Part 34: Hopper Rouley and the Writers Desperately Trying To Seem MatureHopper Rouley and the Writers Desperately Trying To Seem Mature
When we last left Hopper, we were sending him to Two Geese Tavern for memes.
Unfortunately instead of an adorable goose relieving us of our possessions, we get more Ash of Gods.
Oh no, not the nameless, faceless peasants the narrative would never hesitate to dispense with if we could wring one more Traumatic Event out of it!
: Chase the Gells.
: Ake fells the slowest thug in the chase's first moments, evening the sides. You chase one of the thugs to the edge of the village, and into the forest.
: The Gell takes you straight to his mates. They're all waiting for the raiding party's return. It's too late to do anything about it. The Gells draw their weapons and attack you.
So this battle is only notable because of one reason: I get to unlock this skill.
With this I officially don't care about combat in Hopper's sections. Ever. Remember, Hopper's basic attack restores energy, he gets a +2 attack boost when he kills someone, and he has a life-drain attack if he ever gets in trouble.
This is half or more of the health on all these assholes. If this game's combat were good, I'd complain about it being overpowered, but quite frankly skipping all the combat in a third of the remaining game is awesome!
It's kind of hilarious that Hopper and Lo Pheng are this good but Thorn is such shit.
As you can see, they could make attack spell animations for people like Reet, they just didn't want to.
As you can see this destroys everyone. It's great! All I have to do is kite like the intelligent and handsome man I tell the internet I am, pick off anyone who gets too close with my array of overpowered melee moves (that buff me) and spam flame blade until everyone's dead.
This is your mind on bad game design.
I'm not going to show off the rest of Hopper's levelups. They don't matter. Except for one encounter in the very late game, nothing is every a threat again.
: You inform Ake that you've caught your own Gell, making the giant warrior smile. The street is completely deserted-the locals are in no rush to shower you with gratitude. You and Ake exchange glances, get on your horses and hit the road again.
You didn't return their stuff. Why would they be grateful?
I take us to the ghostly tower because we're looking for tall buildings.
The little pen in the corner means yea, this is a riddle.
: Get closer.
See the extra G makes it more fantasy-ish or something.
: You have an inkling as to who might be responsible for such sophisticated spellwork, but you keep it to yourself. You introduce yourself as well. "They call me Hopper. Hopper Rouley. Might I take a look at those inscriptions? Perhaps I could help rid you of them."
: Try to answer the question.
I have GameFAQs, fool! You cannot stand against me!
Cause a paradox, shut down the robots.
: They will hang me.
: Gregg nods. "Now tell me how you arrived at this conclusion. Could be a lucky guess."
: The mage laughs and makes an inviting gesture. You enter the tower without further ado.
So at this point I'm honestly not sure why Chila doesn't just show up and tell Hopper to do stuff. She has the leverage, he's already cursed. This is just pointlessness for the sake of seeming deep and mysterious but actually being time-wasting and stupid.
Off we go!
We get this about three times during this update. You've seen it before. We give in.
That gets us more skill points, but again, we are nigh-invincible right now.
: Investigate around here.
: "So it seems," the giant says, surveying the dead. "The bastard wasn't hanging from his neck, but from his collar! I tried to help, but there was no noose to free him from! He almost stabbed me! And then he tried to hide in the bushes. He hasn't gone far though!"
: Ask what needs to be done.
: Offer to examine Ake's back.
: "Are you a booklover or a healer?" Ake asks, suspiciously. "You want to put an enchantment on my back? What if it falls apart, like the Albius town hall?"
I want to point out that this isn't gay, not because I'm opposed to the idea of these characters being gay but because the writers so far are 0-2 on writing gay characters without some horrible tragedy related to their sexuality. If this were gay, Ake would be relating some horrible trauma by now.
: Amused by Ake's complaints, you make him lie down, roll up his shirt, and rub his back with pine tree ointment. You run a hand along his mighty torso, carefully realigning the troublesome vertebrae. Soon, Ake is able to climb into the saddle all by himself, and you continue your journey.
: Tell Ake about the old religion of Terminum.
The sad thing is we know from Alus that's not even a tall tale.
: Ake grows pale, aware of the terrible punishment awaiting anyone who so much as mentions that name. However, curiosity gets the best of him and he begs you to continue.
If no one is supposed to know about it why does everyone know the punishment? That ensures everyone knows the name (so they can avoid saying it).
: Ake mulls things over. "So, what's the wisdom in this fable?" he asks. "Or is it not a fable? If it wasn't a man, but a god, why did he return again and again? Why didn't he punish the villagers? And what was the village called?"
We make it down the Reckless Path and take this route, because oh boy do I have sights to show you!
This is the place where you can see ghosts, if you remember.
Remember from the intro?
Earlier in the game posted:
: Say that these are the effects of the sorcery.
: You shrug. "It happens, Ake. But such things usually happen when I perform basic magic-like driving the bedbugs away from a dwelling or healing feet lichen. The Ashen Wasteland is a special place. It's like sitting near an open furnace-your face reddens whether you like it or not."
: Tell Ake about yourself.
: Ake laughs dismissively. "Do you mean that's the Curro? Stop yanking my chain. It's been a thousand years! Understand? A thousand! There are no Curros left now-only some distant relatives perhaps. Did they have any children?"
So, yeah, Hopper used to answer to the gods but is also possessing some poor dude. Now, this is traditionally an ability exhibited by demons. Draw your own conclusions!
: Join the battle.
Our good friend the Ense warlock shows up again.
He never gets a turn.
On what planet is four dudes an army?
While a demonology cult is completely unoriginal maybe something interesting will happen. Like a secret demon fight or something awesome. Please?
Uh, when I said "something interesting", I did not mean "Hopper confesses to murdering a mentally ill man to steal his body."
Let me repeat that.
Hopper murdered a mentally ill man to steal his body.
After that shit I don't know why he thinks he has any moral ground to stand on.
Uh, what the fuck is a Calz?
WHAT THE FUCK HOPPER NO.
:Join the battle.
So yea, Hopper is a murderer who steals people's bodies. No, we're not done with these writers' grimdark pit. This update is gonna get worse.
: Dwell upon your memory.
You all are going to sit through this with me.
: You close your eyes, remembering the green valley and your small squad. Rask waves his hands, laughs and whispers that you shouldn't worry about the small things. If a master like Orkan says that you'll succeed, then you must succeed. You'll have a powerful weapon! Your strength will equal that of the Reapers-or at least be enough to be dangerous!
What does "Things given will return, and the power will rise, but the spirit will dissolve" even mean?
So yes. Those stone knives at the beginning?
Every single one was forged by the murder of a child.
This is supposed to be heavy and dramatic and a terrible sin but it's really just a contrived variant of the heavily contrived trolley problem. Realistically it's incredibly rare that murdering a small child is ever going to be the right thing to do - children are smaller, take less resources, and are easy to subdue if you need to stop one from running off to go turn you into the Nazis or something. It's also very strange to compare with the self-sacrifice of all these guys murdering themselves - permanently - which is usually the mark of a selfless character or someone atoning for something terrible. The sacrifice IS usually what powers this stuff, mostly in Christian allegories like Narnia or LotR where Jesus' sacrifice allows the characters to overcome a terrible foe.
Not only is this incredibly thematically incoherent for the sake of wringing drama out of this chapter, it's not even the worst thing that happens to children in this entire update.
THIS NEXT ENCOUNTER IS INCREDIBLY STUPID. I PRESENT IT IN ITS ENTIRETY, UNEDITED
: Accept the will of your master.
That deserves some discussion.
I'm not going to lie, as soon as I saw Dorpkhal eating the kids I burst out laughing. Not because I find injuring children funny, but because this game has literally sank this low for cliches. Remember this?
Aurum Dust posted:
Ash of Gods is a mix between a roguelike role-playing visual novel and an online turn-based strategy game. This is a story intending to show all the complexity and ambiguity of moral choice. Good people often become rascals while inhumans behave more human-like than humans. This is the story of angels who after being given free will turned the life of humans into hell in the absence of a god. This is a novel that shows you that no conflict has a right or a wrong side because even your enemies have mothers and children.
This is a fucking joke! The god is literally eating babies! I guess this terrifies even Dorpkhal, but we've already had two crimes against children this update (the murder knives and now..this). There is no complexity or ambiguity in this!
Look, you can write about horrible unsympathetic monsters. There's nothing wrong with that. But you have to actually sell them. You can't just put a scene in with your villain eating a baby with no buildup. We just met this character and he just ate a bunch of kids while running around castrating people.
There's nothing human here, and there's no reflection on that. The best villains aren't scary because of what they'll do to you, but they reflect what you fear you could become. Remember Yoda's cave in Star Wars, and how it showed Luke as Vader? That's a straightforward example, but we could use Macbeth (destroyed by lust for power), Ahab (destroyed by a desire for revenge which became a mad quest to oppose God) or even Medea (destroyed by her all-consuming love for Jason who was unworthy of it.) They all take some human flaw and go downhill from there.
Conversely, you can have villains who represent a familiar evil, such as Simon Legree and his slave mastering ways being a thinly veiled stand in for usurping God. Or even the unknown, like the kids in Lord of the Flies or Kurtz in Heart of Darkness - and even then, their savagery is linked to a desire for power and freedom to crush all who oppose them. They're also built up. We never see Kurtz for the entire novel, but the characters are obsessed with analyzing him and reading his writings. Likewise the Lord of the Flies kids don't descend into savagery immediately but slowly get there as they realize more and more that they do not need to follow any of civilization's artificial laws.
This is just stupid. We've never met this character, we've only had vague allusions to "gods" and now we witness that he's arbitrarily rounding everyone up, cutting their dicks and boobs off, and eating their children. The best comparison I can think of is Ed Gein, who is interesting as a true crime novel because his ghoulishness is just insanity. It means nothing. It is the ravings of a literal madman imposed on corpses.
It will not surprise attentive readers of this thread to learn that this is the main villain of the game. Yes, we are meeting it now in an easily missable optional encounter.
I'm ending the update here because it's late and that's enough stupidity for one day.