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Spoilers for extremely early body-pit-burning quest I only just got to

Butch:

Well, now I know you are hopelessly ahead of me cuz I didn’t even touch it last night. It was hot, I was tired, I had to cook, I didn’t even play gwent. So no spoilers, cuz I got nothing. I am a terrible blogmate, and I am ashamed.

You’re on, what, level 82?

Feminina:

Fear not! I played last night, but all I did was finish that body pit quest (refused the priest’s bribe–jerk), kill the dudes at that camp where they kept shooting us back on level 3, and then blow through about 8 question marks in the countryside around there. A couple of monster nests, a couple of hidden treasures, guarded treasures, abandoned sites, etc. Good times, but didn’t advance the plot at all. Still level 15.

Butch:

Ah, bless your tendency to magpie! So what did the assholes have?

Ok NOW that you did that…..

So that priest was corrupt as fuck, yes? And into fisstech! (Which by now you’ve figured is the fictional addictive drug of this universe.) And hey, see all those fisstech addicts around Novigrad? Hmmm? You thinking what I’m thinking?

Feminina:

They turned out to be five 14th-16th level dudes–a legitimate red skull for little 3rd-level us when we first went by them. They had some decent armor and weapons (nothing better than I had, but good to sell) and some materials and diagrams. Decent loot, nothing earth-shaking. Also a ‘person in distress’ in a locked room, who, when I unlocked it, just stood there looking mildly annoyed at the intrusion. Didn’t talk or anything. I shrugged and left him there. No skin off my nose. Maybe if we’d come by here earlier he would have been the barber, but since we already freed the barber…? I dunno.

But yeah, it seems likely there’s a connection there, doesn’t it? Fisstech dealers, bribery, murder, addicts. An addicted populace is a tractable populace, perhaps they’re thinking.

Jerks. I was pleased when he tried to kill me after I refused his bribe, since that meant I got to kill him. If he’d just given me my pay and wandered off with a vague threat, I probably would have had to let him go even if he wasn’t a tree spirit. Plus I got his 200 crowns anyway, although I suppose he might have produced more from somewhere if I’d accepted the bribe.

Butch:

That’s weird. The only person in distress I successfully freed was that barber. And you know? He said he’d shave me for free which was bullshit. He STILL charged me five per. Sure, a nice discount, but shit, dude. Keep your promise.

And remember, for MOST OF US this was the first exclamation mark we came across in Velen. This was SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN before even the inn at the crossroads (which was SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN BEFORE you get it you silly magpie). So really, the game was trying to plant that little seed long, long ago. So long that people like me who did it first might not have remembered the specifics if they weren’t hounding their blogmates.

Very distant foreshadowing. No way that’s an accident.

Surprised you didn’t go for the opiate of the masses metaphor. Religion? Drugs? Nationalism? All the same. Addictive, and they make you feel better before they destroy you.

Ooo! Not bad! Deep even when I didn’t play and am grasping at straws.

Re: killing the priest — HA! Those wonderful “make my day” moments in games. “Hooray! He tried to kill me!”

Feminina:

Yeah, yeah. I went roaming.

Also yeah, have you sometimes come across ‘person in distress’ markers where there’s no one in the cage to free? I also once found one where there was a guy in a cage, but I couldn’t find the key to let him out. Usually it’s on someone’s body, but I looked all over. Sorry dude…gotta leave you to starve to death here.

Religion, opiate, nationalism, nicely done. Seductive promises, attractive lies, simple solutions to complicated problems! All you have to do is take some drugs and burn some witches.

I have SO taken sides against them. I don’t care if witchers ARE traditionally neutral.

Although in this game, I wouldn’t be that surprised if it turned out that repellent as they are, the eternal fire is defending the world from something even worse, and we HAVE to support them or see everything destroyed.

Butch:

This game does often say “you took sides? Dumbass. That was something you should not have done.”

I dunno though. There can’t be much worse than religious nuts. That’s true in real life. I’m waiting for the rapture so those of us that are left can elect democrats and play uncensored games and buy whiskey on Sunday morning.

Feminina:

Maybe there’s an even WORSE religion waiting in another dimension to come in and take over, and only the Eternal Fire keeps it at bay. We can’t forget the multiple planes/dimensions/universes/spheres aspect to this whole thing.

It could come to a “better the devil you know” kind of argument. Like, what would we rather have running things in the world, the Eternal Fire, or the Wild Hunt? Although the Hunt is not, as far as we know, a religion, it is certainly being set up as a major player in the overall story.

I don’t have the same personal antipathy for the Wild Hunt right now, probably mostly because we haven’t directly encountered it as frequently as we’ve encountered (highly unpleasant) representatives of the witch hunters/Eternal Fire, but there’s no denying they kill and torture people, so they’re not somebody I’d immediately be inclined to side with. Unless the other side was the Eternal Fire. Right at this moment, I might say “those witch hunter/fire people are such jerks, let’s take our chances with the Hunt,” but…that might not be the right call.

As you say, perhaps the ‘right’ call in game terms would be “stand back and let them fight it out,” but it might also be a situation where sooner or later we’re going to have to support one or the other, if only by fighting harder against one or the other. Grrr. I’m going to hate supporting them if it ever comes to that, but if it’s them or unleash supernatural forces to devour everyone on earth…depends on my mood, I guess.

Butch:

Right. Spheres. I always forget about spheres.

The Hunt is a major player, and set up as an antithesis to the Eternal Fire in that the Hunt is always freezing things. Cold is sort of its calling card, right? Opposite of fire? Yet hardly a good to the Fire’s evil.

And Ciri certainly thinks that sitting around chatting with them would be (or was) a bad idea, and Geralt seems to think Ciri’s in the right, at least for now. And yeah, that Henrick dude probably is not a fan of the hunt.

Feminina:

YOU CAN’T FORGET THE SPHERES, MAN! THE SPHERES ARE KEY!

Or else they’re just a plot device to explain monsters in the world, and account for where Ciri’s been for however long she was missing. I dunno, though, isn’t there a backstory bit about how Ciri was traveling between worlds for a while, and there’s one where the elves rule and they’re planning to come over and conquer Geralt’s world too?

There’s stuff going on with the spheres.

Good call on the Hunt/cold Eternal Fire/hot thing! They clearly represent two bad extremes, rather than either one of them being anything close to ‘good.’ That’s something this game would do. And it even goes back to that first trailer, where Yennefer is standing between two onrushing armies, neither of which we know anything about and neither of which we ‘support’: this idea of us/our stand-ins being caught in the middle between opposing forces that don’t reflect our own interests.

And back again, too, to the idea of powerlessness or very limited power. In many games, we’re fighting on the side of good, and good is a valid side to fight on: a force with which to be reckoned. Here, we may try to fight for good, as far as we can figure out what that is, but “the forces of good” is not really a concept anyone is interested in. Geralt, even if he were intentionally standing for good (which he’s not really), would pretty much be standing there on his own. There’s not so much good and evil, as varying degrees of brutality when it comes to pursuing one’s own interests.

I stand on the side of slightly less brutality! Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Butch:

I forgot the spheres, ok? I forgot the spheres. It’s been a long week. It was either forget the spheres or forget to pick up the kids.

But yes, I now remember that Ciri can do that. I also had forgotten that she didn’t so much leave, as Geralt and Yen did when they died and went to the apple place. (TW2 started with him JUST getting out of there, no memory or nothing.) By the way, did you catch that what “killed” Geralt was a small child with a pitchfork in a riot? For all of Geralt’s might and skill and preparation, it wasn’t a monster that did him in, it was a random attack from a child. And that’s where Geralt and Yen first encountered the hunt I think. They were chilling in apple tree land, dead and all, but chilling, screwing, smelling apples, and the hunt came and fucked it all up.

Trailer? That armies/Yen scene was the opening cinematic of the game, man! That’s the first thing the game shows us when we start playing it. Good call.

Ah, but Geralt IS on his own.

See, even though one could play a game however, the fact is that most people play it similarly. Most people play every quest, and I saw somewhere that something like 85% of everyone played Mass Effect as a paragon. At least at first. So CDPR, being smart, probably thinks that most people WILL have Geralt stand for good, and have his lone wolfness (school of the wolf not being accidental either) mean something in that regard.

“I stand on the side of slightly less brutality”…not the same ring but it’s a hell of a T shirt.

Feminina:

Ha–good point, it was the opening of the game. I guess I just had such a vivid memory of seeing it as a pre-release promo (it was the first game footage I saw, I think) that it wiped out the memory of actually seeing it again later.

We’re good with shirts.

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