Part 3: WantedYay! It's the second page, and that means I don't need to worry about offending the Lizard God!
From what everyone else has said there's a 0% chance I would ever finish it on my own (my ideal RPG in this style would be like 75% plot separated by quick dungeons on the way to more plot, never did have the attention span for grinding...) so being able to follow it in an LP where someone else handles all the tedious parts is awesome.
There's not really any grinding in the sense that's usually meant; the game will never intentionally say "ok, now go kill things for four hours so that you're powerful enough to survive this fight" - although you can still end up in that situation if you sneak past everything, thus getting no experience or loot, and then run face first into a plot boss.
On top of that, and as others have pointed out, the game has some vicious pacing issues. It's not bad early on, with short combat sections spacing out tasty chunks of plot, but later on it develops a perverse love of throwing very large dungeons at you and saying "the plot's at the bottom, go fetch".
Or, in one particularly irritating circumstance, "the plot coupon's at the bottom; go get it and then bring it back out and redeem it for plot". Expect to see me do horrible things to every single encounter in that hellhole.
Before getting on with the update proper, I would like to solicit feedback. This is my first SSLP, and I'm still feeling my way with some things, in particular the update length and the typesetting. I get the impression that the previous updates were kind of long, so I've trimmed this one down a bit, and moved the flesh-eating crabs and bar fight into update #4 - am I right on this?
Similarly, I've been using the convention of (commentary game); I also tried rendering it as (commentary game) and (commentary game), and this is the one I disliked least, but if it's bugging you - or you just have a better suggestion, or an argument in favour of a different style, I want to hear it.
Now that I'm done comment-whoring, the actual content.
Last time on Let's Play Septerra Core: Maya's on the run from offShell police forces, after being mistakenly marked as an arms smuggler (the actual smuggler being the young boy Tori). Fending off the Wind City Guard, she flees homewards...
Only to discover that she's been beaten there.
Arriving in the city, we find that Mayor and the Sergeant have departed, but there's no way we can sneak past those Workbots. Our only option is to talk our way in - or flee.
You would arrest me?
The Mayor is looking for you...
He was very specific, you know.
'Stand guard, don't let those two get away' and stuff like that...
Appealing to their sense of mercy has failed. All we have left to try is appeal to their sense of resentment by talking about Mayor.
Mayor treats you like junk! Grubb made you, not Mayor...
Yeah, she's got a point...
He is a jerk, isn't he?
He's a slave driver! He treats us like robots!
I'm sorry, miss, we can no longer talk to you in an official capacity. We're on strike.
Yeah, we're on strike!
The tone of disgusted weariness when the first one says "we're on strike", evoking workers fed up with management dicking them over everywhere, is wonderful. The second one rather more upbeat and enthusiastic about the prospect.
Having sown the seeds for a future robotic uprising, we can once again freely wander the city. Our first stop is, as usual, Uncle's.
It's Tori. He's selling weapons that he finds in the junk piles...
He went to hide out in Outlaw Canyon. You must find him, and set things straight.
I have no idea how he knows this.
But, Outlaw Canyon lies past the pumping station! I've never gone that far...
Perhaps Grubb can help you...
Do you think Tori is really the smuggler?
It would not surprise me...his heart is ruled by coin, instead of by conscience.
I don't know what Maya is so worried about here; if Tori can make it there intact, she should have no trouble following in his wake. Either that or we'll find his bones lying in the sand five minutes past the station, already picked clean by the desert scavengers.
This is, in the ancient language of my people, what is known as a 'win-win situation'.
That aside, Uncle's advice is good. We'll take care of anything we need to do in town, then see if we can recruit Grubb's assistance. First step: The Stockpile.
Don't worry, Maggy, I'll be fine.
Is the Mayor around?
Yeah, and he has men in armour looking for you!
Hang on, we're not supposed to be talking to her, remember?
Who told you that?
Yeah, but we never listen to him anyways, remember?
Some strange men were lookin' for you, you know...
Stay away from them. I'll look out for myself.
He doesn't have anything new, and we can't quite afford the grenade launcher. However, we do have a use for another Core Engine - or rather, we will shortly. Next stop is the Junk Mail.
Again, nothing new. However, these Greaves we have are comfortable and stylish, and Grubb might like a pair of his own. We get a gift for Runner, too - MetalSprings, the robot-only version of Greaves.
Pictured here: the general store and another Junker. The general store sells healing items and some accessories, but everything they have we either don't need or can't afford, so we give it a pass this time. We do, however, have a brief chat.
I think I'm seriously in trouble this time, Gosel...
That's what you say every time! Well, don't worry, I won't tell anyone I saw ya!
The Mayor's gone too far this time...
Them soldiers...they say you've been smuggling weapons to their enemies...
It was Tori. Have you seen him?
I love the way Maya has not the slightest hesitation about ratting out Tori to everyone. He must annoy her as much as he does me.
There's nothing left to do in Oasis but talk to people, so we do a quick sweep of the remaining NPCs before we head out.
And you still won't stand up to the Mayor?
We're old men, Maya...w-we can't stand up to him.
Some day, Mayor's going to cause you more trouble than you can ignore.
While they have a lot of conversation topics, most of them are just extra chances to catch setting information if you don't like talking to Uncle. They do, however, repeat the rumour that Mayor is trying to modify the Workbots somehow:
Is Mayor taking good care of the Workbots?
He's been tinkering around with them. I wonder what he has planned?
We're almost out of the city when the Workbots turn at the sound of someone running towards them - or rather, towards Maya.
We can't talk to you unless you're an official union representative!
We want better pay!
I DON'T PAY YOU AT ALL, YOU IDIOTS! AAAAAGHHHHH!
While Mayor gets bogged down in negotiations with the Workbots, we slip away and head south...
...to Grubb's workshop.
We saw him in the opening cutscene, but haven't been properly introduced. Grubb is Shell 2's resident mad scientist and Maya's closest friend; when he's not out junking with her, he's at his workshop creating potentially society-overturning devices.
Runner greets us as we walk in. He doesn't actually have any lines, he just makes mechanical barking noises. Mostly. I've always wondered why Grubb didn't give him a voice; maybe he couldn't find the right parts.
Uncle says hello.
Mayor says hi...
Actually, Mayor is using your workbots as his own little police force.
I figured as much. That's why I left Oasis to work out here.
Well, you could still come by and see us every once in a while, you know.
Sorry...sometimes I lose track of time.
Tori's in trouble. He's been selling weapons from the junk piles.
Sounds like his style.
Yeah, well, he's run away to Outlaw Canyon, because some soldiers from World Shell 3 are after him. Uncle sent me to find him before they do.
Outlaw Canyon, huh? Wow, that's past the pumping station.
Uncle thought you could help me past it.
I've got to finish the repairs to thi-
Mayor is involved...
Can you help me?
Hmm...anything that goes against Mayor is cool by me. Count me in!
Runner can help us out.
And with that, Grubb and Runner join the party. First order of business is to give them their new shoes.
Oh, and if you were wondering - yes, that is a fuck-off huge beam cannon protruding from Runner's mouth in that screenshot.
Grubb is pretty fragile, and pretty weak. In fact, at the moment, he's not much to look at - although as the game progresses, he rapidly becomes an unsurpassed spellcaster. At the moment his most notable stat is his Speed, a ridiculous 72 - he's the second fastest character in the game. Although not obvious from this screenshot, he also levels up the most slowly - all characters gain full experience from every kill (even if not in the party), but he needs more to gain each level.
Equipment-wise, he has the usual body-feet-accessory-weapon slots. He also has four addon module slots, although the module type is different from Maya's. Oddly, despite wielding a staff, he actually upgrades it with core engines - examination of the staff head indicates that he has some sort of machinery built into it, and by the end of the game he'll have some considerably nastier stuff in there too.
Runner, on the other hand, is strong everywhere Grubb is weak - and vice versa. His speed is 35, less than half of Grubb's - but with Power like that, anything that he hits is going to stay hit, and with an Armour of 47 (and 72 hitpoints) he can take quite a beating. Note, however, his Core stat of 1; as a robot, Runner makes a poor spellcaster, and contributes little to the party's Core pool.
His equipment list is similar to Maya's, but with half as many module slots. Furthermore, as a robot, he needs a different type of armour. There are actually three kinds of armour in the game - Standard, Robotic, and Skins - and Runner can only equip Robotic armour. Similar restrictions apply to some accessories.
We give Runner the new engine we bought, and equip them both with new shoes. Our next stop should be the pumping station, but we have a small detour to make first.
Pausing only to pick up a spare generator Grubb has lying around, we return to Oasis. The bots at the smelting complex don't seem to have gotten the memo that they should be striking:
But then, they don't try to arrest us as a fugitive either. The Junk Heap, on the other hand, is where it's at.
Going up the ramp leads us to another workbot blockage, but if we circle around to the left, we come across the wreckage of this...vehicle.
Maya is unimpressed. Now that Grubb is in our party, however, we can choose to have him examine it instead.
I salvaged some usable stuff.
The TurboEngine, as its description implies, is a caster engine; it provides less raw brawn than a plain Engine - in fact, all it offers over the SmallEngine is a minor accuracy upgrade - but it comes with a +2 bonus to Core. We could have bought one at the Stockpile, but why bother when Grubb can salvage one for free?
Note the change in the Core bar along the top, too. Rather than seperate Core meters, the entire party shares a common Core pool equal to the sum of all of their Core stats. This makes it more important than it looks at first glance - a powerful caster will make it easier for everyone to use Core skills, and a weak one will not only be a poor caster in their own right, but will limit the amount of power the rest of the party can draw on.
Before heading off to the Pumping Station, let's take a quick look at our compatriots' skills. Grubb has the usual three levels of normal attacks, but also comes with Repair. At 5 Core, it's relatively cheap - it may not look it now, but trust me, it is - and it's a really effective heal for Runner. It will also inflict massive damage on robotic enemies; often enough to destroy them outright, making Grubb extremely valuable in certain robot-infested areas of the game.
Runner doesn't have any special abilities yet, but if we look at his normal attacks, we see something interesting: 'hits all targets in a line'. Yes, Runner's natural attack will annihilate not just whatever he points at, but everything unwise enough to be standing behind it. Sadly, this doesn't come up as often as we might like (given that you can't move around in combat, and are thus stuck with the positions the game gives you), but when it does, it's quite nice.
Properly kitted out, it's now time to actually get on with what we're meant to be doing: tracking down Tori.