Reviewing MMOs is hard. It’s impossible to fit so many in-game experiences into 1000 words and a five star rating. This is where Anima Crossing comes in, I’ll be chronicling my adventures in Funcom’s new MMO The Secret World, all leading up to my proper review. So strap in, and be prepared to learn the dark secrets of a dying civilization.
Diary of an Illuminati Fixer, Entry 1:
You know that feeling when you’re woken up in the middle of the night by an insect flying into your mouth? Yeah? How about when that insect gives you the powers of a young god? Didn’t think so. Well, that’s how the adventures starts in The Secret World. Shortly after this fateful run in with the magic bee you’re visited by a recruiter for your chosen secret society, which, for me, was the Illuminati. As not to bore you with the details, I’ll make along story short. The Illuminati had noticed my insectborn talents, and decided they wanted me to work for them. Finding their headquarters and meeting various figureheads made up the rest of my time in New York.
Finally, I’m given my first real task as an Illuminati agent. A sleepy little place on the coast Maine called Solomon Island has been essentially cutoff from the rest of the world, and I’m to investigate and protect the society’s many interests in the area. So, I head off to Maine, but how do I get there from New York? Do I take a black helicopter? Maybe stealth submarine? Not at all, remember, The Secret World is a place where all those myths, urban legends, and stories you’ve heard are all true. So, as it turns out, my main means of travel will be Agartha, the hollow inside of earth, where the Tree of Life resides.
As I’m sure you can imagine, Agartha is massive. The Tree of Life’s branches extend miles in each direction, each carrying portals to various parts of the world. Of course, this allows it to act as the game’s hub world, a place where agents of all three societies can quickly reach the places where they’re needed most, including their home cities. Naturally, upon arriving I made my way to the portal to Solomon Island to begin the task that was assigned to me.
The Agartha portal dumped me into a small little fishing town named Kingsmouth. Now, when I say this place is Lovecraftian I mean it both in an atmospheric sense, and a literal sense. Of course, it’s a gloomy little New England full of unspeakable evil, like in the stories penned by Howard Phillips, but it’s also got heaps upon heaps of references to the man himself. Lovecraft Lane? It exists. An ad for a store called HP Arts and Crafts? Also a thing. Arkham Avenue? Right next to Lovecraft Lane. Usually I’d find such a high volume of of culture references offensive, but the town pulls off the eerie horror feeling so well that it’s easy to look past. There is very clearly something off about this place.
Venturing into the local police station, where the survivors are making their stand, I learn that the source of this unsettling emptiness is a fog that recently rolled into town. It’s caused the dead to rise, the inhabitants to lose their minds, and, most of all, brought the wrath of a fishy race of humanoids called the Draug onto dry land. Obviously, removing the fog became my key objective, but how do you kill fog? I couldn’t do a jig and make the sun burn it all away, I’m a blood mage, not a shaman. Lamenting my lack of weatherdance powers, I set off to find the source of cursed gloom.
The town sheriff suggested I start with an old woman named Norma Creed. Her husband and sons had gone off on a fishing boat only to go missing for more than three years. However, that same vessel recently returned to harbor, with the fog in tow. It was a natural progression, I’d find Norma, do whatever menial tasks she needed done, and she’d lead me onto my next clue. Fortunately, things went according to plan, and I was given the address of Joe Slater, the ship’s captain.
Of course, Joe wasn’t just sitting around on the couch, watching the game. He’d become… something else. Struggling to breath, and with a visage covered more in scales than skin, the captain tells me his tale. The tale of a cargo ship called the Polaris, and… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but something went terrible wrong at the Polaris.
The Polaris exists as the first dungeon of the game, so I grabbed four nearby players, and we headed in. Now, I never expected it to be a Carnival cruise, but the place was practically wriggling with the tentacles of fishy beings that wanted us dead. Everything from hulking, crab-clawed flesh beasts, to something resembling Cthulhu himself. It took a few tries, but we managed to pull through and rid the world of a few unneeded gills. My time in Kingsmouth was over, but tracking the source of the ever present fog, I knew next target was the Savage Coast.
This place was just as bad, if not worse, than Kingsmouth. Not only were the draug skulking around, but this place featured a theme park, constantly watched over by the malevolent spirits of its owner and former thrillseekers. Of course, we can’t have chainsaw-wielding clowns running about. This takes priority.
After doing all I could at the amusement park (The ghosts aren’t gone, but they’re more content now. That works, right?) I once more set my sights on the fog problem. This lead me to the Innsmouth Academy, and the Illuminati archives beneath it. It’s there I have my first official face to face meeting with the Beaumont, the man trying to keep Solomon encased in fog. This isn’t your everyday “Here’s the details of my plan, now prepare to die” conversation. No, Beaumont is completely aware of the infinite deaths and rebirths I had experienced on my way there, and that a fight to death wouldn’t be exactly that. So he saw himself out of the archives, and left me to fend for myself against its various “undead” keepers.
After a few puzzles, and a whole lot of running, I escaped the archives. Based from the hints I could glean from Beaumont’s speech, I was to head to Blue Mountain next, and, as of this writing, that’s where I’m headed now. I’ll have to let you know how it goes.
End entry 1.
Will Beaumont die? Will Solomon free itself of the fog, or will the military nuke the whole island? Because I don’t want to spoil it for you, you probably won’t find these answers in the next installment of Anima Crossing. However, you will see Egypt, and maybe a picture of me shooting a Templar in the face. That’s cool too, right?