"The Luminous Underground"—Blast spirits out of a haunted subway system!

We’re proud to announce that The Luminous Underground , the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app.

It’s 30% off until Dec 24th!

Blast spirits out of a haunted subway system! Can your team defeat rival exterminators, shoddy gear, and City Hall?

You’ve been a daemon dissipator for years, carrying a rainbow blaster and learning the ins and outs of magic to zap electromagnetic monsters into static. After following the jobs from one end of Septenland to the other, you’ve settled down here in Barrington: an old city. A weird city. A city boiling with spirits, specters, and daemons. It’s the perfect place to start a company of your own.

The Luminous Underground is a 660,000-word interactive secondary-world science fantasy novel by Phoebe Barton, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Your team is just you and McCowan, your friend and business partner, but it’s hard for two people to run an operation like this. When you applied for a contract with the Barrington Transit Commission, you didn’t expect anything but a flat rejection. But you got it! And now you’ve got to find more teammates, sharpen your skills, and put a dent in the spirit population while staying well clear of the electrified rail.

But you’ll find that Barrington’s underground is much more than its tunnels. There’s a forest down here, teeming with crystalline trees that glitter under your flashlight. There’s a portal to the Vitalscape, a super-luminous alternative realm of being. You can enter it through a mural, but you’ll need a crystal tuning fork to get back. There are giants, robots, daemons, and even a giant robot daemon.

Of course, corruption and mismanagement festers down here. Is this all part of your competitors’ attempts to secure the subway contract for their own? Is City Hall’s stingy maintenance budget to blame? How much can you get paid not to fix this problem?

Are you ready to patrol your patch of subway, or will you stand by and let it crumble?

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, aromantic, or asexual.
• Descend into a magic-drenched subway and face down spirits beneath the streets!
• Help time travelers integrate into the incredible world of today.
• Dig up megacorporate corruption while you dust off vacuum tubes.
• Investigate mysterious disappearances down in the underground.
• Cooperate with other outfits in town, or act on your own
• Lead the mayor to safety through a gauntlet of terrors!
• Save the lives of a missing crew under an impossible sky.
• Calm down a giant woman who’s got you in the palm of her hand.

Strange things are crawling out of the subway. Someone better call you.

We hope you enjoy playing The Luminous Underground . We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.


Yes it’s out! I’m gonna check it out asap.


Ooh just got it… can’t wait to try every possible route…
Lol something to do for next couple days


Yesss! I have like 8 hours free before I get caught up in all the assessments I have to do (stupid Covid-19 doubling my stupid work) so I am really going to hope my bank doesn’t give me issues while I try to purchase the book!

Edit: I freaking LOVE Steam, both for accepting domestic debit cards in India and for their lovely discounts for folks from the developing world.

Edit 2: Looks like McCowan is gender fluid. Yay for representation! Boo for all the people who are going to downvote this game for being “so politically correct that it became hard to focus on the story”. And again, yay for CoG being so willing and happy to be so inclusive instead of bending over backwards to pander to the bigots.


An immediate purchase for me!! I can’t wait to dive right in.


Congratulations to the author Phoebe Barton! This looks awesome! :star_struck: :partying_face: :train:


Huzzah! It’s here at last! Congratulations, Phoebe!

I admire your deep and original world building, the quality of the prose, and the interesting and meaningful choices you throw at us right away!


Thanks so much! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: It’s easy for me to get all worked up and nervous over all the things I could have put in but didn’t have a chance to, but I’m super interested to hear what everyone thinks about it now that it’s not stuck in my head and on my hard drive.


Not a fan of the stats page…it’s too plain and has little influence on the game…
Sometimes I feel like I’m making choices for the stats not because of the stats.


Absolutely loved this game @PhoebeBarton and it was a first day purchase for me! Your worldbuilding is super luminous and so is your prose! I’m obsessed with Barrington and I hope you’ll do another story somewhere in Septenland, maybe in Excelsior! :wink:


Congrats on a wonderful release @PhoebeBarton!

Others have highlighted the world-building and the prose, so I will shout out what is to me very inspirational – the character building of the npc characters.

I’ve fallen in love with Alice as a character and the insight into her is shown both elegantly and with care, especially when exploring her dissonance in trying to fit the modern world with the world she once knew.


I must say I loved the part with the Painting People inside Paintings or Magical paintings at all They have their own Mystery like cursed portraits


Oh God, I need sleep. Or whatever McCowan takes. I need to keep going but the book is also so long!

I made it to Chapter 10 and was very frazzled, until I checked the code and realised it was because I was playing with an anxious MC. I restarted to make a different choice and it’s been smooth sailing since then. It’s the little things, I’m coming to realise. I think you did a great job of encouraging me along @PhoebeBarton! It didn’t feel like endless struggle after struggle. There were moments where we could catch our breath, where we could ponder on our lives and relationships, and where the text would just go, it’ll be fine, you’re doing well. For an anxious reader, this is brilliant. This is also the first book I’ve been able to read for a long time without nervously checking the code every 5 seconds.

This x 100! There are very few books that are so well written that they just make me smile - and my facial muscles are cramping from all the smiling I’ve been doing.

Is it bad that this particular part made me laugh out loud? I’m going to say it’s my way of coping with grief but also Idgaf about Vickers .

I agree completely. But surprisingly, it’s Junker who has got me intrigued. A couple places have made me feel suspicious (especially because I checked some of the code out that one time) but I really want to believe he’s changed and that the power of friendship will reform him, in addition to helping Alice find the stability she seeks.

I wish McCowan were an RO. The other ROs in the game are great, but McCowan’s in a whole different league, and we’re peers, not boss-employee. Sigh.

Also, Wispy is so cute! I want a daemon pet now. No one spoil it for me! I’m still waiting to find out of daemons can feel emotions and are sentient or not.

Edit: Is Innetese supposed to be the same as English? The 26 letters had me curious. But then again, the bland food of Septenland makes me think that should be this world’s equivalent of the UK.

Also I’ve always wondered, while reading these CoG books, how our characters know which pronouns to use so easily. This concept of the “I” encoding pronoun information was really nice, because my mother tongue has that too (just for two genders though; still working on the third one).

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Thanks for all the positive comments, everyone! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

A couple places have made me feel suspicious (especially because I checked some of the code out that one time)

One thing to keep in mind is that I put a lot of flags in the code before I knew what I would be using them for. So the coding isn’t necessarily 100% accurate as to what actually happens…

Edit: Is Innetese supposed to be the same as English? The 26 letters had me curious. But then again, the bland food of Septenland makes me think that should be this world’s equivalent of the UK.

Do you mean the bit where you go to the Innetese bakery? I don’t remember bringing up Septenlandic food much, but I can confirm that lardy cakes and speckled dirk are very much Innetese cuisine… because you’re right. Innetese is English, and the food in the Innetese bakery is English food because I thought that was the only fair way to arrange that scene.


Does anyone know how to start the Logan romance because it’s greyed out for me?

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I can help with that! In order to have access to the Burrard romance, there are two paths, both in the scene in chapter 2 where you’re speaking with Finch.

  • If you choose the “That’s not it at all; I’m aromantic” option, choosing the subsequent “I don’t know about that. Burrard never had it the easiest” option will activate the relationship flag.
  • Alternatively, if you choose the “working through problems” option in the same choice as the aromantic option, that will also activate the relationship flag.

Sorry if it’s a little complicated, but with the nature of the relationship I had said up between the two characters as the story begins, the goal was to make the player “work for it” a little more than the other options, which will open up later once you meet them all.


So choosing they broke our heart doesn’t start a RO? :disappointed:


Unfortunately not. My view when writing that choice is that the PC would still be so broken that they wouldn’t want to go back to cut themself on the shards again. Sorry!


Phew, okay! Thanks for letting me know, because I have simply adored the guy ever since he started yelling cliched action catchphrases while disspating daemons. (I think I’ll just not look at the code during my first playthrough and let him surprise me.)

Speaking of surprises, I remember as I was reading the book that I suddenly got it into my head that I was bored being the chosen one in so many of these other books, especially when it felt like Ultor was targeting us. I kind of wanted to play second fiddle to someone for a while. Then you went and revealed that Alice is Crystal’s champion and I started to giggle happily! :DDD

And sorry! I don’t know why I decided that Septenland’s cuisine is super boring. It’s really nice to know about Innetese culture though. I hope I can find out more, especially if I romance Bishara in a future game.

Edit: I finally finished it! I felt disconnected from the romance but everything else was simply perfect, especially Alice’s whole arc. I did find a little issue in the last chapter, though? I got both scenes/results when I tried to get Alice to right the tilted P-N building by relying upon her confidence. And I think it’s because the value should be <60, not >60.


Also I’m curious to see how other people’s experiences went with the teleporter. Did anyone choose to take Park with them despite Crystal’s warning?

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Ack! Thanks for that report - I’ll fix it ASAP!

UPDATE: Such issues from one sign typo… dang! But I’ve corrected it and passed it along for an update.

UPDATE THE SECOND: I’ve been told that the first opportunity to push a patch will be Monday - apologies for there being bugs at all, but if anyone encounters any others, please post in this thread or report through the standard mechanisms, and I’ll address them as quick as I can.