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December 19th, 2013

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08:58 am - Dark Messiah of Might and Magic Post 2 - Shocking Plot Twist!
Well! Yesterday I did absolutely nothing whatsoever and basked in it. My brain got derailed into other stuff, but I am back and I have read your opinions and ... and oh, dear readers, dear wonderful clever readers...

Almost all of you tried to take a third option. From the people who wanted Sareth to cram more people inside his skull, to complex motivational schemes and betrayals, to just plain wanting to kill everyone involved (I do worry about you people sometimes) you all wanted to do something dashingly clever. However, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is not a clever game, readers. You are all much, much sharper-minded than this game tries to be. I am however honor-bound to please you, so we'll have to see what exactly happens here.

For the moment, however, we have no choices. It's Sareth and Leanna on a boat, rowing to shore. Presumably Sareth has decided NOT to share details of that dream he had. Probably a good move there. Incidentally if you pause the game here (for example if you plan to alt-tab out and type something) Leanna freezes in place, but the water around you keeps rippling and splashing. Weird and creepy.

Anyway, ORCS HAVE THE SKULL. So we're gonna go fight orcs! They don't like humans, which Leanna explains makes sense because ancient mages made orcs by infusing people with demon blood back in the War of blah blah play Heroes of Might and Magic. Leanna just hopes we don't see any.

We are attacked by orcs roughly 40 seconds after landing. Mostly Sareth kicks them at spikes and throws jars of oil at them while Leanna casts fireball. Orcs, it turns out, are highly flammable once you've rubbed them down with multiple jars of oil. Let's all picture rubbing orcs down with oil for a few moments. Okay, we can move on.

Anyway we go through the ruins some and get a rope bow! The rope bow is this game pretending to be Thief, and I LOVE it. But I love anything that reminds me how great Thief was. There's also a lot of drama as a dragon chases us into the temple where... we were going anyway oh no. Unfortunately Leanna has to stay behind and prepare the spells dealing with the skull, so it's up to Sareth to actually find it, in the temple of orcs and goblins and spiders.

Not that they can handle our brand of chaos. As Xana puts it, "You're a terrible guest. You've been here five minutes and you're already wrecking the place." Knocking pillars over, kicking enemies into fires... the crowning moment is sticking an arrow in a torch, shooting it at a goblin who catches fire, then runs into a second goblin (catching HIM on fire too) who then both run into a deathtrap, setting it off so I can walk through without injury.

After that, slaying a dragon with the old "stick your head under this spiked gate" routine just seems bland. Then it's on to the "spider" part of the Temple of the Spiders, which is where we are for the record. I do hate giant poisonous spiders in video games. Desperately so. They come at you in waves, and it's not like you can charm the giant spiders into attacking each other or--

... Okay so it turns you can totally CAN charm the giant spiders into attacking each other, which is sort of awesome. Less awesome is the extended jumping sequence involving swinging from rope to rope, while Xana cheerfully reminds you in one ear to "Keep an eye on the walls! REMEMBER THE SPIDERS CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE."


If there's a line I'll be hearing in my head for years after this game, it's "Remember, the spiders can come from anywhere!" I'm pretty sure I'll be quoting that to a therapist someday.

La la la. There just isn't much plot in an extended dungeon crawl, I'm sorry. Along the way we pick up a magic flaming sword, and do a lot of stuff involving mind-controlling orcs to fight each other, because I am a huge jerk who loves hypnotizing my enemies into offing each other. Xana provides cheerful background details, noting that the "spider" theme of the temple is ACTUALLY an over-literalist interpretation of the ancient concept of an 'Order Dragon', and so on and so forth.

Finally we find a "Spider Key", which leads directly to the head of the orcs going "YOU! DEMON-SPAWN! I CHALLENGE YOU TO ONE-ON-ONE COMBAT! NO WIZARD TRICKS, NO DEMON TAINT! YOUR SWORD ARM AGAINST MINE!"

So I hit him in the face with a jug of oil and set him on fire with the sword.

The vocabulary word for the day is "pragmatist". Also, "loophole" because somehow that's not a wizard trick.

On the way out, Xana explains that maybe Sareth will get to meet his father soon. His REAL father. Sareth is confused. Xana explains that his father is a very powerful PERSON who has very powerful enemies, like... say, the Seventh Dragon. Sareth is confused. Is his father a wizard? Uhhhh, something kind of sort of like that! Anyway he'll be glad to see Sareth claim the Skull of Shadows. EVERYTHING WILL MAKE SENSE SOON.

Of course, "soon" isn't now. Leanna is promptly captured by Arantir. She forces open a door with telekinesis and yells at Sareth to run, so he does. There is basically no time spent dwelling on this because now we have to crawl around a crypt full of undead collecting some jewels. It really IS like I'm playing Thief all over again!

My personal favorite moment is when I walk into a big tomb and Xana is all "the gem we're looking for is in this room. Above us!" and I look up and there's this long obvious series of busted walkways and zombies and obvious points to shoot rope arrows at and it all screams "JUMP FOR OUR AMUSEMENT" and Sareth swaps to telekinesis and waves at the artifact on its wall-mount and it just comes SCRAMBLING DOWN to meet him because we're just SO LOVABLE down here.

Remember everybody, it's not CHEATING, it's a one-point magic spell that lets you skip huge stacks of bullshit with the wave of your hand. And if abusing that is "wrong' then maybe I never knew what "right" MEANT in the first place.

Much further down in the crypt, we find what Xana describes as an "evil" weapon: A holy longsword, used by religious fantatics of the Seventh Dragon when they tried to murder Sareth's father. It makes Sareth feel funny. CAN'T IMAGINE WHY.

Hey. Have you figured out the twist yet? Has it been foreshadowed enough?

If not, too bad. Sareth figures out the last puzzle (and fights a huge wave of spiders) and gets the skull, which triggers MORE FORESHADOWING! Or in this case, an actual vision of the future. Arantir: Dead. Leanna? Dead. Xana? Back in her horns-and-claws form from the previous dream. And a huge demon standing over him: Kha-Beleth the Demon Lord, also known as Sareth's father.

Kha-Beleth praises his son a bit before commanding him to RELEASE HIM so he can make the realm suffer for his thousand years of imprisonment. After all, SARETH is -- HUGE SPOILER WARNING -- The Dark Messiah. (How did Kha-Beleth get someone pregnant a thousand years ago and only have them get born like 19 years ago?) Unfortunately this dream is interrupted by the actual Arantir, who swears that Sareth will never live to release a blight upon all mankind and so on, and then impales him on a spike and leaves him for dead.

...so when Sareth wakes up again to the sound of Xana pleading for him to get up, it is much to his own surprise. Apparently Xana used the magic of the Skull to bring him back from the dead, which linked the two of them even tighter. (She also may have blurted out that she loves him. That happens under stress.) Sareth can now transform into a big-ass half-demon form and shred people.

Coincidentally, the orcs thought he was dead and threw him in a burial pile and took all his things. (Including all that awesome loot. Damnit. MY INVENTORY WAS FULL, YOU BASTARDS.) In the name of our lost inventory, we'd better escape and get to... uh...

...dooming the world? That's what the prophecy says the Dark Messiah does. Free the demon(-slash-daddy), doom the world.

Are we really gonna argue with prophecy?

This entry was originally posted at http://xyzzysqrl.dreamwidth.org/374112.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 19th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
Are there any non-Stupid-Adolescent-Heavy-Metal-Cover demons we can unleash upon the world instead? Something from the Phantom Tollbooth, for example? Or any Eris-types?
[User Picture]
Date:December 19th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid heavy metal covers are all we've got.
[User Picture]
Date:December 19th, 2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
You're surprised at all? Your readership are the sorts that when faced with a railroad plot, they'll not just try to derail the train, they'll rip up the tracks and then use TNT to terraform the place to the point that by the time it could be cleaned up for tracks again, everyone's using flying mecha anyway.

Speaking of non-linear, sounds like Sareth is channeling his alternate future great-great-great descendant Ashe the Fangy here. :-) (though your use of telekinesis reminds me of not Thief, but the second installment of Looking Glass's *other* famous property... ;-) )
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
What's prophecy GOOD for if you can't argue with it and subvert it horribly?

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