Spoilers and stories ahead!)
Between a Rock and a Hard Place (side mission)
I don’t think I realized before just how quest-dense Scorched Desert is in comparison to the Solomon Island zones before it. At least, it’s taking me longer to progress through it, as evidenced by this 11th chapter of our saga, but I am making headway!
To those curious of my methods for this playthrough, I am going through all of the quest givers primarily while picking up side missions as I encounter them. After all of the quest givers are done, I finish up any remaining side missions and then finally do the story quest for that zone.
So here’s a chance encounter of a mission — a crushed cultist. Guess that necessitates investigation? Actually, it’s worth looking into, because not too far away is a peculiar sight: cultists using control rods to make a giant golem bash its way through a river lock. Time to skinny up the ladders and put an end to those rods! Always fun to see golems crushing enemies’ skulls for a change.
Not By Bread Alone (side mission)
Up to the Oxford camp, which actually only has two missions, including this one. The camp’s been trashed and the archaeologists need water from the dig site. Guess I’m electing to help out in that regard! Karma Kounter +1.
I’ve actually gotten to the point where I have a very solid build with a lot of expensive abilities slotted, so other than buying auxiliary weapon skills (I’m holding out for the chainsaw, I think), I have nothing else to do with my AP than start working toward some outfits. Illuminati’s slayer looks pretty rad.
The Big Terrible Picture (investigation mission)
The Oxford Group (see what I did there?) is trying to dig to the center of the mystery of what it is about this particular area drew the big bad guys and Romans all those years ago. I’m betting it’s the same as was the case of Solomon Island — a Gaia engine or buried power or both.
There are some missions in this game that left such a bad taste in my mouth from my initial run that I’ve been dreading doing them again — and this is one of them. At first, it’s not too bad. Some Caesar cipher decryptions, a little hunting around some ruins. But then you get to the part where you have to fiddle with crystals to ping-pong a beam of light down into a tomb and the mission kicks you squarely in the face.
It’s beyond annoying. If you don’t look at a guide, then good luck, because it’s going to suuuuuck. First of all, you can’t do this quest at night (you need the sunlight for the crystal beams), and if you are in the middle of this part and the sun goes down, then tough luck — you have to wait until it comes back up again. To make matters worse, there’s like 15 or so of these crystals, and they chain off of each other in weird ways. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
There is an interesting ending to the mission that almost makes it worthwhile. First of all, you discover an Egyptian coffin that has a hologram (!) coming out of it. That then leads to an incredibly rare end-of-mission cutscene (I wish all quests had these) where the archaeologists talk about re-discoveries of ancient cities and technologies far more advanced than those times suggested. This leads into The Secret World’s chronology, which dictates that the world has gone through several ages, each of which saw technology advance to a great point and then disaster basically hitting the reset switch. The best part? We’re about at the end of the third age right now in teh game.
Just a Flesh Wound (action mission)
Intermission time! Every so often one needs a break from these zones we spend oh-so-much time in. So let’s put a bookmark in Egypt for a bit and head to New York to visit the famous Dr. Aldini — possible relative of Dr. Frankenstein, plastic surgeon, and all-around lunatic. Awesome fellow. His… clinic is a pig slaughterhouse staffed by a trio of strangely beautiful nurses. He’s quite creepy and maniacal, but then again, most NPCs in this game are off their rocker.
Anyway, this mission is definitely worth doing for two great rewards: the chainsaw auxiliary weapon (my favorite!) and a coupon for a free visit to Aldini’s plastic surgery table. All you have to do to earn this is wade through one of the grossest missions of the game. It’s really the type that either leaves you queasy or laughing softly at the ridiculousness of it all.
So Dr. Aldini tasks me with obtaining some new flesh for him to work with — to presumably make me a companion or slave, although that never quite happens, thank goodness. Where to go shopping for all of this? In the zombie-infested sewers below the clinic, of course! Down there are scads of ruined, rotting nurses — presumably but not explicitly the rejects of Aldini’s experiments. The mission had me collecting limbs with all sorts of devices (ugh), ultimately settling on the chainsaw as the best option.
The zombies are no good for fresh flesh, so deeper into the sewers I find a gigantic flesh blob. This is where the Monty Pythonesque title of the mission comes in — I had to attack him for a while, and then when the blob was stunned, chainsaw off a limb. Kept doing this over and over until, like the Black Knight, the blob was sitting on the floor all limbless. Even after it was dead, one of its limbs reanimated to chase me for a while, because why not?
I didn’t use the surgery coupon — I’m happy with my face, though not my hair — but I am ecstatic to finally have the chainsaw again. Now to save up 35 SP to be able to use it!
The Animate Clay (investigation mission)
Aldini’s other quest is one of the better investigation missions in The Secret World, both as a story and as a series of interesting puzzles. It turns out that like Frankenstein’s monster, Aldini’s last creation somehow escaped the lab and has been killing. Aldini blames me for giving him “impure flesh,” but hey man, you get what you pay for. Off to track down the patchwork man — who is, apparently, quite intelligent, as he left Aldini a note. The only thing is that the monster can’t remember who he used to be. I have sympathy for him, definitely.
Clues abound in Aldini’s clinic, including an x-ray with a number etched on a bone and a computer with such notes as “subject survived seventeen days without a face!” I love that he has a rough draft of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech on the computer as well.
The creature first leads me to the sewers of NYC, which is one of my least-favorite places in the game. Keep getting turned around in there (and there’s no map). But once I find the creature’s victim, I get a phone number for P. Schulyer and Sons — an actual, functioning London phone number. You can either spend money (if you’re out of country) to call that number, or else just listen to someone else’s recording who has done so:
Contacting the elusive company requires some work. There’s an alley in London’s Darkside with a corpse in it — and some various objects. The trick here is to use those objects to make the same little tune that you hear twice in the phone call.
That done, the dead body in the alley rises and is revealed to be the P. Schulyer and Sons receptionist. A zombie receptionist. A zombie receptionist with an exposed chest cavity that has a keypad and a big red button. An account number is needed — the same number that you can find on the x-ray in Aldini’s office. Punch that in, and the zombie vomits up the activity log for the corpse-delivery service. Seriously, how brilliant — and demented — is all of this? The log book mentions some missing delivery men around Innsmouth Academy, which sounds like the creature’s work to me.
The investigation at the academy eventually leads all of the way back to NYC, where I track down the creature’s lair in a warehouse. This sets up a particularly tense confrontation, because while it’s not completely dark in this box maze, the creature itself is cloaked in shadow, only briefly giving you a glimpse of its form. I took enough screenshots to be able to look at it clearly, and indeed it’s a botched surgery wrapped in a hat and a trenchcoat. The only way to kill it for good is to lure it into a puddle of electrified water, after which it leaves a note saying that it can’t go back to the man he was and can’t become what Aldini wants, so it would rather fade away entirely. A sad note that’s only broken by Geary’s mention of the Illuminati’s resident mad scientist who created a “squid-squirrel.”