One Step at a Time

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

So last night I was tired, but I had time while people were watching fireworks and I figured “You know? I think a good half hour of escapist narrative would be good now,” so I plopped down and loaded up the game.

And was greeted with what seemed like an eternity of QTEs. Which was very much NOT what I was in the mood for.

But hey! I’m in the CIA! Whoo hoo.

And while I was very grumpy about these QTEs while I was doing them, I must say it was a pretty cool tutorial. Having Jodi start out all weak and crappy (like me) and having her get better as I got better, interspersing the working out and all that, cool stuff. It was a very well designed tutorial. I just didn’t want to do it last night.

I am a tad worried that the controls seem a bit mushy. And I could NOT figure out that whole “hold the dots on the other dot to heal Jodi” deal. How can you see the dots? Whole screen was a sparkly mess.

Still, good level.

And then I decided to at least preview the next level. There Aiden was, on a train, so I said “Ok, I’ll screw around then quit and start here next time,” so I screwed around and tossed people’s backpacks and newspapers and shit, and woke Jodi up, and then another cutscene with cops and now I think it’s saved there with the cops and not on the train so my idle fucking around is now part of the story.

Which is art imitating life.

Feminina:

The CIA training bit was a little weird. So many QTEs! And for random things like “climb up with your left foot…now climb up with your right foot!”

You know, many games would have just had you move ‘forward’ and you would climb automatically, but whatever. You do you, Beyond Two Souls.

But all the running and falling down and then running slightly more effectively, etc., was a decent tutorial. And very cinematic. Training montage!

I KIND of like the combat mechanic, where you just move the stick the direction you want to go, but also I’m not very good at it. I’ve been trained by hundreds of other games to DO THINGS in combat, like push buttons, and so having to just move is weirdly disorienting for me. Nice of them to put everything in slow motion, but I still get it wrong a lot.

Holding the dots on the other dot is hard. Doing things with the dots is always a challenge, really. But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty more chances to try to make the dots do things!

HA! Your random screwing around is totally part of the story. But hey, that’s Aiden for you, right? He would definitely do that kind of thing.

Butch:

Yes! L1 to step! Weird! And I still can’t tell when to hold x or tap it.

And writing qtes? Doing math? Weird.

The weirdest was shooting. He was all “aim and shoot.” And you didn’t really have to aim, did you? What’s with that? In games, one aims. I spent forever trying to aim before saying fuck it and hitting r1.

Also, one had no prompt. I was hanging from monkey bars all “WHAT DO I DO????”

Was that international game design?

Anyway, did everything well enough to get three trophies. Even grumpy.

Waiting to get blood drawn. This week, man. Busy.

Feminina:

I STILL can never tell when to hold and when to tap. Basically, I do one and then if it flashes red at me and I have to start over, I try the other. That’s skilled, experienced game playing for you.

And yeah, the monkey bars! The dude is yelling at you “MOVE! MOVE!” and you’re thinking “I don’t know how!”

Intentional gameplay? Making you feel more like the character because she, also, doesn’t really know how to do this thing that’s being required? Or just a weird oversight? We don’t know! But it was kind of effective at creating that mood, so maybe we can give them credit there.

What do you want?! Stop yelling at me! I don’t know how to do this thing!

Butch:

I was pondering this as I was getting my blood drawn to ignore the fact I was getting my blood drawn (I, like you, am squeamish) and maybe it’s tap when it’s a circle and hold when it’s a square? Maybe? I dunno.

It did create a mood. But c’mon, she knows what monkey bars are. And he was misleading! He was all “Use your momentum to swing to the next bar!” So I was pushing the stick back and forth and stuff and nothing. Like, tutorials are supposed to TUTOR. Just saying.

But maybe that was the point.

I did get pretty ok at it. Three trophies and all.

This game does have some nice touches.

I have to say, so far, I’m pleasantly surprised. Liking it more than I thought I would.

Feminina:

I don’t know how many trophies I got for that sequence, if any. Maybe none, I didn’t notice them pop up, but then, half the time I don’t just because I’m not paying attention to the top of the screen. (‘Or any other part of the screen,’ you might here interject, given my frequent failure to have noticed some important detail you want to discuss. But hey, the games get played somehow.)

It does have some nice moments–there are things I quite like about it. I’m enjoying it. There are some other aspects that feel a bit underdone, but I cut slack…it’s a little game doing something different, and that won’t always be knockout awesome, but is certainly, in this case, worth the playing time.

Butch:

They DING you know. But that’s sound. Never mind.

Hey, you notice things just fine when it’s just you playing. You’ve gotten used to your Divinity induced blindness.

And well…hang on. This raises an interesting question: Is it a little game?

Yes, it certainly feels like life is strange. Story, choices, not a lot of whiz bang action, that sort of thing. But they broke the bank to get Ellen Page and William Dafoe and live cap everything in the whole game (that’s a lot of Ellen Page!) and all that shit. It certainly had a budget behind it. This isn’t some Divinity/Life is Strange/Gone Home thing that was made by, like, five people on a shoestring. Budget/Tech/scale wise, this is legit AAA.

So does it deserve the slack that we would give a little indie studio?

Feminina:

Nah, I’ve never been that good at noticing trophies, even before Divinity. They ding, which is sound so clearly I ignore it, and they pop up in the top of the screen where I usually notice them, just as they’re disappearing. “Wait, I got a trophy for what now?”

Not that I’m complaining–I don’t WANT them to show up right in the middle of the screen with a big flashing arrow on them or anything. I don’t care that much. They’ve just always been something that I miss half the time, except on the rare occasions that I’m trophy-hunting and actively paying attention.

And…interesting question. It FEELS like an indie, but of course you’re right, all that starpower can’t have been cheap. Although maybe they spent their entire budget on Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, and the rest of the game was farmed out to a tiny studio with five people. Not that the game is badly done, or buggy, or in any way suggestive of a low budget, really…it plays very smoothly, if with some odd mechanics as we’ve discussed, and the faces are obviously superbly captured (and really, as I’ve continued playing, I don’t find them creepy-looking–I feel they manage to steer pretty clear of the uncanny valley through keeping it just obvious enough that it’s an artificial image that your brain doesn’t think it’s trying NOT to look artificial, and recoil in horror at how it misses…if that makes sense).

I guess it’s just the slightly unusual choices of mechanics, plus the things they have you doing with those mechanics (climbing one step at a time, say), that makes it feel indie. When really, rather than being necessarily indie, those are just DIFFERENT choices than most big games make.

Hm. I guess I still cut some slack for trying to do different things.

Butch:

Totally agree that it feels indie. It’s like a AAA indie game. Which I’m not saying as criticism.

I think it may speak to AAA games that we feel that “creative” and “different” are somehow NOT AAA. And that may well be a criticism of AAA. Certainly is.

And maybe one of the reasons we like Sony. This was a Sony exclusive. So was Horizon (which was a creative risk), and Death Stranding (see E3 posts for discussion of weirdness). They’re willing to take some risks in the AAA space.

Feminina:

Well…I guess it can be a criticism, but I think that’s just a natural feature of the market. A Big game wants a big audience, and so in order to draw the largest possible audience you need to be first comprehensible to the largest number of people so they can even play it, and then engaging for the largest number of people so they care enough about it to play it, talk about it, and buy more of your games in the future. Which all tends to mean using mechanics that are similar to mechanics lots of people will already know, and telling stories with broad, basic outlines that will hit the notes of ‘big important story’ for lots of people. (Save the world! Again!)

And it’s a criticism to say (fairly) that as a result those games tend to tread the same ground over and over, and to avoid wildy new, creative, different things, but also, we enjoy those games ourselves if they’re well done, and we eagerly buy and play them, so they’re doing something people (us included) like, and pursuing a perfectly reasonable strategy.

In summary…it takes all kinds. I want Big games, AND I want smaller, creative, different games. I want games I can play for 110 hours, AND I want small games I can play for a few weeks and have done with.

And sometimes there will be combinations of the two, Big and Different, and sometimes those will be awesome, but the potential for misjudging a large general audience’s willingness to learn weird new mechanics, or ability to connect with a weird story or style, means it probably won’t happen terribly often because the risk is too big.

Regardless, overall it’s a very good time to be playing games.

Butch:

True. I am likely being cruel. It’s been too long since we played a good ol’ big AAA thing. I am becoming overly erudite.

Can’t argue with it being a good time in games. And, if E3 was to be believed, it’s likely to get even better.

At least we know our blog will carry on and on and on.

Feminina:

Yeah! Stop being such a snob, man!

Games just want to please you (and a few million other people), and here you are being all mean about it!

Ha. Obviously, I’m all in favor of continuing to criticize games for whatever strikes us as worthy. I just wanted to note that we can criticize all we want, and the criticisms will be valid (obviously, if we’re making them, because we certainly would never complain about anything just for the hell of it)…but I think for certain issues, there is just never going to be a satisfactory answer.

We can point out that a certain lack of creativity is a common feature of Big Games, and that will be very true, but it will also probably never NOT be true, given what Big Games are.

Whereas if we point out a certain overwhelming lack of male nudity in Big Games, there’s always the possibility that at some point in the future this problem could actually be addressed. This is the hope to which I cling.

Butch:

Sorry, man. Sour grapes. I just wanna play!

But true. What would we do if games were perfect?

There’d be nudity in general. And dress balls. Dress balls followed by nudity would be grand.

What?

Feminina:

I didn’t say anything! You’re right! You’re absolutely right!

Fancy dress balls followed by nudity would be just fine. Fancy dress balls leading to fancy dress heists leading to nudity and group hugs?

Now we’re talking.

Um…I don’t specifically need the group hugs to be naked. I can take or leave orgies.

I just meant there should be group hugs in there somewhere. They could also come before the nudity, either way is fine with me.

Butch:

Man, these days it’s Friday derailment every day, ain’t it? We got behind there, with Divinity. Lost time and all that.

And we’re brain fried cuz end of year. At least I am.

And I’m down seven vials of blood, here!

SEVEN!

Feminina:

Seven!? What is that doctor doing, secretly raising a vampire in the back room?

Mark my words. It’s a vampire.

Butch:

Nah, it’s to make sure that a) I have the right amount of medicine in my system and b) that said medicine isn’t making everything stop working. There’s a lot of medicine and a lot of everything.

It sucks.

But, gotta say, given our affinity for booze, it’s nice to have that regular affirmation that the liver’s doing ok. Bottoms up!

Feminina:

YES! Liver function acceptable! Time to drink! Some more.

Butch:

It’s really the only one I care about.

“Well, based on your levels, we really should-“
“How’s the liver?”
“What? I was talking about your levels which are kinda important.”
“The liver. How’s the liver?”
“You do know I’m a neurologist.”
“Whatever. Liver. Focus, doc.”

Feminina:

“CAN I DRINK?! Tell me now!!!!”

“Well…yes, sure. Also your brain is–”

“Great thanks bye.”

Butch:

That’s pretty much my approach to my own medical care.

And I’m fine!

Right. Right?

Feminina:

Well, are you still drinking and playing games? (At least when scheduling allows.)

YES!

You’re fine.

Absolutely fine.

Butch:

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

And oh did I link you this?

https://kotaku.com/cyberpunk-2077-is-a-violent-impressive-blend-of-deus-e-1826807140

Want. So very much want.

And you get your MALE NUDITY!

Feminina:

YES!

Just like I said: some complaints CAN be addressed. My dream lives!

They need to do better than the Witcher 3. Raise the bar, people!

Butch:

See? CDPR will deliver us.

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Much Remains Unclear

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

I didn’t play games cuz my family went nuts and I had chores and all that awfulness. I got nothing.

Feminina:

Dude, I played so much I’ve already forgotten half of it.

So life is back to normal.

Butch:

Shit, you’re serious? You’re serious. Shit.

Well, Meaty’s off to an overnight with nana in a bit. I’ll have some free time this afternoon. I can squeeze in a chapter or two, right?

Is the game good at least?

Feminina:

I’m mostly kidding. I think I remember what I’ve done so far. Probably.

Except for the music. Heh.

It’s very interesting. I do keep wanting to play, which is always a good sign. There are a lot of odd tonal shifts, and emphasis on different things in different chapters. It’s interesting. I pretty much like it, but I’m honestly not sure where it’s going. Which could be a good thing in that it’s different and interesting and we like that, but it could be a bad thing if it turns out that it doesn’t really go anywhere after all.

But we’ll see! And the journey has been pretty fun. Some genuinely creepy bits. You’ll like it.

I should note that it turns out some of the later chapters are longer than the convenient 15-20 minute chunks we discussed, so they won’t all be easy to knock off in a single session. A lot of them still are, though, so it’s still good for short sessions if that’s all you’ve got.

Butch:

LATER chapters? Shit, are you almost done? It’s been, like, a week.

Shit.

Feminina:

No, no, calm down, I was only using ‘later’ in the sense of ‘after the ones we’ve already talked about’.

I just meant that as you keep playing, you’ll get to some that are longer than the first ones we played.

They aren’t in chronological order, of course, so I have no idea how close these particular ones are to the end in terms of playing time (although they’re…kind of in the middle on the timeline). I’m probably still quite a ways out since there’s no sense of wrapping anything up yet. Don’t worry about it.

Speaking of the timeline, I’ve gotten to kind of like the way they do that, where each new chapter is shown in relation to the ones you’ve already played. Otherwise, it could get kind of confusing.

Butch:

Oh, shit, I’d already be confused. I already AM confused!

But what else is new?

Feminina:

It’s a little confusing because I have to think “wait, what was that one that this one is right before? Oh, right…that thing. OK, so we’re at this point…”

That’s probably why they give you about 20 minutes of quiet thinking time to look at the screen before the next chapter actually starts.

Well, that and deciding if you have time to play one more.

Butch:

And the fact that’s a load screen……

Music and technical shit are both lost on you, aren’t they?

Feminina:

Wait, WHAT? Games load? This one too? I could have sworn this was the only game in history that didn’t have any load time!

I’m honestly not sure if this game has music, though, because the PS4 whirring drowns out everything after a certain point. I’m thinking of putting the subtitles on because I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss some important plot points in the dialogue.

“So it turns out that the secret is [whirrrrrrrr]. All we have to do to explain [whirrrrrr] is look at [whirrrrr]. And all along Aiden was [whirrrrrrrr]!!!!!”

It’ll be fine for about half an hour, but then it overheats or whatever. Not that that’s going to stop me from playing. I’ll just keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Butch:

This is why I used headphones so much before I got the pro.

You also might want to move it….consoles in cabinets isn’t usually, what’s the technical word…ah yes…good.

Feminina:

It’s been either there or in a similar cabinet-y space since we got it, though, and it’s only just started doing this noise. So I’m not arguing the cabinet is good for it, but I am saying it’s apparently the sort of badness that has to accumulate over time, or something.

Butch:

Well, a pro or headphones. There’s your choice.

Ok, played.

Went to a party. Drank, danced, kissed a dude, all was well. Didn’t show off my powers. Lied and said I was from New York. Then got mad and let Aiden loose and fucked shit up.

Wasn’t my fault. They deserved it. I’ll likely regret it later, but one must stay in character.

Then did the interview. Drew Aiden, made him do something.

Who are the monsters? I don’t like monsters.

Neat thing, gameplaywise, that Jodi can’t control Aiden. Not really. Which means, what? We’re controlling them both, so that has something to say about…what? That was a nice twist. I’m still pondering.

Feminina:

Yes! Play on!

I was all ‘sincere’ with the dude, and we danced and kissed. And then he turned on me like a jerk, of course, which I suspected he would, but I thought Jodie deserved a chance at a nice moment. I refused to show off Aiden’s powers because I didn’t want to be a trick pony for them, and they locked me in the cupboard under the stairs. I broke out with Aiden’s help, but then I just left because I didn’t want to cause trouble or give them the satisfaction of knowing I cared or whatever.

I had an ‘undiscovered path’ on that one: was there another choice further along the ‘revenge’ line?

But dude, how little does Nathan know teenagers that he was like “hey, antique book of poetry, this random girl I don’t know will totally love this?” And how little does JODIE know normal teenagers, that it didn’t occur to her either? A telling interlude there.

I’ve been kind of playing a “not showing off Aiden” character, because I didn’t have him show his powers in that ‘first interview,’ either (although I did draw him, mostly because I wanted to see what she thought he looked like).

He asked “can you have him do something?” and she just shook her head and looked solemn, so perfectly uncooperative-kid.

And yeah, here with the ‘monsters’ comment I was like “aha, things get more complicated.”

Because either there are monsters (maybe they locked the doors in that ‘experiment’ chapter?), and Aiden can’t or won’t protect her from them, or Aiden is not very nice (we’ve certainly seen he can be destructive), and made those marks himself…and she either believes it was monsters instead of him, or is lying to protect him. Or possibly she scratched herself for some reason, we can’t rule that out.

Anyway, some questions there.

Butch:

Doing my best, man!

I did the same things (cuz we’re the same person) but I did take revenge. The “undiscovered” thing you had was “Burned the house” which I did NOT do. So you could go really nuts.

But here’s something you missed: If you hit “revenge,” yes, you turn into Aiden, but she says something like “Go, Aiden” or something, like, she’s turning Aiden loose. We then learn that she doesn’t control Aiden, but must know that, by that part of her life, that Aiden’s going to be mad at the party goers, and WILL take revenge on her behalf. Right?

Yeah, I kinda wondered about that choice of gift. And given her surprise that the kid DIDN’T like it, Jodie must really think “Nathan knows stuff.” When he doesn’t, really.

HA! That’s why I drew Aiden!

Now…did the game know we’d do that? Or are we terribly metagaming? Or both?

I think there are monsters. And Aiden can’t/won’t protect her.

I also noticed: Nathan has a picture of a wife (?) kid (?) on his desk. Nathan also had a bunch of press clippings of weird phenomena that would make Fox Mulder jealous.

Good stuff.

I HAD Something Good…

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

Ok then! Got a chapter in! Dress balls! Just the Embassy, but hey!

Pretty damn good dress. And nice animation and…

Oh, you wanted to talk about the game. Right.

Ok, so first, how did you do it? Cuz, ok, I went into the bathroom, I went all Aiden, went upstairs, distracted the guy in the TV room…then possessed a guard and used him to get in to the office and find a switch. Then ditched him and opened things as Aiden.

As for your “dot on the throat” deal, I don’t think so. I went into a room with two dudes talking in some other language, and they had dots, so I did the zappy thing on them, and not much happened. They seemed calmer, or something, but I didn’t possess them at all. So I chucked some stuff around the room. But I DID notice that when I was chucking stuff around they didn’t care. But I couldn’t figure out what the hell else to do there, so I left.

But the guy I DID possess had a red aura instead of a blue one like most people do. So that must be it.

But you didn’t know about possessing! So how’d you do it?

Oh! And helpful tip: When I did possess the guy, Jodi goes “Be careful…you know if you touch another person it’ll break the possession.” So there ya go. Wrinkle!

So how’d you do it? And could you make heads or tails of the two guys in that room? When I finished, I had a whole “unplayed path” where I didn’t do either thing, so that must be them. Or something. I dunno. Wouldn’t tell me.

So who is suave man? Who is the woman who so very much wouldn’t help? Are we being exploited or not? QUESTIONS!

Gameplay question: So, when you’re copying the notes, that sure seemed like a QTE. Didn’t it? So, like, could you fail to copy the notes? Cuz I didn’t notice a percentage on “copied all the notes” or anything. But it sure FELT urgent, didn’t it? If you had pushed the wrong button, would it have mattered, do you think?

Oh, and a cool mechanic that never gets old in stories told out of time is a good scar. I still hold the single best line in the ill fated TV show “Heroes” was when the Japanese dude from the future comes to the present, looks at the main character and says, first thing “You look different without your scar.”

Scars. Trite. But yet such a good hook.

Not as good as really great dresses…really great…great animation…

Feminina:

DAMN IT.

I just wrote this lengthy and detailed reply, and my internet faltered and it completely disappeared. Not even a draft saved.

CURSE YOU EMAIL.

Siiiiigh. I hate retyping thoughts.

It was something like, Aiden don’t need no stinkin’ possessed guards to flip a switch, I just floated through the door and zapped the switch myself. Easy peasy.

Also, I noted that there are a lot of QTEs in some later chapters, and while I agree that it doesn’t seem like you could have really failed that tense note-taking sequence, it did feel urgent (although maybe you could fail and that’s where the ‘undiscovered path’ came in!). Actually I did fail a couple of times, because I still haven’t internalized this game’s prompts, so I have to think about it every time: does this mean I should hold the indicated button, or press it repeatedly? Why is it turning red? Wait, was that L1 or R1?

Speaking of the undiscovered path, I had a long thoughtful paragraph on how the summary screen may be partly motivated by a desire to give credit to the creators of all that content–we’ve sometimes talked about what it must be like to do all this stuff that you know many or most players will never see or perhaps even be aware that it exists, and whatever else it does (encourage replay, most obviously), giving you this information is a very clear nod to the fact that all that stuff does exist.

“Just so you know, there’s x y and z unplayed paths from these various choice moments, AND an entirely undiscovered path from a choice you didn’t even get a chance to make, so yeah, WE DID ALL THAT WORK.”

Even if that is partly why it’s there, I don’t know if I think it’s great from a gameplay/narrative standpoint, but I am sympathetic to acknowledging peoples’ work, so…hm.

I think that’s pretty much what I had before my computer ate it.

Stupid computer.

Butch:

You know, one of these days you’re gonna have to possess someone. There’s gotta be a bit later where it’s flat out necessary.

I’m at a playground party. The summer fun that just started never ends.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, been there done that. You definitely have to possess someone at a certain point. It just kind of happened. I figured it out.

Enjoy the neverending round of children’s activities!

Butch:

Trying dude.

I still got some good blogging in.

Feminina:

That’s what it’s all about!

O’Jr. is at the zoo today with his summer program. Events I don’t have to go to are the best.

Butch:

Preach sister.

Feminina:

“The class is going alligator wrestling and then to a WWE cage match. We don’t need any chaperones.”

“Rock on.”

Butch:

You will also come to get very tired of very, very long slide shows.

Feminina:

You assume that I am currently a fan of these.

Butch:

Fair. Sigh. I played and everything, but we just couldn’t stay on topic today.

Feminina:

It’s hot. It’s summer. It’s Monday. That’s a lot to contend with.

I’ll Just Play One Chapter…

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No real spoilers

Butch:

I got nothing.

Don’t finish without me. Ha.

Today I don’t have any end of the year stuff so maybe I’ll get some games in. Maybe.

Feminina:

I only did about 15 minutes last night. It was later than I would usually start playing, but I thought, “hey, these chapters are nice and short, I can just do one of them and then stop!”

So I did. That sounds like the set-up to an “and then the game was over and I looked up and it was time to get the kids ready for school” line, but actually, I did one chapter and stopped. So it turns out that’s kind of a nice feature of this game, that it lends itself well to little bits of playing time.

Hint hint.

GO PLAY FOR 15 MINUTES SO WE CAN DISCUSS A CHAPTER.

Butch:

Dude, was it the Embassy chapter? Cuz that’s where I am. Is THAT chapter 15 minutes?

I’ll try! But I gotta do this chore I’ve been meaning to do!

Junior plays trumpet. It was the ALL school band. Last week was just HIS school. HUGE difference. Huge.

But I got nothing tonight! And I’m just grillin’ burgers! And Mrs. McP’s home late!

It’s on.

Feminina:

Yeah, the Embassy! Fancy dress!

I think that was probably around 15. Maybe more like 20, but still, it’s definitely not long. Well under an hour.

I’m used to feeling that if I can’t settle in for at least an hour, it’s not really worth it because I’m not going to get anything significant done, but the way this game is broken down, it really will be conducive to small bites of play.

I was actually wondering, thinking about the chapter as I went to bed, whether that might not be kind of an ideal way to approach it: play a chapter, take a break, think about what you learned…kind of like a TV show that you’re watching live.

Not that I’m going to do that. If I have a whole hour, I will totally play three chapters in a row, because that is how we do. We want to play, not sit around and think about what we’ve just done!

Still, if we CAN’T play three chapters in a row, it’s nice that we can still get something meaningful done in a shorter amount of time.

Butch:

That is QUITE the dress. And she’s kind of a sorceress….Getting to like this game.

(No, didn’t play. But saw it before I saved.)

I didn’t have that kind of time, even at less than an hour. But, on the upside, I now have fantastically clean, white, sparkly rails on my front steps.

What? I do. Which is also important.

*****

What?

Thank God for small bites. I got into the same groove. Shit, I felt if I couldn’t settle in for at least an hour, then I couldn’t even do one fight.

Hmm. That would be kind of interesting, one chapter at a time. We talked, when we played LiS, about the differences between your experience of playing it episodically as it came out and mine, playing it all at once. But even those “episodes” were, what, four, five hours long? Much longer than a single play session.

20 minute episodes in a game might be kinda cool.

Indeed. And I could fit one in here and there during the day and Mrs. McP would be none the wiser.

Ahem.

Feminina:

Wow, I’m blinded by the sparkle from those steps, all the way from Boston! Nicely done. Reward yourself by playing for a bit.

You can, and indeed you SHOULD fit a chapter in here and there during the day! As motivation for all that work you’re getting done. Those beautiful rails. Those kids you drive around. That grocery shopping.

You deserve it. Take a break! Look away from the godbox of home maintenance for just one second! What’s the worst that can happen?

Butch:

Lots of terrible things! And they all involve Mrs. McP!

Steps are nice, I’ll give them that. They had gotten all green and shit. Yuck. Can’t have that.

Cannot. Have. That.

I know! I deserve game! But that’s hard to do when you need a good hour. Like, say, if Mrs. McP got home and half the rails were sparkly, she’d be all “You sat around and played, didn’t you?” But 15 minutes? I can do that! And chores!

Maybe not THIS chore, as it took a long time and I have to go get Meatball now, but chores!

Feminina:

She’s the Void Dragon, isn’t she? You can tell me.

In that case, you do what you need to do to keep her contained and happy and not destroying the universe.

But when you have 15 free minutes…

Butch:

Somehow you’ve managed to sum up a 22 year relationship in three and a half sentences. Nicely done.

I kid, I kid. Sorta.

But it’s cool cuz she looks good at fancy dress balls.

Feminina:

Fancy dress proficiency makes up for so many things.

That’s just one of the reasons you’ll enjoy this next chapter!

Butch:

Woot!

It is quite a dress, the red dress.

You know, way this game is going, I’ll bet there’s a heist later.

How’d we miss this for so long????

Feminina:

I don’t know, man…there was just a lot of other stuff going on, I guess. Plus, it got meh reviews and kind of fell off the radar in terms of stuff we were interested in.

There are so many other things in which to be interested!

But I’m glad it came out for free to renew our interest, and that you noticed it and made me download it. I’m enjoying it so far.

The system works! Slowly.

Butch:

Yeah, I’m into it, too.

It also sorta makes me want to pay more attention to Death Stranding, which as you recall was featured heavily at Sony’s conference at E3. While, game wise, it’s nothing like it, the blogger in me kinda wants to play something from the directors that really have serious name recognition and influence. I mean, you study film, you sorta have to see something by Kubrick, Coppola, Wells, etc. So I kinda feel like, ok, we’re checking off David Cage here, I did Jonathan Blow with The Witness (and you tried, so ok), and Hideo Kojima is on that list of influential masters.

I’m not saying I’m certainly 100% into Death Stranding, but given the fact that we’re at least very interested in a director that the genre sorta told us we should be interested in, I’ll at least pay more attention than I have been to Kojima’s next thing.

Feminina:

Hm. I see what you mean, if you’re STUDYING film, but if you just want to watch some movies and talk about them?

Are we STUDYING games, or just playing them and then talking about them? Certainly we talk about them in great depth and with much brilliant discussion of obscure details, but studying? I don’t know that I’d necessarily say that, any more than I’d call us film students if we decided we were going to watch one movie every night and then talk about it the next day.

Which we will never do because movies take up valuable game time.

Anyway, that’s all by way of saying I retain the right to be completely uninterested in a game even if it’s by a founding figure in the industry. Sure, we can go ahead and keep an eye on Death Stranding, I’m into its weirdness and baby-powered clicky detectors, but if it doesn’t look like something I’d be into once it finally comes out, I’m not going to play it for the name recognition. Not that that’s what you’re suggesting.

Butch:

Oh I’m not. And we were kinda completely uninterested in Beyond, despite it being made by a key figure in the industry (we’re past founding. You missed founding. You were living in a yurt when this was founded). But here we are liking it.

So what do we know?

And, well, not STUDYING per se. But then, Cage and Kojima have always been about FUN. Metal Gear, even Beyond were supposed to be entertainment first. And we certainly have played games that are classics that aren’t fun (looking at you, TLOU). Shit, Sony’s gonna showcase TLOU2 and Death Stranding and I have a feeling that, between those two, we’ll say “Death Stranding looks more fun,” and yet, like it or not, we’ll likely still PLAY TLOU2. So we do do more than just fuck around with silly shooters. We’re fucking erudite.

And we still have fun.

Feminina:

Don’t be dramatic: I never lived in a yurt. It was a hogan.

But yes, it was probably around then that the founding figures of games were doing their thing.

And you’re right, we almost certainly will play TLOU2. For the escapism and mindless fun!

Butch:

Yes. I’m sure it will have dress balls, group hugs and sorceresses.

But hey: remember what Death Stranding has? MALE NUDITY!

I’m surprised you haven’t preordered.

Feminina:

Oh, right! I’m on it.

To Amazon! Nudity ahoy!

Butch:

It’s just very you that the idea of experiencing and artistic masterpiece by one of the great creators of one of our favorite genres doesn’t move you, nudity….nudity gets your attention.

Oh, who am I kidding. It’s not you. It’s us.

Feminina:

Yeah, don’t set yourself up on some kind of “I totally don’t care about nudity, it’s all about the vision and the artistic value” high horse there.

Butch:

Can’t one care about both?

One can care about both.

Feminina:

One can! One can and one does.

I mean, really: in terms of sheer word output, we’ve dedicated a lot more space to non-nudity topics. Yes, nudity comes up fairly frequently, but usually with fairly minimal and/or trivial discussion, because there usually isn’t that much of it to really talk about (a situation bemoaned by all).

But get us going on plenty of other deep and intellectual topics, including all kinds of shades of artistic merit, and we’ll go on for thousands of words.

Butch:

Exactly!

We deserve to be on pedestals. Despite our occasional frequent forays into NSFW topics.

And for our modesty.

Feminina:

Our modesty truly is one of the most remarkable things about us, given our astonishing insight and near limitless capacity for keen analysis.

Butch:

We are so modestly awesome.

T SHIRT!!!!!!

 

May I Remind You, This is a Game

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for the beginning of Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

I got nothing. My kids took over the annoying from your kids. And I caught a bug or something and, at about 4 PM, decided I wanted nothing more than twelve boxes of Kleenex and to sleep until Sunday.

And can you play like that? No, no you cannot.

Today ain’t looking good either as Junior has ANOTHER end of the year concert/arts night/party. Last week was just the school, this time it’s the all school band.

This year has been ceremoniously ending since Christmas.

So hopefully you played and we can talk. Remember, I finished “The experiment.” Nothing more.

Feminina:

OK, so right after the Experiment, that part in the Embassy, when you’re running around punching Kevins and throwing drinks in peoples’ faces, wasn’t that the BEST THING EVER? OMG the fancy dress heists and group hugging that goes on there!

Oh, sorry, you didn’t do that.

Also, it didn’t happen. Probably.

I did play, though! I did the Experiment and the Embassy and the Party. Because I wanted to keep up with you and you were ahead.

Hm. Thoughts. Well done, although the faces do nudge a little close to the uncanny valley at times. The child Jodie was fun…she was such a brooding 6-year-old, reminding me very much of my own 6-year-old when he gets moody and heaves big sighs. I had her just shrug when they asked if she could do the experiment, because it seemed fitting. That was kind of awesome. Shrugs should be dialogue options more often!

And it worked to have her be a kid in the first scenes where you can move, because kids are always getting distracted and wandering around looking at stuff they’ve presumably seen a million times before exactly when someone is waiting for them, so it fit the story better than it often does, when someone says “we’re ready for you, commander” or whatever and you’re all “just a second” poking around your office in full armor before you go give the order to attack the zombie fortress, opening all your drawers and looking at the books on your bookshelves while the NPC is probably thinking “what the hell is wrong with the commander? There’s nothing in those books that’s relevant to this moment!”(Little does he or she know you were looking for an inspirational quote to rally the troops.)

Anyway, decent intro. I’m still getting used to that mechanic where you kind of just move towards the white circle to activate something, instead of clicking, but it looks like they’re trying to move a bit away from the visual cues on screen and make it more of an experience of “I’m seamlessly influencing this without having to be prompted about everything I can do” or whatever. I didn’t entirely get there, but I have the sense that we’re supposed to eventually just know how to move the entity (Haydn? was that what she called it?) without needing the reminder of the controller icon, and then the idea will be that we can just do things without there ever being an indication onscreen that it was a controller move…so someone watching would almost just see a movie playing, you know?

Maybe I’ve overthinking this, though. There will presumably always be dialogue options and stuff that will have to be prompted on the screen somehow.

So…good solid entertainment so far.

Other thoughts?

Butch:

Don’t do that, with the pretend-spoilers.

I did see enough of it to know there’s at least a fancy dress! Whoo hoo!

Dress ball before the first act even starts!

And we diverge. I nodded, as…more on this in a second…I sorta figured I’d aim to please.

And yeah, I dug that about this bit. Kid tutorials are the best (Fallout 3 started with you as a toddler. You did your skills when you found this cheesy kids book called “You’re SPECIAL!”) They make such sense in context.

The spirit is Aiden, I think.

And yes, weird little mechanic. And yes, while I like not having X pop up over and over and over, even when you’re 50 hours in and you fucking KNOW X does that, I’ve already found it leads to me doing things accidentally, which cannot then be undone without reloading. For example, I reloaded cuz I didn’t know you had to hold down X to do certain things like keep watching TV, and I wanted to see what was on TV, so I reloaded and held X, cuz, for some reason, once you stopped watching TV you couldn’t start again. Which makes no sense. It was still on.

Thoughts:
Well, besides the whole “have to keep doing things, and/or doing things or not in the moment” being weird, a have a couple of themes. (As for the last, at the end of the experiment there was one option: “X Stop” so I did what one does when prompted: I hit X and stopped, thinking that was what one does. But in the outcome screen, only 66% of people stopped the experiment, showing I could have done nothing and something would have happened). THAT is gonna take some getting used to. I think the game is playing around with our ingrained “Do the thing you’re prompted to do” ideas about games.

Which….

So I was playing Jodi rather straight. I was behaving, I nodded, I tried to get the card things right (Did you? Or did you botch them?). I was a good little subject.

Then Aiden happened.

And I was good. Looked at the cards, got them right. But when it was time to knock down the blocks, I did, and then said “Hmm…better practice….” and did, and then got into it. There was sound, and motion, and I just kept knocking shit down. Even broke the window next to the poor, crying woman’s head, which was kinda mean of me. I got INTO it.

Which was kinda mean of me.

And I didn’t stop until I hit X and Jodi screamed AIDEN! STOP!

So, without really meaning to, I played Jodi and Aiden differently. Which was kinda cool that the game kinda…not “fooled,” but you know…me into doing that.

Did you figure out you could possess that guy?

Feminina:

No! I didn’t possess a guy! Although I did see a circle on someone’s throat (um…later, possible spoiler) and wondered about that. Would that have been possession?

I did the cards correctly, and then thought “maybe I should mess this up,” but they moved on from cards before I got another chance. But I did go all poltergeist in the testing room, throwing things around and smashing the window and freaking out that poor woman. Although I noticed that the “percent of players who do X” summary at the end (interesting, that, reminds me of Life is Strange, although isn’t this game actually older?) said “leave Kathleen alone” as what I did, so I guess we could have actually punched her or something? Pulled her hair?

Which would have been even meaner than all the stuff I actually did, so yay me, I’m awesome.

I MEAN WELL. Sort of.

The summary is interesting, and has me obviously thinking about replay, but also thinking about the game in a meta sense, as a game, every so often. Which is in interesting contrast with the attempt to merge our action more seamlessly into the game in the playable chapters…do they want to stress the fact that this is a game, or downplay it? What’s the mood they’re going for here?

I think actually this whole game reminds me a lot of Life is Strange, which I guess means that Life is Strange was reminiscent of this. Which is not a bad thing.

Butch:

Ok, so as I was wandering around as Aiden, trying to get to other places that I thought might have interesting shit (Like the guy who was bitching about the vending machine. I thought, “Maybe I’ll just make it give him all the chips!” but I couldn’t. See? I’m naughty as Aiden), I did go into the control room. There, I found some tech dude and a controller prompt comes up. Hold L1 or L2 and pull the sticks apart. “Ok,” thought I, “Wonder what happens if I do that…” So I did, and POOF! Guys eye’s go all weird, I’m back in 3rd person, and I’m controlling the dude! No blurry shit or anything! Just like Jodi! I couldn’t find anything to do, and it took me forever to figure out how to uncontrol the dude, which I eventually did by trying to leave the room, only to POOF back to first person Aiden and hear everyone say “You ok?” and the dude all “Yeah…yeah…I think so…”

So that’s a thing. I couldn’t find anything for the dude to do.

So I tried to possess everyone else, and no dice. I guess it’s only certain dudes. The dot on the throat sounds familiar.

Yeah, I saw that, too. I, too, got the “leave Kathleen alone” stat, which made me say “Uh…what? Freaking the shit out of her and making her sob was ‘leaving her alone?’ Ooookaaaay….”

But see? We both instinctively played Aiden differently. There was no reason for us to go all poltergeist in there. Indeed, the dudes were explicitly telling us/Jodi to stop. But neither one of us did until JODI told us to stop.

Huh.

But here’s a question, and don’t spoil if you know, cuz I don’t: Did you get the sense that Jodi was just kinda born with abilities that the scientists don’t understand and they found her and are trying to understand? Or did you get a sense that they “made” her somehow? Took a normal girl and made her able to do the stuff she does?

Cuz that would really color how you feel about William Dafoe there. Is he just an innocent scientist who’s trying to understand a natural mystery? Or Dr. Frankenstein?

Good question about the mood they’re going for. I found the stats a tad jarring. It was an interruption, and I don’t really like knowing, or even having a hint, of what could have been in a game like this. Sure, we’ve played games with choices that are obvious (Save Iron Bull’s friends or not…you kinda know what’s gonna happen either way), but a game like this you don’t necessarily know, and I think it should stay that way. And I don’t think you really need that to encourage replay. Every player knows all this makes SOME kind of difference, and might be tempted to find out what. But telling/hinting kinda sucks. Didn’t like it in LiS either.

But it isn’t a bad thing to be like LiS. And this is a nice niche genre of games to keep an eye on and be verbose about.

Feminina:

It is an interesting choice, to focus on the fact that you’re playing a game, and that other people have also played it. It’s different than a lot of games.

I mean, there are lots of games where you obviously know that other people have played it and you talk about it (our entire body of work is based on talking about games we’ve both played!), but where within the game itself, the conceit is that yours is the only game that matters. Right? Like, my Divinity game exists in a parallel universe to yours and we can compare things we did and read about things other people did, but there’s no actual connection within the game.

Whereas this approach, by telling you explicitly right in the middle of gameplay that this is what you did and this is what x% of other people did, it brings the fact that this is a game, it even brings the other players, directly into MY version of the game.

Which is…I’m really not sure what it’s MEANT to accomplish, and I’m not sure what it DOES accomplish.

It’s kind of an “oh, hi other players! I see most of us choose option B here but I’m siding with the minority in this other case! Great! Thanks for intruding on my playing time to let me know that!”

And yet, there’s no denying that one IS curious, and sure, it’s interesting to see that I picked the popular option, and as you say, it shows me that there was something else I could have done (the summary on a later chapter showed me two “undiscovered paths” for things I didn’t even realize I could make choices about!). I’m not sure how I feel about that. As you say, it’s kind of intrusive. But then again, I didn’t have any trouble forgetting about it and getting involved in the scene once I moved to the next playable section.

It really highlights the game-ness of it, I guess, and again, I’m not sure if that’s meant to achieve some specific goal of mood or something.

Oh–I assume we both chose to play in the order the game was originally released, not with the scenes reassembled into chronological order? I figured if that’s the way they’d put it, I’d go with that. But again, having that option of how you want to experience the story, that highlights the fact that this is a story, it’s something you can arrange how you want and others could make different choices. It makes you think about the game as game, and about other people playing it.

Also, interesting that this COULD have been another co-op game, but I chose not to wait for Mr. O’ to be around, and picked ‘solo’ mode. Apparently you can also have one person play Jodie and the other play Aiden, which would be interesting. You talked about playing the two characters differently, and…yeah, that would be different.

As for your question, I think it’s not really clear, but it felt more as if Jodie was born with this, than that evil science had made her that way. I could be wrong, but the place where we were seemed like a normal hospital, with people just hanging out, going to appointments, trying to get stuff out of vending machines, and that seemed more in keeping with “we are earnestly trying to figure out what’s going on with this child” than “this is a potential monster we have created and we are tracking our experiment very closely.”

I mean, I could be completely wrong. There’s no reason scientists who created a monster would have to walk around with Sinister Labs Inc. name badges or whatever. But the general mood FELT to me more like genuine curiosity about a natural phenomenon. For what my impressions are worth.

Butch:

I’m not sure about what it accomplishes either. Because even though we compare what we did in the same game, what we don’t do, or don’t even know, is what most of the world did. 67% of everyone who played. Why do I want or need to know that? It’s interesting to talk about differences with your friend, but to know you’re in the majority or minority choice wise…what? So you can say “Ok, I’m normal/weird?” I don’t get it, either.

But I don’t like the summary page at all. Shit, I don’t even like when a game like DAI specifically highlights the whole “THIS IS A MOMENTOUS CHOICE” choices. Shit, some of the best moments we’ve played in games period are the moments where we were all “wait…shit…I did WHAT?” and it’s too late to go back (but never too late to cheat. When Bairdotr has the arrows). TW3 did a great job at that. The moment I found out the Bloody Baron killed himself, partially because of stuff I did without understanding the gravity of my choices, is still one of the best RPG game moments I can recall in the history of ever. And it would have been icky if it had said 82% of players also had the Baron die.

I thought one of the things Divinity did so well was not even letting you know that there WERE other ways to play it (without cheating). We were both genuinely surprised that we had different Bairdotr results. We didn’t even KNOW our choices mattered! And that was fucking awesome!

Well, we’ll play through. We shall see. It’s early.

I never make substitutes on menus, either. I like to see the vision of the artist.

But people are different even in that regard. People are all “I want what I want,” but they shouldn’t be. I don’t even like giving people the option. You don’t get to pick the ending of a book. You can’t change the order of a movie. You can’t demand the cast of a musical does the second act first. But games (and restaurants) have so many ways to play “how you want.” Even games that don’t have them baked in, you can usually find mods that change things. Often you can find mods that change things. Shit, a lot of gamers get mad when developers make it difficult to make such mods and change things.

But I’m with you. Play what they meant for you to play (or eat the dish how they conceived it). Then think about it. Or bitch on the internet.

I did see the co-op option. And I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

But after I wrote the previous message, I did realize that when I had that dude possessed, and when I came out of it, they didn’t show any idea that this was, or even could’ve been Jodi/Aiden. They were all “What’s wrong? You ok?” and the guy was just…”Yeah..yeah. Think so.” It wasn’t “Jodi..we talked about this. Don’t possess Kevin when we’re doing the experiments.” Which leads me to believe they don’t/didn’t know that she could do that.

Which isn’t necessarily conclusive. They could have done one thing without knowing about the “side effects,” as it were. But it is worth noting that even possessed Kevin didn’t know what happened to him.

Feminina:

“Jodie? Did you possess Kevin again?”

[Shrug.]

But you’re right, they didn’t really seem to have much sense of what MIGHT happen, or to be at all prepared, which suggests that they’re really just trying to figure out something they know nothing about.

Did you notice they were yelling “the door isn’t locked!” to Kathleen even though it was and they eventually had to break it down? So presumably Aiden locked the door at some point, but WE didn’t do that, or even know it had been done. Or else there’s another entity involved here that’s messing with all of us.

Hm.

Butch:

HA! I was just going to bring that up.

Yes, yes, I did notice. Which was also weird. Creepy. This game, at least early on, is doing a good job with creepy.

Oh! Another thing! On the possession deal!

In the opening scene, there, one thing that stood out was, in the aftermath of the SWAT team being killed, the local cop was just there, alive, and seemingly totally chill with everything. This was interesting to me, as he obviously didn’t know who Jodi was or what she could do. You’d figure that, after seeing some serious shit, he would NOT be chill.

Then I found out Aiden can possess people. See where I’m going?

Feminina:

I DO see where you’re going! And I like it!

Although my initial read on that was “dude is in shock,” your take also makes sense.

Because certainly if Aiden can possess people, that’s going to come up again. Or for the first time in my case. The question then becomes, did what’s-his-name Willem Dafoe ever figure out that Aiden could possess people, or not.

Of course, there are many details still to be learned before we get anywhere near understanding that opening sequence.

Butch:

Well, “dude is in shock” did cross my mind, but it didn’t really jibe with “dude is alive.” Whoever/whatever did all that certainly killed the living hell out of everything, and here’s local dude with nary a scratch. And whoever/whatever (which we certainly now think is Aiden, what with being able to move stuff), was unhappy enough at first to break a perfectly good coffee cup and make a mess of local guy’s office.

So him being alive there was interesting in and of itself.

A good question, whether Willem Dafoe knows! Indeed, a question as to whether the player did, or will, as well!

Cuz I’m not sure I “spoiled” this per se. Well, I’m utterly certain it’ll come up again (no way they just chuck that in there for nothing), but it was weird in that learning it when I did was completely avoidable. Indeed, if you just followed Jodi’s instructions, you DID avoid it. She says “Go into that room and tell me what the card is,” and, if you did that, went directly into said room, you totally missed Kevin there. He was in the other room, so you had to say “I’m going to go explore,” and, even then, you had to be right by him to even get the prompt.

Which is an unusual twist in what was obviously a tutorial level. Usually, tutorial levels make it so you HAVE to do every mechanic that you’re going to need/have to start the game. They hold your hand and say “Ok, learn this, and this, and this.” Tutorial levels do not generally throw something in that, I agree, is likely important as hell, and be all “Meh, maybe you’ll find this and learn it, but maybe not. Probably not. Whatever.” Especially when the game overtly did lead you to certain mechanics (you were GOING to know how to use Aiden and move things as Aiden and how to look/open doors. You had to. But you didn’t have to learn this).

Many details to learn, that there are. And more bloggage! We’re getting a lot here! We may like this game very much!

Feminina:

It’s true, it’s true, one can very reasonably ask “why isn’t that cop dead too?”

Obviously the answer isn’t necessarily possession, but the fact that possession is possible does add another option. I mean, it might just be that the cop wasn’t a member of the SWAT team sent to recapture Jodie, and therefore Aiden didn’t personally hate him. He was, as far as we could tell, trying to help, and while Aiden was upset enough to throw his coffee against the wall, that might also have been an attempt at rousing Jodie from her stupor, since she’d been just sitting and staring, but after that she said “they’re coming.”

We saw a whole bunch of other local people in the office, remember, as the SWAT guys were creeping through, but we don’t see them dead either. The dead guys are all in SWAT black.

So maybe the local cops are also all dead and they’re offscreen, or maybe Aiden only killed the SWAT team. Either one is plausible: we simply don’t have that information at this point, which is certainly intentional.

It is interesting that this particular mechanic is discoverable but not specifically laid out for your from the very beginning…

Butch:

This game is doing some interesting things in terms of gameplay fiddling with both how the player plays and what the player knows.

Both of us going poltergeist, both of us left wondering about stuff…

So here’s another wonder: if you, the player, didn’t know about the whole possession thing, do you think, as of the experiment at least, Jodi knows? We talk a lot about what the main character is supposed to know, and, if the main character doesn’t see it, how? But here, we don’t really know what parts of Aiden Jodi understands. She certainly seems to have some control over him. Does she see through his eyes? Cuz one mechanic that WASN’T there was the option to lie AS AIDEN in the experiment. It wasn’t “Hit X to say Star or circle to say wavy lines.” You, the player, saw, and then could lie or tell the truth AS JODI. So does that mean Jodi saw what we, the players saw through Aiden’s eyes? Cuz, if so, then she MUST know he can possess people. But, if not, then…what?

I wonder how that worked in co-op as well. Weird.

So far, this game is good.

Not In Turn-Based Combat Anymore

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers for Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

Well, we aren’t playing Divinity anymore. That’s for sure.

Variety. Spice of life.

I have a feeling this is one where we’re gonna have to be careful of spoiling for each other. Thank heaven for chapters!

I finished “The experiment” and stopped.

You do anything?

Feminina:

No.

[Hangs head in shame]

The children were tired and grumpy and I was tired and Mr. O’ wanted to finish watching ’13 Reasons Why.’ I got nothing.

Tonight for sure! Almost certainly.

Don’t finish without me.

Ooh, one non-spoilery thing we could gossip about: does the main character look more like Ellen Page than Ellie does in The Last of Us?

Butch:

Ha! You’re funny. Finish. Ha.

I pretty much did the tutorial.

I think. I still don’t feel particularly tutored.

Dude, the main character IS Ellen Page. So it looks just like her. They did all this with cameras and shit.

Well….

Even with cameras….see what you think. They might have gotten into that zone where they’re ALMOST there. Which is a weird zone.

Feminina:

Did you die while waiting politely for your turn to come around in combat? Because I just know I’m going to do that.

Butch:

Ha. No.

But I DID rewatch the whole opening because I missed some key thing in the tutorial about what button to push, and thought I had passed a save point and hadn’t. And it’s a rather long opening.

That’s one thing I’m gonna miss on Divinity: Saving whenever I wanted. Forgot that most games don’t do that. Beyond is most games.

Well, here’s something else we could talk about:

So Dontnod, the palindromic developer responsible for Life is Strange (at least the first one; they didn’t do the last one) and giant killer robots has a new game that came out earlier this month. It seems very different from both of those. From reviews, it seems that it should be on our “When we have time” pile, but maybe kinda close to the top of our “When we have time” pile.

Read some reviews. See what you think.

Feminina:

Oh, I know it really is her. And Willem Dafoe, right? I read about the motion capture and stuff. And she commented that they stole her face for TLOU, which is a legitimate complaint because…that was probably about as close as you could get to her WITHOUT using actual cameras. I suppose it’s JUST enough off that they could technically deny it, but it looked a LOT like her.

Which would probably be a bit weird, and also annoying if basically-your-image is being used without your permission or any compensation.

I’ll see what I think. I can imagine it might come a bit close to the uncanny valley, though.

Dontnod, eh? I am intrigued by their work. Life is Strange was good, and Remember Me had some interesting stuff going on even if I didn’t like the combat in general and was driven to screaming rage by the giant robots.

Good tip about the save points…that’s always something to get used to again.

Butch:

So far, it’s pretty good in terms of the faces. It’s also VERY much a shock to see the opening considering the graphics we’ve been seeing since Xmas.

It’s impressive.

And, I should say, so far, a good hook. I’m into it.

Feminina:

Ha, yeah, we have gotten used to some fairly low-key graphics by modern standards.

I mean, it worked for Divinity, the stylized cutscenes and the little figures running around and the static icons in conversation, it worked fine and we got used to it, but…yeah. That’s not at all the usual style in the games we play lately.

I will look forward to observing it myself tonight.

As for Dontnod, that’s the vampire game we talked about briefly in the past, right? Where the mechanic was going to involve you having to choose whether to feed on humans and gain power, or spare them and be weaker but a better person, or whatever.

I remember thinking it looked interesting at the time. Will read more.

Butch:

Yeah. This one’s called Vampyr, and it sounds rather up our alley. Good story, morals, themes. People are complaining about technical issues, but we’re going to play it later and patches happen.

Interesting sounding game.

And Beyond…We wanted something different after all that time.

We got it.

Feminina:

Different is a thing.

And so are vampires. Moral choices. Themes. Flu epidemics. London. Should be intriguing.

Butch:

Yeah, it’s certainly one to toss on the pile. Probably near the top.

After a brief dip, our list is getting long again.

But you’ll like this game. At least the part I played. We should have ample bloggage.

Feminina:

As long as it doesn’t have giant robots.

Butch:

I was talking about Beyond. Which, I can say, at least in the opening and tutorial, has no giant robots.

But it’s early.

Feminina:

I was talking about Beyond too! It’s sci fi, right…there could totally be giant robots. And I would hate them with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

Butch:

So far, so good. Promise.

Add “Thoughtful Parenting Reflections” to Our List of Features

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LadyBrain_64Puncherson_64

No spoilers

Feminina:

Sadly, I did not get around to starting Two Souls. Tell me if you did and it was worth loading.

Butch:

I did not start anything. First shopping, then making dinner for the parents to thank them for taking the boys the other day.

But hey! Now that we’re done with Divinity, things are settling back into our old, comfortable groove. You’re playing alone, and we start a day by saying “I got nothing.”

It’s like coming home.

Feminina:

The comfort of the familiar. We’ll start a new game soon and overanalyze the hell out of it. It’s how we do. It’s the keen insight our readers have come to expect.

And if we don’t like this one, there’s always the other option that we chose Divinity over… Pillars of Eternity? Or was that a TV show about architecture? Anyway, there was something we were looking at.

Plus there’s Life is Strange. We’ve got stuff to do.

Butch:

Of course it’s how we do.

Well, this one’s only, like, ten hours, which is nothing as we’re used to 109. Even if it’s not great, we can do it.

Pillars was what we were looking at, and I’m still looking, but it’s more turn based sword and sorcery and I vote we take a break from that.

Life is Strange I’d do.

Feminina:

Wait, 10 hours? Does that even count as a game? I’ve gotten used to it taking ten hours to loot a room thoroughly.

Yeah, the turn-based thing was fun, but I’m ready for a change of pace.

Butch:

HA! Those were your stats, weren’t they?

110 hours: 100 looting, 9 getting XP Butch didn’t get, 1 ignoring conversations.

Sums it up.

But yes, Beyond is short. Short and linear. We can do it.

Feminina:

Those stats do sound about right. And every bit of it time well spent!

We’ll play tonight. Almost certainly.

It’ll be all, “I kept waiting for my turn in combat, and then realizing it was in real-time and I was already dead.”

And, “I can’t believe how quickly looting that room went!”

Butch:

It has been a while since we had to kill Kevin in real time. Kevin’s gonna be moving like lightning.

Oh, and “we’ll play tonight” now means you and me. Not you and Mr. O.

Weird.

Feminina:

Yeah, ‘we’ will be different. But also, back to the same as it was! The comfort of familiarity!

We’ll get used to that, and to Kevin’s super-speed, in no time. Well, probably within a couple of days. There are always though new-game bumps where buttons do different things than you’re used to…this will really just be a bit more of that.

Butch:

True. It is always an adjustment, though.

And we’ll soon get back to you being WAY ahead of me. When we talked in real life and Mr. O was all “I’m gonna be giving up games for a while,” my first thought was “Whelp, she’ll be done, like, three weeks ahead of me.”

Normalcy.

Feminina:

Yeah, we’ll see how that goes. I mean, he’s got good logic for the decision with summer and getting other stuff done, and it’s good timing in that there’s nothing out that he’s DYING to play, so I wish him luck with it (if only because I get more time with the PS4). But we well know that games are hard to quit. We’ll see.

Butch:

But he seems to be able to do it, at least for a while.

At the very least, if he falls off the wagon, he’ll likely play during the day cuz summer. Either way, you’ll have the prime Femmy game time back to yourself.

Feminina:

Yes, there are definitely sound reasons for hope in terms of quantity of console time for me. It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

You’re better off than I am. I don’t think this is one I can play with Junior around, and he’s going to bed later and later…

Feminina:

Man, that’s a bad combination. A very bad combination.

Can you tell him to go play his own game downstairs while you play, or will he creep up to see what you’re doing because it’s automatically more interesting than whatever he was doing?

Butch:

There will be creep.

Shit, there’s creep when he’s in bed. Under the guise of “Had to use the bathroom” and stuff. Like, the bathroom is BEFORE you get to the living room. You walked right past it.

Your logic is flawed.

Feminina:

Yeah…O’Jr. will creep downstairs to use the bathroom, even though there’s one upstairs. Because…you know…the water is much fresher there?

Sigh. Unfortunate situation, then.

Butch:

Very.

I’ll have to work on that.

Feminina:

You will.

Because we’ve witnessed the horror that comes when we don’t play for long periods of time.

Butch:

One does what one must.

But he’s in a tricky phase of life: He’s old enough that he wants to stay up and shit, but still young enough that he’s clingy and doesn’t want to just chill in his room and avoid his parents.

This is difficult.

Feminina:

Yeah, give him a couple of years and he’ll be saying “watch YOU play games? Ugh!”

So you kind of want to cherish the time they actually want to hang out, except that it totally cramps your style. Sigh.

Butch:

I do cherish it! Some of it.

Feminina:

Yes, some of it is very nice. Right up until bedtime.

Butch:

Indeed.

And then less so.

Feminina:

Much less so.

But surely you can at least load it up and get through the opening credits! Play!

I will strive mightily to do the same.

Of course, just watch, there will be a lot of nudity and extreme violence in the title sequence that he’ll be scarred by.

My bad.

Butch:

On it!

At Long Last, the Long Ending Discussion

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Serious spoilers for the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Dare I ask?

Feminina:

Stayed up too late, but yeah.

That was…interesting. Not a bad fight, but time-consuming. It took us a couple of Astarte deaths to get the whole ‘protect before attacking’ thing down, but we did it on three. It was a little tough to shift from “we only lose if both PCs die” to “this NPC is key!”

And that was…interesting…when you lose and Zixzax is trying unsuccessfully to reload the universe…

And then at the end, when it’s all a story he’s telling the little imps! Possibly a true story, or possibly just something he made up, we don’t even know.

And we ran into Madora and Jahan and Wolgraff (apparently our dubbing him a Source Hunter was official) at the Source Hunter Academy, but I didn’t see Bairdotr. Did you see Bairdotr? We might have missed her, because we were kind of just hurrying through on a “let’s wrap this up it’s bedtime” tour. I suppose I’ll imagine she went back to the woods…maybe to roam the now-uncursed Phantom Forest and fight evil.

Hm.

Butch:

Yeah, the first time that happened with her I was rather surprised. And pissed. At least it happened quickly. Remember when I said that Icara/Leandra kept going after Astarte? Yeah.

Wait, that’s how you read that? Cuz that wasn’t a log in, that was a DOS prompt. Whoever was reloading was trying to open a FILE called Zixzax. I read that as someone from our universe trying to reboot the game/game world/game characters.

I still don’t know what to think of that, and, as I kept urging you to let Astarte die, you know I wanted your thoughts. It certainly said “This is all fake, this is something that is being played/experienced by someone in the real world, but whether that was supposed to be us, or Scarlett, or was just a cheeky joke I don’t know. I also have no idea why they chose to make it a “game” from, like, 1988, with a pixelated title screen and a DOS prompt. It didn’t take you back to the main menu of a PS4 game, or tour Steam page or anything. It was a game IN THE PAST. A game that the actual, REAL game that we just played couldn’t possibly be, as no computer from that time could run this game.

Which means it COULD be a game that someone played long ago. A world that they always had in their head, that they enjoyed, something that formed a “backbone of their game experience” (which you said about fallout), and, thus, something that would be at the forefront of their heads if they were picking/developing a delusional world to live in.

But I’m still pondering.

As for the fact that it turns out to be a story Zixzax is telling, that was all kinds of weird. I know even less what to make of that.

I did not see Bairdotr, but I figured that was because she was dead. Like, in my game. She died in the final battle, and I was GOING to revive her, I really was, but the dialog, and poof, and then I picked the “Let’s just put our feet up” (let’s discuss that, too) option which apparently did not include “But first let’s pop back and bring Bairdotr back from the dead.”

But on the Source Hunter stuff….you left off the thing that stood out in my mind the most: What the leader of the Source Hunters says to you. Remember? He says “Where have you been? Report on the murder!” and you can say “We were fighting the void dragon and saving the world,” and he says “NOT THIS AGAIN! There’s ALWAYS ONE OR TWO EVERY YEAR that come up with that nonsense.” He a) totally thinks your either crazy or lazy, and b) tells you you’re not the only one that has been crazy IN THAT VERY WAY.

Which is what totally convinced me I was totally right all along.

Because here, in the endgame, we have a) dude telling us we’re nuts, b) all the people who “lived” and stayed in Rivellon right there with us (and no one who didn’t “live” and stay in Rivellon) followed by c) our happy, HAPPY acceptance of having a sit on a beach IN RIVELLON content for all of forevers, accepting our nutsiness, and not arguing it in the least with the ONE PERSON IN THE GAME who actually said “You’re crazy.”

Right. All. Along.

It also sets up mad sequels, doesn’t it?

So what did your Zixzax say became of the two of you? You end up all happy and passionate and stuff?

Feminina:

Hm. Our Bairdotr was alive at the end. Delios died once, but pretty much throughout the whole thing, WE weren’t the ones in peril, it was everything going after Astarte that caused trouble. (Finally, in our successful fight, we basically just summoned things and stuck them around her to draw attacks until we’d killed all the void creatures. The Undead Decapitator did stellar work in this area: I recommend him for a promotion to Undead Dismemberer.)

So maybe you did manage to resurrect her offscreen, but she just didn’t go to the Source Academy.

And the computer, loading the file, etc.–yeah, I guess I kind of assumed (with no actual evidence) that Zixzax was the one trying to load the file with his name…like, he was trying to load his own reality, sort of. And then trying to restart the computer, and “There is no computer. There is only the Void.” It was odd. Like the gazebo credits many ages ago: a deliberate reference to the fact that you’re playing a game, only…”you” can’t be the one playing it, because the “game” as shown is not something you’ve been playing (as you said, it’s OOOOOOOOLD and no way could what we’ve been playing run on the system that whoever is playing that game is using). I think I made the leap to thinking it was Zixzax because why is the file called ‘Zixzax’ and not, you know, “Guardians” or something, unless Zixzax is the most important thing about it? And why is he the most important thing about it unless it’s HIS file?

Circumstantial, I know. But when it turns out Zixzax was telling the story at the very end, that kind of supports the idea that the whole thing is in some way his creation. Or maybe the story itself is not his creation (it could be ‘real’ or ‘true’ within its own context), but the recording of it is his to care for? I mean, he is the keeper of the observatory at the end of time, watching all this unfold was his project, so maybe the file was named for him because he made it through observing/recording the story. And then when we lost, the file vanished, the computer vanished, everything is FAIL FAIL FAIL in a format that is meant to evoke the ancient days of computer games: everything reverts to its primitive form and then blinks out.

I dunno. These outside narrator characters are always a little confusing. Like Varric, the dwarven bard in DA2. He tells us the story of the game we’re playing, but we are also the main character in that game, so how we understand our own position in the narrative becomes complicated.

Oh, but yes, in Zixzax’s tale we ended up in a steamy love story for the ages, with equal parts passion and broken glass, or whatever. So a win for romance, in the end.

I thought it was interesting that Astarte promised us we would be the only humans who would be allowed to come and go from the garden, but Zixzax said nothing about this.

And as you say, our commander or whatever at the Academy thought we were crazy, and there was no evident change in the way they were doing anything, even though one might think that if corrupt Source was the problem, and Source is now pure again, maybe Source Hunters don’t even need to exist anymore in the same way, since hunting down the twisted wreckage of (corrupt) Source won’t be an issue.

And yeah, it takes time for word to filter out and stuff, but we didn’t even make any attempt to say “hey, maybe we don’t have to hunt down and kill users of Source anymore!” or anything.

We picked “there are still plenty of other evils out there, let’s go get ’em!” when we left the Academy so maybe we’ll try to…not murder people for using Source on a case-by-case basis?

But there was very much an air of “we saved the world! — and no one noticed, so everything can go on exactly as before.”

Which is quite common in fantastic adventure stories (“look at all these people going about their lives, with no idea what danger they were in”), but I feel like there was a bit of conscious poking at that trope here, with the suggestion first that maybe we invented the whole thing (there’s the option, talking to Zandalor at the Academy, to say that it feels as if the whole fight wasn’t real, so we could even express our own doubts about it), and then that maybe “we” were just characters created by someone else who invented the whole thing.

There are layers of questions there. Interesting stuff.

Butch:

Really? My Wolgraff managed to croak multiple times. He’s good at that. But he was standing at the end!

Huh. Odd. I figured it had to be that, as she was the only one “dead” at the end of things. I wonder what’s up with that. Odd.

On the rebooting…I’ve been wondering why Zixzax IS so important all along. Why reboot Zixzax? Why was he the one telling the story at the end? Now that we’re done, we know there were lots of folks more important: The weaver, Arhu (who was the first dude we met who pointed us towards the main story), Icara, etc. Everyone here had a pretty good metaphor attached….except Zixzax, and he was the one being rebooted, telling the story (maybe). Still don’t get that.

Varric, at least, made some more sense in context. There were even times he was caught embellishing by Cassandra and he had to retell things. You knew from the start that the whole thing was a framed narrative. We saw Varric telling the story lots of times. Here? Less so. The game didn’t, say, start with Zixzax all “Come near, ye young imps while I spin a yarn…” It just ended with that randomly tacked on.

If we do go with “recording this was “his project,” and we know he has other stories of other people (he says so at the end), then what IS the metaphor there?

Bugs me.

Huzzah for passion! Cuz if you were playing with your actual, real life husband and it ended all “They ended up hating each other cuz he didn’t have the sense to have more than one weapon and he made her buy a house,” that would’ve been problematic.

As for the world being changed–except the academy wasn’t closed, now was it? And source ISN’T pure again if everything we did there was fake. After all, if you follow his logic, we weren’t the first people who did this quest. “There’s one or two every year.” And yet, here we are. Source is still source. World still turns.

Really? What happened after you left the academy? Did you keep playing? Cuz I picked “yes. Let’s go to a beach. Put our feet up. Rest. We’ve earned it.” And that was credits, title page. Boom.

Told you there was a whole mess of vague, though.

And, as confusing as it is, and as imperfect the metaphors, I’m STILL glad that we didn’t get some clear, pat “And here’s what was happening and here’s what happened” ending. It means that I’ll continue to think about it.

Because I do think this is a game I’ll find myself thinking about down the road, as one does sometimes. Some games you play, you have fun, and in a year someone on a blog mentions it and you’re all “Oh yeah…that..I vaguely remember that.” And some games you remember. This will be the latter, I think.

Feminina:

We picked “let’s keep fighting,” and went out the door and it was the Zixzax ending and then boom credits, and then the game’s home screen with ‘Continue’ and ‘New game’ and stuff. It was very late, so we didn’t test it, but I assumed ‘continue’ would have let us reload Rivellon and go back to Cyseal to sell our loot, or whatever.

Maybe it would have let us return to the Garden! I don’t know. We didn’t try.

Or…the internet says actually there’s no post-ending gameplay, and that if you hit ‘continue’ you just go back to the last save. So…you could fight the final battle over again!

No thanks, we’re good.

People on the internet complained about the lack of post-ending play, but actually, I’m totally fine with it right now. The end is the end. We’re ready to move on.

And as for that end…it does feel a bit tacked on. Like an “it turns out it was all a dream!” ending out of the blue. Although not quite, since there’s the possibility his story is true, or at least true-ish in its essentials, where “it was all a dream” pretty much says that none of it was real. (Hello, ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie.)

And, you know, maybe it WAS just tacked on. Maybe someone just really liked Zixzax, and always wanted him to have a bigger role, and then when they were trying to work out how to do the “then what happened?” bit that tells what the characters did later, they said “let’s literally have someone asking what happened next, and Zixzax can be telling the story!” and everyone else said “fine, sounds good, whatever, we have deadlines.”

We shall never know. Unless we somehow meet some Larian people and make them reveal all their secrets. Or I guess if they’ve given interviews on the topic in the past that might be available somewhere. But hell with that, rampant speculation is much easier.

Anyway, the thing is, even if it’s tacked on, I don’t hate it. Sometimes (often) these types of endings feel like a total cheat, and you end up annoyed that you invested all this attention in something only to be told it was fake, but this one, even though it’s puzzling, kind of fits. Doesn’t it?

It’s sort of saying, “you’ve never completely understood what’s going on here, and you still don’t, but we had fun with the story, right?”

Zixzax even says something to the young imps like “what other ending would you want?”

And you’re right, I don’t know if there’s one I would rather have seen.

Butch:

Huh. So one last little thing. That didn’t matter. Interesting.

Agreed: we’re very good. Very, very good.

Well, I generally feel that way about post-ending play. Games should end. Stories should end. I don’t know why our fellow gamers feel differently.

I didn’t get that overt “It was all a dream” vibe. Vague. An “it was all a dream” would have SUCKED and I would have been filled with rage all week.

Speculation is easier, and more fun! Cuz then we can be content in our conviction that we are totally right about everything.

As for preferring some other ending…me neither. I thought it was perfectly vague.

And…I wonder why. We’re often, if not usually, frustrated as hell with vague endings. Dragon Age? We throw things at the screen. This, we’re both oddly content, despite the fact, maybe BECAUSE of the fact that I certainly get the feeling that the story of Scarlett and Roderick is very much over. This is it. We’ll never tie up any loose ends here, sequel or no. Stories aren’t supposed to have loose ends, and yet, I agree with you, loose ends FIT here. There isn’t another ending we’d rather see.

Which is usually not the case when we don’t get ample answers.

Feminina:

Dude, I don’t even remember Dragon Age’s vague ending. I thought DA ended OK…I think…I don’t remember being filled with rage about it. I guess time soothes many wounds.

And I agree, it’s much easier to remain convinced that our wild theories are brilliant and correct when we don’t have writers coming in all “we actually just picked that twist out of a random plot generator, it means nothing, and honestly, we all hated it and thought it was stupid.”

Butch:

This is one of the many reasons ignorance is bliss.

And I guess I meant DAI. With the calling? And Solas? And…whatever?

Whatever.

Feminina:

Oh yeah…that postscript was quite vague. And odd.

Ah, Solas. What a jerk. We shall always remember his jerkhood!

Butch:

So what’s our final take on Divinity?

I’m eager to play a sequel. Just not right now.

In all, it was a pretty fantastic first game. A little clunky in terms of inventory, some of the quests clunked, and the pacing was a bit odd, but, all in all, look at the themes, the ending was good, the combat was crisp. Glad I played it, looking forward to the next one.

Buuuuut I’m also looking forward to doing something else for a while. That game was large. Preferably something with romance and dress balls and nudity.

But it’ll be Beyond. Which might have those things!

Feminina:

We have to clear some space on the hard drive before I can even download Beyond. May or may not get to that tonight.

But you get started. Tell me if it’s terrible and I don’t need to bother clearing space.

Final verdict on Divinity? Hm.

Very interesting, a lot of fun. Co-op play was both a positive in terms of play (it was fun to play together, even if it made us scatterbrained and even-more-than-usually violent in the game) and a negative in terms of scheduling (harder to find time). Definitely worth playing.

Butch:

Well, clearing should be fine. Lots of shit you’ll never play again. And it’s a pretty quick download.

At least do that tonight.

Feminina:

Ever onward!

Oops, Forgot My Sword

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for plot developments and combat very, very near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Done? You could be done. You were close. Are you done?

Feminina:

We are not. We were close! Yes we were! And we got even closer! But we did not finish the fight with the Void Dragon.

We went through the Portal to Eden, found the First Garden where Source was created and from whence we cast ourselves out for the sin of failing our companion (hardcore references to religious themes there, and interesting that we weren’t evicted for disobeying God, but banished OURSELVES for betraying a friend).

Fought those Death Knights, and handily dispatched them to the Void with the awesome, awesome wand we picked up. Did you say you’d cheated yourself out of XP with that? How do you figure? We got 5200 each for dispatching them: would we have gotten more by defeating them in hand-to-hand combat? Interesting…

Then we talked to that merchant who was conveniently there to buy our last-minute loot, and went down to the Godbox, and saw Astarte, and the Void Dragon showed up, and we realized that it’s immune to tenebrium and Delios had sold all his non-tenebrium weapons, plus it was already after 9:30, so we decided to start again next time, and buy another weapon from the merchant. Clever of the game to have us spend half our time looking for and learning to use tenebrium, only to have it turn out to be useless at the very end.

Anyway, speaking of big meaningful choices that we were speaking of yesterday? The decision we were going to get? Yeah. We never got that choice. It simply did not come up.

And here’s why: Icara is dead.

I believe she died in the final moments of that battle–I hardly noticed it because there was a lot going on and we were all focused on “look how low Leandra is, we’ve got this!!!”, and I really didn’t think anything of it because Zandalor had already died and he was all “I hate this part…well, see you in a bit” or something, so I kind of unconsciously assumed that Icara would be equally casual about death. I mean, WE certainly always have been!

But then we went poking around the battlefield looking for her, and…there was her body. Which we were unable to resurrect, although we tried. She’s just dead, man. Which means there was no soul forge to relink or not relink, and Leandra is also just dead.

So. Yeah.

I don’t know if that’s based on something we did (not high enough in the spiritual trait or something) or if it’s just that we should have protected Icara better–but who knew she needed to be protected!?

We thought about refighting that scene to see if she might live, but it would be annoying if we did it all over (that was a long-ass fight) and she still died because we haven’t been forgiven by Alessa or something, and anyway she didn’t have any of our good arrows, so we decided to just take it the way it rolled. It does kind of fit with our larger narrative, after all.

I’ll probably check the internet to see if we could/should have saved her, but not right now. We’ll play it out the way we got it and see what happens. If it turns out we can’t defeat the Void Dragon without her, I guess we can reload then!

But anyway, we can talk about that, I guess. What did YOUR Icara do, assuming she lived?

Butch:

So close!

Yeah, interesting, isn’t it? The Eden references.

But, you could make an argument that Eve did the same thing. After all, she wasn’t surprised that she was cast out. She knew she’d be cast out if she ate the apple, and CHOSE to eat the apple. Temptation aside, Eve thought, in that moment, “I’m choosing knowledge. I’m choosing that over Eden.” Which is, in a way, casting yourself out for not listening to a “friend.”

Interesting.

But also interesting in the sense that we cast ourselves out, then spend the WHOLE DAMN GAME trying to get back.

Death knights: Yes. 5200 each. Here’s how I cheated myself.

So they kinda respawned, right? Cuz the first time I killed a few, all was well, and then, like, four more showed up. So I killed a few more and, like, four more showed up. And yeah, 5200 XP each, but I died.

So I pondered, and noticed that I had the upper hand initiative wise. So I gave the wand to Scarlett, who nuked two of them, then passed the wand to whoever was next (which takes no AP), that person nuked two more, passed the wand, etc. They all died before they did a thing….and died before they respawned.

Thus costing me the XP of ALL THE OTHERS THAT RESPAWNED fuck how this game does XP.

Yeah, I kinda liked that about tenebrium. But the dragon is vulnerable to a lot of other things.

Anyway….before you DO go use your weapons to kill it….let Andrastae die. Just for bloggage. Won’t add that much time to your session. Did you let Andrastae die? Cuz….well….bloggage. Happens.

No shit, Icara can die? Wow. But, hmm. I guess she didn’t die in my game. I don’t recall having to resurrect her. Weird. I, too, assumed that as Zandilor seemed unkillable then she was too. Weird.

I didn’t know she needed protecting. I kinda let her be. Until…well…..

Here’s what happened. I had the choice of either using the forge repair spell or not. I was warned that, if I used it, Leandra wouldn’t really go away, but that she’d sorta share a body with Icara. They’d be more powerful, but Leandra would still be in there, somewhere. Icara was all “I can control her! I can save her!” and I figured, “Well, your sister, you body, all that, sure.” So I forged them, and cutscene. Leandra was NOT happy about this. Nice cutscene though.

So they became this weird floating womanthing with this deep voice. And yes, powerful. Very handy with the healing.

And I get to the void dragon and, for the first three or four rounds Icara is kicking MAJOR ass! But the Leandra took over her body….and Leandra was kicking major ass. And, instead of going after ME, she kept going after Andrastae (who can die, and you should let her once, for bloggage). And then she’d turn back into Icara for a few turns, then back. Which added a dimension to the fight.

But eventually a dimension where Andrastae was too low on health, and there wasn’t really anything I could think to do but to kill Icara/Leandra myself. And she CAN die in that fight cuz she sure as hell stayed dead when I killed her.

And then killed the void dragon, so you can very much kill the void dragon when Icara/Leandra is dead cuz I did.

Now, I can see that I didn’t HAVE to do that. The void dragon was/is also quite killable before/without killing Icara/Leandra, and I wonder what would have happened if things had gone that way. But I didn’t see a way to get there, so….

Which…again…an instance of doing what I THOUGHT was the right thing, on two levels, and having it backfire spectacularly.

In character: I will give the sisters what they want! Right thing! But if I hadn’t done that, and Icara had stayed just Icara, she likely wouldn’t have turned on me and I wouldn’t have killed her and she might have been alive.

As a player: Thinking “The game gave me this spell. I worked hard to get this spell. When you work hard for something the game gives you, when that quest to get the thing the game gives you is SO important that it’s in your quest list the WHOLE DAMN GAME, you SHOULD use it. Right?” So I did what’s “right” by the unwritten rules of RPGs. Thus putting her in a position where I pretty much had to kill her.

So once again: the best intentions lead to terrible, terrible things. And, indeed, BECAUSE I did what I thought was right, I pretty much HAD to be a bigger monster than you were. Your Icara just died. I killed my Icara myself.

Because I did the right thing, I had to sin to win. Literally. Because….

Well, let Andrastae die. You’ll see.

Feminina:

Dude. It’s Astarte. Greek name for an ancient Middle Eastern goddess. Old religious reverberations, etc. Andraste is the savior figure in Thedas, from Dragon Age. Different kind of religious reverberations.

And OK, well, that’s some quite interesting character development and battle mechanics that we’re missing out on by having Icara dead, but I guess we won’t worry too much about it. Hm. But yeah, it really seems like since the soul forge is a Big Deal thing that you can do in the game, then you should probably do it–but since it’s a choice, obviously there could also be a reason not to do it. Interesting.

Also interesting, Zandalor expressed not the slightest hint of sadness, or even awareness, at Icara’s death, or Leandra’s despite the fact that not 20 minutes ago he was saying earnestly “I love you both still!”

Not, you know, enough to notice when you both die, but there are feelings there somewhere. I’m just very distracted at the moment by this whole Void Dragon issue. (To be fair to him, the imminent obliteration of the universe IS a distracting issue. I should probably be saluting him for managing to stay focused on the main goal, instead of chiding him for being cavalier about the deaths of the women he loves. As if the feelings of one man matter at this moment!)

As for being cheated out of XP, I see what you mean. If it helps, we did that too, although not by cleverly passing the wand around (that is a good trick!), just by me sending a couple of them away with the wand on every turn, other people wiping out their invulnerability and whacking at them, and it all wrapping up JUST before they could respawn. We saw the pillars of light and thought “they must be coming back! Quick, eliminate this last one!” and we did. Because ours had…two or three turns before they started to come back, they didn’t respawn immediately. And in that two or three turns, we took care of business, as we do.

So I guess we also cheated ourselves out of XP, but by being effective at combat, while you did it by being smart. And thus we cling to our particular angles on the game.

Interesting thought, that Eve also in a way ‘cast herself out of Eden’ by eating the fruit knowing what would happen, and thus betraying her ‘friend’ God. I don’t know that most people would read the Eden story that way–I never got the sense that she knew she was going to be banished from Eden. She chose knowledge over obedience, yes, but did she know she was choosing the world over Eden? How could she have?

Obviously, open to interpretation, though, and that’s an interesting one.

I’m not sure I agree, though, that after intentionally banishing themselves, the Guardians have spent the entire game trying to get back to the Garden. I mean, we didn’t even know until a few days ago, game-time, that there was such a place to get back to.

I think our goal has been more to save reality (our version of reality, of course, since we may well be insane) than to return to any specific part of it. I mean, I guess we could assume that this was our unconscious desire all along, but it’s a weirdly oblique and late-breaking thing to have be ‘the main goal’. I guess I think our Big Goal (conscious or not) has been trying to right a terrible wrong…so more about atonement, than about us getting back to a place we once were. I’ve not had the sense that the characters really cared about the First Garden, or that they either expected or particularly desired to stay there forever once their work was done (though that does seem an obvious possibility).

Again, open to interpretation.

Butch:

Astarte. Right…right…right. My bad. Sorry. Been a while since I finished.

BOOM!

And what’s interesting about the Icara/Leandra decision is that I really didn’t give it any thought. Of COURSE you do it!

This, of course, despite the game, AGAIN, pretty much telling you not to in very explicit terms. Sorta like the “Piece of tale,” and all that. Zandilor just flat out says “She can’t control it. It’s a bad idea.” But I was still “But, QUEST!” and did it anyway cuz of course. And when she turned and killed Arastae I wasn’t even surprised. And I reloaded after…that…and was just all “Yup. Figured.” I did the thing the game told me not to do, wasn’t at all surprised when it turned out badly, yet STILL didn’t even think about doing it. Cuz games.

And, really, religion when you come right down to it. If you look at certain ones. Do it. Don’t think. Do. Cuz that’s the “rules,” right?

Fair enough. We both cheated ourselves of death knights in different ways. Take it from me: There would have been more.

On that, that also had an aspect of the tenebrium thing. We spent a great deal of the game finding/learning tenebrium only to have it not matter in the end (though, to be fair, the things it summons ARE very much adverse to tenebrium, so it’s not TOTALLY useless. It actually fucks those things up pretty good). But we also spent a whole lot of time being all freaked out about Death Knights (She has an army! They are invulnerable! Do this WHOLE BIG FUCKING QUEST so you can kill them!) only to have, at the end, it come down to “Oh, here’s a wand. It’ll wipe ’em right out.” In fact, because I was so sneaky and stuff, I don’t think I actually USED the whole death knight vulnerability skill once. Maybe once, but that was only because I picked a fight for the XP. I think you could have finished the whole game without using that particular skill, either. AGAIN, something you did all this questing for that could have been totally irrelevant.

Remember this. Finish tonight, and remember this.

As for Eve, well, “world,” no. But I’m pretty sure she’d know she’d lose Eden, and was thus choosing something “else” over Eden.

But ain’t it all open to interpretation? It’s how we do.

And all good stuff we’ll talk about Monday when we finish.

Feminina:

Good point about the big important Death Knight invulnerability spell turning out to not be that important. We did use it, because we fought the death knights in the Phantom Forest, because we just like picking fights and we could.

On a more comforting note, though, what do you really need XP for at the near-end of the game anyway? We actually did level up in the middle of that fight, but I don’t think it’s going to make a significant difference to the outcome of the final battle.

“Ooh, at last that final attribute point! Now I’m strong enough to wield the only weapon that can slay the beast!”

Nah. There are other weapons that can slay the beast. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get anything so amazing at level 21 that it’s going to make any real difference. So even if you cheated yourself out of XP, they were just boring XP you didn’t care about.

As for Eve, I mean, I’m no theologian (thank god, hahahahaha), but as I recall the story, God said “don’t eat the fruit of THAT ONE tree or you’ll die,” and the serpent said “you won’t die, you’ll get knowledge and be like God!”

So based purely on this, it’s highly debatable what Eve ‘knew.’ I mean, we could argue that she believed God and therefore knew she would die (lose Eden) but did it anyway.

Or we could argue that she believed the serpent, figured God was lying, and (mistakenly of course) thought she WOULDN’T die/lose Eden but would gain knowledge. I think this is the more common interpretation, although that’s just my impression.

I do kind of like the idea that she knew God was telling the truth and that she was going to die, but chose to know anyway. It gives her an interesting level of agency: in the traditional telling, she was ‘fooled’ by the serpent, so basically she was simply misguided and probably stupid (though, kindly, many tellers stress the serpent’s great charm and wiles, as if to say that it’s understandable she was tricked, could have happened to anyone, it’s not ONLY that she was weak and silly and vain like all women everywhere forever).

If we figure that instead she was thinking “I know God is totally going to kill me for this and that sucks, but I have to know the truth!” then it’s at least a choice. Believing a big liar and getting tricked out of paradise is less cool.

Still obviously a strong possibility, given what we know about how humans can believe big liars and get tricked out of stuff.

It all depends on the way you want to tell the story.

Butch:

Yeah, you could use it, but if you didn’t pick fights, the death knight spell was pretty pointless. And SUCH a big quest!

But really? Fucking REALLY? I cheated myself out of XP and you leveled? Seriously? I thought the game was insulting me before, but it, once again, managed to hit me with a double whammy.

For the manyeth time, there’s lots of stuff that can damage the dragon, and the weapons you have work fine on the summons. I didn’t buy a new weapon from that guy and managed fine.

You’re fine.

After all that looting, you have, like, two weapons? I had a damn arsenal.

Hmm. Fair about Eve. What can I say, I’m no theologian either.

What’s left unclear in the game is whether leaving Eden (in the game) had the same effect on Scarlett as it did on Eve. Well, the traditional, classical interpretation. Certainly, the art of several centuries ago (Mr. O would know what period) always depicted Adam and Eve wailing and looking generally unhappy when they were cast out of Eden. The game is rather silent on whether Scarlett/guardians/whatever had the same wailing and gnashing of teeth as the classical depictions of Eve. Maybe they did. Maybe less so.

Even “Cast out because of guilt” isn’t the same as “Punished.” They “cast themselves out” could just mean “left.” Or “fled.” I’ve been saying for months (And I stand by this) that Scarlett a) is nuts and b) wants to STAY nuts. In general, people who are really happy with their real world life do not feel this way. If there was something in the real world that made Scarlett very unhappy, or guilty or whatever, she could have “cast herself out” to get away from it. To hide. To avoid the thing that was causing her unhappiness.

It’s only the traditional Biblical interpretation that “cast out” is “punished,” and this game plays with traditional interpretations all the time.

It’s in how you tell the story, or in how this game twists things. In the Biblical telling, “die” is bad. But if “die” is “stay in Rivellon,” then in game terms “die” is good. Scarlett wasn’t tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, not a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.

And…well….finish the game. Cuz…finish the game.

Additionally, in the Bible, Eve chooses/gets tricked into knowledge. Here, leaving “Eden,” choosing Rivellon, is to reject knowledge, to convince yourself that the world of houses and cars and new decks and lawnmowers ISN’T REAL when it very much is (my aches and pains from mowing yesterday attest to that). If Scarlett IS nuts (and she so is), then she IS misguided, literally.

That’s the very way this game would twist something.

Feminina:

Oh, I have an arsenal! An arsenal of weapons I or Wolgraff might use. Mr. O’ did not maintain a backup arsenal of weapons he might use, and that’s on him.

A small way that cooperative play and having each of us identify with one character influences things. If it were just me, I would obviously have a small arsenal for each character. If it were just him, apparently every character would have one weapon and that’s it.

Also, wait…

“In the Biblical telling, “die” is bad. But if “die” is “stay in Rivellon,” then in game terms “die” is good. Scarlett wasn’t tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, not a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.”

When did your theory say that dying meant staying in Rivellon? I thought dying meant being cured and LEAVING Rivellon. That was supposed to be why we fight so hard to avoid dying, and why it’s significant when our companions don’t die/leave us…right?

You’re confusing me, man.

Butch:

Man, that’s SO on him. Like, dude, we’ve been switching weapons the whole damn game. First thing you do: check where it’s vulnerable and switch. Bad tactics.

Sorry, Sorry. I should say “In the Biblical telling, DIE is ‘leave paradise/the world you know/are supposed to stay in, and is, thus, bad’ But in this case, leaving Eden/paradise/the world you know/are supposed to say in/the real world means go to Rivellon, stinky, fishy, rainy Rivellon, which is where Scarlett WANTS to be and, indeed, is fighting to both stay in herself and keep her companions in. This place you’re not supposed to be, this delusion, this NOT paradise is good. Thus, Scarlett was not tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.”

Feminina:

Ah, I see…sort of. I mean, that assumes that the in-game Eden represents the real world (as in, our world of cars and lawnmowers), rather than the fundamental, pure heart and soul of the delusion.

We tore our threads out of the tapestry that is the foundation of the fantasy, right? We’ve spent this game figuring out who we are in the context of that background: who are we HERE IN THIS REALITY. Hints of our Earth-reality have been purely in passing–there’s no sense that the closer we get to the truth of who we are, the closer we get to lawnmowers and annoying office meetings.

I don’t think the tapestry represents a reality of garbage trucks and jumbo jets, I think it represents the origin myth of the delusion (assuming there’s a delusion).

And I agree that we could read the story as being about a later-regretted attempt to pull ourselves out of a delusion (erasing ourselves from the tapestry that tells the story of that fantasy), but if so, we initially cast ourselves out of one delusion (Eden, where it all started, the First Creation…i.e., the first delusion?) and into another (Rivellon).

The Void Dragon, perhaps, could represent subways-and-offices reality, since it comes to destroy everything, Eden and Rivellon alike, but the minor hitch there is the explicit references to other planes/realities and the note that the Void will destroy all of them too.

I dunno…I mean, yeah, Eden is innocence and I guess the PC could be seen as having been innocent back in Japanese toy swords reality and therefore that reality is now glorified in retrospect as the First Creation even though it was presumably terrible for the PC. That’s the twist and all.

Hm. It’s hard for me to totally buy it, though.

But I guess not every dramatic plot twist is completely believable. And if we’re going with insanity, then it doesn’t even have to make sense!

Butch:

AAAA! Ok, finish the game.

First…well, just finish the game. And let Arastae die once. Then finish the game. ALL of the game. WE’LL TALK LATER!!!!!!!

Because then this will all be less confusing. Or more confusing. But certainly it will have more context.

And we can move on to what I hope is a much simpler game.

Man, I miss sorceresses.

Feminina:

I certainly look forward to a great deal more confusion.

And booze.

Butch:

It’s not confusing.

Vague. And a little confusing.

Yeah. Booze and sorceresses. Soon.

Feminina:

Dude, I AM a sorceress. I’m still plenty confused.

Or maybe I’m a witch, I have a lot of levels in witchcraft to get that resurrection spell (totally worth it). Or an aerothurge…OK, I’m obviously still plenty confused.

Butch:

Are you scantily clad? No?

Then it doesn’t count.

You’re even wearing the silly underwear.

Really doesn’t count.

Feminina:

I wear a long flowing robe, thank you. Comfortable, practical, and the classic style for wizards.

So maybe I’m actually a wizard.

Also confused.

Butch:

I’m not into wizards, dude. Sorry.

Finish the game. All will become clear(er). Kinda.

And we can move on.

Feminina:

Zandalor is going to be so disappointed. He was passing me notes in class the other day about how cutely insane you were and how he hoped you weren’t seeing any other magic users.

Another broken heart.

Butch:

Hey man, me and Roderick are all…..

Finish the game. I’ll be very amused if you and Delios aren’t all….finish the game.

Hey….wait….I wound up with a brooding dude in heavy armor?

Didn’t we start this game wondering if WE were the same person?

Feminina:

FULL CIRCLE.

Butch:

Considering the length of this particular circle, I am impressed.

You know what we’ve earned? Pizza and booze.

Now finish the game.

Feminina:

Enh…I really feel we’ve gotten about as much enjoyment from it as we’re going to. Is it actually necessary to finish the last fight? Meh.

I guess we’ll do it if we get around to it, but I’m kind of in the mood to move on to Beyond: Two Souls.

Butch:

Stop that.

Finish this weekend, we’ll hit next week refreshed and ready to chew over the ending and then move on to a new and very different game.

Feminina:

Remember a month ago when we thought we were near the end and then I said “We’ll get another good month out of this, just watch”?

Called it.

Butch:

I blame myself.

And you. I also blame you.

Feminina:

Hey, what have we done!?

Oh, right. Nothing. That’s what.

I blame us too.

So Close…So Close

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for really-almost-the-end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Ok, you start.

Wait, if I say “You start,” thus starting myself, have I made it impossible for you to start?

God I’m tired.

Feminina:

I can’t start. You’ve ruined everything!

I’m also tired. We stayed up late fighting the Trife and Leandra. Definitely not 10-minute fights, but they were fine. There were a number of deaths and convenient mid-fight resurrections, but we didn’t have to start over, which is good because it would have been really annoying to have to start over after half an hour or 45 minutes in one battle. Leandra’s invulnerability trick was a good one. By which I mean, we hated it.

So yeah, that’s what we did. Wandered around the creepy backwards King Crab Inn (so THAT’s where that trophy came in), caused some explosions by trying to loot (cruel! cruel game!), prayed over the dead Astarte and then set the body on fire when that did nothing. Got into some fights.

Went to bed.

Butch:

hA sey. tahT.

Told you there was…more stuff. Too much stuff, I thought.

The “trick” I told you about was setting Andrastae on fire. That took me longer to figure out than I’m willing to admit. And I just admitted it took me a while. Nicely done.

I’d still be fighting Leandra if Junior hadn’t figured out how to disable the whole invulnerability thing. You….did you figure that out? Cuz once you destroyed the crystals she went down pretty quick.

Note comparin’ time! Three things: Maybe Four:

1) So I said yesterday that there would be something right away there. That would be those first couple portals and the thing that was all “You are nothing! You have fear!” blah blah blah. That asked you questions to get through those portals, all that. And I’m curious as to whether the fact I was forgiven and you weren’t altered that, so what did you do there? And what happened?

2) So…what did you make of the whole creepy in thing? Other than it being a creepy inn? Yeah, ok, creepy, but…I dunno. I’m not so sure I saw the narrative point to that. And it went on too long, especially for something that I couldn’t figure out the point to. But, as to the end of that, did you see ghost Alessa right before the trife showed up? Cuz that was the other time I saw ghost Alessa.

3) So what did you do after you killed Leandra? Cuz there was a choice there…..

4) Did you get the cup of blood from the Trife at the bar? And did you drink it? Cuz I didn’t, and I wondered what would happen if I did.

STUFF!

And guess what’s on the other side of that “Portal to Eden?” Go ahead, guess!

We can talk about the overt use of “Eden” later.

Feminina:

Ah, the questions…yeah, I answered one and Mr. O’ answered one, and we both just agreed with her. “A tiny scurrying worm, yeah, you must mean me…have it your way, I’m a traitor.” Which she thought was great, and then she disappeared and we went through. So I don’t know what would have happened if we’d challenged her characterization of us instead of going along with it.

The creepy inn was creepy. I don’t know what it was other than that…sort of a disturbing inversion of the familiar world, trying to get us into another frame of mind? I don’t know. We didn’t spend that much time there, it didn’t seem like…we found the key in the book pretty quickly, and once we realized there was no point in looting we just kind of moved on as fast as we could.

Ha…that kind of sums up our approach to everything, huh? “I will spend 8 hours in this room checking every corner… No loot? Let’s move!”

I told the Trife a drink sounded good, and it said “yes, it does, hahahahaha!!!!” and then…nothing happened. So it didn’t actually give me anything, and I didn’t have the option to choose to drink or not drink. I was confused by that, actually. Maybe we weren’t forgiven so we couldn’t drink? I don’t know. We’re getting weird differences here.

And yes, we saw General Alessa there, although then she started laughing in a deep ominous voice and I thought she’d turned out to be a fake General Alessa (especially since we were in the nightmare there, right?).

After we killed Leandra, we saved and went to bed. Literally. If there’s a choice, we haven’t done it yet. And yeah, we figured out the crystals pretty quickly to get rid of her invulnerability. I sent an undead swordsman after one of them! It was pretty sweet. She just kept summoning more void knights, and they kept getting tougher. And that vortex thing that teleported away when you hit it was annoying.

Still, we got it done! That’s the important thing.

Butch:

HA! That’s what I did. But what was interesting was I felt the same way. I, that is me, Butch, was all “yeah, yeah, have it your way” without actually believing I (or Scarlett) WAS a worm or anything. It was, for both of us, a fake repentance. Going through the motions of confession/guilt/whatever without really believing it.

And I’m not religious enough to know if that’s a sin. Going through the motions of faith without faith. If it is, then, again, here’s us sinning to win. Saying whatever the fuck to move things on and get back to Eden.

Interesting themeage.

We still have themeage!

Well, mostly the inn was full of former friends/people we helped who were either miserable (the cat was all “Maxine…she isn’t even here…she left…”) and Zixzax was all drunk saying we lost and all that. I think the most interesting bit was the folks in the rooms upstairs, the people we helped who were…kinda evil. I met the dude who I helped steal a fish. Remember him? Way back when? And he had all these fish trophies and was talking about them in disturbing, vaguely sexual terms (This one tried to fight…but I grabbed her…and she couldn’t get away…and I had my way with her….). The happy, chatty crab was no longer being nice, and was huge. It was a whole lot of “HA! You THOUGHT you were being good? Even when you thought you were doing the RIGHT thing you were sinning! Or helping others sin!” Which, again, brought home our themes.

But there was too much of it.

The trife didn’t bring a drink? Ha. Probably not a difference. Just your lack of patience. I said that and he poofed away, and, luckily, I had to yell at Nugget, cuz, about a minute later, POOF he came back with my drink, which was “puc fo doolb” and, if you looked at the item description it just said “og no….ekat a pis….” in a rather ominous backwards way.

I didn’t ekat a pis. Wonder what happened if you did.

You just probably moved on looking for seotatop and he poofed back all “Here ya go….where are they?” And zixzax was all “Welcome to my wooooorrrrrrld….”

Huh. You still got that bit with Alessa. Kinda surprised.

And seriously? There was enough time to save? I thought it went into choice land immediately. Well, there’s a thing you have to ponder and choose. Takes but a minute. Then, likely, a cutscene and off you go!

You’ll get one last chance to cheat yourself out of XP and then end of game ahoy!

And if you’re in a rush, there’s always turning down the difficulty. But I didn’t need to. You’ll be fine.

Feminina:

Seriously, the Trife came back with blood? Ha! I did just walk away, it’s true. Man, we missed out on everything due to lack of patience.

But yeah, true, the inn was basically “everything you did turned out badly!” Which is kind of our constant fear, isn’t it? And this place was supposed to be our nightmare, so I guess that makes sense. It was showing us what we were always afraid of, that we helped the wrong people, we tried to help but really we hurt them, we thought they appreciated it but really they’re miserable jerks, we killed the wrong people (interesting…I didn’t notice Archibald the troll or his kid there chiding me, but that would have been appropriate).

Also, I thought it was funny that the giant crab’s voice says “I will be queen!” but the text says “I will be king”. Another weird inversion, in a silly little way. And all those cupboards full of body parts, ew.

As for Leandra…uh…I don’t REMEMBER a choice right after her death. Do we have to pick whether to rejoin the soul forge or whatever? Because Zandalor basically told us we’d have to choose to do that or not, but we haven’t had the chance to pick yet.

Butch:

You certainly missed out on a lot.

Right, the inn showed us everything gone wrong. But was that just a nightmare? Cuz really, what would SCARLETT’S nightmare be? After all, SHE didn’t go around trying to do the right thing, really. Maybe I did, me, Butch, but Scarlett was never really motivated by any type of GOOD. I’ve even said that saving Rivellon might not be GOOD. So there wasn’t some overarching heroic shit. Source Hunters themselves were morally ambiguous.

So what is there that Scarlett is really afraid of?

Yeah, man. Cupboards. Yuck. Enough to stop looting.

HA!

And yeah, that’s the thing with Leandra. I guess you had to talk to someone? Her? Or try to use the portal or something? I thought it was one of those “Poof! Conversation” deals but maybe they gave you the chance to loot.

Ha.

But yes, that’s the choice. And it does kinda matter.

Feminina:

OK, we’ll probably get that choice next time we play. We didn’t try to do anything at all after she died, so probably as soon as we try to move it’ll come up.

I hope we get a chance to loot.

Butch:

No doubt. Hard to avoid.

And there is a rather handy wand. Did you get the rather handy wand?

It’s great if you want to cheat yourself out of XP.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, I picked up the wand! OK, so we did do that much. She fell dead, I hit ‘search’ and scooped up a bunch of loot, and we saved.

Probably as soon as we talk to someone, the thing will happen.

Butch:

Has to. It’s a key thing.

The wand is so key. If you want to cheat yourself out of XP.

They better work this punishing me for being smart shit out in the sequel.

Feminina:

Oh, I’m sure it gets worse in the sequel. I read a review that said “brute force is the only way to succeed in DOS2. Clever play will result in, at best, lost XP, and at worst a random NPC appearing out of nowhere and smacking your character in the face with the declaration ‘no one likes a smartass’ before vanishing with half your loot.”

Just kidding. Probably.

Butch:

Even though you’re kidding, the idea of an NPC that smacks you in the face, says “No one likes a smartass” and takes your stuff kinda needs to happen in a game.

Feminina:

Someday, someone will take all our brilliant advice and finally make a perfect game. It’s going to be so awesome.

Except the inventory management system: that will still suck.

Butch:

Well, we don’t excel at that in real life, so we don’t have much to offer.

For example, I have no idea what’s in the bottom of the veggie drawer of my fridge. And I best not check.

I do know the contents of my liquor cabinet.

This speaks volumes.

Feminina:

No argument here!