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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 Epic Games Store exclusivity ended in May 2020 and the game was released on Steam and at that time.

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 Archer, a young journalist looking for your sister Ada, but 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.
  • Airvent Passageway: Twice you have to crawl through a vent, first to find a Secret Passage and again when you have to bypass a blocked corridor.
  • Alternate History: Nikola Tesla was able to patent his various inventions and shows them off via a massive luxury cruise liner.
  • Ankle Drag: You observe one of the creatures drag a sorry passenger away by his ankle.
  • Artistic License – History: Inside the Helios Grand Theatre is a poster featuring the Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein's monster; the game is set 34 years before that film was released and when Karloff himself was about 10.
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  • Artistic License – Linguistics: A fair bit of the dialogue, particularly Rose's and Ada's, sounds considerably more modern than the setting would suggest; certain terms they use, like "nutjob," "nerd," and "easy peasy" either didn't originate or become popular until the 1950s or 60s. Rose even uses the phrase "Scout's honor" a decade before the Scouts were even founded.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: You find Ada's friend who hanged herself in the bathroom.
  • 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.
  • Bloody Handprint: There is one on the Lady's room door half-way into the game.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Aubrey doesn't kill Rose when he had the chance to. He heads for the tower and leaves her fate to the creatures which Rose is able to evade.
  • 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.
  • Collapsing Lair: First the tower and then the entire "Helios" breaks apart in the final moments of the game.
  • Concealing Canvas: There is a safe behind a painting at Ada's apartment.
  • 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.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Blood-scrawled messages are a common sight on the Helios.
  • Creepy Crows: Downplayed. You are welcomed on the Helios by a flock of ravens.
  • Deadly Doctor: Ludwig is the Helios' Chief of Surgery. This ties in nicely with his true identity.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rose will often have a dry quip ready to describe her situation.
  • The Determinator: Rose is hell-bent on retrieving the two notebooks to fulfil her sister's Last Request.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Ada's groundbreaking research is documented in two notebooks which you have to find in different places on the ship.
  • Driven by Envy: Aubrey has Ada killed for ruining his reputation.
  • Easter Egg: In one office, Rose finds a set of cyphers. Most of the alphabet has been decoded, which is enough to translate a letter found on a desk if one so desires. Doing so reveals a message from the developers: Oh my God! You actually did it! You are the best, enjoy the rest of Close To The Sun.
  • E = MC Hammer: Some of Ada's notes are just a string of ridiculously long equations.
  • Elevator Failure: When Rose tries to escape the collapsing tower, her elevator crashes on the way down.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Only a handful of people are still alive by the time you arrive on the Helios. There must be hundreds or even thousands of dead people lying around.
  • Fat Bastard: When you finally meet him, Aubrey turns out to be quite portly and also secretly evil.
  • Flies = Evil: Where there are corpses there are buzzing flies, cluing you in to the fact that we are quite Late to the Tragedy.
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Ada's research on the One Electron Universe has led to a Time Crash.
  • Good All Along: You have a very negative interaction with Tesla early on that makes it appear he's the game's Big Bad. 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.
  • Good News, Bad News: Aubrey has good and bad news for Rose. She tells him, it's bad news first.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rose has one after watching her sister getting killed by one of the creatures.
  • 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". You can also find his apartment, later on, along with his passport.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: 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.
  • Icarus Allusion: The title of the game as well as the chapter 10 title "The Fall of Icarus" point to the fact that Tesla and Ada, in their relentless pursuit of scientific progress, went too far and unleashed powers they had no control over. The fact that the ship is called the Helios, a name for the god of the Sun, is another example.
  • I Have a Family: Aubrey used this line on Rose in order to get her sympathy but later admits that he was lying about it.
  • 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.
  • Impaled Palm: Ludwig uses a knife to pin down Rose's hand to a control panel. She gets over it fairly quickly.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: We start out our journey on a pilot vessel during a stormy night.
  • I Will Find You: Rose, the protagonist, is motivated to find her missing sister somewhere aboard the mysterious cruise-liner.
  • Jump Scare: Whenever you see the shadow of a man walking around.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Echo: First, Rose gives her "scouts honor" when promising to free Aubrey. In the climax she gives her "scouts honor" to kill him if he went through with his plans.
  • Motive Rant: Aubrey delivers one to Rose at the tower, noting that he had Tesla's attention and respect until Ada came with her research and took it all away.
  • 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.
  • Not Quite 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 gets engulfed in flames. Apparently, he is Made of Iron, since he comes back in the finale, looking quite cooked and really pissed off.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Messing with time results in our protagonist seeing ghostly images of what was happening before things on the ship went wrong.
  • The Promise: Before her death, Ada makes Rose promise to collect the notebooks that "hold the key to everything". Rose is determined to fulfill her sister's Last Request.
  • 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.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In an early conversation, Aubrey tells Rose that he is a liar. But she did not comprehend the full scope of his lies.
  • Secret Room: Rose has to solve a puzzle to find the entrance to the secret room in her sister Ada's apartment where an important notebook is stored.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: While crawling through a vent, Rose says this:
  • Smart People Play Chess: Rose notes that Ada was great at chess. We also learn that she beat a grand chess master onboard the ship.
  • 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.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: Half the exposition is done via documents you find scattered around.
  • Survival Horror: Of the "defenseless protagonist" subgenre. You have no weapons or combat ability; you either Run or 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 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.
  • Throat Light: The monsters seem to have a glowing light bulb in their throats.
  • 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.
  • Train Escape: Your first encounter with Ludwig ends with you getting away in a train car.
  • Trapped in Containment: Happens to Ada when the lab she's trapped in is flooded with exotic energy that's drawing a creature towards her. Rose is Forced to Watch her sister getting killed.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Your Voice with an Internet Connection turns out to be Evil All Along towards the end.
  • Try Not to Die: Aubrey gives this advice to Rose.
  • 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.


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