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Video Game / Enemy Mind

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Enemy Mind is a scrolling space Shoot 'em Up released on PC through Steam in 2014.

It has a unique core mechanic: the ability to psychically jump between enemy ships. There are more than 20 different types of ships to take control of in this manner, each with different speed, armour, ammo, and methods of attack. Most of these belong to one of two races: humanity or Aratus. Interestingly, the glimpses of story you're given (as well as the ending) depend on which faction's ships you prefer, both over time and during specific moments.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The humans employ a couple of explosive weapons that become this if you take control of them. One is a ship with a "gravity bomb", which can somehow survive its own attack, albeit with no additional ammo; the other is a timed mine that's completely destroyed after a few seconds. Don't jump into that one.
  • Boring, but Practical: The basic ships of each faction, the Vic and the Prawn, are lightly armed and armoured, but they're small and fast, and they don't have any offensive blindspots. Contrast with the extremely powerful Light Pods and Tesla Coils, which can't turn around or hit anything to the side, respectively.
  • Brainwashing: Called Empathic Conditioning. The Watchers controlled the psychic entities by having them take over A.I.s laced with seemingly incomprehensible instructions, while the human leaders attempt to do something similar with their own troops, so their memories and emotions will override the player character's default identity and turn it to humanity's aid.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: Both versions of the Goliath boss are this, with the added twists that you have to take over the turrets to attack the core, and it will attempt to jettison turrets that you're inhabiting to try and stop you.
  • Deflector Shields: Sail ships, when controlled by enemies, grant these to other, usually very dangerous ships. The player can use them to gain a shield that vaporizes anything it touches.
  • Didn't Need Those Anyway!: The Goliath platforms will start removing their own turrets in an attempt to get rid of you.
  • Earth That Was: Irreparably polluted by humans 1000 years before the events of the game. Humanity left it via wormhole, leaving behind the aquatic life that would be elevated by the Singer and become the Aratus. When the two races meet again, the Aratus are not in a forgiving mood.
  • Every 10000 Points: Extra lives every 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 points. Presumably more too, but if you can get to that point, you don't need extra lives.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: A lot of ships can only fire straight forward, forcing you get right in front of enemies in order to damage them...where, of course, they can also damage you. Some ships (usually the smaller, more maneuverable ones) can fly and shoot backwards, at least.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Aratus are evolved Earth squids. They had a little help from the leftover machines of humanity and a lot of help from the Singer.
  • Gatling Good: The Spincycle is the only ship with a conventional automatic weapon.
  • Hive Mind: The Aratus feature this. They call it the Song, and it was created/introduced by the Singer. Oddly, it seems to require polluted water as a medium; Aratus placed in clean water immediately find the Song discordant and incomprehensible.
  • Homing Projectile: The Hornet Nest fires homing missiles. They're very useful in a game where you otherwise need to put yourself in the line of fire in order to do damage.
  • Identity Amnesia: The only thing the player character can remember from before being awoken is purple lights. Guess what colour the psychic inhibitors used by the Watchers are.
  • I Have Many Names: Almost everything, thanks to the multi-perspective nature of the story. Honestly, it would be easier to list the entities that only have one name. The human ships have three - their official name, a nickname presumably given by their crews, and the Aratus' name for them.
  • Joke Weapon: The human transport ships. You get an achievement for honking their "space horn".
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Human and Aratus ships can damage one another, but its not a reliable strategy.
  • Many Spirits Inside of One: One way of looking at the results of multiple players jumping into the same ship. The psychic entities in general eventually experience this as a result of their hosts overriding their true identity. See Ikiryo for the logical conclusion.
  • Mighty Glacier: Turrets have pretty good firepower and the most armour of anything in the game that isn't invincible, but they're totally immobile, so they'll not only need that armour, but they make it impossible to keep up a multiplier.
  • Mirror Boss: Ikiryo has the same psychic abilities as you. His boss fight takes places among a swarm of other ships.
  • More Dakka: The human Spincycle and the Aratus Puffer combine this with Gatling Good and Spread Shot, respectively.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether you lean towards human or Aratus ships, leading to...
    • Faction-Specific Endings
    • There's also a secret third ending if you complete the game using a Watcher ship, aka a purple saucer.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Every kind of ship can face either left or right while the computer is in control, but most are locked into facing right once you take over. Admittedly, they rarely switch sides once they're already on screen.
    • The Photon Lance can aim in any direction when used by the computer, but only straight forward for players, making it arguably worse than the default ships.
  • Organic Technology: Aratus ships. It's not totally clear if the things you take over are actually ships or simply different species' bodies.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Dragons are some of the coolest-looking ships in the game, and they can easily wreak havoc on players with their lethal energy trail, but said energy trail is very hard to use effectively once its in your hands, and is completely useless against unpredictable or immobile enemies.
  • Precursors: The Watchers, although they definitely existed simultaneously with the other races, and its debatable whether they're still around or not.
  • Ramming Always Works: For the Drill ships, which are invincible while zooming forward.
  • Retraux: An unusual example in that while it uses pixel art and a decidedly old-school genre, the visuals are very high-resolution, allowing for details much smaller than any 8- or 16-bit game could accomplish.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Aratus against humanity when they're recognized as the creatures that ruined Earth.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The psychic entities aboard the Ark, to the other races. Although it's actually more like "Sealed True Neutral in a Can".
  • Shades of Conflict:
    • The player character is the closest to White morality in the game, as all of its actions are done in self-defence. All it wants is to return to the Ark and go back to sleep. Unfortunately, it kills a lot of people in the process. It's also unclear if that motivation is its own or part of the Watchers' programming.
    • Humanity polluted Earth so badly it became practically uninhabitable hundreds of years ago, but during the events of the game, all they're trying to do is survive the Aratus invasion. Their military brass, however, are intentionally sending their own fleet to be used as hosts for the player character, in the hopes that their memories will make it ally with humanity and fight the Aratus.
    • The Aratus were seemingly peaceful before contacting humanity, recognizing them as the polluters of Earth, and declaring a vendetta against the entire species because of it, even though those responsible would've been long dead. They're also immediately hostile to the player and Ikiryo, seeing them as impostors of the Singer.
    • The Singer is revered by the Aratus for uniting them, but its own reasons for doing so are ambiguous.
    • The Watchers are the closest thing to Black morality in the game. They hunted down and captured the psychic entities, then brainwashed them to spy on the other races. Supposedly they were planning an invasion of their own, but all of the information available on them comes from Ikiryo or the Aratus, who presumably got it from the Singer, both of which are psychic entities that are probably a little biased.
    • Ikiryo is especially complex. It says it just wants to be left alone, but it shows very little empathy about the number of people it's killed, and it does so while ranting about its fear and hatred of other races. That said, it's very possible it has those emotions because of the Watchers' memories...which it might also have killed.
  • Shock and Awe: The humans' Tesla Coil ship, which fires arcs of electricity in a vertical equivalent to the Aratus' Light Pods.
  • Split-Personality Team: What happens in co-op if multiple players jump into the same ship. Both players have some control over the host until one jumps out.
  • Spoiler Cover: The game's main promotional image (also its title screen) shows the Ark.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Aratus. They either have Organic Technology or a range of diverse body types capable of travelling through space, they have a Hive Mind referred to as the Song that requires contaminated water to function, and they have a very bizarre way of talking (their names for ships are all things like "Remembering, I Scream").
    • The Watchers seem to be this too, if the wording of the translated purple text they send you is any indication.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: It's impossible to piece together the entire story in one playthrough. Because the snippets of story you get are determined by the ship you're using at the time, you can only get 50% of the full picture at best. It doesn't help that the biggest insights into the Watchers and Ikiryo can only be found by finishing waves with the Watcher ships.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Light Pod has one of the most powerful attacks in the game. It's a huge laser that shoots through enemies and stays active as long as you still have ammo, allowing you to sweep a wall of death across the screen.
  • We Have Reserves: The human military leaders are sacrificing their own forces to the player character in the hopes of impressing a human consciousness onto it and turning it against the Aratus.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Some ships can only fire in one direction, diminishing or even completely nullifying their effectiveness in certain situations. Since the player character can only shoot its consciousness in a ship's forward direction no matter how many directions the ship can shoot in, this could also apply to them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The human leaders again. As amoral as their actions are, they're only trying to make sure humanity survives the war.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: It's difficult to say how much Ikiryo's personality was affected by the millions of Watchers he's hijacked and possibly killed, but it certainly wasn't a positive change.
  • Wolf Pack Boss: The first and last bosses (although not really) are collections of regular ships.


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