(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!)
Death and Axes (investigation mission)
Sophie is one of the truly good people in The Secret World. She’s under a lot of pain, as she somehow feels the death of people in the vicinity, but she remains optimistic and compassionate. She talks about how it was really bad at first, when the vampires came, which makes me think that what happened here was a lot like what happened on Solomon Island when the fog rolled in: Evil was unleashed quickly, rapidly, and widely, penning the survivors in and cutting off their route for escape.
Sophie talks of both the dead and undead that linger around here, and encourages me in so many words to check out the spirits that are also causing her torment. Anything I can do for a fan, really.
So what we have here, really, is a murder investigation case, Secret World-style. It’s one of the more clever missions of the game, even if it makes you Google Translate Romanian way too often.
Part of Sophie’s distress is standing right behind her, which can only be seen when I dive into the spirit world and see a ghost hovering right over her shoulder. This is the ghost of a detective who was apparently investigating a murder — the murder of Sophie’s boyfriend, Mihail.
This mission is big on finding clues, both in the living world and in the anima one, and using logical deduction to figure out what to do and where to go next. At the murder site, a hanged body is watched over by a raven. That’s never a good sign in this game.
Mihail left a love letter to Sophie, begging her to run off with him. He was also disturbed at how he could hear the spirits talking through her voice while she slept at night. I would think that’d be disturbing.
The investigation led me to a local farm, where Sophie’s mom and dad had been killed as well. Their ghosts continued to hang around to give me the info for a license plate, because why tell me a name when a license plate could be so much more ambiguous?
We’re condensing a lot of backtracking, translating, and investigation via the late detective’s laptop, but in the end I uncover the murderer: Mihail’s brother, who was heavily influenced by a local revenant. I perform my justice and find the body of the detective, hopefully putting all of the spirits to rest and helping to ease Sophie’s pain a bit.
Dead Reconning (action mission)
Iorgu is one of the (rare) dull mission NPCs in this game, so let’s skip over him and talk about The Secret World’s vampires — or Strigoi, as the locals call them. While TSW’s werewolves are pretty typical stuff, I give the devs credit for making the vampires far from sexy and tropish. If anything, they’re creepy-looking bloodsuckers, kind of like human mosquitoes with claws. The excess clothing and gas masks allow them to be out during the day, while the straws coming out of the mask are presumably for feeding. You genuinely want to kill these guys on first sight, and that’s to the game’s credit.
This mission serves as an introduction to this big threat that’s descended to the front steps of the village. We learn a lot about vampires here: how they dress, how they fight… and how they feed. Vamps can drink animal blood but vastly prefer human blood for the edge it gives them. To help this, they keep “blood stocks” around. These are people strapped to a frame with tubes sticking out of them all over the place — again, for easy access. As far as I can tell, they’re beyond the point of saving, which is why the game lets you mercy kill any you see. At least, I’m hoping that’s the case, because I’ve often felt bad for them. Even the name, blood stock, is so impersonal and strips the humanity away from this shell.
Other than learning about vamps, this mission takes me on a tour of the Soviet-era apartment block that grew up right next to the more homey village. Lots of brutal cold war architecture, with ugly concrete structures jutting up all over the place and forlorn playground equipment.
There is a zip line at one point, although this is traversed in first-person cutscene (boo). At the end of the mission, I find a note on a computer ordering the vampire horde to hold back and not overrun the village. Apparently there’s a bigger plan going on, and I intend to find out what.
There’s a short side mission follow-up, A Body of Work, that involves gathering much-needed supplies for the villagers.
A Drink to Remember (action mission)
After getting a little tipsy with Iorgu, I set out to push deeper into the vampire-held territory to see what’s going on behind their front lines. Turns out, not so good things. Also, it’s an apocalyptic wasteland, a warzone that makes me wonder where the tanks, mortar rounds, and bombs are. Vampires with their prickly claws couldn’t have done all of this.
The vamps are building strange siege engines — giant, semi-hidden things with mechanical treads and jutting, bird-like appendages, It’s hard to figure out how these would be used in any situation, nevermind a siege one. On the inside, they’re mostly fuel tanks, old computers, and blood stocks.
I bump shoulders with the vampire general here, who is amusing to watch type with those giant claws on. Also, it’s a little weird that he pretty much ignores me until I attack him. I am not above getting in a free hit at the start.
After stepping over his corpse, I read the general’s email and see that even he was getting orders from higher-up, orders to stay put and work on those siege engines. But what for? They could’ve overrun the village with a small platoon of vampires at this point.
Another short follow-up mission, Blood Drive, puts me in the role of a blood delivery man to the local church. Why? We’ll go into that another time.