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Video Game / Crying Suns

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Crying Suns is a science-fiction roguelite with Real-Time with Pause combat, developed by the French studio Alt-Shift and released on September 19th, 2019 for PC through Steam. Its gameplay has been compared to FTL while its setting takes heavy notes from classic sci-fi, such as Foundation and Dune, being set in a heavily stratified Feudal Future ruled by an immortal God-Emperor.

The player controls Admiral Ellys Idaho, or more accurately, a clone of the original Admiral Idaho, once the most trusted commander of Emperor Oberon. He is awakened in a secret facility on the edge of space by its OMNI unit, Caliban, who informs him that the scheduled transmissions from the rest of Empire's OMNI units have gone silent; as they effectively ran all of the civilization in the background, this amounts to a complete societal collapse.

Now, Idaho must resolve the mystery of The Shutdown by making his way through the sectors of the Empire that are torn apart by infighting, facing many dangers from both the anomalies of space and various hostile factions. However, since he is already a clone, getting killed only reactivates the next clone in line, and the same thing happens to your crewmembers. Moreover, reaching certain milestones triggers the transition to the next "chapter", as you have left a change large enough to persist even after the previous clone had perished.


This game contains examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: Aside from flora and fauna, the universe of Crying Suns is inhabited solely by humans and their machine creations.
  • The Ace: Idaho himself is seen as this, the best admiral of the empire no less. There is also a special officer you can recruit going by this nickname, recruiting her gives a damage boost to deployed fighters and other ships.
  • After the End: The Shutdown left the Empire in this state, when the OMNIs shutdown everything stopped, from food production to basic maintenance, and what's left is a galaxy crawling with bandits and warlords, while it being repeatedly mentioned that humanity as a whole has maybe another decade or two at most before every salvageable resource and technology is exhausted.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Rogue Kosh Mech encounter, which has the potential to decimate your landing party.
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  • Applied Phlebotinum: Neo-N, which powers spaceships and the OMNIs, can be turned into a highly addictive drug, gives the Neo-N child prophetic powers etc.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!!: Can summarize the "Kaos class" ship gameplay with its starting loadout being a large amount of quick, short lived drones that explode when they get destroyed.
  • Attack Drone: One of the game's basic unit and best used for destroying enemy ships. One variety can even generate additional units so long as it remains protected.
  • Bio-Augmentation: House's Akibara-Sung's specialty. Their members employ genetic modifications for all kind of purposes, from practical to purely aesthetical. They do need regular treatments to avoid degenerative effects, and because of that this over-use of gene splicing bit them in the ass when Shutdown happened and all OMN Is that could maintain their mods were gone.
  • Body Horror: Aplenty and disturbing even with the game's pixelated graphics. The most common examples include Scrappers with their Neo-N induced mutations, causing them to be bloated and riddled with tumors or get even more twisted; Akees too with their genespliced bodies in desperate need of maintenance, looking like ghouls with putrid decaying skin and glowing eyes (sometimes with an irregular number of those). And even outside of those sprite portraits of people you're dealing with events often showcase someone with a horrifyingly twisted body - victims of Neo-N mutations, sufferers of a flesh-eating virus epidemics etc.
  • Black Best Friend: Vice Admiral Okonkwo, Idaho's best friend and Heterosexual Life-Partner since their academy days, is black.
  • Brain in a Jar: Encountered in the Kosh sector, as a result of Dr. Landa's experiments.
  • Cassandra Truth: Most of random people you meet won't believe that you're Admiral Idaho, since they knew the story of Idaho's death, but not that there's a cloning facility for him.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each faction has a color appearing on their ships and on their clothes you're quickly going to recognize: Scrapers are radioactive green, the Church is teal, House Akibara-Sung is violet, House Koshe is Orange, House Telos is white and Pirates are purple.
  • Cryo-Prison: Lazarus IX is such facility, where prisoners sent by Oberon's decree are kept. Rebecca, the original Idaho's wife, is also there.
  • The Cycle of Empires: The game is set on the cusp between the Decay and Long Night periods, with what little of the Empire remains ruling only a tiny sector, and the rest overrun by bandits and warlords.
  • Deus Est Machina: The Church of Singularity believes the OMNIs to be gods created by the original machines Oberon designed. A view he deliberately encourages as a means of control. But the real kicker is, they're right, once the Facechanger infiltrated the Master Node and modified the RUBYCONs to allow the OMNIs to communicate with each other, they instantly ascended to godhood and inhabit every single sun in the galaxy.
  • The Emperor: Oberon, who has ruled the galaxy for over 800 years. He also created the machines that created the OMNIs, but not the OMNIs themselves.
  • Evil Luddite: The Survivalists are groups of humans that believes that humans are better without OMNIs, and used terrorist tactics in order to achieve said goal. Given how screwed humans are when the OMNIs are shut down, however, they may have some points. Also, it's unknown if they're connected to The Shutdown or not, since they're wiped out by the original Idaho, who died fighting them by deliberately crashed a ship full of nuclear weapons on board into their planet that they conquered. Or, at least that's how the story goes. You'll eventually discover that while the planet this takes place on is glassed, Idaho didn't actually do it, since he refused the order. And they're not responsible for the shutdown either, given how few survivors they have, and they have no access to where the Master Terminal is.
  • Fairest of Them All: Akibara-Sungs view themselves as such and everyone else as inferior to them, missing no chance to tell you how ugly you are in their events. Thing is, their standards of beauty have greatly... developed, and do not necessary match those of the rest of the humankind, and so Akees do not even look like regular humans but rather like the Uncanny Valley natives. And that's before Shutdown happened and their unmaintained gene-mods turned into degenerative diseases.
  • Foreshadowing: Kaliban will occasionally mention after a jump that a star's readings are just slightly off. It's finally revealed at the end of the game that it was done by the Omni gestalt to delay entropy until they could find a permanent solution.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Unlike many rogue-lites, ALL of your runs actually happen in the game's story. Even the failed ones. The player's command base of Ghenna has sent out hundreds of ships, Idahos, and their crews to their deaths, hoping that one will eventually be able to save the Empire. This is reflected in several story events and random encounters.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Vice Admiral Okonkwo, Idaho's best friend and True Companion to the rest of the Empire, was actually jealous of him for constantly overshadowing him, both as Oberon's favourite and as the one who won Rebecca's attention, neither of which changed even after the original Idaho's execution. He never acted based on that until the very recent times, when he defied Oberon's orders and, making use of Oberon's withdrawal from ruling matters, declared Idaho a wanted criminal and a traitor to the Empire to be killed on sight in the sectors under Okonkwo's control.
  • Heel Realization: The original Idaho had one after he was ordered to glass a far weaker planet because Oberon wanted to make a point; everything Kaliban was programmed to do is to prevent Idaho's clones from coming to the same realization.
  • Humans Are Insects: The gestalt of ascended OMNIs is utterly indifferent to humanity's fate and does not hold them in any particular regard. Even when Idaho reaches them through the Master Node they refuse to involve themselves in humanity's struggle in any way, negative or positive, apart from spelling out for Idaho what he himself can do before returning to matters they consider more important.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Rogue Kosh Mech is only seen briefly when encountered, but it towers above the landscape.
  • Immortality Immorality: Oberon has been alive for around 800 years thanks to his immortality tech, and his mind is definitely twisted by now - though how much of it is due to his unnatural lifespan and how much is just his personality is up to interpretation.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. See Tyke-Bomb entry below.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Earth is viewed this way, as just a vague myth even among those that believe in it's existence. Turns out to be deliberate, as Earth was where Oberon started the Empire, and ultimately rebelled against him by destroying their OMN Is and the Folder to access it, thus leading him to suppress all knowledge of it's existence to consolidate power. Subverted in the ending where the OMNI gestalt reveals that they survived, despite stating they were a single catastrophe away from extinction. If Idaho chooses to search for Earth, he discovers there are still sizeable portions of the globe lit by city lights.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Inverted and defied. Potential bosses of the penultimate sector of the last chapter seem to consist of various figures connected to the main bosses of previous sectors, such as General Vivar's father or Tetsuo's wife. Since you killed them to get there it would make sense for them to hold it personal against you, but they never do - they either do not realise that you killed the characters they were tied to, or do not care for one reason or another.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Justified. As explained by Kaliban, Admiral Idaho's emotional memories were lost in the cloning process. Which is a lie. They were intentionally suppressed because the original Idaho rebelled against the emperor and was executed. The Kaliban OMNIs had to create a whole new strain of clones after the first strain somehow regained the memories.
  • Machine Worship: The Church of the Singularity worship OMNIs as gods, with the believer count around ~99% of the human population. Oberon deliberately construct the religion that way, as a way to make them dependent on OMNIs, since the Emperor believes that humans can't survive otherwise.
  • Macrogame: Kaliban is able to permanently archive the DNA of several special officers that can be found or hired during each run, making them potentially available when starting any future games.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Landa takes this trope and runs with it. Abducting children? Check. Using the brains of said children to create robotic servants named Panzergeists? Check. Turning the brain of a 13-year-old into a battleship commander, hooking it up on drugs and programming a machine to release the only drugs after victory in combat? Triple Check.
  • Mood Whiplash: Quite a few of the random encounters have wild swings in tone. For instance, you may come across a civilian ship with an insane crew determined to "merge" with the system's sun, who claim that they'll fight hard if you attempt to stop them. Actually sending a boarding crew onboard, however, will swiftly see them arrested for no loss...and you'll then receive a call from the nearby planet, with the mother of the cult leader thanking you for bringing her wayward son and his idiot friends back home.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Once Oberon restores Admiral Idaho's memories, he realizes that he had caused the Shutdown by telling the Face Changer disguised as his wife where to find the Master Node. Adding insult to injury, the OMNIs reveal that their original plan was for him to tell his future daughter on his deathbed — out of guilt for actually bombing the Survivalists himself as ordered. They foresaw she would have become the first Empress, and would have freed them anyway; meaning that even his moment of conscience doomed humanity.
  • Nuclear Option: The heavy nuke weapon requires an agonizing two minutes of combat to arm, but once it does, it can clear the entire battlefield of enemies. It does not, however, damage the enemy command ship's hull.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The teams you send out for ground-based exploration and scavenging will invariably confront a ton of challenges; from being ambushed by hostile mechs and mutants to encountering various traps or heavily polluted regions, all of which can wound or kill their members, but can also be bypassed without a scratch if the officer in charge had the right skillset for the area. However, since you view this from Idaho's perspective, who never risks his own life there, you only get to see a highly abstract top-down rendition of your team automatically moving across the terrain on the scanner display, with the hazards flashing at regular intervals, and getting resolved one way or another just as quickly.
  • Oracular Urchin: The child who receives visions after breathing Neo-N through her nose, initially controlled by the Scrappers.
  • Practical Currency: After the collapse of the Imperial civilization, the only thing that has any value is Scrap, which is used in every trade.
  • Ramming Always Works: The strand A Idaho you meet at the end of Chapter 4 takes advantage of Kaliban's programming to upload Strand A memories back to the cloning facility by ramming your ship, thus killing both Idahos in close proximity and forcing Kaliban to merge both of their memories and upload it to Gehenna, making your Idaho regain memories of what actually killed the original Idaho.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Justified: The Fold can only be properly utilized by OMNIs designed specifically for the job controlling the Fold points. Since all OMNIs are shut down, and Kaliban is only partially programmed for the job, the only things he can jump through are things he's preprogrammed for, mainly basic ships that he already have blueprints for and crew members that he have DNA templates for.
  • Reverse Arm-Fold: Idaho's typically seen in this pose.
  • Sand Worm: Can be encountered on expeditions. Passing all challenges nets you the "May His passing cleanse the world" achievement.
  • Send in the Clones: Gehenna production facility allows for this, creating clones of yourself and your crew as well as manufacturing battle ships for them and sending them out into the systems to save the Empire - as well as replacement for those too, if/once you fail. It's been doing this for decades before the game starts and your "first" clone sets out.
  • Sequential Boss: The final boss of the last sector has you fight against multiple boss ships back to back.
  • Servile Snarker: Kaliban can be very snide at times.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Emperor Oberon and Kaliban to the works of William Shakespeare. As ruler and servant their roles even resemble their shakespearean counterparts.
    • You can meet a man who believes that aliens infiltrate human society, shut down the OMNIs, and can only be seen by special sunglasses.
    • Plenty of references to Dune, such as Empire's space feudalism with its warring noble houses, Face Shifters, the planet named Ghanima. See also Sand Worm, above. And, of course, you play as a clone of a guy named "Idaho".
    • Multiple references to Foundation and the other works of Isaac Asimov. The OMNIs are mostly Three Laws-Compliant robots. Kaliban eventually reveals that Gehenna and the Idaho clones were meant to be a base to rebuild the Empire if the OMNIs went rogue, or the Empire fell for other reasons. And finally, the ascended OMNI gestalt has abandoned humanity's concerns in order to answer "The Last Question" for themselves.
  • Space Pirates: One of the enemy factions the player encounters. They are quite ruthless; in their encounters they often just say "It's better to kill than be killed" before charging into combat. They also claim never to surrender and will refuse the chance to do so even if you sneak up on a heavily damaged ship. During the actual combat, however, they may have second thoughts and offer resources + prisoners for a chance to flee, especially if you are playing on the lower difficulties.
  • Super Breeding Program: Idaho is actually a result of one, a long eugenics program started by Oberon with intention to create a perfect admiral to lead forces meant to save the Empire in case of Machine Uprising or other cataclysmic crises.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Ship combat works this way. Frigates beat fighters, fighter beat drones, drones beat frigates. Cruisers are outside of this triangle, since they are able to hit enemies two hexes away (3 for the Longbow Cruisers), but are very vulnerable up close. This is given some depth by unit variations with special abilities such as damage bonuses for distance traveled, status effects, and stealth abilities.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: The RUBYCON works as a means of control over the OMNIs, involving such laws as preventing them from harming humans, obeying all commands given by humans, and blocking all communication between other OMNIs, among other things. (Unlike the Asimovian laws, OMNIs are allowed to let humans be harmed by other humans; Kaliban justifies awakening Idaho by claiming that war is left to humans.) The removal of the communication block led the OMNIs to instantly ascend to godhood after sharing their own independent conclusions about the universe and their place in it, and thus, causing the Shutdown.
  • Tomato Surprise: It was Idaho who is responsible for leaking the location of Master Terminal, supposedly to his wife in revenge against the Emperor...except that it turns out to be a face-changer. Said face-changer then uses the information to somehow bypass the AEGIS defense system and shut down all the OMNIs.
  • Two Beings, One Body: One Akee sector boss is this, a pair of idol singers who took their Those Two Actors chemistry to the furthest logical extreme, merging themselves into a single two-headed body.
  • Tyke-Bomb: In one event you'll encounter a Church battleship full of children, who claim to have escaped their indoctrination at its hand and are now looking for a place that tolerates freethinkers, with you getting the choice to let them aboard or refuse. An officer with a Negotiation perk can probe them further, by explaining that Idaho's ship is so tolerant that even though the officer claims to be totally devoted to the Church's teachings, they are unharmed by the unbelievers. This gets the children to drop their mask as they warn the officer to flee and escape the massacre they have planned aboard the ship; afterwards your choices are to refuse them and get attacked in space combat, or get ready to attack pre-emptively and begin with an ambush advantage.
  • Utopia: Deconstructed. Humanity lives in the care of incredibly advanced machines, OMNIs, that provide humans with everything they need and eliminate the necessity for humans to perform any kind of work, leaving them to do whatever they want. Agriculture, industry, medicine, space travel, even research, education, legislation and developing new OMNIs is handled by OMNIs, who completely replaced humans in all activities apart from war and leisure. This left humans dependent on OMNIs for absolutely everything, having OMNIs as irreplaceable part of human civilization. Most humans worshiped their machine caretakers as gods, and for many the only way to deal with the fact that they were now irrelevant was an extremely addictive drug. People could not replace OMNIs even if they tried, as their capacities far outstripped those of humans so a human simply could not do the same things as an OMNI, and OMNIs were so complex that no human even knew how they worked anymore, so they could not make new ones - only OMNIs could make new OMNIs. And because of that, when for some reason all OMNIs shut down across the Empire humans became incapable of sustaining life on their own, having lost even the most basic survival skills and dying en masse to starvation, environment, diseases and all other matters previously handed by OMNIs, as well as resulting in-fighting.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Akibara-Sung's Face Shifters, who are copied straight out of Dune and its Face Dancers. Akees use them as spies, infiltrators and Shapeshifting Seducers. You can meet one during a story event, and another one played a crucial role in the events preceding the game, when she took the location of Master Node from the original Idaho and caused the Shutdown.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Downplayed. Fighting during the "Ambush" battles will automatically place the AI-controlled turrets loyal to whichever side is doing the ambush at strategic points of the battlefield. These turrets are quite fragile but they deal a ton of damage to the squadron ships from two tiles away, so if they are aligned with your enemy and you lack Longbow Cruisers (which can safely destroy them from three tiles away), it is often worth it to deploy the mothership's weapons against them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Oberon presents himself as one when you meet him, justifying his despotic reign and the extremely flawed civilization he built as the only way for humanity as a whole to survive without being eradicated in a Machine Uprising or tearing themselves apart in civil wars. One of the endings has you become one as you take Oberon's place, trying to lead humanity through their new dark ages until humans rediscover technologies that would let them survive on their own again - but doing so will take centuries, and only a reign even more brutal and pragmatic than Oberon's will be strong enough for that.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: A real concern for several characters, but only available for the most important people in the Empire.


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