The Secret Adventures: To hell and back (City of the Sun God #1)

(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!)

A City Born in Blood (action mission)

And so we come to the second of Egypt’s two zones, City of the Sun God. It’s also, by far, my least favorite adventure zone in the game. Oh, it’s not terrible, but it’s not that likable either. It does the job of communicating Aten as a terrible threat and making the desert sun fairly ominous, but this comes at the expense of personality and relatability. City of the Sun God isn’t a place of civilization (as is all of the other zones we visit), nor is it that populated with living NPCs. It’s certainly an interesting idea to have a squadron of talking — but completely motionless — statues as the good guys, but boy was that an uphill storytelling challenge. And one I think that Funcom didn’t quite master.

Anyway, I have a long, long way to go to get through this area, especially with all of the new issue content, so let’s start our adventures by listning to Ptahmose give himself a pity party about failing his “children” (the aforementioned statues) and how the forces of Aten are on the rise and the good guys may be outnumbered this time. At least I’m here to do something about it instead of sitting on a suitcase. Man, I miss the Dannys and Wolfs and Boones of the old zones. At least they got into it with evil.

To be fair, I’ve never given this zone a full chance. During my first playthrough, I ended up skipping most of CotSG in favor of hitting Transylvania early (I looped back long after, but didn’t complete all of the missions even then). So some of this stuff will be new to me and I’ll be experiencing it start to end this time around.

OK, so here’s a straight-forward “kill all ghouls” mission. There’s some rescuing Marya along the way, who then lead me to some shackled golems. This is where the mission gets fun: You can free the golems and follow them as they pound the crud out of more ghouls. And you can free as maaaaaany golems as you want. I think I had about seven stampeding around by the mission’s end, pwning ghouls left and right. I really wanted to keep them.

As a post-script, Geary made me laugh when she put down Ptahmose’s “sob story.” Always good for a cynical jab, that woman.

corpse

Funeral Pyre (side mission)

At the end of the previous mission, there’s a jinn ember that can be used to, y’know, light corpses on fire. Most normal people would look at that, go “huh,” and then walk away. Not my girl. No, she’s all for corpse-lighting, because The Secret World is nothing if not anxious to get you playing with corpses every chance you get. Finish this game and there’s nothing that mortician school could throw at you that you’re not already desensitized to.

Big pile o’ corpses at the end, too! Thank you, Funcom, for making me wish that my character carried around an industrial-sized drum of hand sanitizer for such moments.

claw

Dust Devils (action mission)

Stick-in-the-mud Ptahmose is super grumpy about all of the people traipsing through this supposedly secret valley. Now there are demons pouring in from the hell dimension at the invitation of the Black Pharoah. Where are the Ghostbusters when you need them?

Without a proton pack t my disposal, I’m going to have to do things the old-fashioned way — bullets and harsh glares. I use a not-so-secret passage to head over to where all of the hell breaches are happening. It’s not pretty, but in this landscape it isn’t really hurting anything either.

After kicking a few crawling demons to the ground, I leap through a rift and into the hell dimension itself. It’s like a world that’s been baked a little too long and has never seen anything green grow. Also, there’s a Jamba Juice.

I go up to all of the Jinn that are creating these stable rifts, tap them politely on their shoulders, and then ask them to stop. Well, I don’t so much do that as I run in guns blazing, tossing down elemental turrets left and right, but the attitude is much the same. With that done, I create a portal home and escape in the nick of time before I have to spend an eternity playing hide-and-seek with demonic bullies.

Also, how epic is this shot:

pose

Love it.

locusts

Bug Hunt (side mission)

Again, I’m glad that these locusts aren’t the Ak’ab, but they also aren’t that thrilling as a foe or enemy faction. Big bugs — this is so common in MMOs that one wonders what’s in all of the water.

I wish I had a great story to tell about this mission, but no, it’s just a lot of killing bugs and their hives. I did take the time to examine the locust models and admire how squirm-inducing their mouth-areas are, though.

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2 thoughts on “The Secret Adventures: To hell and back (City of the Sun God #1)

  1. Sylow April 21, 2016 / 10:26 am

    “It’s certainly an interesting idea to have a squadron of talking — but completely motionless — statues as the good guys, but boy was that an uphill storytelling challenge. And one I think that Funcom didn’t quite master.”

    Mixed feelings on this one. On one hand i have to agree, the statues are not as memorable right away as more animated characters with recognizeable faces. At the same time, i found that i learned the voices and traits of the different children of Ptahmose quite well.

    So while the animation team might have had an easier time there, i also dare to say that the challenge for the voice actors was very high and i think they did a really good job on that.

    “Man, I miss the Dannys and Wolfs and Boones of the old zones. At least they got into it with evil.”

    On Ptahmose just sitting back and “despairing”, yea. That’s kind of true. I guess knowing that having sacrificed the lives of your complete family and turning them into living statues, just to learn that this was merely a speedbump for doom is not highly motivating. The people you mention have their fights on their hands or ahead of them. Ptahmose fought but couldn’t achieve more than a pyrrhic victory.

    And on the zone in general: it’s actually astonishing how many people are there, considering that it’s supposed to be lost and unknown. But that didn’t trouble me at any time. As mentioned, the zone is very unique to TSW that way, but i think this is a good thing, the game can use variety.

    The bigger problem is to navigate this zone. Of course you can jump down into one of the many gorges anywhere, but getting up on the ridges can be much more troublesome. The map is only of limited help. Some of the natural bridges are not visible there, but at least they can be spotted easily enough when running around. The underground tunnels also not on the map and it’s often not obvious where they lead to. Next to those, there are hard to see cracks in the gorges walls, which allow you walk through small ravines to the neighbouring gorge. Unfortunately they are not on the map and also are very hard to spot.

    One of them is “dearly” in my heart, i think i ran past that one like half a dozen times, always going for a huge reroute to get to my destination, before spotting it by coicidence when i turned my camera to check out something else.

    So once you learn the zone navigating it becomes fine enough, but never as smooth as most other zones. Unfortunately properly navigating that zone can only be learned “hands on”, requires some time and can easily frustrate in the process.

    I think this works well for setting the atmosphere of the zone, but is paid with playability, so it might have been a suboptimal design decission. I can’t come to a final conclusion on this.

    And for the end a sidenote on the Jinn: i really learned to hate those {insert bad word here}. Demons might want to invade and take over your world, they might be murderous, they might be treacherous, but Jinn are the very same, along with an unbearable level of superciliousness.

  2. Tyler F.M. Edwards April 21, 2016 / 11:43 am

    I’ve never quite understood why people dislike CotSG. I find the environment’s spectacular (in a grim and gloomy kind of way) and the story of Ptahmose and the Sentinels hauntingly tragic. I can’t even say I’ve ever had much trouble navigating the zone.

    I find CotSG to be leaps and bounds ahead of Scorched Desert, which is IMO by far the game’s weakest zone.

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