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Shardlight / Secrets and Connections (spoilers)
« on: March 13, 2016, 02:33:32 PM »
It's not unusual for a game to have a few hidden jokes, or callouts and references to other games and movies. While I was too swept up in the story to notice many in my first playthrough, maybe sharper-eyed players can help me fill out this list. 

*Grim Fandango- I wonder if Aquino's collapsible scythe wasn't a tip of the hat to Manny Calaveras, another Reaper with a need for portable harvestware. Could just be a case of convergent evolution, of course.

*Bioshock Infinite- Probably not intentional, but the eighteenth century icongraphy combined with the social stratification theme and Daisy Fitzroyish Danton put me in mind of this game more than once when playing.

Shardlight / Final Choices (Endgame Spoilers)
« on: March 13, 2016, 01:42:19 AM »

       Does sparing or stabbing the soothsayer affect anything beyond your own peace of mind? Even if you let Tiberius live, it doesn't seem to make his rule any more/less delusional, and nobody else brings it up though (admittedly, the narrative does move quickly on).

Free Will Ending

       I really couldn't believe Amy Wellard was even capable of murdering Danton like that. Just a few minutes before it was only Danton's blade between Amy and another bayonet through the ribs. It's only Danton's bravery and willingness to risk the lives of her own people on Amy's word that's gotten Amy in this far in the first place. When Amy's face was posted on every wall in the city, Danton offered her a safe a place to hide. Even from the beginning, when Amy first falls in with the Resistance, does Danton order her to steal, assassinate, or sabotage? No, she says 'these people are hurting- help them.'

       Perhaps what kills me most is, as their mission begins, Amy and Danton trust each other enough to exchange last wishes. But even after cutting down her erstwhile companion in cold blood, Amy can't even be bothered to honor that last request, and pickup Danton's bloodstained hat.

       Pragmatically, of course, there's also the issue of how the Resistance is going to react to Amy's "Hey guys, thanks for laying down your lives for me, you should know that I just killed the leader who kept you safe and effective for years and years, but the good news is that I'm in charge now!" but it's the character thing that hits me the most. Well that, and the way the game strongly implies that this treachery is the most moral choice you can make.

       I just keeping thinking back to Danton's final moments- plenty of time to run Amy through as she reloads, draws, and aims the crossbow, but Danton doesn't, because it's simply unthinkable that Amy Wellard, who she's trusted with her life, would do a thing like that.

But, hey now, doesn't Danton become a bloody mass murderer if you DON'T kill her?

       Apparently, but I have to admit that doesn't really ring true to me. I know it's supposed to echo the Reign of Terror, but none of the events of the game leading up this moment make it seem likely, or even particularly plausible. But even if Amy does somehow detect this hidden potential for tyranny in her companion, it seems she might have spent at least a minute or two trying to talk things out. If Amy's response to people who disagree with her policy views is 'instant execution,' it's hard to see how her rule will be less bloody than Danton's or Julian's.

       I, er, still really liked the game, but this bit just stuck in my craw. Memories of Bioshock:Infinite, where Comstock and Fitzroy are made out to be morally indistinguishable.

Technobabylon / Technobabylon Mysteries *SPOILERS*
« on: May 24, 2015, 03:21:53 PM »
First, let me say I absolutely adored this game- the rich, layered world, the meaty story, and Ben Chandler's ever-more-gorgeous art rocketed to this into my top five before I was even halfway through. This is a fantastic piece of work on every level.

Of course, it's that very fantasticity that makes me want to keep thinking about it, and in doing so I came across a few interesting discrepancies. I  haven't gone through the commentary or even all the alternate endings so maybe these things are already  answered, but I had fun thinking about them, and maybe you will too.

Mysteries of the Mandala

   * Why was Galatea trying to blow up Latha? Without Latha to connect all the stolen minds to Central, all her plotting has been for nothing. (It doesn't seem possible that Kriesel, even ridden by Baxter, is acting on his own- he's talking about the plan with Galatea even as it happens).

   * For that matter (though this is more nitpicky than mysterious) Galatea seems pretty cavalier about handling Latha. If the mindjacker fails to capture, say, Baxter, presumably they can always find another science-mind to fill his place, but Latha is unique and irreplaceable. Yet they wait until the very last minute to secure her, and then take a most circuitous route, considering that Galatea has people inside CEL, eyes and ears everywhere,  and her own adaptive-camo Crisis Team for 'dynamic exfiltrations'.

   * I wonder why they abandoned Latha to city care in the first place? Even if Vargas didn't want her, Dr. Jeong seems to have continued research along the same lines, and would have been happy to have her as a resource.

Mysteries of Mind and Magnet

   *Regis rules out Stepford and his boys for the  restaurant bombing because the magnetic field in the kitchen shuts-down synths, and the waiter was killed in the kitchen. But surely it was the Bio-bomber who killed the waiter and took his clothes. Councilman Deane may have been a bit of a rotter, but I don't see him murdering a civilian face-to-face, stripping him naked, and tossing the body on a hook.
   *(Nitpicky) The timing of this is interesting. Presumably Deane has to open the vent after the restaurant is open, but how did the poorly-coordinated biobomber manage to kill and replace the only waiter in the joint without the chef noticing? If Deane got in before the restaurant opened, (knowing, perhaps, that the waiter comes in early to get everything ready for the chef), then he wouldn't need to open the vent, he could just let the biobomber in the same way.

   *(Musing) It's still odd the chef didn't notice his boy had been replaced. I wonder if the original waiter was actually another clone out of Texas, who managed to escape his overlords, throw off his conditioning, and start anew on the far side of the world, only to be slain by a virtual twin from the life he left behind. :'(

Mysteries of Murder Investigation

   *I was surprised that, after the leaving the scene, Regis has the murderbot, still dripping blood, just hanging out in his office. But this was nothing next to realizing that he'd dropped a bunch of crime scene evidence into his desk drawer, including Giels severed hand! I realize he's been hardened by years on the force, but yeesh. No wonder people think he's capable of murder. (By the by, can you use the hand for anything here? I tried to swap it out with biobomber corpse, but always ended up with the femur).

   *Not a nit, but the detectives are pretty clever to have worked out that Giels was dosed with a hallucinogen. After all, they can't see his memories, and Chanelle clearly doesn't understand what's happening.

   *Also not a nit but the conspiracy does get pretty lucky with Giels' murder. While the man himself would probably die of heart attack or aneurysm even without the synthoid disemboweling, its sheer luck that his husband, who also knew about the blackmail plot, is fatally wounded as well.

Mysteries of Mindjackery

   *It seems Galatea opted for the more murdery variation of mindjacking to keep her plans secret, but I wonder if she tried volunteers first. I bet there are a number of people who'd leap at the chance to upload their minds into an immortal city-god.

   *A shame Baxter didn't have more faith in himself. He kills Viksha because he thinks the failure of the project will make him unhirable, but even as a murderer with training that's two decades out of date, Vickerman goes to considerable trouble to acquire his services, and many people still consider him to be the very brightest mind in the field.

Mysteries of My Not Having Paid Close Enough Attention

   *My own fault here- I cussed out Jinsel for her betrayal when she appeared in the tower, and she disappeared forever, so I never found out what her deal was. Was her movement just a puppet of Jeong's conspiracy, or were they simply dupes, or independent actors?

   *I've heard internet rumors of a scene where Regis finds a girl trying to hang herself on Viksha's tree, and her portrait seems to show up in the concept art, but this scene didn't show up in my playthrough. Anyone know how to trigger it?

Anyway, that's what's has been on my mind for the past day. I'd love to hear what you think.

The Blackwell series / Gavin's Last Name?
« on: October 24, 2014, 02:49:08 AM »
I could have sworn it was mentioned at some point near the end of Deception- Fairmont? Fair... something else? But on my commentary replay I didn't come across it. Did I miss it, or did I simply imagine it the first time?

The Blackwell series / Interlinked Villains? (spoilers for the series)
« on: October 20, 2014, 01:17:03 AM »
So, at the end of Deception, G gets disintegrated. Just before that , he shows that he's able to derive energy from consuming souls.

In Epiphany, every soul that disintegrates is because of M, and M claims she is nourished by their destruction. Did M tear apart G (she had just returned from banishment, and he was apparently just sloshing with excess energy)? Perhaps more intriguingly (and haphazardly), did M teach the energy vampires how to eat souls in the first place?

We think of M as not having turned to evil before being banished to the void, but maybe that was just a game attempt at reform, or another layer of deception. G said he was about 200 years old, and M's clothes indicate that she's been spirit guiding for longer than that, and her comments suggest that many hosts have wished to be rid of her in the past.  Perhaps the soul-eaters were an early attempt to end her own existence, or make the Bestowers and their guides unnecessary (no more lost souls to shepard, they've all been eaten). It might even explain how G recognized the threshold of infinity, if Madeline had another brainwashable host when she was first teaching the soul-eaters their tricks.

Or maybe not. If M could figure out the energy-draining trick, perhaps someone else did too, and while no hellspawn have showed up since Legacy, it does seem to be a universe where you could literally make a deal with the devil.

Anyway. Food for thought.

The Blackwell series / The Untold Story of Epiphany [Maximum Spoilers]
« on: October 19, 2014, 04:31:56 PM »
       Just finished Epiphany; loved it to bits. But like other players, a few of the loose threads did nag at me slightly. I have read the developer explanations for why some of these choices made (and I agree that Rosa going up against an Ancient Conspiracy would have made a far less personal game), but I wonder if some of those unanswered questions don't frame a different story.

Specifically: What happened to the Energy Vampires?
Theory: Taken out by Sam Durkin.

       As far I recall, the game gives no explanation for why Durkin disappears just as the main case in Epiphany is going critical, and I think it's because he has even bigger fish to fry. He may not be a Bestower, but there's probably no one better in the city to take on this particular threat. After all, he  was first on the scene when Lauren Blackwell started to Embrace Eternity- who knows what she might have babbled as all the information in the universe coursed through her? He almost certainly remembered her name from a mysterious phone call a few years ago, asking odd questions about his deceased mother, and we know he followed Rosa Blackwell's movements with some interest.

       As a cop, he not only knew about the strange deaths in The Blackwell Deception, but he might have even searched the homes of Janet and Gavin, uncovering any number of ancient records and arcane secrets.

       But real clincher for him would not have been the things he found, but the orders from above to turn a blind eye to them, to watch evidence being stolen away or destroyed outright. Orders from Commissioner Silva. Things come to head during Epiphany, when Rosa, the Bestower,  is arrested, and Durkin has to either turn her over to Silva, or go completely rogue- taking Rosa onboard, drafting a trustworthy young cop as the ONLY policeman she can talk to, and then going after Silva himself. Maybe to just to protect Rosa at first or maybe he already knows that Silva is up to something even worse than murder.  Clearly, there's only one real choice.

And after that, it's Gabriel Knight style race against time to uncover just what Da Silva and her strange cohort are up to. They have defenses against ghosts, Bestowers, and all things supernatural, but maybe they aren't prepared, at this critical moment, for one determined guy with a gun.

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