Tags

, , , , ,

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for companion quests in The Outer Worlds.

There’s a lot going on in this existential hellscape we call reality, so let’s do what we do and talk about made-up worlds with made-up horrible problems for a while

Butch:

OK, so I brokered peace on Monarch, as I’m sure you did. Then, I remembered I’m playing this game, and regretted it. This is going to go badly, isn’t it? The load screen was all “Will the depravity continue???” Great. Tricked again.

Then trucked back and sold the gas to Lilya and got another job. Talked her into giving me more money. Boom.

Had Parvati ask me to get her soap. Agonized over which soap. Even tried to search Junlei’s office to figure out what smell she liked. Gave up. Got rose. Roses are nice.

Got a quest from Felix, finally.

Still wondering when Ellie will chime in with a quest. She still hasn’t. This is making me wonder HOW DID YOU FINISH THIS SO FAST IT’S BIGGER THAN I THOUGHT WHAT’S WITH YOU.

Not bad. Off to Scylla to mop up Vicar Max and Felix next.

I’m going to regret brokering peace, aren’t I? And, when I do, I’ll wonder on themes, won’t I?

Feminina:

Actually, peace is the right call, or at least not obviously the wrong call. At least, I never ended up regretting my decision. Remember “the depravity continues” is the Board’s take on things. If they don’t like it, I probably do! I felt worse about “outlaw rebels forced to return by heroic stranger!”

And I don’t know, man, I guess I just plowed through it. I was playing an hour, hour and a half every single night for quite a while, and that adds up.

Also, Parvati never asked me to get her soap, so I guess I missed a few things. That adds up too.

Ellie will say something when you can move on to another region. The final region!

Butch:

Really? I got back and she was all “I want to ask out Junlei….here on the ship….but I stink and I need help….”

Final….region….

Feminina:

Oh right… That sounds vaguely familiar. I guess I definitely didn’t agonize over it, though. I probably just gave her some random thing I’d looted somewhere and forgot about it.

“Oh yeah, I have some lye-and-rancid-tallow concoction I got out of a marauder’s pocket, here you go.”

Butch:

No, dude, you had to buy it from Gladys at Groundbreaker. She has “rose-ish,” “apple cinnamon” and “refurbished spaceship.”

I picked Rose-ish. Gave it to her….and now she wants dinner! A casserole from Stellar Bay and a drink from….wait for it….Cascadia. I tire of Cascadia. I’ve gotten in and gotten out twice already. Jeez, game.

I will do it for love.

Speaking of love, ADA talking dirty to SAM was hilarious. Even my damn ship won’t LOOOOVVVVE MEEEEEE.

So played some more and finished up Vicar Max and I have questions.

I could ask several questions, but my brain is tired from family stuff so I’ll just ask all my questions with:

The fuck was with that quest?

Feminina:

Oh man! I totally didn’t buy soap from Gladys! I must have missed the end of Parvati’s story. Damn. Well, you tell me how it goes.

But–I definitely did not have any open quests on my list for her. Was this one of those ones that wasn’t actually a formal quest on your log, you just had to remember to do it on your own? I think I noticed that a couple of other times, that someone asked me to do something but I didn’t have text about it. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I mean, I kind of hate it, because I missed some story. On the other hand, maybe kind of props for putting something in there that the PLAYER has to actually, personally care about enough to remember to do. Especially if it’s about personal relationships with other characters. Like, how important are your companions’ requests to you, really? Hm.

And yeah… Vicar Max’s thing was… Yeah. I may have mentioned before that when I was done with it my main reaction was “huh?”

So. Let’s try to make something of it, because that’s how we do.

It was interesting that his ‘futuristic’ religion based entirely on logic and reason and so on ended up, basically, in an old school vision quest: take some drugs and hallucinate your way to enlightenment! (Which, fine if it works for you. Some very interesting things can be realized/worked through in an altered state of consciousness, I’m told.)

So we had this clash of very modern, logical, “let’s reason this out purely from the numbers” thinking with very old, “we get weird brain effects this way, let’s work with that” thinking. As much as to say, maybe, that neither is actually any better than the other at getting at the Ultimate Truth?

It was also interesting that the vision was Max’s mother, being disappointed that he’d chosen to spend his life in the pursuit of Truth. Perhaps also saying that you’re not going to find it, and getting too hung up on the quest means you’re going to miss a lot of good stuff along the way?

Since she wasn’t actually meant to be the spirit of his mother, presumably this is what he subconsciously wants/needs his mother to say, in order to reach a state of peace with himself: so maybe it’s that he decided he’s not going to find what he wants in the church, and needs to pay more attention to the rest of his life.

It was definitely odd, though. Hallucinations/intoxication are always interesting in games…how they present it mechanically and visually.

Butch:

Nah, dude, this was a quest. “Kiss the sun” or something or other. Has a name and everything. And steps. Like, back to Cascadia steps.

Well, the player has to personally care because I got the quest by talking to her in the ship. I went back after brokering peace, and chatted everyone up (as one does) hoping to smooch (as one didn’t). The thing was, it wasn’t an obvious “Hey, captain, can we talk?” or ADA all “Parvati is acting weird” or any other hint that she had something to say. She was there minding her business and I came up all “Hey,” and she was all “Oh! Hey! Uh….can I ask you something?” Boom. Quest.

Yes, “huh?” was a reaction one could have had to the Vicar Max thing…..

As for your attempt to make something of it: I….guess? But what in the world was it doing here, in this game? It just reeks of that temptation writers have when building a world to cram a religion of the world into it whether it makes sense in the story or not. This game HAS a theme, the idea of freedom vs. security, the little guy vs. the big corporation and how it all fits together, etc. That’s the theme, it’s all over the game, and it’s good. Really, really good. Why the need to chuck in something about logic vs. mysticism with a character so bluntly there to BE RELIGIOUS that his name is fucking “Vicar Max” and he’s reading a damn book on the character selection screen?

And good for him wanting to do more with his life, but making a player think about “getting too hung up ON THE QUEST that they miss something along the way” (emphasis mine) would’ve been a pretty damn good thing to make the PLAYER think. These questions, this quest, might have (and I say MIGHT) worked had it been directed at the player, if WE were the ones thinking on fucking quests (which is about as gamey as it gets, right?). As it was, it was Max’s quest, Max’s mother, Max coming to a conclusion. I was watching it. Watching a vision quest isn’t as impactful as actually having one. I, the player, wasn’t thinking about these things. I was watching Max do it, and, at the end, I could pat him on the head say “Glad you’re happy” and pocket some bits. That lacked oomph. That took me out of having to think about anything.

But Yup. Altered consciousness scenes always interesting. Games need more of them. Given this game has no nudity, no dress balls and no group hugs (yet), I’ll take what I can get.

Feminina:

Aw, man!!! There was a whole quest I missed? Siiiigh. I did go talk to everyone for a while, and then I gave up because they never seemed to have anything new to say. I guess I gave up too soon.

And my poor Parvati! Her quest for love was never resolved!–apparently. Assuming you end up resolving it.

Well, you tell me how it goes.

As for Vicar Max…that’s a good point about the major theme being corporations and ordinary people. And on those lines, remember that this religion IS corporate. It presents itself as being about pure logic or whatever, but it also explicitly serves the interests of the Board/the corporations. Maybe the whole Vicar Max story is meant to be kind of looking at how in this particular set-up, the corporations want to control EVERYTHING, including your soul. And so the issue of getting caught up in following the rules and not paying attention to your own life is in fact related to the theme, because whose rules was he following if not those of the Board that approved the religion he practices?

Maybe they’re trying to show how different people in very different walks of life all come back to the fundamental question of ‘how do we relate to the Board,’ and from there perhaps ‘WHY is relating to the Board the single constant theme of our lives?’

Butch:

You so missed it. It’s called “Don’t Bite the Sun” (the quest that is), which I know cuz I GOT TO PLAY JUST NOW more later.

Oh right….I forgot it was a board centric religion. That got lost. Hmm.

Though…if it was…then what DO we read about him trying to live up to his parents? Is he the kid who wants to get ahead and go to the Ivy league school and become employee of the month and CEO and win his parents’ respect by being all traditionally successful? Was this the game saying that you gotta be you? Because, if it was, that’s the first time this game has really expressed an opinion on what “you gotta do”

It’s never a good sign when we talk about a quest and practically every sentence ends with a question mark.

Feminina:

Well, I don’t know if the game is saying “you gotta be you,” as much as it’s saying “do whatever you want, but whatever the established rules you might try to follow, they can’t really be trusted to be all-knowing guides.”

“Do whatever you want” kind of being the approach of most choice-filled games…and this one maybe a little better than most at pointing out to us that the results of our actions might not be exactly what we expected. We try to do the ‘right’ thing, but it’s not clear what that is, and things might well not turn out how we imagined.

If we’re following some set of rules for how we play games (and, I guess, we could just sum them up as “try to be nice and help everyone, loot everything, and look for love in all the places”), maybe it’s telling us “your guidelines aren’t infallible either.”

Butch:

Well….I’ll take that, I suppose. But it sure would’ve been punchier had they made this about the player and not the least likable NPC. I really did come out of it all “Uh…yeah. Good for you, dude. Moving on.”

Not the best game inspired introspection.

And now I’m annoyed at the damn game. I went to talk to a guy for Felix only to be told I had to talk to someone on Groundbreaker. Oooookaaaay. Went to groundbreaker only to be told I had to go to Edgewater. Grumble. But whatever, cuz Nyoka had her deal there. Did Nyoka’s deal….and now I have to go BACK TO SCYLLA where I started.

Serious grumble.

This is made worse by not being able to fast travel between planets without going to the ship.

How did you finish this game?

But Nyoka….the two dead people who basically ran away from “freedom” only to find something that sucked just as badly and died for it. That was nicely done. Freedom is something games (and reality) seem to praise, but this game is turning it all around. The free folks kinda have shitty lives. The freest people are the Kevins (which may well be true in many games). I like that. It’s doing it in a non preachy way, too, like, “It’s not that they SHOULD be following the rules, they’re making their choices, but free often comes with boiled rapt for dinner every night…..”

Feminina:

Yeah…there really was a lot of running back and forth later in the game. “Oh boy, back to Scylla…yay, back to Edgewater…woohoo, back to the Groundbreaker…”

I initially liked that people kind of doled out their quests, so I really only had one or two people at a time that I was working on something for, but by the end I wished everyone would have just told me stuff all at once, so I could knock of multiple quests at once, because I did get to the point that I was going back somewhere just to talk to one person for one person’s story, or whatever. Which as you say, was made more tiresome by the fact that you have to go back to the ship every time to travel between worlds.

Of course, the flip side of that is, it was super easy to pop back to places and do the one thing for the one person. I’m not sure that I really WANTED, at this point in the game, to have every quest point lead to a brand new, unexplored location.

I’m not sure what the middle ground would be, between the two points of “ho-hum, this boring place again” and “oh sweet Naked Zeus, not another map full of monsters and randits to fight through so I can talk to one person.”

Butch:

I’d ask for “OK, Nyoka has to go do this shit here on Edgewater….let’s do the REST OF THE FUCKING QUEST right here on Edgewater.” Trucking Felix way the fuck out to that place JUST to have ONE conversation before getting back on the ship? I can think of more efficient ways of doing that, even when the person you’re meeting is all holed up. There really is a lack of focus right now. Felix wants me on Edgewater, Nyoka wants to go back to Scylla where I just was….TWICE….and Parvati wants me on Monarch, and, watch, as soon as I get her her drinks and her casserole she’ll be all “Oh, and can we snag some shit on Edgewater? I know you were just there, but Junlei would LOVE this thing I left there…..”

So no, I do not need to slog through more mantiqueens to end companion quests…wait…after I go to Scylla I have to kill a mantiqueen…..which isn’t on Scylla.

Sigh.

Get on with it, game.

How did you finish this?

Feminina:

1-2 hours every single night for a month.

Also, we shouldn’t shortchange Nyoka–I forgot to respond to your comment about finding her friends, but yes, it was an interesting twist that they ran off to be free and wound up dying in squalor.

So many times, in this game, rebellion against the system doesn’t yield any better results than just going along with the system. Which also doesn’t yield good results, to be clear. You’re kind of screwed no matter what.

Butch:

You must have missed stuff. Because dude, I am PLAYING here, and you’ve been finished for weeks and I still have whole areas I haven’t seen. But the only thing I’ve fond that you haven’t is Parvati!

You must’ve played more than two hours a night. Time, after all, has no meaning.

Feminina:

That is possible. It might have been six hours a night. There’s really no way to be sure.

Butch:

It might have been six nights an hour. These days, who knows?