Part 1: Update I - Aller Anfang Ist Schwer (The First Step Is Always The Hardest)Update I - Aller Anfang Ist Schwer (The First Step Is Always The Hardest)
Let's take it from the top.
In the beginning we get a few options. First off, we have the movement speed (text or the character on the map, I don't know) - either normal or fast. Next, we can let a clock count the time I spent playing this game in exchange for a minor performance hit (in fact, on anything that isn't classified as a toaster nowadays, you won't notice it at all), which I enable for interest's sake. Finally, we get an option to skip the intro, which is nice, but of course, we don't want this right now. And then...
Then we get our intro scene - two guys overlooking whatever the hell they're seeing beyond the castle walls. Thanks to the way the view angle works, we can't tell.
What terrible weather. Even the guards have left the battlements! Come on, Lazalantin! We'd better leave too! If they find us here...
No! Tonight is the night! I know it, HE will come!
"I know it, HE will come!" First and foremost, you should know what's going to happen if they catch us up here! We're alone now, Lazalantin. Everybody else has been taken by the Duke. We should give up!
Give up? No, Rank! I will never give up.
So now we've got names for both of these guys. The ninja dude is Rank, and the guy with the seriously too long bangs that looks like Valnar from Vampires Dawn (which is because that portrait is a default RPG Maker one - a lot of people like to use those because these projects rarely have large teams, so using premade assets is an easy way to cut the workload in half) is called Lazalantin. And fuck calling that guy Lazalantin, he's just Laz to me.
As long as I can still think, I know that this is my fate! You might think it's ridiculous, but I know that HE has brought me onto this path. There's no way back!
HE! You're always talking about HIM, and how he's going to come and save us - but nothing has happened so far! I used to believe in you. I followed you because I believed in your dream... your dream and your mysterious avenger. But now, everybody that followed you is dead!
I beg you, Lazalantin! Let's go home and live a normal life while we still can!
I can't! I'd have to live the rest of my life knowing that I betrayed HIM!
The unshakable fate has chained his life to mine, Rank! There's nothing I can do about that!
You can go and play with the girls like that randy Senkelfried if you want to! After all, fate is only forcing me to wait for HIM!
Enough is enough! You know I would never abandon you! But nobody's going to be helped by us drowning here on the battlements! In this darkness, you wouldn't be able to see HIM coming anyway!
Oh Rank, my old pal... you're right, of course!
Finally, you're coming to your senses! Come on, let's head to the pub and drink a few beers! If your hero shows up in this terrible weather and if he's not crazy, that will be his first destination anyway!
And then the credits start, so let's recap a bit: So far, we've got Laz and Rank. They apparently seem to be some sort of revolutionary force fighting against the Duke (whoever he is), and apparently things haven't been going quite well, considering everybody except those two has been killed. And Laz is waiting on some sort of savior to come and bail them out. Odds are that we're going to be either running into that savior or we're going to be that savior.
After the credits roll, we get our first chapter:
CHAPTER I: THE EASTERN MARCH
There have been a few Ostmarken in German history, most recently in the Nazi's Gau administration system, where the area around Posen, West Prussia and parts of Brandenburg was made into the Gau Ostmark - at least until the Anschluss, after which the entirety of the annexed Austria became the Gau Ostmark all of a sudden. In a different way, the term Ostmark is also used to refer to the currency used in the German Democratic Republic, called East Germany for short. Since both West and East Germany used the German Mark name but had different currencies and because people didn't want to say "Mark of the German Democratic Republic", the terms "Ostmark" and "Westmark" were adopted by the general population.
Next, we find Laz and Rank sitting at the local (wherever "local" is) pub, continuing their discussion:
Tell me, Lazalantin, what kind of guy is your great hero anyway? Do you have any idea what that bloke could be like?
I haven't the slightest, but I guess I'd recognize him immediately if he stood before me:
He has to be something very special! A great warrior perhaps, or maybe a powerful wizard...
One thing's for sure: He's got to know every trick in the book, be hard-boiled, and unshakable!
Oh, that kind of guy... I see...
With that, we leave wherever that place just was, and shift our focus over to the eponymous Eastern March, where we see a fellow walking out of some fog.
How? Where? What?
Hmm... I think, I'm standing in the forest... but who am I and what am I doing here?
"Ich glaub, ich steh' im Wald" is also the German title of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so we've got an added pun/reference here.
Get yourself together, Grandy! Concentrate!
So it seems my name is Grandy...
And I came out of this weird fog bank! I think I'm going to look around for a bit. Maybe I'll remember a few more things.
Our intro is finished and we can finally take control of Grandy, our main character! So far, we know pretty much jack shit about him, as that fog bank was so kind as to give him amnesia, that old chestnut of a plot device. Oh well, at least it means we'll be getting the exposition piecemeal as he rediscovers things about himself. First off, you might have noticed a dog running around here:
Oh there you are, Julie. Good doggie.
Arff. Arff. Arff.
Julie?... I can't remember ever having seen this dog in my life, so why am I calling it Julie then?
Oh well. It seems like she wants to follow me... 1) Take her with me. - 2) She's doing just fine here.
Our first choice, and it boils down to "do you want a new party member y/n?", so let's take her along with us!
And then the dog simply disappears to show she got added to our party. A new party member's as good a reason as any to take a look at the menu screen:
Everybody who's ever played the SNES Final Fantasies should find this very familiar. The whole system is pretty much wholesale ripped off, but what the hell, it works fine.
The first menu is our item menu. So far, all we've got is the watch I enabled at the beginning. Let's check the time!
Four minutes. Nothing special about the watch, just a basic timer.
Next, let's check out Grandy's skills:
Only one special attack so far, a sweeping swipe that harms all enemies, but harms them less than the regular attack, since it would otherwise make the regular attack totally redundant. The dog doesn't have any skills.
The next menu option lets us take a look at our equipment. Grandy has two short swords and a cape to his name right now, which is the most baseline equipment possible.
Julie, on the other hand, only has her teeth. "Julie's teeth... better not remove those...", the description says. Words of wisdom.
After that, we have the save function, which works as advertised...
... and the quit function, which also does. With the menu done, let's venture to the north.
Here, we run into our first enemies. Enemies actually are represented on the map and move around, so you can avoid them if you wish.
This part of the forest is even darker than the rest... and it's much colder.
And there I spot some orcs, which I thought were a league above me, and legged it back to the east, where I run into some rabbits.
The combat system is very basic (you select an action for every character and the fastest people attack first), but it has some fairly neat animations and a thing I'm going to call "banter". There's a good bit of dialogue spruced in with battles - in this battle we have the following:
Those two are just lovely! Come over here, do you want a nut?
That dirty beast almost bit my finger off!
And here's a few animations:
It's definitely a few cuts above the average RPG Maker combat animations. Anyway, since the combat is very basic, I'm not going to go into any real detail when it comes to it except in the few cases where it becomes interesting. With the rabbits dispatched, we check out that mound of dirt at the top of the screen:
I'm not in the mood to be digging in the dirt with my hands...
Memo to self, find shovel. Next stop, the orcs over to the west:
INTRRUDERS IN OURR FOREST! ORCS COME TOOO ME!!!
Out of the way, pig-nose, or you'll get it!
WE POUND YOU INTO DIRT AND COOK OVER SMALL FLAME UNTIL DELICIOUS FOOD!
These guys are quite a bit tougher, but still within our skills right now. Banter also ensued:
OH! OW! ORK SOON WITH MY ANCESTORS!
You can take that to the bank, pal!
OWWWWWW! YOU HACK OFF MY HAND!
Take a guess what's going to happen to your head next!
As a result of this fight, we get our first level! No new skills, though.
With those guys dispatched, let's check out the western area.
Well, that was disappointing. Time to backtrack, I suppose.
Next stop, the south.
Oh boy, a house! But first, taking a look around the surroundings, there's one thing in particular that's interesting, and that's that grave:
"Doria Dengelbrack von Falkenburg".
Sounds awfully high-class for this kind of dump. Let's take a look inside, then.
Looks about as run-down as expected, apart from the pristine sets of armor. Odd. Let's have a talk with the owner:
As we walk into the room, he moves up.
Hey there, who are you?! Who allowed you to just walk into my house?
1) My name is Grandy. - 2) That's none of your business!
No reason to be a dick here, we pick the first option.
I'm lost here. I know nothing about this area and am looking for answers...
Hmm... It hasn't been long since I last heard something similar... Continue, young man!
I'm sorry I can't tell you much more. I've lost a large part of my memory ever since I came here.
Well, well... that sounds familiar to my old ears as well...
1) What are you talking about?! - 2) Well...
Picking the second option because meh. I don't think there's any real consequence here.
I don't know what else I can tell you. I actually only know my name: Grandy...
Other than that, I can't remember a thing...
Now, now, my young friend - you don't want to tell me you don't even remember how you came into my house?
Of course I still remember that... I just can't remember anything from before I arrived in this region.
As an aside, your abode could use a new coat of paint.
I'm going to forget I heard that... but tell me: Where exactly does your memory start again?
...I'm standing in this forest clearing. I came out of the fog... my memories have been blown away... but I don't want to go back into the fog.
As an aside, if we go back into the fog, we end up dying, so he's got good reason to not want to go back.
...and then there's this name: Libra! It's been going through my head the entire time, but I don't know why...
Well, I can help you in that regard - just a while ago I had been visited by a most lovely young lady.
Her name was... Libra!
What did you say? She exists?! And she was here?!
Patience, young man, patience... yes, she was here, and she told me a story that was exactly like yours.
Well, in any case - she's gone. I shouldn't have been talking that much. She seems to be a fairly... um... rash person.
Yeah... she's always been like that...
What am I saying?! I don't even know this Libra!
1) Where did she go? - 2) What did you tell her?
Let's get the full story on this character here first before we go out searching for the other character - option 2 it is.
I have not yet introduced myself: My name is Dankwart Dengelbrack zu Falkenburg.
I see you're confused... yes, the name sounds more noble, than this run-down hut would suggest.
Now hear the story of how the name Dengelbrack lost its importance...
Oh boy, strap in folks, we're in for the long haul here.
Twenty years ago... everything was different... I was the Duke of Falkenburg and lived on Castle Falkenburg with my wife Doria... a stately home on the cliffs above the village of the same name... Falkenburg, that is. But I strove towards higher goals! In my youth, I studied in the nearby Königsberg: Biology, physics and medicine. I was looking for ways to extend the human life, no matter the costs! At first, I tried interfering with the time stream, but found that manipulations of such kind had incalculatable consequences. So I got the idea to breathe new life into the dead! I got my subjects from the village cemetery - for the good of humanity, of course...
The preconditions for a successful operation are better than ever. This time, I simply have to succeed.
Jannis Brauer... I hope that you will be the last one I have to conduct my experiments on. Temperature: Exactly 14 degrees Celsius. The body has been dead for 24 hours and is as stiff as a plank. Excellent!
I hope it works this time! The villagers would not be pleased if they knew what their Duke is doing with their dead.
Let there be light!
The setup with the retractable roof cost a fortune, but I'm relying on the power of lightning. The most powerful thunderstorm in months; just the way I need it!
I only hope this works...
The corpse is now floating right under the opening. Now I only have to redirect the energy of the thunderstorm to it and then... life from the unlife! The Godly Spark will carry over onto this cold body and he will rise from the dead. A new age will begin! We won't have to fear death anymore!
...and my colleagues that always made fun of me in Königsberg will have to apologize.
And now! POWER!
By the gods! Every single bone has been pulverized!
How could that be? The external conditions were ideal. I went over every calculation again and again!
Dankwart?! What did you do now?!
Um, honey... you know... my hobby!
This is where Dankwart's wife, Doria, makes an appearance.
But why around this time? All the servants have already gone to sleep!
It doesn't matter. Then you'll have to clean this mess up yourself!
Yes dear, I'll do that. I promise.
Before that, you've still got to receive a visitor. A sir Wahnfried of Düsterbrocken asks for an audience.
That name is just grand. "Wahn" basically means "delusion" and is usually used along the lines of "insanity", and "Düsterbrocken" comes out to "dreary boulder". That's the kind of name you run away from. Very fast.
He wants to settle in this region and requires your permission for that.
Did you also ask him why that had to be done in the middle of the night?
Please clear that up with him yourself, Dankwart. I'm your wife, not your secretary! And now come along please!
But my research... I have to figure out why the experiment didn't work again.
Please excuse that I left you waiting, sir Wahnfried. There's been a small flooding in my laboratory...
I have already been told of your experiments, Duke.
Oh, really? People are talking about those even outside of Falkenburg? Where have you heard of my experiments?
Oh well... then I can imagine the kind of descriptions you had to hear.
They were filled with mockery... but I'm certainly able to form my own opinion.
I've been told that you're searching for the key to eternal life...
Of course, that's very simplified. I have several approaches... from the resurrection of dead bodies, to interference with the time stream...
And? Have you had any first successes?
Sadly not, but I'm on the best path.
But let's get to you. My wife told me that you wish to settle in my duchy...
Yes, that is my wish. I have also already visited an empty house in the village that would appeal to me.
That can only be Jannis Brauer's house! What, only been buried for a day, and already...
May I ask where you lived before?
Königsberg... where you studied in your youth.
And why would you now want to go to Falkenberg? Königsberg is by no means a bad town...
Your experiments... I'm familiar with the matter and hoped we could maybe work together...
It would indeed be a change of pace to exchange thoughts with a kindred spirit... In which direction is your research going?
I'm more talking about... experience...
That sounds especially interesting... you mean you just happened to...
Wait a moment! The Baron of Königsberg told me of a mysterious illness in his last letter... the White Fever. Quite a few people have died of it in Königsberg... but the symptoms pointed towards something different for me...
I suggested that people lay out garlic in their bedrooms. That worked!
And then the death of Jannis Brauer! The symptoms were the same as with the White Fever...
That would also explain why my experiment failed today!
But what am I talking about, sir Wahnfried. That of course has nothing to do with your request...
Just allow me a little test... between scientists, so to speak...
And what would that be?
It's a test of vision.
What do you say to the Holy Amulet of our family, fiend?! Did the situation get too hot over in Königsberg after I suggested a little vampire chase to the Baron?
You've made a mistake, Dengelbrack!
In your arrogance you've meddled with somebody who is far superior to you!
Oh really, I've got a different opinion about that!
And then Dankwart nails him again with the Amulet.
You'll regret this, Dengelbrack! Sooner than you feared!
Dankwart, old boy... that was a good one...
First thing tomorrow I'll be calling the citizens of Falkenburg to chase this fiend!
A scream is heard.
I have your wife, Dengelbrack! And I'll be keeping her until you change your mind!
Wahnfried had disappeared... and my wife with him. I knew I had no time to lose, so I gave chase immediately, just the way I was. He made it easy for me! Strolled through the streets of Falkenburg in the bright moonlight and told everybody he met he was traveling east... to the Eastern Marches... here! The tracks he left were unmissable. From here they went further south... to the Icy Wasteland. Again, I followed him...
The tracks... they're getting lighter! I can barely see them in this snow storm! And here the tracks end. Gods, help me! I know, I've been missing, but...
What?! A trap!
Your hunt is over here, you old fool! You'll never see your wife again!
No, we're not finished yet, creature of darkness. The gods are on my side! Feel their wrath!
And once again, he busts out the Amulet.
Always with the same move, you old fool! I am prepared for this!
The Holy Amulet! It's gone! Gods, help me!
Those haven't been serving you anyway. Your experiments probably weren't to their liking!
What did you do with Doria, bloodsucker?! Where is my wife?!
I'll gladly tell you about that. She is still in Castle Falkenburg, but...
She is now my companion!
Ahhh! You monster! You...
Silence! You are no longer in charge here!
Listen well, old man! You will never return to Falkenburg! Otherwise...
...I'll sic your beloved Doria on you!
You're nothing without your worthless talisman, so don't disturb me any longer! I'll leave you alive...
So you can see how Falkenburg blossoms under my rule!
...And so I returned from the Icy Wasteland. I had lost everything that was near and dear to me. What could I do? Without the Holy Amulet I had no chance against Wahnfried and his cronies. I ordered my last follower to guard the passage to the Eastern Marches! Harkon Lukasz! He guards the canyon leading to Falkenburg... or Düsterburg, as it is now named. And he will not budge until a new, legitimate duke from my bloodline, equipped with the insignias of his office, retracts my order.
The Holy Amulet is still somewhere in the Icy Wasteland.
Your Libra has got it in her head to find the Amulet and take Wahnfried out once and for all!
If only I had shut up in front of her!
But I so rarely have the pleasure of having guests...
You don't have to blame yourself, Dankwart. It was her choice alone to find the Amulet for you. I will search for her. I have the secure feeling that it's my fate to find her.
I think so too... although I hate having to send another young person into that life-endangering region.
1) Would you like to come with me? - 2) Please tell me the way!
Well, there's no sense in asking him to come along - he's just an old fart vegetating away. Let's get some directions.
Move west until you reach a signpost. Follow that in the south direction.
I hope I'll see you soon again.
So do I.
And then we leveled up. Still no skills.
...well then. Let's talk a bit about that exposition flood. To sum up, that old coot used to be the duke of what is now known as Düsterburg, but the vampire Wahnfried swooped in after getting driven out of Königsberg, stole his duchy, stole his wife, and basically ruined his entire life. Also, Dankwart was working on some Frankenstein mad science shit and trying to find the secret to immortality. To add to that, Grandy can't get the name of some woman named Libra out of his head, she just happened to have passed by after just happening to have suffered the same bout of amnesia Grandy did, and now we're going to be going into the Icy Wasteland to find her and the Holy Amulet that can apparently deal with that vampire problem.
...but that will have to wait. Next time, hopefully less talking.