The Chicken of Doom

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for Barnabas’ plot in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So went to Kos! Killed a legendary rooster on the way. A legendary rooster.

Game you so silly.

So, here we go again. The blue quests are good, the white quests aren’t. I did the Sirens, and I did Markos, and there ya go. Good, bad.

At least I think the Sirens are good. At the very least, that was interesting. The sound design of not really being able to hear cuz of the wax (trust me, it was good), the general creep of that, this “I need this extra protection” feeling, all the people half dead around…..nice. And themey in the “Kassandra as god?” vein. Nice!

And then there was Markos.

I got a trophy for finishing that quest. The trophy was for “Finish Markos’ quest line.” Quest line. You’d think that would mean the conclusion of a story arc, perhaps a story involving Kassandra’s father figure, in a game about fathers. You’d think maybe there’d be something to do with the child in their weird little family, a child who died tragically, representing Kassandra’s biggest failure, as well as a failure by Markos, the ersatz father figure. Something that has to do with these father/family themes that the game allegedly has.

And, of course, you’d be wrong.

Seriously, game. Seriously. It’s one thing to put stupid “burn this sink that” nonsense in the way of narrative. It’s another thing to SUBSTITUTE “burn this kill him” FOR narrative. This “quest” was nothing! NOTHING! Burn, kill, thanks, here’s some money and a piece of loot. THAT. WAS. IT. Phoibe? Not mentioned. NOT ONCE!

This game…..This could have been, SHOULD have been good. Markos, her “real dad,” the con man, the scoundrel, the wimp. He’s pretty much the opposite of Kassandra’s real mother and “real” father. There could have been themes and bloggage for days around that! But the game went and made this quest, the end of Markos’ questline, as they said, nothing more than any other quest in the game. Just “Go over there and burn that shit.”

Not forgiving this. This wasn’t an example of “Hey, there was good in here, they just buried it under chores.” There was nothing here. Nothing.

And there should have been.

Feminina:

I killed that rooster too! That island of angry chickens was surprisingly dangerous, for an island full of chickens, but I survived. Silly, silly game.

But yeah, the sirens bit was kind of cool. The muffled sounds, as you say, and the people lying around, and the creepiness.

I was also disappointed with the end of Markos’ story. For pretty much all the reasons you say: zero mention of Phoibe (I guess maybe it’s possible to do this part first, so she might not have been dead yet?), zero actual resolution or sense of anything having happened in their relationship–as you say, this is the guy who raised her, the parent figure who was around for the greatest part of her life, and the contrast with parent figures who weren’t around, that could have been something. But no.

Although I did kind of love the fact that the guy you delivered the wine to thought it was poisoned, and Kassandra was yelling “no, that’s just the wine!” I drank some with him, and became briefly ill myself. It’s just that terrible!

And you’re right that the blue quests are where it’s good. I did the one about the poet over the weekend. Quite relevant to our discussion about parents, and knowing your parents.

Butch:

And got some sort of poultry themed weapon. Game, stop.

I’m sorta curious to get to the end of this particular part. I’m sure it will be a let down, but at least it’ll be an interesting let down.

As for Morkos: Nope. Nothing. In a game where family plays such a role. As for “Maybe she might not have been dead yet,” well, we deal with such things when we make non linear open world RPGs, right? Shit, this game handled it just fine in the brothers quest, as you had killed the Monger when you did it and I hadn’t. Nothing a couple changed lines of dialog can’t solve.

If this is how you “complete” character quest lines in this game, I’m less eager to finish it than I was before, and I wasn’t that eager before.

I did the same with the wine, and it was rather amusing, but that was even more disconnect. The last thing we had regarding Kassandra’s original family was her putting a wooden eagle into Phoibe’s dead hands, giving her the eagle she always dreamed of, knowing that she had failed the one person she truly cared about. Now, poof! “Oh, Markos, you so silly, let’s have a fun quest, wokka wokka.” Game, the fuck.

The blue quests are like a different damn game. They really are. It has me wondering if the intentional choice of making them a different color was intended to indicate they ARE a different game.

Hear me out: We’ve talked before about how, if you’re going to take a franchise and change what it fundamentally is, you’re going to have issues. We’ve talked on how this game is trying to pivot Assassin’s Creed from being a stealth, actiony thing into a straight up, open world RPG. We’ve talked on how that can irk people who see Assassin’s Creed on the box and want stealth and action, not an RPG. Maybe these icon colors are explicitly trying to separate the old from the new.

Because the white quests sure do feel old school AC. Sneak here, kill him, sink that. If the shanties were any good, the white bits would feel EXACTLY like AC4 (the only other one I played). The blue bits feel and play like, well, an RPG, and not a bad one at that. Non linear, moral vagueness, choices that matter (even romantic choices that matter!), themes…..you know… the stuff we like. It’s such a drastic difference that, the more I play, the less I think it’s possible that it’s just coincidence that white and blue are so different. It can’t be.

Feminina:

That’s an interesting thought…that maybe they’re hiding the more RPG-ish stories in special color-coded side quests, perhaps thinking that if these types of stories are popular, they can bring them more into the foreground in future games?

Making a gradual color-coded shift in tone and approach? Hm.

Butch:

I don’t know. It would sure be a weird way to do it, especially making all of them optional. But you must admit the differences in those quests are very striking. They just play differently. And, at least so far, it isn’t like they just got lucky and had a good one in there. They’re ALL strikingly different. Not just better: different.

Very strange. And annoying, because it means the whole game could have been that, and the whole game is very, very much not that.

Feminina:

Well, they’re not COMPLETELY different. They’re still full of fetch quests and murdering people in different locations. There’s just a bit more of a narrative around it. And there is sometimes some level of narrative around the white quests, like with our old friend Heitor, or the handsome doctor. But I agree, the main game is full of non-narrative objectives like “kill the captain in this fort” that really run together after a while.

Butch:

True. I guess I’m just so starved for any kind of anything I’ll see “some themes with the looting” as “completely different.”

My need for themes also has me looking over my shoulder at other games.

Like Greedfall. You seeing Greedfall? This is a dark horse that isn’t getting much press, but it looks damn interesting.

Feminina:

I have never heard of this game. I don’t believe it exists.

Stop trying to distract me while I’m murdering captains over here!

Butch:

It’s drawing mighty comparisons to Bioware. Not moldy flag bioware, but the bioware of old.

It looks good.

Feminina:

Intriguing!

Good thing we have tons of time and don’t have anything else going on.

Butch:

You’re right, you’re right. We have to start prioritizing.

I vote we do the ones with the most nudity first.

Feminina:

Dude, THIS game has more nudity (in statue form) than the last three things we’ve played, and how well is that working out for you?

We may need something else to go by.

Butch:

Dude, inanimate nudity just ain’t nudity.

T SHIRT!!!!

I’m grasping at themes, being all “It’s COMPLETELY different!” You’re grasping at marble genitalia, sometimes literally, depending on how you climb, being all “It’s COMPLETELY different!”

This is how far we have fallen. We must rectify all of this with the glut of games ahead.

(Must admit, when I have to climb those risque statues, I try to go up the side as much as humanly possible.)

(How come Athena’s so well dressed?)

Feminina:

So Mafia 3’s Playboys and Vargas prints don’t count? Dubious.

It is interesting though, the goddess statues are much more clothed than the gods. Maybe it just reflects actual practice? I mean, they did compete naked in the Olympics, so male nudity was just a thing. Whereas women didn’t compete in the Olympic games and therefore weren’t sort of publicly naked as specimens of noble humanity in the same way. (As the load screen tells us, there were separate female games, but they were clearly secondary in importance, and it does not specify whether the women also competed in the nude.)

I could look this up, but Googling too much nudity at work could be problematic.

Butch:

Well, I ain’t gonna google it.

We shall never know.

Feminina:

Nope. It’s a mystery for the ages.

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[Insert Hyena Laugh Here]

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for points in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

This new gaming schedule is making blogging tricky. I have to adjust. It’s the homework, man. The homework. Yesterday, gaming time got delayed (by which I mean, by the time I had time all I wanted was scotch) by a rather dramatic difference of opinion on how to interpret the grading rubric for Junior’s science homework. This took a lengthy period of time to resolve.

I’m starting to worry this is the new normal.

This mid day gaming means we have to find a way to be erudite at the end of the day. We have trouble remembering how to spell by the end of the day.

I’m concerned.

Feminina:

Oh gods, homework wars. So not into it. O’Jr. had limited homework last year and hasn’t brought any back so far this year, so we may dodge that arrow (as Kassandra would say) for a bit longer. Whenever he does have it, though, it’s kind of miserable.

Maybe…we have to talk today about yesterday’s midday gaming? So if you play today, don’t mention it, but try to remember it for tomorrow?

This sounds like a recipe for trouble.

I did more stuff for Alkibiades last night. Got another nice reward, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Butch:

Oh, silly elementary homework is cake by comparison. Nugget brings home a page of simple math. Fine. You just say “No TV until you do it,” he does it, it’s done.

But middle school, you see, has graded homework. Not “Did you do the sheet or not,” but shit with rubrics. RUBRICS Femmy! And these stupid rubrics all say stuff like A=Superior detail, B=Good detail, C=Average detail. So, of course, Junior does something, is all “Looks superior to me,” and I look at it and say “Uh….is this finished?” And he’s all “What? I followed the rubric! What more do you want?” and I tell him, and he’s all “YOU’RE NOT MY TEACHER! YOU DON’T KNOW SHE WANTS THAT!”

And then I sigh, knowing that game time will just have to wait, as the next forty five minutes or so of my life is gonna suck.

When Junior is in high school and Nugget is in middle school….I don’t even want to ponder that.

Alkibiades–Man, that dude can PARTY!

Watch, the game’ll be all “Ha ha, you’ve been banging the ghost of Kosmos all this time! Well, except the time you spent burning war supplies……”

Feminina:

Ha! He probably will turn out to the Ghost of Cosmos! That would be pretty funny, especially for those of us who seized the chance for sexytimes with him at every opportunity (by my count to date: three opportunities).

“Damn it, now I’m going to have to kill the greatest lover I’ve ever known. Siiiiiigh.”

Or maybe it’s an agonizingly difficult choice: Do I kill my brother, who’s kind of murderously insane but still family and who am I to talk about murder really, or do I kill this charming sexy fellow who’s incidentally been masterminding my brother’s murderous insanity?

He IS a bit of a devious mastermind, with all his getting us to deliver insulting presents and haul people into sketchy neighborhoods to be knifed to death. Who’s to say he’s not also in charge of the Cult?

My plan for middle school homework is to send them to boarding school and let them worry about it.

Not really! I need that money for games and booze.

Butch:

I know! The only “clue” I have is that “The Ghost is involved in Athens politics.” He certainly is involved.

****snicker****

When you finish the game, tell me so we can move on.

It is a catch 22, that. There is nothing more expensive than paying someone else to deal with your children.

So Mrs. McP better get a raise, soon, cuz I am fucking underpaid.

Feminina:

You do deserve a raise. Childcare is criminally undervalued.

I hope I don’t have to kill Alkibiades. We’ve had some fun times.

But man, if that’s what it takes to get to the end of this game, he’s going down.

Butch:

You can tell me all about it.

He’ll likely be on a boat.

But hey! At least you won’t have to be all “Damn, which bearded guy is it?”

My other theory is Alithusia or whatever. She’s everywhere, man. Everywhere.

Feminina:

Aspasia? Hm. Yes, she does get around. And she seems to know quite a bit about the Cult, which could be because she hates them, or because she controls them.

I could see that.

Butch:

That’s the one.

I can’t tell the women apart, either.

If it’s her, you can tell me all about it.

I’m gonna go play.

Feminina:

I will tell you all about it. It’s gonna be great. You’re gonna love it.

Butch [later]:

So after the naval battle for mom is….

ANOTHER naval battle?

Game…..

Feminina:

Yeah. Game…

If it helps, I haven’t had to do a naval battle since! Of course, that’s because I was doing Barnabas’ story and Alkibiades, not the main story. The main story is probably nothing but naval battles from here on.

Butch:

I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Not. One. Bit.

Oh, so you didn’t go to Thera or wherever? We’re at the same point of the main story?

Is Barnabas’ story worth it?

Feminina:

No, I haven’t gone to look for my father yet. Barnabas is actually kind of relevant to stuff we’ve been discussing on and off, so it was pretty interesting.

Plus, it’s pretty quick…I mean, you have to go to each island from his visions, but the amount of work you have to do on each island is fairly slight. And moderately interesting for its take on various myths and legends. I promise, not a fort in the lot!

Butch:

No forts? What about boats? WHAT ABOUT BOATS?

And where’d you find Allie again? Lokris or wherever the fuck?

Feminina:

No boats! I mean, you have to sail on a boat to get to the islands, but no naval combats are involved in the actual completion of the story missions! It’s amazing!

I wound up back in Attika for various reasons, and Allie was there. He was nowhere near any of the smaller islands we’ve been on lately.

Butch:

Damn it, Femmy! Resist major magpie!

It would be quite the irony if, after all this, I finished this before you. Which will likely happen, as we do irony. That we do.

Feminina:

That we do!

That we certainly do.

Although in this case it was only minor magpie. I mean, I wanted to go back to Demosthenes, the guy who wanted us to kill polemarchs, because I’d killed all the polemarchs and wanted to get the quest off my list. And he’s in Athens! And then Allie was right there, and I couldn’t resist because maybe I’ll get some sweet lovin’ out of it!

Spoiler: if you go talk to Demosthenes, he will ask you to kill some more polemarchs. He’s like the ancient Greek version of Preston Garvey in FO4. “Another military camp needs your help! And by ‘help’ I mean go murder some polemarchs!”

To be fair, all of Garvey’s missions also involved murdering people. The similarities are eerie, really.

I also want to get the ‘recruitment drive’ quest off my list, the one for Xenia the pirate queen, where you destroy different types of ships? Because somewhere in all those naval battles, I completed that mission, and she’ll probably give me some money if I go back.

Butch:

Oh fuck that guy. I’m letting the Polemarchs be. Kevin worked hard for that helmet. He can keep it. I do not miss Preston Garvey. I certainly won’t work for his ancestor.

Wait…you met the pirate queen again? And got a quest? I don’t have a quest for the pirate queen! I liked the pirate queen! Though, not enough to sink a bunch of ships for her.

Feminina:

Naw, this was one of those quests she suggested when you first get to the island: “there are ways to make money.”

I already had the money, and only picked it up because of course I did. If you didn’t pick it up then, you sure as hell shouldn’t bother to go back and pick it up now. Especially since all that naval combat you just did, which would have helped you check off some items for the quest, would now count for nothing.

Butch:

Oh, fuck that noise.

Though I still have the one about pillaging the chest…..in the fort….so fuck that, too.

Shit, I still have the one about killing the boar WAY back when I was level, like, twelve. All the way on the other side of the map.

So, you know, fuck that, too.

How are we at the same place when you’re doing everything and I’m saying “fuck that” with regularity? Unlike other games where you’ve gotten way ahead of me, I’m actually playing. Almost daily. Even some on the weekends! Have you stopped sleeping?

Feminina:

It’s more that I’ve stopped waiting for Grigio to sleep. We’ve finally reached a point where I can say “I’m going to go do things, you stay here” and he will do it without freaking out. More or less. We’ll hear his clomping little footsteps up and down the hall as he goes to look for a toy or a blanket or a drink of water or something, but as long as he doesn’t come downstairs, or break something, I’m willing to ignore it.

This leaves me a more reliable chunk of evening time to burn war supplies and assassinate captains and polemarchs.

Butch:

Be very, very thankful you have stairs between where your children sleep and where you spend your evenings. I can’t say “If he doesn’t come downstairs,” cuz his room (And by his I mean Nugget, as he is the only one that dares leave his room) is right by, well, everything.

You can’t hide from Nugget. You just can’t.

It’s terrible. Cuz now they’re at an age where they come out and are all “Can I watch you play?”

I haven’t used my headphones in forever. No need. I ain’t gonna wake them.

***sob***

You’d THINK I could just say “Take your iPads downstairs, watch annoying Brits play video games while laughing like hyenas” and they’d go but no…..

They insist on watching the laughing Brits UP HERE.

I hate the laughing Brits.

Apparently, when you write erudite, funny posts about video games and booze and children, it’s not as popular as playing games badly while laughing like a hyena.

Who knew?

Feminina:

There’s no reward for the kind of quiet, nonstop brilliance we excel at. Classy, too.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I think that counts as a hyena laugh.

Butch:

Someday, someday soon, your kids will discover this nonsense.

It’s awful.

But it shuts them up.

So, you know, pros and cons.

Feminina:

Yeah, it’s only a matter of time before we have to introduce them to the joys of video games. I mean, they already know they exist, they know we play, but soon they’ll want to start playing too.

And we can hardly deny them! Because we want them to grow up to be well-balanced individuals with an appreciation for the finer things in life, and we want to share those fine things with them, and they’re too young for booze!

But at the same time, sharing the console with more people is only going to lead to heartache.

Butch:

It’s bad enough you have to share with Mr. O.

Just….when they discover the youtubers…..

It’s…..so…..awful…..

You have no idea…..

They’re all the same, too! Bad at games, loud, British…..

We’re none of those things!

Feminina:

I liked the guy who spent 10 minutes on the etymology and pronunciation of the word “lich”. Make them watch that. It’s educational AND game-related (for certain games).

Butch:

See, look at some of our past posts. They’re long. Smart. Great, if I don’t say so myself.

And yet, these hyenas are millionaires. MILLIONAIRES! They just laugh like idiots at minecraft! AND THEY’RE RICH!

We are not. And we are smart.

Life is unfair.

Feminina:

They’re probably secretly miserable.

Whereas we’re OPENLY miserable, at least when we don’t get to play games.

Their grapes are no good, either.

Boats. It Had to Be Boats.

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for sidequests in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Well, I got nothing more. I’ll play some today. Supplies to burn, you know.

I really must get this homework thing under control. You should be very happy you were home schooled. For you, doing seventh grade homework won’t be a rerun! It’s all new to you! I, however, have already done all of this shit, and it was annoying then, too.

But it’s timed horribly poorly. That is supposed to be GAME time, not printing social studies projects time.

We’d be a lot happier if we were shitty parents.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Feminina:

That’s a good T shirt!

I ran around Attika a bit. Saw that ruined temple of Athena you mentioned. Went into a tomb that had, for some reason, wolves in it. Also vultures.

I mean, snakes are always in tombs, you expect that, but wolves? They probably came in hunting me. Oh well, free leather!

Butch:

Well, you must admit, the wolves in this game are kinda weird. All sorts of tasty wild game around, but do they go for that? No. Only humans. That’s sorta creepy, when you think on it.

The tomb snakes aren’t any saner. Remember Raiders? “Snakes….why did it have to be snakes?” Those snakes acted like snakes. All over the place. Makes sense. Greek tomb snakes all seem to arrange themselves perfectly symmetrically around chests, and perfectly place themselves, centered, on tiles in corners.

Those are some fastidious snakes. Gotta respect that.

Feminina:

I do respect that. I do.

As I respect the wolves’ determination to take on the most dangerous game of all: man.

Or, you know, woman. Or demi-god. Wolves like a challenge!

Worse than wolves, are the lynxes. They jump on your back and won’t come off. I hate that.

Butch:

Oh dude, fuck those things.

I don’t believe you’re doing the legendary animal shit. Those things are impossible.

Live and let live. They’re happy in their pits and their waterfalls? More power to them.

Feminina:

I’m not touching the legendary animals! I’m just talking about random wild animal attacks.

Naw, hell with those quests to kill legendary animals. Also, apparently, there are MYTHICAL monsters you can fight, like Medusa. And hell with that. Not going near it.

Butch:

Oh HELL no. I can’t even kill a lion. I ain’t even with Medusa.

Given your magpie, anything that ends with YOU, of all people, saying “And hell with that. Not going near it” is a thing no one should even consider going near.

OK, I did fitness, I did chores, I’m gonna shower and play.

And we’ll see how burning war supplies compares to laundry and dusting in the chore department.

Feminina:

More likely to find drachmae hidden in jars in the game!

More likely to find U.S. currency lost in the sofa in the real world.

Butch:

Sigh. This game is cruel sometimes.

First, it hits you with irony. I take a side quest. I have to find an artist. You do this? Cuz, if you did, you know a) finding a crack in a cave sucks and b) I killed a poor, innocent, legendary bear. This with Grizz, Nugget’s favorite bear, sitting next to me.

Sigh.

Then off I went to do chores, I mean, burn stuff. In so doing, I randomly stumbled on a dude who I had to free, so at least I got that done without having to do shit twice.

Then, burn stuff I did.

All this took over an hour.

And my reward? The cruel, cruel reward?

Three fucking boats I gotta destroy.

Boats.

This game is cruel.

Feminina:

Yeah, this part is cruel. Because in order to help mom and advance the story, you HAVE to do the boat fight. No way around it.

I mean, I personally don’t think the naval combat is that bad, but it’s not my favorite thing ever (that would probably be silently assassinating people from the bushes). And I know it sucks to have to slog through stuff to get to the story.

I did do the artist story…that felt like it should have had more going on.

“Oh no, actually I love our leader, I was just paid/threatened into this!” I mean, it’s nice that mom is so beloved that only outside agitators can rouse any complaints about her, but it would have been more believably human to present some section of the citizenry on her island that genuinely disagreed with her (while perhaps not actually wanting to see her dead and Paros take over).

But then, that’s a level of subtlety and complication that is probably more than we can reasonably ask from a 10-minute sidequest.

Butch:

Add that quest to the list of quests that had such potential….

It was more than ten minutes cuz I couldn’t find the damn crack in the wall. Grumble.

That aside, there have been lots of ten minute side quests in other games that have had bloggage to spare.

Naval combat in order to progress is about as bad as needing to lasso a dude to progress. Just….don’t. Don’t, game. Don’t.

Feminina:

Oh man, lassoing dudes…yeah. That was pretty much the worst. And I would always manage to somehow let them go, and then have to lasso them again!

Pretty please, can I just shoot them?

Butch:

At least when you sink a boat, you can’t let it back up again.

Though this…..the only thing worse than having to fight a boat is having to fight multiple boats at the same time. I HATE that. I always fuck up the camera angle, everything.

On that, have you ever tried to aim arrows from your boat, and it aims over the wrong side? That keeps happening and I have no idea, once aimed, how to tell my dumbass archers “Dudes, it’s over THERE!”

Feminina:

Hm. No. I have not really noticed that problem. Your archers must be extra dumbass! Or else everything is such a haze of battle that I don’t even notice.

I often shoot over the ship I mean to be aiming at…but not off the opposite side of my boat from them.

Butch:

It’s awful.

I’ve turned the boat shit down to easy. And ran like hell from pirates.

They should’ve let you spend some ability points on boat shit. I don’t really use or want half the abilities I have, but “better captain” ones would’ve been quite welcome.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah! Skill points that would make your captains do useful things for you, like “hey you, handle this battle while I browse through my inventory”–that would be extremely useful.

Butch:

I’ll settle for “Smarter archers.” And “Remember how to do fire.” I’ve only done fire once, and that was by accident, out of combat.

And certainly “Bangable lieutenants” would be pure gold.

Feminina:

I use fire a fair amount, but I’m still not sure exactly how. I’ll be all “ATTACK!!!!!” and sometimes there will be fire, and sometimes just arrows, and sometimes nothing because the archers are resting or whatever. I think you have to hold both triggers at once for fire? Or something? Naval combat is kind of an exercise in trigger-mashing for me, yet somehow gets the job done most of the time.

I’m pretty sure most of your great naval commanders throughout history have approached it the same way.

Jeez, Mom! I Just GOT Here!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the quest with Kyra on Mykonos and the ‘finding your mom’ bit in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

I got nothing. I don’t even have whiskey. Junior, who doesn’t like English, had English homework. So, after 45 minutes of total mental meltdown, there was 25 minutes of me helping him, which led to God knows how many minutes of his brothers being awful cuz they weren’t being watched, which led to an hour or so of me running out of the aforementioned whiskey.

That and it was….wait for it….HALF DAY TUESDAY! Cuz TUESDAY!

I’ll play today, but then, I could fill a day’s bloggage with how my soul got crushed after just three school days. Sorry, two and a half.

He likes his Spanish teacher. If he keeps being this mental about English, maybe we’ll just abandon it and start speaking Spanish around the house.

Feminina:

Oh gods, half-day Tuesday. I constantly blot this monstrosity from my memory, because it is so painful to even contemplate.

Butch [later]:

So played. Killed Podarkes. Banged Kyra. Immediately had a chance to flirt with her husband (?), decided that was uncouth, told him I wasn’t ready to sail then immediately got on my ship to try to find mother dearest.

Gonna rant about narrative:

Kyra should be the love interest. She’s cool, she’s got a backstory, they even SAY “We’ve lived similar lives.” If she isn’t the love interest, she should be a character we continue to get to know.

But she’s gonna disappear and we won’t.

And what pisses me off the most….they could’ve given us biowaresque relationships. We COULD have had them come to the ship, just like the Normandy. Fuck, I HAVE a bunch of people on the ship. But can I talk to them? Flirt with them? LEARN about them?

No.

This game comes SO CLOSE. They make characters I want to know. They make characters I care about, at least for a while. And then they waste them.

It’s funny: We keep comparing this to Mafia 3. Our general take on that is that it wasted a lot of its opportunities. I’ll add that as another similarity to this game.

Feminina:

Dude, that worked out way better for you than it did for me. I flirted with both Kyra and…Thaletes? Who I think were kind of in love, but I don’t think they were married. Though they might have been eventually if I hadn’t interfered.

Then I actually slept with her, and then I went to him and said “I want you both!” and he was all “uh…let’s just keep our minds on the coming battle.” Burn! But hey, it’s fine, I’ve gotten a lot of love this game, I can live without this dude. So I proceeded, killed Podarkes, did all that stuff, and during the celebration Thaletes got all wounded and angry at me: “Podarkes was mine to kill! You stole my glory and you stole Kyra!” and he attacked me and I had to kill him. It was a hard fight, too. Bastard.

Then back at the party Kyra said “I heard he’s been made a general, he’ll be sailing out first thing in the morning” and I could either say “he’s dead” or lie and say “he’ll be a great general.” Normally I prefer to tell the truth, but I didn’t want to make her sad (she had enough to deal with, finding out Podarkes was her father and all), so I picked the lie. Now when she never hears from him again she’ll just assume he was killed in battle or something. At least she will until someone finds his body where I left it hidden in the field of poppies. But hey, I’ll be long gone by then!

So…yeah, that got kind of complicated for me.

Butch:

Dude, I’m not sure how you managed to do it in that order.

See, I killed Podarkes. THEN a quest popped with Kyra. I thought “She’s cute, and I have to tell her about her dad anyway” (Which I did in private). We went hunting and she was ALL into me. Was all “Let’s go to the beach” and, of course. Note, I had not flirted with Thaletes at this juncture. So Kyra and I did all that, I got mad cuz she was a good character, etc. I had a choice to say “We should tell him” or “He can’t know,” I picked “Tell him,” because I kinda wanted her to come with me and to have the narrative make sense, but she was all “He’ll know in time.”

THEN I drifted over to Thaletes giving a speech, gave the slow clap (I liked the slow clap), I COULD have flirted but didn’t. Then, he’s all “Help me defeat the fleet” and I thought “Fleet? Oh HELL no. Not today, dude.” Told him I wasn’t ready to sail, got on my boat and went to find my mom.

Which I just did! Didn’t see THAT coming. She’s all in charge! Nice twist.

And then killed dudes, and now I’m at the “If you want to move the plot, you must do three things, one of which is the whole weaken the place….” C’MON MOM! REALLY?????

Feminina:

You ignored Thaletes and went right to mom? Nice. Nice escape. I did all the Kyra plot and then all the Thaletes plot including the naval combat and some land combat and THEN I went after Podarkes. Because–this will surprise no one–I like to wrap up all the side things before touching the main quest.

But you found mom! Nice! I, too, was glad to see she was doing so well. And the reunion–that was kind of well done and touching, with the emotions and everything! And mom seems like a strong and competent leader. She roamed around, saw the world, met some people, and finally settled down in a place where she could make a difference and do some good. Good for her.

And then you have to weaken a place and provoke a battle and so on and so on. Such is this game.

Butch:

Dude, the Kyra stuff didn’t even pop until after Podarkes. The Thaletes stuff was there, but dude. Boats. Can’t be bothered.

I USUALLY like to wrap up stuff but a) I hate boats and b) see previous discussion about not wanting to linger on this game. Especially for boats.

And yes, good characters, nice story, well done…and then she gave me busy work.

Seriously, mom. What else do I have to do, clean my room?

How much farther along are you?

Feminina:

I dunno, man. I had a lot of stuff before I killed Podarkes. I mean, first I went to his house and stole some stuff and found the doll and ran off without killing him. Then I went back later to kill him. I don’t know why, maybe his guards were too effective and I didn’t feel like dealing with them. Maybe finding the doll was the key. Anyway, whatever. We both got to somewhere.

I have finished all the stuff mom wanted me to do, and the Barnabas quest. So I’m that much further.

Oh, and if we want to be smart, we could think about how these couple of quests are showing us parents.

Podarkes, the absent, murderous father who rules an island with a much-resented iron hand. Myrrine, the absent yet still loving mother who rules an island with apparent skill and is widely (though not universally) admired. Kyra didn’t even know Podarkes was her father: Kassandra has been seeking her mother the whole game. Kyra still prepares a pyre for Podarkes: Kassandra still has to do chores for Myrrine.

Something about how family, the ties of blood, still have some kind of power in spite of anything the world can put in between…but also, those ties only go so far. Sometimes maybe the most you owe your father is hiring someone to kill him and then burning his body.

Butch:

Ah yes. Smart stuff. We do that.

Hmm, see, I stole the doll, wanted to kill him cuz I was right there, but his guards were bastards, so I went next door to the fort, wasted a lot of time doing busy work, then came back.

I wonder what would have happened if we had told her about her father BEFORE we killed him. I didn’t. I guess we’d kill him anyway….cult and all.

The ties do bind. Look at the way that there’s still some desire from Mom and Kassandra to save Alexios, despite him being that nuts.

Another thread that runs through this game is people not knowing who their fathers are. Supideo. Kassandra. Kyra.

I wonder, does that go to the whole idea of not knowing if gods/weird aliens are real? There’s some themeage of not knowing where you come from, figuratively and literally. There’s ALSO a pattern of how “Where did I come from?” might just be better left unanswered.

Hmm.

Feminina:

True! The unknown father…which ties in with the whole Greek myth of some god or other fathering a child with a mortal woman. Which occasionally happens the other way around, with a goddess and a mortal man, but really the ones you hear about getting busy all the time with every attractive person in any conceivable guise are the gods.

Especially Zeus. No wonder he’s Naked: he knows he might (indeed, likely will) feel the urge at literally ANY MOMENT to cast his divine favor on someone, and who can spare the time to deal with garments?

So yeah, the unknown father SO EASILY might be not just some dude who molested or seduced some woman and then didn’t care to be involved with the results, but some GOD who molested or seduced some woman and then didn’t care to be involved with the results!

Butch:

Uh….I wasn’t thinking of naked Zeus…per se….but I should’ve known you were.

I also like the idea that not knowing is a good thing. After all, my Supideo wound up a lot better than yours did, and mine never knew the truth. I have a feeling that Kassandra, upon finding who her real father is, isn’t going to be happy. Hell, the only one of the ubiquitous, identical temples (I’m going to be catty, so there) that we’ve seen defiled is Athena’s. God of Wisdom, all that.

It’s especially interesting as what you are doing in the game itself is research, right? “We” are really present day people trying to find shit out, asking questions, BIG questions about the very nature of all that weird shit you understand better than I do. The present day people are, in some way, looking for God in a very literal sense, trying to identify the things that lifted humanity up to its present form. Juxtapose that with a lot of narrative that seems to be saying “Don’t ask things, let sleeping dogs lie,” and we might have……

……dare I say it…..

Some THEMES!

Feminina:

You may not be thinking of Naked Zeus, but he may be thinking of you.

A strong contender for least appealing religious saying ever.

But yes, it’s true…are we really better off by knowing these things? Kyra wasn’t made happier by the knowledge of who her father was. Supideo gouged out his own eyes. Kassandra might well be left unhappy with the knowledge once she tracks down her own pater.

Maybe trying to track down our own “fathers” if we consider the Isu to be sort of spiritual parents in the real world (there are hints they aided the human race in its development) is only going to lead to misery.

And yet, the reunion between Kassandra and her mother was joyful. And even though Kyra wasn’t HAPPY about the relationship, it didn’t seem as if she was saying she’d prefer not to have known. Maybe even when knowledge about your parents is painful, it’s still worth having.

Butch:

Dear god, woman.

But, well, tell that to Supideo about it being better to know. Remember, mine stayed blissfully ignorant and turned out FAR better than yours did. It’s rare we get to compare different results; we might as well. There, we have an explicit example of “knowing bad, ignorance good.”

I’m curious if tracking down the Isu is gonna be a bad idea. We probably won’t know in this game. We might not know for several games. Which means I may never know.

Feminina:

None of us may ever know. They could drag this out for decades.

Butch:

Could? Will. Their E3 show is gonna be Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance fever dreams until we are in the home.

Feminina:

I would still be interested in checking out Just Assassinate. I feel there could be some interesting themes there.

Butch:

As long as I can take out that fucked up panda.

Feminina:

Oh, the panda is the first thing to get assassinated.

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!!

This was an up and down day, wasn’t it?

Not Rage-Quitting

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for Barnabas quest in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

OK, so, before we begin, I’m not rage quitting. I’m not. I’m not even quitting.

But I had a series of revelations this weekend. Here’s what happened.

So I told you that I had to do all that weakening to draw the boat guy into a fight. Remember?

So then I did the pig lady. We can talk about that. She wasn’t a revelation. My revelations started when I got to Delos. When I got to Delos, I started the Kyra bit….a romance with a dark haired sassy lady in a Greek dress. Again. I then sneaked into somewhere. Again. I then had to weaken another place to kill another leader. Again. This took forever. Again. And I thought, “This is boring.”

That was first revelation.

I thought: “Really, why am I doing this?” and, I realized “To make sure Femmy doesn’t get way ahead of me.” Not “So I can write brilliant things with Femmy,” cuz we aren’t being that brilliant, but “To make sure Femmy doesn’t get way ahead of me.” That’s a chore.

That was my second revelation.

Then I opened the map and saw that HALF the map was uncovered and half the cultists were still alive and I have HALF THE GAME ahead of me and the game hasn’t done anything new in hours. This really, really did not excite me.

That was my third revelation.

Then I saved and saw I’m at 51 hours of playtime. 51 hours. And I’ve been playing three months. And I’m half done.

Revelation.

But then the biggie: I quit out. You were on, and it said “Exploring the Real World.” And I thought “What? The real world? She’s way ahead of me. I’m nowhere near seeing the real world. She’s gonna finish soon, and I’ll be looking at burning war supplies and killing leaders for a month just to catch up.” That would lead to about a month of blogging the following:

Me: So….did the thing with the bearded dude and the fort. Remember that?
You: I think so….was that the part with the thing?
Me: No, it was the other part with the bearded guy and the fort and the other thing.
You: Oh yeah….I kinda remember that….don’t know if I remember enough to be smart about it, but you start.

MAJOR REVELATION.

If I was really into this game, I’d put up with a while of such blogging. But this game? It’s just not worth a month of floundering blogging, especially when we have so much cool stuff in our backlog and so much more cool stuff is coming out.

So I figure: I don’t hate this game. You like it, and you’re more invested in the AC lore than I am, so I will continue playing it until you finish. If you finish and I’m, like, three or four days away from finishing, I’ll finish. But if you finish and we have time to squeeze in, say, Detroit before Outer Worlds/Death Stranding hit and I still have a month left? I’d rather you just tell me the end than we do a month of “You remember this?” “Uh….kinda?” bloggage when we could be playing something interesting together.

Sound fair?

It sucks, because I really, REALLY like Kassandra as a main character. SHE’S great. But the rest…..well. I have criticisms past the fact it’s repetitive. We can talk on those and pig lady today.

Feminina:

OK, that’s fair. (Although that was Mr. O’ exploring the real world. I haven’t been back to the real world since the Forge. Gods only know what the hell he was doing in the real world. Something related to a trophy I now don’t have to be concerned about getting, not that I was.)

I’m enjoying the wandering around, but you’re right, it’s a lot of the same sort of thing, and the map is SO. DAMN. BIG. And there are so many bearded guys in forts, you’re not wrong.

Mr. O’ hunted down every last trophy, and he had I think 134 hours in? Compared to my 50-something. I don’t have another 80 hours of this in me, that’s for sure. He did say you don’t have to kill every single cultist, though. You have to kill apparently most of them, because you have to get enough clues from the dead ones to identify the center person (Herodotus!–just kidding probably), but you can get there without all the outside ones being dead. He also speculated that maybe you could finish the main find-my-family story without finishing the cult stuff at all, though that seems like leaving a pretty big chunk of the plot on the table.

But yeah, that sounds like a deal.

So the lady with the pigs!? Did you drink the wine? I said “oh hell no,” although I wish there were an option besides “drink the wine” and “attack.” Like, “no thanks, I don’t care for any just now,” and wait to see if she attacked me. Because I was very, very suspicious of that lady, but at the same time, there was no real proof. I suppose really I should have let her poison me and then at least had some proof.

Anyway, obviously I killed her and a couple of her animals. And then Barnabas was so ludicrously hopeful! I followed up on that quest because I want to make his damn blue diamond go away, and I think I’m almost done with it, but I still have my doubts it’s going to end well.

Butch:

What? Thought he was finished.

It is SO. DAMN. BIG. And, as I was thinking about this, it came to me why I’m so bothered: they made a mistake putting this in Greece. The thing with Greece: a lot of it looks the same. Korinth looks like Athens looks like Delos looks like wherever the hell else. If you take Mafia 3, a game that has similar grind, at least the Hollow looked and felt different from Downtown and the Bayou. This? Port. Temple. Agora. And all the buildings are all made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same. But, if you stick to Greece, what are you gonna do? You’re kinda penned in by your setting.

Well, that’s a relief. The cult thing. Not the 80 more hours thing. 80 more hours would bore me to tears, and, if 50 hours took three months (which it has), that means I finish in December? No way. WAY too much other stuff to play.

OK. Deal. How much farther along are you, anyway?

I drank the wine, all the while knowing it was a bad idea. I wound up back in the tomb. Remember the tomb? You go in and there’s that boar there that’s just chilling, not attacking you? Well, it attacks you. And then I killed a couple more boars, chain attacked the cheetah and the witch and boom. Done.

I totally agree that there should’ve been another option. This GAME, man. Every time they get to the point where something complex COULD happen, they simplify.

See? This is my point. Here we have a quest line that’s, at the very least, different. No forts. No leaders. No war supplies. It’s for a character we like. And still, STILL, you’re doing it just to do it. Not because you’re all “Dude, this is fascinating, bloggage for days,” but “I want to make this damn blue diamond go away.”

This game is mostly about making diamonds go away.

It could have been so much damn more. Should have been.

Feminina:

He was just picking up that very last trophy. Apparently it was in the real world.

It’s true, ancient Greece is lovely, but in much the same way from one island to the next. I mean, I noticed some cacti on Mykonos and Delos, so that was a fun change of pace! But for the most part, it’s the same hills and beaches, the same plants and trees, the same animals, the same people, the same kinds of buildings. They’re all gorgeous! I like them! But they are the same all over, and the map is SO. DAMN. BIG. that the sameness…becomes very noticeable over the course of 50-135 hours.

You are not wrong.

Ah, poor Barnabas. You’re right, this is something different that we should be caring about because it’s not the same old thing! And yet I mostly just want to make the diamond go away. I mean, I am also curious about how this is going to end up. I am. But mainly I want that big blue thing not to be on my ship all the time, distracting me.

Butch:

I know! It was very nice and interesting for a while. It was! Different! We’ve never played a game in a place like this! But now….well….I could use a change of pace.

And admit it: Mild curiosity. I’m vaguely curious who the big baddie is, especially as my guess was (probably) wrong. But it’s vague! And one does not want to waste fifty hours of game to appease a small amount of vague curiosity when one could be doing some other more interesting thing.

So I’ll let you finish first and you can tell me and I can go “Whoa, really? OK, what are we playing next?”

Feminina:

Fair. Or, alternatively, you could ignore all the side stuff and just pursue the main storyline and probably finish before me.

That would be an option.

Butch:

I’m pondering it. I am. But the problem with that is I’m still level, like, 30, and some of the zones are, like, 44-48. Some of the sages and shit are level 50. Deimos is level 50, and he’s not even the main guy. I have a feeling that if I just put my head down and plow through it I’ll be, like, 41 by the time I have to do the boss, and then I’ll be all “Shit, really? I have to go clear out Kevin for two and a half weeks just to get to the point I can even TRY this?”

That would likely lead to rage quitting, and I don’t want that.

There’s also the pesky truth that the best parts of the game thus far have been the side stuff. The main quest is, basically, “Mommy! Where are you? Gotta warn you that bro kinda turned out not so good!” If I’m just gonna putter until you’re done, I might as well putter doing the best stuff the game has to offer.

I dunno. How much more you figure you got?

Feminina:

Hm. That is true. There are harder levels ahead, and it would be super irritating to work your way to that point in the story and then have to go fight alpha animals and bearded guys in forts just for the XP you needed to continue.

I don’t know, I must be…I don’t know. I’ve made some progress in the main story. Must be more than halfway. I’m level 47, so I’m getting to the point that I could start thinking about challenging the top people, but I don’t know where they are with relation to me in the story right this minute. I feel like there’s a lot left, but a lot of that must be, technically, optional.

Butch:

Must be technically optional. You gonna do it all? Like I said, I defer to you. Don’t feel the need to not play something you’re playing just cuz of me. I can muddle through.

But yeah, we gotta be more than halfway, main storywise. And shit, if you’re level 47 then you’re almost at Delios’ level. Once you’re there, you gotta be able to at least choose to go for the end.

But then, we’ve been at this three months. More than halfway could mean two more weeks or two more months.

Feminina:

Well, yeah, you’d think one could just choose to go for the end at a certain level, but if you have to work through a certain number of cultists to get to the middle…

I did finally upgrade my spear to level 5. Still haven’t gone to the Obsidian Islands for that one dude you mentioned, though. Soon! After I take care of Barnabas’ quest and make that blue diamond go away.

Butch:

This is going to take forever, isn’t it?

Are you still enjoying it? You’re so overpowered that all this is nothing but button mashing unless you made it hard. I haven’t died in weeks, and I’m level 30.

Feminina:

Dude, I’m still wary of huntress camps (so much fire) and my-or-higher level bounty hunters because they kill me semi-often. Everyone has fire and poison now. Plus they’re all basically the same level as me most of the time (a lot of things seem to level with me), so I’m not exactly overpowered, although many things (fighting animals and randits) are pretty simple now.

But also, I’m at the point where I don’t mind things being a little easier: it’s OK to be cruising along, mostly wiping things up without too much trouble the better to sift out the interesting bits.

It’s still working for me. But I can totally see what you mean when you say it’s really not doing much for you anymore.

Butch:

It’s just so much the same. The same skills. The same dodging. The same approach to every single fight.

Sigh.

Feminina:

That is true. But also, we complain when games throw too many new and different mechanics into combat, as well as when they don’t throw anything new and different into combat.

Also, there are about 15 skills that might make combat different but that I haven’t bothered to get because I already have four things on my “Assign This Skill To Use It” section already and I don’t want to have to think about starting a second level. So to a certain extent, I don’t WANT new approaches to fights. I sort of WANT to just get good at combat and then not have to think too hard about it.

But there is a vast, vast array of similar combats, and that does begin to pall.

I think maybe the thing of it is, is that we don’t actually want enormous sandbox games. Games think that’s what we want, and maybe it is what someone wants, but we always seem to come to a point where we find it exhausting rather than exciting to have so much to do.

I think maybe we just actually prefer smaller games with more distinct boundaries. We loved the hell out of DAO and ME2, which were essentially linear games with distinct boundaries, that managed to FEEL like enormous games in huge worlds.

And we were not nearly as psyched about MEA, which went the vast sprawling sandbox route. And I loved the early AC games, which had pretty clear boundaries, but I don’t love this one the same way (although I’m still enjoying it).

Half the praise I had for RDR2 was that it hid some of its largeness from me so I didn’t feel compelled to explore it all.

Maybe we have to face the fact that huge open worlds aren’t actually what we like.

Butch:

Dude, I’ve never said that open worlds are my favorite. You loved Skyrim far more than I did. I feared (and continue to fear) the Skyrimification of video games. That game was such a hit, and ingrained the whole “more is more” idea into video games. That, plus the desire of publishers to keep us playing until DLC hits dilutes story like mad.

Worst thing DA and ME did was trying to be more Bethesda.

The one exception was, sort of, kind of, Horizon. That was more open world, but still had such tricky gates that it kinda wasn’t. There was just no real way to get to the Carja lands before you were strong enough. Sure, the Nora lands were big, but…..

I’ll happily face that open world games aren’t the best. Been saying that all along.

Feminina:

Yeah, you’re right. You have always been dubious. I didn’t mean to imply that you’ve been all “yay sandbox!” in the past–I meant more that maybe it’s time to specifically put on record that we DISLIKE this.

Although I don’t know that I would actually go that far. Quite. Yet. I think for me it’s less that I don’t like it, and more that I’m coming to feel I don’t have time for it.

Like, do I want to spend ALL THE TIME on this one game? Maybe not, unless it’s really great. And yet, once I’ve poured in 50+ hours, and I AM enjoying it, I don’t want to bail before the end, even if I’m not enjoying it at the level that I enjoyed, say, Horizon.

Hm.

Butch:

Well, unlike you, I don’t feel so obligated to do everything. I think the best thing about, say, Horizon is that it never forced you into doing busy work. Mafia did. This did. I don’t mind extra shit if people want extra shit, but when a game MAKES me burn war supplies to progress or MAKES me do a whole lot of ship shit when I don’t want to, that’s annoying. Games seem to be, not just putting stuff in, but making players do it simply because they put it in.

THAT sucks.

The last two playing sessions I HAD to raid forts. I don’t want to raid forts. If other people want to raid forts, fine. Put in the forts. Put in the boats. Put in the car races. But shit, don’t make me DO them.

Because that gets away from what sandbox games should be. Once you get into YOU HAVE TO DO THIS it isn’t the kind of game even Skyrim was. You could ignore the main story totally in that. Or, you could do the main story (such as it was) and ignore everything else.

That’s not true here. Nor was it with Mafia.

And THAT sucks.

Feminina:

Hm…yeah, I see that. I mean…I don’t mind if the game makes you do something once or twice, just to make sure you know what it’s about, but a lot of things should probably be optional after that. Like, fine, force me to learn to play gwent, but then if I want to skip every game after that, I should be able to.

I’m with you on that.

Butch:

Exactly! Horizon got that right. Want to craft? Craft. But, if not, buy shit. Want to ace all the hunting grounds? Fine. Do it. But, after that first one, you could ignore them.

Imagine how infuriated you’d’ve been if you HAD to play five gwent games to move the main story.

That’s how I’m feeling right now.

Or, even if you make me do it, make it be quick. I had to weaken the place I am, you know, with the port and the agora and the temple, to kill the guy. Annoying. So I went to a HUGE fort and killed everyone and burned everything and stole the damn treasure, and it STILL wasn’t enough. Almost an hour of real time. No real thought to it. “Oh, there’s the supplies, ok, sneak kill burn, repeat.” And I STILL had to do more.

No, game. No. Not cool. I proved I could sneak and kill and burn. That should be enough.

Feminina:

Yeah, I would have been pretty annoyed. No doubt. Or playing poker in RDR2. OK to make me do it that one time for that heist, that was entertaining. Don’t make me play poker with a bunch of people as the only means of gaining their trust and getting control of their forts, or whatever.

Come for the Booze, Stay for the Other Booze

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers, but some discussion of AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So, as you know, did the naval battle, killed a cultist. But it took SO LONG to weaken the damn place as the fort was huge and the leader kept running and had bodyguards out the wazoo (doing EVERY conquest must take forever), so I didn’t have time to do anything else.

But hey, as a reward for killing that cultist, you get to reveal another cultist! Who has a boat. Yay.

But I started sailing towards the main quest, but, when close to an island, Barabas was all “That’s where my wife saw the witch!” so I pulled in there. I’ll do that next. How hard could it be?

Ha.

Feminina:

I did that island! With the witch! It’s interesting. And not actually that long or complicated. Do it! We’ll talk!

Because otherwise all I did was stuff on Mykonos and Delos that we can’t talk about. Though there are cultists. I have 8 out of 9 shards now! Actually, I should be psyched that I missed a naval battle, since it means I can go back for him and hopefully upgrade my damn spear soon. I have all these skills to upgrade that require the upgraded spear. I have ridiculous numbers of ability points stashed up for it.

Butch:

I shall! We shall!

And it’s right on the way to other stuff. Hooray!

Feminina:

So convenient! It’s going to be great. You’re gonna love it.

I will say, also, that dropping off that lady on Mykonos is a piece of cake, so you can get rid of that annoying diamond.

If you get involved in anything ELSE on Mykonos…

Though I can also advise you that if you get into the quest on Mykonos, romantic possibilities ensue. So if you’re in the mood for love, carry on.

Butch:

Oh, I already see the damn diamond. Right there. Gonna happen.

And “If.” What is this if? There is never if.

I got a lady in every port, dude.

Feminina:

You’re right, that was silly of me. “If.” Ha!

Butch:

You know we well enough.

So many options…..

Feminina:

Yeah. It’s just as well neither of us got tied down with one of those seductive brothers. We’re not ready for that level of commitment yet. We’re young, and there are so many islands to explore!

Butch:

Though I can hear Kassandra’s grandmother now…..

She could’ve had a doctor! A DOCTOR! I wanted my daughter to have married a doctor but NO. First a wolf, then pirates. Kassandra SO got my hopes up and now this. Poets, for heaven’s sake.

Feminina:

But the grandmother’s friends chime in with “maybe she’s just getting it out of her system! Yes, she’s running wild now, but once she’s slept her way through the Greek world, she’ll remember that handsome doctor and go back to settle down.”

Grandmother’s friends can afford to be optimistic. It’s not THEIR potential great-grandchildren we’re talking about, after all.

Butch:

Totally. Some things never change.

I gotta play.

Feminina:

Yes. Play. Go talk to the witch! I’m curious what you make of the witch.

And how was the Baked Bloatfly? Dude, you never reported back on that! The world needs to know!

Butch:

Actually, it was damn good. And vegan, for crissakes. You know me: if I’m saying vegan was damn good, it was damn good. You’d’ve liked it. Maybe the next time you come over.

I’m making venison from the Elder Scrolls cookbook tonight, which is not vegan.

Feminina:

I will so come over JUST for the baked bloatfly. And possibly the Stim-Pak.

Butch:

And the skooma. I got a recipe for skooma.

Feminina:

I’ll come for that. In fact, I’m already on my way. The knocking you’re about to hear at your door will be me, holding out an empty glass. “Please sir, I want some booze!”

Butch:

Though the author of these wonderful cookbooks is a bit enamored with elderflower liqueur. I’m not even sure where to get that, let alone what it tastes like.

Still, probably something they’d drink in Skyrim.

Feminina:

Obviously, the author expects you to make your own. And here’s a recipe!

Butch:

Uh…..I’ll get right on that.

Though she does have recipes for DIY nuka cola. Awful lot of work for DIY cola, you ask me.

I’ll stick to booze.

But some are easy: Such as:

Rad-away, which is basically a rum and coke with lime and the interesting addition of nutmeg, Stimpacks, which are basically pomegranate jello shots (this one says “Pairs well with human mishaps”) and SPECIAL, which is simple syrup, apple cider, pomegranate juice (apparently pomegranates survived the war), lemons, elderflower liqueur and champagne.

Skooma sounds better: Simple syrup, vodka, vanilla, dried apricots and cardamom. I’d drink that.
But holy shit: This book has instructions for fermenting your own mead. Like, real fucking mead! And how to get it anywhere between 4 and 10 percent alcohol! It even has ways to flavor it! (Says “Pairs well with songs by the fire, a sense of adventure and a drinking horn”).

Somehow I’m guessing what Mr. O’s getting for Xmas. Or his birthday. Or both.

And Then That Happened

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Significant spoilers for major character in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Whoa. So that all happened.

Went back to Athens. Did the whole chapter, I guess, cuz the trophy popped. Short chapter.

I’m back on my boat with Adulisa or whatever.

You do all that? Cuz if not, won’t spoil.

Feminina:

Yeah…that all happened. That was…something. Was your Athens full of plague? Because if not, that’s totally my fault.

Butch:

Oh yeah. Terrible plague. Had to burn bodies. Which, remember, in my case, was foretold. I had that quest where I had to take an herb to a guy because he had a vision that Athens was going to fall to a terrible sickness. Spot on, dude.

So you do all of it?

Feminina:

I didn’t burn any bodies! I just walked around them, no one told me to burn them. I did remember your prophecy, which I never did get. Interesting.

Also, this was when I decided to finally go after Nyx, and it turns out the advantage of a plague is that no one really cares if you’re fighting cultist spymasters in the street–she was wandering around all alone, and no one tried to stop me from attacking her. She was still tough, but at least it was just her.

The cult still killed Phoibe, though. Which was an unrelated quest, but which tied in uncomfortably well in terms of timing. Sigh.

Poor Phoibe. And Deimos cutting Perikles’ throat in the Parthenon! Did not entirely see that coming.

Butch:

So I can ask: Where to next? I was going to drift down to the Obsidian Isles there, as they are close and I think they’re weak enough a cultist will “engage me in a naval battle.” Might as well do that.

And there’s two blue tales quests, on in Phokis, one by the salty bear, that are close to fast travel points. We should do those. Those are good.

Or I could just main story it up.

Have you done anything past magpie?

No bodies? Really? When I got back to plague Athens, between me and the main quest was Hippokrates, all “Please! You must burn them!” So I did. Got, like, 12000 XP.

But what really sucked is that a couple had dogs by them, which attacked, and, apparently, “Killing an Animal” is a crime which will up your bounty. I have to pay off bounties from dogs. DOGS.

I bet all the dogs in Greece are named Kevin.

Ah, man! That would have been nice with Nyx! She was tough and had friends when I killed her!

Ok….so…I’m not gonna google cuz I don’t want spoilers, but that with Phoibe was unavoidable, right? Cuz the quest was “protect Phoibe,” which made me think that we could have saved her. I kinda doubt it, cuz that was quite the plot point, but I can see how it would be doable either way.

I was also sensitive to that as the other quest I did was one for Allie who keeps popping up. He wanted me to take a drunk dude home. I kept trying to save the drunk dude, but I kept failing and gave up.

I have thoughts about that. Did you do that?

I didn’t see Perikles’ death coming either, especially as I was being all smart. See, after killing Nyx, I looked at the clue (which I’m pretty sure you aren’t doing) and it was “Active in Athenian Politics.” I noticed that some other cultist had a note from a boss signed “P” so I was all “Dude, it’s so Perikles. Looks like he’s all democracy, free thoughts and TWIST!” Guess not.

At least I can always say I was right about Arthur’s TB.

Though, this being AC, I could still be right! Cuz there’s all SORTS of weird! Like Deimos always having two dudes around who’s only job is to “die fighting my sister so I can slip away and appear at the end of the next chapter.” Probably not a job you want to take.

Though I will heap some praise on the game now: Phoibe’s death scene was really well done. I shall praise the thing I praise that you never notice: Sound. There was a LONG shot, Kassandra realizing she can’t save her, folding her hands, etc., that was SILENT. No ambient noise, no music, no nothing. That’s so rare in games. Games usually overdo it with sound effects, music, characters that never shut up, etc. To have this emotional moment punctuated by absolute silence was both effective and really made you realize how uncommon it is to hear nothing in a game, and how maybe that’s a trick more games should pick up. As I tell my kids, you don’t always need to be talking and making noise.

Props, game.

Feminina:

It was a good scene. There was genuine sorrow in Kassandra’s actions, and emotion is often a tough thing to get across. And the quiet, yeah, I didn’t really notice because our fan is so loud (holding out for the PS5). But good point!

I also wondered if we could have saved Phoibe. I mean, I did pause to fight Nyx before checking out that dude’s house where she was supposed to be. Maybe if I’d been quicker…but I don’t know.

It does also have kind of the feel of a plot point that was going to happen no matter what, so maybe we couldn’t have avoided it. I didn’t look it up either, although I’m tempted.

And dude, Alkibiades is such a jerk! Always getting me to do his dirty work. Delivering casts of his penis to enemies, hauling drunk people (presumably also enemies) into bad neighborhoods to be murdered by thugs…but I can’t lie, I’ll totally still do whatever his next quest is, because he’s also kind of funny. Plus, often good for a quick, tension-releasing orgy or a romp in a sacred temple!

After leaving Athens, I went over towards Paros, since Barnabas’ quest goes there (among other places), and Mykonos and Naxos are nearby so I can then drop off that lady and then go follow up on the lead about my mother. Enough things in one place that it seemed worth coming to this area.

Then, obviously, I got caught up in a saga on Mykonos and Delos that I’m just finishing, but there are two cultists around so I was glad to kill them along the way. Need…spear fragments…

I wonder why Hippokrates didn’t ask me to burn bodies? I totally would have done it! I fast-traveled in…maybe I just missed him.

Butch:

Nah, I did it all in one big linear swoop and she still died. That said, whenever I try to save someone (drunk politician, theater owners who took in orphans, poor women who got tricked into losing their hair) they die. And that “Protect Phoibe” quest objective…it could have been a fake out, but I dunno.

I’ll live with it.

Don’t look it up. We shall move on.

And no, I did the same thing, fast traveled to Athens. Hippokrates was right there, like, 40 meters or whatever from the temple DIRECTLY between said temple and the main quest. You couldn’t have missed him. Didn’t even have to magpie.

Weird.

But it wasn’t much of a quest. You just had to pick up bodies and chuck them into a bonfire. Gross, but hardly story themey centric.

But I did learn you can chuck bodies. Good to know, I guess.

I’m starting to not trust Alkibiades. He’s all “Take him home….” and the guy was even saying “Why are we going this way? I don’t live here!” and I figured “Meh, he’s drunk.” But he didn’t live there. He was set up, and we killed his killers. Allie would know that a) the killers would probably kill the politician and b) we’d be cool cuz we’re badass.

This begs the question: Why is he killing so many people and lying to us about it? We’ve joked that all you have to say to us is “Hey, we knew mumble mumble so hey, could you go kill my neighbor?” and we’re all “SURE!” And yet….he’s being elusive.

Though I did turn down a quest where it was mumble mumble kill someone! Some dude in Korinth was upset that someone “had the ear” of his “beloved heratae with the name that also starts with A this shit is so confusing” and I just said no. It was an “impact quest.” He said “Come back if you change your mind,” but I won’t. I’m in love with love, man. I’m not going to kill someone just cuz this weirdo doesn’t like her flirting.

We’ll see what the impact is.

All right. I’ll drift towards Mykonos and Delos. The blue quests can wait, what being by fast travel points and all.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, I turned that down too! I’m not going to go hassling some woman or killing her new love or whatever because some guy is afraid she doesn’t love him. That’s the kind of job angry, entitled-feeling men have always handled on their own–you don’t need a trained warrior.

I mean, I would have killed him if the guy had had a better story. Tell me the other dude stole your grandfather’s handaxe or something. Just don’t make me feel too bad about myself, mm’kay?

Weird. I really wonder what I did to make Hippokrates think I wasn’t up to the task of chucking bodies. Oh well. I’ll manage without his XP.

Butch:

Right! Or say she is falsely claiming you owe her money.

Kassandra: “Chaire, stranger. I have picked you as the random person I will say ‘do you need help from a mercenary’ to, so…uh….do you need help from a mercenary?”
NPC: “Yes. Please kill this woman.”
K: “Why?”
NPC: “She’s stopping me from getting my thang on.”
K: “Pfft. Not my problem, stranger. That’s some weird malaka.”
NPC: “Uh…..and she says I owe her for the baklava at last week’s office party, but it was so her turn to pay!”
K: “Why didn’t you say so? She’ll beg for mercy!”

That’s so weird about the bodies. Ah, well. I’m sure you’ll just have to get your XP from killing captains like everyone else.

Feminina:

I’ve clawed my way to level 44 over the backs of murdered captains, and I see no reason to change strategies now.

Butch:

Show off.

Hey is Mr O done? Junior was trophy stalking. Seems he is.

Feminina:

Yeah, he just got the platinum last night.

Butch:

And now he can rest.

Dear god.

There’s a cultist. He’s on a boat.

To find him, you have to do a conquest battle.

A naval conquest battle.

So, after weakening everything.

Fuck. That.

Did it though.

Feminina:

Oh man…I hope that’s not the naval conquest battle I started, accidentally ran away from, and then respawned when the nation had refortified and the battle was no longer available! I was going to do that one!

I don’t remember where it was, though, so…whatever. I’ll get back to it eventually. Or not.

Butch:

It was pretty obvious, dude. Like, the battle starts and BOOM cultist discovered, go unmask hey there he is!

You’ll get it eventually. You have to. Only way to kill the cultist. Which you have to do, right?

Feminina:

Oh, whew. That wasn’t the one I did, then. I would have noticed a cultist on a boat. Probably.

Butch:

Well, especially as he got revealed the moment the battle started. You’d have noticed.

Maybe.

But, now that Mr. O knows, DO you have to kill all the cultists to finish the game?

Cuz I’m telling you, I’ll finish the game, but I ain’t platinuming shit. It’s fun, but we have lots of other stuff to play, and LOTS more coming up. I ain’t got three days to spend doing frustrating ship battles to kill cultists. Life’s too short.

Feminina:

Oh, good point! I’ll ask him if he actually had to kill them all. Stay tuned.

“It is I, the Cultist You’ve Been Seeking!”

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the end of the Monger quest in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Killed the Monger. Have thoughts. A gripe, really.

The whole “unmask then track down cultists” thing is stupid. Really, really stupid. The “clues” are silly, and now, half the time, the “clue” is just “I’ll TELL YOU WHO I AM!”

This is silly.

It really does seem like the whole thing is a remnant from a first draft of the game. It reads like something that was going to be the game, a “find clues, hunt them down” game, and then, at some point, they decided that they would make things more RPGish. As it is now, it just plain doesn’t fit. Sure, it gives Kassandra some motivation to do the overall plot, but the whole mechanic of “clues” (in quotes, as these “clues” don’t lead to any mystery or discovery) and “unmasking” is just busy work.

Worse, when they have to go “Uhh…shit….gotta let the player know this guy’s a cultist…” it makes no narrative sense. Ok, Monger’s a cultist. Fine. But they couldn’t let a “clue” be part of the game because a magpie would’ve found it and gone after the Monger at some earlier time and fucked it all up. The only way that the Monger could a) be a cultist and b) die at that point in the narrative would be the way they did it: “I AM A CULTIST!” The fact they’re doing that so often is making the whole cult thing make even less sense than it did in the first place. Kassandra is supposed to be all “WHOA. There’s a CULT? A SECRET CULT? No. Way. Who knew? And they’re everywhere? Controlling us? This is MESSED UP.” Right? That’s kinda the point of a SECRET CULT. And yet, here’s the Monger, standing in a theater in front of all of Korinth (or, like, the ten people Ubisoft could animate without crashing the system….kinda wimpy attendance, there) screaming “I should have taken her head to the CULT! The SECRET CULT! Power to KOSMOS, leader of the VERY SECRET CULT that you, Eagle Bearer, never heard of because it’s SO FUCKING SECRET! Right, spectators?”

Villain exposition is bad enough, but when it happens about something secret ON STAGE IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CITY it’s just too damn much.

Ah, well. He’s dead now.

Feminina:

I’m home today because I had to drop people off at places. So I’m going to play later.

The Monger! Yes, at least he’s dead. My amusing story about that is, I had a couple of bounty hunters chasing me when I went to face him, and the first time we fought he defeated me, so I respawned and ran up the side of the building there to shoot at him, and while I was shooting, a level-40 bounty hunter came riding up and started fighting with him! Killed him and his men for me while I lurked up there on the building! And then, so as not to risk losing this precious gift, I paid off my bounties and lurked until the guy lost interest and rode off.

It was a lot easier than I thought that fight would be, that’s for sure.

Every once in a while, bounty hunters come in handy.

But yeah, the whole “just so you know I’M IN A CULT” reveal was entertaining the first time, and I’m not going to turn it down this time, obviously (I need that shard!), but…meh.

Butch:

Of course you’re gonna play.

I’m going to get the car worked on. Sigh. But I’ll be ALONE! so that’s good.

Dude, that’s pretty awesome about the bounty hunters (if cheap). My thing was that I got followed to it, had to kill a guy, and then “become anonymous” but the broom brigade was chasing me. I was gonna kill everyone until I noticed that one of the broom Kevins was an impact quest giver! Seriously! I couldn’t kill a quest giver! So I ran like hell, found a place to hide, and this swarm of citizens is getting closer and closer….and then poof. I stayed out of sight long enough for them to chill, and they ALL ran, I mean, RAN back to their little NPC places. Maybe, ten of them. Like, “Oh SHIT I belong in that three foot square box someone’s gonna take my box if I don’t get back and I left the oven on and I’m out.”

Entertaining vs. cheesy aside….do people in cults call them cults? Cuz if you’re in a cult, you don’t believe it’s a cult, or something….right? I don’t know. It’s very meta.

Feminina:

Ha! “Oh man gotta get back to my territory someone else is totally going to grab it…”

I do feel like “cult” is kind of the judgmental way that non-believers describe a compelling belief system. So yeah…WOULD they call it a cult?

But maybe they’re trying to OWN the whole concept, like “we know everyone’s going to say this is just a cult, so fine, we’re the CULT OF KOSMOS baby!”

I dropped that lady off in Mykonos, and then obviously ran into a new, complicated quest that I should take care of. I’m on it.

Butch:

And…..I’m finally back with the car.

Sigh.

Even when I have time I don’t have time.

Epic T SHIRT!!!!!

Feminina:

At least you have a car so you can go pick up the kids again in about 20 minutes! Because you have missed them so.

It’s that lazy post-lunch, quiet time when I kind of want to take a nap. But first I would have to put the freshly laundered sheets back on the bed. Siiiiigh.

Butch:

Grumble.

I am going to go do FITNESS! Which also isn’t games. Or napping.

Twenty minutes. Sheesh. I have a good two hours, here. No rush.

Feminina:

Yeah, but once you’re done with FITNESS…sorry. Not trying to drag you down.

Butch:

I…..didn’t play. Started cooking my fancy late birthday dinner ahead of time. But it’s game related!

Junior got me the Vault Dweller’s Fallout cookbook. Tonight I’m making baked bloatfly. Seriously.

Actually, it’s vegetarian meatloaf, which, when you think about it, is also an unnatural mutant creation.

And I’m making Ossimir venison from the Elder Scrolls cookbook on date night Friday. Seriously.

This weekend? Brahmin burgers with nuka cola barbecue sauce.

Seriously.

GOD we’re geeks.

But we can take heart in knowing that we can now make Fancy Lads Snack Cakes!

Seriously.

Feminina:

OHMYGOD I need Fancy Lad Snack Cakes!!!!!!!!

That’s awesome.

Man, we’re geeks.

Butch:

We sure are. We sure are.

They actually look damn tasty. I thought the book would be kinda jokey, like, blamco mac and cheese would be, like, “Get a box of mac and cheese….” but it’s, like, real, homemade, gourmet mac and cheese.

They even have cocktails called Rad Away, Psycho and Stimpak.

It’s kinda sorta amazing.

Feminina:

I feel that’s really not in the true spirit of Blam-Co, but I suppose it’s probably a lot more likely to be something one would actually eat.

I wonder if I know anyone who might enjoy receiving that book as a gift…

Butch:

You just want the person you’re thinking of to make you snack cakes.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Feminina:

That would be a totally unforeseeable side effect!

Maybe I’d make the snack cakes myself, as a friendly gesture.

Your Giant Quest Marker is in My Eye

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for quest points in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Did some. One quest, really. I’ll just lead with “who the hell was that guy?”

Feminina:

Also played some. Finished Divine Intervention. So…who the hell was that lady? Was she Athena? I went with “you want me to think you’re Athena,” which seemed both true and not necessarily exclusive of the possibility that she might actually be.

Hm.

She certainly knew a lot of random stuff about where things and people were.

Then I checked the ship message board and went to Skyros for Barnabas. I’ve already been there, of course.

As for that guy… The one who showed up in a dramatic cut scene and helped you fight the Monger’s goons? Yeah, who WAS that?! Presumably he’ll come up again. We’ll see.

Butch:

Who, indeed? I actually did say “You are Athena,” which I also thought I could get away with because I could claim I meant it metaphorically. So what happened when you said that? My weird lady wandered off, but there was an owl feather there where she was.

But here’s what I kinda love: We both had the same hemming and hawing reaction to this. In a game about “Should you believe” (when it’s about something), both of us, people who are not religious in nature, wondered, and went different ways with the same uncertainty. THAT’S cool quest design.

And we both tried to inject some reason into it! We both weighed things like “Well, she knew that, but she could have….” We approached “faith” by trying to “figure it out.”

Hmm.

You gotta admit, these two Tales quests are far better than anything else thus far.

Barnabas…Ah, ok, so you went to the place they were tripping? Good. Right? You did that?

And yeah, that guy! Don’t get me wrong, I was very glad he showed up, but what the hell?

You know, don’t you?

Feminina:

I don’t! I have no idea! He showed up, helped, introduced himself as Bracidos or something, suggested a stealthy removal of the Monger, and that’s the last I saw of him.

I went with the hetaerae non-stealthy approach to removing the Monger… Maybe you saw that guy again if you did it his way. Try it and see!

Butch:

No way, dude! That guy with the brothers said that I had to make it a spectacle or the debt wasn’t paid! I gotta go full non-stealthy! For poets and flawed soldiers!

He has to show up again. No one with such a dramatic introductory cutscene just has one appearance.

Feminina:

The guy with the brothers? I did the brothers after this, so maybe it was different. I don’t remember anyone mentioning him.

Butch:

AH! See, when I ended with the brothers, I had no earthly idea who the Monger was. The dude who wanted his money back (big dude? “Your father owes me?” That guy), when I was all “Let’s talk about this,” was all “Kill the Monger and the debt is paid. But make a spectacle of it. If you do it quietly, the debt isn’t paid. It isn’t good enough if he just disappears.”

He must’ve been cool with you cuz you did it.

So did you get Barnabas’ requests? What you make of that?

Feminina:

Ah… He did say “you’ve eliminated my competition, so the debt is paid.” I assumed he meant some other random person I’d killed lately, maybe some other bandits (I lose track, man!), but yeah, that makes sense. Nice! I did make a spectacle, too. Sort of. We’ll talk later.

I went to Skyros and found the pirate hide-out, which I already cleared out once before, but it was late so I didn’t actually go free the lady (who I freed once before, and I wondered why she just stood there). That’s my next step.

Butch:

Yeah. That would be the monger.

It’s a step all right. Barnabas is….complex.

Feminina:

Can’t wait to get into the complexity! Tonight. Or tomorrow. I’m ready.

Butch:

There’s monsters. And romance!

You’ve done so well getting back in the groove.

Feminina:

Home early for a school-related thing. Just got a bit in. Visited the island where the witch was hanging out with all those pigs. Didn’t drink her wine…

This isn’t going to end well, is it? I feel bad for poor Barnabas, but he’s probably deluding himself.

Butch:

Ah, yes. So Barnabas has asked you about his visions and his wife. Yes. Right?

IS he deluding himself? I have a feeling that might be vague.

What he certainly is is a fucking distracting blue diamond on my fucking boat. He is also a reason that the game is now going “There is a quest nearby, track quest?” every single time I’m anywhere near the aforementioned fucking boat.

I know, game, and no, I do not want to track it.

The diamonds though. Fuck those diamonds. I can see it now:

Herodotus: Uh…dude? What’s with that?
Barnabas: It’s to remind Kassandra that I have a related quest!
Herodotus: She knows.
Barnabas: But what if she forgets?
Herodotus: She won’t.
Barnabas: But what’s the harm of me having this?
Herodotus: The game is making me sit here, across from you, and your diamond is kinda fucking up my view.
Barnabas: It’s for my wife, though! Surely you understand!
Herodotus: Look, dude, it’s really annoy- hey, who are you?
Random Person We’re Now Escorting: I am escaping Korinth! Kassandra told me she’d take me to wherever the fuck! Hey, you mind if I sit here next to you?
Herodotus: Sure, whatever, not much bench space though and hey, what’s that above your head? *****long pause***** Shit.
Barnabas: Hey, man, at least mine’s blue.
Herodotus: Dude…
Barnabas: Matches the sea!
Herodotus: DUDE…..
Barnabas: And think of themes!
Herodotus: Please fuck off.

Feminina:

Yeah, basically as soon as that blue diamond popped up I said “all right, I’m doing this damn quest to get rid of THAT.” Conveniently, at least one of the islands is over by Mykonos or wherever that other lady wanted to go, so I’ll take care of them both in the same general area.

So Much Romance!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for some quests in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Got some in. Did two of the three things in the heratae quest line (once, in game, I’d love to find someone important who’ll be all “Yeah, sure, I’ll talk”) and I’m irked. If you’ve done it, we’ll talk. If not, we’ll talk later. We will always talk about that which irks.

So hopefully you did Divine Intervention, A Brother’s Seduction.

Feminina:

I finished up with the haeterae, so you can be irked. And then, being right there in Korinth, I checked up on those Tales of Ancient Greece! (You’re right, they’re blue! But I’m also right, the player-contributed content is blue too. They’re different shades of blue, but apparently my brain just wrote them all off as unworthy of notice.)

I did not finish the Divine Intervention quest, although I got to the point that I needed to go back to Attika to retrieve a key, and then I had to be in Athens anyway because that’s what happens at the end of the haeterae quest, so that’s where I am now.

And before that, I did finish up with the Brother’s Seduction. That was an interesting little story! Neither one of them, apparently, realizing that their father was kind of a loser…both trying to live up to his artificially heroic image…the hints of lingering mental trauma from war…

Oh, and I obviously seduced both brothers. Then at the end I picked neither and told them I liked them both as friends. Which seemed like the only way I could leave THEM still friends, which kind of felt like the best resolution of that story. They’re all they each have left in the world! I would have hated to pick one person and have that be a point of contention between two brothers who were just starting to be close again and support each other after their father’s death. Plus, I mean…I didn’t actually WANT to swear lasting love to either of them, given we’d only known each other about a week, and I have all these other things to do.

I mean, if I could have said I liked them both as lovers, I would have tried that!–but no. I can sleep my way across Greece, that’s cool, but trying to actually maintain some kind of relationship with more than one person? IMPOSSIBLY RADICAL.

Butch:

Huzzah! We FINALLY have bloggage! And you’re back ahead of me.

The universe is aligning. And school’s back in! Phew. Normality.

So thoughts!

Heratae stuff: I don’t like the sex dynamic. It’s bad enough that we’re falling into the whole “bad guy who is terrorizing city is also a sexual deviant” (remember Junior from TW3?), but doing that against the backdrop of the heratae opposing him doesn’t sit well. Sexually empowered women vs. a sexual deviant just seems…..ooky. I don’t say this often, but I hope this ISN’T themes. If they are trying to say something about women’s empowerment, or the interaction between sex and love (I take it you banged Allie in the temple cuz you’re you), or whether love/attraction is divine or not or whatever, then they could have done all that without the dynamic of women opposing someone who is committing sexual violence against women. It’s ham handed, it’s tropey and it’s irksome.

Divine Intervention: We’ll talk. Later.

Brother’s Seduction: I kinda loved that quest line. Romance aside, it finally, FINALLY, got us back into the overall theme of faith (which we will also talk about. Later. When you finish the other thing). What was so great was that it didn’t involve faith in gods, but faith in family: their father and each other. They had to pick some version of what to believe about their own history and own origins. On that, what did you do with the armor? I bought the dad’s armor and lied to the brothers. Then regretted it. In the end, they wind up realizing that their faith was both misplaced (he wasn’t the best guy in the world), but also something that was worthwhile (they ended up closer as brothers because of their experiences with their father). There was also the wrinkle that the one who followed his father’s wishes wound up unhappy and suffering from PTSD, where the one who “disobeyed” the father figure, feared disappointing him, wound up much happier. (By the way, what did you do regarding the poet’s career? I told him to become a cook).

But it also made me think of something we haven’t really spoken on: Faith in Kassandra. We’ve had so very many chances to have Kassandra say either “I’m a god” or “I’m just a mercenary.” The game is going down the “who is the hero? What makes you worth believing in?” with the main character. Both brothers look to Kassandra for guidance and SHE GIVES IT. She is, in some real sense, providing what everyone looks to the gods to do, she gives comfort, advice, absolution.

She’s been doing that all along. EVERY video game PC does that all along.

Which is starting to make me think about each time we’re asked “are you a god?” in this game.

By far the best quest line in the game so far.

Finish Divine Intervention. We’ll talk. Later.

Feminina:

Very true! We do provide this guidance! Maybe Kassandra IS a god!

I bought the cheaper armor, both because I’m cheap and because I wasn’t sure I wanted to explain how I got the father’s original armor. The military brother, Timotheus, just said “this will do” and was perfectly satisfied with it, so I didn’t have to say anything. On that note, I’m not sure they ever really DID completely face up to the truth about their father in my version…that bandit leader came along to say “he worked with me and then stole my money,” but they both expressed disbelief. I’m not sure if they wound up still thinking he was an uncomplicated hero, or not. (I did let the bandit go rather than fighting him, and maybe saying “there’s been enough bloodshed” was a gentle way of me saying I thought the guy was telling the truth.)

Like you, I told Lykinos to become a cook, and I talked Timotheus through his mania or whatever. I like to think I left them both feeling better. They were pretty cool about me saying I just wanted to be friends, which was nice.

Apparently (based on internet spoilers) it was actually kind of complicated…if you only romanced one of them and then said you wanted him at the end, you COULD end up with a lasting relationship! But if you romanced both and then picked one, the other would get mad, and then they’d both be mad at you. So I dodged a bullet there. But also, unwittingly, dodged a lasting romance with either a brooding guy with a tragic past (if only he still wore heavy armor! but I bet he’d dress up for me), OR a handsome chef with the soul of a poet. Sigh.

Butch:

And it speaks to the “maybe we’re all in our own simulations, gods ourselves” idea you floated (though if I am in a simulation, how come I didn’t pick the one with fancy dress balls and hot sorceresses?).

I bought the armor then lied and said something something saved it from bandits. They were so happy, and when the baddie came by they looked at me and said “You….hid the truth? You should have told us…..” See? Lack of faith. “Why did the ersatz god lie?”

Ah, see, I DIDN’T romance the soldier. Damn. I could have had good food forever.

But then I probably couldn’t keep banging everyone, and, really, who wants that?

Feminina:

Dude! I bet he would have kept a vine-covered cottage for you! You could have had warm cakes!!!!! YOU COULD HAVE HAD LOVE!

Ah well. As you say, that cuts down on the opportunities to sleep with hot sorceresses, should any show up.

As for the Monger, yeah, that was icky. Like Junior. I think juxtaposing it with the haetarae is maybe trying (somewhat clumsily) to say that just because these women sell certain kinds of services, doesn’t mean they’re objects that someone can do whatever they want with. The other mission about the Monger was destroying all his trade goods, right? So it’s setting him up as someone who’s strongly interested in objects that he can own and sell, and it kind of logically follows that he sees people as objects he can own and sell. Maybe people in general, but certainly people who do work that is often described (at least in English-speaking history) as “selling themselves.” To him, these women are just things he can procure and use up as he sees fit.

I think they certainly could have made the point that this attitude towards other human beings is wrong, without needing to make him a sexual torturer: that’s blunt and obvious. We already had some material in here on the idea of slavery, and what it means to be a slave in this particular context. People CAN be objects to own and sell in this society, so the Monger could have just been a slave dealer if that was the point.

Or they could have tried to actually examine how does the status of slave relates to the work of the haetaerae, who ‘sell’ themselves. But I don’t know that they really did that. It kind of wound up just being…icky. And giving us a good reason to kill a guy that we really didn’t need any particular reason to kill, because we kill people all the time for far less cause (someone said you were threatening to turn in the Oracle! An old friend of mine said you stole his sword! Alkibiades talked me into delivering a message to someone and you were in the way!).

If it was meant to be an empowering message about how women don’t like being raped and tortured to death, and will hire a mercenary to help them get revenge…uh…yeah. I mean, yeah, good for them standing up for themselves, but honestly, it would have worked just as well if what they were standing up for was stopping some guy’s attempt to take over their business, which is how it started.

And like us, did the haetaerae really need a “better” reason to oppose the Monger, than that he was taking over their business, robbing their clients, threatening them and taking their profits? Does someone have to get raped and tortured to death before women’s concerns about their work and their economic security are worth taking seriously? Were the writers concerned that we wouldn’t be sympathetic enough to these women’s complaints if no one was murdered?

“Oh, he’s just setting himself up as the Pimp Overlord of the city and taking all their money, no biggie. They probably need a man to manage the business side of things anyway. But this sex-murder habit, that’s a bit over the line, I suppose we’ll have to take action.”

Hmph.

But I do have a great story about the end of this mission when I had to fight the Monger (spoiler! You have to fight the Monger!).

Oh, also I finally tracked down Nyx the spymaster in Athens and got her spear fragment. Only one piece away from upgrading the spear! And the only remaining cultist I know about who’s at my level is…in the Arena. Wherever that is. Siiiiigh.

Gotta find the Arena, or else some more cultist clues.

Butch:

Exactly. What’s the point of warm cakes without the sorceress?

On the Monger: Right. There are many options here, indeed, options that would make sense themewise with a lot of what we’ve already done.

Hmph, indeed. Especially as, in addition to its narrative failings, there just HAD to be the “stumbling upon the dungeon” bit that we also had in TW3. That sort of thing just seems leery, and that’s even worse. Did we really need a whole quest point of Kassandra investigating all that? No, no we did not.

And if it was undermining the “empowerment” deal by saying “being a pimp isn’t bad enough,” then double mhph. I didn’t even think of that.

I don’t know. Whole thing didn’t sit right.

Man, that whole level deal with the cultists. Grumble.

I am kinda annoyed that the clues/cultists seem to be the only thing that’s off levelwise. This game (if you avoid the magpie) has been pretty good about things being right at your level when it guides you to them with main story quests…..except the cultists. I was underleveled for Korinth before, but, now that I’m there on main story business it’s all good. Excellent. Fine. I find a cultist clue there. I think “Cool! Everything else here is level appropriate. This guy’s going down what the hell he’s level 45.”

Makes no sense. Especially as everything else has made sense in terms of level.

Feminina:

Yeah, I have a guy who’s level 49 that I know about. I won’t be going after him for a bit. Everyone else is still masked. I need to hunt up some more clues, I guess.

Or just keep following the main story and assume that clues will be doled out sooner or later because the game wants me to kill them all.

Although Mr. O’ was just complaining that the last few he had to deal with are naval battles, and he hates naval combat in this game. So we have that to look forward to! As we suspected.

Butch:

Great. Just….great.

The level 45 guy was a clue I BOUGHT in Korinth. Seems weird. What can you do?

I, too, kinda sorta hate naval combat. The boat in general, too.

Speaking of which…..

Is there a way to turn off the diamonds that say “Hey! Quest!” Because Barnabas and now the woman who was escaping have diamonds on them permanently, and that’s kinda annoying on the high seas.

Feminina:

I have a diamond for her too! “Yeah, yeah, stick with me, I’ll totally drop you off at Mykonos or wherever. Eventually.”

That was kind of an “oops!” there.

“Hey, I hired this boat to take me away from here!”

In fairness…she could have told the people who were worried about her that she was leaving, and saved us some trouble. And all of those sailors their lives.

Butch:

Yeah, I didn’t see that coming.

You don’t have the Barnabas one? It’s blue. Tales of Greece. It’s…..interesting. You didn’t go to the land of the lotus eaters yet?

But it means every single fucking time I’m anywhere NEAR my boat it’s all “There is an untracked quest nearby!” Yes, game, I know. I FUCKING KNOW.

Feminina:

No, I haven’t heard anything from Barnabas! You must have to pick it up in some specific location, and I was still ignoring blue exclamation marks because I thought they were all player-created content.

I’ll get there! Maybe.

Butch:

Oh dude, you HAVE to go to the land of the Lotus eaters. It’s….dude. And it leads to more….dude. Just….dude.

After some googling….

The quest is called “Odyssey into the past.” Check the message board on your boat (which I NEVER do) and it’ll pop. Track it. It’s MORE than worth it.

Feminina:

Ah, the boat message board!

Yeah, I never check that. But OK, I will.

Butch:

I never, ever do either. I have no idea why I did. It’s the only time I did.

Ooo! Actually, I think I do know! Remember way back when after I “sank” that boat at the end of Kleon’s quest and I missed dialog? I checked it to see what I missed!

Check it. There’s drugs. And trips. And companion quests!

Feminina:

That does sound irresistible!

Throw in some romance, and you’ve got a real party. Maybe Alkibiades would come along.

Butch:

There’s….romantic potential.

Not with barnabas.

I hope.

Feminina:

Say no more! I’m on it.