December 11, 2010 1:29 AM | Michael Rose
[Rogue Survivor is a lovely undead survival roguelike, currently in the alpha stages but growing in size day by day. I've been wanting to write some kind of game story series, and since everyone else seems to be doing Minecraft these days, I thought I'd take a shot at something a little different. So begins the story of Ulrich Jones: Rogue Survivor.
Note that you can click on any of the images to see bigger versions - in later parts, I may cut the surrounding interface out and display just the play area, but for now I wanted to show what's going on around the action.]
As an image begins to come into focus before me, I realise that I've just woken up from a slumber that I don't remember taking. I'm slumped on a hard iron bench in what I quickly identify as the city train station. How in the hell did I end up here?
My head is banging, but I manage to piece together some basic details. My name is Ulrich Jones, and I'm a carpenter originally from Brooklyn. I moved to Pittsburgh a few years back to be with my childhood sweetheart Laura. We probably would have had a long and happy life, if that 'miracle drug' hadn't buggered everything up.
As I stare around the room, I realise that I'm not alone. There's a cop staring out of a nearby window into the darkness of the night, and as I step towards him, he continues to look at nothing in particular. He explains that his name is Philip Rogers, but he has no interest in answering any of my questions.
Confused and disorientated, I step outside, and realise all too late that it's chucking it down. I put my head down and rush over to the opposite building.
My instincts kick in, and I begin to search for anything I can find. I grab ammo from a dresser, but as I spy a cellphone, a young lady walks in and takes it for herself. "Finders keepers" she explains.
Her name is Cherie Sanchez, and she's not at all interested in swapping my ammo for the phone. "I need to check my Facebook" she continues, before disappearing into the rain.
In the next room, Jesus Irvin introduces himself, but he's not interested in talking to me either. He does however, briefly let me know: "I saw skeletons to the northeast about 1 hour ago". Brilliant.
Even though I only just woke up, I feel awfully tired and really need to sleep, but I still have no idea what I'm doing here, and I don't particularly want to be ripped apart while I'm sleeping, so I head into the next room.
...What the hell happened in here? Shivers run down my spine as I cast my eyes around the room, over the blood-soaked floorboards and corpses. Tonight is no normal evening.
Suddenly I hear screams coming from somewhere nearby, and I head out into the rain without even thinking about my actions.
A man is being attacked by a huge zombie - a Zombie Master, if I'm not mistaken. I've heard about these guys - I've read that if you see one, you should turn around and spirit in the opposite direction.
The helpless guy shouts for help, saying his name is Travis Robertson and asking me to keep the zombie at bay.
As I stand rooted to the spot, not able to move from fear, I hear shots fired in the building across the road. What the hell is going on around here?
I decide to myself that if I can find help, I'll have much more chance of saving Travis, so I dash towards the building. I search the building, but all I find is canned food. No people, no weapons.
Panicking, I climb out of a window and head back to where Travis was. Instead, I find a bloody mess. In complete shock, I run back down the street, grinding my teeth and blaming myself for not having the guts to help him out. He's dead because of me. It's my fault.
Through the tears, I run straight into a man who identifies himself as Toby Collins. Toby pulls a cellphone out and tells me that he can't get any signal with it. Eyeing my canned food, he asks if I want to swap. The fear has made me completely forget about being hungry, so I say yeah, why not.
As Toby asks me to take refuge with him in a nearby building, I realise that I can't remember Laura's number anyway. Feeling stupid, I pocket the phone, and follow him in. Hopefully I can get some rest and wait for the storm to pass.
Inside, Toby introduces me to his partner Alison Carpenter. We chat for a while, and as I stare out of the window wearily, I realise the sun has begun to rise. I'm still very tired, but surviving the night has me in good spirits, and I feel as if I can take on anything.
Alison points me in the direction of a bedroom, and I conk out immediately.
I'm awoken by shouting in the other room. I'm not sure what time is it, but I hastily barge my way into the room, expecting the worst. A policeman is stood in the room, and aims his pistol in my direction as I burst in. Toby and Alison tell him to calm down, that I'm one of them, and he grunts before lowering the gun slowly.
Turns out his name is Alex Lesaint, and his side-kick is Indy Brown, a timid man who looks out of place with his spear aka plank of wood.
Indy offers me a sturdy piece of wood for my cellphone, and considering I don't have any numbers to call, I accept. Being a carpenter, I know of a number of uses for this.
While it's comforting to have people around, I still really need to work out where I'm going, so I say my goodbyes and set off. Just before I can, Alex tells me that he saw zombies to the southwest about an hour ago. Probably not going to head that way then.
The streets are a mess, with wrecked cars everywhere and daunting graffiti. I see a woman through the window of a nearby building, but I pay her no attention - I've already wasted enough time.
I find some more wood in the street and an improvised club - weak, but it definitely makes me feel safer. With the rain unrelenting, I continue on into the next city district.
I recognise this area - it's the business district. I visited here a few times when we first moved to Brooklyn, when I was trying to find my next step in life. I was such a city slicker, and needed a job to go with my persona... not that it matters anymore.
That's when I spot it - a lurching skeleton patrolling the street ahead. Without thinking, I run as fast as my legs will carry me in the opposite direction.
And straight into another skeleton, except that this one turns to face me, and then dashes towards me. Shit! I double-take and quickly head back the other way, hoping the previous skeleton somehow missed me.
A police officer appears in the street, and I scream at the top of my lungs for him to help me out. He immediately pulls his pistol out and blasts the undead beast into a pile of bones.
As I get my breath back, I try to keep my cool, commenting "That easy, huh?". The cop smiles, and I catch a glimpse of his badge - Henry Quinn. "You think I'm a good shot" pants Henry, "you should see my kid Joey. Best officer the Miami Metro ever had. Now if only he'd remember my birthday every once in a while!" he laughs, but with a distinct sigh for good measure.
Henry takes one look at my club, and reaches into his bag. "Here, you'll need this" he says, throwing me a ruddy great shotgun. I've never even seen a shotgun before, let alone fired one. "It's easy, don't worry" he winks.
"I have to rush off, lives to safe and all that" he says. "But listen - there are more skeletons to the west. I'd suggest staying the hell away". He winks again, and rushes back in the direction I came from.
I keep on walking, passing a boarded up zombie cult church, before bumping into even more cops. I don't bother getting their names, and continue on my way. All around me I can see flames battling against the wind and the rain - some fiercely blaze away, refusing to give in, while others fizzle out with a terrifying hiss.
And then a flash comes to me - the hospital. There's someone at the Hospital waiting for me. I don't know who, and I don't know how I know, but I suddenly have to get there. I check out a nearby map on a crumbling bus stop, and learn that the hospital is a few of districts to the east. Without hesitation I head off.
That's when the shit really hits the fan. I hear a girl scream, and see two skeletons advancing on her. She looks badly injured, and within an inch of her life. I remember what happened with Travis Robertson - a name I will have etched into the back of mind forever more - and decide to act.
As I aim the shotgun and fire, I completely and utterly miss and end up hitting myself in the face with the gun's barrel. There isn't too long to feel stupid, however, as my actions attract the attention of the skeletons, who turn away from the girl and head for me. Suddenly I'm terrified again, and hot-footing backwards.
Climbing onto a car, towering above my foes, my courage spikes for a moment, and I swing around and take a shot. BOOM, the first skeleton goes down. BOOM and down goes the second.
I fall back onto the roof of the car, and without even thinking about it, begin to reload my weapon. In that moment, the feel of the shotgun feels familiar in my hands, and I'm taken aback at how easy it all was.
A sharp thwack knocks me back into focus, and I spin around to find the girl has jumped onto the hood of the next car. After saying thank you more than a dozen times, she introduces herself as Amy Irvin. Amy is in a state, but when I ask her to accompany me to the Hospital, she refuses. "I have someone I need to find" she says. I see fear in her eyes, yet more than a hint of determination. "It's very important" she adds.
"This person... he doesn't happen to be called Jesus, does he?" I respond. Her eyes widen as I explain where I saw him. "But there were skeletons back there" I warn her. "I couldn't care less, without him I'm nothing" she answers.
I know exactly what she means.
She thanks me again, and we part ways. It's now late afternoon, and I'm once again worried about nightfall. I also realise that I haven't eaten in nearly a day.
Wandering down the street, I walk by plenty more people who are all in different states of shock and panic. As I'm about to venture into the next district, I spot a boarded up door, and recognise it as a sewerage plant. And then I have a thought - why not travel through the sewers to the Hospital? It must surely be much safer down there than up in plain sight.
As I tear down the barricade blocking the door, I hear scream from inside. I realise someone must have put these up, but I'm a man on a mission, and soon I have the planks of wood off, and I'm bursting through the door. A very worried couple cower in the corner, the man holding a baseball bat and the woman a shovel.
"What the hell are you doing? Are you insane?" whimpers the man. I don't have time for this. I grab a crowbar and a shovel from a nearby table, and make my way into the sewers.
Another barricade blocks my way into the main tunnels. As I tear this one down, the woman climbs down the ladder, screaming for me to stop. I ignore her. I need to get to the hospital. It's essential that I get to the hospital.
As I race down the passage, I hear her faintly in the distance behind me shouting about some sort of danger. Partway through trying to decipher her words, I slip and fall straight into a river of crap. Fantastic.
I spend the next fifteen minutes walking through sludge in the darkness, hoping to find a light, or anything really. Finally I stumble into a room, my feet sopping wet, my thoughts all over the place - and a rat lunges for my feet. A zombie rat to be precise.
I bash the rat with the butt of my shotgun, and pick up a spray-can from the floor. That may well help later if I want to leave messages for other weary wanderers. By now I'm getting stupidly hungry and tired, but there's no way I'm stopping to rest down here in this slime.
And then I find a ladder. Stinking like an elephant house, I decide the surface may well be a nice place to be right now. Besides, I must surely be close to the hospital.
I emerge in what appears to be a park. Yeah that's right, it's South Side Park - I'm not far from the Hospital now. Unfortunately, I'm also surrounded by skeletons and zombies who are even more hungry than I am.
The stars are out, acting as the perfect, glistening backdrop for some midnight snacking. I cock the shotgun, and prepare for a long night.