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Video Game / The Consuming Shadow

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"Try not to go mad and shoot yourself. This is important."
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The Consuming Shadow is a Lovecraftian Roguelike by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, inspired by Eternal Darkness, FTL: Faster Than Light, and the board game Arkham Horror. The game was released in July 2015, and is currently available through Yahtzee's website or the Humble Store and Steam.

A shadow is trying to enter our world. One of the Ancients. Its presence is felt all over the country as its looming shade slowly twists, perverts, and poisons the minds of men, and turns the towns it touches into festering breeding grounds for its horrifying minions. It will arrive in three days at Stonehenge where the barrier between the worlds is at its weakest. The good news is that the right ritual will banish it and put a stop to its invasion attempt, the bad news is that you are not sure which of the Ancients is the force behind it all, and performing the wrong ritual will undoubtedly make the already bleak situation much, much worse.


You know what you must do: explore places touched by the Ancients, fight their minions, and assemble enough clues to piece together both the banishment ritual and the identity of the invading god, all while trying to keep your own rapidly deteriorating grasp on reality from slipping too far in the process. But you are not sure how you know all of this. For some reason you can't shake the sensation of deja vu, as if you have done all of this before, over and over and over again...



  • Absent-Minded Professor: The Wizard is described as being "blighted by chronic forgetfulness", although it could be supernatural in origin. In gameplay, this translates to each spell rune "degrading" as it gets used, thus they must be refreshed by examining the runes found in the dungeons in order to be used again.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom:
    • In some dungeons, after completing the objective, a boss is spawned and the objective becomes "GET OUT" or something along those lines. One such boss is a gradually screen-crossing face that, if it catches you, will wreck your health and sanity and dump you somewhere random.
    • The Ancient final boss' underlying "attack" pattern is to slowly pull itself towards you, should you allow it tether itself to the left wall with its tentacles.
  • Alternate Universe: Every playthrough is implied to be this.
    • Now confirmed as being part of Yahtzee's "personal canon".
    • Especially noticeable when playing as the Ministry Man. His starting flavor text implies the point of divergence was the death of the Scholar, the diary pages are implied to be written by an alternative version of him, and one random text message is literally sent to him by an AU version of him (or at least someone/something claiming to be such). They say they are dead, and happy with that fact. Lost sanity. Another possible text message for the Ministry Man, comes from the supposedly dead Scholar, who informs him that he is aware of the existence of alternative dimensions from his dreams, and he fears that the Ministry Man just aren't destined to win in this particular universe.
    • The Warrior's divergence point is also the Scholar's death, which leads him to start following the Scholar's notes.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The diary pages, when put together, explain how T ended up dragged into the events of the game, and why he has only a day to fix things.
    • There are also files describing all the monsters, slowly revealed as the player encounters them.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: The Wizard trading card describes her as having "a mild case of something on the autism spectrum".
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Golden Ending for all characters:
    • The Scholar gets a text-message from "T", telling him that he has a little job for him.
    • The Warrior gets a similar message, also stating that his boss was Dead All Along.
    • The Wizard loses her magic powers, and gets a text from "T" telling her to drop in at the Ministry offering to restore them.
    • The Ministry Man ends with a less happy version of this: he gets a text message from one of his contacts from the Ministry, informing him that he needs to run because "they know what [he] did to C" and are looking for him.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: You sometimes receive random donations, oftentimes from untraceable numbers, and the Warrior's Boss is dead, but sometimes sends him money. Some of the clues also come in the form of anonymous notes from someone who tells you that he knows you're reading his note. There's some implication that the enemy of the invader is behind the latter, and possibly the former.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • The Scholar is quite the master of kicking eldritch ass.
    • The Wizard as well, who can kick plenty of ass with her meticulously researched spells.
  • Bald of Awesome: The Warrior is brave and strong enough to only take on the horrors with his bare fists. His silhouette indicates that he is bald.
  • Banishing Ritual: The main plot of the game is to perform the Ritual of Banishment on the correct Ancient that is invading the world.
  • Barefisted Monk: The Warrior, who relies solely on his mighty kick for combat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: On occasion, the player will get to be this, for the few people you manage to free from being kidnapped while they are alive and untainted by the shadow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It's a horror game, it's to be expected.
    • The two Scholar endings where you cast the Ritual of Banishment successfully and either flub the Final Boss or win with very low sanity.
      • If you seal the correct Ancient One while insane and win the boss fight, your character becomes an institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic, but in the real world the shadow is gone.
      • If you seal the correct Ancient One and lose, your character is either eaten or permanently trapped in the Ancient's world, but it's still lost the war — the seal holds.
    • The Warrior and Wizard's Ending Bs are variants on the Scholar's own; Both are in an insane asylum due to losing their minds sealing the Ancient, with the Wizard's obsessive-compulsion growing worse and the Warrior lost in a Lotus-Eater Machine where he thinks the doctors are angels, so at least he's happy.
    • The ending in which The Ministry Man manages to banish the Ancient and get out alive and sane. He's still wanted for the murder of one of his (partially turned) colleagues he committed when trying to get out of the Ministry.
  • Black Magic: Magic in this world draws upon the Ancients, and while you need it, it's not something that human minds have any business messing with. Only the Wizard can use spells without losing sanity — and her mind is already a bit cracked.
  • Body Horror: This happened to many of the victims, and at least a few of the monsters. For example, bursting boils in the back of the throat.
  • Bonus Boss: An interesting case in which it's technically the final boss. You've already won if you're fighting the Ancient directly; it's just trying to kill you out of spite. Since it's been massively weakened, though, you can make it seriously regret trying.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Given the genre, it's more surprising that you can avert this. Two endings still qualify, where you banish the Shadow, but are eaten by or trapped with it, or else beat it back but go insane in the process.
  • Brutal Honesty: Can be employed by the protagonists, to varying results.
  • But Thou Must!: Normally, the game gives you the option to read or ignore text messages. However, if you achieve Ending A, you will receive one final message and, should you click "ignore", the game will simply offer you the same choice again and again until you choose "read".
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": "Birth stars" are basically skills points that provide various permanent bonus (more health, more sanity, faster car, etc.) at character creation. They're granted at the end of the game from experience gained during the previous playthrough.
  • Challenge Run: The Insanity Edition includes 12 Challenge modes that affect your gameplay run:
    • Four Character specific challenges
    • Biological Clock
    • Amnesiac
    • Caution Advised
    • Pistol Whipper
    • No-One Left Behind
    • China Shop
    • Scourge of the Ancients
    • Daily Challenge

  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal one. The Warrior actually does have a gun, but this is only hinted by his inventory, which shows he has six bullets. The gun itself is is never mentioned unless he runs out of time, when he will use it to commit suicide.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each playable character is associated with a color: red for the Scholar, blue for the Ministry Man, orange for the Warrior, and green for the Wizard. In addition, each Ancient has an associated color, generated randomly at the start of each game.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A typical Eldritch Abomination invasion scenario. You must assemble the rune to seal away the god that is currently invading Earth; the problem is there are three gods. There is one who is helping the invading god, and the other one is working against the god and potentially your ally. If you seal away the wrong god, well...
  • Damsel in Distress: The Wizard character, who starts out as a victim kidnapped by a cult and must be rescued to be unlocked as a playable character. Once unlocked, she becomes an Action Girl.
  • Dead Animal Warning: The Wizard can get the message "Your cat is dead", with the implication that cultists are responsible. It causes a sanity loss.
  • Degraded Boss: The Birther, a human who's been colonized by spiders, is a weak boss monster early on (though he's actually weaker than most mook monsters). Later in the game, he can be found in ordinary rooms as a regular mook, as the threat level of the Shadow increases.
    • In the Insanity Edition's "The Descent" mode, even the stronger boss-type monsters, such as the Big Birther and Dangler, will eventually begin spawning as regular mooks.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • If you have no more ammo left, the suicide attempt minigame to not shoot yourself will fail for the gun-wielding characters, but that doesn't affect the Warrior (who kills himself with a knife).
    • Several of the achievements are earned for doing things that would rarely come naturally to the average player:
      • "Why The Hell Did I Bring This" is rewarded for bringing the car muffler to Stonehenge, where it is of no use to the player and takes up equipment space that could be used for another, much more useful item. Its icon even shows the Scholar staring at the muffler in bemusement.
      • Randomly casting magic is a bad idea in this game, as a failed spell will cause damage to your character's already limited and fragile sanity... except if you manage to discover a spell this way by blind luck, whereupon you get an achievement, "The Scientific Method."
      • If you spend a birth star point by allocating it in an area of the sky which doesn't give any bonus, you get the achievement "Astrology? Pah!".
  • Does Not Like Guns: Even when facing horrific monstrosities, The Warrior will almost never use a gun, instead relying on kicks for combat and a knife for the Press X to Not Die sequences. The only time he uses one is if time runs out and the shadow is upon him, in which case he will use it on himself.
  • Downer Ending: Any ending where you fail, essentially.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The protagonist will attempt to shoot himself if his sanity is too low, but the player can prevent him from doing so. It gets harder the lower his sanity is, and virtually impossible if it is especially low.
    • You can also shoot yourself at the main menu, before even playing the game!
    • If the player fails to get to Stonehenge before the timer expires, the protagonist shoots himself to avoid getting absorbed by the darkness.
    • And if you banish the wrong god, the invading one leaves you alone, possibly seeing you as an ally. Your character considers living through the apocalypse... but decides not to.
  • Drugs Are Good: They fill up sanity, although they wear off over time.
  • Dungeon Town: Corrupted towns are full of monsters to battle, and most job offers involve fighting in otherwise-safe towns.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: During the final boss battle, the Wizard gains unlimited use of her runes, which, previously, had to be constantly renewed. This essentially turns the ordinarily challenging final boss into a cakewalk, as you are free to spam healing and damage spells with no adverse consequences.
  • Embodiment of Virtue: The Steam achivements seem to point to four positive aspects of the charactersL
    • The Scholar: Wisdom
    • The Ministry Man: Cunning
    • The Warrior: Skill
    • The Wizard: Magic
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Shadow will engulf the world if you don't manage to stop the god that is invading.
  • Enemy Mine: Of the three Ancient ones, the one that is neither the invader or the accomplice is their enemy. It's fighting against the invader for its own reasons, and possibly giving the player some limited assistance here and there. This doesn't mean that he'll tell his monsters to stop eating you, though.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: You have 60 hours (24 as the Ministry Man) to stop a god from invading the world.
  • Fictional Zodiac: The birth stars chosen at character's creation are selected among a semi-randomized star map. Gameplay-wise, each birth star provide a permanent bonus.
  • Fate Worse than Death: If you successfully banish the Ancient, but "die" in the ensuing confrontation, the post-game wrap-up will note that your character "disappeared into the Ancient's realm" and is now "hopefully deceased", the implication being that s/he may in fact still be alive and undergoing some unimaginable torture.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The Warrior (better melee attack and dodge, but no gun), the Wizard (no melee, but can cast spells with no sanity loss), and the Ministry Man (no special abilities, but enough money to buy good equipment at the start).
  • Genius Bruiser: The Warrior is an ass-kicking murder machine, but he's also smart and educated enough to figure out and follow the Scholar's notes, despite having no real prior experience with the occult.
  • Golden Ending: Casting the correct Ritual of Banishment and killing the Ancient One while relatively sane returns your character whole to Earth, and he or she makes a full recovery from the ordeal. Good work, champ.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The revelation of basically everything relating to the shadows will decrease sanity. Magic burns even more.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The good ending: The protagonist has managed to seal away the invading god, and didn't go insane from his experiences, but no one other than him and the Ministry of Occult Affairs will ever understand the strange events that plagued the country or know that he saved the world from utter oblivion.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: The Warrior is unable to use a gun and the Wizard can't attack in melee. Averted with the Scholar and the Ministry Man.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One of the endings, if you die while fighting the Ancient after casting the correct sealing spell. Your character dies (or worse), but the Shadow is still sealed.
  • I Have Your Wife: "We know where your children sleep. They will be eaten first. Greased and spit roasted alive as they howl for their father."
  • Interface Screw: At low sanity...
    • The screen periodically gets covered in a static effect while an ominous sound plays, lowering your field of vision.
    • The investigation options have a constant chance of randomly turning into a prompt for the player to kill himself.
    • A visual effect similar to vision spots randomly occur, distracting you.
    • The screen can flash repeatedly as you enter a room, obscuring your vision as a monster approaches.
    • There's a chance you'll be shown as having no ammo and won't be able to fire, though the effect leaves and you get your ammo back when you leave the room.
    • When you enter a dungeon, the objective that usually scrolls across the screen can randomly switch to messages like "imsorryimsorryimsorry," "helpmehelpmehelpme," or "it hurts it hurts it hurts."
    • A monster might approach, then disappear the moment you attack, possibly wasting a bullet.
    • You may no longer to be able to see your character, interfering with planning melee attacks.
    • The controls may reverse.
    • While driving, random faces or hands, in complete white, will show up in front of the windscreen out of nowhere, then disappear immediately after.
    • Doorways might move around if you try to enter them.
    • Your hands may begin to shake, making aiming your gun difficult.
  • It's All My Fault: The Ministry Man, in some bad endings, explicitly blames himself for not acting earlier. Given that the diary states he needed to fight his way out of the Ministry, outnumbered and without weapons, it's safe to say it wasn't all his fault.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The Scholar, the default character, is relatively well-rounded when compared to the other PCs.
  • Laughing Mad: What the Ministry Man becomes in his version of Ending B, convinced that he failed in his mission and that the medical staff around him are minions of the shadow.
    Every day they strap me down and try to convince me that the shadow is gone, that they are human. [...] It's funny to me. It's so funny I can't stop laughing.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Scholar's narration at the beginning of the game can end up as this:
    For some reason, I can't shake the sensation of deja vu. I have memories of assembling a ritual, fleeing through darkened hallways, and firing a gun at something unimaginable. I feel like some distant part of me may have died this way. Hundreds of times. Perhaps thousands.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The enemy is an incomprehensible being from outside the universe, who is slowly corrupting all of Britain (and the world, once the stars come right). But he can be beaten and forced back with magic and bullets, and it can even be done without destroying your mind in the process.
  • Made of Iron: Your characters can take a massive amount of damage and still keep on going. Even being shot by a disguised cultist in the rescue missions will only take around 6 hit points (you normally start with 50). Averted entirely in the China Shop and Scourge of the Ancients challenge modes, where your character becomes a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • The Masquerade: Some scenes have the protagonist reinforce this, e.g. telling a man that the monsters who attacked him were actually youths in halloween costumes.
  • Minimalism: Every character and monster are rendered as silhouettes. This rather helps to give the monsters an air of mystery, as you get a general idea of how they look, but at same time you don't know exactly how they look.
  • Mental Time Travel: It's implied your character is doing this each time you restart, serving as the explanation for why you retain your levels.
  • Mythology Gag: References to Chzo Mythos are scattered all over the place.
    • Chzo is one of the possible Ancients, with his servant, The Tall Man, as an end-of-dungeon pursuer. Although, he is not necessarily the god of pain in this game, nor is the Tall Man necessarily his minion.
    • You work for the Ministry of Occultism, same as Trilby had been recruited to.
    • Some messages are sent by "T", who may well be Trilby. He's unlocked as a playable character after beating the game for the first time, and the silhouette definitely looks the part. One of the random text messages he can get references the events of the series.
    • "Objective: pain pain pain pain pain pain pain" (a reference to "it hurts", which is another possible "objective").
  • The Needs of the Many: Sometimes deliberately letting a town fall to the Shadow can be to the player's advantage - the town will become a dungeon, potentially containing a crucial clue - and, after all, sacrificing a town's population is a lesser evil compared to having the Shadow consume the whole world. "T" will even point this out in one of his messages.
  • Never My Fault: The Warrior and Wizard in ending D, where you banish the wrong god. The Warrior states that the Scholar's notes that he followed must have been wrong, while the Wizard blames the universe itself for altering its rules in such a way that forced her to fail.
  • New Game+: XP is earned at the end of a game, after you've either stopped the Ancient or failed to. It's carried over to your next game, allowing you to buy perks like health, sanity, ammo capacity, and car speed.
  • Nintendo Hard: A given; it's a roguelike, after all.
  • No Name Given: According to Word of God, the characters have no names (besides generic titles) for immersion purposes. And in one case, to avoid a Continuity Lockout.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Implied to be the reason The Ministry Man is given only 24 hours to stop the shadow, rather than the other characters' usual 60. The diary reveals it wasn't the case — the shadow took over the Ministry building, and he barely managed to escape.
  • Occult Detective: The Ministry Man actually works for the British "Ministry of Occultism", making him one who is officially employed by the government. The Scholar and the Wizard are specialists in occult investigation, but they don't directly work for the government. And the Warrior is more of an ordinary criminal who Jumped at the Call and is following the Scholar's notes.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: When playing the China Shop or Scourge of the Ancients challenges, your character dies in one hit.
  • Out with a Bang: Victims of a lust god are sometimes described as having died from "exhaustion". All damage to the body coming post-mortem.
  • Papa Wolf: One of these can be encountered on the road, and may direct this towards you if you use Brutal Honesty on his daughter.
  • Paranormal Investigation: A cosmic horror variant. You play as an occult investigator who has a limited amount of time to accurately identify who is the invading god, how to banish it, then perform the ritual.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The Scholar's death inspires the Warrior or the Ministry Man to continue his mission.
  • Police Are Useless: Some of them have been replaced by minions of the Enemy. Even for the legit ones, though, you're still a guy with a handgun (in the UK, with its strict anti-gun laws), and you're probably certifiably insane, with a syringe full of illegal drugs in your car. You're lucky if you can bluff your way past them, let alone get any help. The Warrior in particular has difficulty with them due to his criminal past.
  • Press Start to Game Over: You can commit suicide at the "start game" screen.
  • Press X to Not Die: Rapidly click the mouse to pull your gun away from your head!
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: It's all but outright said that "T" from the Ministry of Occult Affairs is Trilby, some time after 5 Days a Stranger/Trilby's Notes. The Consuming Shadow fanmade wiki actually refers to him as that.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The birther is a guy colonized by the small, Spider-like enemies who crawls slowly towards you. Kill the host and a horde of them jumps off his corpse.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The game, being a game with a cosmic horror theme, has its logo and menus designed around this colour scheme to enhance the sense of fear.
  • Redemption Quest: The unlockable character "The Warrior" takes up the quest to fight the shadow to atone for his life of crime.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: You have only so much time, money, health, and sanity. The trade-offs become important; for example, to get money, you either find it in a dungeon or get it from a job, both of which take up time and risk damage to health and sanity. Similarly, filling your medical kit costs money, and you also have the tough choice of using precious bullets to terminate minions or going into hand-to-hand with them and risking your health. And spells cost sanity to use... but they can also save your hide, or be "I win" buttons under the right circumstances.
  • Sanity Meter: Sanity is generally easy to lose and hard to recover. The only thing that permanently restores it is a small number of random events or one of the more helpful runes you may find inscribed on walls.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • The protagonist is already doubting from the beginning if everything he experiences is truly real. It only gets worse from there.
    • Also happens to "T" from the Ministry.
    "Been rolling my cyanide pill around my mouth all morning, wondering if I should bite it. Tastes like one of those chewable vitamins. -T"
  • Sequence Breaking: The Ministry Man's specific quirks include already knowing the banishment incantation and only having 24 hours to complete the game, only lacking the identity of the invading god. A possible way of winning the game is to head straight to Stonehenge: since the final dungeon is long and contains lots of clues, its content alone may be enough to identify the right god (that'll require a bit of luck, though).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many of the equippable items reference other Survival Horror games, such as the flashlight (Silent Hill 2) and gun stock (Resident Evil).
    • The "YOU DIED" text is similar to the equivalent text in Dark Souls.
    • The cougher and puker enemies are slightly similar to the lying figure enemies from Silent Hill 2; the cougher in particular also has a similar method of attack (sprays acid mist).
    • The Tall Man's description alludes to the Slender Man mythos, and, of course, Chzo Mythos.
    • One of the text messages calls the Ministry Man "pawn of prophecy". This may be a reference to The Belgariad.
  • Sliding Scale of Video Game World Size and Scale: "Visit parts of map" variant. You speed across the British Isles by car, from town to town, fighting monsters, finding clues and buying drugs to keep up your Sanity Meter. Actual interactive gameplay is limited to realistic-scaled Dungeons, which are buildings or parks taken over by minions of the various Eldritch Abomination in action. Between each town and dungeon, you get a first-person view of your Player Character driving their car along a highway.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Three male player characters (The Scholar, The Ministry Man, The Warrior) and a single female one (The Wizard).
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • Appropriately enough, The Wizard. She gives up her ability to melee attack in exchange for not losing sanity when casting spells (though she still needs to check the runes to keep them in her memory).
    • Cultist enemies are the Wizard's Evil Counterpart; they're surrounded by a shield that lasts until you counter a spell of theirs, at which point they fall apart after a single hit.
  • Take Up My Sword: The Warrior's mission begins when he finds the dead Scholar's notes.
  • Take Your Time: Averted. Time runs even as you complete sidequests and main objectives. And it is quite possible for you to run out out of time in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Timed Mission:
    • The whole game is one. You have 60 hours (24 if you play as the Ministry Man) to stop the invading god. There's a timer when the player characters travels on the UK's map, a real-time one when you explore a dungeon, and some events (looking for a merchant in town, random events when travelling) consumes time as well.
    • There also are timed missions inside the main game. The Ministry occasionally sends texts asking you to go to a specific place before a timer expire, typically to deliver information to someone or help the locals to defend against the Shadow. Failing to reach the place in time results in the town being corrupted (technically, it turns it into a dungeon instead of a safe area with a merchant and a hospital).
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The author of the diary is from a team of three of the best paranormal investigators from the Ministry of Occultism. After one of the team gets possessed by the Shadow and kills the other one, the author notices that they themselves are, or for the most part were, the ones people are supposed to call in such a situation as the world is facing right now, and he is none too happy with realizing that his survival means it all falls on him alone now.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: Some text messages from unknown numbers will turn out to be cultists threatening to kill you or your family members in some cruel way.


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