The game takes place on possibly the strangest planet in the history of fiction(vying with Discworld). Instead of your standard fantasy Patchwork Map, Septerra(Sep=seven/terra=world) is a literal Layered World.
The center of the planet is the immense biocomputer Core, and seven layers of continents, called World Shells, orbit around it, each connected to the next by a giant bio-organic Spine.
- Shell Seven is a Hungry Jungle, closest to the Core, where the radiation levels have turned everything into Mutants.
- Shell Six is a Bubblegloop Swamp ruled by Pirate Robots.
- Shell Five is Flyover Country, home to two technologically advanced and eternally warring countries.
- Shell Four is a decaying City Planet, home to the World Bazaar with all the requisite thieves, smugglers, and hookers.
- Shell Three is filled with Ghibli Hills, and the closest thing to Heroic Fantasy you can find in this world.
- Shell Two is a big, Thirsty Desert whose inhabitants survive by scavenging the never-ending rain of garbage from...
- Shell One, a land of Crystal Spires and Togas ruled by the Decadent Court of the self-proclaimed Chosen, egotistical noblemen who claim descendance from the son of the Creator himself.
Best place for a holiday ever, yes?
According to the mythology, Septerra was built by the Creator, who placed a mysterious artifact in the center of the Core, that would grant the user ultimate power. Gemma, God of Evil, stole the keys to the Core and kidnapped Kyra, angel of light, whom he wanted to become his wife/sex slave (he's a god of evil, is there any difference?). The Creator sent his son, Marduk, to save the day and give this punk a lesson. Marduk gathered an army of people from each Shell, took two demon swords, found Gemma (with little help from Trickster Dogo) and after a hundred day battle, trounced him and threw him into the Pits of Janak. Descendants of Marduk and his Army of the Seven Winds became the Chosen. According to the prophecy, millennia later the world would be in great danger and the keys will be used to save it.
Chosen Lord Doskias, a direct descendant of Marduk and total Jerkass, believes the time has come and he is the Messiah. He plans to save the world, whether the world wants it or not, and has begun a crusade down through the shells, destroying all that gets in his way and a lot that doesn't. Maya, a salvager from Shell Two, accidentally discovers part of his insane plan, and decides to stop him. And the journey begins.
This game provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Maya, Led, Selina
- Actually Four Mooks: When you pick a fight with a cluster of enemies, there are about 50% odds that there's at least one more hiding offscreen.
- All Myths Are True: And you can summon them.
- Angry Guard Dog: Runner. And he's a robot, too!
- Animesque: The artstyle of the game is clearly influenced by late 90s JRPGs, like the ones made by SquareSoft.
- Anti-Debuff: Not the key-to-survival aspect of the game, since battles are rarely long and debuffs are cleared each time a battle ends.
- Shops offer a variety of "head" accessories which increase resistance to one single sort of debuff or special attacks (Like "Mind Shield" adds resistance to Berzerk). Not very useful stuff (better choice are speed or, earlier on, attack strength items, which are passive ability enhancers). To make use of these, you have to know what debuff is expected in the battle ahead, the enemy has to opt to use his action for a debuff, the enemy attack should come at the character equipped with the protection item, and the protection is not 100% (neither is debuff landing rate without it). Late game has empowered protection items, which are, again, inferior to the respective speed and other passive enhancers.
- Consumable items that clear all debuffs upon use are available in shops from the get-go. The only downside is that a party member has to spend a turn to use it.
- Arm Cannon: Araym, literally. He's still able to do thievery with those limbs. And demolitions, which is how he supposedly got them in the first place.
- Artificial Gravity: The Doomsday Weapon works by creating a gravitational disturbance which causes the target continent to rise up out of its World Shell and crash into the underside of the shell above. This turns out to be a massive Chekhov's Gun: by raising the proper continents to the upper shells, they form a rune pattern which grants Septerra access to the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Badass Normal: Maya, Corgan
- Battle Theme Music: Five of them, which are slower and more march-like (except for one theme) than most other examples of this. They are also notable for being the only parts of the game other than the world map that have actual music instead of ambient sounds.
- BFS: Gemma's Blade, which Doskias acquires a ways into the game.
- Bioluminescence Is Cool: Shell 7 is huge on this. Bioluminescent plants/fungi are everywhere and the natives, the Underlost, communicate partially through flashing and scanning bioluminescent patterns via a patch on their 'foreheads'. Oddly enough they can see this form of bioluminescence even though they are otherwise completely blind.
- Brick Joke: Maya has to get tattoos on to sneak into Connor's fortress. In the ending cinematic, you see the tattoos right there - which is important in making Doskias realise he's wrong.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Certain monsters — especially Thunder Cats (which, in spite of vaguely feline gait and ecosystem role, look more like stone rhinos) and various things marked as spiders and beetles which look very little like their Earth equivalents.
- Cheat Code: Several of them, but the master code is "IMAREALWEENIE".note
- The Chosen One: The appropriately-named Chosen think that being the descendants of Marduk's army make them this collectively, and Doskias in particular thinks that being Marduk's direct descendant (which means he's literally the great-great-great-great-etc. grandson of God) makes him a Messianic Archetype as well.
- Church Militant: The Holy Guard of the Seven Winds, an order of paladin-type fighters from Shell Three.
- Combatant Cooldown System: The game implemented it with a slight twist: the cooldown bars were divided into three segments, more powerful abilities required more segments, and when abilities were used, partially filled segments were lost. A lot of gameplay consisted of figuring out quickly which attack you wanted to use next, and then clicking that character right as a segment filled.
- Combination Attack: Grubb and Led have one. All multi-card spells require one team member per card, so technically they are too.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The whole thing with the son of Creator fighting the incarnation of Evil feels like this. Also, the monks from 3rd Shell have Christian habits.
- Dark Action Girl: Selina
- Dark Messiah: Doskias
- Disabled Love Interest: Led has prosthetic legs, and first believes Grubb isn't attracted to her because of them, but eventually realizes he's just really shy.
- Turns out Led is also really insecure; perfect strangers will often respond to her conversation option with gifts and requests for dates!
- Distracted by the Sexy: In the in-game mythology, Dogo the Trickster God convinces Gemma to give Kyra a mirror, so she could make herself more beautiful. Gemma does it, proving he forgot that she's his prisoner and can easily use the mirror to send messages to Marduk about her whereabouts, resulting in her rescue and Gemma's defeat. What part of the body this guy uses to think remains secret.
- Doomed Hometown: Maya's hometown is destroyed at the end when the continent is ripped appart and levitated to form the large sigil. Quite surprisingly it holds out until the finale.
- Dual Wielding: Marduk does this with his Daemon Swords in the game's lore (but Corgan and Selina don't when they get them in the endgame), and Badu does this with his giant knives as well.
- Dumb Blonde:
- Inverted. Led, the only female blonde in the team, is almost as smart as Grubb. However, she is more than willing to play this role on random people to milk items from them.
- Of course, Corgan isn't particularly dumb either. The Chosen princess toys with this, though.
- Dynamic Entry: All summons.
- The End of the World as We Know It: At the end of the game
- Eldritch Abomination: Several Mini Bosses, Ouroboros
- Elemental Powers: The spell cards provide these.
- Elemental RockPaperScissors: Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire.
- FaceHeel Turn: Selina, when she saw Doskias almost getting killed by one of the good guys.
- Fantastic Racism:
Aarym: Might make good target practice.Maya: The bone pillars or the people?Aarym: What's the difference?
- Chosen view themselves as superior to everyone else.
- Most people think the creatures of Shell seven are really really weird, some even seeing them as little more than animals. This exchange between Maya and Aarym sum it up:
- Floating Continent: Six layers of them.
- Fungus Humongous: Shell 7's Mold Forest, although the game doesn't say whether or not these are actual fungi or oversized plants convergently evolved to look exactly like giant fungi.
- Gameplay and Story Integration:
- Led has prosthetic legs. As a result? She equips modifications for it.
- Multiple people simply purchase weapon upgrades
- After Jinam meets its demise, you can actually see it underneath Shell three.
- At one point, you need to enter the mold forest and, to get further, you need to equip a gasmask. But if you have Lobo, Runner, or Badu? None of them need a gasmask.
- The obvious solution of "Trying to use radio communications" as to why they use holographic recordings to act as letters does a lot more than just to be used as a plot device - the closer you get to the core (Past approximately the third shell) radio transmitters gets scrambled.
- God Couple: Marduk and Kyra, according to the myths.
- God of Evil: Gemma
- Great Offscreen War: The Resource Wars, the most recent of the wars between Ankara and Jinam. Also the war between Chosen factions that devastated Maya's hometown.
- The Grim Reaper: Thanatos
- Guide Dang It!: If you don't know that Revive Kills Zombie, the undead abomination in the burned city becomes That One Boss.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Led exploits this trope, by acting as a young innocent cutie to random people in order to get some gifts. Some of those random people give a funny look once they realised she was a hit-and-run charmer. It doesn't work against the bartender who simply asks for ID.
- Hand Cannon: Maya's gun.
- HeelFace Turn: Araym; Selina twice; Lobo, years before he meets our heroes; in-game mythology ascribes one to Dogo, god of mischief, who helped save the world. Doskias does one in the ending, but alas, Redemption Equals Death.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Grubb builds his own robot dog, Runner, his best friend. When Runner went missing, and was later found with Led, she and Grubb started bickering about which of them was his owner.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Doskias and Selina stay behind to fire the Doomsday Device in the ending.
- Holy Hand Grenade: One summon combination allows calling son of Creator.
- Horned Humanoid: Gemma has curved horns on his head and looks somewhat like a big human.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Selina used to be a prostitute working on the streets of Shell 1, until Doskias offered her a better life. While insanely loyal to him for this opportunity, she equally rebels against him for the harm he does to people generally believed to be considered mere insects by the entire Shell 1 population.
- Industrial Ghetto: Shell 2 is an awkward variation on this; the entire shell is a desert save for mysterious and (seemingly) impenetrable factories, with pipes pumping water between them. "Junkers" have built their communities around the factories to tap the pipes for drinking water.
- It's Personal: Everywhere.
- Maya hates Doskias, because her parents were killed in the war he caused over the 2nd Shell, when she was a kid.
Grubb hates Mayor, because he uses robots Grubb created as his personal police, contrary to their intended purpose.
Lobo hates Connor, the leader of the 6th Shell's Pirates because he killed his "father".
Corgan hates Selina because she led the attack that destroyed his home village.
Led hates Lobo because he's one of the robot soldiers created by her country's enemies.
- Those last two go unnoticed for much of the game, as party arrangements are pre-selected until the team gets the Global Airship. Maya is not happy to realize that four members of her party are inches from each other's throats. Afterwards, having Corgan/Selina and Led/Lobo in the same team is problematic, as they will occasionally attack each other instead of the enemy. Even worse, the Very Definitely Final Dungeon forces those combinations. Luckily, their personal issues can be resolved via two optional subquests;
Selina can track down and return a holy relic to Corgan's home village.
Lobo can recover the cure to a Jinnam bioweapon and save an Ankaran city.
- Maya hates Doskias, because her parents were killed in the war he caused over the 2nd Shell, when she was a kid.
- Kick the Dog: Every enemy that attacks Runner does it literally. However, knowing what he's capable of, the player can only pity them — they really kicked the wrong dog.
- Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Done to the player's advantage. The best way to hurt the necromancer boss in the Shell 2 graveyard is to heal him, and each of two fire-based minibosses are vulnerable to water attacks. The Cards that give the player these abilities are the first two found in the game.
- Leaked Experience: The entire party shares one experience bar (including as-yet unrecruited party members), though everyone levels at different rates.
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: At the end of the game the team splits up into three groups. It's the only part of the game when you can have a team without Maya, but all the characters that hate each other are in the same group.
- Living Ship: All of the Chosen's ships are gigantic modified Helgak.
- Magikarp Power: Grubb and Led are rather mediocre at first, but get exponentially better when you start getting better Fate Cards.
- Mission from God: Inverted with Doskias, who believes he has one.
- Mutants: The inhabitants of Shell 7 were mutated by the emissions of the Core, and are now a separate species known as Underlost. They basically look like xenomorphs with hard exoskeletons. Despite their fearsome appearance, they aren't crazy or evil.
- Organic Technology: Most technology in Septerra is at least in some way organic and draws power from the energy generated by the Core using "Core Engines", which operate in the same way as all living creatures on that world. Maya's gun, for example, grows its own bullets. Various devices are often at least partially grown — and as for the Chosen, their technology appears almost purely organic...
- Our Angels Are Different: Angels are mentioned to exist, in the game's opening, but their origin is not known.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Mayor, from his Establishing Character Moment, is somewhat of a despot. However, when Maya mentions seeing chosen ships, for a brief moment, his attitude completely changes and asks if they neared the town. He reverts a moment later once Maya points out they aren't in any danger.
- Peninsula Of Powerleveling: The Smelting Complex in Oasis, a technically lategame dungeon which you can access as soon as you have the airship. The enemies are dangerous in a straight fight, but they're also all mechanical so Led and Grubb can kill them with a few uses of Repair. They also have a very high chance of running away, but still give you the full EXP and gold rewards as if you destroyed them, making this a great place to gain a level or ten.
- Power of Love: Played straight with Grubb and Led. In his version of their Combination Attack Led's blown kiss allows him to summon lightning. Her variant involves him down on one knee in front of her ... Let's just say what she's doing is pure essence of awesome.
- Powers That Be: The Creator
- Prophecy Twist: Everything about the "Kingdom of Heaven";
- Using the twin keys at the Core during the Conjunction doesn't directly grant access to the Kingdom of Heaven as we're lead to believe; it just reveals the way to reach it.
- Then it turns out the Kingdom isn't a destination; it's membership. Fulfilling the prophecy is a Secret Test of Character that proves Septerra technologically and socially ready for contact with the other worlds in its star system, which causes them to appear in the skies.
- Puzzle Boss: A few bosses aren't exactly beat in conventional ways, such as attacking the background or flunkies they summon.
- Redemption Equals Death: Doskias realises he was wrong all along after being defeated.
- Relationship Upgrade:
- Led and Grubb. When you enter a certain building with both of them in your party, Maya goes away for a while. Led is then attacked by some thugs while their compatriots steal some really cool equipment and Grubb can decide whether to fight the thugs looting the stuff (and get some powerful generators) or those attacking her (and get her undying love and accompanying Power of Love mentioned above).
- To a lesser degree, Led & Lobo and Selina & Corgan — they won't fall in love if you complete their missions (Selina helping to lay the souls of Corgan's hometown to rest and Lobo finding the antidote for a Jinam engineered plague), but they will no longer attack each other, which is rather helpful in the endgame.
- Reverse Grip: Badu with his two giant knives.
- Scavenger World: The Junkers of Shell 2.
- Science Is Wrong: In the library on Shell Three, you can read a book which disparagingly shoots down the notion that humans evolved rather than being created. Considering all the stuff you run into in this game, said book is probably right.
- Secret Government Warehouse: The Abandoned Tower on Shell Three contains the best equipment in whole game. Like somebody knew that some guys in the future would need it...
- Shout-Out: Makes two to Star Wars
- When trying to understand what the mayor has done to his workbots, Grubb uses the command "Master override sequence THX-1138"
- When taking the place of a prisoner, Maya has a very similar exchange with them as Leia and Luke did in their first meeting in A New Hope, down to saying "I'm Maya, I'm here to rescue you."
- Starfish Language:
- The language of Badu's race can be translated only by their leader and Watchers. Watchers are also the only beings that understand Runner. Too bad they're not interested in translating.Runner: YAP YAP YAP!
Watcher Alpha: YAP YAP!
Maya: "What did he say?"
Watcher Alpha: YAP YAP YAP!
- Or maybe Runner's yapping doesn't mean anything, and this god-like being was just playing with the dog?
- The language of Badu's race can be translated only by their leader and Watchers. Watchers are also the only beings that understand Runner. Too bad they're not interested in translating.
- Stripperiffic: Kyra is depicted as wearing tattoos and nothing else. The prostitutes and tattooed slave girls (and, by extension, Maya when she disguises herself as one) wear pretty skimpy attire as well.
- Summon Magic: Done with cards. The Summon card by itself calls the ghost of a minor character who died in Act 2, but adding other cards allows you to summon all the greater and lesser gods. They tend towards the Dynamic Entry.
- Swiss Army Weapon: Unlike the other characters (barring Grubb, to an extent), Maya's attack skills aren't obtained by leveling, but by buying weapon upgrades...eventually turning her gun into a combination assault rifle, grenade/shrapnel/missile launcher, flamethrower, laser, and energy blaster.
- The Atoner: Selina, after her HeelFace Turn.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Violence is forbidden in the inner sanctum of Marduk's temple. Connor doesn't listen and is subsequently destroyed by a spirit.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Duke. You fight him twice on Shell 3, and you fight him once on Shell 4. You would think he is dead, but he is not. A couple goons on Shell 4 will tell you that Duke went to Outlaw Canyon on Shell 2. However, if you go there, you will not find a trace of Duke anywhere.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Led is furious when Maya welcomes Lobo into the party, as he was one of the Mecha-Mooks that's been attacking Led's people for years. Similarly, Selina joining outrages Corgan.
- World Shapes: Possibly the weirdest one yet.
- Wrench Wench: Led Campbell is an excellent embodiment of this trope. She's a genius mechanic, her weapon is literally an enormous wrench, and she's so hot that total strangers will give her money or items.
- Wretched Hive: The World Bazaar on Shell 4, and Scumm Town on Shell 6.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Using the "Law" and "Chaos" Fate Cards together casts an extremely powerful offensive spell. Throw in the "Mirror" card too and it's even more powerful.
- You Killed My Father:
- Leader of the Shell Six pirates killed a man who gave Lobo free will, and was like a father to him. Lobo wasn't happy about it.
- Maya's mother and a lot of other townspeople died due to collateral damage during the battle between Doskias and Gunnar's father. Later Maya finds out who's guilty and even calls him out. His answer? But for Me, It Was Tuesday.
- Gunnar's father was killed during said battle, and Gunnar seeks revenge.