Connect with us

Published

on

Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG banner art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG banner art by Niklas Brandt

This is the final chapter of the saga of my review and ongoing campaign log for Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG. Last time, you caught the end of Kyle’s story. Here are some bonus stories from our brief starting campaign along with the rest of the review.

But what happened to Nadya?  Follow along as she shares the rest of her story:

So I was mad, and I did something really stupid.  I stormed off and trekked back to Kepno alone.  Thank God I didn’t run into more soldiers or the Shepherd’s Flock, though I did get attacked by a wolf when setting up camp and ran into a very hidden and fortified village that was none too happy to see anyone.  Fortunately they let me pass by so long as I just kept on my way and gave them a wide berth.  I managed to get back to Kepno alive.

When I returned they were dismayed to see me, despite my having done expert work on the vehicles I worked on for them, and my heart sank when I learned why.  That bear Aleksy had shot in the woods and we’d traded to them for the still was heavily irradiated.  After we left, they cooked it up and a bunch of townsfolk ate it.  Now people are sick of radiation poisoning and some are dying, including many of the young ones in the daycare.

I am able to stay here in Kepno and do mechanical work; they desperately needed someone with my expertise.  But there are a lot of townsfolk here who hate my guts and want to see me gone.   They think we did it on purpose.  It saddens me beyond measure that our cluelessness and idiocy led to this.  All the more reason to just bury myself in my work and keep my nose under the hood where it belongs…

Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt

As an added bonus, here are some notes from Roger’s personal journal after the break up of the group:

It’s not easy being black – all my life I’ve had to work twice as hard and always with a yessir, no-sir, I’m-your-right-wing-man-sir.  But now I know it’s even harder being green.  I wasn’t ready for any of this, I’d barely finished officer training when I was thrust into this war and sent out here into the great big world to do my duty to my country.  Was my driving to blame for the truck?  Was there any way to smooth things over?  I don’t know.  I can only wish upon the distant starlight.  It’s that hope that keeps me going, that makes me want to live to fight another day.  Because, beyond all else, I still want to believe that Someday we’ll find it…  The Rainbow Connection…  The lovers, the dreamers and me…

From a Gaming Perspective – How Did It Go?

Game play in Twilight 2000 RPG is intense.  It’s a lot different fighting other people than engaging with wildlife.  Battle is terrifying and confusing and conveys both the horror and glory of war well.  Somewhere along the way in the first big confrontation with a Soviet patrol, we forgot to have dinner in real life.

Advertisement

There are a lot of things to remember and look up as you determine your actions.  Figuring out the logistics of fighting with penalties for cover was a challenge but we got the hang of it as time progressed.  It’s frustrating to get shell-shocked and find yourself unable to act, especially if you are out in the open and cannot get to relative safety or counter-attack.  We didn’t play enough to get a good sense of ideal fighting distances and were never really on the offense, so we were at a notable disadvantage every time we engaged in fighting with other humans.

The Twilight 2000 RPG system is different than others I have gamed in before.  I really like the mechanics but need to restrategize how I create characters.  A lot of the RPGs I’ve engaged in previously (D&D, AD&D, D&D3E, GURPS, Iron Heroes, etc.) encourage min-maxing and uber-specialization whereas, in the Twilight 2000 RPG system, it seems diversifying would be better in many ways.  It’s food for thought for the next time we create characters, and it will be interesting to find a sense of balance in that.

Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt

From a referee standpoint, the game benefits from more planning than is implied as necessary and I’m glad my husband took the time to flesh it out and track everything. He is a very good referee.  I think he was happier with the results as well, since he is a realist and is rather particular about details.  Although it can be played essentially as a series of random encounters, the experience holds more interest if there’s more background: how much or how little likely depends on the gaming group and people involved.

Also, the background setting seems to be drawn somewhere between the end times of The Fall and a more Post-Apocalypse Mad Max view.  The timeline is set essentially at the end of the big war but civilization has already devolved several decades beyond where one might expect given what was described as happening and how quickly that evolved, especially regarding the hyper-aggression of the wildlife and the scarcity of resources and infrastructure even in more remote areas that would not have been affected in the same ways.  The result is a bit disjointed but does maximize dramatic effect.

Overall, I give the Twilight 2000 RPG system 4.5 Cthulus.  I enjoyed the game and look forward to revisiting it in the future on my own.  The mechanics were generally well thought out and play was enjoyable. Skill rolls and combat were well-orchestrated and don’t get too bogged down in logistics.  There are a few things that could benefit from being better fleshed out, especially regarding survivalist considerations like food, water, camping/sleeping gear, and so on, but I imagine each gaming group can determine how to tackle these things unto itself as far as what happens at the start on all sides and what sort of things are and aren’t readily available.  I am interested in seeing what a longer form campaign could bring. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

As a side note, going back and playing out what happened at the end with Nadya is a testament to the power of story evolution in this game.  No one planned this – my husband legitimately drew the encounter from the deck and the party did what was in the best interest of everyone by trading the bear to the town.  My husband thought he would not be able to disclose what had happened until the party passed back through, and when we were captured it seemed as if that story would not have a chance to become known.  Except Nadya had booked and was returning to Kepno, and for all that we doubted she would make it back, she miraculously did so.  Finding out how her story ended legitimately sent chills up my spine when it revealed itself.  All came full circle with the horrors of war and the consequences of our actions laid bare. Well played, Twilight 2000 RPG, well played – this legitimately earned another 0.5 Cthulus on top of the 4.0 rating I had initially planned to bestow.

Advertisement

Thank you for joining us for When You’re Going Through Hell – if you have enjoyed this series, you should consider getting a group together and picking up the game for yourselves

Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG art by Niklas Brandt

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Gaming

Review: A Plague Tale series

Published

on

Asobo Studios A Plague Tale series consisting of Innocence (2019) and Requiem (2022) has been out for a while. Weirdly enough, I struggled to put my thoughts into words about these games until now. The way I see it, it’s impossible to talk about one without the other, so let’s dive in, shall we?

Plot and characters

Advertisement

The story of A Plague Tale games takes loose inspiration from the Black Plague times with a touch of the Hundred Years’ War. Amicia and Hugo are siblings on the run from soldiers while also fighting off infected rats, meeting allies along the way. A huge theme of Innocence is Amicia finding a solution for Hugo’s long-term sickness. As one would suspect, it turns out to be connected to the plague itself. Amicia also goes from being a disconnected older sister to his biggest protector throughout the game. 

Promotional poster, Amicia is facing away from the camera looking at a scenery of the river.
Source: Focus Entertainment

Hugo himself is more or less an annoying kid who wants his mother. This is frankly a realistic characterization as he actually speaks and acts as a child would act. Granted, him essentially walking into the Pope’s trap is frustrating but the climax needed to be set up somehow. I also enjoyed Lucas’s character as an alchemist apprentice as he proved to be one of the more consistent helpers to the duo. 

Advertisement

While Innocence ends on a hopeful note, with the characters on the verge of starting over somewhere new and the plague contained, Requiem shows this was a fake out. The sequel really puts Amicia through her paces. Her character is broken both physically and mentally to the point where she is barely recognizable. Hugo is more mature, although his insistence on this magical island that will fix the Macula issue is an immediate red flag. It’s not surprising the supposed safe haven turns into hell quite quickly. 

The generational curse where the protector and carrier story repeats itself means a tragic ending for our protagonists. This means it can feel fruitless to play the two installments as the whole point of Amecia’s journey is to protect Hugo at all costs, which proves to be impossible. Was it because of certain choices they made or just extremely unfortunate circumstances? Either way, I felt horrible for them both while playing Requiem, so at least it invoked a strong emotion in me. 

Gameplay

Advertisement

The series is a third-person stealth adventure with survival horror elements. Innocence has a clear-cut mechanic that relies on Amicia sneaking past or distracting threats with a certain number of puzzles to get past the rats. She is also extremely vulnerable, dying from one enemy hit, forcing the player to start all over. This is something Requiem updates, adding the opportunity for you to recover by running away from the enemy. 

It can be frustrating to have to restart a whole section because of one mistake. However, it does make the player think methodically about what the best approach is. I found the challenges a tad repetitive which stopped me from binge-playing the game, but that’s just my opinion. 

Overall thoughts

Advertisement

After taking this time to digest my feelings towards A Plague Tale games, I can still vouch for the amazing experience. The historical aspects are endearing, and the graphics are beautiful, as is the score. The scriptwriters knew what kind of emotional punches would hit the players just right and the voice actors really gave it all. It’s obvious a lot of love went into this project and I am grateful to have played it. 

Amicia is holding Hugo's hand and they are walking towards a foggy village.
Source: Steam

Regardless, there were certain aspects of the story that for me personally, did not sit right. I am not a massive fan of a tragedy that ends, well, in tragedy, especially with hints history will repeat itself again. The entire concept of the ‘greater good’ and the main characters sacrificing their happiness has been done before and while I can understand why they went that way, it also left me feeling a bit empty. 

Advertisement

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Continue Reading

Gaming

The Last of Us: Episode 7: Left Behind

Published

on

The Last of Us series is winding down with only three episodes left. Directed by Liza Johnson and written by Neil Druckmann, “Left Behind” adapts the video game’s DLC story of the same name. Ellie and Joel are hiding out in a basement, and Joel is suffering greatly from his stabbing. He orders Ellie to go back to Tommy and leave him behind, but she’s reluctant. The episode cuts to a flashback of the events that happened before Ellie and Joel met, thus beginning the sweet, tragic backstory of our young protagonist.

First Love

Ellie is stuck in a FEDRA boarding school in Boston. Her best friend and roommate, Riley, ran away a few weeks back and Ellie has been grieving the loss. She gets into fights with classmates and even sends one girl to the infirmary to get 15 stitches. Everything changes when Riley suddenly returns and reveals she joined the Fireflies, the organization FEDRA is training students to fight and kill.

Riley

Ellie disapproves of her friend’s choices, but there isn’t anything she can say that will change Riley’s mind. However, as a sort of apology for leaving without saying goodbye, Riley asks Ellie to sneak out for a few hours and join her on a little adventure. Ellie reluctantly agrees.

The two sneak into an abandoned mall that was once used to hoard infected. Now it is filled with wonders and surprises beyond the youths’ wildest dreams. The girls connect like they haven’t been separated for weeks, and their chemistry is sweet and wholesome. Riley gives Ellie an array of gifts, from a photo booth and carousel ride to an arcade with Mortal Kombat and a brand new pun book.

All Good Things End

The evening comes to a halt when Riley reveals the Fireflies are sending her to the Atlanta base and this is her last night in Boston. Ellie is furious and runs away, fully intended on returning back to her dorm room. But she only gets so far before caving into her feelings and running back to Riley. They reunite in a Halloween store, where they wear goofy wolf and clown masks (replicas of the game’s masks) and dance to Etta James’ “I Got You Babe.” They share a kiss and the moment is so delicate.

Advertisement
The abandoned mall

Everything is perfect until it’s not.

An infected emerges into the store and attacks the girls. Riley shoots it and Ellie stabs it to death, but neither are unscathed. The clicker bit both of them. At the moment, any and all hope has been destroyed.

The Verdict

HBO’s “Left Behind” is the show’s truest adaptation of the video game thus far. The show cuts out the parts of the video game where Ellie roams through a mall and evades hunters as she searches for a first aid kit for Joel. Instead, The Last of Us focuses on Ellie’s history with her best friend and first love, Riley.

Just as Bella Ramsey is the perfect casting for Ellie, Storm Reid is perfect as Riley. The actors’ chemistry maintains the game’s charm; their portrayal of teenagers after an apocalyptic pandemic is pure and authentic. For the first time, Ellie and Riley can act like the kids they are, not the soldiers every adult is training them to be. It is endearing to see their relationship come to life.

Ellie’s backstory mirrors Joel’s in that it emphasizes their experiences of loss and grief. The pair have formed a connection they cannot lose. It is because of this that, at the end of “Left Behind,” Ellie goes against Joel’s wishes and stays with him to help him heal. She had to leave one friend behind before and she refuses to do it again.

“Left Behind” deserves five out of five Cthulhu. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Advertisement

There are only just a few episodes left in The Last of Us. Episode 8 releases Sunday, March 5, where we should expect to meet the notorious cult leader, Dave. Until then, check out the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.

Continue Reading

Gaming

The Last of Us: Episode 6: Kin

Published

on

Joel reunites with Tommy in The Last of Us‘ sixth episode, “Kin.” It was written by Craig Mazin and directed by Jasmila Žbanić, who take us to Jackson, Wyoming, a town with electricity, hot water and community. It’s a reality that feels like a dream. After worrying so long about where Tommy was, it turns out he is in better shape than Joel could have ever imagined.

Moving Forward

It’s been a few months since Henry and Sam’s deaths, and Joel and Ellie have finally reached Tommy’s rumored location. But it’s not just Tommy who’s doing well for himself; his younger brother has a new wife, Maria (Rutina Wesley). Together they help run the whole town, taking turns doing patrol and other maintenance that keeps the town running. The Last of Us‘ set design of Jackson is akin to the second video game; in the first game, Tommy and Maria were still working on the getting the town running and nowhere near as accomplished. This minor adjustment adds a new immersive experience to the show, and emphasizes Joel’s qualms about how competent he is to take care of Ellie.

The town of Jackson, Wyoming

While Joel and Tommy reconnect, Maria brings Ellie into her home and let’s her take a shower and gives her a brand new period cup as a present. It is with Maria that Ellie discovers Joel had a daughter who died at the beginning of the outbreak in 2003.

Kin

Joel and Tommy reconnect in a bar, where Joel begins to wonder if Ellie would be better off finishing the route with Tommy in his place. Joel confesses that Ellie is immune and needs to reach a medical center in Colorado. Joel recounts everything he’s done wrong, how he’s not equip to take Ellie any further and protect her. He asks Tommy to do the journey for him, but Maria is pregnant and Tommy is reluctant to take such a drastic risk. After more pleading, Joel finally convinces Tommy to take Ellie. A new plan is set for the next day.

Ellie, however, overheard this conversation between the two brothers and is disappointed with Joel. He’s the only person he trusts, and he betrayed her. Ellie argues that she “is not Sarah,” to which Joel counters, “I sure as hell ain’t your dad.” Whether she likes it or not, she’s going with Tommy.

Advertisement
Tommy and Joel reunite

Changing Places

The next morning, Ellie sits in her bedroom and is greeted with disappointment when Tommy opens the door and asks if she’s ready to leave. She reluctantly says yes, and they head to the stables where Joel is prepping a horse. He tells Ellie that she should have a decision in the matter, and she immediately chooses Joel. They move forward to Colorado.

The duo eventually reaches an abandoned university in Colorado and discover the Fireflies are now located at a medical center in Utah. Suddenly, an ambush hits. Joel and Ellie are able to fight their attackers off, but one manages to stab Joel in the stomach before falling to his death. Ellie helps Joel onto the horse and they ride far enough away to safety. However, Joel can only go so far before he succumbs to the stabbing and falls off the horse. The episode ends with a horrified Ellie, trying in desperation to resuscitate him, but he cannot wake up.

The Verdict

Just like the video game, HBO’s The Last of Us is more than just a show about “zombies” or violence. It implements empathetic writing and various cinematic elements to study personhood and the human connection in dire times. Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin do a phenomenal job writing scripts for characters fans can connect to and love no matter how long they exist on screen.

Joel and Ellie reach Utah

Bill and Frank, Henry and Sam, and Tommy and Maria only exist in one or two episodes. Yet their impact is enormous, shaping the world in a way our two main protagonists could not do alone. While in theory they may just be supporting characters, The Last of Us finds a way to make them more than that. They are characters that stick with you long after they’re gone.

The filmmaking also cannot go unnoticed. From the intricate set designs to the natural outdoor world, the camera continues to bring the beloved video game to life through intimate still shots, timely cuts and a gorgeous score to support emotional scenes. The show also knows when to have fun with itself by including little Easter eggs, like when Ellie yells at a girl staring at her (a girl who looks quite similar to Dina in The Last of Us 2.) This is a rather slow part in the game (minus the various shootout sequences), and there is little to no action in episode six. This further proves The Last of Us‘ strength of a well-made series that benefits from creative liberties and changes, while still staying true to the source material. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Until next time, check out the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Trending