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THERE IS NO DIARY PAGE
THERE IS NO MENU
THERE IS ONLY YOU
AND THE MACHINE
"All memories are lost in time, like tears in rain."
Submachine is the title of a series of Flash games created by Polish game designer Mateusz Skutnik and is the flagship series of Pastel Games.
All of the games are point-and-click style puzzles and (excepting the four AU games) follow a continuous storyline. The general object of each game is to escape from an enclosed (and usually submerged) location that houses a mysterious machine. As the story progresses, the player finds more and more about the history of the "submachines" through clues left behind by a mysterious figure named Murtaugh. One of the well-known characteristics of the game is a complete and total lack of any other living being, even animals. This often leads to the games being filed under Nightmare Fuel, though Your Mileage May Vary.
The puzzles within the game rely on acute observation, a willingness to hunt for objects hidden in the exact opposite of plain sight, and other such tasks. However, the puzzles are very cleverly made, and on completion one usually feels some degree of self-satisfaction.
There are 7 main entries in the series, with 4 side-entries that sit outside the main series.
The games so far are:
- 1: The Basement
- 3: The Loop
- 4: The Lab
- 5: The Root
- 6: The Edge
- 7: The Core
- 8: The Plan (coming 2012...)
- Future Loop Foundation (an advergame for the UK band of the same name)
- SubNet Exploration Project (an open-ended "Massively Singleplayer Online" -- Word Of Skutnik is that it is not a game -- dotted with theories from the Submachine message boards)
- Mateusz's main Web site also has his other games.
Some of the tropes found within these games are:
- After the End - This is debatable, as the games haven't revealed what happened to everybody else. Given some of the desperate-sounding letters in the more remote locations you visit, it wasn't pleasant.
- According to The Core, Murtaugh's karma portals have been slowly tearing apart the subnet the more he uses them. On top of this, everything outside the Core is a twisted, self-grown mess that is infinite and cannot be properly mapped. Given the aforementioned fates hinted at in many of the letters, it puts a lot of them in a new light.
- Alien Geometries - Several of the rooms in Subnet are warped in weird ways - one is Escher-like, one is a Mobile Maze, one takes you to a random room every time you go through a door...
- Arc Number - In addition to certain recurring teleporter codes, the number 32 and variations thereupon (23, 3.2) can be found somewhere in most of the games. This is possibly a reference to Discordianism, or just coincidence.
- Art Evolution
- Author Stand In - Mur, the mysterious figure that leaves you clues and interacts with you during the fourth game talks about having a pet black cat named Einstein-Mateusz has two black cats. Coincidence? ...Quite possibly, yes (especially after The Edge).
- Bag of Spilling - Averted, and played straight. There's no good reason for you to lose your stuff between 2 and 3, and 4 and 5, but every other game gives a concise explanation for why you don't have any of the nick-nacks from the last game.
- 6 toys with this trope rather beautifully, as you do start out with all the items you ended 5 with... and then, 3 rooms later, you're forced to dump them into a trash hopper to get through a security room. D'oh!
- Since 5 opens with you apparently just woken up in a new lab, it could be assumed you simply put them down somewhere between games, possibly in the part of the lab you can no longer reach.
- Beautiful Void - unless you find the structural decay, haunting minimalist music and utter lack of population unnerving (see Nightmare Fuel in the YMMV tab).
- Big Brother Is Watching - There's always a feeling that you are being watched by some unknown entity, especially after game #3. The floating security cameras at Location 317 in SubNet Exploration Project imply this even more heavily.
- In the Subnet, one portal code takes you to the exterior of Submachine 0 ... and the blue sky from the earlier game turns out to be a backdrop against the black void of Submachine 5. Truman Show Plot?
- Broken Pedestal - In Submachine 6: The Edge (huge spoilers), Mur abandons you in the Submachine after you disable its defences; you had no importance outside of enabling his invasion plan.
- Some of the notes left in Submachine 4: The Lab already hinted at this.
- Call Back - In Submachine 4 you visit various locations that are similar (but not identical) to areas of the previous games. In Submachine 5, you return to the lighthouse from Submachine 2, and collect the Wisdom Gem you left there.
- Subnet lets you revisit every previous room. At one point in Submachine 4, you have to shut off the water in a pipe and bash it open. When you revisit the area in Subnet, it's flooded...
- Cosmetic Award - In Submachine 2 collecting all the "secrets" (tiny spheres hidden around the world) yields ... absolutely nothing. (In 4, 5, and 7 they unlock a "Making of" section. 6 has five secret areas which yield extra information.)
- Disability Superpower - Mur's diary entry in the first game mentions the loss of his arm on vacation, and later gaining a "karma arm."
- Early Installment Weirdness - If you had played the original Submachine without any knowledge of later episodes, you'd have probably guessed that the series would just be another set of escape-the-room series that happened to have a suitably creepy atmosphere. Then they introduced the stuff about teleportation, alternate dimensions, relics from forgotten civilizations, strange futuristic technology of an unknown source, etc., and the first game just seems sparse in comparison.
- Ghost City - You never encounter any people or animals whatsoever.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall - One of the notes you find in Submachine 4 (by someone who stumbled into the submachine network and can't find their way out) reads suspiciously like a call for help on an escape game discussion board, complete with description of how far they've got and cute username.
- In the SubNet Exploration Experience, if you visit the Loop from the third game (coordinates 555), you'll find a "Submachine As Perpetual Maze theory" which ends with a short plea for help in escaping from the area, and you find it is written by the same character as in the above example.
- Master Computer - In Submachine 3, the "Loop" was a Matrix-style sort of computer in the sense that it separated people's consciousness from reality, engaging them in puzzles to keep them from questioning their surroundings.
- Submachine 6 also sees players engage with the computer elements of the machine.
- Mind Screw - Becomes particularly prominent in the second installment.
- The SubNet Exploration Project is devoted largely to presenting many of the various fan theories as to what's really going on.
- Nothing Is Scarier - The empty places and eerie, creepy music throughout the series have this effect on some people (also noted in the YMMV tab).
- When you first start Submachine 2, there is a record player providing background noise of chirping crickets and other peaceful woodsy sounds. When you turn it off, the actual soundtrack kicks in, which begins with a near-Scare Chord and is full of creaking and electronic distortion sounds. Nothing horrific happens, but you might spend a good few minutes waiting for it anyway.
- The "Hell" room in Submachine Network Exploration Experience (Location 666) can be this, given that all the scary stuff in the room is only suggested or ambient. Visually it's a small room, dimly lit with red light, with a ladder that you cannot climb to the top of because it leads into absolute darkness... and the audio is loud, intense distortion noises, some of which sound like growling and shrieking.
- Ontological Mystery
- Or Was It a Dream? - Not in the exact sense, but some well-placed comments about being part of "the loop" made for some interesting thoughts after having completed one of the games.
- The second game starts with you completing the first game on an arcade machine, and ends with you realizing your "escape" was just another game.
- Pixel Hunt - Quite often.
- Portal Network - In multiple flavours. Not only are there the teleporters that use the three-coordinate system, but there are a much older set of two-coordinate portals and as of The Core, Murtaugh's karma portals, and the Winter Garden doorways.
- Red Herring - Quite a few in Submachine F L F.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge - Murtaugh's motive in returning to the core. His karma portals were damaging the submachine and possibly killing people, so they buried him in the lighthouse. He didn't like that too much.
- Schedule Slip - The end of The Core announces that The Plan is coming in 2011. It isn't.
- Shout-Out - Submachine 2 opens woth the words "I didn't wake up. And I do remember", parodying the opening of "The Crimson Room".#
- In Network Exploration Experience, type in 815.
- The text at the top of this page is from the opening of Submachine 3, which references The Matrix (but is also internally consistent, as there is a spoon in game 1).
- Mateusz himself says that the design of the computers and the Core were specifically inspired by Tron.
- Sorry I Left the BGM On - Inverted; Submachine Future Loop Foundation starts in silence. Solving the first puzzle involves switching on a tape recorder, which also starts the BGM for the rest of the game.
- Sure Why Not - Played with: Several of the new areas in Subnet Exploration Experience seem designed to add credence to the fan theory you can read in that area (for instance, a theory that the Submachines are looped through the fourth dimension is in an area with subtle Alien Geometries. Since many of the theories are incompatable, of course, they can't all be true. (Can they?)
- Treacherous Advisor - Murtaugh.
- Underground Level - Very common. Mateusz himself says that "Submachine" is short for "Submerged Machine," which hints at the SubNet being based underground.
- Unwinnable by Design - In Submachine Extended, the second version of The Basement, a puzzle was added where one of the four pieces you needed appeared in a teleporter once you pulled certain switches and the power was on. However, it also retained the puzzle where you had to burn out the power in order to get another piece. Blow the fuses before you've found the former piece and it disappears again, so you're screwed. This was an intentional feature, but Skutnik decided it was a mistake, so in the current version the teleporter doesn't require power.
- The Wiki Rule - Submachine Wiki.
- Word of God - Aside from M's comments on the Submachine forums, there are also unlockable commentaries in the games themselves from 4 on.
- Zeerust - You can tell that some of the abandoned technology is old both because of the dust and rust and also because much of it just looks dated otherwise. Up to several millennia dated.