El Paso, Elsewhere - TV Tropes (2024)

El Paso, Elsewhere - TV Tropes (1)

♫ I'm a ghoul, I'm a freak, I'm a f*ckin' demonMaking ghosts not a sound beyond screamin'Getting quiet cause they know I'm the final bossI'm a legend because I spoke with the lockbox ♫

"I tell myself it was always going to be a one-way trip. That's what love is. It's the trip between who you were and, whatever the hell you become next."

James Savage

El Paso, Elsewhere is a 2023 indie Fantastic Noir Third-Person Shooter game from Strange Scaffold for PC and Xbox. The story is written by Strange Scaffold's founder, Xalavier Nelson Jr., who also provides the voice acting for the Player Character and main vocals on several of the Hip-Hop tracks that feature on the game's soundtrack.

Folklorist and paranormal investigator James Savage has come back to his hometown of El Paso, where his vampire ex-girlfriend has punched a hole in the world. Either James pursues Draculae into the depths of the Void and kills her, or she'll make a deal with forces outside the universe to destroy humanity itself.

El Paso is a deliberate homage to both the Max Payne series and the original PlayStation in general, with the combat of the Quake games cited as another major influence. As James, you have an arsenal of weapons and the ability to temporarily slow down time while you aim. Each stage takes you deeper into the surreal, as you blast through legions of monsters.

On April 22, 2024, Variety announced that El Paso had been optioned for a feature film, with Lakeith Stanfield in talks to star.

I threw away six months and 11 days of being sober for a chance to write this list of tropes:

  • Addiction-Powered: The reason James is able to make his way through an army of monsters is because he's hopped up on a co*cktail of pharmaceuticals.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: James carries up to handful of stakes that are used up whenever they hit an enemy (but not the furniture).
  • Animated Armor: Present as one of the enemy types. They take hits onto their glowing spots or a sufficiently strong weapon like a shotgun to take them down, but not every single armor encountered is an active enemy.
  • Author Avatar: James Savage is voiced by Xalavier Nelson Jr., the game's narrative designer, who's also from El Paso. This effectively doubles as a shout-out to the original Max Payne, where its head writer Sam Lake played Max in all of the game's comic-book-style cutscenes.
  • Batman Gambit: Djedefre is too powerful for James to oppose directly, because Djedefre is hooked directly to a Force Beyond. Once James learns enough about him, he tells Djedefre point-blank that Djedefre is unknown and forgotten on Earth due to Draculae's manipulations. That infuriates Djedefre enough that he breaks his own tether to his patron, which makes him vulnerable, to fulfill James' challenge to fight him on equal terms.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Draculae, or "Janet Drake," according to a secret conversation you can find in the latter half of the game, actually was Dracula, or rather, was the person who inspired the original myth. She claims that storytellers decided she had to be a man, since they didn't think a woman could've done what she'd done.
  • Berserk Button:
    • At some point before he met Draculae, James fought a guy named the Puppeteer, who'd made unspecified deals with the faerie until he was more fey than man. The Void sics clones of that Puppeteer on you throughout the game, sometimes two at a time, and their appearance always infuriates the usually stoic James.
    • Djedefre ignores James' attempts to provoke him until he mentions that Draculae never spoke her creator's name once in the three years she and James were together.
  • Bullet Time: James can slow down time for short periods in order to line up accurate shots. This is broadly hinted to be because the only thing keeping him on his feet is a lethal co*cktail of drugs.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The primary conflict revolves around James undertaking a Suicide Mission inside of a Eldritch Location infested with Transhuman Abominations, Fallen Biblically Accurate Angels, and Malevolent Eldritch Entities from the Void Between the Worlds, all to stop his Ex-Girlfriend from kick-starting an apocalypse.
  • Dating Catwoman: Deconstructed. The relationship between James and Draculae is treated as a deeply toxic relationship rife with Gaslighting, Domestic Abuse, and the emotional trauma that continues to haunt James even after their separation.
  • Death Seeker: From the beginning, James outright says that he considers his journey into the Void in an attempt to stop Draculae "a one-way trip". Subverted in the "SCARS FADE" ending, where he realizes that a part of him still wants to live, even as his body is giving out from its injuries, and so he accepts Draculae's vial of soulsblood and turn into a vampire himself. Played straight in "THANKS FOR REMEMBERING" ending, where he quietly accepts his incoming death, content that he at least stopped Draculae in the process.
  • Determinator: It doesn't matter how far his sanity unravels while fighting tooth and nail against the hordes of Transhuman Abominations spat out by the Void Between the Worlds, James will stop at nothing to slay Draculae and prevent the apocalypse. This is even reflected in El Paso's Smash to Black Game Over screen, where a single Punctuated! For! Emphasis! message is shown before Savage respawns: "YOU KEEP GOING." Draculae gets her own second wind after being taken down once, with the similar message: "SHE KEEPS GOING."
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Wooden furniture within the hotel is destructible, and some of these drop stakes upon their destruction.
  • Domestic Abuse: Draculae was psychologically, emotionally, and financially abusive towards James throughout the latter half of their relationship. Draculae at one point tries to retort that she was never physically violent towards him, James in turn says while that is technically true, she sure still liked to regularly use her capacity for violence as threat against him, referencing an incident where she intimidated him through a demonstration of her vampiric powers by effortlessly crushing a brick in her hands in front of him.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Defied. The narrative refuses to portray the abuse James has suffered at Draculae's hands as anything other than horrific, humiliating, and intensely traumatizing.
  • Dracula: Draculae AKA Janet Drake is a female version of the infamous bloodsucking Count, whose true identity and bloody reputation was distorted by conflicting accounts over the course of her existence until Bram Stoker's take inevitably became the interpretation that stuck. For a time, Janet was actually fine with this as the misinformation surrounding her legend helped protect her Secret Identity, allowing her to continue living in the modern day with a low profile. But inevitably her feelings on the matter started to gradually shift the more her megalomania grew.
  • Eldritch Location: The hotel, thanks to the ritual. The only part that could be considered normal is the first floor lobby but every floor after that is a series of Alien Geometries that only get more surreal the further down James goes, with some floors outright housing outdoor areas. And even the indoor floors seemingly lack a ceiling, which at least allow James to see the lights from the sky that guide towards his objective.
  • Elite Mook: Ocasionally James encounters Palette Swaped variants of the usual enemies that are slightly stronger than their regular counterparts.
  • Experienced Protagonist: The events of the game is far from the first time James has tangled with paranormal threats and encountered the Void, and he makes frequent references to his previous experiences with both.
  • Gaslighting: James's relationship with Draculae is an eerily realistic example. They met and fell in love at a point when Draculae was deliberately trying to live more like a human. The longer they were together, though, the more Draculae backslid into her old ways, killing people and emotionally manipulating James. At one point, Draculae offhandedly told James to "stay there" before leaving, which left him stuck on his couch for four days straight. While there's implications that their relationship started out as genuine, there's no doubt by the end that she actively took pleasure in his misery.
  • Genius Loci: At several points, James comments on how the Void seems to have a mind of its own and, much more to his worry, a rather twisted sense of humor.
  • Giant Mook: The burned men, which look like Frankenstein-esque monstrosities made out of multiple bodies. They have multiple multiple health bears, and after depleting their current health bar James has to stake them to move onto the next bar.
  • Glass Cannon: James, especially on higher difficulties. His weapons are fairly damaging but basic enemies only need a few good hits to kill him, with some attacks from later enemies capable of killing him with one direct hit even at full health.
  • Guns Akimbo: Your starting weapon is a pair of dual-wielded .45s.
  • Hidden Eyes: The game's artstyle has everybody's eyes be shrouded in perpetual shadow, with the exception of enemy types with Glowing Eyes.
  • Horrorcore: The game's Hip-Hop soundtrack is loaded with deranged ultra-violent lyrics that wouldn't be too out of place in a MadWorld level and similarly never fails to kicks in whenever Savage is about to whoop some serious ass.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Djedefre was a powerful pharaoh who completed a pyramid in his own lifetime, became immortal, and sired the Lord of All Vampires... but he was killed by one of the first "gentlemen's monster-hunting societies", and by the time James encounters him he's little more than a pawn of Zimforth.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: From the second James enters the Void, each area he explores is a combination of scenes taken from Draculae's life and/or the points where his intersected with hers. Much of the game's levels are surreal remixes of the hotel room in El Paso where the ritual started, but the deeper you get, the more you run into graveyards, castles, run-down Victorian boarding houses, vaguely Egyptian ruins, and filthy slaughterhouses.
  • The Last Dance: The opening monologue from James make it clear he does not plan to walk out of the hotel alive, since if the monsters or Draculae don't kill him, the co*cktail of pills he's taking to sustain him will.
  • Leap and Fire: Just like Max Payne, James can dive through the air in slow-motion while continuing to fire at enemies.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Some of the floors of the motel feature this. The "keys" take the shape of anatomically-correct human hearts.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The common vampires James shoots en masse have this kind of look and could be easily mistaken for Ghouls themselves.
  • Minimalist Cast: There may be plenty of hostages to rescue (or kill) and there are other characters brought up in audio logs and Shows Within a Show, but the characters with any significance to the main plot consist of James Savage, Draculae, Djedefre and The Voice Of The Void.
  • Modular Difficulty: The game launched with the modifiers menu, allowing to customize the game speed, enemy damage multiplier, how much would the pills heal, and whenever the player would get infinite stakes or Bullet Time. Preset difficulties came after an update.
  • Monster Mash: The game has James fight through a kitchen sink of classical monsters, including mummified Vampires, Werewolves, Stringy Haired Ghost Girls, Armored Knights, Biblically Accurate Angels, Frankenstein-esque messes made out of multiple bodies and even a resurrected pharaoh .
  • Mook Maker: The Puppeteer. It can't attack directly but constantly summons puppets to attack James.
  • Multiple Endings: Two different endings of Bittersweet flavor, depending on how many hostages James saves throughout the game.
    • SCARS FADE: Having saved most of Draculae's hostages, a mortally wounded Draculae is impressed enough to give James a vial of her soulsblood to turn himself into a vampire, mockingly telling him he'll be able to become old and cruel like her. After reflecting on his path and apparent death wish getting to this point, James decides that his scars will fade and drinks from the vial to keep going.
    • THANKS FOR REMEMBERING: James has killed enough innocent people getting to Draculae that she deliberately shatters her soulsblood vial, claiming it'll spare James from becoming like her. James reflects that for all of her power, all she's managed to do is die at the bottom of a two-star hotel in El Paso, with the last shot showing him succumbing to his own injuries in the hotel lobby.
  • Our Angels Are Different: An Airborne Mook based on Biblically Accurate Angels show up as an enemy type.

    James: ...Huh. Haven't thought about these since Sunday school. Intrusive. Delirious imagery with a terrifying truth.

  • Occult Detective: James Savage is a mixture of this and a Hardboiled Detective. having the paranormal expertise of the former with the dress sense, Private Eye Monologue and street smarts of the latter.
  • Off the Wagon: James has a history of pill addiction and begins the game by deliberately relapsing after nearly seven months of being sober, in order to mainline stimulants so he can stop Draculae in time.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: A year before El Paso, Elsewhere came out, Strange Scaffold released El Paso, Nightmare, a stand alone side story prequel chronicling the misadventures of Luis Rojas and his attempts to escape the motel, in a form of a wave-based First-Person Shooter.
  • Sad Battle Music: yesterday's sobriquet is tomorrow's sorrowEl Paso, Elsewhere - TV Tropes (2), which plays during the first phase of Draculae's boss fight.
  • See You in Hell: In the "SCARS FADE" ending Draculae's last words is to spitefully tell James that she is looking forward to meeting him again one day in Hell, once he has "grown old and cruel" and his sins has finally caught up to him, much it happened to her.
  • Show Within a Show: Pill Cop, a self-mocking radio show that can be found in certain levels.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Or rather, slowly slipping back into evil. For a time, Draculae was content to live as a human and seemed to genuinely love James. However, as time went on, she began to indulge more in her vampiric urges, leaving behind an increasingly long trail of bodies until that bloodlust turned into full-blown megalomania. All the while, she became progressively more emotionally abusive to James, at first to keep him loyal to her but eventually out of pure sadism.
  • Teleport Spam: The sole movement method of The Brides.
  • Terse Talker: James's narration involves a Rorschach-esque combination of this and the other extreme at times.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: James can - either accidentally or deliberately - kill off the Innocents instead of saving them and still be able to progress through the campaign. Killing at least 10 of them does bring him an alternate ending however.
  • Wight in a Wedding Dress: The Brides, which are Stringy Haired Ghost Girls clad in Blood Splattered Wedding Dresses and veils that move around by constantly teleporting and toss out slowly homing balls of dark energy at James.
  • Wooden Stake: James's melee weapon of choice. They one shot most mooks, deal heavy damage to larger mooks and bosses (in fact James has to stake them to progress onto their next lifebar) and seemingly gives James a bit of priority over certain melee attacks.
  • World of Symbolism: Broadly speaking, El Paso is about both personal addiction and toxic relationships with the levels representing memories from both James and Draculae's lives.

My name is James Savage. Here's to believing.

El Paso, Elsewhere - TV Tropes (2024)
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