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This page is a short guide on how to play the game. There is no in-depth information in it.
Starting a new game you will see you (a purple blob), a dog near you (there is always a dog around) and maybe some building walls. The purple blob is an alien parasite that can hop onto other creatures, invade their bodies connecting to the nervous system and control them. The catch is that the parasite cannot survive without a host (your energy steadily decreases with each passing turn) so it must use any available hosts to replenish the energy and for various other reasons. By the way, the parasite is much faster than the average human, so you have 2 actions in any turn, while all NPCs only have one.
To grab onto a host, you must move on the cell it occupies using numpad keys or QWEADZXC keys. Space button skips a full turn. After you attach to the host, the HUD will display the "Harden grip" action with a number 1 in front. You can press the number 1 to select this action. It will spend a turn and the grip parameter will rise. When it rises enough, the "Invade host" action will appear. Press 2 and if the action was successful, you will be in control of the host. If it wasn't, you're most likely dead since you don't have enough energy for a second attempt!
After gaining a host you will see its parameters on the HUD. Notice the red "Control" number. The red number means it's very low (and it will lower with each turn). Low host control brings two problems with it: the first is that the host might be able to tear the parasite off its body and run away. The second one is that you cannot compel the host to move where you want it to. You have two actions available: "Reinforce control" and "Leave host". Try to keep control high enough so that you can move around without any problems.
Notice that most of the actions will spend some energy. If the parasite is currently controlling a host, host energy will be used for the action instead. And the energy of the parasite will gradually restore up to the maximum with each turn. The energy of the host, however, will be passively spent each turn even when standing still. That means that no host will survive forever and at some point it will die and you will need to find a fresh one.
The goals screen and short messages in the window should help you to progress through the early part of the game. At the start the HUD only has the bare minimum functions available. Progressing through the initial goals you will gain access to more screens.
The first key part of the game is evolution. The parasite is an extremely flexible biological entity that can learn how to solve survival problems by quickly evolving itself. Evolving costs host energy. The first improvement you gain through this is the brain probe. The probe allows the parasite to learn things that its host knows - skills, items knowledge and, later in the game, plot information. Most of the other improvements are bundled into evolution directions. After you choose the direction to evolve and spend some time waiting you will gain a random level 1 improvement from that direction. You can increase any known improvement up to the 4th level by evolving further. Improvements give you access to static attribute bonuses, body features and new abilities.
By evolving some improvements you will gain access to the body features screen. As you might've guessed, the body features belong to the current host. Growing any body feature also costs energy. The features might modify the host body parameters or give you access to new abilities.
After you evolve the brain probe, you can probe the brain of the current host to gain knowledge about the items it possesses and objects in the area. At the start of the game you will be forced to leave dead bodies everywhere and sometimes attack random humans in plain sight of other ones. It is a sure way to cause panic and one of the key things you need to learn about is sewers. Every area in the game has sewer hatches. Using these you can escape into the sewers switching the game into the region mode and opening a region map. The region map marks the panic level of the areas with question marks and exclamation points. The higher is the panic in the area the more police will show up to patrol it. While the player is in the region mode the time passes much quicker so you need to be careful not to lose your host.
The early game ends with the parasite gaining access to the microhabitat and asking the question "What am I?" The microhabitat gives the player a place that has some degree of safety. And the raised question brings the game into a middle phase.
Note that you can use weapons your host has after you've learned about them. To do this, point the mouse cursor on an NPC (the cursor will turn red) and click the left mouse button. Melee weapons can only be used to attack NPCs in the cells adjacent to the location of your host. The ranged weapons can be used to shoot anything you see on screen.
After raising the human society knowledge to a needed level the parasite asks itself the question "What am I?" This gives the player access to the event timeline screen. This screen lists the timeline of events that led to the parasite being somewhere in the city. At the start of the game the parasite does not remember or know much about the events, so most of them are blanks. Using the few things it remembers as a starting point, the player can investigate the clues to find out what exactly happened and what needs to be done to win the game. Each event has a location (given in parenthesis if known and marked on region map with an icon), one or more participants (which can be investigated to find their photos and current locations) and flavor text.
While moving around the event area you will find clues lying around. You can pick them up and study them to gain more clues and knowledge about the events. If you have the knowledge of the event participants, their current locations will be marked on the region map. In these areas you can find these individuals, control them and use brain probe to learn more information. Some of them will, of course, already be dead due to the government coverup of the whole situation.
When you learn the information about the particular key event in the timeline, the parasite will remember what it wanted to do initially. This knowledge will progress you further into the endgame phase.
Endgame phase consists of following the plot goals described in the goals screen.