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Some spoilers for near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

All done.

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

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

Nope.

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

As for you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hope you don’t find out.

Feminina:

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

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

But seriously, we did play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was awesome.

Butch:

Not funny, dude. Not funny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah, well.

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

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

Did you USE the bloodstones like I told you to?

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

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

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

Feminina:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t open doors worth a damn, though.

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

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

Butch:

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

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

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

OK, the Guardians…Ah ha.

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

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

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

What the hell else could it be?

Standing by it.

We’ll talk. Later.

Did you meet a merchant? With a bigassed boat?

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

Feminina:

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

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

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

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

Butch:

Yeah, probably you haven’t been there then.

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

You’re so close! SO CLOSE!

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

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

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

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

So much easier to blog when we play. 

Feminina:

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

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

Hm.

Butch:

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

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

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

 

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