How far in are you? What do you understand so far?
The game is not primarily a character-driven piece, but it does have some fairly well-developed characters - and the worldbuilding is really very extensive. Some parts of it is explained in optional or subtle ways, but the big stuff is really explicitly laid out.
I guess there’s no way to explain that without spoilers. So, SPOILERS!
[spoiler]Well, I’m currently in Samuel Johnson Hall working on getting myself an invitation to see the T-inserter. (More specifically, I just got into the rectification room.) I understand that I am linguistically bonded to some graduate student named Alex (who is also the narrator, a cute touch), we both did something very illegal (besides getting linguistically bonded together, which is itself illegal), perhaps stealing information or money (or both), and that we’re trying to get off the island via a yacht. (Right now, I can’t do that until I rescue a member of my team, Brock, who got himself captured.) I understand that Brock is my lover (though he doesn’t seem to be very nice, given my memories of him), and Slango is my mentor (in crime?).
What I don’t understand is: who am I (besides the rather bizarre name, Andra)? Why did I come to Atlantis in the first place? (I get the general impression that I ran away from home and became a spy (for whom?), but beyond that I’m lost.) What am I (or was I) trying to do here (besides escape the island)? Who is Alex (other than a graduate student in Linguistics studies)? Why is Alex so keen to throw his (previous) life and identity away? Besides the fact that Brock and Slango are part of my “crew,” what is my “crew” (and what are they trying to accomplish, and why)? Am I the captain of said “crew?” (How does that work, given that I seem to be the least experienced member of it?) Other than a heavily bureaucratic bent, what’s so wrong about Atlantis? (The text seems to imply that they’re bad and horrible for some reason, but that reason is never given, and indeed they seem to do a decent job keeping a critically dangerous technology from killing everyone.)
I guess, in short, my problem is this: I understand my tactical goal (leave the island) and it’s subgoals (meet up with Slango, rescue Brock, etc.), but what is my strategic goal? What is the reason for my existence? As so many prima donnas have cried out before me, “What is my motivation!?”
I’ve watched the memories I’ve been given, but they mostly leave me more confused than when I started. (Or, at least, leave a strong distaste in my mouth, of the sort I get when playing Infidel or watching a movie about a psychopath (Catch Me If You Can, etc.). Though, if the game is supposed to be a tragedy, I guess I’ll just have to keep playing to see.)
I’m not the author, but I’ll reply to parts of your question as best I can. If anyone can elaborate on my response please do so.
Andra is a mercenary working with Slango (the captain) and Brock. On this mission your purpose is to find out about the new top-secret T-inserter’s capabilities and weaknesses, and then escape from the island. Alex is a linguistics grad student who was willing to go through the synthesis to be able to get his illegal constructed language off the island–he wants enough people to use it that the energy levels for letter-removals will be reasonable, and the words are designed so that people in poor nations will be able to convert things like dirt and rocks into valuable resources. The main problem with the government (iirc) is that they’re repressive and seldom even let people leave the island, which is why Alex jumped at the chance to escape. Later on you can find someone who was put in “cold storage” (converted into an inanimate object, effectively capital punishment) indefinitely for reading Italian literature.
That is helpful, thanks. Without a lot of that info, playing the game feels like watching a movie that you start halfway through—with no sense of framing, everything feels empty.
I had no idea the T-inserter was actually central to the mission. In fact, I was rather curious about why the whole thing seemed so important, when as far as I knew, I was just here to, well, leave.
One other question. Whenever I
GO TO x
I always seem to end up in front of the hostel. (For example,
GO TO BUREAU
or pretty much anything like it.) Is this a bug, or do I just misunderstand what is supposed to happen? (I would expect that it’s supposed to take me to the location under consideration!)
[spoiler]Slango, Brock, and Andra originally only expected to be able to get the plans to the T-inserter – and they did get them, and hide them in Andra’s locker at the hostel. Unfortunately, Andra’s face was recorded in the process, which is why she needs to be merged with Alex in order to have a chance of making it out through the customs and border control. The plan is for her to do that, then retrieve her possessions and meet up with Slango when she’s done. This is why the original description and goals are all about you getting off the island to start with.
The problem is, while Andra and Alex are away getting synthesized, Brock hears about an opportunity to go work with the T-inserter in person and run some additional tests on it. That’s likely to net them a much bigger payoff, so he goes off to pursue that angle. He rushes into stuff a lot. It might be endearing except it’s also a huge pain.
So that’s why, by the time you’re ready to leave, Brock’s gotten himself caught and is not available to leave with you. And you and Slango are too loyal to just ditch him, so…[/spoiler]
Re approaches: if it stops you on the way to someplace, it should tell you why it stops you there. E.g. “You get as far as (wherever), but then the door is locked.” Are you getting a description like that?
Thanks, that makes what’s going on much, much clearer. I think I get it now!
I was in the same room as the adorable camera when I attempted to approach it! (The game said that the cute door would only open if I approached the adorable camera, so I tried it, and then I found myself at the hostel. Trying to “GO TO BUREAU” to get back crashed the game; luckily I had saved just before, after which I just tried going “NORTH,” which worked fine.
If you’d like, I can try to get you a transcript of the issue sometime this evening.
Also, I like appending “cute” and “adorable” to just about every noun. So. Much. Fun!
Okay. I think that’s a location-specific bug that’s been reported but that I just haven’t yet released a patch for. (Sorry. It’s been a busy year.) It should certainly not be the case that all attempts to go to anywhere produce that result, though.
[spoiler]It thinks the “camera” means the American’s cheap camera, while the “bureau” means the diorama in front of the Hostel. No crashing this time, though! Perhaps I had a different state last time? (I saved over the previous save file, so recreated this from a different one… )
Congratulations to the author for an excellent game. Okay, mebbe I’m just a baleful SOB but my favorite moment was:
In addition to a STICK, one may also use a severed human ARM to break the pinata outside the Bureau. I laughed for some time over a mental image of mortified housewives trying to shield the eyes of their astounded tots as my player-character furiously savaged the pinata with the disembodied limb, spraying blood all over the candy and the sidewalk (surely to the absolute delight of at least some of the kids).
I don’t understand one thematic aspect of the ending I got:
After changing Atlantida to an atlantida, and then homonym-ing her back to Atlantida, presumably as a direct result of these actions of my character she became shortly thereafter dedicated to Truth and Justice For All. Why? I don’t see the connection between a minor misadventure on her part and a radical change in her personality and values. Even the most cursory perusal of human history demonstrates that tyrants are incorrigible, and they never relinquish power voluntarily.
[spoiler]The deal with Atlantida is that she is not a real human being: she’s originally the mollusc. The woman Atlantida is a creation of the Bureau, designed as a figure of ideal patriotic duty. (She’s a piece of conscious cultural engineering, the same kind of stuff that Alex is planning to do. This is detailed in Bureau files that are found in this general area.) The problem is, it’s an ideal of patriotic duty from many decades ago. While the public idea of Atlantida has changed, as symbols do, the created Atlantida hasn’t.
When new things are created by word-manipulation, they reflect the general shape of the concept both in the overall culture (and, in at least some cases, of their creator). So uncreating Atlantida and then re-creating her brings her up to date with the modern idea of Atlantida, who has become more of a Marianne-style liberator than a Uncle Sam-style authoritarian.[/spoiler]
Someone please help, I’m stuck at the rotunda area in the bureau. I am wearing a wig, and a coat and have a great many items amassed in my inventory. I have the pass and invitation, yet every time I try to get past the guard, I get discovered. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, any help would be welcome!!!