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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.