Point Nemo. More formally called “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility”. The most remote spot on the globe. They measured it: 2688 km from the closest land in any direction. (Pole of inaccessibility - Wikipedia)
It’s the solution to a serious geographical question: “the longest swim”-problem. If someone were to fall overboard from an ocean cruiser, where would be the spot where they would have to swim the farthest to reach land? Funny, right? You know…because nobody could swim that far…
Point Nemo, the place no one wants to be.
And this is where Captain Jun Do parked his fishing boat…—ducks speargun shaft—…his mighty fishing vessel Tataki (a floating fish-processing factory) in hopes of finally securing a sizable catch.
But first, Jun Do is hungry.
The first part through Eat the Eldritch is a quest for food. And for the cook to cook it, of course. Wouldn’t want the Captain frying up his own dolphin steak, would we?
This involves solving a few fairly traditional puzzles which were well-integrated with the fishing boat…-ducks chunk of ice-…setting. At least one fooled me at first, I had to rethink what I had thought of as a straightforward answer to the problem.
Besides the puzzle solutions, there are achievements to gain! Sometimes by doing completely mundane stuff. Which is always a nice surprise: “You jumped fruitlessly in the air! Here, have a badge!” (Not an actual example.)
Most importantly, this first part is an opportunity to acquaint yourself with the ship’s nooks and crannies, building some familiarity with the available room and gear, and have a go at creating the greatest/worst What If scenarios for the Eldritch we read about in the title.
(Blowing my own fog horn here, but during this exploratory shipcrawl the plan for the endgame flashed into my brain like lightning. I saw it all. (SPOILER: Terminator). In no way did this dampen the fun, it just intensified my engagement and anticipation.)
There are few locations in the ship, but the way they are organised, combined with the view through the windows, does give a feeling for the size of it, as well as the vastness of the surrounding ocean.
I found two red herrings (those didn’t count as food…), one intentional and tied to an achievement, one unintentional but so overwhelmingly obvious that I did spend a good number of turns on it trying different wordings before deciding it was just an author oversight.
When Jun Do does find his cook, this is an enigmatic personality, to say the least. It’s heavily hinted through his behaviour that he has something to do with later events, but this never becomes explicit. To my feeling, the guy was there expressly to be enigmatic, to bring an anticipatory tension and an air of mystery to the circumstances. He does provide more than a few instances of skewed comic relief too…
So Jun Do has found some food and the cook has cooked it. Classic adventure game solved…
An alarm starts blaring!
And then… stuff happens. Strange stuff.
I’ll quote the PM I sent to the author while I was playing:
Wow… Just… Wow.
Things got really really weird. Good weird. Delightful weird. Amazingly funny and discombobulating weird.
Of course, having read the title, it’s not hard to figure out what’s happening. When it happened to me mid-game though, I was disoriented by the transition sequence and delighted by the onset of the second part of the game.
Since “Eldritch” is in the title, it’s not giving away too much when I say that a Lovecraftian abomination shows up.
Here, in descriptions where you almost hear the author laughing, the writing very cleverly and amusingly sidesteps the whole Lovecraftian Paradox.
Lovecraftian Paradox: when a story builds up to the appearance of an unspeakable Evil, an otherwordly Presence, a Distortion to the senses so vile it sends the mind of the beholder reeling into madness… and when the monster finally shows up it’s a laughable mass of writhing tentacles and oozing warts all knotted up into itself. “Mom, I can see his zipper!”"
After building such anticipation in the reader, the author is obligated to show the monster. In doing so however, its impact is diminished to the point of ridicule.
In Eat the Eldritch, the humorous tone of the story and the writing skill of the author avert this paradox by diving straight into the center of the writhing mass. (Sausages.)
When the Eldritch Abomination showed up, I did, as mentioned above, have a plan ready. With a few on-the-go tweaks, it worked perfectly, both in the sense that the game understood my commands and didn’t get in the way of my intentions, and in the sense that, well… it was a good plan. This was incredibly rewarding. It made me feel like this:
[Hannibal from The A-Team leans back smiling, eyes sparkling,
cigar firmly clenched between his bared teeth. If you don’t get
the reference, either I’m too old or you’re too young.]