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Video Game / Moons of Madness

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"Mars sucks."
Moons of Madness is a cosmic horror Adventure Game developed by Rock Pocket and Dreamloop Games and published by Funcom. It was released on PC through Steam on October 22nd, 2019, with PS4 and Xbox One versions slated for January 21st, 2020. Much like The Park, this game is set in the universe of The Secret World, also published by Funcom. In both cases, prior knowledge of the TSW setting is not required to understand and enjoy the game.

The year is 2063, and a group of astronauts live on a secret Mars base in search of extraterrestrial life. Their parent company, Orochi, has established the base for other reasons far beyond the pay grade of the protagonist, Shane Newehart. His job as an engineer is simply to keep the base functional, but things suddenly start going wrong as madness takes hold. After the truth comes to light, it's up to Shane to fix what's broken and set things right—or not.

This game contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Shane's no Secret World paranormal operative, just a regular space janitor who ends up dealing with an extradimensional crisis way above his pay grade.
  • All There in the Manual: Certain information about the TSW universe isn't discussed in great detail (or addressed at all) within the game. Anything important to understand the story is explained, but only players familiar with TSW lore will recognize the creatures seen lurking near Lukas and Declan's bodies. The Filth, Dreamers, Gaia Engines, etc. are all concepts core to the premise of TSW but which come across as simply vaguely Lovecraftian story elements to players unfamiliar with the franchise.
    • In TSW, the Filth serves the Dreamers' agenda but is also mindless and not directly controlled by them, which explains why it keeps trying to kill Shane despite him being pretty central to the ritual needed to release the Dreamers.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Several, though the people writing them didn't know they would be apocalypse logs at the time. Every third or fourth Icarus/Argus terminal has at least one.
  • Asshole Victim: Orochi had an incredible amount of blackmail material on all of the crew, which reveals that a number of them actually deserved the deaths they got, especially Lukas, who was a serial killer who hunted women.
  • Beneath the Earth: An unfathomable source of ancient power is buried deep under the surface of Mars. This turns out to be one of the Gaia Engines.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good ending - the rest of the Invictus crew are dead, and Shane doesn't have long to live, but he ensures that the Dreamers in Phobos and Deimos can't break free.
  • Birthmark of Destiny: Shane has a prominent scar on his right hand shaped like a pair of overlapping circles. Said overlapping circles become a prominent symbol throughout the game. This is a representative of the two moons aligning to release the Dreamers, and it turns out Shane was Claimed by the Supernatural as a child, marked by the Necronomicon, and is the key to unleashing the Dreamers.
  • Blackmail: After getting ahold of Chandra's keycard, Shane learns that Orochi has blackmail material on all the members of the crew, should Control need it.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Late in the game, you need the handprint of someone with security clearance to access an area. Fortunately, there's a severed hand in the nearby morgue that works just fine.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An Icarus terminal explains that Declan, and only Declan, knows the activation code to launch a self-guiding missile that will neutralize any eldritch threats it hits. Guess what you use to save the day in the "good" ending?
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: Depends on how closely you read the advertising before you started the game. If you went in uninformed, the first hour of the game spent running around a space station fixing solar panels and irrigation systems can make the later plot quite a shock (though the short nightmare sequence that serves as the prologue should have been a pretty big clue).
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Apparently a direct hit from a tactical nuke is sufficient to stop the Dreamers, a pair of extradimensional beings powerful enough to destroy the universe. This does somewhat make more sense if you consider the game in the context of being part of The Secret World universe, as the threat of extradimensional super-beings would be less of an unknown factor to the power elite and thus something that can at least somewhat be planned around. A memo in Icarus base explains that the missile was loaded with Gaia metal, which is capable of thwarting Dreamers. Also since you have to fire the missile just before the moons align it might be that you're actually stopping their release by destroying one of the moons at the last second.
    • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Even if Shane succeeds in stopping the Dreamers, he still suffers a slow and audibly excruciating death by suffocation in space as the credits roll.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: Shane and the Invictus during the credit sequence.
  • Evil All Along: The ending shows that Cynthia was serving the Dreamers all along, manipulating you into freeing them instead of wanting to stop them like she told you. It's left unclear whether she always valued occult knowledge and power over her family, or whether she was corrupted by the 20+ years she spent trapped inside the Dreamers' dimension after opening the Necronomicon, though if Shane's flashbacks are to be trusted the latter seems to be implied.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Dr. Inna Volkova was creating genetic monstrosities with the Filth even before the Cyrano crew accidentally woke up the Dreamers and started a dimensional incursion.
  • Genre Shift: Unlike The Park, Moons of Madness isn't a pure Environmental Narrative Game and has an emphasis on puzzle-solving as well as a few basic action gameplay sequences where it's possible to die. That said, it's hardly a Survival Horror game and said sequences are all fairly straightforward and simple and rely more on common sense rather than reflexes or skill. It's rather similar to Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game in that regard.
  • Guide Dang It!: At one point you're required to hack a locked door by hacking a video camera, then using that camera to hack a circuit board. At no point in the game is it ever explained to you that you can hack from a hacked camera (as opposed to hacking directly like you've done so for the entire game), and doing so is not at all intuitive.
  • Heroic Willpower: The fact that, even after 20+ years being saturated by Filth, Cynthia is still intelligent enough to make plans and manipulate people is a testament to hers. Especially given that TSW shows that Filth infection almost always results in a gibbering mass of darkness and insanity that's great for random slaughter but not terribly useful for long term scheming.
  • Human Architecture Horror: Lukas is found fused to a wall in a writhing mass of Filth, dead but still swaying about gently thanks to the Filth's undulations.
  • Insistent Terminology: Like Schreber before her, Volkova disdains terms like "the Filth", as well as the various terms that Orochi uses in its work. In an e-mail, she mentions that she'll insist on more clinical terms once she proves herself.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Declan's face is clearly visible through his helmet thanks to interior lights. Averted with the illusory spacemen, whose helmets are menacingly opaque.
  • Insufferable Genius: Dr. Volkova is a massive Jerkass and actually refuses to help you fix the greenhouse's plumbing system because she finds you distracting and annoying, even though you're doing the job on her behalf. She's arrogant enough to even backtalk Orochi's supreme leader, Samael. Downplayed with Lukas who's more of a No Social Skills egghead.
  • Interface Spoiler: The fact that the achievements refer to Shane's ability to interface with Gaia tech as "corruption" kind of spoil the fact his ability isn't benevolent in nature.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: One Icarus scientist's logs describe an incident in which the Filth somehow managed to infect them despite being in containment. The scientist theorizes that the Filth can leak through dimensions we simply cannot fathom, making attempting to restrain it a futile exercise.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Icarus base is inhabited by Orochi construction androids that have gone into emergency containment mode in which they kill humans on sight in order to Leave No Witnesses.
  • Mission Control: Declan fills this role for the majority of the game, offering both hints and witty banter as Shane navigates the perils of the base. You lose contact with him after the creature in the greenhouse attacks, leaving the player truly isolated for the first time.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Having to stop two god-moons from merging in order to enter and immediately destroy the universe isn't the kind of problem you'd expect to face, as a guy whose day to day job mostly consists of fixing electrical issues.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Declan's station is disturbing enough that Shane outright comments on it, with scribbling on the walls and discarded food and trash everywhere.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos, hold back sleeping Dreamers who, if awoken, will destroy reality.
    • To a lesser extent, it turns out Orochi has a Dreamer fragment sedated and chained up in their secret underground base, which most likely accounts for how the Filth got out of control so quickly.
  • Serial Killer: Lukas turns out to have been one on Earth, of the "predatory sexual deviant" variety. Shane is understandably disgusted.
  • The Symbiote: Inna's bond with the Filth-infused mangrove tree is a bit more literal than expected.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Sort of. At one point, Shane is confronted with a walk past an airlock to reach the next area, but the airlock doesn't have a helmet for him to use. This leaves him no choice but to run across Mars' surface with no air or protection. A more literal example happens in the finale when a door is blown off the Invictus and Shane is sucked into space.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Cynthia reading the Necronomicon sets her on a path of no return in her quest for knowledge.
    "Once you open the book, it's already too late! It's always too late!"
  • We Have Reserves: One of the things that Shane discovers in Argus is a series of clones of the crew, meant to replace the originals should they die or cause too much trouble. Offenses worthy of being replaced include sustaining fatal/crippling injuries, committing a homicide, witnessing a homicide, discovering the cloning operation, or sabotaging equipment in the base.
  • When the Planets Align: The moons, rather.
  • X Meets Y: Several ways.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: The game lets you remove your helmet before pressurizing an airlock. This is of course very bad for your health. Doing so doesn't kill you instantly (you've got enough time to pressurize the airlock if you do it by accident), but it does kill you very quickly and is entirely avoidable.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Cynthia claims this as you witness the penultimate moment of the universe's doom. You can prove otherwise, if you're determined.