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Some spoilers for the end of Get Junior

Butch:

Ok, talked to Pricilla and ended the treasure bit, and just hacked into Junior’s hideout (icky, icky man) and now I’m Ciri.

Icky, icky man.

My thought I’m jotting down has to do with Ciri’s alternate look. Install it. Cuz yes, it is chainmail undermined by a bit of cleavage and a navel, but here’s the thing:

Her midriff has scars.

When was the last time we could say that about someone in impractical armor?

Feminina:

Yeah, Junior is nasty. I think the question “who’s really a monster?” could be answered with “well, that guy for one.”

Midriff scars, yes, realistic. They do make one wonder why she’s still wearing said impractical armor, given the obvious scarability of her unprotected midsection, but whatever. Slave to fashion! Or something! Damn it, there’s got to be SOME reason besides “we wanted to show her stomach.”

Then again, Geralt has mad back scars, and he wears armor on his back pretty much always, so I suppose we could argue that the scars are not necessarily a direct consequence of the impractical armor. Maybe she was wearing much more practical belly-covering armor, and got scarred anyway, so she decided “hell with it, I’m going with the lighter, more breathable aesthetic of a half-coat.”

I played Life is Strange last night, so no witchering to report.

Butch:

Yeah, this chapter does seem to have fewer nuances re monster. No barons here. Menge was nasty, Junior is nasty. But then, I think they’re going for different parallels. We have a common criminal monster, and someone who’s just as bad who is cloaked in respect and holy authority.

Indeed, (and I haven’t the Ciri bit, don’t spoil), I think on that front a lot of the criticism about the Junior thing was misguided. I read some places that said that the whole hyperviolence of Junior (nailing women to the wall, etc.) was unnecessary and lurid, but I think it went to the over arching imagery. Yucky, sure. But when we meet Menge, he’s doing what? Executing people. Yucky. I also think the fact that the cutscene focused on a hanged woman (instead of some other icky thing) was meant to conjure up all the hanged people we saw all over Velen who were killed in the name of the “holy authority” of military accomplishment/valor/victory. Shit, we start in Velen under the Hanged Man’s Tree. If you do Roche’s quest when you get it (which is pretty much right before this bit of Junior) he takes you to….The Hanged Man’s Tree. That quest overtly reminded the player of that image: men killed for the glory of war, then it doubled down on a woman hanged by a madman for no reason other than bloodlust.

So yeah: Who’s the real monster? All of the above.

Re: armor, well, have you seen Ciri in the new look?

It just, once again, goes with this whole theme of there being outright eye candy all over this game, but empowered eye candy. I don’t know if they’re making a point with that; subverting ideas of eye candy, or not. It would be SO easy to say that they’re jibing all the folks who just want the women in games to be all cleavagey by saying “Ok, fine, but they’re more powerful than you, using you, scarred badasses, too,” but I can’t tell if I’m giving them too much credit. It could be the other way, like they said “Ok, this story needs some women, and I GUESS they have to be strong, ok, whatever. Give ’em boobs anyway.”

I think it’s the former.

Feminina:

It’s almost like an intentional reverse of the way you expect things to go… I mean, a lot of times in a long narrative, things seem simple at first but then become complicated as you learn more about peoples’ motives and history. Here, peoples’ motives and history STARTED pretty complicated in the first ‘chapter,’ and then we switched to a “sometimes, it’s actually not very complicated, they’re just evil” chapter, which, in a way, only complicates things further.

Because now we know that the subtle details and information we’re used to looking out for, the ways we’re used to trying to understand why so-and-so did such-and-such (the slack we try to cut obviously evil tree spirits!), sometimes maybe DON’T actually matter–sometimes, we SHOULDN’T actually care about the fine points. This guy tortures women to death for fun: there’s really nothing more we need to say.

But if it’s true that sometimes we don’t have to care ‘why’, how do we know when that is, and when we should try to figure out more? Knowing that sometimes people are just flat bad is something, and promises to uncomplicate our lives sometimes, but what if it’s not as obvious as torturing and burning people and nailing women to walls?

Sometimes you don’t have to worry about whether someone has a good reason for doing something that seems bad, the game says. Check it out: here are some plain, all-out villains!

I’m curious whether the final section will be about re-complicating something that seems pretty all-out villainous (the Wild Hunt? the Eternal Fire?), and making us try to figure out which of a set of bad options is least intolerable.

“It’s complicated…but sometimes it’s not that complicated…but sometimes it’s even more complicated!”

I don’t know, but it is interesting to contrast key figures from these two sections.

Butch:

It does complicate things. Because we ALSO spent 40 or so hours telling ourselves that there are lots of people that aren’t evil. Even the evil people aren’t evil! So if everyone is….then Triss…Yen….Letho….even Ciri….well, they’re part of “everyone,” right?

And there’s no more to say, Yes…. but then, in society, we see people doing awful things and there IS more to say, or at least, people TRY to make there be more to say. We did it with the baron. We could have said, this dude beats the fuck out of his wife and MURDERED her lover, there’s nothing more we need to say. People try to rationalize awful people all the time. And we learned in chapter one, we, maybe, should, sometimes, maybe. So the fact we’re not doing it here: is it cuz there’s nothing more we need to say? Or we DO need to say more and we just can’t find it in our cold hearts? Or were we not cold enough in chapter one?

Especially when “bad” is so elusive. Sure, torturing women? Bad. But there are lots of people who think racism, religiously based violence, war, etc., aren’t evil, or at least as evil as we do. We are rather elitist liberals, we are, and folks like us tend to get rather smug that our version of “evil” is so fucking obvious that of COURSE everyone would see THAT and say “EVIL!” Shit, there’s lots of people who think tree huggers like us are “evil” cuz we’re…..doing…something….they don’t like.

And also see from the last game: sometimes just saying “Bad guy! Kill!” is not the best answer. Even if evil is obvious, dealing with it is not always cut and dried. Even in a video game when you have eighteen weapons at your disposal.

It is interesting to contrast. I knew it would come together.

I also think this “being used” thing is something to revisit. Just last night, I went and killed the “swamp thing” in that contract. I did this for one reason and one reason only: Cuz I was broke and needed money. That’s it. So (you can see where this is going) I killed the thing, then gave the guy an extra week to pay me. He’s gonna be gone for sure, isn’t he? And as SOON as I did that, I thought of what we were talking on.

Feminina:

There are indeed lots of people who aren’t evil. And lots of people who are kind of evil, but whose evil we let slide because, well, they’re no more evil than the next person really, or they meant well sort of, or they promised to help out some children.

And as you say, the lines of “OK, now THAT thing is so evil there’s no more to say about it” are going to be different for different people. Someone (who is not necessarily evil) probably played this game and said, “well, I’m not CRAZY about Junior’s woman-murdering, but this is a harsh world, and they’re just whores, and it’s not like I could bring them back to life by getting upset with him about it, so…not really worth getting worked up.” Not THAT evil, in short.

That could conceivably (shudder) even have been us, if the game had humanized/complicated Junior the way it did the Baron–that it didn’t is obviously a narrative choice.

While, on the other hand, someone might say of the Allgod “pretending to be a god, lying to people and demanding tribute, exploiting their need for hope–that’s beyond the pale! You die now!”

Maybe it’s just about getting the player to figure out where we draw that line…first when it’s kind of obviously complicated (the baron was a total bastard! –but he helped Ciri! –and he was sorry about the baby! –but not all that sorry about beating his wife and not at all sorry about murdering her lover!), and then when it’s not really that complicated FOR US (Junior never helped anyone we care about, and never expressed any conflicted emotions to us personally…doesn’t mean he’s never done a caring thing for anyone, but WE never saw it). Maybe it’s just about saying that what’s complicated and what’s simple is only about how much you know.

The story chose not to complicate Junior, and we can’t really override that in the narrative (there’s no “learn more about Junior as a person: yes/no option), but I guess we can choose whether to accept the uncomplicated story and feel good about despising an obvious villain, or to recognize that we’re drawing a somewhat arbitrary line and that we’ve let other people get away with equally villainous behavior in the past because…they were useful to us, or their crimes weren’t quite so directly in our faces (not quite so obvious), or whatever.

It’s complicated even when it’s simple.

Swamp thing…that sounds really familiar, but I don’t remember ever having an option to give someone more time to pay. I probably would have, being a sucker for a sad story, so I don’t know if it ever came up.

OK: I wikied, and it says if you haggled for a higher price, he doesn’t have it all. I accidentally didn’t haggle, although I usually do (clicking the wrong dialogue option!), so I guess I just accepted the base price and he had it when I showed up.

Butch:

Ah, interesting. So it was MY fault he couldn’t pay….. Hmm….. another interesting wrinkle…who’s using whom?

In this game, I’m starting to think they’re all evil.

Not that I mind. I’m still convinced Morrigan is. Adds to the allure.

And even Geralt didn’t seem ALL that upset about THESE women. He says “If that degenerate hurt Ciri…” It was an extension as to how their suffering might affect HIS suffering. He didn’t say “That crazy bastard’s gonna pay!”

Killing the allgod WAS an option, after all. One I’m sure many took. Now, whether it was because “You’re evil!” or “You’re ugly and may have loot!” we’ll never know. Both, probably.

Or he’s damaged goods. I mean, it’s interesting that he was Whoreson JUNIOR. The product of a bad father (which opens up all sorts of themes. The Baron was a bad dad. He killed his baby! The crones aren’t good parents. And Geralt? Well, time will tell). So he probably had some shit to deal with.

More themes! We’re doing well today.

Complicated even when it’s simple. And that’s good writing, isn’t it?

Remember when we were playing DAI and asked “Would people like 100 or so hours of dense plot?”

Guess so.

Feminina:

Well, I don’t know if this is really 100 hours of dense plot. There’s some dense themage, but it’s mostly presented in convenient quest-shaped packages, many of which are genuinely not that complex (although even the less complex ones, where there are no particular dilemmas at all, tend to make you wonder, just because we’re so used to the hidden bitter twist by now). Also, sprinkled with a nice dusting of randits and question marks that–usually–don’t make you think too hard. (Except when they do.)

People who aren’t into themes could just quest the whole game away and feel perfectly satisfied. So I guess we can say they’re doing a good job of balancing. A respectful tip of the hat for that. The action/story, fighting/talking, crushing dilemma/straightforward quest ratio is working very well for me.

Butch:

Yeah, but, as much as I love me some bioware, you must admit it has a higher plot/time ratio than the average RPG. This would be even more true if you didn’t waste so much time selling rusty swords.

I mean, there isn’t even the “run around the base talking to random people with nothing to say.” It’s dense.

It is a very good game, it is. Not perfect, but very, very good.

Haven’t played a perfect one yet.

Feminina:

You play gwent, I’ll sell swords. We both have our time-consuming hobbies.

Perfect? No, we don’t require perfect. I don’t even know what that would mean, really, other than a purely subjective “I personally would not change a single thing about this,” which I guess is not the worst standard from which to evaluate something. At least it acknowledges the personal preference factor.

Butch:

But hey, there’s three trophies in my hobby for me!

Feminina:

There’s 30,000 gold in mine for me, so I’m good. If only there were a trophy for accumulating money…

Butch:

There was in DAI….

I never got it.

You’ll be broke when you find the herbalist.

By the way, I’ve heard that there’s a particular gwent opponent where you get laid if you win. That’s right. Cards will get you laid, coin won’t.

Cuz games.

Feminina:

Coin won’t? I’ve been seriously misinformed about the practices of brothels.

Butch:

That doesn’t count.

Anything that uses the same animations doesn’t count.

Not that I went. More than once. Ahem.

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