Things We Will Buy

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Very minor spoilers for AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Well it’s Monday and I’m already burnt out.

I love life.

Didn’t play any more, so we can dish on the end of the Kassandra as god quest, or if you did a side quest with two dudes accusing each other of stealing from each other’s treasury we could talk on that. Oh, and scanning old news!

https://blog.us.playstation.com/2019/10/08/an-update-on-next-gen-playstation-5-launches-holiday-2020/

Here’s more:

https://kotaku.com/the-playstation-5-will-launch-in-late-2020-and-yes-i-1838869958

Feminina:

Well, I’ll buy it.

My latest phone uses USB-C, so we’re already making that transition!

Butch:

Oh we’re going to buy it. That’s a given. I just read these to give myself something to look forward to.

Feminina:

It is important to have things to look forward to. We’re going to be so excited a year from now, we’ll barely be able to type.

I’m glad they’re sticking with PS5 instead of giving it some new name. Continuity is fine, everyone. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Plus, as you mentioned, the cool V shape ties in so perfectly with the Roman numeral. They’d be fools to miss out on that.

Butch:

I’m down with it just for the load times. I feel like I lose a huge chunk of game time just to loading this game.

“Hit X.” “Checking for additional content.” ****Butch goes and makes dinner**** “Still checking” ****Butch has a drink**** “OK, Main menu. Continue? Good.” ****Butch reads 1985749857 game tips.**** ****Butch falls asleep****

Though the SSD thing does kinda scare me. For it to be even close to affordable, how the hell are they gonna get a TB of space in there? If it ships with 500 gigs, and each game is at least 100, that’s a damn small drive, even if it is fast.

Makes me very nervous that the one thing we don’t know about this thing is how much it’s gonna cost.

Feminina:

Yeah…very true. And also true, if it comes with a small drive, how much will we have to spend on backup storage if we want to avoid having to delete all the game files as soon as we’re done with something, just to make space for the new thing? I mean, we have PS+, but if we didn’t? Maybe you kind of just have to have PS+ to make it workable. In which case, how much is the price of that going to potentially go up?

Not that we really ever do go back and play anything again, so in theory we could really just delete everything anyway…but we MIGHT. We MIGHT, damn it!

There’s DLC, I guess. I needed my Witcher 3 saves when I played the expansions. And heck, if there were another big expansion like the last ones, maybe I would play it! Aside from the giant robot vampire monster boss fight in the last one, I enjoyed them.

Butch:

True. This is all very true.

But man….I’ll get it, don’t get me wrong. But I sure hope it ain’t north of five hundred bucks.

Not sure how I feel about those triggers, either.

Feminina:

I’m intrigued by the triggers, but yeah, we’ll have to see how it turns out. Sounds like something that could be kind of cool, or could be just gimmicky.

Butch:

We’ll have to live with it whether we like it or not. Sigh.

OK, tried to get back to playing before the kids come home and I’m depressed.

Mopped up a bunch of question marks around the Olympics. Fine. All well. Then, the last one, leads to me having to visit (how many? Say it with me) three statues to get stuff. I open the map and I notice that I haven’t even BEEN to, like, 30% of the map. The things I need are places I haven’t even been. At all. Ever.

I’m 70 hours in.

Femmy…….I don’t want to play this game forever. I’m playing on easy. I’m doing quests. I’m not magpieing. I’m charging ahead.

And there’s STILL all these places I haven’t been.

Femmy…..I don’t want another 40 hours of this. We have to be getting close. Right? RIGHT?

Feminina:

It seems like we really must be!

I mean, once we’re done at the Olympics, we have to go win the war in Boeotia or wherever, which will certainly involve a bunch more people needing us to do three things, but that feels like it’s the final thing we have to do before returning to our rightful place in Sparta or whatever, so…we must be on the downhill side. Surely.

Butch:

But….there’s still all that map….

Feminina:

Surely there are SOME portions of the map we don’t have to explore in great detail…? Surely.

I mean, there were some nice lands with no question marks at all that we sailed past on the way to the Bay of Hades, right? Some of the map must be just map.

Possibly.

Butch:

It’s just….

Getting later into fall here. Been playing this since May.

Feminina:

So…looks like there are nine ‘episodes’ to the main story (each composed of multiple quests), and we’re in the middle of episode seven. Also, eight and nine don’t have nearly as much stuff in them. Nine looks like basically just wrap-up.

So we really are on the downhill side. We clean up this Olympics thing and the war in Boeotia thing, then we move on to whatever’s in episode eight which is going to be the big finale battles, and nine will be the closure as we enjoy warm cakes in a rose-covered cottage or whatever.

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it.

Half of my damn cultists are still alive. I still haven’t even found Medusa or the other thing.

At least you have. If you have to do all this cultist new island bullshit, at least you have fast travel points. I’ll let you take care of it all for me. I like this game well enough, but I’m looking forward to something different.

Thank GOD Death Stranding looks different.

An AC game with a “wrap up.” That’s funny.

Feminina:

I’m beginning to think maybe you don’t actually have to kill all the cultists or the mythical monsters. It’s probably going to be one of those “your ending will be different depending on whether you did xyz, but either way you can get to an ending” things.

Possibly even the ending won’t be much different. Mom certainly doesn’t seem to care at all whether or not I completed dad’s thing. And dad never leaves Atlantis, so what’s he going to do? Send me a harshly-worded message via Ikaros?

Butch:

He’ll make you do math homework. Kinda his thing.

I’ll take any ending. I’ll even skip warm cakes.

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In Which Very Little Happens

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers

Butch:

All right! Off to beachy scenic romance at long last!

But started yet another blue quest that is, yes, awesome. “The measure of a man.” Also in the place I am that you should go to. And do the stuff I’ve been doing.

Progress!

So play a bunch this weekend. And by play I mean do the stuff I’ve been doing.

Or, wait, that’s so presumptuous of me. You’re married. Go do something romantic! Or something! Why should I have all the fun?

Nah, never mind. Do the stuff I’ve been doing.

Feminina:

I did the quarry last night. Nice of them to make the guy you were trying to kill one of the captains you had to kill for the location objective. I love efficiency.

Then I checked out a few question marks in the neighborhood. Did you talk to the woman in the village who wants you to escort her son to the agoge for training? That was somewhat interesting.

But go have fun! I’ll try to accomplish things in your absence.

There You Have It: WOOO SPARTA

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for Olympics-related quests in AC:Odyssey

Butch:

Nothing. Please say you played.

Feminina:

Obviously I played. What you should really be saying is “please say you played something that I also played.” I could have played for 15 hours straight just cleaning up question marks in Attika or something, and would that make you happy? Noooooooo.

Anyway, I talked to the kings, got their quests, got Testikles’ special oil (I feel bad about that slave I had to pressure into giving me the recipe, I should go back there and see if she’s OK), took Testikles to Olympos, and got him eaten by a shark. Good times! Now, obviously, I’ll have to fill in for him.

Then before heading to Olympos I did the blue quest about the village where they worship me, and the one about Thespis and the actors. I tried playing it the way he wrote it, even though I knew the lines were all wrong, because he’s the professional and he doesn’t try to tell me how to assassinate, but it didn’t go over very well. Nevertheless, we all escaped with our lives. Good times.

It was also interesting to see how Kassandra handles being treated as a literal god. I was modest about it and in the end gave a rousing speech about how “I’m not a god, you need to find strength inside your own hearts” or whatever. They seemed to like that OK.

So yeah. I got some stuff done.

Butch:

AH PHEW!

You’re ahead of me, or very close to me storywise (we’ll ignore Medusa) cuz the very next thing I’m doing is wrapping up the “You’re a god” quest. I did the three things. Off to the priestess.

So…see what I mean about tonal shift? We finally get to Sparta. There’s wars on. There’s reclaiming family honor. There’s cutscenes. Shit’s MOVING man! And the very next thing is….Testikles.

Now, I’m not down on the Testikles thing (for the most part, more on that in a second) in a vacuum. I like a witty quest as much, if not more, than anyone. This had its laughs in it (“I could KISS you!” “No…you couldn’t.”), and twists (the long, slow take they did when he got eaten was priceless), but why HERE? Why now? Why did they decide this, after all this story, was the time to plop in this rather lighthearted quest?

And, as for the “for the most part,” the slave thing had no business whatsoever being in there. If you’re going to do this silly of a quest, with a guy named Testikles for crissake, do not have even the opportunity to condemn someone into slavery! Just don’t! I’m all for Weighty Game Choices but do not put a Weighty Game Choice in a bit where you’re trying to do something for a dude names Testikles!

We COULD talk on how we both chose to do what we did, and, at least in my case, I never even gave him the oil and he died and I condemned someone for nothing and I’m terrible and thought provoking themes, but there’s a time and a place for that and the time and place is NOT in a quest about a dude named Testikles!

This all annoyed me. Doubly so in that, had it been somewhere else in the game and not had the slave, it would have been pretty great.

Not just what quests are, it’s where they are in the game.

As for the play….man, I agonized over this quest. I put SO much thought into the three actors (I wound up with the real captain, destroying the poison supplies and telling the guy to be brave despite the witch, and hiring the rather hippie Hedonist), but MAN I thought it through. I really wanted this guy’s play to be good! And then, during the play, I reloaded after doubting my choices in the first scene. Twice.

I said the first two lines his way, as I thought “Maybe they’ll think it’s a comedy,” and the last line my way cuz that was a line for the people! Still didn’t go over well.

I found it very interesting that Kassandra seemed pained having to say it all wrong.

But man the themes! All about claiming your own story. We talked a ways back about how families themselves are built on, what did I say, something along the lines of “bullshit that works.” Myths. Stories. We talked on how, in this game, when we challenge the bullshit with the truth (think Supideo), bad things happen. Here, we see Kassandra’s family bullshit being challenged, not with the truth, but with OTHER bullshit. Her probably wrongish story being supplanted with something that’s (probably) horribly wrong, even silly, and she just can’t have that. That’s a pretty cool variation on theme.

And I wonder why I was so into making the play good. I thought, when I was doing it, that I wanted the guy, the playwright, to be happy. But after, I’m not so sure. Maybe it was for Kassandra’s story, but maybe it’s because keeping a “real” family story rather pristine is something that we, or most of us, try to do ourselves.

Good stuff.

It’s so great when we play the same stuff.

Feminina:

I see what you mean. Hm. I do. I actually thought the Testikles bit was kind of interesting, though, and was maybe getting at a bit more than just being a funny aside.

Because remember we were just discussing how Kassandra feels about Sparta, and how we feel about Sparta, and how the game seems to be going “WOO SPARTA!!!!” at us even though Kassandra doesn’t really seem to feel that way, and now…Testikles at one point literally yells “WOO SPARTA!” I mean, I saw it in the subtitles and thought “wow, this is what we were talking about.”

He IS that guy. He is the champion of the nation. He is–apparently–really good at pankration! He’s a drunken oaf and kind of an idiot, but he’s good at this sport and so, in some important way, he represents the entire nation of Sparta to itself as well as to the Greek world.

And I feel like there’s something intentional in that, in the fact that THIS is who we choose to represent us? This is the glory of Sparta?

And it’s also, obviously, kind of saying something about athletics and how weird it is that even today athletes who may be drunken oafs and idiots (thought obviously many are admirable people) are chosen to represent us because they’re good at some sport. (I wonder if maybe there’s also a tiny jab in there about “I may be sitting around playing a video game instead of being a huge powerful jock, but at least I’m not a drunken oaf!” Not that elite athletes don’t also play video games these days, because I’m sure they do.)

And the weird jerkiness of the tone, the having to condemn someone to slavery for the sake of this idiot because he’s the glory of Sparta, and then him dying in a stupid accident that’s also kind of funny, well…national glory is often built on the backs of the less fortunate, isn’t it? And sports are tragic and awful as well as funny and glorious, aren’t they?

So I’m not sure it entirely succeeds, but I really feel like this section was trying to say something about that whole notion of national glory and what a weird, kind of unpleasant thing it can be, even though it’s all in good fun, or made to seem like it’s all in good fun.

Butch:

Hmm. Good point. I guess I was so distracted by the such over the top silliness (Seriously, game, Testikles?) that I kinda missed that.

But if that is what the game is doing, then what’s the larger metaphor? That this admiration of discipline and physical might and violence is oafish and idiotic? That over the top dude bro “THIS IS SPARTA!” machismo is a joke? I’m not sure the game is going there, per se. It certainly has held a lot of big macho dudes up as heroes (shit, the player would be if they played as Alexios), and scorned those that are less than big and macho (Markos wasn’t particularly sympathetic). Are you going to make the argument in the blue quest with the two brothers that the kind, thoughtful (Athenian in practice) one was more sympathetic than the one who tried and failed to be a soldier?

Because I’m not sure we’re being set up for a switcheroo, all “HA turns out those erudite asses in Athens were right all along!” Leonidas is being portrayed in an unflinchingly positive light. Brave, strong, anti-cult soldier, generally awesome. The game is obviously putting him on a pedestal, and he’s Spartan.

Hmm. Remember that screenshot I sent you of all those exclamation points? Well, turns out that’s where the Olympics is gonna be, and those exclamation points all seem to have something to do with it. I have a feeling we’re gonna talk. Later.

Hmm. You’re starting to convince me. But let’s put this on the back burner until we do the Olympics, cuz I have a feeling this will come into sharper focus then.

What are your thoughts on the play?

Feminina:

No, no, I’m not really thinking it’s going to get to the end and be all “AH HA! We’re not actually saying physical prowess is cool at all! We’ve spent the entire game letting you glory in being a mighty and physically powerful warrior, but now we’re telling you that’s all crap!”

I highly doubt it will do anything of the sort.

I just think it’s trying to slightly complicate our uncritical acceptance of the whole thing. Which is sort of trying to have it both ways, giving us an entire game of glorious physical prowess and ALSO kind of saying that glorifying physical prowess isn’t the smartest approach to everything, but that’s familiar in this medium.

Like how Lara Croft and Uncharted kind of occasionally made us think a little bit about the ethics of treasure hunting and looting ancient cultures, even though every single game was entirely dedicated to treasure hunting and culture-looting.

I saw the many golden exclamation points in Olympos! We’re definitely going to be talking to some people. Each of whom will probably have three things for us to do. It’s going to be great, and we’re gonna love it.

The play…I had the actual soldier play the soldier, and got the Hedone to come back and perform. I killed the witch for the other guy, and he felt better.

There was probably a specific combination of actions and lines (and possibly, wine–I got the cheap stuff because the fort was farther away and I’d already been there) that would have resulted in the audience loving the play, but…enh. “We barely got out of there without a fight!” Kassandra observed, and that sounds like the kind of review I want for my theatrical performances from now on.

As you say, it was an interesting commentary on Kassandra’s relationship to her family history, and to the idea of teaching/presenting history for a general audience. What parts of this story are important for everyone in Greece to know about their shared history? What parts are important to know because they’re about the might of Sparta?

Thespis–and Kassandra–seemed to be very interested in presenting it as a tale of universal interest: this isn’t just about Sparta, it’s about all Hellas! This is for the glory of the Greek world! And she did seem very enthusiastic about it when she agreed to do it: “I WILL play Leonidas!” as if that was a good thing, a fine and noble role to play.

Maybe we just didn’t quite get that point across to our audiences.

I also enjoyed the play, as usual when they do this kind of memory/choice thing rather than just diving into a big fight. It was kind of fun to see everyone with their big dramatic masks on, and to pick the lines. I would have done it again for a matinee showing the next day to see if we could perfect the show after some understandable opening-night jitters–but alas, that was not an option. Hopefully once Thespis’ toe healed and he could take on the role himself, he did better with it.

Butch:

Ooo you missed something! WHICH Hedone did you convince to be in the show? You had two choices! There was the hippie guy and the goat guy!

Feminina:

The hippie guy. I talked to four dudes, and he seemed the most plausible. If I missed a dude…so be it.

Butch:

Ah. There were five dudes. Three who were obviously not it, the hippie guy and the goat guy. He’s this clean cut, plain guy. You say “How would you make them laugh?” and he says “I’d slip on a goat bladder. Works every time.” “How would you make them cry?” “I’d tell them about losing my goat. Works every time.”

Then you can pick him or the hippie. I picked the hippie.

Weird we did different things with the supplies/witch and it didn’t seem to matter much. Huh.

And also funny that I really CARED about this quest and you kinda didn’t. I seriously reloaded twice cuz I wanted it to be good. It still wasn’t. But shit, I don’t reload when likable characters die, but I wanted to get this right.

You do not seem to have had the same reaction.

Feminina:

I dunno, man. I wanted to get it right, but I was also prepared to live with the consequences of getting it wrong. I mean, it’s not as if my poor decision resulted in the city being burned to the ground or anything. It was just a play! I’ve made poor decisions with much worse outcomes, that’s for sure.

And as you say, I generally don’t reload then, so I wasn’t about to do it now. Especially not when I was so desperate to catch up to you! Ha. Not so desperate that I didn’t check out every question mark in the surrounding hills, of course.

Butch:

I know we usually leave victims of our questionable decisions in our wake! I do it all the time! Which is why I have no idea why I wasn’t all “Pfft. Play. Whatever.”

But I wasn’t. I genuinely cared about this and I have no idea why. I’m not even that invested in this game, man!

I’ll continue to ponder.

But I played! Finished up with the “Kassandra as God” quest, then toodled off to the Temple of Zeus (that’s where the Olympics are!) and did a side quest that didn’t have fuck all to do with the Olympics, but was themey.

Progress! Or something.

Feminina:

Progress!

Let’s just go with progress. We’ll get to the Olympics in time.

Did you do another blue quest around here? The ‘flame still burns’ or something? I saw it over in the mountains, but didn’t manage to run all the way out there yet.

Butch:

Nah, that’s in Attika. I figure I’ll get to that when I actually go to Attika for the main story. Which’ll be a while.

Though, and if this is a spoiler don’t tell me, but, in doing that “Kassandra is a god” thing, when I had to go to Attika to go the the priestess’ cave, as soon as I crossed the border BOOM massive bounty. Then I left and BOOM bounty cleared.

The fuck is that? There wasn’t even anything to pay off.

Also did you get the weirdness during all that, that quest that popped but for a limited time? I was clearing something out of a cave for someone. There was swimming involved. I killed a bunch of random bandits and a quest popped. “Huh?” said I. I check, and the quest was “Maybe it was luck, or maybe Kassandra was feeling particularly violent that day, but she killed some blah blah blah” and the objective was “Collect your reward.” But what was REALLY weird is that it was timed. I had 19 hours to do it.

So, what, did I accidentally do a timed quest? Did that happen to you?

Cuz I went to “collect my reward” and it’s this athlete all “There is a place I train…you’d like it….but there are bandits….” And I’m all “Oh…did that….” and she paid me. But it was timed!

Feminina:

That did happen to me! Crossing the border into Attika, major bounty, going back it’s gone. Apparently someone in Attika doesn’t like me.

And yes, I also killed some bandits and accidentally completed a quest! Probably the same ones. It’s happened a few times before, so I think it’s just if you’re in the neighborhood of someone who would give you a timed quest if you talked to them (which you obviously don’t), and you happen to do the thing they want, you get ‘success’ on it and have however much time until it ends to go collect your reward.

Hey, free money for something I was clearly going to do anyway! I’m into it.

Pythagorean Recipes

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for main plotline in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

OK, I’m in prep for that delayed vacation, so it’s on you!

So…….you played, right?

RIGHT?

Feminina:

Of course I played! I always play!

I think we need to talk about your definition of ‘quick’ and ‘close by,’ however.

I went after the Spartan Secret Service guys (krypteia or whatever), and yeah, one of them was right there in the Leader House, but the other two were way out in different ass ends of Lakonia, far from any fast travel points. I spent about 20 minutes just running to get to them. And one of them was in a fort!

On the plus side, I picked up a lot of iron and olive wood. And I did kill them all. So that was my night.

I was mildly intrigued by the game’s suggestion that the helots could be convinced to rebel against that one guy. I wandered into the village thinking about doing it, but he was just standing there haranguing the crowd with his back to some tall grass and I thought “why would I spend time trying to convince these people to risk their lives fighting this jerk when I can just sneak up and backstab him right now?”

So I did that.

Possibly if I’d rabble-roused them into fighting him themselves they’d be all full of self-confidence and feel validated as people with their own unique human potential or something, but…enh. My other mission does involve destroying all their weapons, so I clearly don’t want them to get TOO full of themselves.

Fight against your oppressors! But not, you know, effectively. It’s important to Sparta that you continue to serve as a laboring underclass.

I actually kind of hate Sparta right now. Not that the rest of the Greek world is a shining beacon of individual empowerment or anything, we’ve talked about slavery before, but this “send your kids off to kill or be killed by wolves,” and “helots are useful workers that we have to keep under control” stuff, that doesn’t exactly fill the heart with song. Not to mention the whole “throwing me off a cliff as a child” bit.

Kassandra seems fairly chipper about being here, but she’s obviously got doubts (she wanted to help the kids, she keeps bringing up her history). And she’s certainly still perfectly happy to kill Spartan soldiers.

Butch:

Oh…heh….yeah. I was thinking of the other one, the one with the quarry. That’s quick. But yeah, this one had a fort. Like, out on a cape sort of thing? Big hill? That one?

Heh. Sorry.

The other one has a fast travel point right by it! By a quarry! It’s close.

I crept up on that talking guy, too. I think I did that assassinate from afar thing I love to do so much, where you throw the spear. Very efficient. I kinda like that the people watching didn’t really react. Half of them were probably stunned and the other half were all “See? TOLD you this wouldn’t be boring!”

See, this is what I meant when I was wondering if this was a chance to pick between helping or harming the helots. You’re given two missions: One involving empowering them, one involving destroying their weapons. If that’s not a Weighty Game Choice, what is? And yet, I THINK you HAVE to do both. I think. I didn’t really understand that.

I can’t really get behind helping Sparta at all, and yet the game sure as shit wants me to get behind helping Sparta. I think the game thinks we’ve seen 300 as many times as they have and we fucking LOVED it more EACH FUCKING TIME but I haven’t and I won’t. I have no idea why Sparta is the “good guys,” because, as you say, they do a lot of awful stuff that, usually, video game BAD guys do. That’s without even getting into the fact that this is AC and the game itself can’t seem to decide what side of its own lore Kassandra, the players, anything is on. Sparta should be Templar, Athens should be Assassin, lorewise. And here we are….fighting for…who.. and… I dunno.

And I completely agree that it makes no sense that Kassandra has all this Spartan pride. They chucked her off a cliff. She has led a life of freedom and relying on her own wits to beat the odds and survive. She has very much NOT led a life where she’s all “I must dedicate myself to order and law and yadda yadda.” She’s a damn mercenary who used to be a street kid and hung out with Markos. There’s no narrative reason at all that she’d a) want to be back in Sparta or b) consider herself a true and proud Spartan.

But MAN the game wants us to be all “Whoo hoo! SPARTA baby!” and I have no idea why.

Feminina:

Yeah, I kind of hated 300 too.

WOOHOO YEAH MAN OH MY GOD THIS IS ALL SO STERN AND MANLY AND UNFORGIVING!!!!!!

Yup. I’ll just…be over here skulking in the tall grass waiting to backstab you.

I concur, it’s very confusing that the game seems to want us to be all “Go Sparta!” right now. And yet…does it, really? This is part of why I’m confused!

Because it’s certainly being presented like “hey, this is the side of right!” and yet…if they really wanted to simplistically say “Go Sparta!” they didn’t HAVE to put in the stuff about the slaves. They have to be aware that this is going to complicate the hero worship for manly Spartan battle training.

So do they really think we’re going to be all “Go Sparta” because we loved 300, or do they think we (or some percentage of their audience) is going to kind of WANT to do that, but they want to slide in a little counterbalance?

I don’t know! I’m confused!

And, I mean, the victory over the Persians was a big dramatic deal in a military sense, no doubt. If you’re into that kind of thing…you can think it was a pretty big deal and very cool. You can still maybe not necessarily think the Spartans were a nation of unquestionable manly heroes that the world should emulate.

Maybe they’re trying to be halfway thoughtful about it. Maybe the whole “rah rah” presentation is even meant to kind of suggest the ways that we can get swept up in questionable causes, and end up supporting kind of horrible things?

Because as you say, the Templars are usually the bad guys, and the Templars are the ones who are all about enforcing order and conformity. That’s a lot more like the Spartans than anyone else on the board here who’s not actively in the cult.

So I really do wonder if they’re actually making some kind of point with this Spartan-worship thing. While maybe kind of playing both sides, in the sense that they could be saying to some players “hey, if you loved 300, you’re going to love this, GO SPARTA!!! and ignore all that dubious stuff” while at the same time giving those of us who want to think about it more, something to chew on.

Butch:

Never saw 300, as I am not married to Mr. O, and, therefore, didn’t have to see it.

But I’m totally confused. Moreso than usual, given this game.

See, that would be pretty good, making the whole templar thing murky, making us ponder how easily we get caught up etc. But the game mechanics themselves are also betraying this as just a clusterfuck of a narrative.

See, we’ve had umpteen chances to do conquest battles. We could have chosen to do each and every one of them for Athens. Every one. Now, I haven’t done any of them, but I highly doubt that Kassandra would be all “No! I shall do that! How DARE you press that button!” to us if we chose to do them all for Athens. Now, out of the clear sky, she’ll all “I am SUCH a Spartan! Sparta forever!” The game has not been setting Kassandra up as a proud, loyal Spartan so that we, as players, must wonder about motivations and implications and all that. The game hasn’t set up Kassandra to be particularly loyal to, or proud of, anything UNTIL NOW. At the sixty five hour mark or so. After the game not giving a fuck who you, as a player, wanted to support and the game establishing that Kassandra is a free spirited Misthios, boom. SPARTA! WHOO HOO! GOOD GUYS! Or something.

Games are at their best when they either a) make you choose something, then wonder why you did or b) they make you come along on a preset ride, and make you question why you felt about it the way you did (See Edith Finch, TLOU, etc.). This game let you make all these choices! It would’ve been cool if your choices about supporting Athens or Sparta really made you ponder why you chose what you chose! But not only did those choices not matter to the outcome of the game, the game seems to be trying to turn itself into the “preset ride” game NOW. Sixty five hours in.

And, sorry game, no.

Feminina:

Yeeees…but again, IS she really all “wooooo SPARTA!”

She did want to go help those kids–her reaction was kind of horrified.

And when you talk to the king, Pausanias, you can bring up the uncomfortable fact that he wanted to throw your brother over a cliff back in the day, or whatever. (Granted, some of these are dialogue choices, so to some extent it’s up to us how gung-ho Sparta she is. And we were the ones who decided to let the kids fend for themselves against the wolves rather than buck Spartan custom.)

But last night she was just wandering around and a background comment–not a dialogue choice–was “I almost wish I were back in Kephallonia, even though Morkos was a total loser” (or something along those lines). That’s not exactly her saying “everything here is amazing and I’m so glad to be part of it.”

She’s NOT, really, walking around cheering “yay Sparta.” And yet, I agree, it FEELS as if the game IS doing that. And I’m not sure why. Or, to be honest, how.

But I really think it’s more complicated than just “the Spartans are awesome ’cause they’re so badass.”

Butch:

Man, when you put it that way, you’re right. She’s not Woo, Sparta, but the game is….somehow.

Damn. Now I’m even more confused!

But it’s cool. When you meet the kings (and the quarry bit really is quick. Nice of them to set up so close to a fast travel point and make all their weapons kind of shimmer), do the one about….sports….which will take you far away from Sparta and back to Allie, and you like him.

And towards two blue quests!

And a seismic tonal shift I want to rant about.

Feminina:

I am also confused. And I look forward to more confusion and rant-fodder in the near future, while you’re off having a nice time with no kids.

Butch:

It’s not all rant inducing. I just played some! Finished up the blue quest line (The Show Must Go On).

Man….when this game is good, it’s really good. This was a great quest line, and it’ll dovetail nicely with the other blue quest line that’s right there (The Measure of a Man). And no forts! Or captains! All sorts of different shit and an ending that, if it doesn’t stress you out in terms of the choices you make, what’s wrong with you?

But so sad, because it’s so good….and so different than the rest of the game. Speaks volumes about the rest of the game, doesn’t it?

You’ll love this quest line. No, really, you will.

This game could’ve been a really, really great game.

Feminina:

Interesting!

All right, I’ll try to get to that too.

While you’re off having fun.

Butch:

It’s all in the same place.

The kings, one of them anyway, will ask you to do something involving sports. Do that. You’ll wind up here in the land of blue quests.

And, if you do the other ones first, then we got nothing next week after I get back from vacation.

Feminina:

I won’t lie, I’m going to be very tempted to chase after that last mythical monster…but I’ll attempt to restrain myself.

Butch:

It’ll be there later, I’m sure.

I can vouch for good bloggage along this main/blue questline.

Feminina:

I SUPPOSE it will be there later. But dad’s probably getting impatient down there under the sea all by himself!

Butch:

Meh. He’s been chilling a century and a half. He can wait. He still has an equation to write.

Feminina:

I’m pretty sure he’s meant to have written that before he got to Atlantis.

Unless you mean his lesser-known work on quadrilaterals, which he should indeed be trying to polish up as long as he’s got all this spare time.

Butch:

Actually, I know you’re a vegetarian, so you likely missed this, but Pythagoras is also known for inventing and perfecting the bacon cheeseburger. Indeed, in France, it’s still called “Le Burgeur de Pythagorees.”

Truth.

So maybe he’s working on that down there. As a meat eater, please leave him alone so he can do his work on that, and go do the main quest line.

Ancient, Confusing History

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for main story in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

I’m still patiently waiting for you, here. Didn’t play anyway, what with the insanity of life on Tuesdays.

I hope you have something, because I don’t even have a Pearl of Parental Wisdom short of “Seventh graders are all nuts” and everyone already knows that.

This day might go south early.

Feminina:

I’m deeply wounded that you would think I might not have made any progress on the main story.

Deeply. Wounded.

I finished off the cultist sister. Turns out the plot twist is that they’re identical twins, and they’re both yelling at you to kill the other, and you have to guess which one is the cultist. Then if the non-cultist priestess survives, she says how much she hated her sister but loved her too, and you can say “I know what you mean. Sibling relationships are complicated,” or something, which was an interesting moment of reflection for Kassandra, considering her relationship with Alexios.

Even after all that, I did not find a mythical monster on Kythera!–but I did figure out where it is. On another island, far away in the north of the map, where some guy I did find on Kythera told me to meet him.

But guess what’s kind of on the way there? Sparta!

So I went and gave Lysander some seals from Athenian polemarchs I killed (allowing him to think I did it just for him, even though in fact I was totally going to kill them anyway), and then I ran across the country to talk to mom.

Talked to mom. Talked to Brasidas, who asked me to stop some people (three people!) from arming the helots. Talked to one of the kings, Pau-something, who asked me to stop some people (three people!) from killing the helots. Always three things.

Didn’t help some kids fight off a pack of wolves, because it’s not the Spartan way. Although I kind of oppose the Spartan way? On account of it got me and my baby brother tossed off a cliff? But I decided the kids themselves were likely Spartan enough not to thank me for interfering, and so I let it alone. That will probably come back to haunt me.

So there.

Butch:

Excellent! This means you did something.

Get the fuck out. Another island? Should’ve known. He’ll have three things for you to do.

Ah, yes. Told you of Brasidas’ three things. Did you get a cutscene there? I got a cutscene. It was short. I think it was before I met Pau something. Young guy? We’re all “YOU’RE a king?”

See, this bit confused me. I thought for sure that it was “pick one. Who you with? Helots or not?” And maybe it was and I missed something, but, for me, it wasn’t. Or something. I dunno. I might have fucked this bit all up. How are you going to play it?

I did the same thing with the kids and wolves. Unlike me to leave kids be, but I left them be. For Sparta! And because there was finally some story happening and fuck me if I’m going to give all that up for wolves.

Hooray! Momentum! MOMENTUM!

Hint hint.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m not sure if this feels like a “support the helots or not” choice. More a “keep the helots from rebelling in various ways” story. “Let’s take away their weapons AND try to convince them that not all Spartans are totally into their senseless murder!” I figure I’ll go after the murderers first. They sound like bastards.

ONLY I am allowed to murder with impunity!

Well, not even me, really, since bounty hunters will hassle me about it. Just because they’re not good at killing me, doesn’t mean they’re not annoying. (But not annoying enough to buy off.)

A cutscene about…? There was some cutscene conversation. A vision of the past when we both touched the spear and saw the cult trying to convince Leonidas to surrender to Xerxes. That cutscene?

Butch:

That’s the one. Random “story.” But at least we know that the cult wasn’t always about killing Kassandra’s family. It’s almost as if Leonidas was working for/with them for a time. Right? That’s how I read it.

At least these three things are quick. Everyone’s fairly close by. You might even have fast travel points that’ll plop you right by everyone. For one of these things, I thought I had to sail. Got on the boat, sailed, like, three oar pulls and there I was. The boat was parked, like fifty feet from the dock forever. Sailors all “Hey, man, can we PLEASE dock? We want to get some wine, meet some ladies….we can’t swim you know. You’re killing us, here!”

When I had to get on the boat again I ALMOST summoned it, but could hear Barnabas all “Commander, this is not worth a load screen!”

Feminina:

Yeah…or at least the cult wasn’t the enemy, necessarily. Maybe they were just kind of around, as far as Sparta was concerned, until the point came when they tried to impose order (a very proto-Templar concern) by letting Sparta be taken over by the Persians. (A sort of “this power-hungry group is all very well until they challenge me personally”?)

I look forward to dealing with several sets of three things for different people.

Butch:

Which I kinda didn’t get. Isn’t Sparta supposed to be all order and shit? Cults, templars, all that, they should LOVE Sparta! Why let them get taken over?

Is this one of those “Just let it wash over you” deals?

Feminina:

Well, it’s certainly one of those “we don’t have enough information to know exactly what’s going on here” deals. Since it’s part of Kassandra’s history, there’s still a chance that it will be part of the narrative we learn at some point.

Butch:

Still a chance, yes. Part of the “narrative,” yes. Some point in the game. Or the next one. Or the one after that.

I’m just gonna let it wash right over me.

If we ever, at some point, maybe, possibly finish this game and move onto something else, are we still going to remember how to critique anything?

Feminina:

Don’t underestimate our prodigious skills at finding things we can talk to death.

Butch:

I have no doubts at all about finding things we can talk to death.

But will we be able to talk about them well?

(He said, knowing he was teeing up SO many jokes.)

Feminina:

I’ll just go with “do we ever?”

Butch:

Yeah, see? That’s the rut we’re in. This game is so predictable, we even take the low hanging, predictable jokes now. This game has dulled us, three silly objectives at a time.

We better play Death Stranding next. Might be so fucking weird our eyes melt, but hey! It’s not gonna be predictable!

Feminina:

I think we’ll be fine.

Or we’re doomed! This is the game that will destroy the blog! We will never be able to discourse thoughtfully on anything again!

We’re going to be fine. You’ll feel better after vacation.

Butch:

God I hope so. Mostly because you’ll be doing stuff I’ve done!

I hope.

But I’m also up for some weird. Though this game looks quite weird. The weird baby? Apparently it can “talk” to you through the speaker in the controller.

At least it’ll be bloggy.

Feminina:

Or it’ll just be us going “that was…weird…” every single day.

But I’m sure it’s going to be great. We’re gonna love it.

Butch:

Hey, weird is good bloggage. When it’s “kill captains,” there isn’t much you an say about that. Weird shit? You can say all kinds of shit about weird shit. It’s why college English professors revel in weird shit. It’s like a bloggage Rorschach blot. That’s right up our alley.

Feminina:

I guess we’ll find out!

Butch:

No we won’t. This game never ends.

EVER.

Feminina:

Outlook’s suggested responses:

“I know.”
“Ok.”
“I believe you.”

You may be right.

I Am a Cleric of the God of Murdering You

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the priestess story on Kythera in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So I decided to take a short break from playing so you can stop running around doing god knows what and get to the point where you’re doing stuff that is blog worthy. That said, I suppose I have to start the post with something so I will offer a

Pearl of Parental Wisdom

to our faithful readers.

As you know, there are many things they do not tell you when you decide to become a parent. One of the more important ones is this: When you are the only adult in the house with your children and you decide to take a crap, a child related crisis is guaranteed to ensue during such time as you are taking the aforementioned crap.

It’s a certainty of the universe. Nature called around the time that Junior had to go to the bus stop. I checked in with Junior, reminded him to bring his trumpet home and find his science notebook, have a good day at school etc. Went and did my business, I come out, and JUNIOR IS STILL HERE. I’m all “DUDE! WHAT THE FUCK!” He’s all “Oh, didn’t know I had to go to the bus.”

I TOLD him go to the bus, trumpet, science notebook……

Now, Junior is in seventh grade. Junior has never, EVER missed the bus in his entire scholastic career. Seriously. Going back to kindergarten, he’s been on that big yellow miracle every single day of school. The ONE TIME I decide it’s safe to take care of business…..

It’s fucking uncanny. No pun intended.

I seriously hope you fucking played and we can talk about video games.

Feminina:

“I didn’t know I had to go to the bus.”

I see. That’s what you’re going with, Jr.? Interesting choice.

I played. Of course I played! But…I ran all over, talked to everyone on that damn island, and no sign of any mythical beasts. I did uncover a cultist, who I now need to kill. Maybe she’ll turn out to be (or at least be able to tell me about) the mythical beast.

Or maybe I had the wrong island. I swear the quest said “one is on Kythera,” which is where I am, but maybe it was Kythora or Kritastika or something instead. All these islands run together. I’ll look into that as soon as I’m done with the Cultist, because there is really nothing else to do on this particular island.

But it was kind of an interesting quest in that you first come across a priestess, Diona (for some reason pronounced ‘dee-own-ee”, fighting some bandits, right? (I’m going to just spoil the whole thing, assuming you don’t care enough to do it, but don’t read further if I’m wrong.)

SPOILERS

So you help her fend off the bandits, and she says they were sent by the cult. And she needs you to do three things before she can tell you more about the cult, so you do it. And also, she’s VERY seductive, which made me a bit suspicious because yeah, I am extremely attractive, and sure she’s a priestess of the Goddess of Love, but she was really laying the “you get sexier every moment” stuff on a bit thick. But hey, I flirted back, and I did the tasks she needed done, including speaking to her older sister, the Head Priestess, who has barricaded herself in the temple because someone is trying to kill her. Older sister happens to mention that Diona is wildly jealous of her and always wanted to be Head Priestess herself.

Hm. So I get back to Diona, and she’s all “I can’t wait to get you into bed!” and you can either sleep with her or not, and either way she then sends three big dudes to murder you. Turns out older sister was right: she WAS wildly jealous, wanted to be Head Priestess, joined the cult for the power, and now plans to murder her sister.

Good times.

Anyway, I have to go try to save the older sister and kill Diona the cultist. And maybe there will be a mythical beast in there somewhere.

But it was yet another look at family, and specifically of siblings rather than the parent/child stories that are more common, and I thought it was kind of interestingly similar to the situation with me and Alexios, where the cult is between two siblings, the older of whom is not a member, and the younger is. Though Diona apparently chose to join it out of jealousy, while Alexios was raised in it and is therefore not entirely responsible.

Butch:

You know, I can only lead with Pearls of Parental Wisdom for so long, here. Just saying.

We’re now in that “we’re just gonna spoil shit because fuck it” phase. We’re officially there.

Sigh. That does sound very interesting, and, had I not been playing this game for so long, I’d probably like that quest. But man, I have been playing this game and that just sounds like more of what we’ve been doing.

I really hope this isn’t going to become a trend in AAA games, this more is more thing. I find myself saying “This game would be good had it just trimmed the fat” a lot, not just with this game, but with a lot of games. MEA really started it. Mafia 3 ran with it.

Are you at least kinda close to a point where you can go back to the main story?

Feminina:

Well, probably, assuming I can find this mythical beast. I am one mythical beast short, man! I have to find that last one so I can take the artifacts back to dad!

That’s where I rejoin the main story. According to the plan anyway.

Butch:

I’m tempted to google it for you…..

You’ll have your chance to catch up. Next week looks like promising bloggage. After all, this weekend we’re back to TRAVEL BLOGGIN’ WITH BUTCH as I FINALLY get to celebrate my 20th anniversary by taking Mrs. McP down to a lovely, romantic hotel on the cape.

And I’ll come back Tuesday and you’ll be all “Just give me a couple more days, then I PROMISE I’ll do the actual story.”

Feminina:

Ah, good. I’ll do my best to find that monster, deal with dad’s issues, and get back to mom.

I have good intentions! I’m just trying to win the approval of both my absent parents, in an all-too-familiar story about the aftermath of childhood trauma.

Butch:

Except….this is a real fear, here.

You’re assuming that, upon killing the monster and getting the doohickey and going back to dad, that’ll END the questline. Why do you think this will end the questline? Given this game, each doohickey will give you three more things to do, and I’ll get back after a romantic weekend and you’ll be all “Hey, guess what? I made it to Atlantis and there are question marks EVERYWHERE!”

And then that’s it. We’re a parenting blog.

And the whole reason we blogged in the first place was to NOT talk about our kids!

Feminina:

Oh man…you’re right….

A whole Atlantis level full of question marks! With Atlantis forts to infiltrate and Atlantis captains to murder!

I’d never leave!

But on the other hand, Pythagoras told us he’s there by himself, right? So there can’t be forts full of captains, because where would they come from?

I’m going to cling to the belief that it won’t be another map the size of Greece.

CLING TO IT.

Butch:

Dude, even if it’s not the size of Greece, you gotta focus, here. We can’t play this game forever. I can’t play this game forever. We’re now at a point where other big stuff comes out THIS month!

You can’t be hoping for more and more and more, can you?

Feminina:

No, no. Not hoping for more and more. Hoping to start wrapping up some existing stuff. Clinging to that dream.

All right, listen, if I finish the monsters and get back to dad and it doesn’t wrap that bit up, I’ll just drop dad and go see mom and get back on her story.

After all, I know she has three very important things for me to do…

Butch:

OK, fair.

Because she does have three more things for you to do.

As does the guy she’s with. And the two dudes you’ll meet after that. And the guy at the start of this blue quest I’m doing.

Seriously.

Sigh.

Feminina:

Oh, I believe you.

Unfortunately.

Butch:

Well, there IS bloggage to be had. We just have to get back to doing the same stuff.

Feminina:

We will!

Just…you take a break, go on vacation, don’t worry about it. I’ll totally take care of the mythical beasts and catch up to you and we’ll be done in no time.

No problem. Very plausible scenario.

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Just….if you open the great gates of Atlantis and there’s question marks….RESIST!

Unless there’s nudity. Then I’ll totally understand if you pursue it.

Feminina:

Duly noted.

Bring on the vast gallery of Naked Zeus statues!

Butch:

Watch, it’ll really be that and I’ll have given you an excuse to play this forever.

Feminina:

I’ll make sure to send screencaps.

“This is Naked Zeus smiting his enemies with lightning…this is Naked Zeus in the bath…this is Naked Zeus enjoying a cocktail…”

Butch:

Stop it. Just stop. This is way too likely, and you’re upsetting me.

Feminina:

Nah, it’s not remotely likely. We’re talking about Atlantis, after all.

The statues will obviously be Naked Poseidon.

Butch:

Dude….I’m at trumpet And clarinet lessons. I’m already fragile here.

You’re not making me feel any better.

 

The Game Goes Ever On and On…

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for AC: Odyssey storylines

Butch:

Played a little. Got a bit through the blue quest with the dude putting on the play.

But you’re….gasp….behind me, so if you did the minotaur, the main quest, and the main quest bit about….sports….then we can blab about that sort of thing.

Did you get my very depressing screenshot full of new exclamation points?

Feminina:

Dude, I did the Minotaur and then went to Kythera to look for the next mythical monster. I’m trying to finish up dad’s thing here!

So no, sadly I have not done any main quest involving sports or anything else, other than looking for mythical monsters.

But when I met the kid talking about the minotaur, I said “that’s just a man in a mask! And not much of a man,” and he said “those idiots in Pephka don’t know what they’re talking about” or something.

So there was no particular extra content based on my having spent all that time in Pephka. I found the Swordfish, found the caretaker, etc. etc. I must say, I kind of loved Knossos Palace as an environment. So much ruin and so many nooks and crannies, such lingering majesty–it was just cool. Although I could NOT find the tree to which that ainigmata ostraka referred.

Anyway, when you get to the minotaur, maybe just turn it down to easy. It’s another one of those “I have fully 8 billion hit points and your challenge is to stay alive in this confined space long enough to chip them away a few at a time bwahahaha!!!!” fights. It was all right on easy. Would have driven me bonkers with frustration otherwise.

Of course, I did forget to change into the Armor of Theseus that that one guy was so insistent I wear, so it’s possible it would have been easier if I’d done that. It just didn’t show up on the inventory screen as better than my regular armor, so unless it has special bonuses versus mythical beasts (possible!), I don’t know how. But you always check that sort of thing, you’ll figure it out.

I did get your screenshot! But you ARE making progress! Towards more map icons!

And I’m making excellent progress towards another monster.

Although actually that’s not true, I’m not sure what this one is and haven’t heard anyone talking about anything suggestive yet. But the Cult is all over this island, so if I poke around long enough, I’ll find it.

Butch:

We’re gonna be playing forever, aren’t we? We are. Now I’m starting to think that me saying “I’ll stop when you’re done” should’ve been “Promise me you’ll stop when I’m done.”

OK, so when I stumbled on the kid, I was all “Pfft. Everyone knows the Minotaur is in Pephka,” and he was all “That’s a scam. And I know scams.” And then, next I look, no more quest in Pephka.

Which is interesting cuz a) it meant that Kassandra genuinely thought that the Minotaur was in Pephka and b) she instantly believed the kid cuz the quest disappeared THEN, not when I, you know, found the Minotaur.

I felt kinda bad for the Swordfish. I also thought that it was, again, a missed opportunity in terms of narrative. The cultist who wants out would’ve been a cool RPG moment. The game could’ve given us the choice: kill him cuz CULT MUST DIE or do something like negotiate a way to get his clue or something. I really didn’t want to kill the guy. I figured there’d be a way to work things out, but no. Game wouldn’t let me do that. Game, you had so many chances.

Still, I kinda liked the way that the kid mirrored Kassandra. Here’s the scrappy street urchin, making his way. But, in this case, we had a) a cultist who wanted out, as opposed to Elpinor, and b) more importantly, a caretaker who abandoned him because he felt like a failure. He was the anti-Markos. Markos was a train wreck of a father figure who kept Kassandra around out of his own sense of self preservation. Here, we have a caretaker who genuinely wants to be good. That said, this kid’s caretaker left, which isn’t really great parenting.

That’s not even getting to the idea that both Kassandra and the kid both have hopes about their parents that are likely not going to end well.

As I didn’t actually finish any of that quest, what happens if you give the kid his dead father’s ring? Go ahead and spoil. Not eager to go back to this shit.

Feminina:

Interestingly, it was a choice to just keep the ring. You break it to the kid that his father is dead and say he needs to move on, and he says “I’m afraid I’ll forget him if I do,” and you can either lie (with the ‘lie’ symbol and everything) and say “there’s nothing I can do,” or you can give him the ring to remember his father by.

Which I did, because dude, hanging onto some random ring I don’t care about when it could comfort a grieving child is low. And I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, but I’m not that low.

Then he was comforted, and then the caretaker showed up and said he was sorry for not being there for him but he’d try harder, and the kid said he was sorry for stealing from the caretaker, and they went off together.

As you say, an interesting comparison to Kassandra and Morkos. This caretaker just couldn’t face talking about tough subjects and so completely withdrew, leaving the kid to be a scamp on his own. Morkos is way more practical, and used Kassandra’s (and Phoibe’s) scampiness for his own ends. That guy was kindhearted but maybe too sensitive for the job–Morkos is completely unsentimental, but helped focus his foundlings.

And I agree, I kind of wanted to be sympathetic to the Swordfish, whose attempts to leave the Cult I could appreciate. On the other hand, that whole “rule the fishing village through terror and violence” thing was a bit of a downer. Cutting up all those bodies to attract sharks to protect his hideout…creative idea! Can’t really get behind it from a moral standpoint.

It would have been interesting if there’d been more there than just another fight, though. Maybe he could have offered to cut you in on his rule of the village if you helped defend him against the other cultists or something. Ah well. This game isn’t super into complexity.

Butch:

Huh. That’s interesting, that it was a greed choice. I was soft selling the kid on the whole “He’s dead” thing. Each time I was like “Uh….yeah….I’ll…..find your father….yup….” so I figured that you could a) tell the kid he’s dead and give him the ring (as you did) or b) keep the ring but in the context of “I didn’t find him. I’m sure he got out, and is missing you….[insert Kassandra’s personal story here],” in order to keep the kid happy. It’s interesting that you couldn’t keep up the lying (or at least misleading) about the father maybe not being dead after that point.

Morkos helped? He did? I found Morkos completely unsympathetic in this game, period. He’s an asshole. I think I was supposed to like him, and, had his last quest there given him some depth or remorse or sorrow for Phoibe or something maybe I’d’ve liked him a little, but, as it is, I totally dislike him. I don’t think he helped his foundlings one damn bit.

I sort of saw Morkos and the caretaker asking the question who was better, the con man who tried to convince everyone he was a good parent when he really wasn’t and wasn’t trying to be, or the caretaker who left, hoping his kid would find someone better? Of course, the BEST thing to do is to try your best to be a better parent every day, but that’s too easy an option for a couple of quests designed to make you ponder.

Because, given Morkos and the caretaker, I found myself not liking Morkos at all and kinda liking the caretaker, or, at least, pitying him. As a father myself, I’m not sure why I liked or pitied him. If, in real life, I saw someone all “well, I suck at parenting, so bu bye, I’m out,” I would think “That asshole is a terrible human for abandoning his kids.” That said, I didn’t have that reaction to the caretaker, and I’m not sure why I didn’t.

What they should’ve and could’ve done with the Swordfish was make him less of a crazy murderer type. Make him more of a strongman who isn’t all that evil, but doesn’t know how to be anything BUT a strongman, a bad guy who really does want to change. I kinda hope we do see that (soon) at some point in this game. I have a feeling that, if this game ever does end (it won’t), there’ll be that sort of “can he be redeemed, does he want to be redeemed” deal with Alexios. If the game is smart (and it won’t be), we’d see a preview of that sort of struggle with a cultist ahead of time.

But we won’t. The game isn’t into complexity and it will never end.

Have I mentioned I don’t want to play this game forever?

Feminina:

Oh, no, there was actually the choice to say “I couldn’t find him” (implication: “he could still be alive!”) or “He’s dead,” before I had the choice to keep or give the ring. So I could have continued to let him hold onto his hope, even though it was pretty far-fetched even at the beginning (though I too, figuring I didn’t know for sure, went pretty lightly on it at first, saying “yeah, I’ll find him,” instead of “give it up, kid,” or whatever). It’s just that once you’d found the body, it was an outright lie, instead of an unlikely hope. I don’t like to lie. Not sure why.

“I’ll murder dudes all day long, but don’t ask me to lie to them!”

Speaking of the few things that are too low even for me, did you get the quest from the guy who wanted you to assassinate a herald in order to provoke a war so he’d be able to take charge of the town? I didn’t do that.

Again, I’ll do a lot of things! I’ll murder a lot of people! But that was a step too far. At least for an optional quest. I suppose if the guy had said “also, I’m the only one who can get you to the Minotaur,” I would have stomped on my principles and done it.

But if you’re going to come right out and say “kill this man of peace [his words] so I can get the town into a devastating [his word] war that will result in me being in charge…” yeah, you’re not selling that very well. Again, at least you aren’t if you don’t have something I really, really want. Like some forward momentum in the story.

Butch:

Ah, I see. So you could keep up the charade. Makes sense.

Though, on the “don’t like the lie” front, how did you end up ending that quest with the girl building “friends” out of mud? Cuz my first instinct was to lie. I DID lie, then reloaded when Kassandra’s banter was so ominous afterward.

Cuz if you’re gonna lie about mud men….

C’mon, dude, we lie all the time.

No, I didn’t get the one with the herald! But I would’ve turned it down, too. Much like I didn’t take the quest from that dude who wanted the Heratae all to himself or something. I’m a principled murderer.

I don’t believe you want forward momentum in the story. You are not acting like someone who wants forward momentum in the story. You are acting as if you view forward momentum in the story as something as likable as having a raccoon latrine on your deck.

Which isn’t very likable at all.

I was out cleaning that up.

Oh, did I forget to say? It wasn’t just deck poop. It was a raccoon latrine. That’s really what it’s called. And….yeah.

That’s how you’re treating forward momentum.

Feminina:

Dude, I’m looking for the final mythical monster! So I can go back to dad and finish up his story! So I can move forward! With momentum!

Heading back to mom now probably only means I’ll have to come back to dad later, unless you’ve gotten far enough to be quite confident that dad’s story is irrelevant. In that case, I suppose I am indeed guilty of not having enough interest in momentum, but I already did three of these damn things, so I’m GOING to do the fourth.

I can’t stop! I won’t stop! I want to find the last mythical beast!

I hope it’s Cerberus. Or Kerberos, as they probably would spell it here. I’ll soon find out! Or not if it’s not that. Maybe it’s just a real Siren or a Cyclops.

Also, I did not lie about the mud men. I told the girl she needed real friends. She wasn’t happy, but I stuck to it. “Not gonna lie to you, kid, these ‘friends’ are just mud.”

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Butch:

Hey, if it’s a real siren, there might be ACTUAL nudity! I mean, weirdassed monster nudity, but nudity!

On it.

I’m not entirely sure what’s up with mom. Cuz once you get to the meat of Sparta, there’s her thing, but first you have to do….two other things…thus making three things before the end of the chapter.

Because of COURSE this fucking game man.

Feminina:

Yeah, I arrived on this island, checked out a yellow exclamation point that turned out to be a priestess of Aphrodite who’s being hassled by the Cult (promising, right?), asked her what she knew about the Cult and she needs…three things…before she can tell me.

So it goes.

Butch:

Oooooooffffff course.

Is there any chance we’re done with this in a month when we’ve got stuff actually out we want to play? ANY chance?

Even if we’re done in a month, that’s six damn months we’ve been playing this. We gotta start at least considering the future here.

Feminina:

There’s…some chance? I would say some chance?

Because Mr. O’ finished every trophy in the game at 138 hours, and I’m already at 113. Logically, one would think there shouldn’t be THAT much more content available, since I’m not going to be pursuing obscure trophy activities. And if there’s about 25 hours left (assuming I don’t pursue every trophy, but maybe pursue some question marks he didn’t, or took longer with some combats because he maximizes gear and skills better than I do), that would be a bit less than a month at an hour a day.

So yeah. Some chance.

Some chance! We must cling to it.

Butch:

Well, I’m rooting for you. I am. Because I’m telling you now, that if I wasn’t blogging with you about this, I’d be out.

And it’s not even out of sheer rage, like you almost quit RDR2. I’m not mad at this game. I don’t even really hate this game. It’s not a bad game. There’s just too damn much of it, and not enough variety in what there is of it. Like, I love pizza, but I do not want pizza every damn night.

And we’ve been eating pizza for five months here.

And, I dunno, maybe we (like usual) are the weirdos. We know, joking aside, that this game has an end. Eventually, we will not be playing it. But shit, look at the success of games like League of Legends, or World of Warcraft, or the Sims, or the mother of them all: Minecraft. People play these games incessantly, and they have no end. We’re all nope at 138 hours, but shit, my relatively sane kids have spent 9237539875298457 hours building (admittedly very creative) shit in minecraft over the course of several years, and they STILL don’t seem to be getting tired of it.

It’s just stunning. This amazing art form with so much to offer, and people LIKE doing the same thing over and over and over.

But we are not these people.

Feminina:

Hm. It’s true. People do just play things forever, with no intention of actually finishing. But with something like Minecraft or the Sims or whatever, there’s no real victory condition. You don’t actually have a story that you need or expect to finish. You just build stuff until you don’t feel like building stuff anymore.

And it’s true, maybe there is some attempt, with these huge, huge open world games, to try to capture some of that audience. “If people want to just mess around in a game forever without any expectation of finishing, we can do that!”

But, I agree, that’s not what you and I are looking for. We like a story. And yet we’re compulsive enough (in my case) or the game is unforgiving enough (in yours) that we have to do way more of the aimless-messing-around stuff than we really genuinely want to or enjoy.

Because we can certainly argue that my case is my own damn fault because I refuse to get counseling to address my inability to ignore question marks, but it is a bit harsh that the game has basically told YOU, “sorry, go do some more aimless messing around even though you don’t care about it, or you won’t have enough levels to proceed.”

I mean, maybe if you’d had it on ‘easy’? Or, as I think TW3 specifically called it, “just the story.” Should we start playing big games on ‘easy’ by default because we’re interested in the story but we know we don’t want to spend six months on the side stuff? It would be an approach.

Butch:

Confession:

I’ve had it on easy for a few weeks.

This IS just the story.

Still endless. Still no nudity.

Feminina:

Ah.

That’s unfortunate. Not that you turned it down, but that it didn’t make any significant difference to the feeling of slog.

Ominous Foreshadowing?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Minotaur-related quests in AC:Odyssey

Butch:

Well, I didn’t play any past what I did, but I figure that’s cool as I can sit back and let you catch up and we can have bloggage. Kinda hoping you do, as it is fun to do the blue quests with you, and that’s what I’m doing next. Two of them! I’ll just sit here on this temple that looks like all the other temples (temples are SO hard to animate) until you join me.

Just make sure….when you meet two dudes, and you have to choose which dude’s quest to do first, pick the one that’s vaguely related to sports.

That’s what I did. And here I am.

So what you got?

Feminina:

Well, I remembered you mentioned something about retrieving a literal ax from a fort, so I thought “I talked to a guy who wants an ax from a fort! Better go do that.”

Turns out it was a different ax in a different fort, because oh yeah, I was still in Pephka where, once I’d done everything on the map I could find to do without hearing a damn thing related to a real Minotaur, I later remembered you also said you never went.

So I sprinted over to the Messara side of the island, but by then it was time to go to bed. But I’m there now. I’ll look for the real Minotaur next.

Apparently after getting a completely different ax from a completely different fort. I think the game is intentionally messing with us now.

Although, again, it was at least kind of funny. The guy wanted this ax because according to legend it was touched by Theseus. Kassandra observed that “Theseus seems like someone who handled a lot of axes,” and the guy said “well, he touched this one twice!”

Totally worth invading a fort for.

I also like when I sneak in, loot everything, kill the captains and polemarchs, and run off, and then they light the brazier for reinforcements when I’m half a mile down the road.

That’s right, guys. Call for help! You can all have a party searching in vain for any sign of me. Or your treasure.

Anyway, good times.

Butch:

Are you fucking serious? I’m getting glad I didn’t go to Pephka.

Though…out of curiosity…was there some big bad boss there? Like one of those Monger types who’s terrorizing everyone?

Because that axe thing seems like a silly version of my axe. Did he need it for a ritual or some shit?

Feminina:

It really seems like Pephka is the comedy section of the game.

He wanted the ax (and some shiny armor) so that he could look the part of a conquering hero and the people in his village would believe him when he said he’d killed the Minotaur. This was somehow meant to “put his village on the map” and bring them great success from tourism.

And who knows, maybe since I got rid of the fake Minotaur, this will work out for him? Although in all likelihood another fake Minotaur will just take the place of the guy whose daughter I rescued.

I am curious to see to what extent the real-Minotaur quests mirror and perhaps comment on the fake ones…

Butch:

I hope it does mirror, because if they put a whole part of the map that’s basically there to waste your time, that’s annoying. A game this big doesn’t need extra shit, even if funny.

I suppose it’s something that it was way in the corner of the map and missable, but still…game, you’ve wasted enough time here.

Feminina:

It was funny enough that I’m kind of glad I did it regardless. Moments of simple joy are worth something! Mooooooo!!!!!!

But yeah, very missable, way over near the edge of the map on one half of an island. No pressure.

Butch:

Another interesting bit of game design: if you miss it, you miss it. Once I found the real minotaur the entire option to do the questline vanished. So, the only way you could even begin to compare and contrast was to find the funny bit first, so it wasn’t set up as a “We’re gonna encourage you to do everything so you can compare” deal like the women village vs. the bad day.

Though the game did, kinda, sorta, lure you to the funny bit. When I got to this island, the white diamond “main quest” was the one you found. The only reason I found what I found first was that I started in on exclamation points, which led to other parts of the map with exclamation points. The minotaur is an exclamation point quest line, NOT a diamond quest. So funny Pephka was missable, BUT it was marked in such a way that the game seemed to urge you in that direction, BUT the questline vanished if you did the other thing first.

Weird.

This is a very imperfect game, but I will give it props for being willing to take chances with game design. It’s not always successful, and sometimes I don’t get why they did what they did, but even good games can play it too safe. No way for the medium to evolve if big games never have the guts to try out new conventions.

That said….not sure what the game wanted us to do on this island. Did it WANT us to waste time with the funny bits? I did kinda feel relieved that I got it “right the first time,” not just because I didn’t want another three hours of this game, but because it’s nice to say “HA! They couldn’t trick me!” Was the game “punishing” you? Or did you do what it wanted oh I don’t fucking know. I could go around in circles all day.

Feminina:

Interesting…so they kind of encouraged you to do the fake stuff first, but if you find out the fake stuff is fake, they just take it off the table entirely.

So…yeah, in a sense the game is tricking you. Also, perhaps, the characters in the game are tricking your character. I mean, as I said, I as a player began to be suspicious fairly early on. The kid who gives you the tour offers to sell you a special ‘minotaur hoof ointment” to cure what ails you. That sounds like an obvious scam. And yet, once having begun the quest, I was going to follow up on it and see what it turned into, even after becoming quite skeptical that it would actually lead to the real Minotaur.

And instead of leading to the real Minotaur, it led to an important cultist I don’t have to go to the Arena to look for (I was running around Pephka and found the Arena, and promptly turned around and went the other way) and a heartwarming family reunion. So if they’re ‘tricking’ you, they’re also making it worth your while.

On the other hand, three hours of quests you don’t have to do if you find the real Minotaur first! Maybe a toss-up.

Butch:

True. You did get something out of it.

And it, strangely, stayed a bit in character. I’m curious to see what dialog you get when you meet the dude that’ll start you on your Three Things You Must Do (yup, needs to be capitalized). It’ll be different from mine. In my game, the dude is all “I can get you in there! Where the minotaur is!” and Kassandra replies “C’mon, everyone knows the minotaur is in Pephka.”

What was unclear is if she meant the legends and the minotaur theme parks and shit or if she really thought the honest to God minotaur was in Pephka.

Because, even after all the weirdass shit she’s seen, I’m still unclear if she really believes in monsters. We’ve talked about her (at least the way we’re playing her) not being whole-heartedly into gods. When she met the Sphinx, she wasn’t all “Wow! It’s really the sphinx!” she was “The HELL is that?” or “It’s really real?”

So I’m not sure when she’s all “Of COURSE the minotaur is in Pephka” if she really means that so matter of fact literally. If she does, I’m not sure that’s in character, and then I’m mad.

I’ll take my way. I really will.

I’m mad enough that the game did the level fake out bullshit. I’m STILL only level 39 and I’m a good three story missions up on you.

Feminina:

I will watch with interest to see what the dialogue is once I meet the real Minotaur dude with the Three Things I Must Do, and report back. Maybe she’ll say “are you SURE? Because I already did all this stuff in Pephka. Do you have some hard evidence that you know the location of the actual Minotaur? How about you perform three quests to prove it.”

It is a sad truth that the way to levels is not in story missions, but in the murdering of captains in forts. Murdering captains: it got me where I am today!

Butch:

And timed quests. Met someone who was all “bandits took my money!” Gave her fifty drachmas. (Autocorrect). Got 8750 Xp.

I need more of that.

Feminina:

Yes! I love those. I would do all the timed quests if they were just money for XP. “Drachmae! Drachmae for everyone! Hand over the levels!”

Sadly, some of them involve running around that I’m no longer willing to do, even for ridiculously inflated XP bonuses, so I haven’t touched one in a long time. Or the message boards in towns? I don’t go near that nonsense.

But yeah, you should probably just walk around and do timed quests for a couple of sessions, and you’ll catch up to me no problem.

Butch:

Dude when she was all bandits I was think “oh hell, no. Live and let Kevin live.” Then Kassandra is all “can I give you money?” And I was overjoyed.

I haven’t read a message board since Kellphalonia. If I could turn the icons off I would.

Feminina:

Sometimes the weirdest things turn into requests for money. Which I am happy to grant in exchange for XP!

“So a raging lion ate your cow and swallowed the priceless heirloom cowbell around its neck…and you don’t want me to retrieve it, you just want money for a new bell? DONE!”

Butch:

Amen. Money ain’t gonna kill a Minotaur.

Though it really could help. Seriously, bull man, can’t I just buy that ancient gewgaw off you? Easier all around.

Feminina:

A lot of people should just be willing to sell stuff. Like the guy in the fake-Minotaur quest, who handed over the token of Strength for 1500 drachmae!

Although…then the whole game would become about slogging around collecting cash to pay to avoid fights…and then we’d absolutely complain about all the cash-collecting. “If I wanted to work for money to buy things, I’d get a job!” we’d say. “I play video games so I can just murder people and take their stuff!”

Which then becomes a job.

Butch:

Is it any different to murder people to get useless loot which we will then sell for money?

See, you will say no, then gleefully not catch up to me because some poor alpha marmoset must die. I will say yes, and leave wildlife be.

Feminina:

No, I won’t say it’s different to sell loot for money, than to do any other chore for money. But I think fighting to get money to buy the Token of Power from the Boss Monster, for example, is different from just fighting the Boss Monster to get the Token.

That’s more what I was going after…if the whole game was just fighting minor things to pay off big things, rather than fighting minor things to get better equipment so we could fight big things…functionally it would be the same, but wouldn’t it have an impact on the mood?

Butch:

It would improve my mood, as I wouldn’t be sitting here all “Stupid fucking Minotaur for stupid weird quest with stupid AC lore I’m never gonna finish this stupid game don’t even need the stupid drachmae,”

So, yes.

Feminina:

OK, fair. Maybe buying your way past Big Bosses should be an option more often than it is.

Which would actually also be interesting in other ways, because it would make us stop and think about how much we valued in-game money compared to some hapless treasure-guardian’s life, and/or how much we valued the option to murder the hell out of some treasure-guardian who’s been taunting us for weeks, and how much more likely we are to fight certain types of guardians compared to others…there could be interesting stuff in this type of mechanic.

I’m all for it! Make more bosses susceptible to bribery, games!

Butch:

And it’s far less sleazy than Ubisoft giving us the option of spending real world money for “hurry ups” or some shit, which they do.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’ve got no use for that. I mean…companies want to make money, I get that, and $60 is only $60 which they only get one time so why wouldn’t they try to get a little more? And I suppose as long as they’re not actively dragging down the game experience if you DON’T buy extras, I don’t really care, but it does rub one the wrong way a bit.

Whereas the option to bribe bosses in the game itself, using money that you acquire in the game itself, that’s good honest strategy.

Butch:

Sigh, sorry, got distracted. More deck poop, as in Mrs. McP’s note yesteday. Likely a “raccoon latrine.”

There’s now plastic bags and cans of ammonia all over the damn deck.

Sigh.

Why’d we buy houses?

I warned you, man. I warned you.

Feminina:

You did. And you were right.

We don’t have a raccoon latrine right now, but it’s only a matter of time.

Butch:

At least the fucker is outside.

I hope.

Then Something-Something Happened…

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Minotaur Island stories in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So I moved the main story along! I raided a quarry and killed a guy and destroyed stag films. I mean silos. No, weed. Uh, war supplies? No….uh….this is important….weapon racks. That’s it. Big difference.

Big. Difference.

And I completed the quest. And leveled! That’s something!

And….yeah. That’s a main story mission.

*****long pause*****

Yeah.

Feminina:

I did not move the main story along, because I was busy rescuing Amara from a bandit camp. Amazingly, she was alive and unharmed and her father didn’t die during his ill-advised attempt to ‘distract’ the bandits by challenging them to come out and fight him (accompanied by dramatic “MOOOOOOs”–man, I kind of love that guy), so I was able to reunite a family AND I got the Prize of Pephka and a scary-looking Minotaur helmet/mask that is actually quite good armor (an epic head, man!), although I’m never going to wear it. Not my style. I rock the hoods/shrouds. It’s my assassin look.

But anyway, I’m all done with the fake Minotaur now, and I along the way I killed a bounty hunter who turned out to be the cultist that we learned long ago was “the lord of the Arena” or whatever, so I didn’t even have to go to the Arena to get him AND I bypassed almost an entire branch of the cult because he was the one in the inner circle and there are three other guys technically ahead of him on the clue trail that I can now completely ignore.

Productive!

I’ll prowl around and look for the real Minotaur next. It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

DUDE! I missed all of that? I thought I was the lucky one all “HA! Don’t have to do a quest! Moving right along!”

You got an inner circle guy just by accident? Dude.

So a happy ending. Hmm.

Feminina:

It was a very nice ending. And the game was very pointed about it, too. They guy said “my wife is waiting in [someplace]. Come with us and see what you’ve done: reunite a family.” And you cutscene right to the mother and daughter embracing, and they tell you they’ll have to flee the island now but at least they’re all alive and together.

The ‘family’ aspect was very much stressed. Somebody at some level of writing this is clearly conscious of the fact that there are a lot of family things going on in this game. We reunite families, Kassandra’s own family is scattered across the Greek world and largely lost to each other or estranged, we had Morkos and Phoibe as functional family and how that turned out, we have viewpoints on other families like Supideo and the two brothers…there’s stuff going on! The game as a whole is just so big that it’s hard to get a clear view of the interesting stuff going, what with the thickets of forts and captains blocking the sightlines.

Butch:

Well, maybe. Maybe it’ll come together. But man, the main story….every time you think it’s gonna move, it doesn’t. We finally meet mom! And chores and boats. We finally get to Sparta! And….not much. I’ve seen a cutscene! That was a thing. But other than that?

All the momentous moments have been crashing bores.

Never a good thing.

Feminina:

I dunno, meeting mom the first time was kind of cool (even if the assignments she immediately gave us were nothing new). And the whole bit, long ago, where we discovered that Alexios was the Cult’s secret weapon or whatever, that wasn’t bad.

But yeah, it’s been a while since any plot-related moment really made me sit up and take notice.

Butch:

Right! And, just when you’re all “Ooo this is about to get good” it doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t.

I’ll see if the next dudes I’m about to meet have anything good to say.

Feminina:

Oh, they will.

“I have important, thematically complex narrative to impart! But first, kill three captains in three forts.”

Butch:

Most likely.

And what makes it all the worse is that Sparta is big, man. BIG. So there’s a lot of running about.

And it lacks for fast travel points. Though there is one by where I was last night. Maybe it’ll go faster for you if you magpied there.

Sigh. I should be playing. Why am I doing chores?

More importantly, why is most of my to do list in Mrs. McP’s handwriting?

Hmm.

She wants me to raid this fort……

Feminina:

She does! It’s very important to her.

You don’t want to let her down.

Butch:

She doesn’t, really. But I think she wants to help me with the whole “forts are such a bad chore” thing because one thing she wrote on my list this morning was “deck poop.”

Not really what you want to wake up to.

Feminina:

Uh…yeah….

By comparison, forts do seem relatively inoffensive.

Butch:

It’s that kind of help from a spouse that has led us to these twenty years of happiness.

It inspires me to play, it does.

Now watch: the very next quest I get will be “There is poop on the fort’s deck. Go deal with it.”

Feminina:

I would not be surprised in the least.

Better play so you can find out!

Butch:

I should. It will likely make me feel better about my own deck, because I bet the fort’s deck has three piles of poop.

When we started blogging, I never thought I’d type that sentence, but, in retrospect, I should’ve known it would come to this.

Feminina:

Yes…looking back over our long, storied career, it was all but inevitable.

Butch:

Well, in order to preserve some semblance of sanity, played. And….not sure what to make of this.

The good news is that the quest I took did not have three things! The bad news is that it had a) a WHOLE lotta sailing and b) a serious, SERIOUS tonal shift that I’m not sure made any sense.

You’ll see when you get there.

Oh! And here’s a reason to start barreling on the main story! I’m right by not one but TWO tales of ancient Greece!

Kill that Minotaur and catch up!

Feminina:

Mm, sailing. I can’t wait.

Although I’m going to have to, since this Minotaur won’t slay itself.

Probably.

Butch:

And don’t forget the three, count ‘em, three things ya gotta do first!

You’re gonna love it. It’s gonna be great.

Feminina:

THREE THINGS!!??

This is the greatest day of my life.

Do For Me These Fetch-Quests Three

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for Minotaur island story and main plotline in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Sigh.

So mom wants me….to do three things. So I did them. Yup. Three things.

And now I can either move on and take a risk, or I can help out the other guy….by doing three things.

Did I mention one of mom’s things is in a fort? An out of the way fort?

Sigh.

Just…..sigh.

So, you know, made progress. Finished a main story quest. I did. I sure did. All I can say about it, blog wise, is “Yup. Dudes are dead. Even the one in that fort.” That isn’t me trying to prevent spoilers. Had you done this, that’s all I would have.

This game really is Mafia 3 on steroids. We either have bloggage like mad, or it’s just “Yup…did that thing.” It’s a bigger version of Mafia 3, with annoying ship shit instead of annoying car shit. (You could customize your car, too, remember?) The real difference, the baffling, stunning difference, is that, in Mafia 3, the good stuff was in the main story. The main story was good, we got bored when we weren’t doing the main story. Here, it’s the TOTAL opposite. Blue side quests? Gold. Actual main story? “Yup…..uh……yeah.”

What’s with that? I’m used to having great bloggage out of side quests. But for the main quest to be such a damn grind in a game that has a whole lot of good stuff is just fucking weird.

Annoying, and weird.

Feminina:

Oh mom. It had to be three things, didn’t it?

As for me…well. I did not fight the Minotaur. It turned out to be a sidequest that was not actually Minotaur-related. I’m not sure the Minotaur is even here!

It was quite interesting, really. If you’re not going to do that quest, I’ll spoil it. If you might go back and do it to get XP…it really was actually pretty good.

Butch:

Nope, not gonna do it. Why? Because the first thing you learn when you do find the quest line that actually does lead to the minotaur is that that the “minotaur” in Pepkha is a fraud. This is why I said too much. If you find the real thing before the fake thing, the fake thing just disappears from your quest list.

So spoil away. And I’ll throw out the minor spoiler that I’ve alluded to already that the real minotaur is very much on this island.

Feminina:

Ah, that makes sense! So much sense.

And yeah, I suppose if you already knew where the real Minotaur was, you wouldn’t be fooled by a fake Minotaur-fighting scam.

But OK, so I did several very easy Pre-Trials to prove my worthiness, and then went back to the dude, and he tried to sell me some souvenirs and so forth, and wasn’t really very enthusiastic about letting me actually fight the creature. At which point I’m growing suspicious, but demand to fight it. So he sends me and a couple of guys who also recently completed the Pre-Trials off to this spooky cave where we hear some roaring, and the two guys get scared and run off, but I of course proceed. It turns out that the Minotaur is the guy who sent me on the Pre-Trials, in a costume, and he has a bunch of other guys there waiting to kill me and take my stuff.

Obviously, I killed them and took their stuff (and just to make it interesting, two more bounty hunters showed up, bravely following me right into the Minotaur’s cave, because they were that determined to die trying to collect the price on my head). And then the guy said he didn’t want to be part of this scam, but the cult kidnapped his daughter and said they’d kill her if he didn’t play along, so he just spent his days luring would-be heroes into this cave to be murdered by thugs. “Thousands!” he said. “But they’re worth nothing compared to my Amara!”

And considering how many people I’ve killed for reasons of my own, like not wanting to be bothered while I loot this treasure chest, I couldn’t really argue with him, could I?

But I thought it was all pretty interesting because we’re just so accustomed to doing this sort of thing (EVERYONE tells us to do three things before we can get somewhere!) that it didn’t initially occur to me it wouldn’t be real. It was super hucksterish, which was unusual, but at the same time maybe that was just a comment on the commercialization of legend, death and combat (the Arena is right around here, after all). The guy did have some pretty funny patter. Even after I became pretty convinced it was a fake, I was still kind of into it because he was so amusing.

And then, when he starts pleading for his life and explaining that his daughter was kidnapped, it was an interesting switch of “this guy seemed like just a funny con artist, but there’s personal tragedy involved,” which gave it a little more depth. And, ominously, he said that he goes every night to the place where he thinks she’s being held, trying to catch a glimpse of her, but he never has, which of course makes me doubt she’s even still alive.

But anyway, I obviously agreed to help him rescue her, so that’s next on the list. It’s not immediately related to the Minotaur (sorry), but it does involve the cult, so it should advance things somewhat.

But yeah…that whole scam quest line was a very interesting bit of playing on expectations (why WOULDN’T some random guy standing in a square be able to lead us to the Minotaur?), and then introducing a human element…plus funny lines…it was kind of great.

I suppose the fact that I got funny lines and you didn’t partially makes up for the fact that I served the wrong wine at that party and missed out on the singing contest. But only partially.

Butch:

Ooo! That is interesting! Three trials….human element….wanting to find a family member…..

Finish. I want to see what happened with Amara. Then find the real place. We’ll talk. Later.

I’ll be over here doing three things for people.

Feminina:

Right? It’s so incredibly plausible that I’d have to do three things for someone.

And yet, in a world where we’re used to doing three things for people without thinking twice about it, someone would surely come along to take advantage of that.

“Hey, I can make up three things for heroes to do! I’ll be rich!”

Which apparently worked quite well. For the cult, anyway. Not quite as well for the guy whose daughter was kidnapped and is quite probably dead.

Butch:

I can’t tell what that quest line is: The game made you do three things that are explicitly bullshit. Does that mean the game a) failed to see the irony in making you do three bullshit things in a game that’s full of three bullshit things or b) the game knew full well it’s full of making you do three bullshit things and this was the game winking at you and itself?

I can’t decide which is worse.

Didn’t we talk about something similar before? I’m getting to the point I don’t remember any specifics. IT ALL BLURS!

Feminina:

I think it was winking at everything. Which could certainly be frustratingly cutesy in its self-awareness, but which I thought was funny enough in this instance to let go.

I don’t remember if we talked about this before in regards to this game. It does all blur a bit.

Butch:

I dunno, man. If the game is winking at its own flaws, that’s annoying.

“Hey, yeah! We’re SO wasting your time (and then trying to rob you by pointing you towards the store where you can buy useless things like gear and skins)! But hey! Funny!”

Why didn’t they, you know, FIX THE FUCKING FLAWS instead? That would’ve been nice.

Feminina:

Well, I don’t know that they’re seeing it specifically as flaws, just as standard game practice. We’re used to doing quests to get stuff and advance stories. I mean, that’s essentially the entire narrative foundation of this kind of game. And we make fun of it (“time to go fetch another great-grandfather’s handaxe!”) but at the same time, we don’t want to not have quests. We like to do quests, we just want GOOD quests. But they can’t all be amazing!

This bit was I think more them making light of that larger phenomenon, of the fact that we’re used to characters in the game just saying “you need to do this” and so we go do it (we did actually talk a bit about this in the context of how any random person can say they need someone or other murdered, and we’ll do it without bothering to do even the smallest bit of investigation into whether that person ACTUALLY needs to be murdered), than it is them saying “we know our game specifically is a terrible offender in this area but let’s all laugh.”

Because, yeah, that would be annoying.

Butch:

Well, I find it telling that this quest line was so very much in the “do three things” vein. Of course ya gotta have quests, and, yes, some of those quests will be of the “go get the thing in the place.” Lots of them, really. But the fact that, at least in the main story, so many things are “do these three things, and, by the way, one’s in a fort” is getting both silly and tedious. Shit, without spoiling any story (very little to spoil), you’ll meet mom and the warehouse guy. Each gives you three chores to do. She has one in a fort. He has one in a quarry.

You have to do this to meet someone else important, and I’ll bet five dollars and a donut that person will give me three things to do.

Every single fucking time.

Because wanna know something? Before you get to meet the real minotaur, ya gotta do three things for someone. One is in a fort. Seriously.

I’m hoping that the stuff for the real minotaur is one of those “Same story, different perspective” things games do (even this game, when it’s blue), cuz that would be interesting.

But I doubt it.

Feminina:

Well, I’ll be sure to report back on how the real Minotaur’s quest compares.

Oh, and I ran into a woman who was mad at me for killing the Monger. “What do I care about Korinthia?” she said. “He was going to make me his wife!”

Then I got a big red QUEST FAILED, although I’m not sure what the quest would have been if I hadn’t already failed it by killing him 6 weeks before I got here. Maybe I could have chosen to not kill him? Seems unlikely given he was a cultist and all.

But anyway, sorry for your loss, lady. Maybe you can find some other cultmember to marry. I hear they hang out around here.

Butch:

I found her last night, too! Way far away from there! Over by my mother! And a fort!

I, too, was honest and got “quest failed.” This could not stand. So I reloaded and picked “He was terrorizing Korinthia!” and she got mad and QUEST FAILED. I thought “Wha? No way it’s all quest failed.” So I reloaded, lied and said I didn’t do it, and she was all “Then I will pay you to kill the mercenary that did,” and my quest marker became, I think, a mercenary. He was moving. I chased him for a while, then said “Ah, fuck this,” and went to the fort.

I don’t know what would’ve happened if I gave enough of a shit to find and kill the mercenary, but I don’t. Anyway, you had to lie to keep that one going.

Feminina:

That lady gets around.

I tend not to lie, as a rule, although no doubt it sometimes gives better results. It’s kind of funny that you could–apparently–kill some other person as retribution for your own actions. I bet she’d pay you for it!

Maybe you’ll run into that mercenary somewhere else. “You must die for my crimes!”

Butch:

I can tell, though, that it’s another place the game is gonna drop the ball. See, a good quest would let you meet the mercenary, find some way to come to an agreement where you both benefit, or maybe meet him and find out he’s an asshole and kill him anyway or SOMETHING. But, given the quest objective is now “Kill the mercenary,” I have a feeling it’s a fight on sight deal.

Once again, could’ve been more.

Feminina:

Though it does reflect back interestingly on our discussion of a while ago (and 20 minutes ago) about how we’ll take any random person’s word that someone needs to be murdered.

We’ll even take a murder contract for someone we know for a fact DOESN’T deserve to be murdered!

At least, not for the particular crime for which we’re going to murder him or her. I mean, this person is a mercenary, so I’m sure they, like us, deserve (and will eventually receive) a brutal and bloody death. But that’s not specific.

Butch:

Hmm. Good point. I suppose it is one thing to assume guilt based on someone’s word, but yeah….

Especially as the only real motivation Kassandra has for lying about killing the Monger is money. Does she really care if she admits to it? What’s going to happen? Everyone knows she’s killed everything in her way. The cult knows she’s coming for them. She has no reason at all to keep anything secret. Shit, she killed him in a damn theater.

Hmm. I’ll let this guy be. Maybe he and Salty Bear can be friends.

Feminina:

It would be especially delicious if he shows up with a giant salty bear companion to challenge you towards the end of the game.

“You should have taken me out while I was weak and inexperienced and hadn’t yet befriended Bearista here! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!”

Butch:

Bearista. You’re proud of that one, aren’t you?

I want Salty Bear to be the good one, though. Let Cassandra appeal to the good nature of the gentle beast.

“Please…please Bearista….I know you can make Kevin see the good in himself!”

Feminina:

Ooh, I like that twist! That would be a good quest line.

Butch:

Wouldn’t it? The redemption of Salty Bear! The realization that the animals were the good guys all along! It could be an environmental message!

Of course, Salty Bear would be “I’ll talk you out of killing the mercenary friend of mine if you do three things for me….first, raid this fort….”