Part 45: Depths of the Ice Cavern
I can't point you in any direction, you realise. I can only say if we're getting closer or not.
It's better than nothing.
Perhaps, but what if we had to return to Rhoan? She could be there as much as anywhere else.
Couldn't you go in yourself? Nobody would see you.
If we move too far from the book, we fall dormant. Otherwise why wouldn't we come to you?
You can thank the shackles for that.
We'll just have to do it, then. I'll think of something. I don't know.
...why do you have those things in the first place?
When you were told what you had to do, how this all worked, did any part of it seem fair to you?
Nor to us.
So why doesn't it shackle me, then? Or anyone else?
I can only guess. Perhaps it can't afford to hobble you. Perhaps it doesn't have that power over humans. Or perhaps there is no reason. Perhaps none of this has a reason. Who would know? The book never has to explain itself.
Perhaps we're all just products of some awful, tangled design. And in that design, we are slaves and you are not. Nobody cared if it made sense. It just is.
Who are you talking to?
Uh, *cough* *cough*
No-one. I'm just, um.
Yeah. I meant what you were doing before you saw me and started coughing.
I was reading. I heard somewhere you should read your writing out loud. Then you know if it's sounds right or not.
Oh. Can I have a look? Or listen to you, even. I don't read so good.
Maybe when it's finished.
Or just...not yet. I want to work on this part a bit first. Then you can hear it.
You need to talk quieter, then. I have pretty good ears. Almost like a cat.
Sorry to interrupt.
Hey, it's your house.
That's good advice. Reading aloud. Why don't you ever do it?
Because I already know it's a mess.
I need to get going.
Again? You just got here.
There's some other stuff I have to take care of. I'm definitely not going to die this time, though. Not even almost.
I thought you just needed your book back.
You're not bothering me, you know. If that's why.
I mean, I thought I might have been, but...
That's not why, though.
Let's hear it, then.
I don't think I'm ready to talk about it.
Alright. Next time, maybe. If there's gonna be a next time.
Unless everyone in Rhoan changed their mind about me last night, yes.
Or if they did.
I was just thinking, even if they did, there probably would be. A next time, I mean. Um.
Going now. Bye.
Are you sure you want to keep this from her?
Ignorance is bliss. I understand. But there'll be no hiding it when the time comes. If she heard it from you beforehand...
If I don't tell her, then change my mind, I can still tell her. If I do, I can't un-tell her.
And if you don't make a decision, it will be made for you.
Do whatever you think is best. But do it out of intent, not uncertainty. You owe her that much.
Ur. We are seriously just outside Rhoan right now. Please tell me this isn't the right way.
This is wrong. We're getting colder. Is there another path?
Isn't colder good, though? We are looking for Neaki.
Ah. Pardon me. "Colder" is a figure of speech. It means we're getting further away.
Oh. Colder. Yes. A joke. Very clever.
It wasn't really, was it.
Are we still on track?
I believe so. Is there a problem?
This is exactly where she was the first time. I came out here to fight a war and some crazy person blew a hole in the floor.
I found out about Kullervo here, too.
...yes. I'm sorry this has been so complicated.
How am I supposed to stop him?
With the book. The same way you've stopped all your enemies.
I meant on top of everything else. Having to get everyone back, all those pages that went missing. And I still have to write the new world. Barely even made a start on that.
Be honest. There isn't time, is there?
Yes. There is.
How do you know?
You have to believe there is. You must. If you don't, the answer might as well be no.
Maybe. But I could really use some convincing.
If you get excited at the thought of ice, and caverns, and icy caverns, and didn't think there was enough of that the first time around, rejoice. This is your update.
If you aren't one of those people, and think that sending us back to the exact same place for the exact same reason is phoned in enough to give the management at Verizon synchronized boners, welcome to my fucking world. Let me make you some tea. ICE TEA NATURALLY, YOU SEE BECAUSE
The passage to this part of the cavern was here the first time we visited, but it wasn't open. And now it is. No reason. We don't even have to use our new key. It's just open now, because this is the next dungeon and Avalon Code's geography is considerate.
As for the theme here, it's pits. Bunch of the usual shit, flip all the switches, kill all the enemies (and not even new enemies) but this time there are narrow, slippery paths and pits. Sometimes.
This can work to your advantage, since enemies die outright if they fall in. And thanks to the poor AI, they will do so. A lot.
That's right. Avalon Code is taking us back to NES country, folks. Goombas marching into chasms.
And I don't just mean you can lure them in either. I did do that one on purpose so I could record it, but sometimes it happens by itself. On the other side of the map. Where you can't even see it. So no, they didn't intentionally include this as a strategy for the player. They just couldn't be arsed programming the enemies to avoid pits.
However, simple laziness isn't enough for Matrix Software. They have to go one step further.
These particular monsters have a bull charge attack. If they reach a pit when charging, they'll skid to a halt at the edge. Oh, but not when they're walking normally. Then they dive right in. That's the exact opposite of how it should work! All the fight mechanics they could have come up with, and they took The Matador and fucked it up. They can't even get clichés right.
And so it continues.
I'm not going to keep count this time. I just want to let you know that yes, this shit is still happening, and will persist until the very end of the game.
Also, notice the three squares along the bottom row, from the left. Blank, yes? No. See how they all have a teeny tiny portion of dark pixels? Did you see this before I pointed it out? Can you see it even after I pointed it out? Let me zoom in for you.
Those are part of the puzzle. Enjoy discovering that after you think you've solved it.
Once you beat certain rooms, a signpost will materialise and display the text above. You will have no idea what this means until later, when a locked door tells you to find the four fragments.
A smart designer might have put this door at the start of the dungeon. Then you'd know what the goal is and wouldn't be confused by those messages. Granted, a smart designer would also have made the fragments tangible items, rather than having signposts appear at random to say "Yep, you got one, good job."
Let's face it, a smart designer wouldn't have made Avalon Code.
You know, I seem to remember an ice block puzzle in Ocarina of Time, to go back to that yet again. A puzzle where you had to carefully consider each step whilst avoiding about twelve of those indestructible spinning blade bastards on the slippery floor. It was actually really hard.
That was a good while ago, mind you. I may only remember it being hard because I was ten years old, and therefore shit. Or possibly there was no such room and my brain is lying to me.
My point is, that's the sort of block puzzle I'd expect to be seeing here, not one solvable in four blindingly obvious moves.
This mission: Matrix Software gets something else backwards.
I completed this one several times with an orichalcum weapon in one hand, avanium in the other. I made sure to land hits with both weapons, yet for some reason, I kept getting points for the avanium, never the orichalcum.
Turns out, for the avanium weapons objective, you just have to equip it in one hand. Note "weapons". Plural. However, for the orichalcum objective, the one that says "weapon", singular, you need to equip two. Dandy.
By the way, the toss-up objectives are old, and getting older. Judgment Link is the same goddamn timing minigame it always is, and it just makes the mission take twice as long as it should.
How the hell do you make this boring
It also reminds me how much of a joke these missions are if you aren't going for gold every time. This is well past the midpoint of the game, but if you're not in it for points, dungeons are still zero-effort slogs. By now, the most difficult part of Avalon Code is not switching it off to do something the fuck else.
Flip all the switches. There's a bonus objective too, but let's pretend I don't have OCD for a moment. I just want to get this over with.
I walk to the first switch, unimpeded, and step on it.
Then I walk to the other switch and step on that.
Mission complete. And I still got a gold medal. Just barely, but still!
Yeah, there's an invincible golem too, but do you think he gave me any trouble? We've already established how easy it is to run past enemies, and it's twice as easy when these things stand around blocking half the time. And even that didn't matter because he walked into a pit and died two seconds after the mission started. I had to retry it to get this screenshot.
There's a mace in this room. New weapon. Same as a hammer. Yawn.
Okay. Remember that statue "puzzle" in the first of these caverns? For those who don't, ice sculptures would sometimes appear after a mission. You had to destroy them all to open the boss door.
This cavern does that, but worse.
There are four statues in this room. None of them can be destroyed. Fortunately, this signpost contains a hint.
If we go south...
Oh, right. There it is. Guess we just break it, then go back and break the other ones. Kind of a pointless obstacle, but that seems about right for this game.
Aaaaand what the fuck. Still can't destroy them.
This is Matrix Software failing to use plural nouns again. There are actually four statues in the previous rooms, corresponding to those in this one. You have to go back and break all of them to get through. But when the hell did they appear, and where? I've completed all the other rooms and I didn't see any.
In Tornaq, when a statue appeared, the camera zoomed in on it and Mieli told us to break it. This time, no such luck. After you've cleared a statue room, the statue is just suddenly there. No indication that it happened. They also tend to appear somewhere off-screen, so even perceptive players won't notice.
Case in point:
During the actual mission, this ledge has nothing on it. You won't think to check it again. And it's tucked away in the corner, far from any of the exits, so you won't spot the statue on your way out. You have to be looking for it.
To reiterate, there are four of these things. You've likely missed them all, and now have no idea which rooms they appeared in. So merry Christmas, fucker! Aimless backtracking through this confusingly laid-out dungeon to break statues that break other statues that somehow open a door. Santa is real, and he hates you.
There are only two more dungeons. Does that make you happy? It makes me happy.
Sorta fluctuating between "Thank god there are only two more of these things" and "Oh god, there are still two more of these things."