Video Game: The Consuming Shadow

"Try not to go mad and shoot yourself. This is important."
Official Webpage

The Consuming Shadow is a Lovecraftian Roguelike by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, inspired by Eternal Darkness, FTL: Faster Than Light, and the board game Arkham Horror. The game was released in July 2015, and is currently available through Yahtzee's website or Humble Bundle. As for Steam, the game is still in the middle of being approved through Steam Greenlight.

A shadow is trying to enter our world. One of the Ancients. Its presence is felt all over the country as its looming shade slowly twists, perverts, and poisons the minds of men, and turns the towns it touches into festering breeding grounds for its horrifying minions. It will arrive in three days at Stonehenge where the barrier between the worlds is at its weakest. The good news is that the right ritual will banish it and put a stop to its invasion attempt, the bad news is that you are not sure which of the Ancients is the force behind it all, and performing the wrong ritual will undoubtedly make the already bleak situation much, much worse.

You know what you must do: explore places touched by the Ancients, fight its minions, and assemble clues to piece together the banishment ritual and the identity of the invading god, while trying to keep your own rapidly deteriorating grasp on reality from slipping too far in the process. But you are not sure how you know all of this. For some reason you can't shake the sensation of deja vu, as if you have done all of this before...


Tropes:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: The Wizard is described as being "blighted by chronic forgetfulness", although it could be supernatural in origin. In gameplay, this translates to each spell rune "degrading" as it gets used, thus they must be refreshed by examining the runes found in the dungeons in order to be used again.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: In the "occult text" missions, once you open a box that might contain the text (whether or not it is), a boss is spawned and the objective becomes "get the hell out of Dodge." One such boss is a gradually screen-crossing face that, if it catches you, will wreck your health and sanity and dump you somewhere random.
  • Action Girl: The unlockable character "The Wizard" is this.
  • Alternate Universe: Every playthrough is implied to be this.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: A teased feature. Yahtzee has mentioned that he plans on implementing other playable characters in future versions of the game. The updated website lists four playable characters with different playstyles.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Sealing the correct Ancient One without going insane ends the game with you getting a text-message from "T," your friend in the Ministry of Occult Affairs, telling you that he has a little job for you.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: You sometimes receive random donations, oftentimes from untraceable numbers. Some of the clues also come in the form of anonymous notes from someone who tells you that he knows you're reading his note. There's some implication that the enemy of the invader is behind the latter, and possibly the former.
  • Badass Bookworm: The main character is a scholar, and he's quite the master of kicking eldritch ass.
    • The Wizard as well, who can kick plenty of ass with her meticulously researched spells.
  • Barefisted Monk: The Warrior, who relies solely on his mighty kick for combat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: On occasion the player will get to be this, for the few people you manage to free from being kidnapped while they are alive and untainted by the shadow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: If you seal the correct Ancient One while insane, your character becomes an institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic, but in the real world the shadow is gone.
  • Body Horror: This happened to many of the victims, and at least a few of the monsters. For example, bursting boils in the back of the throat.
  • Brutal Honesty: Can be employed by the protagonists, to varying results.
  • Campbell Country: The whole of Britain, apparently.
  • Damsel in Distress: The Wizard character, who starts out as a victim kidnapped by a cult and must be rescued to be unlocked as a playable character. Once unlocked, she becomes an Action Girl.
  • Degraded Boss: The birther, a human who's been colonized by spiders, is a weak boss monster early on (though he's actually weaker tham most mook monsters). Later in the game he can be found in ordinary rooms as a regular mook, as the threat level of the Shadow increases.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Even when facing horrific monstrosities, The Warrior will almost never use a gun, instead relying on kicks for combat and a knife for the Press X to Not Die sequences. The only time he uses one is if time runs out and the shadow is upon him, in which case he will use it on himself.
  • Downer Ending: Any ending where you fail, essentially.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The protagonist will attempt to shoot himself if his sanity is too low, but the player can prevent him from doing so. It gets harder the lower his sanity is, and virtually impossible if it is especially low.
    • You can also shoot yourself at the main menu, before even playing the game!
    • If the player fails to get to Stonehenge in 72 hours, the protagonist shoots himself to avoid getting absorbed by the darkness.
    • And if you banish the wrong god, the invading one leaves you alone, possibly seeing you as an ally. Your character considers living through the apocalypse... but decides not.
  • Drugs Are Good: They fill up sanity, although they wear off over time.
  • Enemy Mine: Of the three Ancient ones, the one that is neither the invader or the accomplice, a bystander is trying to help humans for its own reasons. This doesn't mean that he'll tell his monsters to stop eating you, though.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The revelation of basically everything relating to the shadows will decrease sanity. Magic burns even more.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The good ending: The protagonist has managed to seal away the invading god, and didn't go insane from his experiences, but no one other than him and the Ministry of Occult Affairs will ever understand the strange events that plagued the country or know that he saved the world from utter oblivion.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One of the endings, if you die while fighting the Ancient after casting the correct sealing spell. Your character dies (or worse), but the Shadow is still sealed.
  • I Have Your Wife: "We know where your children sleep. They will be eaten first. Greased and spit roasted alive as they howl for their father."
  • Interface Screw: At low sanity...
    • the screen periodically gets covered in a static effect while an ominous sound plays, lowering your field of vision.
    • the investigation options have a constant chance of randomly turning into a prompt for the player to kill himself.
    • a visual effect similar to vision spots randomly occur, distracting you.
    • the screen can flash repeatedly as you enter a room, obscuring your vision as a monster approaches.
    • there's a chance you'll be shown as having no ammo and won't be able to fire, though the effect leaves and you get your ammo back when you leave the room.
    • when you enter a dungeon, the objective that usually scrolls across the screen can randomly switch to messages like "imsorryimsorryimsorry" or "helpmehelpmehelpme."
    • a monster might approach, then disappear the moment you attack, possibly wasting a bullet.
    • you may no longer to be able to see your character, interfering with planning melee attacks.
    • the controls may reverse.
    • while driving, random faces or hands, in complete white will show up in front of the windscreen out of nowhere, then disappear immediately after.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The narration at the beginning of the game.
    Example: For some reason I can't shake the sensation of deja vu. I have memories of assembling a ritual, fleeing through darkened hallways, and firing a gun at something unimaginable. I feel like some distant part of me may have died this way. Hundreds of times. Perhaps thousands.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The enemy is an incomprehensible being from outside the universe, who is slowly corrupting all of Britain (and the world, once the stars come right). But he can be beaten and forced back with magic and bullets, and it can even be done without destroying your mind in the process.
  • The Masquerade: Some scenes have the protagonist reinforce this, e.g. telling a man that the monsters who attacked him were actually youths in halloween costumes.
  • Mental Time Travel: It's implied your character is doing this each time you restart, serving as the explanation as why you retain your levels.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • References to Chzo Mythos are scattered all over the place.
    • Chzo is one of the possible Ancients, with his servant, The Tall Man, as an end-of-dungeon pursuer. Although, he is not necessarily the god of pain in this game, nor is the Tall Man necessarily his minion.
    • You work for the Ministry of Occult Affairs, same as Trilby had been recruited to.
    • Some messages are sent by "T", who may well be Trilby.
    • "Objective: pain pain pain pain pain pain pain" (a reference to "it hurts")
    • A character heavily implied to be Trilby is unlocked as a playable character after beating the game for the first time.
  • New Game+: XP is earned at the end of a game, after you've either stopped the Ancient or failed to. It's carried over to your next game, allowing you to buy perks like health, sanity, ammo capacity and car speed.
  • Nintendo Hard: A given, it's a roguelike after all.
  • No Name Given: According to Word of God, the main character has no name for immersion purposes.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Implied to be the reason The Ministry Man is given only 24 hours to stop the shadow, rather than the other characters' usual 60.
  • Papa Wolf: One of these can be encountered on the road, and will direct this towards you if you use Brutal Honesty on his daughter.
  • Police Are Useless: Some of them have been replaced by minions of the Enemy. Even for the legit ones, though, you're still a guy with a handgun (in the UK), and you're probably certifiably insane, with a syringe full of illegal drugs in your car. You're lucky if you can bluff your way past them, let alone get any help. The Warrior in particular has difficulty with them due to his criminal past.
  • Press X to Not Die: Rapidly click the mouse to pull your gun away from your head!
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Its hinted that "T" from the Ministry of Occult Affairs is Trilby, some time after 5 Days a Stranger/Trilby's Notes.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: One enemy is a guy colonized by the small, Spider-like enemies who crawls slowly towards you. Kill the host and a horde of them jumps off his corpse.
  • Redemption Quest: The unlockable character "The Warrior" takes up the quest to fight the shadow to atone for his life of crime.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: You have only so much time, money, health and sanity. The tradeoffs become important; for example, to get money, you either find it in a dungeon or get it from a job, both of which take up time and risk damage to health and sanity. Similarly, filling your medical kit costs money, and you also have the tough choice of using precious bullets to terminate minions or going into hand-to-hand with them and risking your health. And spells cost sanity to use...but they can also save your hide, or be "I win" buttons under the right circumstances.
  • Sanity Meter: Sanity is generally easy to lose and hard to recover. The only thing that permanently restores it is a small number of random events or one of the more helpful runes you may find inscribed on walls.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • The protagonist is already doubting from the beginning if everything he experiences is truly real. It only gets worse from there.
    • Also happens to "T" from the Ministry.
    "Been rolling my cyanide pill around my mouth all morning, wondering if I should bite it. Tastes like one of those chewable vitamins. -T"
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many of the equippable items reference other Survival Horror games, such as the flashlight (Silent Hill 2) and gun stock (Resident Evil).
    • The "YOU DIED" text is similar to the equivalent text in Dark Souls
    • The cougher and puker enemies are slightly similar to the lying figure enemies from Silent Hill 2, the cougher in particular also has a similar method of attack (sprays acid mist).
  • Squishy Wizard: Appropriately enough, The Wizard. She gives up her ability to melee attack in exchange for not losing sanity when casting spells (though she still needs to check the runes to keep them in her memory).
    • Cultist enemies are the Wizard's Evil Counterpart; they're surrounded by a shield that lasts until you counter a spell of theirs, at which point they go down in one hit (although it could be that they're just teleporting away to safety.
  • Take Your Time: Averted hard. Time runs even as you complete sidequests and main objectives. And it is quite possible for you to run out out of time in the Definitely Final Dungeon.