By Spencer . February 18, 2008 . 10:35pm
The last time I wrote about Baroque I was blowing myself up with boom bones. I’ve gotten notably better controlling the not-so-silent protagonist and conquered Neruo Tower multiple times. One of the tricks is to progress through the floors slowly. It’s tempting to jump in the nearest portal to plunge an extra 100 cubits underground, especially because the vitality meter incessantly drops. (Note: The VT meter doesn’t have any other purpose than pressuring players to kill meta-beings to refill it.) However, that’s a fast way to dying and starting all over again. If you want to conquer Neuro Tower you need to horde items at the beginning when you have nothing. If you’re really lucky you will find status protecting wings.
Three or four floors down swarms of Katos attack with a spin dash similar to Sonic the Hedgehog’s signature move. The spin attack is easy to dodge with hit and run tactics. Two sword swings, run, evade the spin dash and repeat. However, the Kato can spew poison, a debilitating status effect due to the lack of antidote fluid in Neuro Tower. You can’t stock up items in “town” either, which means the only way to remove the effect is to let time lapse. Here is where wings come in handy. If you can find a set of antidote wings, the protagonist becomes immune to poison and Katos won’t be a problem. In later floors one of the most annoying threats was the Liar, a being that appears to be a mix of a plesiosaur and a succubus. This friendly inhabitant can cause lethargy, which makes the hero move at half speed. While slowed it’s difficult to escape scratches from the Liar’s long claws. The Liar has another trick up its sleeve and Lust is the most original status effect I’ve been privy to in a dungeon crawler. If you get hit with her pink powder the protagonist, the monsters and all of the items magically become scantily clad women. You can still fight, but you will not know what you are up against since everything on the floor is represented by the same female model. However, items were sessile and that was the clue to identify them on the fly.
While blinded by lust I was lucky enough to have a torturer in my possession. These scale like items are the equivalent of magic in Baroque, except they can only be used once. I’ve run into quite a few of these charming devices in Neuro Tower. An ice torturer encapsulates everything in triangular blocks of frozen water. The half torturer wipes out half of the enemies in a room instantaneously. A No Name torturer deports a random spell. Surprisingly, the most useful torturer brings all of the enemies and items in the same room. I found using that device in conjunction with a second torturer or a healthy supply of invincible bones was an easy way to clear floors. Munching on an experience bone for double experience points prior to killing everything was a fast way to gain levels.
Eleven floors down my character was a machine. I fused a Protector sword with a parasite to imbue it with fire. As the name suggests, the protector sword ups defense, a compliment to my character’s asbestos coat. Hope wings boosted all my stats and I learned a new trick, using the environment against the meta-beings. Some levels have open furnaces and they don’t discriminate who they burn. If you can get a meta-being to confront you while standing on the furnace you’ve got the upper hand. I sprinted past many inhabitants of Neuro Tower like a disfigured robed man with two faces and a haunting maiden who kept asking for water. I didn’t give them too much attention because my goal was clear, get to the bottom of the tower.
At -1600 floors I was almost there. I saw the Archangel for a second time, though I wouldn’t say he was in the “best” condition. He told me the Absolute God went insane after my sin and to kill her with the Angelic Rifle. Good thing I saved all five shots. After speaking with him I was teleported to floor -99999 (*may have more nines). I crept forward expecting a major confrontation. Would the Absolute God be some kind a disgusting beast?
No. She was a female figure standing peacefully in place. Should I really shoot her? Who am I to argue with an Archangel? I equipped the gun he gave me and disposed the Absolute God with a single shot. I won? Not quite, a cut scene played and suddenly I was reincarnated back at the dusty town with the longneck man and kid who wants to stuff my items in his hat. All of my items were gone, my level dropped to one and I was left without a clue of what to do next. This is why I felt “lost”.
I walked back to where I met the Archangel the first time. He told me to go back in Neuro Tower. There was no option to tell him to go back into Neuro Tower. I wanted to punch him in the gut (read: I lost my sword) for making me run through the seemingly futile quest. But I reset my PS2 instead. Back to the Absolute God. This time I chose not to shoot her, which led to a different cut scene, but the same result. OK… so no matter what I did my character would essentially die. I came to terms with that quickly, dying a lot in the beginning helped coping, but I was still confused about what to do.
I thought back to who I talked to in Neuro Tower. Eliza wanted some kind of water. I attacked the angel with multiple faces. A ghastly, younger version of the protagonist mentioned something about chess. Should I search for an aqueous chess board? Somehow, I don’t think one is waiting for me in Neuro Tower. There is an obscure trigger that actually progresses Baroque forward, but I couldn’t figure it out on my own. Thankfully, there is sort of a failsafe mechanism too, but even that is far from obvious. Progression in Baroque is at best perplexing and honestly there are times where dying accelerates the plot, a counterintuitive concept after years of playing video games. The mystery drew me in, but Baroque requires patience if you really opt to take on the game without any help.
Fortunately, you can save a limited amount of items for use in your next life. Throughout Neruo Tower there are metallic consciousness orbs, which transfer a single item to the bag head kid, as long as he has free space. You want to save your best gear, but that means you won’t see it until you die. Don’t worry death is right around the corner, even if you conquer Neruo Tower.