Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review and Commentary On Sci Fi 'Helix' Mini Series For Your Old School Gaming

Helix came out last night while I was playing a game of AD&D Star Trek. I happen to love stuff like the 1970's Andromeda Strain and many of the 90's 'hot vector' science fiction thrillers of yester year. Helix seems to be threading that sort of arch. There is a real sense of both entertainment and where is this E ticket ride going? 
Can this world be gamed in? Yes I do believe this world can easily be adapted for a 'Call of Cthulhu' campaign.

Watch It Right Over

According to the SyFy Channel press release, "Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic, Arctic Biosystems, to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that may hold the key to mankind’s salvation or total annihilation. However, the lethal threat is just the tip of the iceberg, and as the virus evolves, the chilling truth begins to unravel."

Helix seems to really push the right buttons as far as paranoia, desperation, fear, and loathing. This one might have the makings of a real nasty stretch of television viewing. Personally, I think the production seems interesting and it unfolds like a modern Call of Cthulhu adventure. In fact this production could well serve as a nice template for a Call of Cthulhu campaign with little effort. 

Everything here is solid and the viewing experience is very entertaining. But this isn't a world personally I would want to live in. Ever. This is a world where viruses are rewriting us and where that's going remains to be seen.

I remember seeing many of the trailers and previews for Helix this past Summer. They looked pretty interesting and intriguing.  Like the one below here. 

 Generally speaking the show hits the high points of horror, science fiction, arctic paranoia, and entertainment quite well. All in all I enjoyed the first episode. 

OSR Gaming In The World Of Helix
File:Arctic Biosystems.jpg
Arctic Biosystems where their isn't any international oversight and we can play God!
And your PC's are going to be 'evolving' into something new! 

This show plays on many of the themes we've seen in John Carpenter's The Thing, the Andromeda Strain, and many,many, other films and shows. Isolation, paranoia, fear of darkness, disease, the monster with us all, etc.
There is endless room here to adventure within the world of Helix. The mini series makes a very nice gateway into a good solid Call of Cthulhu style setting for a one shot series. 

Arctic Biosystems seems like a very nice scapegoat for all your end of the world situations to be hung on. These folks know exactly what's been happening up at that isolated facility and who knows what other holding that your team might need to be sent to for investigation. 

 I was reading up on wiki on some of the background of the series and this little bit of info leaped out at me. 
According to wiki: 

"Porsandeh stated that a major feature of the series is that each episode represents the events of a single day within the story: thus the entire thirteen episode first season takes place in under two weeks of in-universe time.
According to Porsandeh, Helix will not make use of flashback scenes to give details about character backstories, the way the scifi series Lost did. Instead, a key point is that viral infection will at times make characters feverish and hallucinate (which is a real-life symptom of several infections). Thus certain characters will at times experience hallucinations, i.e. reliving particularly traumatic past events. The distinction Porsandeh pointed out is that a flashback is presented as objectively true, while the hallucination scenes in Helix are presented from the characters' feverish hallucinatory states, and thus their unreliable narration will contain several errors which do not match events as they actually occurred."
 What a great little plot device to unleash on PC's. A series of mini adventures within the context of the primary adventure while your PC's suffers a fever dream and is slowly eaten by the virus from the inside out.  Yeah, we have seen this in television mini series before but its a nice device to play around with in a game like Call of Cthulhu.
 So what happens after this episode?
Well this is only day one after all. And we've got twelve more to go.
On Line Life Support 

The official website HERE
A good Huffington Post Article That Will Get You Caught Up (warning there are spoilers in it).


  1. Great stuff as always Needles. My wife and I just watched both episodes. It was interesting, but I wonder if they aren't trying to build in "so many twists" that its going to go from intriguing to inane..ala Lost or BSG. So far its interesting and I am willing to watch more, but my spidey senses are tingling a warning.

  2. Wait and see Fenway, that's all we can do at this point. I'm hoping for more positive then negative right now. But let's wait to see where the production goes at this point. Thanks for the comment.


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