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Video Game / Baroque

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Go to the Neuro Tower
Heal your sins
Heal the world

A post-apocalyptic horror Roguelike first made for the Sega Saturn, then ported to the PlayStation. It was later remade for the PlayStation 2 and the Wii, and then again for iOS. It was created by Sting, the developers of the Dept. Heaven series, and localized by Atlus.

Baroque takes place in a post-apocalyptic future after a world-altering cataclysm called The Blaze caused The End of the World as We Know It. The only things left in this world are people who survived by clinging to their Baroques (a sort of crystallized ideal or self-image), and Meta-Beings whose mind, body, and souls have been warped by distortions.

A young man suddenly finds himself in this wasteland, mute and without memories after an unspecified trauma. He is given a large shoulder-mounted cannon by a mysterious being known as Archangel, and told that if he wishes to find redemption for a grievous sin he committed in the past, he must travel down to the bottom floor of an Eldritch Location called the Neuro Tower and use the cannon to purify the insane Absolute God that resides there.

The game operates similarly to Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, in that you are expected to die on your first few attempts to overcome the Neuro Tower, but each New Game Plus unlocks new scenes and reveals deeper mysteries to be solved. Even though you start each run at Lv.1 with none of your items, you can use the Consciousness Orbs scattered amidst the Neuro Tower to "store" items for future playthroughs: strategic use of this and the Item Crafting feature is the key to conquering the game's challenges.

Baroque contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The Angelic Rifle fires grotesque angelic babies made out of pain.
  • Actionized Sequel: Well, Remake: The PS2/Wii remake is considerably more action-packed and fast-paced than the original version, which is a full-blown Survival Horror-ish Roguelike. The original did have some survival horror elements, but other than that, it's not.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The manga.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: The Archangel is a much more sympathetic character in the Manga.
  • After the End: And HOW? The only thing we know for sure is that something named "The Blaze" caused this, and somehow warped the world into what it is now. It turns out that the Archangel caused the Blaze by interrupting the Dabar Fusion between the Protagonist and the Absolute God, resulting in the world massively warping from the distortions caused by the Absolute God's presence.
  • Alien Blood: Well, alien "sweat". If you eat a Sweat Bone, the liquid that drops from you/Meta-Beings is purple.
  • All for Nothing: The entire game becomes meaningless with every ending, as the protagonist always chooses not to undo the warps, no matter what you do; the good ending just involves stabilizing reality so it doesn't get worse, and recognizing the fix would be worse than the problem. Also double for the Archangel, as he spent all that effort guiding and helping the protagonist only for him to betray him at the last second no matter what. It's probably a good thing, considering he only wanted to save the world for selfish reasons.
  • All There in the Manual: Unless you're using a guide, your chances of unearthing the entire plot in-game are pretty slim. In fact, much like the Dept Heaven series, Baroque has a whole series sourcebook ("Baroque World Guidance") that discusses the plot and world-building in detail. Since it first went into print in 1998, though, good luck finding a copy.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's never shown what becomes of the world or the Archangel after the endings.
  • And I Must Scream: In the real world, The Archangel is impaled on a Consciousness Orb in the Neuro Tower. He can’t pull himself off of it and remains suspended in the air in an awkward position that, according to the manga, hurts his neck. He also complains about the impaling hurting him in the game, but it's unclear whether this is a ploy to gain sympathy or if he's actually in pain. In any case, he's stuck there by himself and complains about being bored.
  • Big Damn Kiss: The Protagonist and the Absolute God in the original when they're reunited. In the remake, they just hug.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted with the Angelic Rifle; it only has 5 shots.
  • BFG: The Angelic Rifle is huge; nearly as big as a human and just as wide.
  • BFS: Some of the weapons you pick up, with quite a few even being two-handed and/or slow in attack speed.
  • Badass Longcoat: Both the Protagonist AND the Archangel.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Even after you save the Absolute God from the Archangel's machinations, the world's still the same blasted wasteland it's been since The Blaze. However, by forming a consensus reality with the remaining Meta Beings and helping the Absolute God a frame of reference to avoid making reality more distorted, you essentially make lemonade out of lemons and give humanity a chance.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The homepage for Baroque Shooting.
  • Body Horror: Pretty much all of the Meta-Beings, who were once human.
    • Some of the still-human characters as well, those who actually have visible indications of it. The worse though could be the Mind Reader, who's fused to a Consciousness Orb.
  • Bonus Dungeon / Justified Tutorial: The Bonus Dungeon and tutorial level of Baroque, which can be entered in the town, serves as both. The coffin man will ask if you need some training and guide you through the mine as you learn how to play, but after beating it, it can be completed multiple times as a bonus dungeon.
  • Character Level: In a nutshell, you have two kinds: 'Normal' and 'Baroques', which stack together.
    • Normal is pretty much as the trope describes, gaining new levels and Health stat increases by defeating monsters, though it resets with every Tower run.
    • Baroques are a more permanent type, giving small boosts to hidden stats (up to a certain hard cap for each one), the effects of which are mostly notable overtime note . Some of the Baroques are one-time-only, but at least half can be earned multiple times, and even if you achieve nothing special on any given run, you'll still get the consolation "Distant Spirit" Baroque (+1 to all hidden stats).
  • Character Tic: The Coffin Man ends most sentences with "Goddamn it", Goddamn it!
  • Church Militant: The Archangel's followers.
  • Companion Cube: The Box Man is always clutching a box; you can throw him a box of your own and he'll give you a different one, but he believes the box he's always clutching is his daughter. In truth, he knows it doesn't really contain any part of her, but he needs that delusion more than anything; it's his only reason to continue living.
  • Covers Always Lie: The PS2 one, specifically, as well as the International Wii one - averted with the others. Many people assumed that the protagonist was shown on the cover, but it's actually the Archangel.
  • Crapsack World: Almost everything outside the Neuro Tower is in a shade of red, disrepair, and general warped-ness.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The plot could be considered this, if you manage to get through it all.
  • Critical Annoyance: The lower your health and vitality points get, the louder and faster the heartbeat in the background gets.
  • Dark Science Fantasy
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Archangel, especially when he's fed up with the protagonist.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist / Continuing is Painful: You're encouraged to die. Doesn't stop the game from subjecting you to some rather hefty, Roguelike-esque penalties whenever you die - you lose everything, except whatever items you had in storage and the Angelic Rifle, the latter of which is always given to you in front of the Neuro Tower (via the Archangel's image).
  • Defector from Decadence: The protagonist and his fellow Koriel sect members, as well as Doctor Angelicus.
  • Dual Wielding: Three swords enable this for the Protaganist - the Twin Swords, the High Priestess Sword, and the Lovers Sword. note 
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: The remake altered the designs of all of the main characters to varying degrees. Alice still looks like herself, and the Archangel retains his short blonde hair and red eyes, albeit in a different style, with slightly different clothing and new wings. The Absolute God likely saw the most changes, as she looks almost nothing of her original design.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Any and all Meta-Beings will attack you if they see you. The Protagonist isn't even safe outside of the Neuro Tower, as while there are a few low-level ones nearby to the Neuro Tower, but their Health/Vitality drains constantly no matter where you are.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Neuro Tower, which is one of your only dungeons in-game.
  • Feel No Pain: Everyone in the manga, except the protagonist. In the game itself, only a select few characters.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: When you finally fix the world, nothing is different. There's only the possibility that things might improve in time.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Before The Blaze, the Archangel wore glasses of a sort.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus / Bilingual Bonus: The opening video has a lot of text that moves too fast to read, and some is in Latin (maybe).
  • Fun with Subtitles: Sometimes the subtitles do more than just appear at the bottom of the screen. A mechanical item-fusing robot thing likes to do subtitle crosswords, and the Absolute God's "don't go crazy!" mantra appears all over the screen.
    • There's even a character in the Tower that has a head sticking out of them at a certain angle. Whenever the head speaks, the subtitles appear vertically on the side of screen.
  • Gaiden Game: Baroque Typing and Baroque Shooting for Microsoft Windows, and Baroque Syndrome for the PlayStation. The first two is a typing game and a Shoot 'Em Up game, while Syndrome is a Visual Novel Prequel to the original game.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • In a Fridge Brilliance manner. The Crystal Sword can fuse with Idea Sephirah crystals to became unique swords, except for the Littles', and the Protagonist's - this includes Longneck, Horned Girl, The Bagged One, The Boxbearer, the Koriel members, and all Meta-Beings. No matter the level of distortion, those who's Idea Sephirah can fuse with the Crystal Sword are/were once human. The Littles however are the embodiment of pure pain, stolen from the Absolute God... and the Protagonist was part of the interrupted Dabar Fusion with said deity.
    • Some of the dialogue changes to reflect the things you do throughout the game:
      • If you don’t talk to the Twisted Ones before approaching the Archangel, he’ll ask if you didn’t before dismissing it. His dialogue after this is slightly different too, and he’s more to the point.
      • While you’re encouraged to die during your gameplay, the Archangel has different dialogue whenever you do, getting angrier and angrier at you everytime you talk to him again. After your 42nd death, he resorts to giving you the silent treatment.
  • Ghost Memory: In a way. The Protagonist has a large number of clones, each of whom either succeed or die at their task, and earns Baroques along the way who's power is then transferred to the next version.
  • God Is Evil: Or at least is so insane that it's killing reality. Subverted; turns out that while the Absolute God is a Mad God, she's entirely well-intentioned and trying to somehow fix the world, but cannot do much about it - her Madness Mantra below is even trying to warn the protagonist that You Cannot Comprehend The True Form. The problems were caused by the Archangel removing her ability to recognize pain, and so completely took away her frame of reference for what is "normal" reality.
  • Godhood Seeker: The Archangel's goal.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You can name the Protagonist whatever you like. In-story, no one calls him by any name, including those who apparently knew his original name. It's hinted that it may have been Dextera.
  • Heroic Mime: Literally. The protagonist's voice was taken from him and given to the Absolute God, as a result of the interrupted Dabar Fusion. It's also subverted; the Horned Girl is an Empty Shell who speaks only what those interacting with her think, so being around her shows he has a definite personality and quotes of his own.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: What happened to the Archangel, in particular a spike from a Consciousness Orb. And he's still alive.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: Subverted; while you are in a tower, you're going down with every single level.
  • It's Personal: Part of the Archangel's animosity toward the Absolute God is because she unknowingly took on the image of his dead sister.
  • Jerkass: The Archangel. He tries to hide it at first, but as the game goes on, it becomes clear that he doesn't actually care for the protagonist and is just using them to his own end. His dislike of the protagonist is more evident as the player begins to die, as he'll get angrier and angrier at them, even declaring that he'd kill them himself if he could. He's also extremely manipulative and convinces the protagonist that they're responsible for the state of the world, completely dismissing his own part in it.
  • Karma Houdini: Sure, The Archangel doesn't get what he wants in the end, but he isn't exactly punished for his crimes, either. In the original game and manga, at least, he's still impaled on the Consciousness Orb but it's not shown to be the case in the remake, where he seemingly somehow freed himself to meet the protagonist during the confrontation with the Absolute God.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Archangel looks like an angel and mostly wears white, but he's revealed to the antagonist in the end and a big part of why the world is so messed up.
  • Madness Mantra: The Absolute God chants "Don't go crazy, Don't go crazy, Don't go crazy, Don't go crazy...", nearly every time you approach her - for added effect, the subtitle for each repetition is placed at a random point on the screen. Turns out she's actually telling the protagonist not to go crazy.
  • Mind Screw: In spades.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Doctor Angelicus and Longneck, for the same reason. They deeply regret having created/cultivated pain, the Littles, and the former for having created the Angelic Gun that uses them.
  • Nintendo Hard: Its a roguelike and it's published (but not made) by Atlus, so this is pretty much a given.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Angelic Rifle. You only get five shots per Tower run though; make them count. Or don't, as sometimes not firing it period gives you different voice entries from NPC's, along with being required to progress the game at a certain point.
  • 100% Completion: And HOW! Unless you're using a guide, it'll take you months to fill out the database if not longer - and even if you are using a guide, doing everything right at every turn, it'll still take three complete play-throughs just to get all the Voices and Events, at least (to say nothing of the Item, Baroque, and Character Lists). The full tally includes:
    Event List - Game cutscenes; 24 in total
    Item List - Items given to The Collector; 310 in total, from all categories
    Voice List - Phrases NPC's say in gameplay; 234 total listed note 
    Baroque List - Achievements that boost your character in the long run; 64 in total
    Character List - Lines given by the Baroquemonger, when given Idea Sephirah crystals; 303 in total note 
  • Only Sane Man: The Archangel views himself as one. He's far more misguided.
  • One-Word Title.
  • Organ Drops : Your only way to survive is to eat the meat and hearts of monsters, which is already squicky in itself...and then you learn that they are actually humans deformed by their delusions... Becomes a greater Fridge Brilliance one you see that hearts gives you vitality.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The only way to get the 4th cutscene is to harass the Sentry Angel on the very beginning of the game, which also causes you to die. If you miss it, you need to do so on the next play-through.
  • Photographic Memory: The Bagged One. She desperately wished to forget a tragedy in her past, but could not because of her Photographic Memory. Thus, her Baroque twisted her so that she has no memories of her own; only the memories of other people.
  • Physical God: The Absolute God.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Archangel.
  • Split Personality: The main character has both himself and the remnants of his dead twin brother, due to them being formerly conjoined and sharing the same heart. Ties into the next trope.
  • Someone Has to Die: The twins sacrifice themselves repeatedly, so that the other can live.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The Coffin Man.
  • Stationary Wings: The various fake wings, which give you abilities.
  • Surreal Horror: To put it mildly...
    • The main character is the most human thing in the distorted world, everyone else (save the Absolute God) is distorted in various ways, and monsters roam freely. Then to make things more interesting, look at the ways you keep yourself alive/grow stronger - eat hearts/organs for your health, use parasites/injections/brandings on your equipment (including yourself), and make use of bones, torturers, disks...
  • Tarot Motifs: The Meta-Beings are based on each arcana, with The Chariot change to The Tank and The Strength changed to The Power.
  • The Faceless: Several characters such as The Collector, the Baroquemonger, and the Bagged One.
  • The Power of Lust: There's a brand that increases your strength when inflicted with the "Lust" status. Kinda creepy if you think about it.
    • A few equippable items may be affected with Lust, which makes you unable to un-equip the item again. There's also certain items that make you resistant to Lust, but are similarly unable to be un-equipped by normal means.
  • The Masochism Tango: A particularly squicky example is if you punch Alice, she'll say she doesn't mind if its you doing it. Given that her creation was to fill the void of the Protaganist, and the Absolute God (who's lost the ability to feel pain, ie Littles), it has a deeper meaning than it first sounds.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Angelic Rifle kills anything in one shot. There are only five bullets.
    • And you may give up on using it period, after finding that its bullets are Littles.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Archangel probably should have told the protagonist to pull him off of the Consciousness Orb before sending him down to deal with the Absolute God.
  • Verbal Tic: The Coffin Man goddammit!
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The Twisted One's are harmless, but the player has the option to attack them anyway, which usually results in them begging you to stop.
  • The Virus: Some of the Idea Sephirahs work like this, passing on particularly powerful emotions or desires to those who hold them. This is how you get rid of the Sentry Angel: by passing on Longneck's suicidal urges to him, and he's not the only character you can get rid of this way.
    • Each Parasite box in your inventory will change another item into a Parasite Box every few seconds.
  • Was Once a Man: All of the Meta-beings were once people, no matter what forms they now take.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Archangel offers to rebuild the world with the protagonist using the Absolute God’s Idea Sephirah during each ending. It never works out for him, however, as the protagonist chooses to merge with the Absolute God or to be Reincarnated depending on the players actions throughout the game.
  • Winged Humanoid: Averted with the Archangel, who's wings are the wearable 'Imitation' type, but he uses them to fly. Played straight with The Littles, though they're not exactly humanoid...
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: To be expected, it is a Roguelike.
  • Your Head Asplode: There is a brand that causes you to randomly explode while taking damage.

Go play it. There is meaning to you playing it.