tvtropes look at the submachines







“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.

All of the games are point-and-click style puzzles and (excepting the two 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, thoughYour 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.

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.
  • 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).
  • Beautiful Void – unless you find the structural decay, haunting minimalist music and utter lack of population unnerving (see Nightmare Fuel below).
  • Big Brother Is Watching-There’s always a feeling that you are being watched by some unknown entity, especially after game #3.
  • Bragging Rights Reward – Collect all twenty “secrets” in Sub 2 and you get… nothing. (Collecting the secrets in games 4 and 5, however, let you view extras.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Submachine 6 also sees players engage with the computer elements of the machine.
  • The SubNet Exploration Project is devoted largely to presenting many of the various fan theories as to what’s really going on.
  • Claustrophobes might want to think twice as well.
  • High Octane Nightmare Fuel – When you play Submachine Network Exploration Experience, type in 666 for the coordinates and see where you end up.
  • 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.
    • The “or was it?” part comes in when you realize what your inventory is at the beginning of the second game – the diary entry, as well as the Wisdom Gem you can find in the extended version of the first.
    • However, you no longer have the coin…
  • In Network Exploration Experience, type in 815.
  • 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.
  • Cosmetic Award – In Submachine 2 collecting all the “secrets” (tiny spheres hidden around the world) yields … absolutely nothing. (In 4 and 5 they unlock a “Making of” section. 6 has five secret areas which yield extra information.)
  • 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, and if This Troper remembers correctly, only one piece of vegetation.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mind Screw – Becomes particularly prominent in the second installment.
  • Nightmare Fuel – This walks hand-in-hand with Your Mileage May Vary, as stated above. People who have solitude issues should probably think a bit before playing this game.
  • Nothing Is Scarier
  • 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.
  • Pixel Hunt – Quite often.
  • Portal Network
  • Red Herring – Quite a few in Submachine F L F.
  • Shout Out – Submachine 2 opens woth the words “I didn’t wake up. And I do remember”, parodying the opening of “The Crimson Room”.
  • The Wiki Rule – Submachine Wiki.
  • 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.