Part 14: The Hell of Being In HellUpdate 012: The Hell of Being In Hell
Welcome to scenic Rapax Rift. It's hell, but not for the reason you might think. I mean, yes, there's the lava. And every single inhabitant has horns and is evil. But that's not why it's hell for you, the player.
In any case, the path immediately splits left and right. There's nothing you need to the left, but an exciting cutscene and a bit of lore beckon. Also this place is swarming with low-level Rapax patrols that I'm sparing you having to see me chopping my way through.
Warning, this video is a waste of your time as a viewer in the same way it's a waste for anyone playing the game.
Let's go see what that was all about.
Looks like that guy just arrived from and vanished back into the magma after visiting this prison area.
It only has one actual cell and prisoner, however, the room on the right holds monsters instead.
Rapax corpses and revenants are relatively un-scary, but they do have a mild chance of diseasing someone, which sucks if you don't have a disease healer. I do, though, so who cares. They get flattened in like one combat round.
We could bruteforce this code lock easy, but there's no reason to do so yet since this guy can't actually leave at the moment.
I feel like there was originally going to be more of a storyline about not all of the Rapax being insane genocidal maniacs. Anyway, now we have a subquest for the Rapax Rift, finding the Staff of Ash for this guy. It's actually completely skippable, but it gets us a fat whack of XP(even for this stage of the game), and plus he asked us nicely.
The gate on the far side of the prison I haven't commented on is a shortcut for getting back here quickly later once we have the Staff of Ash. A nice little quality of life thing. Time to take the other path away from the entrance.
I unwisely decide to do a bit of sightseeing.
Let's get some nice screensh-
So, let's talk about why the Rapax Rift is really Hell. See, it's got very broken terrain, and in some parts of the game, with broken terrain/height differences, enemies can't aggro across them(like the switchback leading up to Bela in the Mountain Wilderness), but the Rift has no such barriers. Now, this is one of the less annoying ones, because the enemy can still path to us from there and we can actually fight and kill them(we will need to path to each other since killing enemies entirely via magic and ranged attacks takes forever).
Enemies who can't reach you for long enough eventually de-aggro so you can get out of the fight, but it's very inconsistent. Theses veterans de-aggroed until I reached them, and then re-aggroed.
Finally, mulched them.
Nice view from up here.
And instantly another encounter. The Rift has EXTREMELY high spawn rates for enemies.
At least this time the presence of a small squad of Rapax samurai adds some marginal challenge and requires me to pay attention to the fight.
Now we're getting to the real bad parts of the Rift. Because once we aggro someone who's on a differently elevated platform and can't get to us, disengaging is going to take like two or three minutes every single time.
This is another prison, and a competently built one, too. No one's getting out unless they feel like jumping over lava pits or someone comes by and folds down the grated floors over the lava flows. Sadly we can't save the prisoners here, even if we let them out, they just moan about how everything is doomed and Al-Sedexus is going to kick our asses and theirs, too. Not that we actually can let them out from here, the actual buttons for opening their cells are like half a kilometer away. Again, competent security design from the Rapax.
Another type of enemy that's almost unique to the Rift and its sub areas are Rapax initiates and priestesses. They're pretty unscary casters, though, and I think in two hours of stomping around the Rift the worst they managed to do was silencing Chewbecka and Lady a couple of times.
In addition to the constant spawns and borked engagements, the Rift has a couple of small one-way paths that can waste you some time if you take them at the wrong point. Though some of them don't feel like they're intended to be one-way. For instance, the path on the left here is just a little bit too steep to climb again, while I feel like it was probably meant to be climbable.
Still, we'll hit this level first. There's actually something here we want.
Also looking down the cliff to our right we can see our eventual goal for this area.
This area has several small rooms and the buttons to open the cells back in the prison.
Each room has some combination of Priestesses and Initiates and some pre-placed loot around the edges. Most of this loot is just generic scrolls and potions.
Oh and this wand that has the exact same 3D model as every other generic wand, you'd be excused for thinking it was just a pair of Knock Picks or something. But is it? Nope!
If we want to get the Staff of Ash and free our Rapax prisoner buddy, we need this thing. Also if you were real hard up for a decent secondary weapon, you could do worse.
Another room holds another item we'll need if we didn't do the thing where we climb Ascension Peak with less than 2 of the trinity and set a portal in advance. Also we'll want this key because it unlocks some areas where we can potentially get some good loot.
I then loop back quickly to listen to the prisoners whine.
Real bunch of downers. I also hope we don't meet this Al-Sedexus, they don't sound fun to deal with.
The little slope leads to four paths. The one straight ahead is just the quick path back to our prisoner buddy.
Immediately below the drop-down is a prison containing only Rapax undead. There's nothing important there and the pre-placed loot is garbage, too.
Then there's these two corridors. The one on the right is blocked by a locked door, the one on the left is open. Obviously we have to go where we can.
As soon as you get this far the screen starts shaking like crazy and a few small rocks fall from the ceiling. The cleft in the wall on the right heads to the other corridor we couldn't enter, but the bottom of the cleft is full of lava and so it remains uncrossable, for now. Up ahead is a Rapax spa where we murder the customers.
After a quick dip we then realize there was no reason to, as the spa contains nothing we're interested in(except for the delicious, delicious XP contained inside the previous occupants) and start heading back.
If I remember right, you can skip across the magma on the left without dying ENTIRELY if you're real fast. Alternately you might notice that you can interact with the bent support on the right...
This blocks the passage behind you and lets you easily cross over here.
I think you could potentially softlock yourself here if you set a portal behind yourself and teleported out at this point. At the very least you'd doom yourself to having to navigate Wizardry 8's awful slope-related physics as you tried to cross some magma channels to skip ahead to where you were meant to go. I remember once I fell into the magma and it wasn't an instant kill but it took me like thirty seconds to actually wrangle myself out by grinding myself against the sides of the stream.
So don't be an idiot, just cross over into the next corridor and continue.
Locked door one way, passage the other way. Obvious choice.
This time, rather than immediately busting into some poor unsuspecting Rapaxes' suites and mangling them, we start by climbing upwards. Windy twisty stairs until we're at the highest point we can reach in this particular area.
Up here we've got a long corridor to get to the end of, with three rooms on the left, and this time we have(probably) to bust in and murder the occupants as the rooms have no doors and if we just strolled by in the corridor they'd aggro and we'd need to go beat them to a pulp anyway. Once again, they're mixed groups of priestesses/initiates with one small squad of low-level melee rapax assisting the last group as I beat them up. These aren't guarding any important(or interesting) items, however.
Priestesses can drop some nice things, they just seem intent on not doing so.
There are two portals at the end of the corridor, both taking us to places we've seen before(from a distance).
One takes us to a high ledge containing a door(which the key from earlier is for) and the portal we came through.
The other takes us to a foreboding portal and a mountain pass(the latter of which being where we need to go to actually progress).
So obviously I hop back to the ledge because fuck progress when there's looting to do and demon hooters to be checked out.
So, one ominous hallway with a side passage where some enemies have spawned.
Or have they?
In yet another repetition of the endless Rapax Rift Bullshit, half the squad has spawned on the other side of the door, and after beating the one member on this side to a pulp I need to pass like ten combat rounds before the rest of them fuck off and disengage from combat.
If you don't heed a warning from a party member(and someone with high Senses), those big ol' frog demon heads will spit bullshit at you as you pass by.
Fiddle with this panel and you can close them up and make progress safe.
Obviously what we want is upstairs and, before anyone asks, no, all the loot I got from this place was garbage once again despite the number of goddamn chests. I swear this game has it out for me.
These guys have a unique priestess among them, the High Priestess. She drops a special staff that isn't a quest item, but it is an extended-range 2-handed weapon with a chance to blind and decent damage which anyone can equip, so if you've got someone in the back row lacking a decent combat option, it's a good backup. It could also be a decent off-hand for a Monk so he ran reach into combat when someone's out of punching range.
Anyway, let's go pound these guys to dust.
Despite their numbers, it's not much of a challenge. Soul Shield, Element Shield, then let the melee goons go to town and the battle's over in a short number of rounds.
Cumulative chip damage from AoE spells cast by the Rapax do wear the fellows down a bit, but nothing in the dangerous range of things.
Nice pad, really. Huge tub. Shame we can't go for a dip and wash off all the blood.
This is what we're here for, though. We've got us a pointlessly complicated magical lock to open in a bit. Two, in fact.
Also, because of all the talk about multiclassing I decided that I would in fact take advantage of Werdna's upcoming level-up to see what happened now that he has his max-level spells.
It turns out that he loses zero effectiveness on his current spells when this happens, so that's nice, it's at least better designed than AD&D dual-classing. He probably won't get enough level-ups to get all the level 7 spell access before the end of the game, but he'll pick up some broader access for certain. In any case his increased power before the end was likely to mostly come from training up Power Cast anyway. Plus it'll also slightly broaden the selection of equippable items in case I come across some more nice gear for him before the end of the game.
Plus if he wasn't already wearing the Helm of Brilliance he could pop on a stylin' mitre.
I turn around and head back to the door that the Rapax were stuck in a bit ago. Thankfully they've fucked off by now.
Though at this point the game starts trolling me with getting aggroed by Rapax on a different elevation. I can't take five steps without it happening.
Why couldn't they just have put in a goddamn ladder rather than this fucking switchback above the magma.
I run down and hide under the section the Rapax are using to cross over. But as soon as I poke my head out...
It took me five minutes just to make it down to the fire shack at the end of the switchback because of this.
This is what you need the Flamequencher wand to open, by the way. And as soon as you do...
He's thoroughly unscary as he just as the usual single semi-big attack and can summon wimpy miniature fire elementals to back him up. According to data-scraping sites he does have a list of(unimpressive) spells, but spellcasting was apparently disabled in his script. Considering that his spell-list is entirely psionic and doesn't have a single Fire spell in it, I presume it was a placeholder.
Again, this place definitely feels scaled as you coming here considerably earlier, probably prior to doing the water sections and Sea Caves, maybe even prior to visiting Bayjin and cleaning up the majority of the faction quests.
Big fella, though, certainly looks imposing.
And of course as soon as he's dead I aggro the fucking rapax on top of the ridge again are you fucking kidding me game. Come on.
whatever let's loot this damn hut and then hide behind it until they fuck off.
It contains the Staff of Ash, which is only for using on our prisoner friend, and a key. The key unlocks the door we bypassed by walking through the rift between the two passages. I have no idea why it's here since you can't actually get here without using that bypass passage and one of the two teleporters UNLESS you, again, somehow manage to skip across the lava which is very clearly very unintentional.
Whatever, let's get back to our buddy. Good thing I set a portal to get around this shit.
Set/Return to Portal is a godsend.
Altruism is worth fat loads of XP. Hell yeah.
Now, one short saunter and several cut murders later...
Let's play around with magic!
So this guy can actually be moderately scary.
He's overpacked on 100+ resistances to all magic, so even Power Cast won't save you this time.
50% of his actions also pull from a potentially nasty spell list:
10% Energy Blast
10% Magic Missiles
10% Element Shield
10% Body of Stone
10% Purify Air
20% Boiling Blood
It's watered down by stuff like Energy Blast and Magic Missiles, but Crush and Boiling Blood can fuck up a single target good. If he sticks a Turncoat it can really, well, turn the fight around, and as the only thing that can really fuck him up is physical damage, him casting Body of Stone would make him a lot harder to wear down before he wears you down.
Of course, these badasses can handle him.
What we can't handle is the yet another pack of rapax on a high bridge that have been aggroed. So as soon as El Dorado is down, I duck into the tunnel behind him and wait them out.
Have to wonder what's down here, anyway...
I'm sure you'll all live without seeing oversized naked demon breasts. Al Sedexus is, uh, a thing. Like, generally there's nothing offensive about Wizardry 8, but I can absolutely see her putting some people off and understand it. Thankfully we won't be seeing (much more of) her again.
Let's get the hell out of the Rift. We'll only be seeing it one more time in this run.
Past those two archers lies the Rapax Courtyard which is one of the slightly more puzzling areas in the game, because of how pointless it is. I suspect it was originally intended to have been more expansive, but it ends up as a sort of weird appendix area that should either have been part of the Rift or of the Castle proper.
All it consists of is this one Z-shaped trench with a bunch of archers and samurai up top, which will aggro while in positions neither of you can fire back from, while you try to make it to the end and climb up to kill them all.
I get lucky this time and Chameleon gets me almost to the end before I end up aggroing someone.
And it's just so much chaff. Asphyxiate and the NegatAir really pull their weight here, though, with the large number of enemies they actually manage to weed out a decent amount of them.
It's always a slog, though, especially as the area has literally no rewards for clearing it out. Even the gatehouse contains nothing of value except a bunch of healing potions which we've long outgrown.
I do wonder if they originally intended for the Rapax samurai aesthetic to go further, though. They've got the katanas, the naginatas and a bit of the architecture, but I wonder whether it was a conscious decision not to carry it any farther or whether they just ran out of time to complete it.
And with that, we're in the Rapax Castle proper. It's at least as big as the Rift itself, plus it has an upper level that's a separate area. It'll definitely fill out an entire update on its own. It's also a lot less annoying to fight through than the Rift, so that'll be great, too.