Video Game: Septerra Core
Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator
is an Animesque
PC game developed by Valkyrie Studios (a short-lived company founded by employees of Viacom New Media
after it closed) and published in 1999 by Monolith Productions
The game takes place on possibly the strangest planet in the history of fiction(vying with Discworld
). Instead of your standard fantasy Patchwork Map
, Septerra(Sep=seven/terra=world) is a literal Layered World
The center of the planet is the immense biocomputer Core, and seven layers of continents
, called World Shells, orbit around it, each connected to the next by a giant bio-organic Spine.
- Shell Seven is a Hungry Jungle, closest to the Core, where the radiation levels have turned everything into Mutants.
- Shell Six is a Bubblegloop Swamp ruled by Pirate Robots.
- Shell Five is Flyover Country, home to two technologically advanced and eternally warring countries.
- Shell Four is a decaying City Planet, home to the World Bazaar with all the requisite thieves, smugglers, and hookers.
- Shell Three is filled with Ghibli Hills, and the closest thing to Heroic Fantasy you can find in this world.
- Shell Two is a big, Thirsty Desert whose inhabitants survive by scavenging the never-ending rain of garbage from...
- Shell One, a land of Crystal Spires and Togas ruled by the Deadly Decadent Court of the self-proclaimed Chosen, egotistical noblemen who claim descendance from the son of the Creator himself.
Best place for a holiday ever, yes?
According to the mythology, Septerra was built by the Creator, who placed a mysterious artifact in the center of the Core, that would grant the user ultimate power. Gemma, God of Evil
, stole the keys to the Core and kidnapped Kyra, angel
of light, whom he wanted to become his wife/sex slave (he's a god of evil, is there any difference?). The Creator sent his son, Marduk, to save the day and give this punk a lesson. Marduk gathered an army of people from each Shell, took two demon swords, found Gemma (with little help from Trickster
Dogo) and after a hundred day battle, trounced him and threw him into the Pits of Janak. Descendants of Marduk and his Army of the Seven Winds became the Chosen. According to the prophecy, millennia later the world would be in great danger and the keys will be used to save it.Chosen Lord Doskias
, a direct descendant of Marduk and total Jerk Ass
, believes the time has come and he is the Messiah
. He plans to save the world, whether the world wants it or not, and has begun a crusade down through the shells, destroying all that gets in his way and a lot that doesn't. Maya, a salvager from Shell Two, accidentally discovers part of his insane plan, and decides to stop him. And the journey begins.
This PC game is currently available on GOG.com
This game provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Maya, Led, Selina
- Actually Four Mooks: When you pick a fight with a cluster of enemies, there are about 50% odds that there's at least one more hiding offscreen.
- All Myths Are True: And you can summon them.
- Angry Guard Dog: Runner. And he's a robot, too!
- Animesque: The artstyle of the game is clearly influenced by late 90s JRPGs, like the ones made by Squaresoft.
- Arm Cannon: Ayram, literally. He's still able to do thievery with those limbs.
- Artificial Gravity: The Doomsday Weapon works by creating a gravitational disturbance which causes the target continent to rise up out of its World Shell and crash into the underside of the shell above. This turns out to be a massive Chekhov's Gun: by raising the proper continents to the upper shells, they form a rune pattern which grants Septerra access to the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Badass Normal: Maya, Corgan
- Battle Theme Music: Five of them, which are slower and more march-like (except for one theme) than most other examples of this. They are also notable for being the only parts of the game other than the world map that have actual music instead of ambient sounds.
- BFS: Gemma's Blade, which Doskias acquires a ways into the game.
- Bioluminescence Is Cool: Shell 7 is huge on this. Bioluminescent plants/fungi are everywhere and the natives, the Underlost, communicate partially through flashing and scanning bioluminescent patterns via a patch on their 'foreheads'. Oddly enough they can see this form of bioluminescence even though they are otherwise completely blind.
- Brick Joke: Maya has to get tattoos on to sneak into Connor's fortress. In the ending cinematic, you see the tattoos right there.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Certain monsters - especially Thunder Cats (which, in spite of vaguely feline gait and ecosystem role, look more like stone rhinos) and various things marked as spiders and beetles which look very little like their Earth equivalents.
- Cheat Code: Several of them, but the master code is "IMAREALWEENIE".note
- The Chosen One: The appropriately-named Chosen think that being the descendants of Marduk's army make them this collectively, and Doskias in particular thinks that being Marduk's direct descendant (which means he's literally the great-great-great-great-etc. grandson of God) makes him a Messianic Archetype as well.
- Church Militant: The Holy Guard of the Seven Winds, an order of paladin-type fighters from Shell Three.
- Combatant Cooldown System: The game implemented it with a slight twist: the cooldown bars were divided into three segments, more powerful abilities required more segments, and when abilities were used, partially filled segments were lost. A lot of gameplay consisted of figuring out quickly which attack you wanted to use next, and then clicking that character right as a segment filled.
- Combination Attack: Grubb and Led have one. All multi-card spells require one team member per card, so technically they are too.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The whole thing with the son of Creator fighting the incarnation of Evil feels like this. Also, the monks from 3rd Shell have Christian habits.
- Dark Action Girl: Selina
- Dark Messiah: Doskias
- Disabled Love Interest: Led has prosthetic legs, and first believes Grubb isn't attracted to her because of them, but eventually realizes he's just really shy.
- Turns out Led is also really insecure; perfect strangers will often respond to her conversation option with gifts and requests for dates!
- Distracted by the Sexy: In the in-game mythology, Dogo the Trickster God convinces Gemma to give Kyra a mirror, so she could make herself more beautiful. Gemma does it, proving he forgot that she's his prisoner and can easily use the mirror to send messages to Marduk about her whereabouts, resulting in her rescue and Gemma's defeat. What part of the body this guy uses to think remains secret.
- Doomed Hometown: Maya's hometown is destroyed at the end when the continent is ripped appart and levitated to form the large sigil. Quite suprisingly it holds out until the finale.
- Dual Wielding: Marduk does this with his Daemon Swords in the game's lore (but Corgan and Selina don't when they get them in the endgame), and Badu does this with his giant knives as well.
- Dumb Blonde:
- Inverted. Led, the only female blonde in the team, is almost as smart as Grubb. However, she is more than willing to play this role on random people to milk items from them.
- Of course, Corgan isn't particularly dumb either. The Chosen princess toys with this, though.
- Dummied Out: Early, pre-patch release versions of the game had one more card slot than there were cards. This caused some people to believe that they were missing a card, and scour the game for the (non-existent) card. It is, however, still believed that there was a card meant to go in that slot at one time, but it got cut or combined with another card.
- Dynamic Entry: All summons.
- The End of the World as We Know It: At the end of the game
- Eldritch Abomination: Several Mini Bosses, Ouroboros
- Elemental Powers: The spell cards provide these.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire.
- Face-Heel Turn: Selina, when she saw Doskias almost getting killed by one of the good guys.
- Floating Continent: Six layers of them.
- Fungus Humongous: Shell 7's Mold Forest, although the game doesn't say whether or not these are actual fungi or oversized plants convergently evolved to look exactly like giant fungi.
- God Couple: Marduk and Kyra, according to the myths.
- God of Evil: Gemma
- Great Offscreen War: The Resource Wars, the most recent of the wars between Ankara and Jinam. Also the war between Chosen factions that devastated Maya's hometown.
- The Grim Reaper: Thanatos
- Guide Dang It: If you don't know that Revive Kills Zombie, the undead abomination in the burned city becomes That One Boss.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Led exploits this trope, by acting as a young innocent cutie to random people in order to get some gifts. Some of those random people give a funny look once they realised she was a hit-and-run charmer. It doesn't work against the bartender who simply asks for ID.
- Hand Cannon: Maya's gun.
- Heel-Face Turn: Araym; Selina twice; Lobo, years before he meets our heroes; in-game mythology ascribes one to Dogo, god of mischief, who helped save the world. Doskias does one in the ending, but alas, Redemption Equals Death.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Grubb builds his own robot dog, Runner, his best friend. When Runner went missing, and was later found with Led, she and Grubb started bickering about which of them was his owner.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Doskias and Selina stay behind to fire the Doomsday Device in the ending.
- Hey, It's That Voice!:
- Gunnar, the Emperor's right hand man and apparently the only reasonable Chosen out of the entire lot, is the Master Chief!
- It gets better. The composer of the game's soundtrack is none other than Martin O'Donnell, the same person who, years later, composed the soundtrack for the Halo games. It was while working on this game that he met Steve Downes, the voice of Master Chief - and in fact, it was Martin O'Donnell that suggested him for the role!
- Better than that, actually. Tim Dadabo (a.k.a 343 Guilty Spark) is Aspertine, and Pete Stacker (captain Keyes) is Doskias himself! Suddenly the scene in Halo where the Chief has to punch through Keyes' face to get his neural implants has a funnier connotation.
- Holy Hand Grenade: One summon combination allows calling son of Creator.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Selina used to be a prositute working on the streets of Shell 1, until Doskias offered her a better life. While insanely loyal to him for this opportunity, she equally rebels against him for the harm he does to people generally believed to be considered mere insects by the entire Shell 1 population.
- Industrial Ghetto
- It's Personal:
- Maya hates Doskias, because her parents were killed in the war he caused over the 2nd Shell, when she was a kid, Corgan hates Selina because she led the attack that destroyed his home village, Grubb hates Mayor, because he uses robots Grubb created as his personal police, contrary to their intended purpose, Led hates Lobo because he's one of the robot soldiers created by her country's enemies, Lobo hates the leader of the 6th Shell's Pirates because his "father" was killed by him..
- Having Corgan/Selina and Led/Lobo in the same team is problematic. Until two optional subquests are completed to resolve their personal issues, they will occasionally attack each other instead of the enemy. Because the final area forces you into parties with these combinations, it's in your best interests to complete these subquests.
- Kick the Dog: Every enemy that attacks Runner does it literally. However, knowing what he's capable of, the player can only pity them - they really kicked the wrong dog.
- Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Done to the player's advantage. The best way to hurt the necromancer boss in the Shell 2 graveyard is to heal him, and each of two fire-based minibosses are vulnerable to water attacks. The Cards that give the player these abilities are the first two found in the game.
- Leaked Experience: The entire party shares one experience bar (including as-yet unrecruited party members), though everyone levels at different rates.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: At the end of the game the team splits up into three groups. It's the only part of the game when you can have a team without Maya, but all the characters that hate each other are in the same group.
- Level Grinding: The Smelting complex + Led + Grubb = massive level gain.
- Living Ship: All of the Chosen's ships are gigantic modified Helgak.
- Magikarp Power: Grubb and Led are rather mediocre at first, but get exponentially better when you start getting better Fate Cards.
- Mission from God: Inverted with Doskias, who believes he has one.
- Mutants: The inhabitants of Shell 7 were mutated by the emissions of the Core, and are now a separate species known as Underlost. They basically look like xenomorphs with hard exoskeletons. Despite their fearsome appearance, they aren't crazy or evil.
- Organic Technology: Most technology in Septerra is at least in some way organic and draws power from the energy generated by the Core in the same way that apparently, all living creatures on that world can. Maya's gun, for example, grows its own bullets. Various devices are often at least partially grown - and as for the Chosen, their technology appears almost purely organic...
- Power of Love: Played straight with Grubb and Led. In his version of their Combination Attack Led's blown kiss allows him to summon lightning. Her variant involves him down on one knee in front of her ... Let's just say what she's doing is pure essence of awesome.
- Powers That Be: The Creator
- Prophecy Twist: Using the twin keys at the Core during the Conjunction doesn't directly grant the Kingdom of Heaven as we're lead to believe; it just reveals the way to reach it. Then in the ending, we find out that the Kingdom isn't actually a place...
- Relationship Upgrade:
- Led and Grubb. When you enter a certain building with both of them in your party, Maya goes away for a while. Led is then attacked by some thugs while their compatriots steal some really cool equipment and Grubb can decide whether to fight the thugs looting the stuff (and get some powerful generators) or those attacking her (and get her undying love and accompanying Power of Love mentioned above).
- To a lesser degree, Led & Lobo and Selina & Corgan - they won't fall in love if you complete their missions (Selina helping to lay the souls of Corgan's hometown to rest and Lobo finding the antidote for a Jinam engineered plague), but they will no longer attack each other, which is rather helpful in the endgame.
- Reverse Grip: Badu with his two giant knives.
- Scavenger World: The Junkers of Shell 2.
- Science Is Wrong: In the library on Shell Three, you can read a book which disparagingly shoots down the notion that humans evolved rather than being created. Considering all the stuff you run into in this game, said book is probably right.
- Secret Government Warehouse: The Abandoned Tower on Shell Three contains the best equipment in whole game. Like somebody knew that some guys in the future would need it...
- Starfish Language:
- Stripperiffic: Kyra is depicted as wearing tattoos and nothing else. The prostitutes and tattooed slave girls (and, by extension, Maya when she disguises herself as one) wear pretty skimpy attire as well.
- Summon Magic: Done with cards. The Summon card by itself calls the ghost of a minor character who died in Act 2, but adding other cards allows you to summon all the greater and lesser gods. They tend towards the Dynamic Entry.
- Swiss Army Weapon: Unlike the other characters (barring Grubb, to an extent), Maya's attack skills aren't obtained by leveling, but by buying weapon upgrades...eventually turning her gun into a combination assault rifle, grenade/shrapnel/missile launcher, flamethrower, laser, and energy blaster.
- The Atoner: Selina, after her Heel-Face Turn.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Violence is forbidden in the inner sanctum of Marduk's temple. Connor doesn't listen and is subsequently destroyed by a spirit.
- Underrated And Overleveled: Due to new characters starting at the same level as old characters sufficient Level Grinding will cause this effect with most characters recruited later in the game. Though, ignoring level griding, this is mostly averted since all the characters are trained combatants in some way. However, Led, despite being in the military, is not trained as a fighter and hasn't seen real combat, making her perhaps a little too skilled.
- What Could Have Been:
- The script for this game is reportedly huge. You can bet that there were scenes in the script that were supposed to be there, but had to be cut out or altered.
- There was supposed to be a noble Chosen woman named Kassandra. Doskias dumped Selina, saying that "Another shall enjoy the blessings of my heritage." Kassandra was supposed to be that person. The scene where Gunnar was going to kill Doskias was supposed to play out differently. Selina comes in, and fires off a special attack to kill Gunnar and save Doskias' life. However, Kassandra thinks the attack was meant for Doskias, so she "takes the bullet". This causes Kassandra to die in Doskias' arms, and for Selina's attack to be weakened enough to injure Gunnar instead of killing him. Doskias becomes distraught over Kassandra's death, and swears revenge on Selina and her friends (i.e. Maya and her gang).
- The scene where Gunnar talks to Maya for the last time was intended to play out differently. He admits that he is going on suicide mission to try to stop Doskias on his own, but he hopes that his actions will buy Maya and her group enough time to get one of the Keys.
- Grubb was supposed to have a rival. He was supposed to face this rival in a final showdown on Shell 2, after resolving the problem with Mayor and Grubb's Workbots.
- There was supposed to be a third man working for Doskias alongside Kaleb and Balcaam. Sadly, this troper who the third man's name. He was supposed to be found on Shell 7, where he controls the mines. He was supposed to be a cyborg, strongly similar to Connor.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Duke. You fight him twice on Shell 3, and you fight him once on Shell 4. You would think he is dead, but he is not. A couple goons on Shell 4 will tell you that Duke went to Outlaw Canyon on Shell 2. However, if you go there, you will not find a trace of Duke anywhere.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Led is furious when Maya welcomes Lobo into the party, as he was one of the Mecha-Mooks that's been attacking Led's people for years. Similarly, Selina joining outrages Corgan.
- World Shapes: Possibly the weirdest one yet.
- Wrench Wench: Led Campbell is an excellent embodiment of this trope. She's a genius mechanic, her weapon is literally an enormous wrench, and she's so hot that total strangers will give her money or items.
- Wretched Hive: The World Bazaar on Shell 4, and Scumm Town on Shell 6.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Using the "Law" and "Chaos" Fate Cards together casts an extremely powerful offensive spell. Throw in the "Mirror" card too and it's even more powerful.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Maya, as well as a whole bunch of the NPCs.
- You Killed My Father:
- Leader of the Shell Six pirates killed a man who gave Lobo free will, and was like a father to him. Lobo wasn't happy about it.
- Maya's mother and a lot of other townspeople died due to collateral damage during the battle between Doskias and Gunnar's father. Later Maya finds out who's guilty and even calls him out. His answer? But for Me, It Was Tuesday.
- Gunnar's father was killed during said battle, and Gunnar seeks revenge.