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Spoilers for the Supideo quest and the quest with the handsome doctor in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

That quest with the blacksmith and the guy worried about killing his parents…that was some quest.

Ok, the more I ponder that quest, the more I kinda love it.

Cuz I totally didn’t see the ending coming. Not one bit.

Well…wait. Before we go on, I want to make doubly sure you finished it, because I really don’t want to spoil it, as it is, by a country mile, the best quest thus far, and probably will be the best quest in the game, period.

I’d LOVE to contrast it with the doctor quest, too, as there are a LOT of parallels. Did you get to that?

Feminina:

I did get to the doctor!

You thought I wouldn’t, but I did. Totally murdered the hell out of his grandmother, too.

Just kidding. Of course I let her live, and convinced him to let her live, even though her lying prophecy broke up my loving family so many years ago.

Though I did find it kind of funny that the dialogue option was “violence doesn’t solve anything,” considering that solving things with violence is pretty much exactly Kassandra’s job. Although maybe she’s just be realistically world-weary about the actual effectiveness of her job. “People pay me for violence, so that’s what I do, but I know it doesn’t actually solve anything on a larger scale”?

Though her personal resolution to hunt down Kosmos cultists kind of suggests that she feels violence WOULD solve something in at least that case, so who knows. Maybe she’s just not internally consistent. Which is…a known quality of humans. So I’ll let it be.

Also, yes, I finished the Supideo quest. That was interesting, all right. I was very curious as to how it resolved if you didn’t sleep with the blacksmith. He screamed (not in agony!) with someone else, because you got him the flowers he needed to seduce some other person? I suppose?

There are interesting things in both quests about faith, gods and oracles…you start, you have thoughts.

Butch:

I’m sorry I doubted you. I did NOT see Kassandra actually meeting the woman who made the actual prophecy. That was cool. I let her live, too.

And well, I don’t think she thinks “solve” is what violence does. She certainly isn’t too big on the idea of war. She’s not taking sides, she’s not all wistful about the heroism of Sparta or any of that. Yes, she gets paid, but most quests she ends up just sighing and rolling her eyes. We talked on that before: one flaw of the character is she doesn’t really have a moral compass, not even “save the world.” I think her “Kill the cult” deal isn’t so much as solving or saving the world as just straight up revenge. It won’t fix anything per se, but it will make her feel better, much as killing dudes doesn’t solve anything, but the drachmae she gets makes her feel better.

I did not bang the blacksmith. I have standards. He just said “You break my heart, mithios. But, you held up your end of the bargain, here’s the sword.”

Boy, yes. I have thoughts.

The main theme I’m seeing in this game is the pull of religion. Most of the religion we’ve seen so far, at least in regards to the oracle and the gods, is that, at best, it’s “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” fraud wizardry (which is what the oracle says she mostly does when she’s all “She’ll fall in love with you” or “it will rain,”) or, at worst, outright manipulation. That said, it does have real believers who are likable characters (Barabas is certainly a true believer, and I like that guy).

The doctor quest was certainly a quest about the fraudulence of the oracle, of course. It dealt with a good person who was ashamed that his family was part of a fraud. It involved a son WANTING to kill his relatives because, in his eyes, they were bad people. While we let her live, I, and probably you, were nodding along with doctor guy that yes, yes, grandma didn’t do nice things, she wasn’t that great a person. I forgave her because it didn’t seem she did it maliciously, but still.

Then we get to the blacksmith. As I just did the doctor, I was primed to think “Yeah, yeah, oracle, blah blah, whatever, bullshit, of course bullshit. Here we go again.” And yet, there were clues all along that it was NOT bullshit. First and foremost, the whole structure of the narrative. Here, we have a son who wants to SAVE who he thinks are his parents who he THINKS are good people. We rolled our eyes and went along. We should’ve wondered why the bandit leader was all “Do not touch ANYONE in that family,” but we didn’t.

And then the end…..the oracle was RIGHT.

The son DID bring agony (you said the blacksmith screamed if you banged him?) and death (sure killed the hell out of his mother) to his parents. What he did, what he asked us to do, made the prophecy come TRUE. And, for me anyway, it was such a shock because it was the first time in the game that an oracle’s prediction wasn’t complete horse shit.

Now, maybe it was a coincidence. Sometimes a fortune cookie says “Money will come to you” and you find a dollar in the parking lot. It happens. But, at least in this particular quest, the first quest you’re likely to find in Lokris, after you spend the whole fucking time you’re in the Valley of Apollo seeing the oracle do nothing but lie…..

The oracle was right.

And my absolute astonishment that the oracle could even BE right was a very, very cool thing the game did.

Themes!

Did you talk to Herodotus? Do you know what’s up with him? Cuz when we get somewhere, I’m very interested to see how the overall theme of “Is believing foolish? Is religion a sham?” plays out.

Feminina:

Ah, if you didn’t sleep with the blacksmith, you didn’t get the full impact of the Oedipal reversal! When his parents were revealing he was adopted, they flat-out said to me “you killed his mother and slept with his father.” And he said “but the oracle said pater would scream in agony!” and Kassandra said smugly, “oh, he screamed–but not in agony.”

So, yeah. Did you just not get a reference to the screaming part of the prophecy at all?

And yes, it was quite interesting that here we have an instance where the Oracle was, apparently, giving a true prophecy. (Aside from the matter of whether the screaming was agonized or not.) And we also had her apparently referencing our actions on Kephallonia when we met with her ourselves, which suggests that sometimes, anyway, she does actually ‘see’ true things. Maybe when she’s not just saying what the cult tells her to say, she has real visions? Sometimes? Hm.

It was also interesting to meet the former Oracle whose lies were responsible for our own sad fate. Or…was that particular prophecy actually a lie? I don’t remember the exact wording (I’m not sure we even know it), but if the prophecy was that the baby would destroy Sparta, well, the terrifying weapon that the cult has made of Alexios COULD potentially do that at some point in the future, if it serves Kosmos’ purposes.

Maybe this is actually another of those instances where trying to avert a prophecy (by throwing the doom-baby over a cliff) just winds up making it happen (by delivering the baby into the hands of the cult).

Just like poor Supideo did, with our help. Maybe WE’RE going to destroy Sparta ourselves! I mean, I could see doing it. I’ve little enough love for them after my (step-)father tossed me off the cliff.

Never try to avert prophecies, people! Haven’t you heard legends before?

Butch:

Well, probably not. They wrote so many of them. Maybe all the legends are still, like, first drafts.

As for writing and legends, BOOM! The themes have arrived!

Of course, the next several hours will likely be nothing but annoying sea battles, but still….

You get that Herodotus cutscene?

Ooo! Interesting about your different ending! I did get that he would scream in the prophecy, but that’s not how it ended, with something explicit. After the dude got out of the cage, the “father” started to say “We….have to tell you something….your mother and I-” and mother interrupted and said, nervously, “Are….very glad to have you protecting us and we love you.” Cut to Kassandra who rolls her eyes and says “Odd family.” The fact I killed his mother was heavily implied, but there wasn’t an “HA! Reveal!” Or Kassandra all “I have figured it out!” It ended implied, and Kassandra NOT understanding it and going on her merry way. As did the kid! HE was kept in blissful ignorance, too, and went off thinking his faith in the oracle was misplaced.

Which I thought was inherently more interesting than having an “a-ha” moment. Kassandra openly mocks the kid, at one point calling him “Stupideo” (which I know cuz I had the subtitles on so I didn’t mishear), but, in the end, he was right and she never understood. She never said “I’m sorry I doubted you,” she never did anything except go off in ignorance.

Oh right! I forgot about that bit that seemed true! But she could have been told what happened in the past pretty easily.

Thought it would be an interesting twist if we spend the whole game being all “Meh. Oracles. Gods. Prophecies. What bunk,” only to have all of it be right in the end.

Feminina:

Wow, that’s interesting. So you didn’t even really get that it WAS an Oedipal reversal if you didn’t do the whole seducing thing. Hm. Well, in some ways that’s better, certainly for the guy and his family. In my game, the parents told him he was adopted, and he flipped out at the thought that his mother was dead and his father defiled or whatever, and he ran around acting crazy and blinded himself. Totally Oedipal, and therefore totally tragic. So in a way your version actually DOES avert the worst effects of the prophecy (not the death of the mother, but then, she was a bandit and so her death is actually helpful to society in general), but not by actively trying to do so.

Like I said: Never try to avert prophecies! Even if you ARE still working on the legends that explain this.

Hm. Well, I’m glad we did something different for once so we could compare. I was pretty curious what would have happened if I hadn’t slept with the blacksmith, and now I know! And it’s cool that there were genuinely different outcomes.

I did talk to Herodotus. He said we should sail to someplace (Aden, maybe?) because there are mysterious stone figures there, and he thinks bringing the mysterious spear of Leonidas together with the mysterious figures may reveal something that will help us understand and fight the cult. And he totally promises to help us find our mother.

Kassandra was all “fine I guess, but I’m definitely going to murder the hell out of a bunch of cultists.” Then he got on the ship and was talking to Barnabas, and I said “you guys chill, I mentioned something about murdering cultists and also I heard about a cute doctor out west, so I’ll catch up with y’all later.”

Butch:

Whoa, no, totally different ending.

I wonder why you had a choice there and not about killing the mother. She just attacked. Hmm.

Also, kinda loaded that the choice that doomed them was the choice to have sex. My chastity saved people. Not sure what to make if that. Some serious moralizing if the game is really going there. I wonder if not banging the doctor made a difference.

Well, Herodotus also mentioned the old ones or whoever, the maybe aliens who lifted up humanity, so that’s still part of the franchise. He also called it a forge.

So there ya go! Aliens. Maybe. Or something.

Feminina:

Yeah, very interesting that you could choose not to have sex, but could not choose not to murder. It does feel a bit moralize-y, in that we could read it as saying sex is wicked and ruined everything for these people, but…I think also, it’s maybe just them being sensitive about sex, because that’s a way more sensitive topic in media than violence is, you know?

Practically every game we play features violence as a major mechanic. Sex is an occasional add-on. And because we know that violence is a major mechanic in these types of games, we likely are not playing this game if we object to committing violent acts in games. On the other hand, because sex is not a major mechanic in most games, and we don’t expect it to be a major mechanic in this game, it would feel kind of icky for the game to REQUIRE the player to engage in sex acts (even fade-to-black ones where nothing is shown).

Being required to engage in violence to complete a mission is par for the course. Being required to have sex would feel very weird. So maybe they’re just making sure to not force that on players who wouldn’t like it, but they don’t hesitate to force murder on everyone, because presumably we’re all totally fine with it or we wouldn’t be playing this game in the first place.

And certainly, as you say, it could have been presented as a choice not to kill this particular bandit, the same way it was a choice not to seduce the blacksmith, but I wonder if maybe they kind of didn’t want to tip their hand and make us suspect that there was something going on? I mean, we’ve never had an opportunity to talk to any bandits before, they all just attack on sight, so if all of a sudden this one bandit is all “hey, let’s chat!” we’d start to feel like something was up.

Alternatively, maybe they just didn’t want to let us get away with fulfilling NONE of the prophecy. I mean, if we negotiated with the bandits and got the shield with no bloodshed, then…what? There’s no reveal of any kind, just “hey, thanks for getting the stuff back, everything’s great!” Which would basically present the message that trying to avert prophecies is a totally great idea and will definitely work out, and…I mean, the guy’s name is Oedipus backwards. Maybe they figured he can’t get away with NO prophetic disaster. Even if he doesn’t realize it, he was the reason for his mother’s blood being spilled, just as it was foretold!

Though this does raise interesting questions about the nature of fulfilled prophecy. Usually the whole point of these cautionary stories is that the subject realizes the truth at the end–as he did in my version. But does he really have to know it came to pass, for it to count? Or is it enough that his adoptive parents know? Or, in your story, has he just delayed the inevitable moment when, somehow, he WILL in fact learn the truth, possibly after actually causing his father to scream in agony?

You just never know, with oracles.

Butch:

Fair.

As an aside on “what does society accept,” I wonder how this would have played out had we been playing this as male. The same? Would it have been an option? All the more reason they didn’t make it mandatory.

Hmm. I think the “not tipping their hand” was something. But they did give a hint, as you had that banter about her refusing to hurt the family. Her henchman was all “let’s just kill them and take the rest of their wealth,” and she stopped him. So while, true, we’ve never talked to a bandit before, we also haven’t had banter before. So why throw that in there at all?

And, well….will he ever find out, in my game? It didn’t seem the blacksmith was in any rush to tell him. Blacksmith is right there. You can assume that the guy bumps into the kid all the time. Now his mother won’t tell him, being dead and all, so, in my game, who’s left? Maybe if his adoptive parents change their minds, but still, it’s very unlikely my kid will ever know the truth.

I think it still counts. He got his mother killed. There ya go.

Feminina:

Ah, but it always SEEMS like the prophecy was successfully avoided, right up until the grand reveal.

“We threw the cursed baby over the cliff years ago and everything’s been fine since!”

“I saved my parents and now everything’s fine!” (Incidentally, the whole logic of “I’ll give my parents a sword and shield and then they’ll be safe from me” seems flawed. Because he could always attack them in their sleep or something. But hey, if it makes him feel better, I won’t argue with his convictions.)

But sure, within the course of the game, I’m willing to buy that yes, your guy escaped the crushing knowledge of his own inadvertent sins.

For now.

Also, I read a walkthrough that referred to the PC as Alexios and mentioned that you could “have a little fun” with the blacksmith, so I think probably he could also have slept with him.

I certainly appreciate the equal-opportunity romance options.

Butch:

Meh. “Have a little fun” probably meant having a couple meads, playing some cards, and going to a burlesque show and shouting “Show us your togas! You seein’ this?”

Feminina:

I would have played the heck out of that. “Wooooo! These guys can WRESTLE!”

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