The Secret World: Choose your own adventure

sw1

Now that my new computer is up and running, I have no excuse not to play the newest mission from The Secret World’s Issue 15, Choose Your Own. Sure, it was disappointing that an entire issue was basically repackaging of previous sidestories plus only one investigation mission, but then again, it’s one more mission than we had before. So let’s get to it!

Our tale opens on a ravaged Tokyo, where my character walks up to a pachinko parlor and notices an old-fashioned floppy disc sticking out from behind a monitor. Said monitor blinks on and a woman with a wasp mask introduces herself as “The Swarm,” an Anonymous-like collective that has been watching me. It challenges me to a game in exchange for some information.

“We know what your masters have done. We know what the Hive is,” The Swarm says in a computerized voice. I am intrigued.

sw2

Oh hey, they literally meant a game, like a computer game. The floppy has another classic-type text adventure game on it with the appealing title of “Sloshing in the Dark.” Like the other mission in TSW that had an adventure game in it, you have to beat this mission to proceed. And as the name of this quest implies, you’ll be making a LOT of choices.

The story is actually really well done. You wake up in a hotel room and have to scramble to get out of there as an unseen force is chasing you. Jumping from a window, you discover that this is the bed and breakfast in Kingsmouth, taking us to familiar grounds. Yet it’s also a place on the verge of a Lovecraftian apocalypse, with a horrible force pressing in on the world, cultists hopping like frogs everywhere, and kids trying to murder you with scissors. The ending — which isn’t so much happy as it is an end — has you retaining your sanity even as the world boils to an end.

Time to find the next uplifting disc of this series! I’m guessing that you use the story from the game as clues for the next location.

wendys

Back to Kingsmouth, always back to Kingsmouth in this game. I get a little shiver of deja vu running past Wendy and Jack’s B&B, thinking about the game.

The next game is found at the Lobster Trap, and I pop it in the sheriff’s computer for a late-night text adventure session. I have to say that these games are really well-done writing, short stories from start to end that will brutally finish if you don’t make the right choice.

This one deals with a failed thespian who is given a book, a forbidden play, that consumes him and causes a whole lot of weird stuff to happen around him. It’s downright creepy, especially in its ending… and I have to go perform that very same play as a character. Thanks, Secret World, for making sure I won’t sleep tonight.

stage

It’s not too bad, actually. Once I got the stage set up, I do a bow and apparently that’s my entire “performance.” At least it prompted the Swarm Wasps to come out for a moment up on the balcony.

Another interesting (but not quite scary) story, this one about the Baba Yaga who stole away your brother. Reminds me of Quest for Glory, especially the part about her chicken house.

London eventually leads me to Translyvania, where I find a dark room with a single light shining down on a blindfold. Sure thing, I’ll trust my life to these insane wasps while the undead are prowling around outside!

sw1

Life goes from great to even better, as I wake up in an abandoned mental asylum. At least, I very much hope it’s abandoned. There aren’t any enemy mobs at all in this mission, but the atmosphere and sound effects do a great job convincing you that at any moment, hands could reach out of the dark and pull you into a sticky embrace.

A phone rings. I pick up and the Swarm tells me to play one last game. A short one, but perhaps the most important one. It’s about escaping the very same asylum that I’m in, so I follow those directions and end up gassed in the face for my efforts.

sw2

As I fall unconscious, I see a pack of the Swarm coming out of the shadows. Hope they don’t rifle through my gear.

I wake up in Seoul with the floppy disk that talks about the Swarm, and the collective sends me a text:

sw3

Now this… this is fascinating. The theme of choice has been running strong this entire mission, leading up to one final actual choice: to turn in the evidence about the Swarm to the Templars or keep it to myself. After coming into this knowledge, I don’t think right turning them in, so I kept it. I love that this mission actually gives me one of the very rare choices in TSW.

I also hope that this quest and the Swarm have ramifications on the game going forward. It’s a great concept, that bee-kissed people who didn’t go with a faction are jailed by the secret world for their independent streak — and how that “swarm” is fighting back. If they’re recruiting, I am so in. A fourth faction that’s unlockable as you play on? How cool would that be?

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2 thoughts on “The Secret World: Choose your own adventure

  1. Shandren July 28, 2016 / 11:14 am

    Yeah for a game like TSW where factions are not a barrier to cooperative play, a fourth unlockable faction does indeed sound awesome!

    I just wish I had the time to play.

    At least i got a full playthrough of all the original content back at launch

  2. Sylow July 28, 2016 / 11:29 am

    You spilled the beans and did some spoilering there. In turn, i also think i don’t have to hold back in this thread.

    First of all, on the last issue being mostly a re-packaging of the former sidemissions, i also considered that a mild disappointment. But as the developers says that the sidestories sold badly and how good they actually are, i think for most of the playerbase that was a great move. Sure, financially i theoretically ended up on the “loosing” side, as i spent more points on the sidestories packs than the issue would’ve cost me. (*) I was hoping for a small token of thanks for those who bought the sidestories earlier, but i’m also not mad that we did not get something. I guess our reward simply is that we were able to enjoy those stories much earlier than those who did not buy them.

    On the one new mission, i appreciated it a lot. I very much enjoyed reading up about Cassilda’s Song. Before this mission i was unaware of this influence on Lovecrafts writing. I also was quite unaware of the story of the Baba Yaga, but in this case i did not have to read up about it.

    When i started to read up on that and mentioned it to my girl, she was able to fill in all the gaps i was missing from her memory. She’s from a different country than i am, and she said that her grandmother told her those stories. Once again i can only admire how much this game goes into local myths and folclore and how well they integrate it.

    On the swarm, we can only speculate what meaning they will have, and which consequences we have to expect from delivering or not delivering the disk. (One small warning, though: once you clicked on the disk, you can only deliver or not, there is no “i press escape and decide later”. That’s what i actually wanted to do, i wanted to delay the transfer and make give it some thought, but by pressing escape the game decided that i would not deliver it. No damage done, it was my more likely choice, anyway, but i consider it fair warning to mention this. )

    What i do not expect is that we would get the option to change our faction. Not only would that create some problems with the current PvP system, but more importantly it conflicts with the cabal system.

    Providing such an option to break out of the factions comes with a high risk of breaking cabals and messing up the community. So while the thought is nice, i think the dangers for the game might outweight the possible gains and i consider it unlikely that we will get that. Anyway, i am curious on how the story goes on, after all you did not only make a choice at the end of issue 15, but you also made several decissions on your characters backstory during a dream sequence at the end of issue 13.

    *: Of course, as Grandmaster i did not spend any money on most of the new content. It all comes in “for free” with the monthly bonus points. So once again, it feels a bit like i ripped Funcom off by buying the GM package.

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