Dr. Hans Klamp: Putting Some Science in this Fiction
When we last left our heroes (hey, writing segues is hard), they were going to the Museum
of Natural History to talk to Dr. Hans Klamp about mitochondria. After the security guard
tries to covertly pick up Aya’s phone number, Aya and Daniel enter Klamp’s office. Klamp
is diligently typing away and seems content to ignore them, until the pair force the issue.
When she sees Klamp’s face, Aya has another one of her interminable hospital flashbacks;
More subtly, Klamp does a double-take when he sees Aya as well.
What follows is a fascinating lecture on the nature of mitochondria from the cranky and
condescending Klamp, with occasional interjections from our two incredulous cops. Adorably, Aya and Daniel exchange several long looks during this conversation. Thanks to the old graphics, you have to imagine what the “Can you believe this asshole?” expressions on their faces look like, but if they’d tried to do this scene today it would probably be
undermined by uncanny-valley-weirdness anyway. You don’t have to dig too deep in this
scene to see Klamp’s low opinion of Aya and Daniel is the condescension that highly
educated people tend to show towards people whom they consider simple. Most hide it, Klamp is just too much of a misanthrope to care. Like quite a few things in PE, it’s disturbingly true to life.
Most of the information that Klamp provides in this scene is actually true, which ties into
another point I’ve been longing to make for a long time: Parasite Eve is good Sci-Fi. I’ve
read criticisms of this game that argued that the hugely improbable plot is a glaring
weakness, but I disagree; not only that, I think that having that attitude means that
you’ve completely missed the point of how sci-fi works. No one has ever said that Wells’
The Time Machine is a bad book because of how unlikely it is that we’ll ever invent a time
What Sci-Fi does is start with a sound concept, backed by scientific fact, and then
extrapolate it for the sake of creating drama. In PE the concept is that we don’t know
nearly as much as we’d like to about the various organisms that inhabit our bodies (true),
and there can be big problems when those organisms can potentially turn against us (also
true). PE does extrapolate very liberally by making it’s mitochondria sentient and taking
over a brain (even if our mitochondria did kill us, chances are it wouldn’t gloat about
it), so if you want to make the argument that “Science Fantasy” is a bit more apt than
Sci-Fi, fair enough. The fact remains that the concept at the core is sound, and you
needn’t look any further than cancer to see how scary parts of your own body turning
against you can be.
For those sticklers for realism who can’t tolerate the fanciful exaggerations of PE, well
I’m sorry, but “Get cancer and die” is always a hard concept to base a game around. Things
tend to fall apart during the funding stage.
Klamp clams up once Eve’s name comes up, and Aya and Daniel head back to the station. I
reckon that they will regret not shooting him and hiding his body when they had the chance: If video games have taught me anything, it’s that all scientists should be shot on sight.
The Ghost of Manhattan
Back at the station, the NYPD learns that people are still gathering at the stage for
“Melissa’s” concert in Central Park, even though the concert has been cancelled in lieu of
Melissa transforming into Eve and becoming public enemy No.1. It may seem unlikely, but
keep in mind this was before ubiquitous cell phones and mobile devices; I can buy that in
the ’90s, a lot of people might not have made the connection between Melissa what’s-her-
name and the hellish Carnegie Hall incident. It wouldn’t have been in the newspapers since Aya didn’t tell anyone that Melissa WAS Eve until the press conference, and a lot of people weren’t online much at that time. Isn’t it strange that 1998 wasn’t that long ago?
Chief Baker is insistent that they can’t let another massacre occur, but before he can
make any plans, Daniel freaks out and runs out of the station– apparently, his son and
ex-wife were planning to go to the concert. In fact, Ben is especially determined to go
because it was supposed to be a reunion of sorts for their broken home (awwww). Baker
sends Aya out after a guilt-ridden Daniel, and the two of them speed off in the squad car
to Central Park. We even get a nifty FMV of Daniel driving like a lunatic.
The version of Manhattan that PE takes place in is really a ghost-Manhattan; you barely see any people, and after Day Two the police officially evacuate the city, meaning there are
about a hundred people total left in the city. You really start to notice the emptiness
during this part of the game, when you’re traversing the hugeness of Central Park with
no NPCs in sight. Of course a big part of this was motivated by technical limitations, but
nevertheless it adds an interesting feel to the game: they very purposefully set the game
in Manhattan, then equally purposefully took out all of the people. After a while you
start to long for even one of those greedy-bitch-NPCs that sell you potions at three times
This may be because I happen to have lived within a short train ride of NYC for my whole life, but just the thought of that crowded place being devoid of people is scary. It’s just wrong on some primal level I can’t explain.
Central Park: It Would Be So Nice If You Could Detect This Collision
Daniel can’t go into Central Park because his arm starts catching fire as soon as
he gets near it. He makes a fuss, but eventually agrees to stay put while Aya goes in and
hopefully saves his wife and son. No pressure or anything. After the very cutscene-heavy
segment we’ve just finished, Central Park is one long, long dungeon, made even longer by
the fact that the game’s extremely fussy collision detection can lead to you missing key
items and getting stuck. If there’s one flaw I have to call this game out for, even as one
of it’s biggest fans, it’s the collision detection; I think a lot of people stopped playing PE
around this point because they couldn’t find the Zoo Key, and that’s a shame. It’s in a
drawer that requires such a precise position to open, I usually mess it up a few times
even though I know exactly where it is.
I’ll finish up Central Park and Day Two next time; I was going to do the rest of Day Two
all as one entry, but with the amount of story in this section that wasn’t a great idea.
Next time: Two (count ’em, TWO!) boss fights, more things are lit on fire, and Aya freaks
out. It’s about time, really.