Video Game: Technobabylon

Drs Lao and Regis, Latha and her Trance alter-ego Mandala

A jobless agoraphobe, addicted to the man-made worlds of a distant descendant of the internet, has become targeted for assassination by forces beyond her understanding. With nobody she could really call an enemy or a friend, she must face the dangers of reality, and survive a conspiracy that has invisibly ruled her entire life.

An agent of the city's all-seeing secret police finds himself blackmailed with the lives of the unborn children of his long-dead wife. Pushed to the limits by his deceit and his past, how far is he willing to go to save his legacy?

Technobabylon is a Cyberpunk point-and-click adventure game. Taking place im the year 2087, in futuristic city of Newtown, the game follows three protagonists. From their perspectives, the player gets a view from the ground of their society and how technology has altered the way we think.:

The first is the unemployed agoraphobic, Latha, who prefers living her life inside the online world of the Trance as her avatar Mandala, and not spend any more time in the real world, or "Meatspace" as she calls it, than she absolutely has to. When she’s nearly killed in an explosion in her apartment complex, she's forced to leave her sanctuary and try to figure out who's after her and why.

The second is the world-weary, technophobic Doctor Charlie Regis. As an experienced agent for city's police force, CEL, the extended arm of Central, the AI responsible for controlling the city, is chasing an outlandish Serial Killer, known only as "the Mindjacker" for his MO of extracting all of his victims' information directly from the brains, killing them in the process. As he investigates the case, however, Regis soon finds himself embroiled in strange case of cloak and daggers which involves Newtown's seedy underworld, hacking, blackmailing, and even Central doesn't appear to be entirely on the level...

The third is Regis' younger, more headstrong and optimistic partner in CEL, Max Lao. Where Regis distrusts newer forms of technology, Max fully embraces them, and works on his on-hand technician. Despite Regis' reputation for being difficult to work together with, he and Max have gradually carved out a bound of mutual trust. And when Regis lands himself in trouble, Max takes it upon herself to help him out.

Formerly an episodic freeware series for its first three parts (of what was originally planned to be eleven), the game was adapted into a full-length adventure by Technocrat Games and published by Wadjet Eye Games in 2015, adding to their sci-fi collection that includes Primordia and Gemini Rue.

This series provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Downplayed. Central is coldly logical and pragmatic, which often makes some of its actions seems morally ambiguous at best and outright cruel at worst. Another issue is, as explained by a member of the City Council who is in on the conspiracy to take down Central, is that Central, while supposed to be a neutral entity that obeys the wishes of the democratically-elected Council, has developed it own opinions on governing over time, which causes some problems with its usefulness as a controller of the city. The problem isn't that Central is disobeying or attempting to subvert the orders the Council gives it, because its programming effectively prevents it from this, but rather that it has taken to deliberately delay and stall the implementation of certain policies and edicts for as long as possible.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: A flashback sequence has you playing as Regis' dead wife, Vicky.
  • Ambiguously Bi: The Van der Waal couple. While they were a gay couple, they liked to have threesomes involving an "anatomically correct" female sexbot, which would make them this, or at least robosexuals.
  • Animesque: The Trance world.
  • Asshole Victim: One of the victims of the Mindjacker is Evan Baxter, former colleague of Regis and Vicky's murderer. No one expresses any amount of grief over his murder, and one person who knew him even remarks that she's glad he's dead.
    • Galatea in one of the endings.
  • Biopunk: Organic nanomachines called "wetware" are used for many different purposes, from hacking to genetic engineering. Many of the characters' jobs involve altering existing plants and animals on a commercial scale!
  • Body Horror: The suicide bomber, who needs to walk around on crutches and suffers numerous health problems because he's been biologically engineered to grow explosives in his bones.
  • Brain-Computer Interface: Rather than a mechanical plug, people join other systems by coating them in their own organic wetware to establish a connection
  • Brain Uploading: Carried out against his victims' wills by the Mindjacker.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Councilman Deane because of the Governor chip installed in his head. However, he is quite skilled at wording his statements and answers in ways that makes them technically true, yet at the same time misleading.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The intern working at Vickerman Pharmaceutical Labs who speaks entirely in word salad. Eventually subverted when it turns out he's just afflicted with aphasia. Artificial, self-inflicted aphasia. And he's not too happy when you cure him of it.
  • Cyberpunk
  • Cyberspace: Called "Trance" in the setting.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Regis. Even before his wife was murdered, he was forced by Texan warlords to biologically engineer child suicide bombers before he finally made it to Newton.
  • Driven to Suicide: A random young woman, who decides to slit her wrists and hang herself from Regis' special tree.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-Universe. When Vicky reveals to Nina that she's using her and Regis' embryos to create Central, Nina remarks that she's surprised at this turn of events since Regis' last kids had a tendency to blow up. Vicky is not amused.
  • Easy Sex Change: Max Lao had this when she was 16. It is justified with sex changes having been made much easier and painless to perform through newer technology.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Regis, Vargas, Chigwa, Baxter and Nina were all part of the same project to create Central
  • Foreshadowing: Plenty towards the fact that Jinsil is actually Nina Jeong. Most notably, their speech is in the same shade of magenta. There are also other hints, like the fact she tells Latha, she that is having some old friends over for dinner, and the next section has you playing as Regis meeting her and her co-conspirators in a restaurant, and that Latha correctly guesses that she is a scientist. All of that may explain the mispronounced Arabic.
  • French Maid: A robotic one, no less.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One of the endings has Regis lock himself in a 40-below room for 4 hours in order to save Latha. Fortunately, while he clearly intends to sacrifice himself doing so, CEL manages to save him.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Totally averted despite the Cyberpunk setting. All subversion of programs is helped by pre-written exploits, and one has to be delivered in an old-fashioned way (sticking a memory card in the thing).
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Latha gets to complain that she is "a hacker, not a plumber!"
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Well, in a somewhat technical manner. Regis meets the people behind The Conspiracy in a fancy restaurant serving human meat... though he is ensured that is only meat taken from brainless, fast-grown clones who where never actually alive, making it all perfectly legal. Regis is still understandably quite squicked out about the whole thing, especially when he has a look in the kitchen and sees partially cut-apart human bodies on display in the freezer.
    • Notably, Ran Shu-Man is disappointed to learn that the meat is from brainless clones, as he likes the idea of cannibalism being the ultimate symbol of the rich elites' utter power over the poor.
  • I Have Your Embryos: Regis is being blackmailed by someone holding him and Vicky's frozen embryos hostage, which both represents a threat against the his only chance of having children of his own and one of the last things he has left of Vicky. Both Regis and his blackmailer compares it to effectively keeping his legacy hostage.
  • Karma Houdini: Not only does Nina arrange a plea bargain to save herself from getting arrested for her attempts to hijack and alter Central, but she gets to experiment on Galatea as well.
  • Kawaiiko: Cheffie the Chef's obnoxious appearance and personality has been designed by committee with heavy overtones of this. At least she'll do anything to help.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Dr. Zvidzai Chigwa, who complains about her telepresence supervising job, claiming that "TP" is just where management sticks people they don't want being the public face of the company.
  • Kick the Dog: Central eventually calls Regis and Lao to neutralize a suicide bomber holed up in a railway car, but the player has the option of talking him down instead and getting him to surrender to the police. If you do that, though, then Central is not happy that you talked him down instead of "neutralizing" him, and has him euthanized when the two aren't aren't looking, claiming that he was too big a risk to be left alive, but which Regis sees as a spiteful display of power.
  • Lost in Character: A variation on this occurs with the Mindjacker, who ends up picking up Dr. Baxter's grudge against Regis when he downloads his personality, and tries to get revenge on him despite having never met him himself.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Regis is revealed to be Latha's father.
  • Meaningful Name: Stepford makes synths and is one himself. Galatea, too. She's definitely a human, just an artificially grown and programmed one.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Nina Jeong. While her research actually has quite noble goals in and of themselves, she has a blatant disregard for ethical boundaries and can be quite the vicious cut-throat in her attempts to achieve them. She also frequents a restaurant that serves meat cloned from humans.
  • Neo-Africa: When you visit Dr. Vargas in Fulcrum Tower, Max will mention how she is able to see Mombasa from the top of the tower, placing the geographical location of Newton somewhere in Kenya.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Mr. Stepford appears to be an homage to Frank Nelson
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Regis is able to pinpoint a suicide bomber as hailing from Texas by his accent, when said character has nothing even resembling a Texas accent.
  • People Farms: A fancy restaurant that is the setting for one of Regis' chapters serves human meat cut from flash-grown clones. Though the horror aspect is somewhat downplayed by the fact that Regis is ensured that the clones where grown without brains and have never truly been "alive", the grossness and troubling moral aspects of such a businesses and its costumers are certainly not.
  • Robot Girl: The robotic French maid, who believes that she is a real human being.
  • Sexbot: The robotic French maid was this to the Van der Waal couple. When programmed with the right personality, she will boast that she is "anatomically correct".
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Thomas, the suicide bomber, always dies, whether by blowing himself up, getting shot by Lao, or being taken to the police station and euthanized by Central under claims of being too big a threat to be kept alive. This is because his femur is needed as a bomb later in the story.
  • Split Personality Takeover: The "human resources" trojan that Guy is infected with acts like this, seizing control of their body in order to make them fly to China and become an obedient factory worker. When the player walks in on a partial hijacking in Trance, it's represented as a robotic version of Guy spouting propaganda (made to get the host onto a plane and across the border) while the real Guy is partially fused with a wall and unable to move.
  • Suicide Attack: A suicide bomber has organic explosives integrated in his bones, and he was raised to have them in his body from birth.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: The end of the murder investigation at the restaurant. The culprit, Councilman Deane, confesses to the murder, but explains that he was blackmailed into doing so while also bringing up that Ran Shou-man - an utter scumbag who's only part of Nina's plan for his own selfish ends - also fits all the evidence that Regis gathered. Thus Regis has to choose between absolving Deane of his crime and pinning the murder on Shou-man or pursuing the truth and turning Deane in. Either choice ends with the accused getting thrown out the window and written off as another victim of the attempted suicide bombing.
  • United Europe: Some of the characters came to the city from "Eurofed". According to the newspapers, Europe has just adopted metric time.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked. Even before Mr. Stepford's Robotic Reveal, Regis notices that there is something seriously wrong about him, especially with his eyes.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Ah, nuke it!"
  • White and Grey Morality: there is, strictly speaking, only one person who can truly be defined as gratuitously evil in the storyline, and he isn't a crucial part of the plot - indeed, he only gets a few lines. Every other negatively-slanted character is moved by various degrees of extremism or is simply a mercenary.
    • Central is shown as being somewhat amoral at times, but it's only because it's acting to logical extremes in what it perceives to be the "big picture". Galatea is moved by a desire to improve Central to its utmost potential, even if doing this carries a high moral cost. Nina has the same objective, though her methods are different. Dr Vargas's past conduct is certainly questionable as well, but he too acted for what he thought was the common good. Even Baxter eventually snapped from exasperation at Regis' actions, as his benign leftover ghost shows. As for the Mindjacker, he's an amoral hacker for sure, but he only gets properly evil when he inherits Baxter's latent hatred. Just about the only true scumbag around is Ran Shou-Man, who seems to enjoy evil just for the hell of it; he is a side character with only mild relevance, and you can kill him during the plot to put an end to his actions.