Welcome to Campfire Gaming, a weekly series of game journals. Today we take a break from Endless Space to focus on a mod for Terraria called The Story of Red Cloud. My series on Endless Space will continue next week. Terraria is an indie game released last year that’s been described as a 2-D Minecraft with an emphasis on combat over building things. It was my game of the year in 2011. The Story of Red Cloud is a mod for Terraria that you can get here. The mod is a custom map filled with Legend of Zelda style dungeons and items and 20-30 hours of gameplay. It also adds an experience system similar to Dark Souls, which is just as awesome as it sounds.
WARNING, there are spoilers ahead! If you plan to play Red Cloud and don’t want it to be spoiled, then finish the first dungeon before reading this.
I’m buried alive. Luckily, it’s apparently customary in Red’s village to bury people with a pickaxe, so I’m able to dig my way out and assess the situation. The situation, as it turns out, is grim. This is a story of vengeance, loss, and desperately searching for a damned place to use my dark souls.
This is the Story of Red Cloud.
My village has been burned by a goblin army. My parents are missing. My two brothers are missing. My wife is missing. Nothing’s left, except of course for the monsters. There’s monsters everywhere. I’m immediately attacked and killed by a giant digging worm. After dying, I fittingly respawn back in my grave.
This is gonna be tough.
I hop back out of the grave and return the favor to the worm, slicing him into pieces with the copper shortsword I started the game with. I walk through the burning village, searching for survivors. I don’t find any. But I do find loot. Lots and lots of loot.
This is gonna be fun.
There’s two iron broadswords. They can be wielded at the same time. The Story of Red Cloud allows you to hold an item in each hand, similar to Dark Souls. I also snag a cool new outfit from my brother’s house.
I exit the town without finding a single survivor. The story is told with signs found throughout the world. They’re all pretty well written, and do a good job with a minimalist approach. One of these signs tells me that I remember a nearby town where my brothers Michael (my actual brother’s name is Michael) and Elisha used to go in the summertime. Maybe they’ve fled there, so that’s my next destination.
On the way, I find a bridge over a lake, and… well, I decide to go for a swim. In games like this you have to check every nook and every cranny, because things are hidden away. The good news is, there actually was something at the bottom of the lake. The bad news is it killed me.
Back in my grave. My cold, depressing grave.
I crawl out for a third time and dust myself off. Every monster that dies in this mod drops dark souls, which are essentially experience points. When you die you drop all of your souls. If you can get back to your corpse and retreive them before dying again you can get them back. Otherwise you lose them all, a la the game Dark Souls. With my souls now trapped under a lake with a crazy skull man guarding them, I supposed they were gone forever and decided to move on.
But my death ended up being a blessing in disguise.
I claw out of my grave for the third time and notice that there’s a little path to the right. I take it, and realize that you can go underwater. I literally have nothing to lose since I lost all of my souls in the lake. So for the second time in about 30 seconds, I dive into unknown waters in search of lost treasure. I find some.
There’s a chest, but it’s far away, behind a series of underwater tunnels. I chug a potion that causes my body to illuminate so I can see in the dark waters. I’m determined to get to that chest.
My breath meter drops as I plunge deeper into the underwater tunnels. I don’t even know if it’s possible to get to that chest, but I’m determined to try. When I find my first air hole in the tunnels, I decide that I’m definitely supposed to be here. I continue on, and find another air hole just before suffocating. I’ve reached the chest.
I open it up, and the contents are everything I hoped they would be. A full set of iron armor. I’ve already died twice, but things will be different from now on. I’m in charge now.
I die of suffocation on my way back.
Okay, NOW things will be different. I walk back through the rubble of the village and head out in search of my family. All of my treasure hunting has used up daylight, and with the sun down the zombies come out just like in Terraria proper. Time to put my iron armor to the test. There’s zombies everywhere, and by cutting through them with a sword in each hand I collect what seems like a lot of souls in a short amount of time. I get a little carried away, and before I know it the sun has returned and I’m standing in a huge pile of zombie arms and legs with about 300 dark souls. That seems like a lot to me, so now I need to start being careful. I know from reading the directions on the Story of Red Cloud forum that I can use my souls to craft powerful items at demon altars. I’ve got to find a demon altar before I die and lose these souls.
There’s a cave that says I’ll need bombs to bust through. I make a mental note of it and move on. Soon I find the village where I hope to find my family.
The good news is I find my brother Michael. The bad news is he doesn’t know what happened to my other brother or my wife Elizabeth (my actual wife’s name is Elizabeth- this is getting weird). Our parents are dead. He thought I was dead, and took the liberty of burying me with our parents, hence waking up in my own grave (it also explains the two unmarked graves next to mine- that’s a nice little detail). The attack on the village was apparently by none other than the a goblin known as the Mindflayer King. Naturally, I vow to get me some sweet vengeance. My brother has a bum leg or something, so in standard video game fashion he’s going to sit around while I do everything. Just for that, I’m not giving him his archaeology suit back.
The town also has a weird well. I assume from the message that it’s important, but it looks like a long drop and I’m too scared to jump. My suspicions are confirmed when a random old lady tells me that there’s hidden treasure under the town, so I naturally assume the well is the entrance. Still, I’ve got about 300 souls, so I don’t want to leap down there blindly and lose them all in another lake/giant skull fiasco.
I decide to keep moving to the right. If I don’t find anything, I’ll leap down the well. I get to a huge mountain. I can go up or I can go straight through a tunnel. I take the tunnel. I spent most of the day in town, so now it’s night and the zombies have returned. For the first time I’m getting nervous. I’m worried about dying. For the first time, I feel like I’m playing Dark Souls.
At the end of the tunnel there’s a cliff saying I need Hermes boots to cross it. Those are the boots that old lady mentioned, and now I’m 90% convinced that I need to go back to the well and leap down. But the other 10% is worried my body will splat against stone at the bottom of the well and I’ll lose everything. I’ve been killing zombies during my trip through the mountain. Now I have about 400 souls.
There’s a path leading up into a series of caves in the mountain. I chug another light potion and take the path. I move slowly. I’m careful with every step. As I kill more enemies my determination to survive increases with my soul count. In the mountain I find a compass. I also find a crazy bunny mask that I think makes me look terrifying.
I continue up the mountain, fighting my way through. I have about 600 souls. I’m duel wielding an iron broadsword and a wooden boomerang. I can knock enemies away with the boomerang, then when they’re weak close in with the sword to finish the job. It’s working very well. I’ve had to drink health potions but haven’t had any big close calls.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I emerge from the mountain caves to what seems like another world.
I’m obviously high up, but I have no idea where a demon altar is and I’m not really even sure how to get back to town. I decide I’ve come to far too turn back, and I begin to cross the bridge.
Three harpies swarm down on my position. I’m vulnerable on the bridge. There’s nowhere to hide. Harpies can shoot super sharp feathers out of their bodies. I throw my boomerang and swing my sword, but they swoop down and claw at my face. I’m dying. I drink a health potion. They claw at me. I’m still dying. Like in vanilla Terraria, you have to wait a while before you’re allowed to drink another health potion to keep you from throwing one back every three seconds.
I retreat. I’m heading back for the mountain, with all three harpies still on my tail. With two hearts of health left, I wonder if I die could I even find my way back to this location to get my souls. I’d respawn at the town, which seems so far away.
I get back to the mountain and run into a cave. Instead of going back down where I came from, I move through a straight tunnel, hoping to lose my pursuers. I lose two of them, but the third is closing in for the killing blow. Every time it gets close I knock it away with my boomerang. It shoots me with one of its sharp feathers. With one heart left, I decide I’m running out of options. I abruptly turn and close the distance between myself and the harpy. We exchange blows. I cut it with my sword. It shoots me with a sharp feather. It dies. I don’t. I barely hold on, and emerge on the other side of the mountain. I have near 800 souls.
If I go down the mountain, I think it’ll take me back to town. I’m done wandering aimlessly, hoping to stumble upon a demon altar. Every indication says I need to go down that well. So that’s what I’m going to do. As soon as I get to town, I leap down the well.
There’s a HUGE drop.
Luckily, there’s water at the bottom. I’m definitely supposed to be here. I find three magic mirrors that can teleport me back to town, so I’m not even trapped down here. Unfortunately the dungeon under this town is huge, and I’m desperately searching for a demon altar. Instead, I find this.
I turn back.
That sort of sign is video game speak for boss fight, and I’m not ready for a boss fight. I’ve been moving through the dungeon for a long time, and I’ve got over 1000 souls. A skeleton mage appears behind me as I move through the dark tunnels. A skeleton warrior jumps down from above and hits me in a surprise attack. During the confusion, two of the skeleton mage’s blasts hit me. The second one knocks me off a cliff…
My heart stops as I hurl downward. I drink a potion just before I hit the ground. The fall doesn’t kill me, but I’m badly wounded. Two hearts left. The enemy mage teleports in front of me and shoots again. The skeleton warrior jumps off the cliff and lands on me again in another surprise attack from above.
Without even thinking about it, I use my mirror and teleport back to town. It probably saved my life. I just needed a chance to breathe. A chance to relax. I get a drink of water and sit for a moment. Twice now I’ve come extremely close to dying. I don’t want to die.
That Dark Souls tension is definitely there. I’m loving it and hating it all at once.
When I’ve calmed down, I leap back down the well and prepare for more. And then I see it. I walked right over it when I first entered the dungeon. It was under a small pond I’d created by blasting a wall submerged in water. But there it was. A demon altar.
I jumped into the water and swam to it. There were traps everywhere. But I was moving too slowly to be caught. I was too careful. I was playing Terraria like I play Dark Souls, and it paid off. I got to the demon altar.
I nearly have enough souls to buy every single thing currently available to me. The gold chest there has a gold broadsword and a silver broadsword that I’m now duel wielding.
I travel up the dungeon a little, and find a second demon altar. Now that I don’t need them I’m apparently finding them no problem. I’ve collected a few more souls, and I use the second altar to craft the one item I’d missed. I now have everything that was available to me, and there’s some awesome stuff. With that and my new weapons, I’m feeling more powerful than ever. I’m looking forward to the boss fight.
He doesn’t stand a chance.
This is actually Part 1 of a long and epic series I wrote on The Story of Red Cloud. If you enjoyed this article you can read Part 2 right here. Other than that, I’ll see you next week as we continue Endless Space.