Progression


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Progression

DoraAlex Kriss' surreal Twine text adventure Progression (hosted here with generous permission and also able to play on the official site) is strange, and that's coming from someone writing this while eating hummus for breakfast and wearing My Little Pony gym clothes. At the start, you and your brother Erasmus are at the top of a dungeon ready to descend deeper. You don't have much... your sword, some rope, a sandwich. The narrative, presented entirely in text, might be a little hard to get into at first as it offers little explanation as to the purpose of your mission, what happened to get you there, and seems oddly disjointed, almost feverish at times, to boot. To play, all you can do is click the bolded text that represents choices as it appears in the text. Many choices will lock you out of making any others (unlike other Twine games which might have permitted you to exhaust all options before proceeding). You could gain a new item, added to your inventory in the upper-right corner, learn something new, or advance the story by solving puzzles. Or you could, y'know, die and fail horrible. And you will fail, since Progression is designed to be played multiple times, with some options in scenarios only becoming available when you've satisfied conditions in other playthroughs. So explore. Experiment. Die a little or a lot. Probably a lot, since trial-and-error is the name of the game here if you want to see all of the game's multiple true endings, some much more satisfying than others. Just choose "restart story" from the little inventory window to try again.

For most players, the biggest problem with Progression is going to be the unrelenting repetition. It's hard to predict what choices and actions will have different outcomes later on, especially since their effects can almost seem random and hard to predict, making the game feel less like a puzzle and more exhaustive searching. Did I already click this? Does this wording seem different than before? Have I stabbed/burned/ate/skull'd/Erasmus'd everything in this sequence yet? Since you have to start all the way over from the beginning each time you die, it'll take a lot of patience to uncover everything, especially since some elements actually incorporate grinding. It's not random, of course, just hard to intuit, though the game definitely has some real puzzles that depend on knowing your environment and using the proper items. The only way to keep track of choices and changes, however, is to do so yourself by writing them down, which is a massive feat considering how many variables there are, and also that it can be difficult to figure out which of your actions caused the new shift. It's a lot to ask of players, and "user friendly" and "challenging" don't have to be on opposite sides of the fence like the Hatfields and the McCoys.

But while some players may find Progression's, um, progression a bit too close to fumbling around in the dark to persist, others will find enough intrigue in the morphing narrative to sally forth. The way the choices affect the text means replaying often offers enough change to take some of the sting out of the repetition, and each area is small enough that a replay to get back to where you were, or just try something different, can be a matter of seconds. Progression is a unique experience, and as mentioned a very strange one. It's also creative. Frustrating. Evocative. Punishing. Mocking? If you enjoy Twine fiction and love seeing the different ways the medium can be used to create experiences, Progression is well worth your time. At least one of the endings makes the story feel painful and personal, though the scarce narrative makes it surprisingly easy to project. Others may find it too much of an uphill battle. If you don't mind playing a game that feels like that old story about the blind men and the elephant, Progression's mystifying nature will be part of its charm.

Play Progression

Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Hey! I just played through this game, and I'm 99% I got all the endings. I know that walkthroughs are useful to me, so I figured I would at least post a short walkthrough along with my interpretation of the story.

I've tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible, and I hope I've succeeded.

Level I

There are a few actions you can take here.

The skull is the most prominent of these. You can get it by choosing to look around ("Erasmus" -> "this place" or "forever"). Once you have spotted it, you can choose to hide it or give it to Erasmus. Giving it to Erasmus opens up an odd conversation tree, whereas hiding the skull keeps it in your inventory. Once you have given Erasmus the skull, you can give him rope to put it on his belt or eat your sandwich.

To get the Riddle ending, you must pick the "father" and "creature" options (and have gotten the Ascend ending...? I'm not sure.)

Level II

Ooh, scary darkness! You have the option to stay in the "darkness" or let Erasmus light his "torch". Some paths are closed when you are in the light. However, if you gave Erasmus the skull and the rope on Level I, it will start to glow automatically.

Here's where things start to get bloodier, with the first death for each brother.

"Step(ing) aimlessly" in the dark leads to your death by falling.

Erasmus's first death is on your hands, however. If you ate your sandwich on Level I, being "ravenously hungry" (in the dark) causes you to kill him and eat him. Urgh. This isn't game over, though. Erasmus can die all he likes, but you can still continue.

Soon you will arrive at a sign, which presents you with the option to draw your sword and fight, or keep it sheathed. Drawing your sword will give you another chance to sheath it, or you can continue fighting... and kill your brother.

Meanwhile, keeping your sword sheathed (or sheathing it after drawing it) gives you more options. You can just sit down and eat a sandwich. Such a good brother!

If you want to do something other than sit by the sidelines, you can use the "rope" to try and lasso Erasmus. The rope can fail or succeed to calm him. I think that it's random. I thought there were two factors- responding with "loved" or "fool" when talking about "creatures", and letting Erasmus light the torch- but when I do the 'positive' actions ("loved" and "darkness") sometimes he won't calm down. It is still possible that I am missing factors though.

If the rope fails to calm down Erasmus, it's kill or be killed. If it succeeds, descend to Level III.

Or you can just use the skull, if you grabbed it. Either show it to Erasmus or break it to calm him automatically.

Meanwhile, if you gave Erasmus the skull and rope, you may find yourself to be rope-lacking. Don't worry, just pull out your sword and aim for the skull. Just put it away, or it'll be kill or be killed again.

Ah geez, almost forgot what happens if you eat Erasmus. You are presented with the same "draw" or "sheath" sign. If you draw your sword, you get to continue, but if you sheath it... you die. But hey, you get to pick your poison.

Level III

Almost like a text based adventure, you have more options at the bottom of your screen. There are several things you can do here...

First off, you have one last opportunity to chow down on your wilted-lettuce sandwich, and then you can stab your brother through the heart. So yeah. If you really want to die, attack the Sphinx.

Anyway, back to the paths.

The Riddle

In order to solve the riddle, you must have talked to Erasmus about "father" and "creatures" on Level I.

You may also need to complete the Ascend ending, I'm not sure.

For each of the two riddles, the answer is the second from the right, before "let me think about it".

Then you get the Riddle (Space) ending! Yay...?

The Tapestry

This puzzle involves one of the things I do best: setting things on fire.

If you look at (or try to use) the skull, it gives you a hint to ‘burn the remembered’. If you talk to the Sphinx about the tapestry, she mentions how the ‘cloth is memory’.

So what do you do? Burn it!

First, you must look at the torch to add the clasp as an interactable object. Then use the sword with the clasp and pick up the torch. Now, before you can use the torch with the tapestry, you have to look at the tapestry. The game will ask you several questions, and your answers will determine parts of the tapestry.

How do you see children?

Pesky = the children are urchins

Innocent = the children are princes

Boring = the children are young men

How do you regard women?

Pure = the virgin is cast into a pit

Nurturing = their mother is cast into a pit

Dishonest = the prostitute is cast into a pit

Women ultimately…

Forgive = the pit is her death

Leave = the pit is her exile

Forget = the pit is her depression

How do you regard heroes?

Admirable = their actions are heroic

Foolish = their actions are dangerous

A myth = their actions are dubious

Who runs your life?

Me = the figure is the moral compass

God = the figure is their father

Fate = the figure is their spiritual mentor

Burn it, and descend.

Level IV

Whee! Falling!

The answers that you give to the green text don’t matter.

Read the book, then begin to fight.

I don’t think there’s any way to punch out the shadow monster, as it almost always counterattacks. Instead, you must save up 500 XP from doing actions (1 action = 1 XP) to get the gun. Then just keep shooting. You have the opportunity to heal yourself, I would take it. The gun is free if you die and descend again.

After the shadow monster comes the Sphinx.

If Erasmus is dead:

After defeating the Sphinx, you will fight nothing. Then you must descend and kill the Orlech three times.

You then get the Bottom ending.

If Erasmus is alive:

Instead of fighting nothing, you fight Erasmus. After your action, he will begin to talk to you, and ask you to forgive him. You can still kill him, which will lead to the Bottom ending.

Or you can listen (defend) and forgive.

Then you can descend either forgive or kill the Orlech. If you forgive, you get the Ascend ending, whereas killing him gives you the Bottom ending.

Story

I’m going to get to the question that’s been weighing on my mind- which ending is the true one?

For the endings: There are two obvious candidates for true ending- the Riddle/Space ending, and the Ascend ending.

The Ascend ending involves forgiving the Orlech. The conclusion is more satisfying than the Riddle/Space ending, and the ascend message along with the congratulations makes me think it’s the true ending.

But what rules out the Riddle/Space ending? Nothing, really. It’s just cryptic, odd, and so out-of-place that I clicked around the screen for several seconds because I thought it was fake.

When I started writing this guide, I thought that the Ascend ending was the true ending, but I think that neither of them are true.

When trying to forgive the Orlech, he asks you how many times you’ve failed- and your character responds with the number of times you’ve died. At first, I thought it was just a minor segment, but then I realized- your character, Karl, is aware of dying. No matter what, he just ‘resets’, back at the start again. After ascending, he must descend again. After becoming free, YOU take it away by resetting. After death, he lives anew. He’ll just keep walking the same dungeon until the Orlech breaks him.

You are infected by the Orlech, there’s no doubt about it. Erasmus is sick, and he may be infected as well, but you are definitely infected. There are two big clues here- first, that you do reset after dying, and are aware of it. The psychic war for the body happens in the mind. In real life, you wouldn’t just pop right up after death. In the mind, more things are possible. The next clue is pretty big as well- Erasmus himself. On Level II, an interesting conversation happens. If you end up fighting Erasmus, he will talk about how you’ve changed, and if you gave him the skull, he’ll also talk about possession and the Orlech. Some smaller clues also appear- you’re willing to eat your brother due to an insatiable hunger, and when you pick “god” in the tapestry, the father is the Orlech, and you recognize him as such.

I get small hints from this game that it’s a metaphor for a sad life experience, likely involving depression/alcoholism and parents, but I’m not sure.

This is my first walkthrough (and post), and I had a surprising amount of fun writing it. I hope it helps someone out!

16 Comments

I can't tell if this is the last ending

The one that ends with "Blast off". It's such an abrupt change that it feels like it must be the end, but it's so unrelated that I feel like there must be some stuff I'm missing.
I read it as an interesting allegory for dealing with trauma and forgiveness at first, and then this spaceship thing comes out of nowhere and now I have no clue what this is

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merchantfan Author Profile Page August 4, 2014 5:24 PM

OK, I got to forgive his father, but I haven't figured out how to tell the Sphinx what the orloch is.

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Ablative Absolute Author Profile Page August 4, 2014 6:14 PM

I got to what seems like an ending, but it may not be.

Got over 500 exp from grinding, bought the gun, killed all the enemies, lived at the bottom of the dungeon and died. No spaceship or blast off ending, no forgiveness. Am left with 29 exp and a gun. Restarted and the gun was gone and I had my previous inventory, so I guess that was an ending as I can't continue the story with the gun.

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merchantfan Author Profile Page August 4, 2014 7:17 PM replied to Ablative Absolute

If you've tried getting to that point again, you get to retrieve the gun for free.

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merchantfan Author Profile Page August 4, 2014 7:28 PM replied to Ablative Absolute

OK

I managed to get the spaceship ending which was... strange. Not sure how I was able to answer the questions this time but maybe it was because I got all the other endings. It was a little anticlimactic though.

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SmallFish Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 5:16 AM

OK, I'd really appreciate some pointers

How do I set fire to the tapestry? I'm assuming that's what must be done. Also, how can I get the gun? Also any other paths you've found?

Thanks in advance!

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kr.gilde Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 9:42 AM

How many endings are there? I got

The one where you forgive him
The one where you live at the bottom
The spaceship one

Am I missing any endings?

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merchantfan Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 10:29 AM replied to kr.gilde

You can also turn into an orloch and eat your brother. Not quite an ending like the others but it's different. I don't know how you get specifically to it, but when you select *very hungry* you eat him.

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nighthawk Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 11:02 AM

Hey! I just played through this game, and I'm 99% I got all the endings. I know that walkthroughs are useful to me, so I figured I would at least post a short walkthrough along with my interpretation of the story.

I've tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible, and I hope I've succeeded.

Level I

There are a few actions you can take here.

The skull is the most prominent of these. You can get it by choosing to look around ("Erasmus" -> "this place" or "forever"). Once you have spotted it, you can choose to hide it or give it to Erasmus. Giving it to Erasmus opens up an odd conversation tree, whereas hiding the skull keeps it in your inventory. Once you have given Erasmus the skull, you can give him rope to put it on his belt or eat your sandwich.

To get the Riddle ending, you must pick the "father" and "creature" options (and have gotten the Ascend ending...? I'm not sure.)

Level II

Ooh, scary darkness! You have the option to stay in the "darkness" or let Erasmus light his "torch". Some paths are closed when you are in the light. However, if you gave Erasmus the skull and the rope on Level I, it will start to glow automatically.

Here's where things start to get bloodier, with the first death for each brother.

"Step(ing) aimlessly" in the dark leads to your death by falling.

Erasmus's first death is on your hands, however. If you ate your sandwich on Level I, being "ravenously hungry" (in the dark) causes you to kill him and eat him. Urgh. This isn't game over, though. Erasmus can die all he likes, but you can still continue.

Soon you will arrive at a sign, which presents you with the option to draw your sword and fight, or keep it sheathed. Drawing your sword will give you another chance to sheath it, or you can continue fighting... and kill your brother.

Meanwhile, keeping your sword sheathed (or sheathing it after drawing it) gives you more options. You can just sit down and eat a sandwich. Such a good brother!

If you want to do something other than sit by the sidelines, you can use the "rope" to try and lasso Erasmus. The rope can fail or succeed to calm him. I think that it's random. I thought there were two factors- responding with "loved" or "fool" when talking about "creatures", and letting Erasmus light the torch- but when I do the 'positive' actions ("loved" and "darkness") sometimes he won't calm down. It is still possible that I am missing factors though.

If the rope fails to calm down Erasmus, it's kill or be killed. If it succeeds, descend to Level III.

Or you can just use the skull, if you grabbed it. Either show it to Erasmus or break it to calm him automatically.

Meanwhile, if you gave Erasmus the skull and rope, you may find yourself to be rope-lacking. Don't worry, just pull out your sword and aim for the skull. Just put it away, or it'll be kill or be killed again.

Ah geez, almost forgot what happens if you eat Erasmus. You are presented with the same "draw" or "sheath" sign. If you draw your sword, you get to continue, but if you sheath it... you die. But hey, you get to pick your poison.

Level III

Almost like a text based adventure, you have more options at the bottom of your screen. There are several things you can do here...

First off, you have one last opportunity to chow down on your wilted-lettuce sandwich, and then you can stab your brother through the heart. So yeah. If you really want to die, attack the Sphinx.

Anyway, back to the paths.

The Riddle

In order to solve the riddle, you must have talked to Erasmus about "father" and "creatures" on Level I.

You may also need to complete the Ascend ending, I'm not sure.

For each of the two riddles, the answer is the second from the right, before "let me think about it".

Then you get the Riddle (Space) ending! Yay...?

The Tapestry

This puzzle involves one of the things I do best: setting things on fire.

If you look at (or try to use) the skull, it gives you a hint to ‘burn the remembered’. If you talk to the Sphinx about the tapestry, she mentions how the ‘cloth is memory’.

So what do you do? Burn it!

First, you must look at the torch to add the clasp as an interactable object. Then use the sword with the clasp and pick up the torch. Now, before you can use the torch with the tapestry, you have to look at the tapestry. The game will ask you several questions, and your answers will determine parts of the tapestry.

How do you see children?

Pesky = the children are urchins

Innocent = the children are princes

Boring = the children are young men

How do you regard women?

Pure = the virgin is cast into a pit

Nurturing = their mother is cast into a pit

Dishonest = the prostitute is cast into a pit

Women ultimately…

Forgive = the pit is her death

Leave = the pit is her exile

Forget = the pit is her depression

How do you regard heroes?

Admirable = their actions are heroic

Foolish = their actions are dangerous

A myth = their actions are dubious

Who runs your life?

Me = the figure is the moral compass

God = the figure is their father

Fate = the figure is their spiritual mentor

Burn it, and descend.

Level IV

Whee! Falling!

The answers that you give to the green text don’t matter.

Read the book, then begin to fight.

I don’t think there’s any way to punch out the shadow monster, as it almost always counterattacks. Instead, you must save up 500 XP from doing actions (1 action = 1 XP) to get the gun. Then just keep shooting. You have the opportunity to heal yourself, I would take it. The gun is free if you die and descend again.

After the shadow monster comes the Sphinx.

If Erasmus is dead:

After defeating the Sphinx, you will fight nothing. Then you must descend and kill the Orlech three times.

You then get the Bottom ending.

If Erasmus is alive:

Instead of fighting nothing, you fight Erasmus. After your action, he will begin to talk to you, and ask you to forgive him. You can still kill him, which will lead to the Bottom ending.

Or you can listen (defend) and forgive.

Then you can descend either forgive or kill the Orlech. If you forgive, you get the Ascend ending, whereas killing him gives you the Bottom ending.

Story

I’m going to get to the question that’s been weighing on my mind- which ending is the true one?

For the endings: There are two obvious candidates for true ending- the Riddle/Space ending, and the Ascend ending.

The Ascend ending involves forgiving the Orlech. The conclusion is more satisfying than the Riddle/Space ending, and the ascend message along with the congratulations makes me think it’s the true ending.

But what rules out the Riddle/Space ending? Nothing, really. It’s just cryptic, odd, and so out-of-place that I clicked around the screen for several seconds because I thought it was fake.

When I started writing this guide, I thought that the Ascend ending was the true ending, but I think that neither of them are true.

When trying to forgive the Orlech, he asks you how many times you’ve failed- and your character responds with the number of times you’ve died. At first, I thought it was just a minor segment, but then I realized- your character, Karl, is aware of dying. No matter what, he just ‘resets’, back at the start again. After ascending, he must descend again. After becoming free, YOU take it away by resetting. After death, he lives anew. He’ll just keep walking the same dungeon until the Orlech breaks him.

You are infected by the Orlech, there’s no doubt about it. Erasmus is sick, and he may be infected as well, but you are definitely infected. There are two big clues here- first, that you do reset after dying, and are aware of it. The psychic war for the body happens in the mind. In real life, you wouldn’t just pop right up after death. In the mind, more things are possible. The next clue is pretty big as well- Erasmus himself. On Level II, an interesting conversation happens. If you end up fighting Erasmus, he will talk about how you’ve changed, and if you gave him the skull, he’ll also talk about possession and the Orlech. Some smaller clues also appear- you’re willing to eat your brother due to an insatiable hunger, and when you pick “god” in the tapestry, the father is the Orlech, and you recognize him as such.

I get small hints from this game that it’s a metaphor for a sad life experience, likely involving depression/alcoholism and parents, but I’m not sure.

This is my first walkthrough (and post), and I had a surprising amount of fun writing it. I hope it helps someone out!

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Asthanius Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 7:04 PM

How do I get the

Ascend Ending? I assume it has to do with burning the tapestry, but every time I do, I fall through the floor. I also have "Orlech" as an answer option for the Sphinx, but I don't know what it actually is.

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merchantfan Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 10:47 PM replied to Asthanius

To get the Ascension ending,

don't kill your brother, burn the tapestry, then fight the first orloch (you'll probably need the gun for this). When you get to Erasmus, defend instead of fighting him. He won't hurt you and will talk to you. Forgive him then forgive the orloch.

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Asthanius Author Profile Page August 5, 2014 11:17 PM

Okay, now I'm really confused. Apparently I'm not very far at all, because

when I burn the tapestry, all I get is "is this falling?" and then I have to restart.

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Questioner Author Profile Page August 6, 2014 2:14 AM replied to Asthanius

Asthanius:

Are you sure you have to restart at that point?

It should be possible to scroll down a bit and interact with a green text.

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Asthanius Author Profile Page August 6, 2014 2:19 PM

Thanks so much! I never would have tried that.

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