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December 17th, 2013

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12:12 pm - Dark Messiah of Might and Magic Post 1 - Kickle Debacle
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic! I have tried to play this before and gotten varying amounts of the way into it before running into bugs, corrupt save files or just plain apathy. I absolutely love the way this game plays but it's difficult to actually stick with it for ... whatever reason.

Not that it'll be a problem THIS time, because I have you folk to keep me on track. So what's so great about Dark Messiah anyway? Well, technically this game is a sidestory to an expansion pack for Heroes of Might and Magic V. You control a young man named Sareth who looks sort of like Hugh Jackman although that doesn't matter because you never see your own face. Sareth is an orphan being raised by a wizard. Also, there's a prophecy that one day a half-human/half-demon child will be born. He will be called the "Dark Messiah".


Anyway I've been dithering and derping around trying to work out how to get started, so let's just roll on. The Tutorial level! Sareth is being allowed to go treasure-hunting with his mentor Phenrig. We're infiltrating somewhere called the "Spider Crypt" ... did I say "we"? Because Phenrig is all like "MY APPRENTICE, I WILL SPEAK IN YOUR HEAD WHILE YOU KICK BOXES AND SHIT." And he really does speak in all caps, too. I love Phenrig.

"PHYSICAL OBSTACLES WILL BE THE EAAAAASIEST YOU FACE IN THIS LIFE SARETH. NOW IS YOUR CHANCE -- TO OVERCOME THEM!!" dude I moved three boxes and kicked some planks it wasn't rocket surgery.

Anyway we're looking for something called the "Shantiri Crystal" which my brain instantly decides is actually the Chantilly Crystal, so called for its distinctive ringing sound. Phenrig continues to yell helpful shit like "THAT ROPE, CUT THAT ROPE" and "USE YOUR COMBAT SKILLS" while Sareth fights zombies and necromantic blackguards. Foster wizard dad, is this like a master/pet relationship or what do we have here?

The next room is full of Blackguards and demonstrates the most absolutely glorious feature of this game: PHYSICS. Ragdoll physics. The moment someone is off their feet, they become a physics object. Sareth is equipped with the mystical power of LEGS, which enable the dark magic of WALKING and also KICKING PEOPLE. Kicking people is OP AS HELL because they go flying.

The room is full of things like spike racks, open flames, and shoddily-constructed ledges lined with barrels and crates, which can be picked up and thrown or kicked into people to knock them off balance. Did I mention that as soon as someone is defenseless on the ground, you can one-shot kill them with a stab attack?

Welcome to Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, the most deliciously fatal melee combat game since Bushido Blade. We earn a skill point and I elect to stick it in Telekinesis, the art of throwing stuff at other stuff from a distance.

Anyway with that done, Sareth goes home and Phenrig monologues some more. An associate of his is looking for a skull called the "Skull of Shadows" (a nice friendly name) and he's sending Sareth and the Shantiri-Bop Crystal to help out. He's also sending some help: A summoned "guardian" named Xana who grabs Saerth by the face, politely introduces herself and then jams herself inside his forehead. That's a perfectly normal thing for the guardian your wizard just summoned to do.

You can watch just that cutscene here, or see the whole prologue by, uh... rewinding to the start of that video.

Anyway then it's off to Stonehelm to meet the wizard Menelag. Except as soon as we get there OH NO the undead attack! Including a giant zombie cyclops? Okay sure whatever. Sareth runs up and mans a ballista but once he knocks over the cyclops a bunch of guards run up and steal the kill. Damnit. I would have gotten SO MUCH XP FOR THAT.

With the threat ended I, er... go loot every building in town. For food! And magic weapons! And normal weapons, because I can't use the magic ones! Damnit. I am basically never gonna do a stealth build and these daggers require 2 Stealth.

As a sidebar: What build AM I taking? A few magical skills early on, things like Telekinesis, Healing and Charm (which makes enemies fight each other so you don't have to). However from there Strength and Melee Combat become much more important, since this game is practically all ABOUT hitting things in melee.

Anyway then we meet Leanna, Meneleg's niece. She is cute and polite, so of course Xana hates her. (Xana has been in our head making snarky/perverse comments about everything, except her idea of innuendo is like... "She's his NIECE -and- his APPRENTICE? HMMMM." so I don't think she actually knows how to innuendo.)

Meneleg is all "Of course you and I know why you're REALLY here, but she doesn't! Phenrig's business is not FOR her!" and Sareth is like "Durr?" and Meneleg is like "oh okay just me then WHATEVER, HERO". Also the necromancer attacking the city is named Arantir and some people think HE'S the Dark Messiah! Menelag laughs this off though. CAN'T IMAGINE WHY.

Anyway, while Sareth is asleep, ASSASSINS ATTACK. Oh no! I kick one down the stairs so hard he slams into the far wall and flops face-down on the ground. He slowly gets up and charges back upstairs. I kick him down the stairs again. He runs back up slower this time. I kick him downstairs again. He slowly limps up the stairs. I kick him again and he just dies and rolls away.

You can basically assume from here on out that all combats go this way. I'll just hit the plot highlights.

As it happens, the assassins kill Meneleg. Oh no. A ghoul grabs the sankara crystal and leaps out the window, leading to a daring cross-rooftop chase to get it back, during which I ... er, stop and forge myself a longsword in a back-alley blacksmith shop.

See, this is part of why I'm not really doing a full writeup here. This game is hilarious and ridiculous, but it gets less so the more I try to explain it in text. Giving the gloss overview means I can drop in lines like that without context.

Anyway eventually I get to Arantir's underground lair, and he has the crystal! I've got to get it without him noticing me or IT'S GAME OVER! The game is all like "you should make a distraction" and wanting me to do noisy stuff but silly game THIS IS WHAT TELEKINESIS IS FOR. So the crystal just floats like thirty feet across the room and I'm out while he still has his back turned, so fast the game is still overlapping "you did it!" with "is there anything you can do to distract him"?

Then Sareth passes out in the sewers and has a nightmare. It's exactly like the opening of the game, but everything's wrong! His mentor is telling him that Meneleg's a fool, and Xana turns into some kind of demoness and slams him to the ground before merging with him! Oh no! It's OBVIOUSLY a hallucination, Xana points out once he wakes up. A necromancer curse. Just forget it.

It's very hard to see where I'm going because of all the SHADOWING in FRONT of me, but I press on.

On the way out of the sewers, we meet back up with Leanna. She points out that the ship they were going to take is now under Blackguard control, so Sareth decides to shipjack it. Xana, by the way, is still making snarky-ass comments like "SARETH DON'T HURT YOUR BODY I HAVE OTHER PLANS FOR IT" so she's not evil at all I swear.

So we cut our way through the ship and clear out the Blackguards, and Xana's all "well I guess your pretty little friend can get on board without getting her pretty little body turned into a pincushion" and Sareth is all "Then I'll just lower the PRETTY LITTLE GANGPLANK I guess" and Xana's all "SARETH!" in tones of "I am SO AROUSED right now by your half-assed smartassery!" so I guess they're bonding.

Once we get Leanna on board (by blowing up huge amounts of Blackguards trying to board the ship with explosive ballista bolts) she's all "You've become very important to me!" so I guess we have a romance triangle going! Except that night, Sareth dreams of Leanna dancing with Arantir, who gloats a bit. Then she dances with Sareth, and he stabs her, and Arantir encourages him to find more victims!

So: Choices!

Would Sareth go with the Nice Mage Girl who trusts him, or the strange voice in his head who can't stop innuendoing?
And ... Sareth seems to have a DARK side to his personality. Should we embrace darkness, or try to be good people?

I'll check back in tomorrow for answers before I start playing!

This entry was originally posted at http://xyzzysqrl.dreamwidth.org/373854.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 17th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
Would Sareth go with the Nice Mage Girl who trusts him, or the strange voice in his head who can't stop innuendoing?
Whichever is less annoying is the long run. Can you put the Nice Mage Girl in your head instead?

Sareth seems to have a DARK side to his personality. Should we embrace darkness, or try to be good people?
Maybe go with the Grizzled Small Town Sheriff characterization - the lawman with the heart of gold who does nasty things anyway?
[User Picture]
Date:December 18th, 2013 04:57 am (UTC)
It worries me that you're not the first person who's asked if we can put more people in Sareth's forehead. I suppose there's a lot of room up there, but it's not like a loft apartment or anything!
[User Picture]
Date:December 17th, 2013 07:47 pm (UTC)
Snarky voices are funniest when they're annoyed, so definitely the nice mage girl.

Pretend to try to be good while actually being as evil as possible?
[User Picture]
Date:December 18th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)
We had to save the town by completely depopulating it! ;-)
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2013 04:07 am (UTC)
The game obviously wants you to turn evil. It probably doesn't even have a good-Sareth option, just the option where you're hallucinating so much you can't tell how evil you are. c_c
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2013 07:34 am (UTC)
It does, actually, have a full-good option! I just... chose to ignore it.

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