Part 10: This Is Going To HurtPart 010: This Is Going To Hurt
So we're off to the miners' guild to see Ohl and a few other NPC's in the area.
One of the two interesting NPC's here is Zebenno.
Cough up the key, nerd.
Excuse us, your colleague Merdger said you had a key to the testing chambers.
Indeed, I create many exciting new protective mechanisms and I could always use more test subjects. My colleagues can't do it since they have been too involved in the development and already understand most of the inventions.
So you wouldn't be able to get a proper picture of how well they'd work?
Oh, I suppose that's true. Mostly they're just terrified of going in the basement.
I'm sure it'll be fine, you wimps, it'll be like a pressure plate, two switches, maybe some spikes and a short maze, and then we'll be rich. Just give us the key, Zebenno.
While Merdger doesn't want to give you the key, Zebenno only offers some vague, performative worry and then lets you go get yourself killed.
The other NPC is Kossea.
Who would be much more interesting if he was earlier in the game, or the game was structured in a much different way.
Since we already missed our chance to meet with Ohl today, I guess we might as well hassle you about what you do for a living.
I am a Mountain Priest and can conduct the ritual. We have to perform the ritual at least twice a day. Otherwise, we will offend Mother Earth. Of course, we need to mentally prepare for several hours before we can perform the ceremony.
Quaint, so you're like the local OSHA guy.
If you do not conduct the ritual, tunnels collapse, workers simply fall into shafts, there are explosions, you can no longer breathe the air, and lots of other horrible things happen. So kind of, yes.
Imagine if this happened before you saw blatant magic. There'd be an interesting question of whether Animebona actually needed propitiating prior to mining, or whether all the rituals were, in a 40k Mechanicus-esque way, simply shoring and propping tunnels, checking for gas pockets, avoiding natural caves with a sign of animal habitation, etc. Once you've actually seen people juggle fireballs and lightning bolts, however, the Mountain Priests become a lot less interesting from a storytelling perspective, and also kind of seem to be a bit... anti-Animebona. Turning ritual magic into just another tiresome bureaucratic chore before you can get on with work feels like it's very Animenkna-esque, based on what the Dji Cantos told us earlier. You could have another interesting story seed there, where you could show that no one quite understands Animebona and Animenkna and there's a deeper unity between the two to explore and uncover so everyone can live in peace.
So anyway, we missed Ohl and I'm too boring to just stand around in the streets for another 12 hours, so I decide to go check out the dungeon under the Equipment Makers' guild which, contrary to what I said earlier, actually is a storyline dungeon for a later part of the game. It's also literally unbeatable with the current party and loadout of gear, for reasons soon to become apparent.
On the way I do a bit of shopping which basically consists of selling junk... to the point that I end up overloading myself on gold and, after like ten minutes of shuffling coins around, have to buy some expensive weapons as a store of value to be able to move. This weaponsmith shopkeeper is actually a bit interesting, though...
He'll track you along the counter and yell at you if you grab something while he's in front of you, but not if you manage to slip besides him and grab something anyway, which is kind of odd because A) he's the only shopkeeper who reacts and B) this shows that the run-forward-to-extend-grabbing-distance trick was known of by the devs(since it's the only way to snag anything behind this guy's or any other counter).
I look forward to helping improve public safety, locks and traps are an important part of safeguarding one's home!
Yeah, he's always like that.
So welcome to this dungeon. The first layer is in 2D and consists of three things: Levers, corridors and keys. You will be walking back and forth to pull levers, to open doors, that get you keys, that sometimes open a door, and sometimes open a chest, and usually that door or that chest are hiding another key.
When you think about it, it's an ingenious security system.
How? It isn't stopping us.
If I wasn't being compelled by an alien intellect controlling my every move you bet I'd be leaving after this place bored me to tears.
In a better game these oddly regular discoloured wall sections would be secret or illusionary pathways. No such thing here.
There's this fucking anvil which can turn a long-outdated weapon(generic swords) into a slightly less outdated weapon(generic two-handed swords), but only a limited number of times, so you can't even use it to break the game's economy or anything.
This encounter which I'm not sure whether is how all 2D encounters are meant to look, meaning all the rest are bugged, or is itself the only bugged one. Normally in 2D and 3D encounters one enemy sprite is a whole squad. Here, this swarm of enemy sprites is one squad, rather than each of them being a squad.
But oddly enough despite being the only time this is done in the game, the multiple sprites don't even match the encountered enemies, except for the general enemy type.
No, you can't wiggle past there. All it would have taken would be another couple of spike/knife floor tiles for it to look believable as impassable, but someone was in too much of a hurry for that.
The first level also lulls me into a false sense of security by repeatedly deploying the same garbage encounters we've been casually wading through since the second island, Gratogel.
Here you reach this room, to flip a switch, so you can go all the way back to the start of the dungeon, to flip another switch, so you can slowly whack the knives down with a hammer you found. It requires no thinking, there are no extra encounters to complicate going back, all it does is waste your damn time.
The only thing of note the chest contains is a map of the first level of the dungeon. Now how every single corridor is designed to take longer to navigate than it needs to. I could forgive this if it was meant to look like something, like a real building or facility with some kind of structure, but instead I've had random map generators throw out locations that look more purposefully-made.
This room is guarded by enemies that we outgrew on the very first island.
Yes, I see.
It sounds like you have this one figured out already, Tom.
...actually no, I just wanted to sound smart, I was just going to pull levers at random and hope it worked.
So this "puzzle" is supposed to bore you even more by only letting you disable certain spike sections at a time, and also having certain levers, when pulled, also activate/deactivate other levers. I prefer the more direct approach.
If you manage to pull all three levers down, the machine "explodes," killing half your party, and disabling the interlocks, thus allowing you to disable all the spikes at once after spending some time glueing everyone back together. It also had an odd consequence for Siobhan.
You may notice a gap in the party's formation, that's where she actually is. The Siobhan at the back of the formation is just a ghost perpetually doing its walk-cycle animation even when the party's standing still.
This is really unsettling, can you fix this, Harriett?
It's of no concern, the violence of the explosion simply separated her soul from her body for a time.
It disappears after the next time I get the party into a fight.
The only "interesting" thing before getting to the level 2 entrance that I skip over is a room that's literally wasting your time, since all it does is contain a lever that only exists, and thus can only be pulled to unlock the next door, at a certain time interval. And in dungeons, you can't use the "wait" command, so you literally have to let the party stand around while you read a book or something.
Okay, gang, we made it through that. There's no way the next level can be worse.
So this place has some new enemies. They will fuck us up. Every single enemy formation in here is hell and can only be defeated by bringing Mellthas or letting a speed-boosted Drirr stand in the back row throwing out Demon Exodus scrolls(thankfully scrolls are cast at max caster level so they can bypass enemy magic resistance.). Cue the slideshow of the ways I got mangled before giving up and leaving the dungeon!
Animal 3 squads! Faster even than Drirr, they do massive damage, and even if we could tank it, they have a chance to Critical Hit and annihilate a party member in one blow. ANY party member, even beefy Siobhan.
Fear 3 swarms! We can outspeed them, but they're tanky as hell and hit pretty hard. That can be survived, though. The bad part is that they either cast small fireball(negligible damage), attack in melee(scary damage) or cast Boast, which blows partially through any target's MR and makes them flee combat. Panic can't be undone, so it's basically a save-or-die, and partial resists still allow status effects through. Better yet, any time you flee from combat, the enemy formation is wholly restored! I actually beat one of these after like ten tries when I got lucky and they didn't make everyone run away in two rounds.
Storm 3 armies! Only Drirr outspeeds them, and every single round, every single one of them will cast Thunderstorm at a power that kills any party member in, at most, three hits. Thunderstorm hits the entire field. So the only way to survive is for Drirr to somehow take out 4 or more of them in the first round of combat.
*puff* *wheeze* I think we lost them.
Heads up! There's something in here!
I never thought I would say this, but I really am not looking forward to more fights in here.
...okay, I have to hand it to Zebenno. Just hiring some insane old man to fill your basement with demons may in fact be the most effective anti-theft measure imaginable.
Also a real effective "anti-living" measure.
Let's get out of here and maybe get the Toronto to glass this stupid dungeon from orbit after we tell them all about our adventures.
The only good thing about bouncing off that dungeon was that it edged Khunag up to being able to cast Thunderstorm, so now he'll just need to cast it fifty or so times before it'll do as much damage as his other lightning spells and contribute to turning fights around.
I used to be a diamond polisher. But now my hands shake so much that I can't do the work any longer. So instead I collect these beautiful jewels.
Your tragic backstory aside, Konny said you could help us get into the southern desert.
Oh yes, I do know a way through the boulder belt. I can even lead you to the entrance. Of course, I would like a small reward for it. A jewel would be appropriate. Remember that you probably cannot find the entrance alone.
I'm not sure if this is true, I don't think it is, but at the same time holy shit the entrance is hidden in a truly sadistic way behind several sprites that appear to be impassable at first glance, so I will happily pay some random gem to not have to deal with it.
A short hands-off section of Ohl showing me the way later...
Ohl's enthusiasm for his hobby is somewhat adorable.
The dungeon leading to the southern desert is a short T-shaped cave with two exits. If you take the wrong exit, like I did, you end up wandering the desert for like half an hour real-time, exploring a completely pointless section of the game world.
It has a very pleasant-looking unique savannah biome that has no purpose to existing at all. So eventually you manage to find your way back to the cave and go out the right entrance...
Thank God, there's a shuttle from the Toronto! You guys hang back while I flag it down!
It'll be a bit cramped, but we can all squeeze inside! Come on, gang!
Who could have predicted that the evil corporation would still be evil. Damn.
Driscoll! You must have gone through hell! I can't believe you're still alive!
Tom! Please, let me through to him!
I'm sorry, miss Mocci, he must have immediate medical attention.
Damn, Tom, you have no idea how glad I am you're still alive.
Yooooouuuu asshoooooles, the planet isn't barren! It's alive!
Clearly prolonged exposure to a hostile atmosphere has left him confused and delirious, I'll get him to medical as quickly as possible. You'll be able to see him in a few days.
Well, that was predictable.
So they bothered to lock the door, but left me with a magic sword, fully armoured and with a backpack full of alien drugs. DDT really went for the lowest bidder on the security team.
Now, how do you get out of being locked inside the medical wing? Perhaps violence? Stealth? Hacking? No, you wait. It's only five minutes of real-time waiting, but it feels like a lot fucking longer when there's literally nothing to interact with in the small part of the medical wing you're restricted to, nor any way to wait time away.
First things first, real glad to see you alive. We'd written you off. How about Hofstedt?
Still alive, I left him with a bunch of alien nerds.
Good. Now, we're on limited time, you might have noticed that I picked the lock with a hacked security card.
Yeah, I kind of figured you weren't here on official business. Now tell me what the hell's going on here.
You first, something tells me you had the crazier adventure.
Oh man, you have no idea. So first off, this planet has wizards...
Well, either Ned is right and you're suffering from brain damage, or all that insane stuff you just rambled off is true. I admit your numerous magical items kind of make the point for you.
I swear, it's true. Now, your turn.
Everything here is completely normal.
No, really, that's the problem. At first when mining, we had a lot of accidents, cave-ins, breakdowns, attacks by animals way more advanced than this planet should be able to host from the official data, but they just kept throwing guns and machinery at it until it calmed down, and paid people bonuses to not notice, rather than acknowledging that something was wrong.
And people just accepted that?
This place is like the goddamn Gobi Desert, Tom, most of the crew haven't seen anything they don't expect.
...shit, they probably picked this place on purpose. Clever bastards. Guess there's no way to avoid the conclusion that Ned and Brandt fed everyone doctored data.
And you're proof that they did it.
Explains why they shoved me in cold storage, and now it's even more obvious that they took care of Inspector Beegle. He must have figured out the deception before anyone else did.
The way it was done, only Ned could have done it, as AI he'd have the necessary control of the systems.
Whatever they did, the solution seems simple: We bust out of here and tell everyone on board the truth.
Not so fast, Ned could be a problem here.
How? He's got security cameras, but it's not like they have guns duct-taped to them.
No, man, you don't get it. You've seen his artificial body, right? He's got dozens of those. If we piss him off, it could be a massacre, he's plugged into every system and could run the Toronto without the crew if he had to.
Well he'll hurt the crew and this planet over my dead body, I didn't defraud all those healers and shopkeepers just to be the financial king of a dead ball of dirt.
...still on the fence about that brain damage ruling, but your heart's in the right place. Let's get on to the service decks. Right now, Ned is talking to Captain Brandt, human interaction takes a lot of CPU power, which means all his other tasks, like analyzing security footage, gets put on the back burner. This could be our chance to get to the power plant unseen and shut him down.
Stats-wise Joe is basically like Rainer: not so great. His only advantage is that, alongside Rainer and Tom, he's one of the few characters in the game that can use guns. So when we get our hands on more guns... he could become real useful.
Joe can not, in fact, hack open any doors for us. But some idiot left the password lying around in a drawer, on a note, so we're through the door in quick time and back on to the Toronto's cozy service decks...
This level is entirely a "puzzle" and also, in the traditions of the Equipmentmakers' Guild basement, mostly focused around wasting your time. It has three types of puzzle:
#1: Activate a robot and wait for it to amble over a pressure plate in the floor. Unfortunately all the robots' movements are completely randomized so you might be waiting for a while.
#2: Wait for the light on the other side of the gate to flash and then press the button at the same time to activate it. It's a real dickass move because at no point has the game used this kind of logic before, so unless you're reading a FAQ, it may take you a while to figure it out, since pressing the button when the light isn't on just gives you a "nothing happens"-message not a "nothing happens because the timing was off"-message.
#3: Finding these cabinets which aren't marked on the map at the ass-end of tangly fucking corridors so you can find a door unlocking code.
Look at this shit.
It's like a five-year-old just doodled random lines on a piece of paper and then they straightened the corners a bit and turned it into a dungeon map. What the fuck.
And then there's this fucking room. No there's no climactic boss fight or dramatic moment in here, instead there are three pressure plates and like ten cells with service robots in them. Release them all and then go eat a sandwich until the robots bumble across all the pressure plates and you can continue. I had enough time to go all the way back through the level looking for one of the code paper pieces I'd missed before the robots had activated all the door plates.
What's wrong, Tom? We're so close to shutting this damn ship down.
What the hell was up with that service deck, Joe?
CEO promised his son he'd get to build a spaceship, so he let him doodle some of the infrastructure and passed it to the designers. You really don't want to know what the plumbing is like.
Of course, it won't be that easy.
Joe Bernard, Tom Driscoll, please stop trying to sabotage my fusion reactor energy source before I have to get angry with you.
Come on, Ned, do you and Brandt really think you can conceal the truth from everyone on board?
In a word: Yes! The odds are entirely in our favour and the continued survival of DDT justifies the risk!
Ha ha, wait, you're just outright saying that you're planning to destroy this world? No dissembling, lying or beating around the bush?
And what about Brandt? He'll suffer consequences for this, when it gets out!
Indeed, poor Captain Brandt. After this he'll suffer a gruelling investigation, as a result of which, DDT will have to let him go... with a generous severance packet. He'll be history's richest unemployed person. As for the two of you, you'll be going to the brig for the remainder of this mission. But not to worry, I'll see to it that all your needs are met.
Ha ha, yeah, as if. Let's get the fuck out of here, Joe.
Good thing that service deck was as much of a confusing mess for them as it was for us.
Tom, Joe, I'm sorry, but your persistence in not obeying orders make drastic measures unavoidable. If it helps, I really am very sorry about this.
Whatever big brain genius decided that Asimov's Laws of Robotics weren't needed is due for an ass-kicking when I'm out of here.
What the hell just happened?
Plot contrivance, the Dji Cantos gave me a magic rock that can fire infinite, statistically meaningless fireballs and is a quest item I can't drop, solely for this cutscene, while it's completely useless at all other times.
Someone on the writing team didn't really think too much about what they wrote. How could the team both have waited for Tom and have headed back to the Isle of the Dji Cantos to chat with them? Either way, the plot continues after the game warps us back there.
I'm still not convinced that a few dozen Helromier in a big metal boat can really threaten this world.
It's a self-expanding, self-improving, self-replicating factory. The more of your world it consumes, the bigger and nastier it'll get.
Tom, because we're helpless, how do you feel about saving us?
Anyone expecting me to have a selfless reason for saving this world is out of luck. However anyone expecting me to not save this world is also out of luck. Ned and Brandt have made this personal, they're going down. Everyone with me?
I'm always in for killing.
I didn't join this party not to get into fights.
The prophecy demands that the Great Bloodletting not be delayed.
Despite everyone else... stopping your fellow humans seems like the just thing to do.
You've got the Cool Crew at your disposal Nemos.
I'd still like to know what, exactly, happened.
Ned and Brandt killed Beegle, they tried to kill us, and when I returned they tried to finish the job. They fucked with the wrong astronaut. So how do we do this? Isn't Animebona going to fuck them up?
She will try, but she can't do much against the pure essence of Animenkna. She will need our help.
Magic won't be able to affect the Toronto directly, and as you've experienced, direct action is unlikely to succeed.
We'd be facing an army of Ned's bodies and the entire security team. No way we could handle that.
Thanks to Rainer's explanations about the Toronto, however, we believe we have a plan. Rather than directly attacking the Toronto with magic, we will make it part of the spell, we will turn it into something living. Unfortunately, we lack some of the necessary magical expertise. From the Umajo, we need the expertise needed to affect metal with magic. And we will also need knowledge of how to handle energy at a vast scale.
Because you'll need to reach the Toronto's reactor and cast the spell there.
So who's got the latter expertise?
The Kenget Kamulos. The mage assassins.
I could possibly help you negotiate with my former colleagues.
Let me get this straight. First we need to negotiate with killer wizards. Then we need to negotiate that hellish dungeon back in Umajo Kenta. And then we need to waltz into the Toronto, past the unbeatable security, and jam a magical doohickey into the fusion reactor.
I think I might be able to help. I brought my camera with me when we escaped, while you're gathering the magical ingredients, I'll prepare an edit a concise video documentary about the true nature of Albion. If I can get that playing aboard the ship, at least the human security might be decidedly less murderous.
Next: A completely uncomplicated journey without any kind of surprises.