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Video Game / Gloom

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Gloom is a side-scrolling Roguelike game, developed by Hunchback Studio (which means the developer himself, Aleksi Sirvio, and the composer, Valtteri Hanhijoki), and released on Steam in April 2017.

In it, you are a nameless dreamer, trying to make sense of the mystery that is the Common Dream. You know that deliverance lies within the lost pages of the Necronomicon and in the enigmatic Abyss deep within the Dream. To reach these, however, you must fight through hordes of insane dreamers and eldritch beings, as well as discover your past and the occult history of the Common Dream.

Has nothing to do with the tabletop game nor the Amiga's Doom clone of the same name.

Gloom contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Airborne Mook: There are some flying headcrab-like things that slowly fire projectiles. Since you can't shoot upwards, they'll soon fly off on their own in the Parish area. Their native Lightless Forest is more constrained however, and so you cannot get away so easily.
  • Alien Blood: Either the player or the enemies getting hit sheds specks of white blood.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The enemies in the game are not very smart. In particular, the pistol and Molotov-equipped enemies, who are defenceless up close, can end up teleporting closer to you, thus letting you close the distance and hack them to pieces faster.
  • Asteroids Monster: Giant spiders split into three small ones upon death.
  • Back from the Dead: May happen in the Cosmic Ending: The epilogue text will be written by Wake, even if he was the Quagmire boss, and presumably died when you defeated him.
  • Battle Boomerang: Some Tidal Ones in the Quagmire use a shuriken in this manner.
  • Beating A Dead Player: Played straight. If the enemies defeat you, they'll keep spamming their attacks throughout the entire Game Over screen.
  • BFS: The greatsword is taller than you are and about as wide as your head. An attack with it also consumes pretty much the entire stamina bar, but the damage is correspondingly high as well.
    • Blindfolded Sinner Lohan boss wields a greatsword too. Unlike you, though, he can also dash straight ahead with it.
  • Boss Bonanza: You'll see this in the game from the Quagmire boss onwards. Immediately after defeating either Wake or Nevan H'mu, you'll have to fight The Abyss Itself, and then you'll ascend, fighting first several waves of The Tidal Ones in the Quagmire, then one of the unfought bosses of The Lightless Forest alongside a few monsters, then the same for Unholy Parish. This culminates in the battle with The First Dreamer (normal ending), The First Dreamer and The Gate (Cosmic ending), or The First Dreamer, Great King Domnhall, Mad King Domnhall, and Yellow Monarch for the Royal ending.
  • Bullet Hell: The Gate battle has dozens of orbs flying around at any given time. Even Yellow Monarch doesn't get quite as many, though they are more damaging to compensate for that.
  • Cheap Gold Coins: Used to pay for the stuff in shops; i.e. a potion that "tastes incredible" yet only heals a small portion of your health costs 10 (or 5 if from a specialized vendor), while most items cost 15-20. Interestingly, even though they are called gold when you pick them up from dead enemies and from chests, the shop still uses $ symbol to represent them.
  • Choice of Two Weapons: The Dreamer can always carry only one melee and one ranged weapon. Buying or otherwise obtaining a melee or ranged weapon outright replaces the one you used before.
  • Combat Aestheticist: Maestro can greet the player with "I blessed you with an invitation, and you seek to destroy me? The stage shall be more beautiful than ever, painted in your blood."
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: A particularly high one is worn by Wake.
  • Degraded Boss: When you first finish an area, you'll fight one out of the three bosses it has. If you manage to defeat Abyss Itself, you'll go through one battle per an earlier level. In the Lightless Forest and Unholy Parish stages, you'll fight one of the two bosses you didn't fight at first — this time with no names or visible healthbars, but with the regular area enemies backing them up.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The entire game strictly uses black silhouettes, white attack frames, and shades of grey for the environment. Blood is also white, though specks of it appear only briefly whenever someone gets hit, so you may not notice this. The one horrible exception occurs during the Cosmic ending, when the Dreamer jumps off the Moral Event Horizon and stabs the baby (likely their own child) they rescued from The Abyss Itself, in order to unlock The Gate to the new dimensions and their cosmic truths. The tiny body is immediately splashed in white, and so is the arm he held the dagger with.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Wake smokes one during his battle.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: The Unholy Prophet boss creates two doppelgangers, who attack just like how he does, but will fade away after a single attack, without reducing his own health bar. The best way to deal with them is often to fire a bullet as soon as he creates the doppelgangers — its Over Penetration will pass through all three of them, immediately destroying the phantom copies.
  • Dream Land: Where the entire game takes place.
  • Driven to Suicide: The "Disturbing Photo", with its depiction of three hanged people, depicts either an execution, or this.
    • Fin of Leviathan description states that the dread aura of Cthulhu Expy Leviathan is so strong that aquatic creatures will start to strand themselves en masse years before it'll actually arrive to devour the world.
  • Dual Boss: Nevan H'mu possesses two statues at the start of the battle, and thus represents two bosses with a Shared Life-Meter.
  • Dual Wielding: Maestro fights with two swords.
  • Energy Ball: Many enemies and bosses attack with these. Some notable mentions are the Bishop-looking enemies, who launch one from their staffs high up, and which then splits into four diving down at your location. Wake and The First Dreamer both have a much stronger version of this attack.
    • Giant Dreamers can have these rain down from the sky with a single hand gesture. So can the Maestro boss.
    • Giant Spiders and diving Tidal Ones spit out a verifiable shotgun blast of these.
    • The Gate battle has dozens of these orbs at any given time.
  • Everything Fades: Played straight with blood and the projectiles, which leave no permanent impact on the floor. Averted with the bodies of the enemies, which do persist after they are killed, at least as long as you are on the screen. (Since the game prevents you going backwards.) Weirdly, it's only the bosses whose bodies fade away.
  • Familiar: Picking up the Hunchback item causes a tiny Ghost of Nhypnos to follow you.
  • Field of Blades: The Meadows of Limbo are this.
  • First Town: The Common Dream, the place every single run begins. It is a tiny street where you can shop and talk to a few peaceful characters before you have to jump down and play the game proper.
  • Fish People/Frog Men: The Tidal Ones fit somewhere in here. Technically, they look like humanoid porcupines, but they also live in the swamp area and dive down in the water with no problems, yet still seem to spend most of their time above-ground, like frogs.
  • Flaming Sword: The swords used by Maestro appear to be on fire.
  • Flunky Boss: Wake can summon Tidal Ones to back him up during his battle.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Enemies are not affected by each other's attacks and have no problem going through Molotov cocktail spills.
  • Giant Mook: There's a giant dreamer thrice as tall as you are, who attacks with a Shockwave Stomp and through causing explosive orbs to rain down.
    • Quagmire features a giant version of the diving Tidal One as well.
  • Giant Spider: One of the enemies encountered within the Lightless Forest. Can attack by jumping to produce a Ground Pound, and by spitting out a shotgun blast of orb projectiles.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Renegade God, despite being one of the very first bosses in the game, is ultimately the entity most responsible for the conflict, as it was his plague that caused King Domnhall to finally lose control of the Yellow Monarch and ultimately be driven mad by it.
  • Ground Pound: Sickle-wielding enemies teleport high in the air, then drop down in order to land like this. This is also done by First Dreamer's second form.
    • Skull-headed dogs do an electrified version of this. So do the giant spiders.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: Discussed and averted in the description for an Ivory Tusk item. It states that one of Domnhall's Kingdom's main rivals was The Ivory Kingdom, which was eventually exterminated under his command once his army became fully equipped with firearms. The last sentence simply calls it "a surprising act that was considered to be inhuman and unjustified by many."
  • Guns Are Useless: Downplayed. The pistol-wielding enemies are usually the first ones you encounter. Their bullets do inflict decent damage, taking about 4 hits to kill. However, it takes them so long to lift their pistol and fire that you can often roll past them to the other side and cut them down while they try to turn around. Of course, things get hairier if they are supported by other enemy types.
    • In-universe, it was the mass-production of firearms that allowed Domnhall's kingdom to defeat its main rival, The Ivory Kingdom.
  • Hand Blast: First Dreamer fires a beam of dark energy from his palm.
  • Hard Light: Wake can wall himself off from harm by creating a temporary pillar of impenetrable light. He usually does this right after a Tidal One appreciates his defence of them and decides to help out.
  • Heart Container: Vigor-increasing items. These include a wide variety of things — from Hound Meat to Ancient Fossils and Domnhall's Crown.
    • Potions themselves will increase your maximum health if you drink them while already at full health. In this case, the message will change from "tastes incredible" to "tastes nice".
  • Hellhound: There are some dog enemies, who are ironically more dangerous than the pistol-wielders due to having much faster reaction time.
    • Then, there are the true hellhounds, who have bovine skulls for a head, are electrified, and can teleport a few steps away in order to drop down from midair.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: You can find large chests, which often house surprisingly little (i.e. 8 gold). There's no explanation other than All Just a Dream one.
  • Informed Equipment: While new weapons are obviously portrayed on your sprite, the accessories are not.
  • Invisible Wall: Each screen has no border, so it seems like it's only the invisible walls that are keeping you in place and prevent you from going forwards while there are enemies on the screen, or from ever going backwards.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: One is shown as you start the game:
Sometimes before I fall asleep,
A fear begins to creep.
At this time I count no sheep,
Instead I start to weep.
To flee I need a Silver Key,
But sadly while I am dreaming.
The parasites will gnaw on me,
Until I wake up screaming.
  • The Cosmic ending gives further context that makes it even more ironic. The Silver Key lets you "flee" not just the dream, but essentially the reality itself, as it unlocks the battle with The Gate. Defeating it means you never wake up, instead embracing the "higher cosmic truth" of the other dimensions and powers. Oh, and you need to stab a baby within the dream in order to summon The Gate in the first place. There are several interpretations of what it meant, and none are good.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: All NPCs know that they are in a dream. Some also make comments that can easily be translated to the player.
I sincerely hope you are making progress.
  • The Unholy Prophet boss greets you with one:
Why must you attack us, Dreamer? Nothing awaits you here. You will simply die over and over again, until you give up.
  • Life Drain: Every attack of the player can do this once you get the Severed Lips or Lament Configuration item, or you upgrade an item with an Ivory Shard.
  • Life Meter: Getting the Oracle's Blindfold item allows you to see the enemies' health bar, which is normally hidden.
  • Lightbulb Joke: You can hear one from an NPC carrying balloons that might randomly spawn in The Common Dream.
Hey dreamer, wanna hear a joke?
How many dreamers does it take to change a lightbulb in the Abyss?
It doesn't matter, since none of them will ever make it there anyway.
  • The Lost Woods: The second area, The Lightless Forest, is this. Nearly all its inhabitants are ugly and dangerous beasts, from giant spiders to skull-headed dogs and flying headcrab things.
    • One of the possible bosses of that area is The Albino Parasite, which has the combined attacks of giant spiders' and flying headcrab nests.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The entire world is very dark, and there are a lot of powerful and malevolent entities with hard-to-pronounce names for whom humans and other mortals are mere playthings that they can influence as they wish, including through their dreams. What makes it "lite" is that you can also slash these entities' physical bodies to death, multiple times, even if that doesn't permanently kill them.
    • Moreover, other humans could do it too. Domhall's Crown description states that the people led by Domnhall defeated the Renegade God in open combat many times. Only after these failures did he resort to a divine plague that drove people mad.
  • Luck Stat: In the game's own words, it "affects enemy drops and other random events". You also begin with it set at 0, even while all the other stats are at 5.
  • Mirror Boss: The Abyss Itself can roll and use any of your attacks.
  • Mook Maker: The nests of the flying monsters inside the Lightless Forest. It can spit out the white orbs too!
    • One of the possible bosses of that area is The Albino Parasite, which infects such a nest, and causes it to sprout spiders' legs, so that it has the combined moves of nests and giant spiders, which includes creating three monsters at once.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Some enemies only attack through throwing these. They have a small blast range, but do leave a burning pool on the ground for a while. Since they can only throw these in an upwards arc, they are utterly defenceless in close combat.
    • For 15 coins, you can also buy these yourself.
    • Shopkeepers throw two of these at once if they are attacked.
  • Moth Menace: This is what the True Final Boss, Yellow Monarch, looks like.
  • Multiple Endings: Three of them, with the last being the true ending:
    • Normal ending. After defeating The Abyss itself, the Dreamer cradles the baby it tried to drown within the pram. He is then pulled upwards through the dream levels earlier, fighting one last multi-wave fight on each level before ascending to the preceding one. After going past the Unholy Parish, Dreamer reaches the Field of Swords, where he fights The First Dreamer. After defeating him, he simply wakes up in the hospital room shown on the menu screen, and stares out of the window.
    • Cosmic ending. Obtained by choosing to purchase the Invitation with the tokens dropped by the defeated bosses. Then, you'll go to the Amphitheatre in between the Lightless Forest and Quagmire stages, and fight Maestro there, who'll drop the Silver Key upon death. Once you possess it, defeating The First Dreamer causes a dark moon to rise. In response, the Dreamer places the baby on the ground and stabs it. This causes the moon to transform into The Gate boss. Once defeated, the Dreamer climbs inside, and we are shown an epilogue text by Wake, speculating on whether the Dreamer will even bother to return to his body, now that he's seen truths far beyond what any human can imagine.
    • Royal ending. Obtained after the Cosmic ending, by choosing to purchase the Snow Globe with the tokens dropped by the defeated bosses. The game then allows you to claim the Yellow King pages before transitioning to the next area, but otherwise continues as normal until you defeat The First Dreamer. This victory transitions you to The Royal Throne, where you first fight Great King Domnhall, then Mad King Domnhall, and then just the Yellow Monarch. Prevailing after all this sees the Dreamer walk into the room with the blind Oracle, and hug her. Afterwards, the main menu is still the same hospital room, but now with the Oracle rocking the cradle by the awakened Dreamer's bedside.
  • One-Winged Angel: Downplayed with The First Dreamer, whose second form is actually much less disturbing than his first one.
    • Played straight with Great King Domnhall as he becomes the much faster Mad King Domnhall. And that's not even mentioning the transformation into the Yellow Monarch.
  • Our Angels Are Different: It is strongly implied that the angelic wings simply appear on those blessed by the bird-like god Ziz, who is the closest the setting has to a Big Good. In the Royal ending, Great King Domnhall has these wings. Mad King Domnhall has much smaller wings, but they do not disappear entirely, and become truly enormous during his Shockwave Stomp attack.
  • Over Penetration: The bullets will pass through all enemies on their way.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Wake is dressed just like this, with a Dashingly Dapper Derby and Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe. He doesn't even ever get off his high chair!
  • Recursive Ammo: Some Parish enemies resemble bishops, and they attack by launching an Energy Ball high up, which then splits into four diving down at your location.
    • Quagmire has a Tidal One equivalent who does the same thing, along with the additional attacks. Lastly, this attack can be used by Quagmire's Wake.
  • Robbing the Dead: One of the randomly spawning NPCs at The Common Dream will tell you that the salesman gets his items by scavenging them from the perished dreamers.
    • Of course, you can only pay the salesman through similarly scavenging gold (and bullets, which can themselves be sold off for gold) from dead enemies.
  • RPG Elements: The player has Vigor note , Endurance note , Strength note , Finesse note , and Luck note  stats, which can be improved through obtaining stat-increasing items.
  • Sad Battle Music: Cosmophobia, the theme for either of the two real final bosses. While the slow melancholic melody remains the same, the meaning behind the sadness is different in either battle:
    • The final battle of the worst Cosmic ending is sad because win or lose, the dreamer has already cast off any decency or humanity he had in the hunt for cosmic knowledge. After all, the battle is triggered by him literally sacrificing a baby, who may have been his own child: we outright see him stab it with a dagger and get the whole arm splashed in its blood, which is what turns the dark moon of the dream into The Gate to the new realities.
    • The final battle of the true Royal ending is sad because you confront King Domnhall, who was once a great king and did so much for his people. However, he did so at the price of carrying the Yellow Monarch eldritch being within him, and it eventually drove him mad, to the point he ordered a complete genocide of the rival kingdom they defeated in battle, and eventually decided to escape the Renegade God's plague through putting all his subjects into the Common Dream, where so many went mad and became the enemies you fought in the Unholy Parish. Thus, you are doing something difficult but necessary, and it's reflected in the battle itself going through three stages: Great King Domnhall, Mad King Domnhall, and, finally, the Yellow Monarch bursting out of his dead body and challenging you on its own.
  • Satanic Archetype: The so-called Satanius, who is worshipped by the Unholy Prophet and his followers. After you defeat the Unholy Prophet, there's even a statue that lets you "make a sacrifice to Satanius", whereas you lose Vigor but obtain other benefits. Sounds just like a certain other game… except that it never reappears since, and so is more of a Shout-Out to it.
    • Moreover, said Satanius is actually stated to be one of the weaker eldritch beings, because he rewards his loyal followers and punishes those that mock him, whereas the most powerful beings care not what the mortals may think of them.
  • Sequential Boss: Once Maestro's health gets halfway through, he causes white orbs to rain down from the sky and explode upon the ground.
    • The First Dreamer literally has two stages with a very different set of attacks.
    • In the true ending, Domnhall has three stages with different names: Great King Domnhall, Mad King Domnhall, and Yellow Monarch.
  • Shockwave Stomp: A giant Dreamer literally stomps to create a large shockwave as its main attack. A giant Tidal One slams its elbows into the pier to do the same.
    • One humanoid enemy in the Parish sits on the ground and cannot move besides "teleporting". Instead, it attacks by slamming the ground with its arms to send a shockwave along the ground.
    • Unholy Prophet, Rejected Child of Ziz and such can create a concave arc of what seems like electricity if you get close to them.
    • The First Dreamer creates enormous waves of energy as tall as the entire screen.
  • Shoplift and Die: It is impossible to just shoplift. However, you can fight and kill the shopkeeper, getting all of his items… if you'll manage it. Once in combat, shopkeepers can fly around, shoot their pistol, create a travelling shockwave, and throw two Molotovs at once. The blacksmith can also be fought, but he transforms into a wendigo once you try.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The shotgun here has a reach comparable to a spear or a greatsword. Amongst other things, this makes it hard to score Over Penetration.
  • Shout-Out: The Yellow Monarch is one of the items you can get. And the Yellow Monarch is the True Final Boss.
    • An item that "reveals the truth" and lets you obtain the true ending? Snow Globe. However, most of the game's lore might still be real, rather than imagined by the player, as it's technically possible Domnhall's kingdom had advanced enough outside of the dream to treat people with IVs, and the hospital was in their world, rather than in our reality.
  • Sinister Scythe: One of the melee weapons is a Saint's Skythe, which is swung in a complete arc, hitting anything both ahead and behind the Dreamer. This makes it really easy to cut down Nevan H'mu, when both of his statues cluster together.
  • Skull for a Head: There are elite dog enemies with bovine skulls replacing their heads.
  • Sprint Meter: Present, and it's consumed with every attack, jump and roll.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: There are only the brief pre-battle cutscenes consisting of one or two replicas at best, and similarly brief conversations with a few peaceful NPC. The absolute majority of the lore is contained within the item descriptions. These take up whole paragraphs and convey crucial background information about Domnhall's kingdom, its rulers, wars and alliances, as well as the Lovecraftian beings who set out against it.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The Quagmire is exclusively the home of the Tidal Ones, a race of semi-aquatic humanoid porcupines who attack you on sight. They also worship a Cthulhu-looking god, Nevan H'mu.
    • However, the evil part is subverted when Wake says they merely want to be left alone, and berates a "greedy fool" like you for showing up there in the first place, before proceeding to battle you. The fact that he, a human, is supported by the Tidal Ones during his battle lends credence to his words.
      • Ironically, he only gets around to battling you at the end of the level, when you were going to leave anyway. Moreover, more Tidal Ones actually get killed when they show up to support him.
    • Moreover, the lore clearly shows Nevan H'mu is actually one of the kindest eldritch beings around, even if he only cares about The Tidal Ones.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Disowned Child of Ziz is a flying bird-like creature that mainly attacks through dropping explosive orbs from its wings. It just seems unable to keep itself hovering near the ceiling, where your character is completely unable to harm it.
  • Teleport Spam: Practically all the other enemies frequently do a minor version of these, fading out at their location and reappearing a couple steps away.
    • Mad King Domnhall accentuates the "spam" part, teleporting around the battlefield every other second.
  • That's No Moon: Two literal examples in two of the three endings.
    • Cosmic Ending: Stabbing the infant you rescue from The Abyss Itself causes the moon to lower itself and opens its eyes and mouth, and reveals other features. It is The Gate, and it is the only boss that doesn't fade away upon being defeated. Instead, it simply petrifies in place again, and the Dreamer climbs into its open mouth to ascend to the cosmic truth.
    • A downplayed version in the Royal True Ending: some attacks of the True Final Boss are preceded by a white flash, similar to what the Maestro does before showering the area in explosive orbs. One simply has a single large white disk appear, which looks just like a moon, especially since it always appears in the ceiling-high windows of the room. You may not realize anything is wrong until it starts pulsing and dropping pieces of itself at you with an artillery-style explosion, several times in a row.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Maestro can throw his sword, having previously sent it spinning. He can even throw both swords at once in two directions. Since he never runs out of swords, it doesn't work out too badly.
  • Tragic Villain: King Domnhall always meant well, and he has done a lot for his kingdom, which is why so many have followed any of his orders. Unfortunately, much of his power, and his long life, is due to the Yellow Monarch demon living inside him. He was able to control it for a long time, but when it began to slip, he started ordering atrocities like completely wiping out all the people in the rival kingdom which dared to attack them. His madness is also what drove him to lead his people into The Common Dream, where many went insane as well, though the Renegade God's plague also had much to do with that.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: A good way of dodging attacks.
  • Welcome to Corneria: The few NPCs will repeat what they've said earlier once they run out of their 3-4 lines. In particular, shopkeepers would advise you to buy something even after you have just done that.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The battle with The Abyss Itself begins with it drowning a child's pram underwater, before turning around to face you. Since the world is a dream, and Abyss Itself is a Mirror Boss, and you were trying to reach it to discover the truth about yourself, it implies that this was what your Dreamer has done in real life. However, defeating The Abyss Itself leads to the Dreamer taking the baby out of the water and placing it under their coat.
    • Further followed up on in the Cosmic ending, where after defeating The First Dreamer, the player character again takes out the baby as the dark moon rises, before stabbing them with a dagger, splashing themselves and the surroundings with its blood, before the body sinks into the ground. The moon opens its eyes and mouth, and becomes "The Gate" boss.
      • Thankfully, the true Royal ending features the Oracle rocking that same pram by the player's bedside on the main menu, so it probably represented his anxiety at what he could do, rather than something that happened in real life.