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[CRPGs] A year ago...

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
That is... yeah, I think that you are doing the right thing by not discussing it online. I´m not a fan of the ending or Cerberus, but there is such a thing as proportion (and the whole "consumer" angle has taken some eerie and/or laughable proportions, demonstrated just recently with the pipe dream push for a Last Jedi "remake").
Its a big part of the reason I won't talk about the ME trilogy, too; Ghostwise pretty much expressed my feelings to a T.
 

Trilobite

This space intentionally left blank.
Validated User
Moving on, what did other people think of Tides of Numenera? Worthy successor to its namesake or no?
It's a weirdly faithful successor, in that it shares the original's strengths (a setting that is often wonderfully surreal; some interesting and surprising side quests; some good writing) and also shares its weaknesses (a genuinely awful game system that is at best awkward and at worst actively opposed to what the game is trying to do; a perfunctory and rushed second half).

It had a few unique weaknesses as well, the biggest one in my opinion being the decision to have a fairly large pool of party members, but lock the party size at 4 instead of 6. If they'd had a tighter focus, the characters themselves might have been more engaging. Or if they'd had you travel with a larger party, you'd get to see more interactions/comments between them more often, and felt like they were more "present." Instead, TTON did the opposite of those, giving you a wider spread of less-detailed characters who only occasionally seem to participate in the story.

I feel that The Last Castoff's personality isn't as magnetic as the Nameless One's, either, which makes some of the later story beats ring a little hollow.

Still, as a big fan of PST, I liked it well enough overall. I'm not sure I'd feel good about recommending it to anyone who wasn't a big fan of PST, though.
 

Naxuul

Emo hair power!
Validated User
Moving on, what did other people think of Tides of Numenera? Worthy successor to its namesake or no?
It felt like Chris Avellone putting what are his stock story beats into a blender and coming out with something worse than the sum of it's parts. It has good bits, like most of Sagus Cliffs, but most of it is just the most unfocused yet iteration of the Nameless One/Exile/Watcher story. It's not terrible but there is very little there.

-Naxuul
 

Phantom Grunweasel

Situation Normal Oll Korrect
Validated User
It felt like Chris Avellone putting what are his stock story beats into a blender and coming out with something worse than the sum of it's parts. It has good bits, like most of Sagus Cliffs, but most of it is just the most unfocused yet iteration of the Nameless One/Exile/Watcher story. It's not terrible but there is very little there.

-Naxuul
My understanding is that Avellone didn't have anything to do with Tides, except for writing the character of Erritis. I agree, though, but I think the wan feeling comes from other people trying too hard to mimic Avellone, not Avellone repeating himself.
 

Rainfall

Registered User
Validated User
Moving on, what did other people think of Tides of Numenera? Worthy successor to its namesake or no?
More like a retread than a worthy successor, it's very much a walk down memory lane. It's not bad at all, but it's not going to blow your mind the way Torment did.
 
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Naxuul

Emo hair power!
Validated User
My understanding is that Avellone didn't have anything to do with Tides, except for writing the character of Erritis. I agree, though, but I think the wan feeling comes from other people trying too hard to mimic Avellone, not Avellone repeating himself.
Ah, I can see that. Because even Avellone at his meh-est tends to give you at least one good Ravel style confrontation, something where the themes and ideas of the story just pop as the main character comes into confrontation with a axis point of the story. I was kind of shocked in Tides when you confront the Changing God, First Cast Off and Sorrow and none of them felt like that.

-Naxuul
 

Phantom Grunweasel

Situation Normal Oll Korrect
Validated User
It's a weirdly faithful successor, in that it shares the original's strengths (a setting that is often wonderfully surreal; some interesting and surprising side quests; some good writing) and also shares its weaknesses (a genuinely awful game system that is at best awkward and at worst actively opposed to what the game is trying to do; a perfunctory and rushed second half).

It had a few unique weaknesses as well, the biggest one in my opinion being the decision to have a fairly large pool of party members, but lock the party size at 4 instead of 6. If they'd had a tighter focus, the characters themselves might have been more engaging. Or if they'd had you travel with a larger party, you'd get to see more interactions/comments between them more often, and felt like they were more "present." Instead, TTON did the opposite of those, giving you a wider spread of less-detailed characters who only occasionally seem to participate in the story.

I feel that The Last Castoff's personality isn't as magnetic as the Nameless One's, either, which makes some of the later story beats ring a little hollow.

Still, as a big fan of PST, I liked it well enough overall. I'm not sure I'd feel good about recommending it to anyone who wasn't a big fan of PST, though.
I thought that the Crisis system had a lot of good ideas (the ability to talk to people in the middle of fights or use environmental elements was cool; the idea that a Crisis didn't have to be a fight was also interesting), but that they were poorly implemented. For me, it worked a couple of times. I really liked the part where the Sorrow attacks Miel Avest. For me, it was the first time that the Sorrow had seemed like the kind of overwhelming, terrifying force of nature that it was supposed to be. Locating a sequence like that earlier in the game, as opposed to the weak sauce Sorrow attack/combat tutorial you get at the start, would have made the PC's motivation in wanting to escape it much more evident.

I already mentioned a big part of my problem with the game's writing but the long and the short of it is that it never made things personal for you, the player. It's all quantum gods and lost civilisations and time travel wars. It's interesting but it all feels very abstract and there's very little kind of direct emotional investment for the player. The whole thing about the original Torment is that all of its heavens and hells and weird fantasy ideas are ultimately just backdrop. It's a story about real human emotions, about guilt, regret, and belief, and that's what makes it so powerful. Naxuul mentioned the conversation with Ravel as one of the game's high points. That encounter is more than just a dazzlingly complex and satisfying use of branching dialogue trees. It works so well because of what you learn during it. To quote the motto of Unknown Armies, you did it.

The problem with Tides is that it just doesn't have that core of real pain and honesty to it. There's an attempt to make that happen. The game chose "What does one life matter?" as its theme, as the counterpart of Torment's "What can change the nature of a man?" You're invited to discuss this and come to your own conclusions from time to time throughout the game. But it's so goddamn abstract. The Last Castoff always feels more like a standard CRPG avatar for the player. You're never forced to identify with them as deeply and uncomfortably as you are with the Nameless One, never feel the weight of their burden in the same way.

Now, you might say that you shouldn't have to, that not every video game protagonist has to be the Nameless One. But they did call this game Torment. Where's the torment?
 

Phantom Grunweasel

Situation Normal Oll Korrect
Validated User
Right, I now see what people mean about the level-scaling problems with Oblivion. After reaching Level 17 with a light-armour stealthy fighter-type character and generally having a whale of a time (it's refreshing to go against type in a CRPG once in a while and play an amoral monster; the Dark Brotherhood storyline is some fucking grand guignol shit and I love it), certain types of fights have become flipping ridiculous. The skeletons, wraiths, and above all the fucking zombies in the final Thieves' Guild dungeon take forever to kill, and generally exact a huge toll on my supplies of healing potions etc. It's not thrillingly difficult, it's just a huge, boring grind that takes hours. Meanwhile, Oblivion Gates (which I already found the least interesting part of the game, with their boring and predictable heavy metal aesthetic) are absolutely stuffed with ravening daedra, all with the hit points of M1 Abrams tanks.

Anyone got any recommendations for level-balancing mods that can be applied to a game in progress? Otherwise, I might finish up some bits of business with my character and then retire him and declare Oblivion finished, at least for now. It would at least be completely in keeping with the way I've been playing him to completely abandon Messers Jaufre, Martin, and the entire province of Cyrodiil in their hour of need.
 
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Andrensath

Social Justice Valkyrie
Validated User
IIRC it's stated in supplementary materials and/or Skyrim that the Oblivion Gates are an all-of-Tamriel thing, so your PC wouldn't just be abandoning Cyrodiil to it.
 

Phantom Grunweasel

Situation Normal Oll Korrect
Validated User
IIRC it's stated in supplementary materials and/or Skyrim that the Oblivion Gates are an all-of-Tamriel thing, so your PC wouldn't just be abandoning Cyrodiil to it.
Yeah? In that case, I wonder if the Mythic Dawn, who are clearly the winning side here, are accepting CVs. My character has extensive experience working for a murderous cult, after all, and a proven track record of unquestioningly obeying orders long after he really should have begun to ask at least a couple of questions.

It all kind of makes sense. My vague concept for the character was that, for once, I was going to play the character who's usually a disposable low-level villain in a typical CRPG. Your Leaden Key goon, your Molochean Hand assassin. That guy, saving the world? Give me a break.
 
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