(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!)
Foundations (side mission)
You know, I’m not even exaggerating all of the dead Orochi in the game at this point. I kind of suspect that an ambitious-yet-lazy level designer went crazy on the cut-and-paste with one corpse and now the game is stuck with a thick carpeting of dead corporate suits. So what’s up with this schmuck? Looks like he got himself burned for a piece of the Ten Commandments or somesuch.
Maybe he’s just napping. Or tanning! Tanning, yeah.
Um guys? WHAT did that skeleton used to be? I have never asked that before, probably because I’m used to giant skeletons in fantasy games, but this raises some disturbing questions.
Anyway, you know how I mentioned before that it is wise not to underestimate The Secret World’s side missions, because sometimes they turn out surprisingly complex? That’s just the case with Foundations. It’s kind of a mini-investigation quest in which you use the clues on each tablet to navigate the whole map and find the next one. Four tablets later, and I’m once again asked to kill myself (The Secret World might be the only game I’ve ever played that talks up suicide) in order to finish out the mission in the spirit world.
Fashion show break! I used some of my bonus points to bulk buy those 80s bags, and scored a few nice cosmetics — including the sweet roller skates. I didn’t realize it before, but the skates also come with a unique travel animation. I am so using these for the rest of the game. Now to queue up a playlist of nothing but 80s hits. Kenny Loggins, take me to the DANGER ZONE.
I find the mouth-breathing Great Architect (he built the statues, I’m guessing?) and travel with him back to his skeleton, which I suppose is cathartic enough to end the mission. I’m a hero! I’m also wasting time!
Buried in Sand (side mission)
A mysterious (aren’t they all?) crate in the desert lets out several spirit fragments that necessitate a round-up. Hey, I’m of the opinion that if you love something, set it free, but that’s not how MMOs work. You capture them and bind them to your iron will, making them pay in screams and XP.
This short quest is merely a breadcrumb leading to the nearest statue, Huoy. As his dad says, Huoy got to channel the spirit of Anubis, the lord of the underworld. So… you gave the powers of death to a toddler? Death Toddler, coming soon to a theater near you. I would watch that.
A Farewell to Arms (action mission)
Huoy and some of his siblings are recalling another chapter of their sad, lonely life in which their father brought them a movie to watch — Lawrence of Arabia. It’s so pitiful how this was pretty much the highlight of their lives to date, being trapped in stone and in his hellish landscape for so long. Huoy uses the discussion to mention how the cultists are moving materiel into the city, which bodes well for no one. Well, other than the bad guys, of course.
It’s all a jolly good excuse to get out there and shoot up half the countryside. Sometimes that’s all you need from a mission, you know? So I head out and work my way through an extensive Atenist camp, slaying cultists and smashing their crates full of equipment. None of it gives me any trouble, including the end boss who is really committed to the dress code of the cult.
Geary says that the bad guys are running circles around the statues thanks to a better organization and overnight shipping. CURSE YOU AMAZON PRIME! YOU HAVE DOOMED ALL OF HUMANITY WITH YOUR FREE SHIPPING!
The Binding (investigation mission)
If you have ever wondered, as I have, what the deal is with this zone, the dad, and the seven statue-kids that watch over it, this mission has a lot to help with clarification. It starts out with Huoy asking his siblings to recount their story from the beginning, which is told in a vague sort of way. There was a bad pharaoh way back when, and the high priest of the land had to choose between him and his gods. After a great war, the priest somehow found a way to protect the land and preserving his children’s lives, although at a cost. The priest has also, apparently, lived many lifetimes. Reincarnation? Goes with the Egyptian theme.
A nearby talking falcon — not the first time I’ve been instructed by a bird in this game, nor probably the last — tells me that the high priest is starting to despair and needs to be reminded why this is all worth it. He says that there are objects buried where the statues’ gazes intersect, which means that this ENTIRE MAP has been hiding the coordinates for a massive scavenger hunt right in front of our eyes the whole time. Also, this is going to be annoying as all get out. How do you do this? Copy the map and start drawing lines while you go investigate in-game? There aren’t a lot of easy tools for this.
Five pieces scattered all over the map, and it takes ages to find them. And this is only tier one of ten, people!
Once assembled, the Staff of Amun talks about being placed in the center of a chamber, so it’s time to go tomb diving.
Once the staff is used in the super-duper special area, a cutscene kicks in, showing Ptahmose – the high priest — praying to his gods. This is interspersed with grainy black-and-white shots of him working over his dead kids, transferring their life essence to these statues. What I want to know, what I really need to know right now is, did he kill those kids? Or were they dead and he’s trying to save them the only way he knows how? Because that’s a huge difference in my book.
The mission sends me over to the lioness statue, who promptly tries to blow me up with awesome eye lasers. I was so stunned, I didn’t even get a good screenshot of her going all Star Wars on me. But it was VERY awesome. Then comes another cutscene where three of the siblings bicker about fighting the enemy and the appropriate response for this new and strange threat.
Meanwhile, I stroll into the statue’s base and discover a scroll leading me to the Black Pyramid. Wish I had eye lasers. Oh well.
Instead of going underneath the Pyramid — that comes later, sweetlings — this mission sends me up to the middle-topish, where rooms contain frescos showing the story of Amun confronting the Pharoah, sacrificing his family to 3,000 years of statueville, and his eventual victory.
Yet it’s intensely bittersweet, isn’t it? I don’t think I can forgive this guy for offing all of his kids just to win a war, even one with such high stakes. And the closing cutscene, in which the dad spends time with his statue-children, is acutely depressing. Some of the kids are just gleeful to see him, hear stories, play games, and get another postcard on the wall. But one of the older girls radiates impatience and anger, wanting to know how long they’ll have to keep this up.
“As long as it takes.”