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Video Game / Close to the Sun

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Close to the Sun is a Survival Horror themed Environmental Narrative Game created by the Rome-based developer Storm In A Teacup, released for PC on May 2nd, 2019, through the Epic Games Store. Versions for PlayStation 4, and Xbox One have been announced as well.

The game takes place in 1897, in an alternate timeline where the famed historical figure Nikola Tesla was successful in his own time and built a massive cruise liner, the Helios, as a demonstration stage. You're Rose, a young journalist looking for your sister and, as you approach this enormous and glorious complex for the first time, you quickly realize that something there has gone horribly wrong...


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Rose certainly has the courage and mental fortitude to meet aggression with aggression, but lacks the tools or training to actually do so at any point, forcing her to instead flee when confronted with a physical threat.
  • Alternate History: The basic premise asks "What if Nikola Tesla was able to patent his various inventions and shows them off via a massive luxury cruise liner."
  • Back for the Dead: The chase in the theater ends with Ada and Ludwig falling through the floor into a burning room, Ada lands on a catwalk above the fire while Ludwig... doesn't. He comes back in the finale looking a bit cooked and really pissed off.
  • Bad Boss: Tesla was apparently paranoid of Thomas Edison stealing his work to the point of turning the ship into a police state. You can find profiles on various passengers suspected of espionage around the ship and a sort of war room near the ship dock where you arrive.
    • Properly Paranoid: Turns out Edison really was willing to resort to some seriously nasty dirty business against his hated rival.
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  • Bait-and-Switch: The horrifying terror roaming the ship responsible for the hundreds of torn up bodies lying everywhere... turns out to be some asshole with a knife. Then it turns out there really are monsters roaming around killing everyone; Rose even points out one stab-happy psycho couldn't possibly have killed the entire crew.
  • Black Comedy: In the museum of Teslas inventions playing the recording on the X-Ray display has Tesla mention how he and his lab assistants used to shoot x-rays at each other for fun until they found out it was harmful.
  • Clock Roaches: Aubrey describes the creatures aboard the ship as such, comparing them to the human body's immune system; they are attracted to the exotic energy given off by the machine that caused the Time Crash and kill any living thing covered in it.
  • Conflict Killer: The last section of the game is basically a huge build-up to a final confrontation between Rose and Aubrey. Then Ludwig shows up and ends up becoming the final threat to everyone that's still alive at that point.
  • Cool Boat: The Helios is huge and has things like a theater and a gigantic garden.
  • Deadly Doctor: Ludwig is the Helios' Chief of Surgery. This ties in nicely with his true identity.
  • Dead Pan Snarker: Rose will often have a dry quip ready to describe her situation.
  • Fat Bastard: When you finally meet him, Aubrey turns out to be quite portly and also secretly evil.
  • Ghost Ship: The once-glorious ship complex is now riddled with the massacred bodies of its occupants as some... thing (no doubt a product of Tesla's hubris) stalks the halls hunting for survivors.
  • Good All Along: You have a very negative interaction with Tesla early on that makes it appear he's the game's Big Bad ala Andrew Ryan. Turns out he had genuinely legitimate (albeit perhaps misplaced) reasons for impeding your progress, and he saves your life towards the end of the game and becomes your ally for the finale.
  • Historical-Domain Character:
    • The game centers around a scientific utopia built by Nikola Tesla, who in this reality was able to achieve significant financial success with his inventions. Telsa's bitter rival Thomas Edison also plays a significant role in the backstory of the game, though he's not actually personally involved with the events on board the Helios.
    • A letter close to where you encounter Ludwig for the first time mentions that he's from Whitechapel and extremely dangerous, heavily implying his true identity is Jack The Ripper.
    • One letter mentions an unusually bright and inquisitive teenager named Albert who visited the Helios previously. The actual texture (as opposed to the text on screen) on the letter gives it away, referring to the kid as "young Sir Einstein".
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters/Mundanger:
    • After a lot of mysterious build-up, it's rather surprising that when Rose actually encounters the physical threat aboard the ship, it just turns out to be a crazy man with a knife. Though later in the game she learns there really are monsters running around the ship.
    • Though the creatures are the root cause of the ship's downfall, the greatest threat to Rose on her journey are other humans; Ludwig and Aubrey.
  • I'll Kill You!: When Aubrey reveals that he murdered Ada towards the end of the game, Rose responds with cold determination that no matter what it takes, she will kill him.
  • I Will Find You: Rose, the protagonist, is motivated to find her missing sister somewhere aboard the mysterious cruise-liner.
  • Knife Nut: Ludwig, as the above Historical-Domain Character entry shows he might have been at it since before he was on the Helios.
  • Late to the Party: Rose arrives on the Helios to find the ship in disarray and most of the passengers and crew torn to pieces and scattered all over the place.
  • Madness Mantra: Ludwig's is "Time is not a river.", usually painted on the wall next to his victims in huge letters using their own blood.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Halfway through the game, Ada is killed by the creatures when the room she's trapped in is flooded with exotic energy, drawing them towards her. At first this just seems like a normal extension of the chaos occurring throughout the ship, but towards the end Aubrey reveals that the control room he's trapped in is able to direct exotic energy to any location on the ship, and he deliberately attracted the creatures to Ada to get rid of her due to his jealousy over her usurping his (perceived) place as Tesla's favorite pupil.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: much like in Singularity, messing with time results in our protagonist seeing ghostly images of what was happening before things on the ship went wrong.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After turning out to be responsible for murdering Ada and antagonizing Rose throughout the final section of the game, being the closest the game has to a Big Bad, at the very end Aubrey sacrifices himself to save Tesla from Ludwig.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the game, when it looks like the Helios has been destroyed and Rose is the sole survivor, she receives a radio communication from Tesla claiming he can use Ada's research into time travel to save her.
  • Sole Survivor: By the end of the game, Rose and Tesla are the only survivors of the Helios; and it's not entirely clear how Tesla is even still alive given that he opted to go down with the ship while urging Rose to escape.
  • Survival Horror: Of the "defenseless protagonist" subgenre. Like in SOMA or Outlast, you have no weapons or combat ability; you either run, or you die.
    • That being said, throughout the entire game the number of encounters you have with an active physical threat can be counted on one hand; said encounters also never last more than a minute or so. Though there are also many environmental hazards such as fire and electrical shocks from damaged machinery. Overall the game is much closer to Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs in that the focus is much more on exploration and storytelling than evading or running away from stuff.
  • Tesla Tech Timeline: The Diesel Punk Schizo Tech that can be found all across the ship is a product of Nikola Tesla's innovation.
  • Time Crash: One of the apparent issues on the ship involves one of Tesla's machines messing with time. When the protagonist first contacts her sister we find out that she didn't send the letter that made the protagonist look for her only to correct herself and say she hadn't written it yet. this foreshadows the fact that you can Screw Destiny regarding Roses death.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Given how influenced by Bioshock the game is, it should be no surprise that your Voice with an Internet Connection turns out to be Evil All Along towards the end.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: After intermittent contact with Ada in the first couple of chapters, Rose gets guided via radio throughout the ship by Aubrey, a somewhat scatterbrained German scientist who's also trapped on board.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: While he is a manipulator and a murderer, Aubrey genuinely does want to stop the phenomena that's destroying the ship and killing the passengers. Unfortunately, because he's much less competent than he believes himself to be, the scientific method he's attempting to use is actually making the situation worse.


Example of: