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Megaton: Rainfall shows that Power Fantasy gameplay can coexist with a true Cosmic Horror setting (albeit as a twist)

Gamingtodaynews1e - Megaton: Rainfall shows that Power Fantasy gameplay can coexist with a true Cosmic Horror setting (albeit as a twist)

Full spoiler for the game Megaton: Rainfall. Even though the game is 95% purely gameplay driven, the story has its own highpoint, as I hope to show you here.

Most games with power fantasy (PF) as tropes make you one badass MF, where nothing can hurt you and your character is often the most powerful being. Cosmic Horror (CH) on the other hand is all about how insignificant you and your whole species existence is in the grand scheme of things and mostly tries to invoke a feeling of fundamental dread. Since they are both so contradictory to each other, I haven't really seen them together in works of fiction. That is until I played Megaton: Rainfall, where the PF gameplay doesn't invalidate but instead hightens the CH setting. This works in this game, because the CH is only revealed at the end of the game. Most other stories I experienced with a CH setting have that setting from the beginning, where indeed a PF wouldn`t work. For example Lovecrafts stories couldn't invoke their terror and dread, if the protagonists could simply shotgun and dynamite their way out of non-euclidean ruins filled with unspeakable eldritch horrors.

But now onto the game itself:

In Megaton: Rainfall you are a superman-like being. You have flight power, shoot energy bolts, get a not-Kamehameha-beam, etc. and most important: you are invincible. The enemies can't hurt you. At all. Your goal is to defend cities on Earth from alien invaders and the inhabitants of the cities are your life bar instead. Too many humans die? You loose and have to restart the level. Due to your own destructive capabilities, you have to be veeeryyy careful where to aim your powers, because you can easily destroy the cities in seconds by yourself. Later you even get improved flight power and are able to leave the planet, solar system, even the milky way and travel to other (procedural generated) galaxies and stars with their own planets. So you feel pretty allmighty yourself. Especially present in me was the feeling of being able to go everywhere and not being confined to exist only on one single planet, as you are jetting around the planet and later even make some tours through space. In those moments away from earth you always have the space background around you, stars or star dust clouds when you are in a galaxy or other galaxies when you are in the space between them. Pretty impressive view, especially in VR.

That is the power fantasy part of the game.

Now onto the cosmic horror story.


Your powers and objectives in this game are given to you by a higher being in the form of a cube (I will call it godcube from now on). It tells you the invaders are attacking the humans because humanity was choosen as godcubes chosen people and you were created to defend humanity so the advent of godcube can take place. After a while you can optionally find 7 hidden signs on planets in other galaxies which explain what is happening. The Godcube is indeed the creator of your universe. And universe creation is happening all the time. Universes get created, beings in that universe create other universe and so on. So it is the simulation hypothesis, but down and up. This is called the tree of existence by godcube where the newer universes are the branches. This implies of course also a root of this tree and godcube wants to reach it. The only problem is that you can only interact with universes "below you" (universes created by you), but not with those higher than your own. This makes it impossible to reach the root yourself. But godcube is convinced that mathematics is the answer, and godcube just needs to solve a certain mathematical function and their goal is reached. To achieve that, godcube created your universe as a "computer engine" to help solve that function. Humans, as it turned out, are the kind of intelligence godcube needs and that is why they were made his chosen people.

After finishing your last mission and defending what else but Tokyo, godcube takes you outside the milky way into the space between galaxies. All those hundreds of hundreds of lights you see are all their own galaxies, it is a special view that you experienced probably multiple times at this point. And then godcube tells you that those are not needed anymore, since humans are in the milky way. And simply deletes them with a beam in a matter of seconds. And then you are outside the milky way and NOTHING around you. NOTHING except that one single galaxy, where before there were untold numbers of them. After that godcube takes you to earth and explains, that all those other stars are not needed either, they are too far away and humanity will likely never reach them. So those get deleted too. In a matter of 2 minutes, everything besides the solar system simply got deleted. Not destroyed or eradicated, but simply deleted as if they never existed.

The whole game you were fighting for what you thought was the survival of mankind, but it turned out that the invaders fought for the survival of the rest of the universe outside the solar system. With all your invincibility, planet-destroying powers and ability of flight between galaxies, you were nothing but a pawn for a being of higher existence, that simply deleted nearly all of your universe in the blink of an eye.

And that is a cosmic horror I hadn't experienced before. This is hightened even more, since this game can be played in VR, where the contrast between the star- and galaxy-filled space before and the nothingness after the final mission is even more crushing.

If you have played Megaton: Rainfall, have you experienced it in the same way or did you get a different feeling from the ending?

Have you played a similar example, where the power fantasy was successfully subverted into a cosmic horror story? And I don`t mean only a tragic or "normal" horror at the end, but rather a cosmic horror similar to Lovecrafts style in its dreadfullness.

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