(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!)
The Angry Earth (investigation mission)
There’s this quote attributed to Mark Twain that goes, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” An organizational practice based off of that sentiment encourages people to “eat their frogs” first and foremost every day — that is, to pick the largest and most onerous task of the day and make it the first thing you do. With that out of the way, the day doesn’t seem so bad and you don’t have this terrible thing hanging over your head and causing you to procrastinate.
Well, it’s time to eat my Egyptian frog in The Secret World, because I’ve been putting off Issue 14 for this character long enough. While it’s a newer story arc, I’ve not been keen to do it for this series because (1) I just did it a couple of months ago and (2) it was really long and kind of annoying. But it’s standing between me and finishing up City of the Sun God, so frog… into my mouth you go.
The whole story starts in Agartha, as tremors ripple out and make the Conductor quite uneasy (and boy do I want to find out what his story is one of these days). It’s nothing major… yet… but any tremor in Agartha means terrible things elsewhere.
I head into the Scorched Desert for some more investigation (this being that sort of mission and all). Seismographs help me pinpoint a few places where the tremors are originating, although it seems like everything really points to the Ankh. An audio tape there from a Dr. Klein talks about how the world has been reset several times in various ages, with artifacts continuing on and causing more and more ripples to the pattern. Is there an endgame? Can we ever get it right? And is Earth right now nearing the end of the fourth age?
As I go down into the Ankh, I pick up The Voice of Klein (side mission), which tasks me to pick up more of his audio recordings in the solo dungeon. Klein talks about running an experiment on himself by injecting micro-doses of the Filth. Raise your hands if you think this is a good idea. Yeah. I thought so. This is how super-villains are made, man.
See? You’re a DOCTOR. Did you think that injecting yourself with world-destroying goo was going to have a happy ending? You look like Professor Quasimodo now and you’re not getting invited to any more dinner parties.
Klein wants to know what I know about the tremors (spoiler: not much) and he’s willing to torture me to get the info. Said torture is actually torture for the player, not the character, as he puts me into a ring of death and makes me dodge various filth attacks and activate my special mysterious device at certain precise moments to avoid being insta-killed. Even though I’ve done this before, I had to play through it about four times until I stopped failing so bad at it. Klein vanishes afterward like a Scooby-Doo cliffhanger and I am encouraged to go check out the City of the Sun God for more answers.
An Interlude of Sand (investigation mission)
One interesting thing about Issue 14 is these little interlude missions, which aren’t so much missions as they are cutscenes. In the City of the Sun God, the statues are growing increasingly worried about the tremors, which apparently aren’t coming from Aten at all. Someone is digging — with explosives — and that could spell disaster.
Digging Too Deep (action mission)
Yeah! This is more like it — action! Fighting! No more thinking!
Maybe the cultists have something to do with the tremors, but before I can investigate, a courier knocks me down and I give chase. It’s all good, as he leads me to a cultist summer camp and I spend many delightful afternoons basket weaving and canoeing. That is to say, I lay waste to them with the judgment meted out by my twin pistols.
It turns out that, yes, the cultists are kind of being jerks here, what with throwing dynamite at Filth inside of caves and seeing what happens. An overseer’s journal talks about how a voice has whispered up from one of the cracks, beckoning him.
An Interlude of Bedtime Stories (investigation mission)
As I’m risking life and limb, Ptahmose is reading Aladdin to his children. Gee, where’s the game where I get to read stories while others go fight on my behalf? He mentions that there’s some element of truth to the story, namely in the Jinn and signet ring. He suggests I cozy up with the ever-delightful Amir, who will probably want a present before agreeing to help.
Appeasing the Flames (action mission)
Amir, as we’ve well established in this series, is a raging jerk of a jinn — and what’s worse, he’s pretty much the only one who will talk to you or lend you a shred of aid. And even after I spend a half-hour combing the desert to assemble Solomon’s ring, he has a hissy-fit and demands that I get him a fat Atenist instead.
I don’t know what’s worse about this mission: The fight with the fire-creature that can swat you down quick if you’re not paying attention, or the escort quest from hell in which your escortee escapes several times and keeps trying to shotgun you in the back. Even at the end of all of that, all Amir does is rant and rave and suggest I go check out some jinn rituals. Fine. You are OFF my Christmas card list, pal.
Fight For Your Rites (action mission)
I suppose one of the reasons that I am not so fond of the Issue 14 chain here is that so little about it is interesting or enjoyable. Instead, it’s a dull slog through one of the dullest zones in the world, sending you out again and again on scavenger hunts and ending in a bizarrely long investigation dungeon topped by a pretty tough boss fight. Funcom’s generally done better and better with the newer issues, but man, this one was a misstep. I think there are devs over there trying to salvage this zone and prove that it’s not a complete loss. Sunk-cost fallacy and all that.
Anyway, the tedium continues as Amir sends me off to recover four tablet pieces that have the answers I seek. I don’t care what kind of build you’re going for in TSW, you are going to want to incorporate a heavy element of AoE into it. Packs abound here, even two- and three-packs of mini-bosses, and I get a lot of use out of my four AoE skills as I go along.
The culmination of this mission leads back to Ptahmose and An Interlude of Mythos, where he shares some insight into what the Jinn call “The Unbound One.” Apparently it was the first and mightiest of all Jinn who had a wee too much freedom and power and starting causing havoc. King Solomon tricked him into a pocket dimension, which is now tucked under the Black Pyramid. The shape of this structure really lends itself to all of the layers of bad things within, I think you’d agree.