Part 19: Ravine of Vulgazzo
A good orator is a heap of tinder. They make a fire flare, not long, but ferociously.
They drag forth the inner patriot, stand it up straight and lure it into battle with the dangling, shiny promise of medals, just long enough for you to die.
A great orator is a tinderbox. They create fire.
They become the inner patriot in those who have none. They don't make you stand straight, but you'll do it anyway. And they certainly don't promise glory; only the slow-burning contentment that you are in the right. Their fight, you realise, is your fight. Anything less and you aren't a good person. You can't be.
Xenonbart was only a good orator.
So while I'd love to recount his speech to you; no doubt it was tremendous and inspiring and laced with a little more than too much propaganda; I can't. I'm not sure I heard it.
Welp, this is it. Excited?
Just want to get it done, honestly.
Yumil. You don't have to go out there.
If I'm ever going to live in Rhoan again, I do.
I can't look after Fana if I'm in danger of getting arrested every time I show my face. I have to do this.
I understand that. It's just...
I'll be fine, okay? You don't have to worry about me.
Come on. We're falling behind.
BREAKING CHARACTER. Sorry, folks. I'm trying to keep narrative and gameplay updates separate, but there just wasn't enough there to warrant its own post.
Anyway, this is our new sword. We bought it from Romaioni. Rather nice, isn't it?
Rather nice indeed.
Okay, that was a critical hit on a monster that's vulnerable to swords, but still, it's a rather nice sword. Rather nice indeed. It's blue.
So what's this shield business about, then?
It has two functions. The first, of course, is blocking enemy attacks, at which it is extremely good. Almost nothing can get through it, and I only say "almost" because if I don't, I'm certain someone will run straight off to find the one exception I wasn't aware of. You know who you are.
Notice the shield has an attack power value, even though you can't attack with it. The second function is to add half of this value to the weapon in your other hand. Yes, half. Why give us a number and tell us we'll only ever use half of that number? Just halve the number!
Side note: You can use two shields at once if you want.
(Don't do this you silly person.)
Introducing the most annoying enemies in the game!
Harpies (and their palette-swapped sisters) spend 80% of their time in the air, where they can't be hit. They only land after attacking, and since their preferred method is a big, swooping divebomb, you'll have to chase them halfway across the screen every time they do so.
That's if you bother fighting them. I sure don't!
Neither Weld River nor the Ravine of Vulgazzo feel like they needed to be in the game. They're short, linear, nothing happens in them, all the enemies show up elsewhere, and the only thing to find is a flower that you can't miss.
If they'd moved this somewhere else and cut straight to Wargliss Fortress, the game would be a few minutes shorter. That's the only difference it'd make.
I'd therefore like to use this opportunity to talk about one of the game's major issues.
In the beginning, there wasn't much here. A few monsters, our sword, some of the Rhoan citizens. Not many pages, not many codes. Navigating was quick and easy.
As time goes by, it stops being either. There are a lot of characters in this game. There are a lot of item recipes. There are a lot of monsters.
They try to alleviate this by dividing them into categories, but once you pick one, you still have to do a fair bit of page-turning before you find the entry you want. Worse, the pages are arranged in no particular order.
Let me show you the chapter on tablets.
There are over a hundred metalizes for weapons in this game and they're all lumped into the same category, I reiterate, in no particular order. And since the book is restricted to one screen, you can't look at the recipe while you're trying to make it.
Just look. There's no way I'll remember all this. If I don't write it down somewhere, I'll have to go back and flip through all the recipes one by one, again, when I inevitably get something wrong.
But even that doesn't compare to the ordeal of finding codes.
Recall that every character, monster, weapon, accessory, item and flower you scan will have codes attached. For your numerous and nefarious purposes, you'll be moving them around a lot, and it won't be long before you have so many codes spread over so many pages that you have no idea where they are at any given time.
You have no recourse. No search function, no way to sort pages by the codes they contain. Unless you keep them meticulously organised or have an exceptional memory, you're scouring every single bastard leaf of papyrus until you find what you need, every time you need it.
Imagine making the above recipe when you don't know which of the hundred-ish pages the codes are on. Something that should be smooth and simple becomes a miserable, flow-breaking slog.
You can't do it all in one go either, because you can only hold four codes at a time. Chances are you're already full, and so is the sword's page. You have to find somewhere to deposit the codes you're holding, go back to the sword, remove and deposit those codes, flip through the book until you collect the first four codes in the recipe, put them on the sword, go back and check the recipe again and blurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh
AND, let me remind you that adding or removing a code costs MP. Do you see why that's a problem now? Do you see how it all adds up?
The book is the core gameplay mechanic that makes Avalon Code what it is. It should not be a chore to use. It must not be a chore to use.
why is it a chore to use
To be fair, I think a lot of the problems stem from the small screen. A big, encyclopaedic interface like this needs room to breathe. But come on. Do we really need to see it animated every time we turn a page or make a code alteration? Can't we have an option to switch that off? That alone would speed things up a great deal.
Do we really need to have chapters organised the way they are? Wouldn't it be easier if the section on monsters (or any section, ESPECIALLY TABLETS) was just an alphabetical list you could scroll through? Like right here. Put the list on the left page, and when we select a monster, put the mental map on the right. If we really want to see a picture of the thing, we can do a double tap or something. Or hell, put a "Show picture" button under the list. Nine times out of ten, we're just interested in the codes.
And don't put system settings under "Other", for Christ's sake. That's just silly. You had room.
I'm not sure they could have done this well under the circumstances, but it could at least have been passable.