In which we see capitalism at its finest, change worlds and see dead people.
Welcome to the docks!
We’re at the dockside of Finkton, the part of Columbia belonging to Fink Manufacturing. Mr. Fink is the one industrialist mentioned before: “They will work, or they will die trying”.
The PA keeps reminding everyone to not try to rise above ones’ position in society and to be happy about having a job at all. One of Mr. Fink’s announcements regards the 16-hour-workday – he’d love to give his workers more free time, but he can’t. A hand not working will turn towards the devil’s temptations, so he is morally obliged to keep his employees busy.
Lying around is a voicelog (how the hell did it end up here?) from a woman whose husband worked at the monument, got cancer and got saved by Mr. Fink – by encasing him in what is effectively a mechsuit. “Handyman” is the term. I guess this log intended to
a) give some background for a new type of enemy and
b) tell the player that this new uber-mook was once a human with a family just doing his job.
It succeeds at one of these.
We follow Elisabeth, who is throwing tears in our way and is ultimately catched by Comstock’s men. The shooty time ends with our first (scripted) meeting with a handyman. Elisabeth still holds a grudge against us, but as she really wants to get out of Columbia, she’s out of choices. We still have to find the gunsmith to stock the Vox Populi, so we have to get into Finkton. Outside of the recruiting office we find some workers with their bags and in some cases their families who came here looking for, well, work. The bags are lootable. It would be nothing unusual to find food or money in them. Ammunition? In the bag of an unarmed civilian looking for a job? It’s bad enough to find it in desks and file cabinets around shooty time-areas, but it’s still a videogame and you need to restock. But during quiet time in a worker’s luggage…?
We proceed inside the recruitment office (the “Worker Induction Center”) and get informed by several signs that Fink Mfg is currently not looking for workers. Several applicants inside the office are not happy about it and try to argue with the clerks – an actual discussion, not just a two-liner and awkward silence. To get where we want to go we take the employees only-staircase to the service elevator.
On our way down we get another load of Fink’s propaganda. “Be the bee”. And of course, the payment in company credits for the company store is only for the best of the boys, as every other store would only rip them off. The designers did their homework.
Down on the plaza we witness another excellent example of the local working conditions: work is distributed on a per-task-basis and gets put up for auction. The man who offers to complete the task the fastest gets it. I don’t even want to know what happens if you don’t meet the quota. Or maybe you just get paid for the time offered and every missing minute comes right out of the food moneyz.
But let’s go to the gunsmith. He isn’t home, obviously. He has been sacked by Comstock for his affiliation with the Vox Populi. His grieving wife, standing in front of a buddhist altar (a non-Comstock religious symbol) tells us that he would have been dragged inside the Good Time Club which we now have.. to.. find..? Wait. I’ve been there during the pillaging of the area. I’ve been told to come back when it’s showtime. A small optional dialog would have gone a long way here. Anyway, it’s showtime. Inside the theatre, Mr. Fink throws several waves of enemys at me – I have to prove myself before I can become his next head of security, because that’s what you do with the public enemy number one.
Behind the stage lies the dungeon where Fink locks up rebelling workers. The overall floor-plan doesn’t seem practical, but things could be worse. We are – of course – too late to rescue Chen Lin, our gunsmith. But lo and behold: Elisabeth can open a tear. Into another version of Columbia. Where Chen is not dead. The fact that at least Elisabeth can pass tears had been established before, so within the game this doesn’t seem too strange. Let’s change dimensions.
On our way back we pass a packed prison (in the Columbia where we started were some small cells) and pass some guards we shot on our way in. They are confused and have a bad case of nosebleed. According to Elisabeth, they seem to remember that they should be dead. In the other… city. Somehow. The whole jump through the rift is such a heavy invocation of plot magic that I’m willing to accept this explanation at face value.
As you might have guessed, we find our gunsmith confused and bleeding in his workshop. Without his machines. Telling us to speak up, he can’t hear us over the noise, and we better watch where we’re going, these things are dangerous. In this world he got out of jail, but his wife (another person in this world – and he now has a Comstock-shrine) tells us that all his machinery was confiscated and brought to the office in… the shantytown, where the workers live. What? Seriously? They don’t have an office with storage for confiscated equipment on a place NOT an elevator-ride and a settlement full of angry workmen away? What could possibly go wrong…
Up next, behind an elevator-ride (Metropolis, anyone?): the shantytown of Fink Mfg. But that’s something for another post.