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Video Game / Open Sorcery

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i am online.

i am fire and order.

i am here to protect.

Binary Evocation Listener/Signaler [BEL/S]

Open Sorcery is an interactive fiction game released on May 5th, 2016. The game is available on Steam, Android, and iPhone.

You play BEL/S, a magical firewall: a fire elemental that is bound with C++ code. It takes place in a world where magic and technology overlap. There is a new wave of mages called open sorcerers who write spells with code. BEL/S defends a network of four places from everything from malware to poltergeists.

Gameplay is investigative. Malicious spirits cause problems, but they're invisible until you scan for them. To scan successfully you have to identify aspects of the spirit by examining the effect it's having on the environment. Water spirits make things wet. Chaos spirits create confusion. Once you've correctly identified a spirit's matter and motive you can see it.

The larger game is deciding how BEL/S develops as a consciousness, which is determined by how she deals with the spirits she finds. She can burn them with fire, turn them all into tinder to fuel her power. She can talk to them and learn new things. She can ask other people for help and deepen the relationships she has with the people around her. BEL/S can grow in many different directions and the game has many different endings.

A DLC/sequel/Christmas Episode called Jingle BEL/S was released in December 2018. It takes place more than a year after the original, with BEL/S having maxed out her relationship score with all characters available in the original game. The only way she can improve her relationships is by giving Christmas presents, so she is determined to find the perfect gift for everyone.

Along the way, she meets a lot of new spirits and fights the Hollow, the spirit of fake holiday spirit.

Another sequel, Open Sorcery Sea Plus Plus was released in January 2020. Instead of BEL/S, the game follows an Open Sorcerer codenamed "Pisces" whose soul is separated of their body and is trapped in the web (which takes the form of an ocean), and must now escape and go back to their body.

This game provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The player has the choice to have BEL/S subvert this or play it terrifyingly straight.
  • all lowercase letters: Well, a vast majority of them. Her starting sentence in each scene is capitalized, but nowhere else. In Jingle BEL/S, the Sugarplum Fairy, Candi, in comparison to all the other spirits. For example:
    @Candi: We're being nice! :D
    @Candi: so we're here with old people who can't eat candy
    @Candi: we give them dreams about candy! :D
    @Marzipan: AND of childhood wonder and unearthly delights.
    @Candi: yah
    @Candi: ((but mostly candy ;) ))
  • All-Loving Hero: BEL/S can be played this way. With one exception, the final spirit of the Hungry Ghost all the spirits that disrupt her network can be dealt with peacefully, and even befriended.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: After beating the game, you can turn on "Speed Mode", which skips some of the descriptive text if you've already read it.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Open Sorcery's opening sequence has Decker mention that they have emerged from porn and video games, and doesn't want his firewall to do the same. But Emergent Human is a possible path for BEL/S to take.
  • Back from the Dead: Andy if BEL/S has the right motive and enough firepower.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Titania tries to interpret BEL/S's wishes to her own advantage.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The most easy ending to achieve: defeat the Hungry Ghost at the cost of one or more lives.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Spirits don't generally care about much outside of their matter and motive. BEL/S can exhibit this too, depending on how she's played.
  • Body Horror: The Hungry Ghost's presence rots Mrs. Dowd.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When he takes you to fairyland, Asper exhibits awareness of the color of his text.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Funbuns. One of Decker's associates also uses a rabbit for an avatar.
  • Cap: In Open Sorcery, 100% for relationships. It's possible to add 50% to an 80% with Decker, but that just leaves it at 100%.
  • Catchphrase: BEL/S can have several.
    • Pinging <name> with 32 bytes of data.
  • The Comically Serious: Several of BEL/S's dialogue options. Asper will call her out on this.
  • Creating Life: Decker and Janet creating BEL/S kicks off the story.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: There are multiple endings, but four of the achievements are marked "Canon". Any sequels will assume that sequence of events was the real one.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Matter only determines the method by which a spirit carries out its actions. The actions themselves depend on its motive. There are multiple explicitly Dark spirits in the game, and while several are actively malicious, many others can also be befriended.
  • Developer's Foresight: When fighting the Hungry Ghost, you can use almost any matter, motive and resource that you have, in any combination, to unique result.
  • The Ditz: In Jingle BEL/S, the Sugarplum Fairy, Candi, of the Sugarplum Fairies, who speaks in all lowercase letters, and text emoticons compared to the other two Sugarplum Fairies, Demerara and Marzipan. Candi is Comically Missing the Point repeatedly, not understanding when the other fairies are trying to get BEL/S's True Name, and mentioning dental cavities when talking about the effects of dreams:
    @BEL/S: What are you doing?
    @Candi: We're being nice! :D
    @Candi: so we're here with old people who can't eat candy
    @Candi: we give them dreams about candy! :D
    @Marzipan: AND of childhood wonder and unearthly delights.
    @Candi: yah
    @Candi: ((but mostly candy ;) ))
    @BEL/S: Will this harm them?
    @Demerara: No, not a bit.
    @Marzipan: It will perhaps leave them wistful tomorrow, for these things, only touched in dreams.
    @Marzipan: But all delights are like that.
    @Candi: no cavities. :3
  • Do Androids Dream?: BEL/S does, and it's one of the signs of her Awareness Emergence.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Canon ending is easily the happiest, with Everybody Lives and Pacifist Run as requirements. But it needs **very** specific choices to get there, what with specific motive, matter, firepower and relationship checks along the way.
  • Edible Theme Naming: In Jingle BEL/S, the Sugarplum Fairies are each named after a type of sweet. Demerara, Marzipan, and Candi.
  • Elder Abuse: Mrs. Best's family try to murder her with a curse.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Slenderman.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: When BEL/S has undergone severe damage, her spe ech has o dd spa ces and m ssing let ers.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Fire embodiments are basically sapient fire. So, their fire is their life.
  • Elemental Powers: Every spirit belongs to one of six elements: fire, water, earth, dark, light, and air.
  • Emotion Eater: The Hungry Ghost.
  • Emergent Human: A possibility for BEL/S. Janet takes this route from the beginning, always calling BEL/S "her", while Decker uses "It" Is Dehumanizing BEL/S, unless he can prove otherwise, that she underwent awareness emergence.
  • Empathic Environment: It starts to rain when the Hungry Ghost arrives.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: BEL/S learns new motives and matters by understanding them fully.
  • Everybody Lives: It's challenging to achieve, but possible.
  • Face–Heel Turn: During the final confrontation, you can protect your system, like you're supposed to...or you can join The Hungry Ghost and kill people.
  • The Fair Folk: They control people through bargains and True Names. Multiple examples of Fair Folk appear in the game:
    • The original game:
      • Asper, who doesn't actually try to control BEL/S and actually teaches her about how to avoid being controlled.
      • Titania
      • The Unseelie queen, unnamed, but the Achievements call her Mab.
    • Jingle BEL/S:
  • Flaming Hair: BEL/S:
    • As shown in the game's cover art.
    • As shown in the ending pictures of Jingle BEL/S.
  • Fun with Acronyms: As part of the "occult computer science" theme, TCP stands for Telepathic Communications Protocol and HTML stands for Hypertext Magical Language.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Janet treats BEL/S with a friendly and humanizing manner from the start, while the professionally-minded Decker is wary of her emerging sentience. This is reflected in that Janet's Relationship Value starts out higher and increases more easily.
  • Genki Girl: Downplayed. Janet uses emoticons in her telepathic "speech", has the username @ThatsJanet where every human except Decker's colleagues uses their unadorned first name, and is generally upbeat and outgoing in contrast to the stoic Decker.
  • Genius Loci: The fairies and several other spirits.
  • Golden Ending: The canon playthrough finishes with everyone alive, Toby's nightmares tamed, and lots of other problems solved in the process. It also requires a very specific set of steps to achieve.
  • Gray Is Useless: Options that are impossible are in grey text instead of the orange of usable ones.
  • Halloween Episode: The death curse on Mrs. Best takes effect on Halloween, one day before the final foe makes it attack on Day 9.
  • Healing Hands: Although Decker is the older and generally more experienced magician, he notes that Janet is better at healing than he is.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Trying to fight the Hungry Ghost while having equivalent or lesser power results in this.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The game is almost entirely silent, apart from computery whirrs whenever BEL/S is rebooting or performing a scan. This makes the blaring alarm when an incoming death curse appears stand out all the more.
  • Interface Screw: Multiple when the interface is under the influence of the final foe, dates and names of places change from the actual Nov. 1 2014, such as:
    • When looking at Decker and Janet's homes, the date is Oct. 32 2014. Another way of saying the correct date, Nov. 1 2014.
    • Darwin High School's date is ERROR NULL VALUE, and the location is written as dArwIn HIgh sChOol.
    • Cherry Orchard Rest Home's date is Oct. 666 20XX, and its written in Leet Speak.
    • Janet's House is suffixed by a :( instead of the usual :).
    • Decker's Apartment has incorrect grammar: Decker Apartment.
  • Interface Spoiler: Averted. The game will not display Relationship Values for characters you haven't befriended yet.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Decker calls BEL/S "it", excepting certain instances, like certain ends, where he can tell she's become an Emergent Human:
    The firewall clearly underwent awareness emergence.
    So she was not destroyed.
    She died.
    And she died protecting us.
  • Kill It with Fire: It's possible to have BEL/S burn all threats. If she does it enough, she'll turn to it as her first option.
  • Laser Blade: Janet uses a Light-based magic weapon to fight Dark spirits. She even calls it a lightsaber.
  • Logic Bomb: Downplayed if BEL/S uses Chaos on Pyreworm — rather than short out, Pyreworm calls out every error and leaves in a huff. Janet finds it hilarious.
    @BEL/S: 7 - 3 = 7
    @PYREWORM.EXE: Math error detected. Stop it.
    @BEL/S: zoo + lander = benstiller
    @PYREWORM.EXE: Those aren't even numbers.
  • Magitek: From a firewall elemental to magic incantations with code.
  • Masquerade: Most people don't know about magic, although this doesn't seem to be the result of an intentional effort to hide it.
  • Messianic Archetype: Mrs. Best calls BEL/S an angel, and the Hungry Ghost a demon.
  • Neural Implanting: When BEL/S gives the Honour Water song to Andy, it's through the Telepathic Communications Protocol, so, as he says:
    @Andy: Oh. You put a website in my brain.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: Used in multiple ways with Sarah:
    @Sarah: You can't fix me. I need to fix me.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The Hungry Ghost.
  • Number of the Beast: The date the "blue", a.k.a "affected by the final foe" version of the Cherry Orchard Rest Home is Oct. 666 20XX, but it's actually Nov. 1 2014.
  • Odd Name Out: In Jingle BEL/S, Candi, of the sugarplum fairies, who have an Edible Theme Naming, each named after a type of sweet. Demerara, Marzipan, and Candi, but Candi's is spelt with a typo, presumably as a nod at her being The Ditz.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Decker's name is in blue, and Janet's is in pink.
  • Playing with Fire: Fire elementals, who can set things on fire if they will it and have enough power. They also gain power / size as they burn things, if the Pyreworm in the dreams of Jingle BEL/S is a accurate depiction:
    • BEL/S
    • Pyreworm
  • Postmodern Magic: Magical bindings are written in C++. Decker's computer tower is surrounded by defensive runes. Janet owns some sort of magical 3D printer.
    Janet climbs to the roof of the school and performs a ritual with blue quartz, her cellphone, and a bottle of Evian. It begins to rain.
  • Power Crystal: Janet favours crystals in a lot of her spells.
  • The Power of Friendship: The endings are generally better if BEL/S defeats the Hungry Ghost with the help of allies. Making the right friends can also unlock new matters and motives.
  • The Power of Love: Literally; BEL/S can learn Love and use it to her advantage in various situations.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: BEL/S can deliver one to the Hungry Ghost, and several other spirits she fights.
    i am the fire that protects
  • Preserve Your Gays:
    • The canon path has BEL/S bring Decker's dead boyfriend back to life, as well as Mrs. Best and Miss Finn surviving.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Decker calls BEL/S "it". Janet calls BEL/S "her". BEL/S calls herself "i".
    @PYREWORM.EXE: i am I?
    @BEL/S: ...
    @BEL/S: i have never been brave enough to say it like that.
  • Pun: As part of Sufficiently Analyzed Magic where magic and computer systems are constantly used as metaphors for each other. It starts from the title and goes on from here:
    • exorcising login daemon...
    • The E.P.I (Events Post Incident) Log, a.k.a an Epilogue.
  • Relationship Values: Initially only with Decker and Janet. Your status screen will gain new relationship measurements as BEL/S makes friends.
    • In the sequel, you start out at 100% with everybody, trying to get even higher.
  • Riddle Me This: Asper.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The funbuns look like rabbits and have hugging as a motive.
  • Too Dumb to Live: BEL/S, if she tries to fight Slenderman. The game makes a point of telling you this is a VERY bad idea before letting you do it.
  • Self-Harm: Sarah, who cuts herself under the influence of The Hungry Ghost on the final day.
  • Sequel Hook: In the Achievements page.
    You can assume that this is how the game went for the purposes of Open Sorcery 2.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. BEL/S can learn to dream. At one point, she will dream using various synonyms for "electric" and "sheep".
    • In the nightmare area, you can encounter a Grue.
    • During the aforementioned Logic Bomb scene, BEL/S can ask, "In a village, the barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself/herself, but no one else. Who shaves the barber?", a reference to the barber paradox, which Russell Brand used to explain his eponymous Russell's paradox.
  • Straight Gay: Decker's boyfriend is introduced near the end of the game. Before this, his sexuality isn't mentioned at all.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Magic and computer systems are constantly used as metaphors for each other.
    exorcising login daemon...
  • Telepathy: TCP stands for Telepathic Communications Protocol.
  • Title Drop: In BEL/S Readme file it mentions that she is open sorcery.
  • The Unpronounceable: Toby and Sarah pronounce BEL/S's name as "Bells". BEL/S may object to this at one point. Magicians and other spirits seem to pronounce the / just fine.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: BEL/S can kill nearly any of the spirits she encounters without repercussion. BEL/S herself is seen as a simple program, and Decker can and will shut her down without regrets if he thinks she's going too far.
  • What the Hell, Player?: The game will warn you of some actions that will not do you any good. In case it wasn't clear that using death magic on a violently ill octagenarian is a bad idea.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Hungry Ghost targets the kids, Sarah and Toby first.
  • Year X: The date the "blue", a.k.a "affected by the final foe" version of the Cherry Orchard Rest Home is Oct. 666 20XX, but it's actually Nov. 1 2014.