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KickStarter STASIS 2: BONE TOTEM - new isometric adventure in Stasis universe set in deep sea installation

HoboForEternity

sunset tequila
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Wow this game is big. It officially passed 17 hours mark, which is my playtime with desolation. (I guess desolation got more branching paths and exlusive quests since, and stasis is linear so not too fair)

I am at the end? Dunno Don't spoil me, but i am at the part with the
tatooed skins. Funny because goldem kamuy episode came out today too

I thought early the game was relatively tame, but it gets worse as it goes on. I love it. The "pantry" was absolutely nausea inducing.
 

Pyke

The Brotherhood
Developer
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South Africa
The lowered gear is a good find! In an early version of that scene there is a massive ship that the aircraft are taking off from. But the ship had the callsign of the people who pick Charlie up, and it was more fun to leave that up to the imagination...
 

Pyke

The Brotherhood
Developer
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
1,198
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South Africa
Wow this game is big. It officially passed 17 hours mark, which is my playtime with desolation. (I guess desolation got more branching paths and exlusive quests since, and stasis is linear so not too fair)

I am at the end? Dunno Don't spoil me, but i am at the part with the
tatooed skins. Funny because goldem kamuy episode came out today too

I thought early the game was relatively tame, but it gets worse as it goes on. I love it. The "pantry" was absolutely nausea inducing.
You're about 2'3rds through. Shits about to get weird.
 

HoboForEternity

sunset tequila
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
just wanna drop before doing the finale, i love smug-ass calaban lol. he's the size of a snicker bar and i can roast him anytime i want for nourishment yet act like the colossal titan
 

HoboForEternity

sunset tequila
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Disco Elysium
Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Finished it. Holy. Shit. This game is absolute masterpiece. i love stasis, i love desolation, this game is waaaaay ahead of both in every aspects (maybe the sense of adventure desolation had is lacking, but with a good reason) So underrated to the point of criminal. You should be proud of yourselves. I will do a steam review and will start bugging people out about this game.

Hope's recording in the end absolutely is fucking messed up. how dare you
what's the true nature of nexus!!!?? stasis 3: nexus??? it was a single line out of nowhere, but gave me so much thoughts. nexus is basically like that black mirror episode or soma where you upload your consciousness after death. it seemed simple. cayne built computers so powerful, disproved god, use it as a platform to create a new world. it;s later revealed the whole thing is to improve nexus with the veles inducing telepathy that can merge consciousness in a better way something like human instrumentality project from eva. but calaban knew it;s not as it seems. wtf is nexus???
we killed the parasite form of veles, but their true nature are mircrobes. i think everyone got infected the moment they descend or even entering deepsea 15. some MULE crew did got out. does the microbe not able to live on the surface, but the parasite form can? if the microbe live and can spread then everyone is fucked.
the "war" between yellow leaves and cayne is pretty interesting too, how did leaves convince calaban anyway? he said he no longer believe in cayne. is it calaban infected by the velen bacteria and has been driving us toward surfacing?
 

HoboForEternity

sunset tequila
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Oh god i went to sleep because it's like 2 am, but my brain suddenly goes overdrive unconsciously and realized something about the 2nd spoiler tag

no, the nexus of numen isn't a virtual world where a copy of your brain live happily forever after. "Nexus of numen" calaban calls it. My theory says It's basically like evil telemetry where your consciousness DO get copied (either real time, or after that), but they dont put you in a paradise, just extract your knowledge and information and feed it to the numens, basically increasing their dataset and knowledge, hell maybe increasing their processing power too. It's still a digital process, so like everything waves has their limits. Veles's telepathy is probably instantaneous no matter the distsnce or bandwith, if cayne ever succeeded in implementing it, they can transfer data from people to numens in real time, down to the nanonanosecond basically turning every human on earth into a 24/7 living cameras.
 

Pyke

The Brotherhood
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So glad you enjoyed it!

I'll answer what I can...

That also got me the first time I heard it. I was super concerned that a child actor was going to sound... well... like a child actor. But man, that girl NAILED it. So good! "A Captain. And an engineer. And someone really brave..."

Naaaaaaa - not tellin'. :D

I do have some ideas about just what the aftermath of Bone Totem will be for the world.... it's an interesting set of 'what ifs' to explore.

I definitly want to explore Yellow Leaf more. Just what would an 'eco/ludite/techno-terrorist group be like in this strange world? They clearly like using subtrifuge and blackmail, so while they are anti-Cayne, are they nessesarily the 'good guys'?

I will tell you that the Nexus of the Nine can easily be traversed by the Numen. They can enter it and leave it at will. If you look in the DS15 Rec Room, there is a painting on the wall that shows some of its significance.
 

lightbane

Arcane
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Messages
10,253
I've been playing this. I'm at the start of Chapter 3. The game's theme is clearly all about "From bad to worse". One issue though is that the quick-save key doesn't actually create a quick-save that is saved over every time, but rather an entirely new save file, which is annoying. Or at least that's so if I'm not mistaken.
Sadly it doesn't seem there are dialogues with NPCs. Moreover, unlike Cayne, characters do not comment on the things they read on the diaries, even when they explain things that affect them immediately, or do so later on.
There also odd ambient sound effects like whistling and someone attempting to sing and coughing at the same time, but no character seems to notice (or care) about this. Unlike the first game, the protagonists are not under the effects of sci-fi morphine.

Either way, it's awesome so far, if clearly very story-driven.
Really shame the bear's previous design was lost.
I'm also certain he was stolen from the manga Biomega.

the-biomega-bear-v0-m71n69dkt96a1.jpg

Long story short, that bear has human intelligence for plot reasons.
 
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HoboForEternity

sunset tequila
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
The thematic thread of the story is imo,
about hope(duh) and despair. It's both hope can drive people to do horrible things same as despair. It's exploration of how polar opposite concepts in the extremities cam result to tragedies and atrocities. The russians were driven by despair they committed great sin. They knew they will never get out, and that realization caused themselves insane amount of pressure and ultimate despair. Hope drive the main characters, charlie especially. Regular people would have stopped the moment they saw the flayed corpse in the DS 15, report to authorit6 or just run the fuck away. The hope of seeing hope again pushed her, the result is the same. Catastrophe. the same with cayne's and the employees. hope to gain profit or obtaining power or for most of the employees, hope to to be free from debt and chance to see their loved ones again drives them full speed plunging into the abyss. This motifs kept recurring over and over throughout the character logs you found.
 
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agris

Arcane
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Just finished it, at 24 hrs b/c I'm slow. Really enjoyed it, will give some constructive criticism when I've had a chance to process it more. A few questions:

Why did the MULE have those giant stones with Soviet iconography on them? The stones appear to be the Xaar's calendar, it makes no sense for there to be soviet art on them unless it was made "recently" by the troglodytes under Bayan's Russian Orthodox influence

Why does veles DNA/RNA in the form of microbes cause the melting of some people, like we see in the decontamination lab, and for others it doesn't?

Are all the Xaar's heads so distended because they have parasites in them? Early photos from DS15 show X-ray like images with parasites roughly the size of the holes in the distended skulls, implying the parasites crawled out. Yet, we see later in the troglodytes that they all have the same skull type, and they're alive and apparently don't have the full parasitic form that, say, Charlie has.

I believe one of the lab results indicated that the Xaal have architecture and/or DNA is from ~1600 AD, but also 2000 BC. Is the ~1600 AD from the old galleon we find outside Alpha lab?

The giant waterwheels crushed bones to *remove* all parasites and veles from them, right? Why then do the troglodytes seem to revere Charlie for having her infection? In general, the waterwheels / crushed bones spoke of a desire to purify dead bodies of a thing that the troglodytes themselves seem to hold in high regard. What's up with that?

With the hindsight of the end-game, what happened aboard DS15 is more confusing. What is PS139, beyond a recovered Xaar with microbe isolates related to the Veles? Was it the crazy botanist's mixing of PS139 isolate w/ MDMA that caused all the ritualistic killings aboard DS15? Why weren't people on DS15 melted/digested and reformed due to their microbe exposure likes those we see in Omega lab?

and finally..

Related to Q6, was this game developed in two parts? The DS15 and MULE + Omega section feels like one game's tone, while everything Alpha base and after the Blister feels like another tone. I don't dislike it, and it was a great experience that kept coming, but I noticed that some of the DS15 art and puzzles screens were lower resolution, like they had been developed earlier.

Was there two different concepts that got welded? Even if not, I'm curious about earlier drafts of the story.

Fingers crossed, hope this gets optioned by a studio looking to branch-out into Alien-likes. Great job Pyke & co!
 

Pyke

The Brotherhood
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Hey Agris - I'm headed away to Joburg for a day - but Illl be back on Sunday and I'll take the time to answer all your questions!

Thanks for taking the time to play the game - we appreciate every single player.
 

Starwars

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Jan 31, 2007
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Just finished it, and I ended up really impressed by it in the end. I enjoyed the first half but found it a bit puzzle-heavy in the sense that I felt it made the game chug along a bit too slowly. That being said, I'd much rather have it slightly too slow than slightly too fast.
Once the story really gets going, it's really good from that moment on. Surpassed my expectations. Beautiful work, easily worth the money.
 
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mediocrepoet

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Combatfag: Gold box / Pathfinder
Codex 2012 Codex+ Now Streaming! MCA Project: Eternity Divinity: Original Sin 2
So as someone who's never heard of any of these games, can you give me an idea of what they are?

Are they storyline connected, so you need to play them in sequence?

There have been mentions of Alien, which is great, and Disco Elysium which is... Anyway, so are there stats of any sort, re: DE comparison, or is it just because it's dialogue/narrative heavy and arguably well written?

No spoilers, please. There's a reasonable chance I'll check this out at some point.
 

Alienman

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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Codex Year of the Donut Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
In movie terms, it would be something like Event Horizon/Alien/The Descent and Blade Runner. Think shady corps (Weyland) with half-sentient robots, and weird creatures lurking about. You often seem to come to these places after the fact, as the big stuff has already happened. And you are always clueless about it. From here on it's survival, figuring out what is going on, and A LOT of puzzle-solving. In gameplay terms, there isn't too much to do. Just click on nodes.

Storylines seem connected as the same company keeps getting mentioned and so on.
 

lightbane

Arcane
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Dec 27, 2008
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Story-wise, first game is STASIS, followed by CAYNE (which is free!), then Boner Totem. All games have an Uber grim setting where hope is replaced with cyber bio technology. B. Desol. is seemingly a different setting due not being overtly grim dark.
All of them are standalone and can be played in any order.
 

Alienman

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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Codex Year of the Donut Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
My review, which you can read here, or down below if interested.
What do you get if combine meaty body horror, Lovecraft, and Atlantean mythology sprinkled with Blade Runner, The Descent, and Alien? Well, you get Stasis: Bone Totem. This is the Brotherhood’s third game in the Stasis franchise – a point & click horror adventure series that doesn’t shy away from showing the macabre and the gruesome in all its glory. So far, so good, and you can read the thoughts of the developers in an interview I made with them here. However, it saddens me to say, that there are some problems with this title. While it maintains the horror in both atmosphere and story, the game falters and stumbles in the feature most critical to gaming: the gameplay.

Salvage for money, salvage for fame
The story follows the salvage operator couple Mac, Charlie, and their little cute cyborg teddy-bear Moses. When searching the sea for derelict salvage they come across some kind of research station that is seemingly abandoned, which translates to good money for the couple. A sorely needed thing since the pair is on their last legs economically. Seeing it’s a horror, the duo finds themselves in a bit of a pickle rather quickly. Things are not what they seem, but regardless of warnings of something nasty, they push on. This leads them further down into the rabbit hole – and it’s one dark and gruesome hole!

The crew waiting for the next puzzle conundrum


The storyline is pretty good, and there is much more to the characters and the narrative than what I have written here, I ensure you, I just don’t want to spoil anything. I do have to add, though – at the beginning of Bone Totem, I found it hard to follow the couple’s motivation, as warnings of bad stuff coming are stacking up ridiculously high. I know people do nutty stuff in the pursuit of riches, but finding flayed corpses on a simple salvage run would probably be a deterrent for most sane people. However, this gets explained as the narrative takes you deeper into the fleshy abyss of hell. One of the strengths of the game is all the twists and turns it takes during its story. Even so, I got to remark that this feeling of “why the hell..?” lasted for such a long time that it left me utterly confused about their actions. Nothing in their background told me of them being stonecold scavengers. Actually, it’s the opposite if you go by their reactions to the horrible things they come across.

Scream if you are having fun
Otherwise, it’s good and makes sense for the most part. It has all the necessary elements for this type of tale. Weird ancient mysteries, with mad scientists doing shady things and monsters lurking in the shadows, ready to stick you with something mucky through the spleen. And what is not explained directly through the characters and cutscenes, you find scattered around the different locations in the form of diaries and research material. Some of these research notes look pretty darn cool, and you can tell a lot of effort went into them. Alien and gore made into one for the Giger enthusiast. Good stuff all around here.

Point & click stumble
The gameplay. Oh boy, where to start? Right off, there is nothing wrong with the fundamentals per se. It has the classic top-down isometric perspective like the older games in the series, and being an adventure game you will find items and combine them – the usual stuff with lots of trial and error. You control by clicking around, and you interact with items by dragging and dropping. Nothing bad here, fairly standard stuff. However, one major thing that brings down the gameplay is the presentation of interaction nodes. It demolishes the exploration aspect of Bone Totem by making everything visible with one simple right click.

Clean up on aisle six!


The highlight function shows everything interactively on each map, it’s even color-coded – green for description and blue for interaction. This means that you don’t even have to move from the start location for each new area, everything is presented on a platter with zero input required from you. A green descriptive node in another room? No problem, somehow the character you are currently controlling can sense the blood splatter in the next room and describe it. It absolutely annihilates all potential investigations since you know where to go and look at all times. It lessens the gameplay to such a degree that Bone Totem feels more like a visual novel than an adventure game. Baffling design decision.

That is not all. The UI is sensory overload. There are nodes to inspect everywhere, and everything is always available – texts are constantly popping up when you move around the mouse cursor as it’s inevitable that you will hover over something. A better way to design this (in my opinion) is to make nodes only become visible as the character you control moves close. Additionally, only have text pop up if you inspect through right-clicking, and if interactable then show so at this point. It would make the game so much more immersive, and even if it could be considered simple in gameplay terms, it would at least be something.

I do understand that you don’t have to highlight stuff. Even so, it doesn’t change how the descriptive text nodes work. This is with consideration that highlighting is mapped to the right mouse button, which is a pretty prominent button. It tells me that this is something that should be used during play and that the game is designed around it since there are no other visual hints beyond this system.

A little more negativity
Seeing that there is no exploration the only thing you will be doing is reading text logs and solving puzzles – when the characters are not interrupting the flow by talking. Let’s start with my issue with the puzzles. They are just too numerous, and there are only so many door puzzles I can take before it gets contrived. The game even acknowledges this at one point, so at least it’s self-aware of the issue. These puzzles scale from very simple to confusing, and I would say it’s pretty standard stuff, except for the relentless rate they come at. I was drained after each play session. From one door to the next, there it will be a bunch of new items or some weird puzzle that needs to be figured out – which in the end affects the pacing and makes it slower than a mollusk at times.

You tell it, brother!


Another problem is that the characters have to incessantly comment on everything. It was fine hearing them go “Oh my God”, and “Be careful” the first couple of times, but it remain a thing throughout the whole game. I wouldn’t mind it so much if it didn’t interrupt the “gameplay”, as you can’t transition to new areas, or use items when this happens. Yes, I know, it’s Lovecraftian horrors of the deep – very shocking, very spooky but you’ve seen ten flayed corpses by now!

The game just feels like a major missed opportunity going by gameplay, and I don’t understand why it is made like this. It’s a horror-themed game that hinges on that the mystery remains a mystery throughout, so why isn’t the gameplay designed after the same principle? It’s very disappointing, and it annoyed me to such a degree that after a while I didn’t care about the green descriptions. I made a beeline for the blue nodes since nothing else mattered. There are no surprises outside the narrative as you can avoid everything – like the death scenes. I activated them deliberately because I wanted to see the cutscenes. This comes off a bit backward to me.

I recommend keeping the air conditioner on high


What gameplay there is, is functional, and there is still a certain satisfaction in clearing puzzles regardless of my negativity. Mixing and matching items can also be entertaining since the protagonists you control all come with their own skills and uses. Mac is strong and can bend and crush stuff. Charlie is the tech wizard of the three and can repair all kinds of items. And Moses, the very smart and brave little cyborg bear can hack computers and interfaces. You swap items between the three, so it is another layer to the standard try-all-items approach. However, since items instantly teleport between them, it feels like an extra step instead of something more substantial that affects the gameplay.

Looking & sounding great
The graphics are wonderful, and the true stand-outs are the pre-rendered maps. They are full of small and interesting details – which also means there is a lot of visual storytelling to take part in when the descriptive nodes don’t take precedence. The CGI cutscenes that play at major story points are also well made and have an undeniable cinematic flair to them, even if humans and other creatures can look a bit janky in motion, but that’s a minor issue considering the number of developers on the project. The 3D models of the characters look a tad odd, though. The models themself are not bad, however, they don’t seem to blend with the background that well. This makes them stand out like a sore thumb. It reminds me of the character models in Commandos 2, as these games share this particular issue.

Before coffee in the morning
The sound has the same finesse to it as the graphics, and as expected you will hear all kinds of crunchy horror sounds during your journey into the depth. The overall design here is outstanding, and the same goes for the music. It creates a tense and a rather thick atmosphere, and you can tell you are trapped below the sea by the soundscape alone. The voice actors do their job adequately too, so nothing to complain about here.

Could have been GREAT
All this means that the Stasis: Bone Totem could have been fantastic since the presentation both for sound/music and visuals is far beyond the standard – especially considering the small developer team. Unfortunately, Bone Totem fails when it comes to gameplay. It makes the failure an extremely bitter pill to swallow since the other things are so good. It’s hard to recommend Bone Totem since the immersion factor was very low for me when it comes to this crucial aspect of gaming. But as an interactive novel of some kind, I would rate it as good.

I don’t want to come off too harsh as I like the developers, and in general, they produce interesting and very niche games in a sea of low-effort titles out to make a quick buck. It’s clear a lot of effort went into Bone Totem, however, I pride myself on being honest in my reviews, so the gameplay issues can’t go ignored. Alas, maybe next time the gameplay can match the superb presentation.

Thanks for reading.

Basically. The presentation, story, and graphics are good to great, but I found it lacking in gameplay.
 
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Blutwurstritter

Learned
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Sep 18, 2021
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899
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Germany
Just finished the game and do recommend it. It is a visually stunning sci-fi/horror adventure at a very good price. More than worth the ~15 bucks that I paid at GOG.
There a few things that would have made it even more enjoyable for me. First a small technical point; please add a brightness and contrast slider in the options. Another thing that I missed from other adventures is a mix of the point-of-view/camera angle. The exploration is always done in an isometric top-down view. But I really like it when adventures mix this up a bit and I think the gorgeous designs do deserved more close-ups or different angles that make them stand out more. The "puzzle-view" when interacting with things was fine, but I found it a bit of a shame that I never got a "over-the-shoulder" look or a side-view of some scenes. The game already has the ping system, so finding the points of interest isn't a problem and other views could used just as well as the isometric one. The isometric view somewhat fails to create a feeling of claustrophobia, it provides more of a distanced and safe feeling, which is not the best for a horror adventure.
I liked the story overall, especially the setting with the weird Cayne company/cult and the conflict with the Yellow-Leaf group. Some parts of the plot did remind me of the 1989 movie Leviathian, I wonder if that was intentional or by chance. But I think that the game escalated a bit quickly, and lacked some normal parts to contrast the horrific sections. You get used to the gore after a while, especially if there are no moments of relief. I think it hits harder if you generate some sense of safety or security, and then hit your protagonists over the head with an impossible situation. While this game is basically an impossible situation from start to stop. But that didn't stop me to basically "binge-play" it over the course of three days, so I'd like to repeat that I enjoyed the game and I'm looking forward to the next game.
 

lightbane

Arcane
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Messages
10,253
Finished this. Took longer than expected. Well done adventure game, although I liked Stasis 1 in certain aspects, such as having timed puzzles or situations where you can die. In Stasis 2 they're here, but they are heavily telegraphed and optional to boot, so to speak. I checked that AI movie again and yeah, Moses is an extra fatty copy of Teddy, although I liked his OG design better. I'll include my more thorough thoughts later. For now though:

Cayne is eviler than ever. Adding a debt to workers before joining is overkill. It seems the game is set after CAYNE with the mentions of the Father and Mother.
Mac apparently has fought in all wars seen in fiction, seeing he's not too fazed with the horrors he sees, mentions using flamers and nukes, and a lot more. I'm certain he was a step away from divorcing Charlie, or he didn't pay any more attention to her anymore, as Charlie pre-flashback was actually cute, then she got ugly tattoos and glasses (why doesn't she use sci-fi lenses or bio-engineered eyes or something?).
I'm not certain what the super-AIs Numen are, and why no-one bothered to recover the missing one. Did they make copies? The recording is extremely convenient, I expected something kind of like STASIS 1's ending where you see what's obviously a mindless clone of a little girl to create horror (as IIRC said girl was dead long ago or something).

The primitives were also waay too evil, and I don't know where they got so many bones. Having Ruskies as not completely evil villains nowadays is quite a bold move.

Lastly but not least, it took you guys 10 years, but at long last you make a game with a proper ending!
Granted, chances are Charlie won't survive for long as it's likely the rebels will rip out the thing they need and leave her to die. Or perhaps she doesn't make it as she was in close proximity to explosions in a very weakened state.


9/10, worth the price. Shame the lack of dialogues and exploration makes the tons of puzzles stand out more.
 

agris

Arcane
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Messages
6,876
bro lightbane
the 'copter was obviously CAYNE's.

didn't you see how everything else turned out?!
 

lightbane

Arcane
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Messages
10,253
The ending is unclear on purpose, so the helicopter may not be Cayne. Charlie mentioned contacting her fellows. Either way, she won't come out alive of this for sure.
I kind of like how the setting uses horryfing bio-tech in such a casual way. It must make actual horrifying things less bad when even old toys use organic parts.
I wonder if another reason why Mac dislikes Moses is because the latter's realistic fur made washing him a hassle.
 

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