It’s Good To Stalk

A quick anecdote from Stalker, which I’ve been replaying on and off, just to see what I can change/break.

I was playing through one of the early sections where an NPC character arranges to set up an ambush with you to rescue his captured colleague. The ambush was set, but things went batshit – completely different from the smoothly executed sequence of events I’d seen the first time I’d played through this section. For some reason the game spawned a hostile bandit patrol just within aggression range of my NPC partner. They shot at him at the exact moment the scripted ambush was supposed to occur. To deal with this random occurrence the game made the chap we were supposed to rescue vanish entirely, and then filled the other NPC with a murderous rage. He moved into the nearby building complex, with me still in tow, and systematically hunting down and killing every single bandit in the area.

Only when we reached the roof and the last bandit lay dead did the NPC stop and complete his designated plot device. He turned to his now non-existent companion and said “No problem, but you have this Stalker to thank.” Then he just stood there, frozen and unable to continue his existence thanks to the earlier interruption. When I returned an hour later he was dead.

Stalker is much more stable than its cousin, Boiling Point, which is in some ways a shame, because the sheer incoherent madness than Boiling Point produced was a kind of comedy you can’t get elsewhere. Games that are so broken that they become surrealist nightmares are some of my favourite experience, and I’d hate it if that element of weird reality-breaking were completely ironed out of gaming.

Stalker: ultra-bleak survival shooter and unintentional slapstick death-comedy.


  1. Marcin says:

    I haven’t had this in Stalker much. BP on the other hand …

    First, there was the invisible helicopter (I occasionally heard a whirring, but it might have been something entirely different) that was rocketing the terrain around me for no apparent reason, in the middle of town. Pedestrians were completely unconcerned about the completely random explosions shaking the foundations around them. I don’t think it was after me, either, as it went on for 30 minutes without ever harming me.

    Second, there was the “learn how to pilot a boat” mission. Got the permit, got the boat, got in, did a couple of circles and, getting bored of that, fired the gun mounted on the boat. Once. Immediately I was assaulted with a hail of gunfire from absolutely nowhere (as I was in the middle of the lake at the time), riddling the boat (and me) with lead. Upon waking up at the doc’s, I was informed that my relations with bandits have deteriorated far into the red.

    Did I mention I need to fire Boiling Point up again? I really do.

  2. sinister agent says:

    Ha! I quite agree, those bizarre bug-result moments can be excellent. I still vividly remember killing a scientist in half-life just as he opened a hangar door for me, and then fell to the floor, killed to buggery. And as I walked past, his blood-ridden corpse began to speak. Creepy as hell. Something about the fact that he was flat on his back and staring up at the ceiling while addressing me made it worse.

  3. Tom Camfield says:

    Over a year later: I agree. Morrowind was excellent because things could go so wrong, oops, I’ve killed the head of the thieves guild, oh well, seems like that whole section of the game is now closed to me… and yet the game didn’t fail you and I still managed to complete it, awesome.

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