Part 1: Setting the Stage (this post)
Chapter 1: Setting the Stage
We begin with the title screen following the short, wordless, ominous intro (that I'll disburse in a later, less wordy update).
You have the opportunity to choose a name. Choose your own name, and every NPC in the game will yell it at you, so I elect to leave it the non-CAPS LOCK "Alex."
The save screen. The game does an extreme flashy effect on all those outlines. Perhaps as a warning against staring too closely at the screen.
The stage opens with Alex (you) swinging his longsword around in broad daylight. The poor milquetoast has only these few seconds to endear himself to you before you spend the entire rest of the game making fun of his skeletal frame and headstrong idiotics (er, heroics, yeah).
"Well, well... aren't you energetic this morning?" he jibes,
"What's got you in such a good mood?"
You just smile, raising your eyebrows.
"Look at you, grinning like an idiot." Damme chuckles, "Since you're in such a good mood..."
Damme notices Alex's excitement easily thanks to the shorts he's never without.
"How 'bout 30,000 more!"
Your jaw drops, and your smile fades, "Surely you jest!"
Damme laughs heartily, "Ha ha... gotcha! And don't call me 'Shirley'!"
I'd like to say that's the last horrid joke that the game does for you. In that case, the rest are all up to me.
"Guys!" she pants, "Have you seen grandfather?"
"Master Qunos?" you ask,
"Not recently, why?"
Ah, the love interest arrives. Time for Alex's brain to fall out through his ear.
"He should have been back by now, and I'm worried."
Look, he knows he's not supposed to go to the arsenal by himself. He probably spilled some spears after some flashbacks of old battles addled his frail senior mind.
Welp, if there's any amount of studly posturing that can solve this crisis, Alex is on the case.
"But, I'll check on him just to be sure."
"Hmmph!" Damme snorts,
"You just want an excuse to get out of your workout!"
Katarina flares a bit at that,
"Come off it, Damme, You know (player name) isn't like that."
She bats her eyes at you, adoringly.
"Thanks Alex. It will make me feel better to know Grandpa's okay."
Oh I see what this is, little manipulative bitch wants to crack a whip and have Alex obey, huh? Well the joke's on her: the controller is in my hands
One last crack of the whip before I'm off to do manly things, huh?
Oh, or a map. I've got my eye on you, Kat.
"Do be careful Alex, there seem to be more demons around than usual."
Wait, usual? People are used to there being some amount of demons just wandering around?
Well okay then. Alex will do as you say, fearful of your superior girlish figure. And musculature.
Without even going to the world map, the game whisks us away to the arsenal.
Aha! A lizardman!
He jumps from time to time and rushes at you after you swat him with your slingblade. Lizardmans work best in groups, where up to 4 of them approach you and can attack while the others keep up the menacing dance sequence.
And we deal with him in short order.
You can see enemy health bars as well as your own. Most every enemy in the game falls to the strategy of stepping into the foreground or background to dodge, and poor lizardman is no exception.
I never thought I'd get whipped by a wizard, I must be getting old."
As if suddenly remembering, he says,
"I'll be alright, but Katarina's in danger!
Hurry back to Rysis and stop Argos!!!"
"Who's Argos?" you ask.
"No time... GO NOW!" Qunos commands.
Away from one master and to another, huh? No surprise Alex laps up these orders; Qunos' frail and withered frame is downright brawny compared to Alex.
"Alex, Help me!"
Just one order after another.
Better do as she asks.
What does the wizard have to say for himself?
"Argos! Have you the courage to face a warrior? Or are cowardly attacks on the helpless all you can muster? Release the girl!"
Argos turns his fearsome visage towards you...
A voice like the growl of a thousand demons assaults your ears.
"A feisty young morsel, are you... eh?
Stay back! I shall only warn you once!"
Bracing yourself to strike, you swear between clenched teeth,
"And I too, warn only once! Today you DIE, wizard!"
Again, Argos' evil voice reverberates within your head,
"You are fortunate, whelp, that I am expected at Keire Temple.
You do not die this day, but we will meet again!"
You prepare to renew your attack,
"First, you must get by me, for this town has only one gate!"
Argos laughs cruelly.
"Sorry, 'brave' warrior!
But we shall leave now, and your puny gate will not bar my passage!
Ha ha ha ha!"
With that, Argos and Katarina vanish!
"Alex!!!!!!!!" Katarina's screams echo through the deserted streets
Leaving you alone...
Too late to try and endear yourself to me, Alex. That wizard is way cooler than you.
Alex! Where is Argos?"
The melodrama continues. Of this game's many themes, one is the inherent chaos and cruelty one signs up for when becoming a wizard.
I'll have admission applications to wizard college ready at the end of this for all of you.
I couldn't stop him."
Qunos sighs, "I see...
Do not blame yourself, Alex, you did your best.
Argos is strong in the evil ways."
I'm sure he means to finish that with "not at all surprising, you're kindof a wuss and he's way cooler than you."
Qunos spies something on the ground.
Isn't this the pendant you gave Katarina?"
...shh! Old fool! Don't hint about things that happen in the intro movie that I'm waiting until later to show the goons!
I won't just stay here and let her be taken from me! I'll save her, Master! I swear it!"
Your oath declared, all else means nothing.
You rush from town.
Wimpy perhaps, but I can understand the need for more in one's diet, having defeated a scant one lizardman today.
Do I look like a waiter?
"These are no back alley thugs or weakling monsters you face! No indeed! You shall face beings of great power, and vicious, evil demons. When my friend in Neil left Katarina in my care, I knew that one day I could no longer protect her. But I'll not pass those duties to a hot-headed, over-eager fool! NOW LISTEN UP!!!
Take this jade and go to Hujia. Buy equipment you may need. Check back with me occasionally, I may be able to help. Go carefully, and use your BRAIN as well as your BRAWN! Katarina's life rests in your hands."
What a way for a proud warrior's life to end. Forced to pass the buck to a youthful hot-head. And though Alex possesses no brain power to speak of when Kat bats her eyes, and is packing much more scrawn than brawn, poor Qunos has to give him the pep talk as if he were the pride of the island.
What a way for a proud warrior's life to...oh. Seems he doesn't croak just yet. Fancy that. I thought he would die right there from grief.
"When you are ready, follow the map Northeast to cross Mt. Galys."
Sweet hexagonal currency batman! Not trying too hard to imitate a more successful adventure gaming franchise, are we?
From this point, we're allowed to wander around town. Rysis is a tiny place, consisting of a mere two screens and a handful of houses. One of them shelters tutorial man.
"I have great knowledge that may help you in your noble quest. What would you like to know?"
Saving the game
"Please, return anytime you wish."
Selected option 4. I'll be doing the tutorializing for the goons myself, thank you very much
We're out of doors again and off to the town's second panel.
"I heard Katarina's screams...What happened?"
You explain hurriedly,
"Katarina has been kidnapped!?" he says, shocked, "Th... that's horrible!"
Worry lines crease Damme's face as he says to you, "May the Dragon's eyes watch over you, friend. Hurry back with Kat safely in your arms."
And all you had to do, Damme, was walk one panel over and help out. He must be oneathose backseat adventurers. Figured he'd go into teaching once his job in the industry dried up.
Let's ask this other guy what his excuse is.
"I don't understand, Who would kidnap Katarina?"
Whoa, this mook has a name? I guess I'll have to get it memorized. He must be important somehow.
Although, judging from his agape and gormless comment, it's a wonder he has his own name memorized.
Weren't you listening to the narrator, Cyath? It was Argos! A wizard did it!
Enough of that crap. Let's walk into the church of the dragon.
"I will guide you in your travels. Listen closely to what I say."
"Old legends speak of magic arts of travel."
"When the two stars upon the earth awake, no distance remains between them."
After quoting the legend, he continues, "Such stars are shown on maps of this land, but no one knows how they work. Seek out this lost art to hasten your travels." He bows to you, graciously, "Seek me when you need direction. I will help, if I can."
This is what the game's churches look like. There's an adventuring advice guy (above) and a healer/save point guy (below). What advice guy is talking about here is the warp star system that we'll explore in good time. When you're stuck in the game, one of these guys may just have the direction you're looking for, and they occasionally add marks to your map that can get there no other way. Pretty friendly for beginners, but this is one of the few times I'm going to publish him because there's plenty of dialogue to get through without padding it with the blue line.
"You are hurt. Be still and I will heal you."
Ah, so warrior = good, monk = good, and wizard = evil.
I wonder when they'll get to rogue?
Emerging from his trance, the healer asks,
"Do you wish to have your deeds recorded?"
"Well then, all you have accomplished is preserved."
"Across the land, the brothers of my order can be found. See them when you need healing."
Or when you need to save your game. The healing arts of this island involve staring at someone and making little sparkly bits shower upon them from your hands. Just like real medicine.
We travel back to the far side of town, where in his house, Qunos has already re-assumed his grumping position.
"There is no time to waste! We're depending on you to rescue Katarina."
And wastes no time telling me that I'm wasting time talking to him. Okay, geez, don't you think I'm also depending on me to do it? Not like any of this town's other, buffer warriors are up to the task. I'm going, I'm going.
And with that, we step outside the town and onto the glorious overworld map. Next time we'll wander around aimlessly until making our way to the second town, Hujia.
Oh, and I'll get right on that whole "rescuing Alex's girlfriend" bit.