“The world is ashes and the gods are a horror.” – Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold So what does it matter what day it is or what time? On time, early, slightly tardy, late, who cares? [I do! -ed.] Patently not on time, early, or even a little late, it is my excruciating pleasure to present to you the fourth installment of the Chronicle of the Lightbearer, the latest in a series of unwarranted grotesqueries by yours truly. TW for body horror.
Well, it’s Sunday again, or perhaps Monday, or it could even be the 1st of Octember. That means it’s time for another installment of the ghoulish Chronicle of the Lightbearer. When last we left our protagonistic abomination, they had just died, but death is no escape – bear that in mind, there will be a quiz later. TW for body horror, as usual.
In case you haven’t heard, Sunless Skies, the sequel to Failbetter Games’ indie hit Sunless Sea, has set course for release on January 31st, the year of her Majesty below 2019. The pitch is “Sail the skies. Betray your Queen. Murder a sun.” Works for me, I’ve wanted to murder a sun ever since I met the !@%$!?! Dawn Machine (falling as it does only behind red honey on my list of things that are actually terrible in Sunless Sea, and that only because the red honey smuggling subplot involves such an intensely personal corruption). I’ve been in on the Sunless Skies alpha and it’s been amazing, watching the world grow from a frustratingly sparse but conceptually fascinating single zone of space to a deep, dark, place, full of wonder and terror, worthy successor to the strange glories of Sunless Sea.
Welcome back, my dear fiends! In this gloaming hour we have for you the ghastly first quest of the Lightbearer, a suicide mission into the gullet of giant worm, and I don’t mean wyrm with a “y.” No, this behemoth is the maggoty, squirmy kind. Do you think you have the “stomach” for this tale? We shall see. (TW for body horror).
Hello my ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things that go “bump” in the night! It’s uh, still Sunday night, right? No… well, never mind then. This week, I’m starting my creative playthrough/AAR of Tales of Maj’Eyal as a Writhing One. TW for body horror in roughly the same vein as Mary Shelly, David Cronenberg, H.P. Lovecraft (of course), and my nightmares as I entered adolescence. We’re not getting into Human Centipede territory because even I have limits. It’s my intention to stay as close as possible to the official lore of ToME and to the key in-game events without being pedantic about either one. We’re not doing this is chess notation.
Oh boy! Are we going to try something dangerous? Sorry, had to work the reference in there somewhere. Blink and you’ll miss it. Or, at least, “be sick nigh unto death itself with food poisoning and ye shall not see it.” Last week, while my guts were re-staging the storming of the Bastille, Paradox showed off the first live-play session with forthcoming sci-fi 4x game, Age of Wonders: Planetfall. But wait, you say, isn’t Age of Wonders a fantasy series? Not this time, friend, though the video does show off some classic Age of Wonders / fantasy 4x mechanics adapted to sci-fi with grace and aplomb.
Alice is dead. So is Lisette Coalface. Halfling Shadowblade and Dwarven Berserker, they died in shockingly similar ways, neither overwhelmed by a tide of foes nor slain in dire melee with some fell champion, no, each was humbled by a single critical-hit with a spell. I begin to see why they massacred all the wizards (game lore… of course there are a great many spellcasters-in-hiding).
So much for Sunday night… or early Monday morning. Well, better late than never, I always say [they do always say that, and I always pull out my hair and scream at them to no avail -ed.] From the moment I wrote about the importance of keeping “decadent” 3D art and animation out of roguelikes, I knew I’d need to re-load Wazhack. Wazhack, if you haven’t played it, is a roguelike that breaks a lot of the rules about what roguelikes look like and how they play, while remaining shockingly faithful to the feel of the genre. Wazhack is a side-scrolling roguelike with fully animated low-poly 3D art that plays out in a kind of frozen “real time” that makes it the roguelike ancestor of Superhot, though it plays more like Steamworld Heist than anything, especially with any ranged or magical class.
I shouldn’t have been such a hard case about the Black Death last time, I appear to have attracted the attentions of disease spirits and spent much of last weekend sick in bed. I beheld the Angel of Death and prepared to meet my end… but then it turned out that I was only re-watching Angels in America (the HBO miniseries). It’s really good, by the way – if you haven’t seen it, you really should.
Welcome to what may become a regular SP Sunday-night feature, if you’re in the US (more like second breakfast or elevensies time in NZ). I’ve always fancied myself a decidedly non-prime hours horror host, in the vein of Vampira, Elvira, and Commander USA. Don’t remember Commander USA? Just imagine Watchmen’s The Comedian unconvincingly faking enthusiasm for El Santo movies and “drawing on” his hand with his cigar. I asked editorial for a wardrobe budget, but all I got back was a series of farty noises, so just imagine me in a LBD and a smoking jacket, wearing a wig stolen from a community theatre production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, sitting in a ridiculously oversized Gothic armchair next to a roaring fireplace (burning official strategy guides and AOL diskettes, ‘natch) and cradling a coffee mug bigger than my head in my arms with a degree of tenderness usually reserved for newborn babies and Alpha Edition Magic: the Gathering cards. Got it? Good, let’s go.