Oops, Forgot My Sword

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for plot developments and combat very, very near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Done? You could be done. You were close. Are you done?

Feminina:

We are not. We were close! Yes we were! And we got even closer! But we did not finish the fight with the Void Dragon.

We went through the Portal to Eden, found the First Garden where Source was created and from whence we cast ourselves out for the sin of failing our companion (hardcore references to religious themes there, and interesting that we weren’t evicted for disobeying God, but banished OURSELVES for betraying a friend).

Fought those Death Knights, and handily dispatched them to the Void with the awesome, awesome wand we picked up. Did you say you’d cheated yourself out of XP with that? How do you figure? We got 5200 each for dispatching them: would we have gotten more by defeating them in hand-to-hand combat? Interesting…

Then we talked to that merchant who was conveniently there to buy our last-minute loot, and went down to the Godbox, and saw Astarte, and the Void Dragon showed up, and we realized that it’s immune to tenebrium and Delios had sold all his non-tenebrium weapons, plus it was already after 9:30, so we decided to start again next time, and buy another weapon from the merchant. Clever of the game to have us spend half our time looking for and learning to use tenebrium, only to have it turn out to be useless at the very end.

Anyway, speaking of big meaningful choices that we were speaking of yesterday? The decision we were going to get? Yeah. We never got that choice. It simply did not come up.

And here’s why: Icara is dead.

I believe she died in the final moments of that battle–I hardly noticed it because there was a lot going on and we were all focused on “look how low Leandra is, we’ve got this!!!”, and I really didn’t think anything of it because Zandalor had already died and he was all “I hate this part…well, see you in a bit” or something, so I kind of unconsciously assumed that Icara would be equally casual about death. I mean, WE certainly always have been!

But then we went poking around the battlefield looking for her, and…there was her body. Which we were unable to resurrect, although we tried. She’s just dead, man. Which means there was no soul forge to relink or not relink, and Leandra is also just dead.

So. Yeah.

I don’t know if that’s based on something we did (not high enough in the spiritual trait or something) or if it’s just that we should have protected Icara better–but who knew she needed to be protected!?

We thought about refighting that scene to see if she might live, but it would be annoying if we did it all over (that was a long-ass fight) and she still died because we haven’t been forgiven by Alessa or something, and anyway she didn’t have any of our good arrows, so we decided to just take it the way it rolled. It does kind of fit with our larger narrative, after all.

I’ll probably check the internet to see if we could/should have saved her, but not right now. We’ll play it out the way we got it and see what happens. If it turns out we can’t defeat the Void Dragon without her, I guess we can reload then!

But anyway, we can talk about that, I guess. What did YOUR Icara do, assuming she lived?

Butch:

So close!

Yeah, interesting, isn’t it? The Eden references.

But, you could make an argument that Eve did the same thing. After all, she wasn’t surprised that she was cast out. She knew she’d be cast out if she ate the apple, and CHOSE to eat the apple. Temptation aside, Eve thought, in that moment, “I’m choosing knowledge. I’m choosing that over Eden.” Which is, in a way, casting yourself out for not listening to a “friend.”

Interesting.

But also interesting in the sense that we cast ourselves out, then spend the WHOLE DAMN GAME trying to get back.

Death knights: Yes. 5200 each. Here’s how I cheated myself.

So they kinda respawned, right? Cuz the first time I killed a few, all was well, and then, like, four more showed up. So I killed a few more and, like, four more showed up. And yeah, 5200 XP each, but I died.

So I pondered, and noticed that I had the upper hand initiative wise. So I gave the wand to Scarlett, who nuked two of them, then passed the wand to whoever was next (which takes no AP), that person nuked two more, passed the wand, etc. They all died before they did a thing….and died before they respawned.

Thus costing me the XP of ALL THE OTHERS THAT RESPAWNED fuck how this game does XP.

Yeah, I kinda liked that about tenebrium. But the dragon is vulnerable to a lot of other things.

Anyway….before you DO go use your weapons to kill it….let Andrastae die. Just for bloggage. Won’t add that much time to your session. Did you let Andrastae die? Cuz….well….bloggage. Happens.

No shit, Icara can die? Wow. But, hmm. I guess she didn’t die in my game. I don’t recall having to resurrect her. Weird. I, too, assumed that as Zandilor seemed unkillable then she was too. Weird.

I didn’t know she needed protecting. I kinda let her be. Until…well…..

Here’s what happened. I had the choice of either using the forge repair spell or not. I was warned that, if I used it, Leandra wouldn’t really go away, but that she’d sorta share a body with Icara. They’d be more powerful, but Leandra would still be in there, somewhere. Icara was all “I can control her! I can save her!” and I figured, “Well, your sister, you body, all that, sure.” So I forged them, and cutscene. Leandra was NOT happy about this. Nice cutscene though.

So they became this weird floating womanthing with this deep voice. And yes, powerful. Very handy with the healing.

And I get to the void dragon and, for the first three or four rounds Icara is kicking MAJOR ass! But the Leandra took over her body….and Leandra was kicking major ass. And, instead of going after ME, she kept going after Andrastae (who can die, and you should let her once, for bloggage). And then she’d turn back into Icara for a few turns, then back. Which added a dimension to the fight.

But eventually a dimension where Andrastae was too low on health, and there wasn’t really anything I could think to do but to kill Icara/Leandra myself. And she CAN die in that fight cuz she sure as hell stayed dead when I killed her.

And then killed the void dragon, so you can very much kill the void dragon when Icara/Leandra is dead cuz I did.

Now, I can see that I didn’t HAVE to do that. The void dragon was/is also quite killable before/without killing Icara/Leandra, and I wonder what would have happened if things had gone that way. But I didn’t see a way to get there, so….

Which…again…an instance of doing what I THOUGHT was the right thing, on two levels, and having it backfire spectacularly.

In character: I will give the sisters what they want! Right thing! But if I hadn’t done that, and Icara had stayed just Icara, she likely wouldn’t have turned on me and I wouldn’t have killed her and she might have been alive.

As a player: Thinking “The game gave me this spell. I worked hard to get this spell. When you work hard for something the game gives you, when that quest to get the thing the game gives you is SO important that it’s in your quest list the WHOLE DAMN GAME, you SHOULD use it. Right?” So I did what’s “right” by the unwritten rules of RPGs. Thus putting her in a position where I pretty much had to kill her.

So once again: the best intentions lead to terrible, terrible things. And, indeed, BECAUSE I did what I thought was right, I pretty much HAD to be a bigger monster than you were. Your Icara just died. I killed my Icara myself.

Because I did the right thing, I had to sin to win. Literally. Because….

Well, let Andrastae die. You’ll see.

Feminina:

Dude. It’s Astarte. Greek name for an ancient Middle Eastern goddess. Old religious reverberations, etc. Andraste is the savior figure in Thedas, from Dragon Age. Different kind of religious reverberations.

And OK, well, that’s some quite interesting character development and battle mechanics that we’re missing out on by having Icara dead, but I guess we won’t worry too much about it. Hm. But yeah, it really seems like since the soul forge is a Big Deal thing that you can do in the game, then you should probably do it–but since it’s a choice, obviously there could also be a reason not to do it. Interesting.

Also interesting, Zandalor expressed not the slightest hint of sadness, or even awareness, at Icara’s death, or Leandra’s despite the fact that not 20 minutes ago he was saying earnestly “I love you both still!”

Not, you know, enough to notice when you both die, but there are feelings there somewhere. I’m just very distracted at the moment by this whole Void Dragon issue. (To be fair to him, the imminent obliteration of the universe IS a distracting issue. I should probably be saluting him for managing to stay focused on the main goal, instead of chiding him for being cavalier about the deaths of the women he loves. As if the feelings of one man matter at this moment!)

As for being cheated out of XP, I see what you mean. If it helps, we did that too, although not by cleverly passing the wand around (that is a good trick!), just by me sending a couple of them away with the wand on every turn, other people wiping out their invulnerability and whacking at them, and it all wrapping up JUST before they could respawn. We saw the pillars of light and thought “they must be coming back! Quick, eliminate this last one!” and we did. Because ours had…two or three turns before they started to come back, they didn’t respawn immediately. And in that two or three turns, we took care of business, as we do.

So I guess we also cheated ourselves out of XP, but by being effective at combat, while you did it by being smart. And thus we cling to our particular angles on the game.

Interesting thought, that Eve also in a way ‘cast herself out of Eden’ by eating the fruit knowing what would happen, and thus betraying her ‘friend’ God. I don’t know that most people would read the Eden story that way–I never got the sense that she knew she was going to be banished from Eden. She chose knowledge over obedience, yes, but did she know she was choosing the world over Eden? How could she have?

Obviously, open to interpretation, though, and that’s an interesting one.

I’m not sure I agree, though, that after intentionally banishing themselves, the Guardians have spent the entire game trying to get back to the Garden. I mean, we didn’t even know until a few days ago, game-time, that there was such a place to get back to.

I think our goal has been more to save reality (our version of reality, of course, since we may well be insane) than to return to any specific part of it. I mean, I guess we could assume that this was our unconscious desire all along, but it’s a weirdly oblique and late-breaking thing to have be ‘the main goal’. I guess I think our Big Goal (conscious or not) has been trying to right a terrible wrong…so more about atonement, than about us getting back to a place we once were. I’ve not had the sense that the characters really cared about the First Garden, or that they either expected or particularly desired to stay there forever once their work was done (though that does seem an obvious possibility).

Again, open to interpretation.

Butch:

Astarte. Right…right…right. My bad. Sorry. Been a while since I finished.

BOOM!

And what’s interesting about the Icara/Leandra decision is that I really didn’t give it any thought. Of COURSE you do it!

This, of course, despite the game, AGAIN, pretty much telling you not to in very explicit terms. Sorta like the “Piece of tale,” and all that. Zandilor just flat out says “She can’t control it. It’s a bad idea.” But I was still “But, QUEST!” and did it anyway cuz of course. And when she turned and killed Arastae I wasn’t even surprised. And I reloaded after…that…and was just all “Yup. Figured.” I did the thing the game told me not to do, wasn’t at all surprised when it turned out badly, yet STILL didn’t even think about doing it. Cuz games.

And, really, religion when you come right down to it. If you look at certain ones. Do it. Don’t think. Do. Cuz that’s the “rules,” right?

Fair enough. We both cheated ourselves of death knights in different ways. Take it from me: There would have been more.

On that, that also had an aspect of the tenebrium thing. We spent a great deal of the game finding/learning tenebrium only to have it not matter in the end (though, to be fair, the things it summons ARE very much adverse to tenebrium, so it’s not TOTALLY useless. It actually fucks those things up pretty good). But we also spent a whole lot of time being all freaked out about Death Knights (She has an army! They are invulnerable! Do this WHOLE BIG FUCKING QUEST so you can kill them!) only to have, at the end, it come down to “Oh, here’s a wand. It’ll wipe ’em right out.” In fact, because I was so sneaky and stuff, I don’t think I actually USED the whole death knight vulnerability skill once. Maybe once, but that was only because I picked a fight for the XP. I think you could have finished the whole game without using that particular skill, either. AGAIN, something you did all this questing for that could have been totally irrelevant.

Remember this. Finish tonight, and remember this.

As for Eve, well, “world,” no. But I’m pretty sure she’d know she’d lose Eden, and was thus choosing something “else” over Eden.

But ain’t it all open to interpretation? It’s how we do.

And all good stuff we’ll talk about Monday when we finish.

Feminina:

Good point about the big important Death Knight invulnerability spell turning out to not be that important. We did use it, because we fought the death knights in the Phantom Forest, because we just like picking fights and we could.

On a more comforting note, though, what do you really need XP for at the near-end of the game anyway? We actually did level up in the middle of that fight, but I don’t think it’s going to make a significant difference to the outcome of the final battle.

“Ooh, at last that final attribute point! Now I’m strong enough to wield the only weapon that can slay the beast!”

Nah. There are other weapons that can slay the beast. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get anything so amazing at level 21 that it’s going to make any real difference. So even if you cheated yourself out of XP, they were just boring XP you didn’t care about.

As for Eve, I mean, I’m no theologian (thank god, hahahahaha), but as I recall the story, God said “don’t eat the fruit of THAT ONE tree or you’ll die,” and the serpent said “you won’t die, you’ll get knowledge and be like God!”

So based purely on this, it’s highly debatable what Eve ‘knew.’ I mean, we could argue that she believed God and therefore knew she would die (lose Eden) but did it anyway.

Or we could argue that she believed the serpent, figured God was lying, and (mistakenly of course) thought she WOULDN’T die/lose Eden but would gain knowledge. I think this is the more common interpretation, although that’s just my impression.

I do kind of like the idea that she knew God was telling the truth and that she was going to die, but chose to know anyway. It gives her an interesting level of agency: in the traditional telling, she was ‘fooled’ by the serpent, so basically she was simply misguided and probably stupid (though, kindly, many tellers stress the serpent’s great charm and wiles, as if to say that it’s understandable she was tricked, could have happened to anyone, it’s not ONLY that she was weak and silly and vain like all women everywhere forever).

If we figure that instead she was thinking “I know God is totally going to kill me for this and that sucks, but I have to know the truth!” then it’s at least a choice. Believing a big liar and getting tricked out of paradise is less cool.

Still obviously a strong possibility, given what we know about how humans can believe big liars and get tricked out of stuff.

It all depends on the way you want to tell the story.

Butch:

Yeah, you could use it, but if you didn’t pick fights, the death knight spell was pretty pointless. And SUCH a big quest!

But really? Fucking REALLY? I cheated myself out of XP and you leveled? Seriously? I thought the game was insulting me before, but it, once again, managed to hit me with a double whammy.

For the manyeth time, there’s lots of stuff that can damage the dragon, and the weapons you have work fine on the summons. I didn’t buy a new weapon from that guy and managed fine.

You’re fine.

After all that looting, you have, like, two weapons? I had a damn arsenal.

Hmm. Fair about Eve. What can I say, I’m no theologian either.

What’s left unclear in the game is whether leaving Eden (in the game) had the same effect on Scarlett as it did on Eve. Well, the traditional, classical interpretation. Certainly, the art of several centuries ago (Mr. O would know what period) always depicted Adam and Eve wailing and looking generally unhappy when they were cast out of Eden. The game is rather silent on whether Scarlett/guardians/whatever had the same wailing and gnashing of teeth as the classical depictions of Eve. Maybe they did. Maybe less so.

Even “Cast out because of guilt” isn’t the same as “Punished.” They “cast themselves out” could just mean “left.” Or “fled.” I’ve been saying for months (And I stand by this) that Scarlett a) is nuts and b) wants to STAY nuts. In general, people who are really happy with their real world life do not feel this way. If there was something in the real world that made Scarlett very unhappy, or guilty or whatever, she could have “cast herself out” to get away from it. To hide. To avoid the thing that was causing her unhappiness.

It’s only the traditional Biblical interpretation that “cast out” is “punished,” and this game plays with traditional interpretations all the time.

It’s in how you tell the story, or in how this game twists things. In the Biblical telling, “die” is bad. But if “die” is “stay in Rivellon,” then in game terms “die” is good. Scarlett wasn’t tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, not a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.

And…well….finish the game. Cuz…finish the game.

Additionally, in the Bible, Eve chooses/gets tricked into knowledge. Here, leaving “Eden,” choosing Rivellon, is to reject knowledge, to convince yourself that the world of houses and cars and new decks and lawnmowers ISN’T REAL when it very much is (my aches and pains from mowing yesterday attest to that). If Scarlett IS nuts (and she so is), then she IS misguided, literally.

That’s the very way this game would twist something.

Feminina:

Oh, I have an arsenal! An arsenal of weapons I or Wolgraff might use. Mr. O’ did not maintain a backup arsenal of weapons he might use, and that’s on him.

A small way that cooperative play and having each of us identify with one character influences things. If it were just me, I would obviously have a small arsenal for each character. If it were just him, apparently every character would have one weapon and that’s it.

Also, wait…

“In the Biblical telling, “die” is bad. But if “die” is “stay in Rivellon,” then in game terms “die” is good. Scarlett wasn’t tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, not a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.”

When did your theory say that dying meant staying in Rivellon? I thought dying meant being cured and LEAVING Rivellon. That was supposed to be why we fight so hard to avoid dying, and why it’s significant when our companions don’t die/leave us…right?

You’re confusing me, man.

Butch:

Man, that’s SO on him. Like, dude, we’ve been switching weapons the whole damn game. First thing you do: check where it’s vulnerable and switch. Bad tactics.

Sorry, Sorry. I should say “In the Biblical telling, DIE is ‘leave paradise/the world you know/are supposed to stay in, and is, thus, bad’ But in this case, leaving Eden/paradise/the world you know/are supposed to say in/the real world means go to Rivellon, stinky, fishy, rainy Rivellon, which is where Scarlett WANTS to be and, indeed, is fighting to both stay in herself and keep her companions in. This place you’re not supposed to be, this delusion, this NOT paradise is good. Thus, Scarlett was not tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.”

Feminina:

Ah, I see…sort of. I mean, that assumes that the in-game Eden represents the real world (as in, our world of cars and lawnmowers), rather than the fundamental, pure heart and soul of the delusion.

We tore our threads out of the tapestry that is the foundation of the fantasy, right? We’ve spent this game figuring out who we are in the context of that background: who are we HERE IN THIS REALITY. Hints of our Earth-reality have been purely in passing–there’s no sense that the closer we get to the truth of who we are, the closer we get to lawnmowers and annoying office meetings.

I don’t think the tapestry represents a reality of garbage trucks and jumbo jets, I think it represents the origin myth of the delusion (assuming there’s a delusion).

And I agree that we could read the story as being about a later-regretted attempt to pull ourselves out of a delusion (erasing ourselves from the tapestry that tells the story of that fantasy), but if so, we initially cast ourselves out of one delusion (Eden, where it all started, the First Creation…i.e., the first delusion?) and into another (Rivellon).

The Void Dragon, perhaps, could represent subways-and-offices reality, since it comes to destroy everything, Eden and Rivellon alike, but the minor hitch there is the explicit references to other planes/realities and the note that the Void will destroy all of them too.

I dunno…I mean, yeah, Eden is innocence and I guess the PC could be seen as having been innocent back in Japanese toy swords reality and therefore that reality is now glorified in retrospect as the First Creation even though it was presumably terrible for the PC. That’s the twist and all.

Hm. It’s hard for me to totally buy it, though.

But I guess not every dramatic plot twist is completely believable. And if we’re going with insanity, then it doesn’t even have to make sense!

Butch:

AAAA! Ok, finish the game.

First…well, just finish the game. And let Arastae die once. Then finish the game. ALL of the game. WE’LL TALK LATER!!!!!!!

Because then this will all be less confusing. Or more confusing. But certainly it will have more context.

And we can move on to what I hope is a much simpler game.

Man, I miss sorceresses.

Feminina:

I certainly look forward to a great deal more confusion.

And booze.

Butch:

It’s not confusing.

Vague. And a little confusing.

Yeah. Booze and sorceresses. Soon.

Feminina:

Dude, I AM a sorceress. I’m still plenty confused.

Or maybe I’m a witch, I have a lot of levels in witchcraft to get that resurrection spell (totally worth it). Or an aerothurge…OK, I’m obviously still plenty confused.

Butch:

Are you scantily clad? No?

Then it doesn’t count.

You’re even wearing the silly underwear.

Really doesn’t count.

Feminina:

I wear a long flowing robe, thank you. Comfortable, practical, and the classic style for wizards.

So maybe I’m actually a wizard.

Also confused.

Butch:

I’m not into wizards, dude. Sorry.

Finish the game. All will become clear(er). Kinda.

And we can move on.

Feminina:

Zandalor is going to be so disappointed. He was passing me notes in class the other day about how cutely insane you were and how he hoped you weren’t seeing any other magic users.

Another broken heart.

Butch:

Hey man, me and Roderick are all…..

Finish the game. I’ll be very amused if you and Delios aren’t all….finish the game.

Hey….wait….I wound up with a brooding dude in heavy armor?

Didn’t we start this game wondering if WE were the same person?

Feminina:

FULL CIRCLE.

Butch:

Considering the length of this particular circle, I am impressed.

You know what we’ve earned? Pizza and booze.

Now finish the game.

Feminina:

Enh…I really feel we’ve gotten about as much enjoyment from it as we’re going to. Is it actually necessary to finish the last fight? Meh.

I guess we’ll do it if we get around to it, but I’m kind of in the mood to move on to Beyond: Two Souls.

Butch:

Stop that.

Finish this weekend, we’ll hit next week refreshed and ready to chew over the ending and then move on to a new and very different game.

Feminina:

Remember a month ago when we thought we were near the end and then I said “We’ll get another good month out of this, just watch”?

Called it.

Butch:

I blame myself.

And you. I also blame you.

Feminina:

Hey, what have we done!?

Oh, right. Nothing. That’s what.

I blame us too.

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So Close…So Close

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for really-almost-the-end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Ok, you start.

Wait, if I say “You start,” thus starting myself, have I made it impossible for you to start?

God I’m tired.

Feminina:

I can’t start. You’ve ruined everything!

I’m also tired. We stayed up late fighting the Trife and Leandra. Definitely not 10-minute fights, but they were fine. There were a number of deaths and convenient mid-fight resurrections, but we didn’t have to start over, which is good because it would have been really annoying to have to start over after half an hour or 45 minutes in one battle. Leandra’s invulnerability trick was a good one. By which I mean, we hated it.

So yeah, that’s what we did. Wandered around the creepy backwards King Crab Inn (so THAT’s where that trophy came in), caused some explosions by trying to loot (cruel! cruel game!), prayed over the dead Astarte and then set the body on fire when that did nothing. Got into some fights.

Went to bed.

Butch:

hA sey. tahT.

Told you there was…more stuff. Too much stuff, I thought.

The “trick” I told you about was setting Andrastae on fire. That took me longer to figure out than I’m willing to admit. And I just admitted it took me a while. Nicely done.

I’d still be fighting Leandra if Junior hadn’t figured out how to disable the whole invulnerability thing. You….did you figure that out? Cuz once you destroyed the crystals she went down pretty quick.

Note comparin’ time! Three things: Maybe Four:

1) So I said yesterday that there would be something right away there. That would be those first couple portals and the thing that was all “You are nothing! You have fear!” blah blah blah. That asked you questions to get through those portals, all that. And I’m curious as to whether the fact I was forgiven and you weren’t altered that, so what did you do there? And what happened?

2) So…what did you make of the whole creepy in thing? Other than it being a creepy inn? Yeah, ok, creepy, but…I dunno. I’m not so sure I saw the narrative point to that. And it went on too long, especially for something that I couldn’t figure out the point to. But, as to the end of that, did you see ghost Alessa right before the trife showed up? Cuz that was the other time I saw ghost Alessa.

3) So what did you do after you killed Leandra? Cuz there was a choice there…..

4) Did you get the cup of blood from the Trife at the bar? And did you drink it? Cuz I didn’t, and I wondered what would happen if I did.

STUFF!

And guess what’s on the other side of that “Portal to Eden?” Go ahead, guess!

We can talk about the overt use of “Eden” later.

Feminina:

Ah, the questions…yeah, I answered one and Mr. O’ answered one, and we both just agreed with her. “A tiny scurrying worm, yeah, you must mean me…have it your way, I’m a traitor.” Which she thought was great, and then she disappeared and we went through. So I don’t know what would have happened if we’d challenged her characterization of us instead of going along with it.

The creepy inn was creepy. I don’t know what it was other than that…sort of a disturbing inversion of the familiar world, trying to get us into another frame of mind? I don’t know. We didn’t spend that much time there, it didn’t seem like…we found the key in the book pretty quickly, and once we realized there was no point in looting we just kind of moved on as fast as we could.

Ha…that kind of sums up our approach to everything, huh? “I will spend 8 hours in this room checking every corner… No loot? Let’s move!”

I told the Trife a drink sounded good, and it said “yes, it does, hahahahaha!!!!” and then…nothing happened. So it didn’t actually give me anything, and I didn’t have the option to choose to drink or not drink. I was confused by that, actually. Maybe we weren’t forgiven so we couldn’t drink? I don’t know. We’re getting weird differences here.

And yes, we saw General Alessa there, although then she started laughing in a deep ominous voice and I thought she’d turned out to be a fake General Alessa (especially since we were in the nightmare there, right?).

After we killed Leandra, we saved and went to bed. Literally. If there’s a choice, we haven’t done it yet. And yeah, we figured out the crystals pretty quickly to get rid of her invulnerability. I sent an undead swordsman after one of them! It was pretty sweet. She just kept summoning more void knights, and they kept getting tougher. And that vortex thing that teleported away when you hit it was annoying.

Still, we got it done! That’s the important thing.

Butch:

HA! That’s what I did. But what was interesting was I felt the same way. I, that is me, Butch, was all “yeah, yeah, have it your way” without actually believing I (or Scarlett) WAS a worm or anything. It was, for both of us, a fake repentance. Going through the motions of confession/guilt/whatever without really believing it.

And I’m not religious enough to know if that’s a sin. Going through the motions of faith without faith. If it is, then, again, here’s us sinning to win. Saying whatever the fuck to move things on and get back to Eden.

Interesting themeage.

We still have themeage!

Well, mostly the inn was full of former friends/people we helped who were either miserable (the cat was all “Maxine…she isn’t even here…she left…”) and Zixzax was all drunk saying we lost and all that. I think the most interesting bit was the folks in the rooms upstairs, the people we helped who were…kinda evil. I met the dude who I helped steal a fish. Remember him? Way back when? And he had all these fish trophies and was talking about them in disturbing, vaguely sexual terms (This one tried to fight…but I grabbed her…and she couldn’t get away…and I had my way with her….). The happy, chatty crab was no longer being nice, and was huge. It was a whole lot of “HA! You THOUGHT you were being good? Even when you thought you were doing the RIGHT thing you were sinning! Or helping others sin!” Which, again, brought home our themes.

But there was too much of it.

The trife didn’t bring a drink? Ha. Probably not a difference. Just your lack of patience. I said that and he poofed away, and, luckily, I had to yell at Nugget, cuz, about a minute later, POOF he came back with my drink, which was “puc fo doolb” and, if you looked at the item description it just said “og no….ekat a pis….” in a rather ominous backwards way.

I didn’t ekat a pis. Wonder what happened if you did.

You just probably moved on looking for seotatop and he poofed back all “Here ya go….where are they?” And zixzax was all “Welcome to my wooooorrrrrrld….”

Huh. You still got that bit with Alessa. Kinda surprised.

And seriously? There was enough time to save? I thought it went into choice land immediately. Well, there’s a thing you have to ponder and choose. Takes but a minute. Then, likely, a cutscene and off you go!

You’ll get one last chance to cheat yourself out of XP and then end of game ahoy!

And if you’re in a rush, there’s always turning down the difficulty. But I didn’t need to. You’ll be fine.

Feminina:

Seriously, the Trife came back with blood? Ha! I did just walk away, it’s true. Man, we missed out on everything due to lack of patience.

But yeah, true, the inn was basically “everything you did turned out badly!” Which is kind of our constant fear, isn’t it? And this place was supposed to be our nightmare, so I guess that makes sense. It was showing us what we were always afraid of, that we helped the wrong people, we tried to help but really we hurt them, we thought they appreciated it but really they’re miserable jerks, we killed the wrong people (interesting…I didn’t notice Archibald the troll or his kid there chiding me, but that would have been appropriate).

Also, I thought it was funny that the giant crab’s voice says “I will be queen!” but the text says “I will be king”. Another weird inversion, in a silly little way. And all those cupboards full of body parts, ew.

As for Leandra…uh…I don’t REMEMBER a choice right after her death. Do we have to pick whether to rejoin the soul forge or whatever? Because Zandalor basically told us we’d have to choose to do that or not, but we haven’t had the chance to pick yet.

Butch:

You certainly missed out on a lot.

Right, the inn showed us everything gone wrong. But was that just a nightmare? Cuz really, what would SCARLETT’S nightmare be? After all, SHE didn’t go around trying to do the right thing, really. Maybe I did, me, Butch, but Scarlett was never really motivated by any type of GOOD. I’ve even said that saving Rivellon might not be GOOD. So there wasn’t some overarching heroic shit. Source Hunters themselves were morally ambiguous.

So what is there that Scarlett is really afraid of?

Yeah, man. Cupboards. Yuck. Enough to stop looting.

HA!

And yeah, that’s the thing with Leandra. I guess you had to talk to someone? Her? Or try to use the portal or something? I thought it was one of those “Poof! Conversation” deals but maybe they gave you the chance to loot.

Ha.

But yes, that’s the choice. And it does kinda matter.

Feminina:

OK, we’ll probably get that choice next time we play. We didn’t try to do anything at all after she died, so probably as soon as we try to move it’ll come up.

I hope we get a chance to loot.

Butch:

No doubt. Hard to avoid.

And there is a rather handy wand. Did you get the rather handy wand?

It’s great if you want to cheat yourself out of XP.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, I picked up the wand! OK, so we did do that much. She fell dead, I hit ‘search’ and scooped up a bunch of loot, and we saved.

Probably as soon as we talk to someone, the thing will happen.

Butch:

Has to. It’s a key thing.

The wand is so key. If you want to cheat yourself out of XP.

They better work this punishing me for being smart shit out in the sequel.

Feminina:

Oh, I’m sure it gets worse in the sequel. I read a review that said “brute force is the only way to succeed in DOS2. Clever play will result in, at best, lost XP, and at worst a random NPC appearing out of nowhere and smacking your character in the face with the declaration ‘no one likes a smartass’ before vanishing with half your loot.”

Just kidding. Probably.

Butch:

Even though you’re kidding, the idea of an NPC that smacks you in the face, says “No one likes a smartass” and takes your stuff kinda needs to happen in a game.

Feminina:

Someday, someone will take all our brilliant advice and finally make a perfect game. It’s going to be so awesome.

Except the inventory management system: that will still suck.

Butch:

Well, we don’t excel at that in real life, so we don’t have much to offer.

For example, I have no idea what’s in the bottom of the veggie drawer of my fridge. And I best not check.

I do know the contents of my liquor cabinet.

This speaks volumes.

Feminina:

No argument here!

Our Paths Diverge

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for things that may or may not happen very near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

C’mon, you must’ve done something.

Feminina:

Oh, indeed we did.

We went back to the end of time and talked to Zixzax, went to the ‘trader’s emporium’ or whatever, ran into Astarte who said she was weakening and we needed to hurry to join her in her fight against the void.

Thought, “hm.” Couldn’t talk to the Alfie/Ralfie creature, didn’t want any of the trader’s stuff because our own loot was better, went to the Earth Elemental door and bought a nifty Invulnerability spell we haven’t bothered to learn yet…and STILL were lacking one freaking stone to be ‘whole.’

DAMN, we were apparently terrible at looting in this game!

Went back to the internet and found out there was a bloodstone in the talking iron maiden in Hiberheim prison, so we went back and destroyed that. I guess the lesson is, we haven’t been quite destructive enough. We’re leaving every living thing we meet dead, but not bothering the inanimate objects, and that’s where we missed some stones. Next time: destroy everything, living or dead!

Anyway, took that bloodstone back to the end of time, went to the chapel (didn’t, in fact, have to use the bloodstone in order to get there, so using them wasn’t actually part of the process, it seems, we just didn’t have enough of them before).

The Trife talked to us about how it had tried to be our friend, and we should just relax and accept the gift of the void or whatever. Zixzax talked to us about how we were the Guardians and they’re back and the void is so close to winning but we’re so close to stopping it!

We must get to the temple!

Went to the temple, poked around, opened doors, eventually found the wounded Zandalor. Learned that we have to go back to the end of time to use the final portal to reach the final battle and fight the void dragon! So much drama!

Went to bed. We’ll fight the final battle next time.

Whew.

Butch:

Oh thank God. And thank you for not being witty and being all “What? Games? No, we worked on our stamp collection.”

Ok…let’s start with meeting the weakening Astarte.

Yes, the trader’s place. I found that all rather interesting. For starters, that dude, once again, mentioned a whole lot of other planes AND the idea of being unstuck in time. Sure, we know some about planes, but this guy seemed completely all “yeah, I do that.”

And yes, I do agree his loot wasn’t great. Hell, his loot wasn’t as cool as the skillbooks and shit in the elemental places. Which was interesting as to why they put him so late. The dudes from the planes, late.

But one thing I found REALLY interesting there was the other guy….did you talk to the other guy? The guy from…before?

Can we talk about the guy from…before?

You still needed a stone?

I have no idea how I managed to cruise through all this. I didn’t destroy the totem. Nor did I know about a talking iron maiden. Go figure.

But OK. The chapel. I have thoughts on the chapel. Alessa? And that skull….did you notice the skull? I have thoughts on the skull.

Can we talk on Alessa?

The trife: Yes. “We’re your friend, accept the void.” That.

You know how I feel about that. The bad guys wanting to “end Rivellon.” Yup.

WHOA LOOK AT YOU!

I was worried you’d hit a wall there. There was some puzzly shit! That’s not usually your forte. I was playing through that thinking “Shit. This is not a KILL EVERYTHING thing. They don’t really DO that….” but LOOK AT YOU!

Phew.

But…talking point three…what do you make of Zandilor? I can’t really get behind Zandilor. We have a game chock full of fleshed out characters, many of whom have metaphor attached, but Zandilor…unless I’m missing something you caught. He seems to be that narrative clunker we see sometimes: “We’ve been talking about this important dude for the whole game. You’ve never met him, and you don’t know much about him, and he’s not developed at all, but we DID say he’s important and here he is so CARE DEEPLY!”

I found it hard to care deeply. Like, “Yeah…ok…important. I get it. But, like, dude, we just met…..”

Games do this. I don’t like it when games do this.

Well….you’ll go through the next portal for sure….we still have some things to chat about before you fight the final battle. You’ll see.

Depends on how long you play. The final battle’s in reach! But, without spoiling, I thought “Yes! Through this portal and dragon! BOOM!” And…not so much. There’s….you’ll see.

Whew indeed.

Feminina:

Yes, I did notice the trader’s casual approach to planes and time. It does potentially either explain why Japanese swords are showing up in Rivellon when we have no idea where Japan is, or, as you say, suggest that we’re insane. I guess.

I don’t know. We’re all insane!

Dude, the puzzly bits were annoying. At the end when we were trying to light the candles, we just cheated and went to the internet. Because we were trying to make the instructions from all three books fit together in one event, which was obviously impossible. “How can we light the center and yet not light the center!?” we kept saying. Gah. We’re idiots.

As for Zandalor, I agree, he felt like someone who was just sort of tossed in there, but I also didn’t feel that we were SUPPOSED to care deeply about him? I felt kind of that it was totally OK that we didn’t know him or care about him, because we were both just plot points in each others’ dramas, in a way. He’s been a McGuffin for us most of the game, and then it turns out he’s willing to fight beside us, and…OK, fine, join up, whatever.

As for the rest of your notes…uh…the guy from before? I guess we didn’t talk to him, because that rings no bells, unless you mean the Dark Underlord of the imps, which you probably don’t.

Also…uh…Alessa? Was that her? I thought that was Astarte again. Damn A names. That I skim over in passing while in a hurry to get to the text. And the skull: I think we just picked it up to sell later, the way we do with everything we can carry. We did not think about it, any more than we think about all the other bones we run across and loot without thought or hesitation.

So…we’re kind of getting to the point where we feel like we’re about ready to be done with this game. Perhaps that shows through in our inability to be patient with puzzles or read names carefully or think about skulls. (Although it might also have been helpful if either of the characters had seemed in any way surprised to see someone they thought was dead, rather than calmly taking it in stride the way they have every time they meet Astarte.)

So I don’t actually have anything intelligent to say about Alessa, because I thought she was Astarte. I was really sensing Astarte’s urgency at that point! She kept showing up to encourage us to hurry! Which I was totally ready to do!

Now I can’t find a walkthrough that gives away that part of the plot, because they all want to avoid spoilers (JUST SPOIL, that’s what I want right now!!!!), so I can’t review what she said to comment on it in this new light. I only remember it was more “come join me in this fight” stuff.

You talk about that.

I’ll be over here regretting my game life choices. Next game: more destroying, and more attention to NPC names. Or less. I don’t know, maybe I’ll just aim to kill them all instead.

Butch:

Oh man….figures you spent a lot of time on the puzzle. That was….kinda simple. Ah, well. Good for the internet.

Sigh.

Ok….in the trader’s place, I bumped into the “Mysterious Stranger,” the guy who showed up by the church way back when, and a couple other times. Who asks us something, and makes a face, and disappears. That guy.

So he asked me “So what have you come to think of Rivellon in your travels?” and you could choose something like “I have never discovered such wonders! I have come to love it so!” or “I have found all the evils and ugliness and have lost my love of it” or something or other. I told him I love it so (cuz I’m staying in character), and he beamed this ecstatic grin and poofed away forever, like his work was done.

I don’t know what to make of that guy, either, but he sure was glad he liked Rivellon.

Sigh.

Ok….so there was a grave, and a ghost thingy came and talked to you, right? That was Alessa. She talked a lot about the battle where you left her to die. Ringing bells?

And the skull was the the thing past that that was selling the “resist everything” potions? Did you see that?

Sigh.

I’m kinda getting that you’re basically done. What made you so tired of it all of a sudden? Are you just becoming Mr. O?

Well, you’re close. And there’s a lot of themeage if you bother to, you know, listen.

As for Alessa….what she did was forgive us. She basically said that she understood why we left her, that she still loved us (!) and that, in her mind, we didn’t do anything wrong.

Which was some interesting timing. Here we are, very close to the end of the game, and we find ourselves in a chapel (one of the few religious places we’ve seen that isn’t abandoned or otherwise “bad”) being forgiven, which, in a game about sin, a game where we’ve “sinned to win” so often, is rather interesting. After all this sinning, HAVING to sin, which pissed Mr. O off, we have to be absolved before we continue, before we are whole. But, see NOT by the god (like you thought) but by the person we thought we wronged. Or did wrong.

That was kind of important, Femmy. What’s gotten into you?

Ringing bells?

You’re just playing like Mr. O. Fast. Without thought of bloggage. Soon, you won’t be the same person anymore and you’ll be back to insane, Scarlett self.

Feminina:

Uh…no. We did not meet the mysterious stranger. I know who you mean, we’ve met him several times before, but not recently, and not with those dialogue options. Where did you find him again?

And also no. That conversation doesn’t particularly ring bells. We talked to SOMEONE in the chapel, and I thought it was Astarte, and she said something about coming to fight alongside her again. I don’t recall anything about either “I still love you” or “I forgive you.”

So maybe the person we talked to WAS Astarte. I mean, I don’t know how we would have missed another person with an important conversation, we walked all around the place clicking ‘search,’ but at this point I guess I can’t trust us to accomplish anything, so we probably did manage to miss it.

Or we’re insane. Or you’re insane! I don’t rule out anything.

We did get an exclamation point conversation between the PCs there that gave us the option to either say that we/the Guardians had completely messed up, or that maybe ‘our only choice’ was to try to erase ourselves from reality the way we did, so something meaningful had happened, but…I don’t know. I wish I could find a game video of that bit to review, but no luck.

INTERNET WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME. You had my back with Wolgraff’s voice!

As for the potion selling, we saw the altar that if you click ‘use’ will talk and sell you potions, but I didn’t associate a skull with it. It was just a talking altar. Which…I mean, we’ve seen stranger things. The ‘huge’ potions were rather nice, and I kind of liked the way it said “in battles past, you found protection from the elements useful…perhaps you will again.”

Well, I wasn’t really thinking specifically about that, but now that you mention it, perhaps we will! More useful than the trader’s random loot, which, you’re right, was a bit odd to find here near the end of the game.

“Just in case you’ve been an utter failure at collecting anything good throughout the entirety of the game, here’s this guy with some OK gear to make sure you don’t go into the final battle COMPLETELY underequipped.” I guess?

And honestly, I think the thing that’s made us suddenly kind of tired of it has been these last few sessions of having to go poking around looking for star stones, and trying to figure out if star stones and bloodstones were the same, and wondering if we had to USE bloodstones for them to count, and so forth. Which is our bad for missing so many of them the first time through, for sure, but it’s just been a lot of annoying backtracking trying to figure out where they were and which ones we’d gotten and where we had to go to get the others.

It would have been a lot MORE annoying if we’d continued trying to do it honestly, finding the stones we needed using the treasure maps, but we almost immediately realized that was going to make us hate everything forever, especially since the little treasure chest icons don’t change to indicate whether or not you’ve collected a treasure, so we decided to go to the internet.

But that in itself kind of feels like failure, and once you’ve failed you start to disengage a little from the whole thing, and then it starts to feel like “OK, let’s just get this over with.”

Meh. I mean, I don’t want to give the wrong impression, it’s not that we hate it now or are totally over it and only finishing it as a chore or whatever. We’ve enjoyed it, and we’re still into it, but definitely with a “this will be good to finish up with” sense.

Butch:

The Mysterious Stranger was in the trader’s place. I guess you went down the stairway to the right, cuz he was on the landing on the left. Just standing there. Like he does.

Well…hm. She did lead with that “Come fight again!” stuff, and there were a whole bunch of dialog options, some of which were more apologetic than others. Maybe to get the “forgiveness” you had to say “We’re sorry! We’re awful!” because some were really like that. Like, “We’re not worthy! We’re cowards!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get it. Though I don’t think any actually said “We’re sorry.” They were all like “Hey, man. War. War happens” or “We’re not worthy of your friendship and respect.” Maybe if you picked the “Hey man…whatevs” ones you got different dialog.

And I wonder how this plays into something you’ll see in about five minutes of gameplay. We’ll talk. Hopefully tomorrow.

So I noticed (and you didn’t) that over said altar was a skull, like a stone skull. It had a moving mouth, and big assed eyes that moved side to side and up and down. But what was interesting is that the thing was, yes, a skull, but evocative of a cheap animatronic thing, like something you’d see at a cheesy carnival. It was, needless to say, out of place in a chapel. So what I said before about this being the first religious place that seemed straight up was undermined, cuz here, at the back wall, was this thing you’d see by a carny funhouse or something. It made the whole thing look ridiculous. Fake. Yet creepy as hell.

And very fakey and cheap at this place that was selling the most powerful potions we’ve seen.

Which….again…..

This isn’t real, I tell you.

If you go back there, get close and make sure you look above the altar. It’s….interesting. See if you read it like I did.

I dunno, man. I think it’s telling that you got MAD gear at the temple place (I finally made Scarlett wear something sensible…it was just too good) and then that trader had crap. I don’t think he was there to sell you stuff. I think he was there to make a point about the planes, and how mundane they are. Like, “here is this stuff from interesting places!” that, you know, aren’t that interesting. Like places where people have houses and jobs.

This place isn’t real, I tell you.

Well, we did talk about how this game had a major narrative hiccup by making everything grind to a halt by having the attack at the end of time, so it IS prone to major narrative hiccups. What’s so weird is that the attack at the end of time was unavoidable, whereas this mess with the star stones wasn’t. I didn’t hit that roadblock. I cruised right into the temple first try, and it was all a downhill sprint from there. I didn’t even have to go back to find ONE stone. Found the door, “hey, you’re whole!” “Uh, I wasn’t? Whatever,” off I went. And we did the same stuff! Right? Shit, you got the goblin one, the iron maiden one…

So I really have no idea why that happened.

But yes, it is a very fair criticism of the game that this kind of narrative roadblock, this kind of narrative disengagement, was even possible. There really was no reason for the game to make you do all of that. So yeah, sure, I can say “Well, it was cool for me,” but games shouldn’t put possibilities in that are so destructive to the narrative unless they have a real strong point. And it sure doesn’t sound like what the game did to you had a point. Shit, I still don’t think making everything stop for the attack at the end of time had a point.

Very strange. I still have no idea what I did that you didn’t do.

Well…unless there’s something I’m REALLY missing, you should have smooth sailing until the end. This isn’t a big spoiler, but that final portal is the point of no return (They’ll tell you that), and once one hits that in games, blammo. Smooth sailing until the end. So rest easy that the backtracking and all that is over. If you so choose. And it sounds like you so choose.

But stuff still happens. Lots of stuff. We’ll talk. Later.

Feminina:

Dude…this is just weird.

Because we went all the way around in the emporium! We went down the left side, I think, but even if we didn’t, we went up on the side we hadn’t gone down on, to make sure we’d done a full search of the area. As one does. I’m (almost) entirely certain of this, because there are two of us, and so while one of us was talking to the trader, the other was wandering around looking for things to loot, and vice versa. That means we had TWO ROUNDS of people looking for things of interest. (I suppose I can’t be ENTIRELY entirely certain of anything, since we’re obviously incompetent and possibly insane, but I’m PRETTY certain.) Anyway, we did not encounter the mysterious stranger on either side. Or in the middle. The man was not there.

Also, I really think maybe we didn’t actually meet Alessa, because…dialogue options? I swear the person we saw (who may in fact have been Astarte) didn’t have any dialogue options, it was just a “here’s what I have to say, hit X to continue/end” deal.

The only dialogue we’ve had that included “oh, this was all our fault, we’re terrible” or “we were doing the best we could, I can’t blame us” options has been the PCs talking to each other. And we could get +1 to our forgiving/vindictive traits for that, but it didn’t seem related in any way to how anyone ELSE felt about us.

So either you’re hallucinating (still not ruling out that you’re insane!), or some things just didn’t happen for us.

Hm. Maybe we’ll go back. Or not.

And yeah, it’s very weird how being ‘whole’ was a non-issue for you, and a somewhat game-derailing issue for us. But then, combat recently has been a non-issue for us and a problem for you, so maybe whatever we did that made us good in combat was stuff that was far away from all the stones you found…or something.

I don’t know. It’s odd. You wouldn’t think the experience would diverge so widely in these critical areas for no apparent reason. I mean, you wouldn’t necessarily think it would diverge so widely at all, but if it did, you might expect it would be possible to pinpoint the different approaches, like, “oh, you’ve been skulking and sneaking everywhere and we’ve been really practicing our tank skills, so it makes sense that this big combat was easier for us,” or whatever.

We’d might still complain about that, if there wasn’t an alternative route that allowed one to use more-developed sneaking skills, because that’s usually how these things work. But at least we’d understand why it happened.

I’m confused. And the internet (you aside) is no help.

Siiiiiiiigh.

Butch:

Maybe Mr. O just went right by him? Or talked to him and you missed it? Cuz he was totally there.

Alessa…No way, man. This was a conversation. She came out of the grave there at the back of the chapel when you got close. And it was a TALK man. She forgave us and everything.

I dunno…maybe a trait thing?

This is annoying cuz I had SO much bloggage!

Shit.

Nah, charge on. We’ll talk about the ending.

But watch, you’ll be like “What? The last seven scenes you talked about didn’t happen! We just went through the portal and it was a wendy’s and we had fries and then credits.”

Well, I did cheat myself out of a lot of XP. I was usually a level or so behind you. That mattered. And that was really the only thing that made my lack of combat ability obvious. Because really, my party wasn’t all that different from yours. I had Bairdotr, and Wolgraff, and Roderick was melee and etc.

And that door was nothing. Indeed, when I saw it, I thought “Shit, this is going to be such a THING” and then it wasn’t.

I know, man. I’m looking on the internet, too. I was all excited for bloggage! Forgiveness! Happiness that I liked Rivellon! STUFF!

Feminina:

…dude. We definitely did not have a conversation with a ghost near the altar. Nothing with dialogue options. And we absolutely went over there to the altar, and talked TO the altar, etc., so unless there was some sort of “you have to notice the button and push it” or something…I don’t know. Maybe it was a trait, as you say. Maybe WE had to have a certain level of forgiveness to get the conversation? We were a bit ‘vindictive’ towards ourselves earlier. Maybe we were too harsh and weren’t able to receive the message from the ghost, or something.

WEIRD.

And yeah, watch, whatever you wanted to say about the ending, our ending will in no way support that.

“We met the void dragon, it said ‘hey guys, sorry about all the fuss, didn’t realize it was such a problem for you, I’ll just go away now shall I?’ and we said ‘yes thanks,’ and that was the end. That and the fries. There were a lot of themes about hunger and how that leads to miscommunication, and how great potatoes are. Turns out the Spud Club was key all along.”

Just watch.

Butch:

HA! “Congratulations! You’ve joined the spud club!”

Credits.

Maybe that’s why that bull was so scared. Burgers go well with fries.

Very weird, though. Might have been a trait, dunno. I will say that it didn’t seem to affect the endgame one bit (at least, not obviously, and some things aren’t obvious in this game). And no, it wasn’t a “notice the button” thing. It was a “get close, poof” thing.

It wouldn’t be the first time a trait mattered. And it wouldn’t be the first time we didn’t KNOW a trait mattered. Even with something important.

Maybe the stuff we said to the Mysterious Stranger also mattered. Like, if you didn’t do something just so, he wouldn’t appear. After all, the last time I saw him he was in a bad way. He was one of Barbereith’s things with a thing on his head. Which makes it all the more interesting that he was a) there and b) liked Rivellon.

This place isn’t real, I tell you.

Or maybe it was previous dialog. Cuz you said “Welp, nothing we could have done,” right? You weren’t hard on YOURSELVES for what you did to Alessa, right? I was. So maybe that was key.

Maybe…hm. Like I said, in about five minutes of game time, something’s gonna happen. And, if we compare notes, this might become clear.

Well, five minutes if you go through the portal. It’s right on the other side of the portal.

Feminina:

All right, we’ll keep an eye open and report.

And man, I would ALMOST forgive everything if it ended with “welcome to the Spud Club!”

It turns out it’s not that we’re insane, it’s that we live in the high-tech future and we’ve been experiencing an elaborate, immersive advertisement for the local shopping center.

Which has probably driven us a little insane.

Butch:

Oh, even you won’t miss this shit.

As for the high tech future…..Or the insanity…..

Well….we did ask for vague.

I tell ya man….no more roadblocks. Go through the portal. Then…hmm. Couple things….that thing…that other thing….maybe….hm.

Ok, maybe two nights. Or so.

Cuz there’s a part, another part, maybe….three fights? But they aren’t hard. Maybe four fights unless you figure shit out and cheat yourself out of XP.

And then the epilogue…..and that weird scene after the epilogue….

Ok two nights. Or so.

Feminina:

Yeah, yeah. It’s going to be, like, eight easy puzzles we can’t solve, and we’ll sigh and give up.

Butch:

No puzzles. Well, one trick, really. But no puzzles.

Fights. There are fights. And one trick.

But you do fights well. Very, very well.

Feminina:

We do fights well, that’s true.

OK, we’ll spend ten minutes on the fighting and 7 hours trying to figure out the trick. “Do we light the candle, or not? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!”

This is what can never be forgiven, and explains why Alessa never showed up.

Butch:

Do you want a hint? I’ll give you a hint.

Feminina:

Enh, give us one go at it on our own. Maybe this will be the time we get lucky.

Speaking of fighting, we’re close to level 21, so maybe we’ll get one more level out of it!

Butch:

You’ll be fine. I think even the void dragon was only 20.

Kill at will!

Feminina:

We’ll probably kill it by accident while trying to loot something else.

Butch:

“Hey a potato!” BOOM! “The fuck was that?”

Credits.

Feminina:

I’m into it. Let’s do this!

It’s Too Lazy in Here

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No playin’, no spoilin’

Butch:

Go play.

Feminina:

Shan’t. YOU play something! Start something new and offer preliminary observations on it!

Butch:

Play….when I’m ahead of you?

Dude. I’m still trying to get used to finishing a game before you. No need to overload my feeble mind

Anyway, just mowed. Hands hurt. But learned my weed whacker still works!

Feminina:

Remember that time I played all of Remember Me while waiting for you to finish something or other, or whatever the hell was going on at that point?

Do that! This is your chance to finish something I’m never going to even play, and talk about it!

Or, you know, talk about something you’ve already finished that I’m never going to play, like…that one with the strange animal friend, that you hated the movement on but said was really themey?

OR…you could take this opportunity to discourse about Fallout 3! I’m pretty sure at this point that I will never play it, but you have had many thoughts about it over the years.

Butch:

Yes, I remember that, but that was YOU. YOU played, waiting for ME. That’s how things are supposed to be. That’s the real order of things. Order. Of things. In this troubled world, we need order. And it’s weird enough that I’m done and you’re not.

So please play. Reset the universe.

Actually, I never did finish the Last Guardian. I was playing that with Junior and then he kept asking to watch Divinity. Maybe I will get back to that. If I remember the themes.

I have had thoughts about FO3. But I forget them. Because the universe is out of whack.

So finish. Please. Cassandra. Kill her. End of Time. Go there.

Befooooore the void overtaaaaaakes us aaaallllll…..

Feminina:

There you go! Finish the Last Guardian with Jr. since he no longer has any reason to ask to watch Divinity!

I’ll play tonight. I hope.

 

 

A Day Late and a Bloodstone Short

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

All done.

Well….we DID ask for vague. That we did. We certainly did.

I’ll just say….we won’t lack for things to write about.

Nope.

Glad I’m gonna have a weekend to ponder all this.

As for you:

C’mon, Femmy! Tell me you played! PLEASE!

I had so much time, I played something else, even! Junior wanted to go back to the Witness, so we did. Solved five panels that had been giving us all sorts of trouble!

I dunno, man. That game…it’s odd. I haven’t played it in ages, and, on one hand, it’s cool in that I picked it right back up, solved some hard stuff, got that rush of accomplishment from solving hard puzzles (you’d know what I meant if you ever solved hard puzzles….ha….), but on the other hand, fuck if I remember what the themes were. And I think the themes were good.

And I think that’s a bit of a flaw. While I respect having themes in a puzzle game, and I remember the themes being very good, if you have a game that is sort of built around the ability to put it down for long periods then pick it up much later, how do you expect any of those themes to be remembered? Don’t you kinda HAVE to experience something all the way through, at once, to get the themes?

I was talking to a neighbor who started Divinity the same time we did. He played it up to about where he found Silverglen, so a good while. Certainly enough to get themeage and theories and all that good stuff. Then he stopped. He got a VR set, mucked around with Skyrim and Fallout 4, got distracted by Fortnite, all that jazz, and is planning on going BACK to Divinity in a month or two.

Would that even work? Isn’t the emotional arc you feel experiencing a story something that enhances, or even is vital to the theme of the story? Especially in games, which are so experiential?

Let’s hope you don’t find out.

Feminina:

Of course we played! We always play! What are you worrying about?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

But seriously, we did play.

We talked to Wolgraff about becoming a Source Hunter. Knowing what we now know about him I was kind of like “eeeennnhh…” but on the other hand we’re no prizes ourselves in terms of morals, and anyway, if he thinks of source hunters as heroes and that inspires him to act like a hero, that’s good, right?

So we declared him a knight of the order, which apparently is something we have the power to do? And then he was happy.

Then we went and killed Cassandra, which took about 5 minutes, got the soul forge repair spell, and then we went back to the end of time and saw the tapestry bit about how Astarte opened the godbox and released the void dragon and the Guardians ran off but Astarte battled it eternally (until lately, I guess), and Source was tainted and the trife was cast out.

We had a little chat about that, and were trying to take responsibility for our mistakes, like “how terrible that this was basically our fault, I hope we can do better in future,” but then that got us both +1 Vindictive. Which…OK? I didn’t MEAN to be vindictive…towards myself…but all right.

Anyway, then we were STILL SHORT A BLOODSTONE ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHH so we looked on the internet and found out there’s one if you destroy the totem in the goblin village, so we went back there, destroyed the totem, were attacked by about 15 goblins, murdered them all (sorry goblins, we’re terrible, everything we touch winds up dead, oops), got what had damn well better be the last bloodstone we need, gathered up all the pillows and cheap armor we’d sold the goblins over the preceding weeks, went back to Cyseal to unload some pillows and cheap armor in the marketplace…and shut down for the night.

We’ll go back to the end of time to open the last elemental gate next time. Tonight, I hope!

It was awesome.

Butch:

Not funny, dude. Not funny.

Ah. That’s what I was talking about with Wolgraff re the whole “when he gets the exclamation point thing. Yes. Two things:

I was vague as to whether we actually DO have the power to make him a knight of the order. I couldn’t tell if we were actually making him a knight, or we were all “Uh…Yes! Uh…knight!” Like giving him one of those paper crowns from Burger King and being all “And now you are prince of….uh…Jababaland!” And if we are faking it, is that a) bad because we’re lying to someone who’s died for us repeatedly, b) good cuz he’s not a nice guy and who wants that in the Order or c) some combination of both?

Other thing: You’re exactly right: We’re (cuz I did the same thing) were, at some level, saying “Act like us cuz we’re good and we will inspire you to be better or some shit!” And, as you say, we’re not…heroes exactly. He THINKS we are, but we aren’t. We’re kind of shitty. Which, in some ways, puts us even more in the shoes of our enemies: inspiring people to be like us when we’re doing bad things.

So when I did that, I felt so nice. All “Awww….Wolgraff is such a nice guy” [he isn’t] “and I made his dream come true so I’m so nice and this’ll turn out well.” Then I thought about it.

Five minutes on Cassandra. Sigh. I will split this off from the rest of the paragraph to talk about it.

Remember my brilliance and my bitching re XP? Well, the first time I did that fight, Arhu went first, dutifully launched about eight cool sounding spells that did nothing because he was in a cage, then I died. So the next time, I thought “That would be handy if he was outside of the cage and helping us,” so I teleported him out of the cage (which peeved him, but whatever), started the fight, and this time, he went first, all the cool spells found their mark, he attacked her (he’s BADASS) and at the end of his turn she was petrified, frozen, silenced, and down to about 40% health. It was rather academic after that. But she didn’t spawn dudes! So that happened.

And it was clear I was NOT supposed to do that. As soon as the fight ended, Arhu became a man. I went up to chat and he said “Before we talk, please get me out of this cage.” He’s 20 feet away from the cage. So I tried again. “Get me out!” Like, dude… ok. So I got the key, opened the cage, and boom. Dialog.

Which means, despite my brilliance, the game was 100% convinced he’d be in that fucking cage at the end of the fight. It had no idea that what I did was even a possibility. And that bugs me. Games make things impossible when they don’t want us to do them. If you CAN do it, the game should assume you MIGHT do it. And that was not the case here. Which ALSO pissed me off.

Ah, well.

Ok….on that chat you had about the flashback….was this the one that ended with the guardians falling? To somewhere? Cuz we gotta talk about that.

Dude, I don’t get it. Cuz I did not destroy that totem and was fine.

Did you USE the bloodstones like I told you to?

Anyway, even if the elemental place is still closed, did other rooms open? A trading place? A chapel? Maybe? Cuz there should be more rooms. And remember to chat up Arhu cuz you have that fern thing that can lock him in a form.

I think the key thing is the chapel. It’s through one of the portals like the hall of heroes. Zixzax stands next to them all “Whaaat’s on the ooooother siiiiide.” You know the ones.

It’s been a while. I must remind you of things.

Feminina:

I’m pretty sure it’s a LITTLE funny. We always play! Ha!

Anyway, dude, we are using the bloodstones! We have nothing left but inert stones!

I don’t know. We can kill anything, often without even trying, but we can’t open doors worth a damn. There’s probably a lesson in that.

And see, that IS very clever, teleporting Arhu out! And you’re right, the game should have anticipated that. Put a roof on the damn cage so it can’t happen, or someone is going to think of it!

Because yeah, Arhu gets to go first with all his (useless) spells, so what is a clever player supposed to think but “hey, if he were out here, those spells would be helpful!”

As for us, we just said “meh, she’s only level 18” and Delios’ first hit took out a quarter of her health so we figured we had it covered. Wolgraff’s little bomb skeleton did some nice work with a couple of the summoned dudes! I got an undead decapitator on the scene to taunt people! We had it covered. I’m not sure we got extra XP for all the things she summoned, though, because they all vanished when she died (which usually summoned things don’t in this game). I think they might have been connected to her.

Or else we made a strategic error in focusing on her, and we should have maximized our XP gain by first destroying each of the summoned things. Meh. We’re already plenty tough.

Can’t open doors worth a damn, though.

The Guardians tore their own threads out of the tapestry of time and those threads fell to Rivellon as starstones, right? Which explains why we need to collect them to make ourselves whole.

As for the chapel…I feel like we’ve been in a chapel? Maybe? I think we’ve been through most of the possible doors. I guess we’ll check next time we go back and see if there’s anything we still can’t get to.

Butch:

I think you have to do the room bits before the elemental bits. I always did. Go to some rooms.

That’s what I DID think about Arhu! And, if you take the hints of a video game, that’s usually the game telling you “Get this guy out first.” Arhu was IN the fight! It wasn’t like he was there meowing not a part of anything. He went first! And, usually, when an NPC is in a fight and all their attacks are, well, stupid, that’s often the AI being stupid because you, the player, were stupid and put the AI in a place where it was confused. Right?

Hint: Later in the game, focus on whatever you think is the target of the fight. It’ll speed things up.

OK, the Guardians…Ah ha.

So….remember my theory? That I’m still standing by? Of course you do.

They (Scarlett/Roderick, who I STILL think are one person) TORE THEIR OWN THREADS OUT. CHOSE to come to Rivellon. I’ve said all along that the diaries read like someone getting depressed/mentally ill. Someone who wants out of the dreary life they have. And we both know that Scarlett is doing everything she can to stay in Rivellon, like, you know, not dying or having Rivellon destroyed.

And did you catch where they were “Cast out of?” That would be the “First Creation.” What did you make of that? Cuz I made that the “First creation” was that place where people were, well, first. BEFORE they came to Rivellon. A place where a guy we met had a house and a car and a job. You know. Here. The real world.

What the hell else could it be?

Standing by it.

We’ll talk. Later.

Did you meet a merchant? With a bigassed boat?

And, as for the chapel, did you meet….someone we’ve heard a lot about but haven’t met yet? Who’s dead? Cuz you’d likely remember that if you had, and if you haven’t, you haven’t been to the chapel.

Feminina:

Hm. Doesn’t sound familiar. Maybe we haven’t been in the chapel.

Maybe we’ll get in there tonight. I don’t know, man.

So you’re going with the First Creation is the real world? Hm. I can see that. I was reading it as Eden, since there are–I was going to say ‘echoes’ of the Eden story, but echoes sounds way more subtle than the screamingly blatant references actually presented–but I kind of like the idea that the real world is in some sense equated with paradise. Also that paradise, rather than (or in addition to) something one is cast out of, may be something one intentionally escapes and desperately avoids returning to.

There’s a lot there about perspective, isn’t there? One person’s paradise is another person’s nightmare.

Butch:

Yeah, probably you haven’t been there then.

Tip: when you get to the end of time, hit the map. The rooms you can get into will be marked with white quest markers. If there’s ones you haven’t done, go do them. Look for Zixzax.

You’re so close! SO CLOSE!

I’m going with that interpretation: first creation=real world. Because there are some rather stark differences between the Biblical Eden and this one. We’ve talked about the fact that the Guardians went BACK to the garden/Eden out of guilt, not because of any reward (though some people seemed to think it an honor). And here, they did….well, either escape or choose to leave. They weren’t cast out. They ripped themselves from the tapestry.

Not only that, the guardians didn’t just leave the garden: they destroyed any memory of it. Ripped it to shreds. They didn’t leave with heavy sighs saying “We shall remember this fondly.” They didn’t WANT to remember it, or at least their role in it. They relegated it to myth, something just at the edge or reality, or something not at all real.

That’s hardly Eden. In Biblical Eden, humanity remembers the garden, and feels awful that they aren’t there anymore.

But if we’re going with the garden in the game is the real world, it’s a leap to think that Scarlett is right to run from it. It may be HER nightmare, but, as you say, perspective matters. In life, we don’t generally envy people suffering from mental illness. We don’t say “Oh, look, so and so is so depressed they’ve become delusional. How lucky for them!” No. Being in a delusion is a bad thing. People should NOT want to stay in a delusion. Scarlett, all things being equal, should want to get better, to come back to this world. Sure, we’re rooting for her to stay in Rivellon, to save it. Shit, we’re actively helping her by playing the game! But should we?

So much easier to blog when we play. 

Feminina:

Perspective! As boring normos, we assume staying in a delusion isn’t desirable, but clearly, it’s possible to feel differently.

I’m not really arguing that all perspectives are equally valid in an objective sense (to whatever degree there’s an objective reality in this game), but it’s possible for different people to strongly believe different things.

Hm.

Butch:

Well, you might not argue that, but the game does. Games always imply that there is a “better,” a “desirable.” Now, usually this is pretty apparent, as Kevins with guns trying to shoot you is inherently bad. But it’s not always apparent. Take the Witness (which I played some last night). We wake up, we have no idea what’s up, so we start solving puzzles. The game seems to want us to solve puzzles, but for all we know we’re arming a bomb or something.

Even in a game with murderous Kevins, we charge blindly on, murdering Kevins and breaking stuff, cuz the game says “It’s good to do that!”

So when the game says “kill monsters (or, in your case, Butch, outwit them for NO XP) before they kill you,” we assume “Yes. That is good.” But this game has flipped everything else, hasn’t it?

 

Second-Best-Laid Plans

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Some spoilers for Wolgraff’s-voice story in Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Ok, gonna finish this weekend! Better anyway, cuz I’m traveling next week.

What you got?

Feminina:

Mr. O’ had to work, so all we did was make Wolgraff the potion.

And find that bloodstone in Cassandra’s little nook there. Thanks for the tip!

But yeah, I made the potion for Wolgraff, gave it to him. I like that I said “Drink this potion, Wolgraff! Let’s see what it does!”

Ha. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but why not have a swig?”

And then he was all happy, wanting to sing and shout. “But how gruff I sound! Though I haven’t heard me own voice since I was 10,” or whatever. I suppose it would be pretty weird if he got back the same voice he had as a child. So his voice was out there, aging along with him, even when it wasn’t with him… Magic!

So NOW we’re ready to go face Cassandra next time, although I don’t know if that will be soon since Mr. O’ probably still has to work tonight. And I’m leaving Saturday.

Finish without me!

Butch:

No prob about the bloodstone. And you say you’re a looter…..

Did you get the ! conversation with Wolgraff after? And do all that? Cuz themes. Well, not DO, but he has stuff to say.

As for the voice: Not magic. Consistency with both the narrative and my theories.

Cuz he didn’t say “I haven’t heard me voice since I was ten,” he said “I heard it so long ago I don’t remember what it sounded like, but it must have been different from this.”

Now…

Remember how Wolgraff’s little thing when you swap him out was “Or he’s having a stroke” and I commented on how isn’t it interesting that they use that for a character who can’t speak cuz that’s something that happens when you DO have a stroke? Now, after taking something that, as you say, is purely experimental and MAY NOT WORK, potentially bad medicine, here he is, with a new voice, a Rivellon voice, finally, fully, permanently here.

You didn’t save Wolgraff. You drove him, or his real world self, over the medical edge.

Talk to him again. With that in mind. And the sin to win stuff.

Cuz you like Wolgraff, right?

Feminina:

Weeeeeeell…OK, yeah. I’d have to consult the dialogue record, but I’m pretty sure he said something about how he was “a wee peeper of 10” or something. There was definitely a reference to his having been a child when he last heard his voice, anyway.

So, yeah, it does fit with your theory in the sense that he doesn’t have the same voice he had, so he now has a new, Rivellon voice, but it ALSO fits with the fact that he was a kid when he lost his voice, and he’s aware of the fact that logically he WOULD sound different.

And he could certainly have started having breaks with reality when he was a kid, but retained just enough connection with the real world that he never had a voice in Rivellon, and now he does (now, indeed, he has a mature, adult voice–he ‘grew up’ in the fantasy perhaps).

Or maybe it’s just been a long-ass time since he could talk, and he’s really excited about it. I did note that they made a point of his sort of cockney-ish accent, which doesn’t come through in the written notes when the urbane-sounding voiceover reads them. The PC says “um…’govnor’?” and he explains that yes, he never lost the street slang, or whatever, so “a girl’s a peach, a boy’s a tosser, and a person of authority, whether John or Jane, is a Guvnor.”

Which kind of stresses that this is HIS voice, in that it’s giving expression to his words, ‘honestly’ as he thinks them rather than through the formalizing mediation of print, even if the sound is not familiar to him. Which neither contradicts nor confirms the reality or unreality of Rivellon, but which I did notice.

So, as always, it’s vague.

I also noticed that Wolgraff scorns the idea of real wishing wells, even though he was there when we met Willie and Wallie or whomever, and that he kind of laughed at the idea that people believed the rumors he’d spread enough that they went out looking for such wells, even though there were undead all over.

People DIED out there, you know, Wolgraff. That’s kind of a mean thing to be amused about.

Butch:

I will stick to my guns here. I will! But I’m on mobile so not right now.

Ah, you got that dialog. Ok.

So yes, Wolgraff is an asshole. We were led to believe that he was a scoundrel, yes, but either in the cute Oliver Twist sense (he had to! No voice! Unfair life! Poor guy!), or at least the d&d sense (ok, I backstab, but only bad guys so I’m still a hero). Lovable d&d scoundrels do not just laugh their asses off at tricking people so they die. They don’t laugh at the stupidity of the people they scam. Doing that is not nice! It’s against what lovable scoundrels do.

And yet….I still like the guy. Even though he, like Jahan, like Madora and like the pcs, is kinda awful.

We talked a ways back about how there really aren’t many likeable people in this game, including us. Now my favorite npc, still my favorite npc, is the least likeable in an objective sense.

Hmmm.

Feminina:

No, no, I don’t expect you to give up your guns. I’m just saying it’s possible to interpret logically in other ways. Vague. Like they do.

And yeah, Wolgraff is kind of a jerk!

Which we didn’t really know after months of traveling with him and fighting by his side, but learned within minutes of his regaining his voice. There’s a very interesting implication there about how the voice “is” the character in a way that nothing else is: that we learn something true about them by speaking with a person that we can never otherwise know. This kind of explains why Wolgraff and all those animals wanted their voices back so badly, if the voice is SUCH a critical, fundamental part of who someone is. How can you ever have a meaningful, honest relationship with someone without speaking to them, in this view?

Which is interesting given the game’s occasional twists on spoken vs. written words (‘piece of tale’ being the most obvious example). We can’t trust Ruby’s voice, we needed to read the text…yet all the text we’ve had from and about Wolgraff hasn’t given us that one bit of truth that we immediately gained from a minute’s conversation. (And given how readily he revealed it, it’s not as if he was ever trying to hide it.)

What ARE we supposed to believe?

Butch:

Which makes me happy, the vague. Even if it would prove me correct and make me feel brilliant, I’d be kinda pissed if this game ends with Scarlett waking up in a hospital bed with everyone around all “It was a DELUSION!” The fact it has us guessing and theorizing is awesome, and I hope it ends with an ending just as vague.

Hmm. Good point about conversation and truth. And tied to your observation that his “real” voice was very different from the prim and proper voice that was all ***Wolgraff passes you a note.*** That WASN’T him. Though we both associated that prim and proper voice with him. We were jarred when he talked (I wonder what that did) in what we suspected and now we know was his actual voice.

What are we supposed to believe…Excellent question! And one that keeps getting asked. Wait until the endgame. Hoo-eee.

But in all these “What are we supposed to believe?” bits, you’re right: no one was trying to hide anything. Ruby did exactly what she said she would. We shouldn’t really be surprised about Wolgraff: we found him holding two daggers picking up other people’s coins at the bottom of a well. If we saw that in real life, we would not be all “Hey! A likeable guy!” We believed what we did based on our own assumptions: Hookers mean “tail.” Rogues in fantasy games really ARE good people. But the game never actually said that. Indeed, it said the opposite.

And that goes to the ultimate assumption we make when we play a game, and one we’ve been sorta kinda doubting for a while: We, the PCs, the noble source hunters, are heroes. Good guys. Doing the right thing. Because that’s what PCs do, right? And the game never has said that we’re heroes, good guys. Has it? Just implied it.

You know, I was thinking. Now that we know about Wolgraff, what do you make of his scene where he’s staring at his reflection in the goblin’s blood way back when? We assumed he was having a “Good guy feeling bad for doing something violent moment,” but if he’s not a “good” guy, that scene, possibly, changes. Whatchu think?

Feminina:

Yes, what IS he thinking if not “we’re horrible people for attacking a goblin who didn’t attack us first”?

Along those lines, did you have the dialogue/note exhange with him (we had it right after we fought the Baron of Bones, so a loooooong time ago) where he’s basically being all chipper about how “we’re heroes! We defeated evil!” and you can choose either to say something commonsensical like “we’re all flawed people, we no heroes,” or “you’re right, we’re on the side of good!”

And I picked the more moderate option of “we’re not heroes,” and he got all dejected. And we thought, “awww, Wolgraff wants to see himself as a hero, now I feel bad for crushing his dream instead of just going along with it.”

Which was one thing when we thought he was a lovable scamp with a heart of gold. Of course he wants to be a hero!

But now, seeing him as more a garden-variety scamp with a heart of jerkiness…what does it mean now?

Were these interludes rare moments when he stopped to think about what he was, and what he could be, and genuinely wanted to change?

Also, here are his lines about the voice: “But hell’s bells on a cracker, how deep and gruff I sound! Then again, last time I heard my voice, I was but a 10-year-old pipsqueak after all: not a weather-beaten, whip-licked, Sourcerer-slaying ruffian! HA!”

So basically the first thing he says is to call himself a ruffian and note that he’s been whipped in the past, presumably for his various crimes. Dude has a past.

“Hell’s bells on a cracker”…ha. That’s an exclamation for you.

Butch:

It was interesting. Adds a new dimension to his character, I thought.

I picked “Yes! We’re heroes!” and he was very, very happy.

I’m very curious what you’re gonna do when you get an exclamation point. Which should happen very soon.

I’m glad you like the exclamation, because he has a million of them. He was great with Jahan. Jahan was usually “Yes. Wonderful. Please shut up.” Once, Wolgraff was idly wondering how, if he just can’t help but speak, he was still going to be sneaky (which I, too, was wondering) and Jahan rather jauntily said “I can cut your tongue out, if you like! It might help!”

They were a bit of an odd couple.

But him and Bairdotr….you want vague….have them together when you get to the endgame. You’ll get some vague.

Slowly and Carefully (For a Change)

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Spoilers for the Cassandra/Wolgraff’s voice story near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Feminina:

We made progress! Not a lot of progress, but some.

We proceeded into the Temple of the Dead, fought some zombie wolves, talked to an alchemist and sold him all the logs and pillows we’ve been collecting (including the ones we stole from his own laboratory–what a good-natured fellow not to mind!).

Then we dug up Cassandra’s bones and burned them. Then we called it a night.

But we did that much! A minor but necessary step forward!

So now I think we’re pretty much done with the Temple of the Dead and can return to taunt Cassandra about not being invulnerable. It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Uh….no you’re not. Did you a) loot/search that guy’s alchemist shop? Might be something there Wolgraff wants. b) search all around where Cassandra’s body was? Might be something that opens a portal there.

Then you’re done.

Heh. Remember a ways back when I said that I got into a fight that lasted 52 rounds or so and it was just Roderick and one monster and we kept knocking each other down and healing and shit, over and over and over?

That was those wolves.

ICE WALL! Ok, he fell….kill him…kill him….he’s so low and…he’s up. And healing himself.

Sigh. ICE WALL! Ok, he fell…..

But yeah, pick those two things up, help Wolgraff out, go kill Cassandra. Then I think you’re clear to end of time it and get whole.

I did rather like that alchemist. Cheery fellow.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah I did grab that “bottled voice” or whatever from the alchemist’s lab. Haven’t given it to Wolgraff yet because in the frenzy of looting it just went straight into my bag, and then in the frenzy of selling it slipped my mind, but…yeah. That. Got that. (Did we loot. Dude. I’m actually wounded right now.)

Cassandra’s body had a key on it, which I grabbed. Was there something else in that little alcove? I didn’t detect it when I poked around, but we’ll go back if we missed something.

Butch:

Should have known you looted, should have known.

****Wolgraff scribbles a note that says “Uh…can I have my voice back please?” You ignore him. Wolgraff scribbles another note that says “Seriously, I’ve been waiting, like 17 levels for this.” You ignore him. Wolgraff scribbles a note that says “I’m rather hurt that you’re selling stolen pillows instead of GIVING ME MY FUCKING VOICE BACK.” You ignore him****

“Bottled voice or whatever.” Poor guy spends the whole game dying for you, repeatedly, and it’s just “Yeah, whatever.” Sheesh.

As for the alcove, well, was there a B-Doiiiiiiing when you got in there? If not, loot some more. Maybe around the edges of the place. Maybe by a big stone monument head thing.

Cuz there might be something there.

Feminina:

No, no b-joiiiiiiinnggg!!!!! moments there… Very good, very good, we’ll go back. After we give Wolgraff his voice. Or whatever.

Hey, he’s the one who didn’t want to be killed on the altar to get in here! It can’t be THAT important to him.

One weird thing we noticed: everyone seems to want to fill us in on the details of the whole “Braccus/Cassandra soul forge, Braccus made Cassandra a lich” story.

Now if I’m not mistaken, Arhu first told us the story about a hundred years ago right after we defeated Braccus. Then we talked about it with Icara. I think Cassandra herself told us the story when we met her a few weeks back.

And then in the past few days, both the Titan head and the alchemist told us the story. WE KNOW THIS STORY BY NOW.

How short do you think our attention spans ARE, anyway? I mean, recent discussions about us not hearing anything Zixzax says or ever checking our blogmates screencaps aside.

And it’s not as if each person who tells it adds new details: we’re getting the exact same information from all these people. Why do we have to hear the story so many times? Is the game hinting to us that we’re going to have to turn the Conduit into a lich in order to defeat her without killing Icara?

Because it REALLY wants to be sure we know that story. That story is very, very important to the game. Just pondering why.

Butch:

Yup. Should be a stone there.

As for Wolgraff, you are, once again, trying to justify being a terrible person.

Give the poor man his voice. Then talk to him. He has things to say.

But the lich story?

Dude….Dude. After the last two weeks, are you really, really going to ask how short the game thinks you attention span is?

Zixzax: Heeeey titan heeeeead.
TH: TEOIUGHA (Yes?)
Z: Tell Mr. OOOOO and Femmmmmmmy about the Soooooul Forge again, willlll you?
TH: KLHJGAEOU AOIUGD THAOI TAIS (But they know that shit already. Like, ten people told them.)
Z: But teeeen people told them about the staaaaarrrr stoooones….
TH: SDGKHSDG SDGIH (True that.)
Z: And it tooook them forever to figurrrre out that they haaaad to stooop the attack on the shellllter plane before they could continue….
TH: TOIAGH (Preach.)
Z: Despite everrrryooone tellllling them.
TH: GSHGSDOIH (good point.)
Z: So would you be a deeeear aaaaand….
TH: SGDOIUDSG (On it, Z.)

(I’m gonna miss talking in accents.)

Feminina:

OK, OK. Fair point about everything Zixzax ever told us.

But the question still remains: why is this story the ONE thing the game feels is important enough to tell us often enough to make sure we know it, while being perfectly content to let us go ahead and forget everything else?

We did not actually have 10 different people telling us we had to stop the attack on the end of time before we could explore rooms. Zixzax told us once, when the whole thing first started, that the shelter plane couldn’t expand further until the attack was stopped. And yeah, we totally forgot, but that was apparently OK, since that was the end of it.

And yeah, several people told us we needed star stones, but there was no careful repetition at different times of the whole detailed list of what counts as a star stone, and whether or not you have to USE a bloodstone for it to count. It certainly wasn’t all laid out point by point the way the Cassandra/Braccus story is, so the game was apparently fine with us forgetting or missing those details.

It is not fine with us forgetting or missing the details of the lich story. This is DIFFERENT, I tell you.

Butch:

Ok, dude….look. You KNOW I have a problem not spoiling shit. And yet you keep asking such questions after I pointedly say “We’ll talk. Later.” That’s not just a catchy blog name, you know. I, like Zixzax, am TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!

True about the attack. That was, really, once.

And again, true about using bloodstones. But several people did tell you that, and told you to “harness the power,” and when you’re all “Bloodstones….powerful and evil” that ties into the themes we’ve been discussing all year.

So dude.

Is it a different story? IS IT? Cuz you’re tempting me to spoi- NO!

WE’LL TALK. LATER!

LATER LATER LATER! LATER DAMMIT!

Zixzax: Dooon’t bother saying it soooo many tiiiiimes. She’s hooooopeless.
Butch: I’m starting to see what you mean….

Feminina:

And all right, fine, we’ll talk about that later.

So…what do you want to talk about now? Found any good potatoes in barrels lately?

Oh, or how do you like to pronounce ‘lich’? I’ve always had it rhyme with itch, but the titan and the alchemist were going with something that sounded more like ‘lick.’

I looked it up, and apparently there’s some discussion on the subject (because of course there is) but more people seem to vote for rhymes-with-itch. Including this linguist guy with a detailed YouTube audio full of explanations about how other cognates are pronounced in German, Dutch and English, so…I’m going with that guy.

Get out of here with your ‘lick,’ titan head and alchemist.

Butch:

Yeah, that bugged me! Cuz I’m with you! Itch!

Yeah…I’ll cite the guy with WAAAAAY too much free time.

Unlike us. We do this even though we have no free time.

Though Titan head didn’t say that. He said GSDLHSG.

You check youtube to see how you pronounce that.

Feminina:

Ha! True. We forgive the titan because it was undoubtedly just a bad translation from the ancient titanese or whatever. The alchemist has no such excuse. He needs to spend more time on YouTube.

Apparently YouTube channels are the future. Or at least the more recent past.

We should start reading all our emails aloud and making videos out of them!

By which I mean, we should definitely not ever do that.

Butch:

Yeah….I’ll stay mute. Worked for Wolgraff.

Except it didn’t cuz you CAN finish his quest and you’re not. That’s just plain mean.

Even Arhu is all “lick.” But he’s a cat.

Feminina:

Hey, man, I will finish it! It’s not as if I’ve been running around for months with this voice bottle. It was only about 15 minutes of playing time ago.

Chill, Wolgraff! I just want to…uh…make sure this place is cleared of monsters…in case something goes wrong with the voice thing and it makes you lose consciousness for a while or something. Wouldn’t want to be in a monster-infested space when THAT happened.

“Here, try this untested, mysterious magical item that may or may not give you a voice because we only heard a rumor about it and we have no idea if the labeling system here is accurate, so it could also or instead do any of a near-infinite number of other magical things, good or bad, but definitely try it right here and right now while we’re in a dungeon where for all we know we might be attacked by a horde of licks at any moment, because lord knows you have NO experience being mute and will probably die if you have to endure that condition for another minute.”

How rash do you think I am?

[Seconds later]

Oh look, BUTTON!!!!!

Butch:

Wolgraff dies all the time! He won’t mind.

Hmm. I suppose he is used to it….But c’mon, man! You have a quest list! You know it works!

How rash? Very. As you suggested.

Feminina:

Buttons are always critical. You have to deal with them immediately, because if you don’t, they might push themselves when you least expect it and then where would you be?

Probably in the middle of a deadly combat! Which is where you’re going to be anyway, so you might as well just get it over with.

I know buttons. I understand buttons. I must push buttons.

Voices? Weird and scary. Let’s hold off.

Besides, it’s not as if I ever hear anything they say anyway.

Butch:

HA! If you look at the description for “bottled voice,” it says “You can’t understand it.”

They know you well.

Feminina:

They do!

You’ll get your voice, Wolgraff. Just let me make sure Cassandra’s bones are totally burned up, and we’ve looked around for b-joiiiiiinnnng!!!! and sold the alchemist all these logs we took from his woodpile.

Then I’m on it.

Butch:

Poor, poor Wolgraff. He’s trying so hard.

He has themes. You remember those?

Feminina:

And it’s precisely because I want to respect his themes, to show them the care and attention they deserve, that I’m waiting! Waiting for a moment when I’m not distracted by buttons and potentially scary dungeons!

When I can really focus on Wolgraff in this important character moment! I can’t do that while I’m nervously looking over my shoulder for licks.

I delay because I love, Wolgraff.

Butch:

There are no buttons in this dungeon! And you’re level 20! Nothing’s scary!

Feminina:

We won’t know there are no buttons until we’ve checked everywhere. And we’re still afraid of…uh…lava.

Yeah. What if lava bursts out at us?

We can’t be too careful.

Back into the Fray! But First, is That Loot?

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Spoiler for the wizard’s house, Temple of the Dead and weresheep plotlines in Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

OK, where were we before that E3 diversion?

Right. Hand still hurts. You need to catch up in Divinity.

This sucks.

But hey, I have a nice deck.

Feminina:

Dude, this is how much our friendship revolves around games: when you said “I have a nice deck” my first, instant thought was “are you playing gwent again?”

Immediately afterwards I remembered the actual deck that you’re spending more than 15 grand of booze money on (but with a major bonus to saves against dying in a grill fire!). But gwent was the first thing.

Also, sorry you’re still hurting.

Anyway. We played! We decided to pursue Cassandra/Wolgraff’s voice. Were irritated by the whole “have to talk to the Titan head” bit, so we looked on the internet, which told us we had to get the book of Titanese from the wizard’s house. So back we went to the wizard’s house, turned off the traps, got the book, told the people they could live in the wizard’s house once we’d looted it of every valuable item. Opened the talking chest based on the peoples’ hint about which name the wizard whispered while he worked. Thanks for sharing all your employer’s secrets, folks! You’ve been real pals. Enjoy his house!

After that we went back to the Phantom Forest, talked to the Titan head, went to the lava steps (oh, lava steps, we’d forgotten all about you! but how well we remembered you once we saw you!). Sent invisible Wolgraff past the lava steps to defeat the sentinels. Killed me on the altar stone or whatever you’d call it so we could get into the temple. (My first thought was to kill Wolgraff, since he’s still the one of the group who spends the most time dead anyway, but then I thought that was poor leadership since I shouldn’t ask him to die for something I wasn’t willing to die for myself. So I went because I’m a lot easier to kill than Delios the Man at Arms.)

So we got into the temple, resurrected me obviously, looted a bunch of corpses, opened a tomb that unleashed a bunch of poison zombies, killed them.

Resurrected Wolgraff, looted, called it a night.

But we made some progress! We’re on the trail!

And yeah, we did cheat off the internet about the book and the wizard’s house, but dude, we were grumpy and desperate. Sometimes you just cheat.

Butch:

Gwent? I can’t tell if that’s awesome or pathetic. Or both.

Much more than 15 grand. I have to give them another 12.5K when it’s done. So I’m kinda hoping they take their time.

It is very, very well made, though. They were great. One board was maybe an eighth of an inch off, and they took a dozen boards off and redid the whole deal. Not many builders would do that.

If you’re gonna give away all your booze money, get something good for it.

At least you FOUND the titan head. Not like someone gave you a FUCKING MAP TO IT.

(I’m starting to really, really empathize with Zixzax.)

But hey! You didn’t have to cheat re: the whole kill your friend deal. I was worried you’d be all “Dude, we tried EVERYTHING and we STILL can’t get in!” I’m proud of you.

And I figured the fights wouldn’t be all that bad for you. They were bad for me, as I was a few levels ago when I did this. You’ll plow through the rest no biggie.

I’m desperate for you to catch up, so cheat away.

But as for themes…..

Good thing you didn’t do your first idea there. I learned if you attack the NPCs, they get pissed, all “Let’s not do more of that, ok?” And if you ignore that, they REALLY get pissed and attack. I didn’t want to kill Wolgraff or anything, in fear he’d leave or something so I reloaded. Which means the only really direct, “right” way, is for one PC to kill the other.

Which…here we go again with our persistent themes.

1) Sinning to win. Murder’s a sin, right? And yes, yes, it doesn’t have the same sense of evil when you know you have a resurrection scroll, but still. You have to KILL your friend/lover/whatever to advance the story. No other way to do it! I guess, even if you can kill Wolgraff, get him through and not have him leave, you’re still killing a friend. And that sort of thing is frowned upon in life.

2) You know how I feel about “death” in this game. We’ll talk about that (hoipefully) tomorrow, as it won’t take you long to clear this out now that you’re in. One fight that’ll take you two minutes, done. And then we’ll talk.

(I didn’t kill the sentinels. I sent invisible Wolgraff past them, as one does, and disarmed all their traps. So they still sat there going “Intruder spied,” and I pictured us just waving jauntily all “Yeah! We see you spying us! We spy you, too!”)

Feminina:

Interesting–how did you not kill the sentinels? For us, disarming the traps (push button, pull lever, step on clicky panel, etc.) just made them crumble instantly to pieces. Then they were silent, which was nice. But we didn’t attack them or anything, they just collapsed.

And yeah, I’ve had the companions get annoyed with me when I accidentally hit them (once I blasted someone when I meant to regenerate them…oops!), so in addition to it not feeling right, I was a bit concerned Wolgraff wouldn’t take it well if we tried to kill him. I didn’t want him getting all grumpy. Even though we ARE working on his quest, so he should be prepared to sacrifice a little!

Killing one of us did make me think “we’re going to feel pretty silly if this was just a trick to make us kill each other,” but hey, that’s what reloading is for. (Pretty good trick, though, if it had been. “So, hey, how about you attack each other? It’s totally going to work out fine, don’t worry! Hahahaha, now one of you is dead and I will strike!”) But it was an interesting thing to have to do in the story.

As you say, death definitely lacks a certain punch when you know you have resurrection scrolls ready, and we’ve both died a hundred times by now so presumably it’s no big thing, but even so…normally we don’t die on purpose, or at the hands of our friends. It felt a bit unnatural.

And feeling a bit unnatural is actually pretty appropriate for an adventure into a temple of the dead, so…nicely done. There’s no actual threat, but we feel weird about it anyway. Good mood-setting.

Butch:

I dunno, man. I wish they had died.

“Intruder Spi-” “OH SHUT UP!”

I had the same hesitation about dying, which was also rather interesting. Killing one of our characters (or your spouse’s character) gave us pause. Which…should it really? We’ve been “killing” little blobs of pixels all along. But other than the whole fourth wall, taking a moment to think “Is this a trick? Am I ok with this?” brings to the fore how perfectly fine we’ve been with murder/killing all along. I think it’s pretty intentional that this was late in the game, when we have a lot of blood on our hands (literally and figuratively).

No, we don’t usually die on purpose. And, as for sacrifice, I wouldn’t be surprised that in an earlier draft of the game you did have to do something like sacrifice an NPC. Like, “Ha! You’ve gotten to care about such and so, now make a choice!” Especially in a quest you can pretty much ignore IF you’re willing to let Arhu stay in prison.

But I’m glad they didn’t make us do that.

Feminina:

Oh man, no, I’m glad they didn’t make us sacrifice an NPC. I mean, the decision-making alone…”well, it is Wolgraff’s quest, and we can’t finish it if he’s dead. On the other hand, Bairdotr has all the good arrows. Who do you like least: Jahan or Madora?”

Butch:

Ha! You COULD sacrifice Jahan at one point!

Irony. But you didn’t HAVE to, so there was that.

You’re making progress! Don’t go magpie.

And don’t spend too much time trying to get…into somewhere. Or do, whatever. There’s one of those annoying “Either you have the stat or you don’t” deals. Try it, then walk on by and finish the damn game.

Feminina:

We will spend 40 hours trying to get that one stat! You know we will. Because loot must be looted.

Butch:

I shouldn’t have said anything.

You’ll probably walk right in.

And, if not, READ THE SHIT YOU FIND!!!!

Who am I kidding? There goes 40 hours.

FOCUS! Fight! Cassandra! That sort of thing!

Feminina:

Wait, who? Was there something we were supposed to be doing here besides looting?

Oh well, I’m sure it wasn’t important. Hey guys, know what we never figured out?

That Cryptic Dungeon! We should go back there and puzzle over that for 10 hours. There might be loot.

Butch:

No.

Mystery. Leave something for the sequel.

What cryptic dungeon?

Feminina:

It was this dungeon that was all full of portals! And some of them went into other rooms, and some of them just dumped you back at the entryway, and there was undoubtedly some sort of order that you needed to go through them but we didn’t figure it out before we got bored and left. There was probably loot.

We should go back. Except I don’t even remember how we got there, so that might be tough.

Butch:

Oh that was the pontious pirate deal. Fuck that.

Feminina:

Was that Pontius Pirate? I don’t know… But man, that was a long time ago. How long have we been playing this game, anyway?

We met the weresheep’s ghost there! It told us its body was somewhere in the Phantom Forest. We have yet to find said body.

Lying bastard weresheep. Now I really want us to make weresheep armor based on Maradino’s notes, too.

Butch:

FEMMY! NO! FOCUS FEMMY! FOCUS!

We’ve been playing a long time. A very, very long time.

Feminina:

Were. Sheep. Armor.

It’s got to be here in the forest somewhere! We’ll tear this place apart! No matter how long it takes!

Wolgraff is into it. He doesn’t miss his voice that much anyway.

Butch:

Please be joking. Pretty please.

Cuz you are SO CLOSE.

Just remember: You get so much as a paper cut, use a bloodstone.

There’ll be more before the endgame. Which you are SO CLOSE TO.

Feminina:

I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

Unless I actually find the weresheep, and it escapes to another part of the map or something. Then all bets are off. I will follow it.

Butch:

It’s not worth finding. I know this, cuz I checked before I passed the point of no return. I promise!

FOCUS!!!!!

Feminina:

Is that a log under that corpse? Better grab it.

Butch:

Ok, I’ll spoil:

It gives you a list of all the kickstarter backers.

For real.

NO LOOT!

Move along.

Feminina:

Ha! That’s…weird. But kind of funny.

Butch:

Phew. Saved you the trouble.

Make progress!!!!!!!

E3: Ubisoft and Sony Chatter

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Butch:

I hate that I’m saying this:

The new AC game looks fucking great.

I know, I know, I know.

But RPG elements, deep combat, dialog choices, and a setting that’s just gorgeous.

I know, it’ll break our hearts and be just another retread of AC, but man. Nicely done at the show.

And there was the Just Dance fever dream. There was that.

And they should NOT let French guys say “Star Fox” on stage.

I’ll type with the accent:

“Ow-er neext game eez Staw fucks. Eeen Staw fucks, yoo play az a fucks, but not just annee fucks, a mightee fucks…”

Etc.

And then there was Sony.

Jeez, Sony is all about these narrative heavy, often artsy, bizarre games. Who PLAYS this stuff? Oh, right, we do.

Lots of good stuff!

First, an announcement from Remedy, the folks behind Alan Wake (which people liked and we didn’t play) and Quantum Break (which was really innovative and some people liked it and we didn’t play). It’s called Control and here ya go:

Control E3 2018 Trailer
http://www.youtube.com

But the night really belonged to TLOU2 and Death Stranding, and why not? I mean, when you can lead into your trailer with five minutes of dark banjo music…..

Looks like TLOU will, once again, be deep, tender, character based, violent as holy hell and depressing. It also looks like more fluid combat, though, so that’s something.

Anyhow, it’s got a good kiss:

The Last Of Us 2 Is Looking Ruthless (And Gay)
kotaku.com

I still gotta digest Death Stranding.

Feminina:

Hooray dark banjo music!

Siiiigh. We’ll totally play it and it will crush our souls. Even if there’s a sweet love story, it will probably exist only to give us a moment’s joy and then cruelly rip it away.

The perfect antidote to a real world that seems overly cheerful and entirely too focused on progress and harmony!

“Don’t worry,” this kind of game says, “pretty soon everyone will be dead.”

Yay! Thanks game!

Butch:

It’s why we play. It’s why we play.

Did notice that it seemed more focused on open, mobile, TR style combat than the sneaky “hope they don’t see me” style of the first one. The combat in that trailer was very much a run, swoop and whack multiple Kevins sort of deal. That might be nice. Maybe. Certainly different.

Feminina:

It’s why we play. To be comforted about our impending deaths. And people say games have nothing serious to offer!

Hm…maybe we’ll like more mobile combat. I don’t know. There’s something to be said for sneaky. It’s tense. I kind of like it as a change of pace from all the running and whacking.

But it’s entirely possible that both will be available, depending on preference and/or the type of mission you’re on.

Plus, I mean, yes, I’m sure we’ll like it fine. If that’s the way the game is, that’s the way we’ll play it, and anyway our souls will be too crushed to nitpick over the mechanical details.

Butch:

Well, I’m sure there’ll still be the clickers and all that, who you had to sneak by.

Maybe they were addressing the fact that the human combat in the first one kinda sucked. Pittsburgh. Remember that? Very unimaginative Kevins. The zombie things were good, but the humans? Boring.

Death Stranding has sneaky! With a baby powered clicky thing detector!

Feminina:

I cannot even wait for the baby-powered clicky thing detector. That is going to be…so weird. Irresistibly weird.

Butch:

So weird. But Ok, so, gotta admit, more I see, more I want to play. We like innovative. We like narrative. We like shit that gives us shit to talk about. And we like some degree of weird. And…well….

Kojima’s Death Stranding Gets Weirder Every Damn Time We See It
kotaku.com

I mean, that covers all of it, right?

And now that the shows are over, WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!

It is 2018. June, 2018 to be specific. Halfway through 2018.

Now, on neither MS’s stage or Sony’s stage did we get release dates for any of their showpiece games. TLOU2, Death Stranding, Halo Infinite, Gears whatever, Beyond Good and Evil 2 (talking monkey space pirates!), Cyberpunk, both ES6 and Starfield with Bethesda….no release dates. All of which makes it very likely that none of these games will be released before E3 2019. All of which makes it very likely that this was to build up hype for seeing far more of many if not all of these games AT E3 2019. And, as games at E3 usually come out the next year, we might see all of these games in 2020.

Now…..you might say….what would they announce at E3 2019 then?

How about something like “So, look at everything you can play in 2020. And…to make sure you get the best experience, be sure you pick up a PS5 to play them on. Or an XBox 2 or whatever.

Cuz both MS and Sony played to their base. Made everyone who had the box happy, but didn’t really persuade anyone who didn’t have it already to get it. You do that when you’re positioning the next thing.

Make that whirry PS4 you have wait a year and a half. I’ll bet five dollars and a donut we just saw about the first nine games we’ll play on a PS5.

And you know you’ll get a launch model.

Feminina:

I will not take that bet. (Five dollars, sure, but a doughnut? That’s too rich for my blood.)

But I WILL encourage the whirring PS4 to hold out another year and a half. Hang in there, little friend. We’ll get you out of that cabinet and everything is going to be fine!

This also leaves us with plenty of time to play other things while we wait. Will we actually be able to catch up with our backlog?

As for Assassin’s Creed…maybe. But remember you thought Black Flag looked good, and it disappointed you. And me, though possibly for different reasons. (Not weird enough!) Still, we can keep an eye on it. I did love that series once upon a time.

Butch:

Backlog. We may make a dent, yes, but we do have a game on preorder, you know. We won’t lack of things to play. And if the PS5 does launch (you know you’ll get one) then we’ll be nice and busy, cuz a lot of those games look large.

Oh, I’m very sure AC will be a let down. It will. But that’s AC for you. You HAVE to look at it and think it looks great for a while.

But, gotta say, dialog choices, more RPG elements…that’s what AC4 needed. So maybe it’ll surprise.

But probably not.

You watch that Death Stranding stuff?

Feminina:

It could happen!

But probably not. AC has never really been about roleplaying, so that WOULD be an interesting shift, and I would be intrigued.

But probably it won’t happen.

I’m sure it will have some lovely locations and cool things to climb, though.

Death Stranding…yeah. “Weirder every damn time we see it” pretty much sums it up.

It probably says something troubling about me that I could have done without the toenail-pulling bit. Sure, violent gory death and murder is no thing, but having to remove an injured toenail? Eeeeeeeee.

Butch:

And it says something troubling about me that I’m not at all surprised by that, and remain your staunch friend.

Weirdo.

Sadly, no, it won’t happen with AC. That series just breaks hearts wherever it goes.

Not a single tower in the trailer! Not one!

But that’ll change.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 looked more interesting.

Death Stranding weirder every time: Yup. But maybe not. That first one…at least there’s MALE NUDITY!

We like weird, though. We think we don’t, but then we play something really offbeat and it usually ends up something we like. Life is Strange. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Games get too predictable, sometimes. Even good ones. Dragons. Zombies. Space. Kevins. Repeat. It’s one of the reasons we loved Horizon so much: the world was…well, yeah. Weird. Maybe not full blown Kojima weird, but weird. It’s a huge reason I’m looking forward to Cyberpunk. One cannot slay dragons, shoot zombies and raid uncharted tombs forever.

Feminina:

One can’t?

If the game requires me to actively remove a toenail instead of wincing while the character does it, I will just leave it there until his foot rots because I won’t be able to bear it.

Sorry, dude. If you need anything gruesomely killed, though, I’m on it!

Although perhaps not. I mean, the reason we’re so cavalier about gruesome killing is that it’s not very real to us. If they made the murdering super realistic, similar to the toenail pulling, I would almost certainly bow out of that game, no matter how thematic and awesome it was in other ways.

Perhaps tellingly, we did not see any close up combat in that trailer, just some shadowy things grabbing the guy.

Butch:

You don’t think some things we’ve done in games are super-realistic? You played TLOU. You played TR. All those close up finishing moves? And you kept playing.

Didn’t know you had a nail thing.

Feminina:

Nails, eyeballs, and teeth. Don’t bring me that stuff.

If the finishing move regularly involved stabbing someone in the eyeball in close, photorealistic detail, I might be out.

Or else I’d become expert in quickly glancing away, I guess. Depends how much I liked the rest of the game.

Butch:

If there were dress balls, you’d make a lot of allowances.

This trailer probably left you rather conflicted, then. Nails, on one hand, MALE NUDITY on the other.

You can’t win. You finally get MALE NUDITY and they have to taint it so.

Feminina:

Siiiiiigh. It’s true. It’s so true.

Why can nothing be simple?!

Although it’s entirely possible there will also be fancy dress balls and group hugs somewhere in there, because basically anything is entirely possible with that game.

I hope you get to pick a fancy costume for the fetus.

Butch:

I really, REALLY hope that’s a NEW SENTENCE.

Now we need to play it just to find that out.

Feminina:

I don’t see any way around it.

This is genius marketing, really. Confuse the hell out of everyone until they decide they have to buy your game just to find out what on earth it is.

Butch:

What’s a thing is that, of the four trailers now released for that game, this last one was, by far, the least confusingly odd.

Feminina:

Wow. That’s a thing, all right.

Butch:

We do enjoy creativity.

Right?

Or, at least, when we don’t enjoy it, we can bitch about it on the internet.

Feminina:

I will definitely sign onto the second part.

Although you’re right, we do tend to appreciate creative and different and weird stuff. As you said, the weirdness was what drew us to Horizon (and the interesting narrative and action held us there). We liked Rapture, and Life is Strange.

There just better be some kind of story, is all. It can be weird as hell, that’s fine, but it needs to be there and it needs to hang together somehow, or we’ll just spend all our time griping.

Butch:

Well, Metal Gear was renowned for its story. Its weird, obviously Japanese, freaky story. And its characters. Solid Snake (really) is iconic. And it was supposed to have great narrative moments. In a weird, obviously Japanese way.

So there’ll likely be a lot of story.

Weird, weird story.

Feminina:

Weird, weird story. I guess I can’t wait?

Should be interesting, anyway.

Unless we have too much else to play and never get to it.

Butch:

Weird. Nudity. 

Sold. 
T SHIRT!!!!!! 
FOR WEIRDOS!

More E3: Bethesda and Square Enix

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Butch:

The good, the bad, and the interesting.

The good (if totally unsurprising): Elder Scrolls 6 is a thing. Here’s a teaser showing landscapes and music, which is really what Elder Scrolls does well:

Bethesda Announces Elder Scrolls VI
kotaku.com

The bad (for me, if not for you): Fallout 76 is, in fact, an online coop thing. We can take it off our list. I’ll be over here weeping.

The interesting: Seems they have a brand stinking new single player RPG IP. All new story, all new universe. So we can take Fallout off the list and put this one on. For now.

A trailer:

Bethesda’s Next Singleplayer RPG Is Starfield, A Sci-Fi Game
kotaku.com

Now…..Hmmm.

See there where it says it’s a “next generation” game? He also said that ES6 is coming AFTER this. Which means we have a third party studio that makes games for BOTH Xbox and Playstation teasing and showing “next generation” games.

Something I didn’t mention from MS’s show (cuz, really, we don’t care) was that Phil Spenser, the very well dressed head of Xbox, did say, to no one’s surprise, that they are actively developing the next XBox. Something we haven’t talked about on this blog is that there have been rumors swirling all over the place that PS is much closer to showing their next thing. When you consider that when they switched from PS3 to PS4, they had a couple of exclusive “bridge” games that released on PS3, then remastered or something quickly to their new box. These were designed to be blockbusters, and they were. Indeed, one was TLOU.

What’s Sony showing tomorrow? Kojima’s blockbuster. TLOU2. When we know at least one company is working on next gen boxes.

And Sony has said already they won’t show that many games.

Think they’ll show us a PS5?

Feminina:

Elder Scrolls DOES do good landscape. Uh…probably also music. I don’t know. Is that the sound in the background that tells you if everything’s fine or lets you know things are dangerous? Ha.

Sorry, legions of talented composers who just burst into tears. At least Butch appreciates your labor!

I could be interested in the PS5.

Butch:

You’re just cruel to sound designers everywhere.

Oh, I think your poor PS4 will have to stick with it for a while. They aren’t gonna say “Hey! PS5s! Available tomorrow!” I think if that IF they announce it (their show is tonight, I’ll keep you posted) we won’t be able to buy it until Xmas 2019 at the earliest.

I can’t tell if Bethesda in space makes me happy or not. I do know that “single player” and “RPG” make me happy.

Feminina:

I also am honestly not sure how I feel about Bethesda in space. OK…I guess? I mean, think of the opportunities to pick up random space junk and use it to build random other things!

Ooh, ooh, ooh!–I bet there will be space settlements! Mr. O’ will go wild with joy.

But seriously, it will probably be very Bethesda. Lots of looting and crafting and space randits and talking to people about their great-grandfather’s missing laser blaster. Good for a few hundred hours if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing.

Which we apparently sometimes are.

Butch:

Mr. O likely will.

But man…can Bethesda ALWAYS be all Bethesda? Maybe they’ll give us a pleasant surprise and save all that bullshit for ES6 and give us a nice, tight narrative

oh who am I kidding? We’re SO gonna have to fetch grampa’s laser.

This “next generation” thing does have my attention…..

Anyhoo…..let me link to a couple things from MS’s show that totally sold us on PS4 games:

Cyberpunk 2077 – official E3 2018 trailer
http://www.youtube.com

Think we might play that one and:

Shadow of The Tomb Raider – Official Gameplay Trailer | E3 2018
http://www.youtube.com

this is likely as well.

Thanks Microsoft!

Feminina:

Thanks, Microsoft! Waiting for these to come out for PS4 (or 5) will give us time to play some other things!

Butch:

That was pretty much the whole of MS’s conference. “Well, here’s some Halo…some Gears….you probably already have an XBox if you care about that….and…well, these aren’t really reasons to buy an Xbox, but hey! Enjoy them for the PS4!”

Whatever. Cool trailers are cool trailers.

We are excited for Cyberpunk. This is not a question.

So today we have Square Enix in the afternoon, who will likely show off some more TR, some of that life is strange thing they announced yesterday (ergo my not linking a trailer yet) and that weird Disney/japanese RPG mashup Kingdom Hearts that people seem to like. Ubisoft will give us assassins and Rainbow Six and just dance at four, and Sony wraps shit up with their thing at nine PM. Which kinda sucks cuz that’s the one I want to see the most.

At least we’re seeing stuff we like!

[later]

Square Enix — Only half an hour!

Long look at Tomb Raider gameplay (it looks like…a Tomb Raider game! With great lighting), more on the weird disney game my kids want, Just Cause 4 blowing shit up, and a teaser for a new IP called “The Quiet Man,” which promised more info in August, which isn’t saying much as it had no info.

Oh, and that Captain Spirit Life is Strange game? Hmm.

They had the guys who made it, and were all “This isn’t Life is Strange 2, but it’s a way we want people to take their first steps into the world. There’s so much to find that ties into the stories we’ve told, and to Life is Strange 2.” Ok.

But….it’s out June 26th. And it’s free. Yup. Free. Not “free with plus,” like, free free.

Go figure.

But hey, I’ll play something from them if it’s free.

Feminina:

Dude, I will absolutely play something from them if it’s free. I would PROBABLY have paid for it, so if I don’t have to pay for it?

On the list!

Oh, and no–Bethesda is not going to be not-Bethesda. I would bet money on it. I mean, not a LOT of money, because I’m not a betting sort, but some money.

This is what I’m betting:

There will be beautifully done land- and space-scapes, there will be terrifyingly ugly humans (and aliens who are only less disturbing by virtue of us not having actual living examples of the species to compare them to), there will be the ability to pick up every random piece of junk you find and sell it, and there will be lengthy searches for someone’s grandfather’s blaster.

There will also probably be space settlements, but there’s a chance I could be wrong on that.