Enderal first time, impressions

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Buccaneer
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Nice. You are heading, once you get around the tavern and pass the lake on the left, into one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. Looking forward to seeing your impression.
dyslexicfaser
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Sorry for the long wait, y'all. Updates may or may not continue to be spotty between real life issues, commission work and playing Dominions 4 instead of Enderal with what time I have. Anyway, onward!

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- The Crystal Forest is absolutely gorgeous, like a snowscape mixed with cherry blossom trees (and cherry blossom shrubs. And clusters of pink glowing crystals).
It would be even nicer without all the monsters, but one can’t have everything.

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It houses ‘mighty wisps’ (whose charge attacks would be problematic if I didn’t have Swamp Thing and Jespar to hide behind), giant pink crystal elementals (which soak up tons of damage), and some kind of floating ghost snake (which zooms around enough I need to switch back to the soil elemental, so he can bolt them on the run).
The wisps and elementals are legitimately dangerous, although blocking giant crystal fists is what I have Jespar for. The ghost snakes are mostly just annoying, leading to me flailing away wildly with my sword while it does curves and loop the loops.

- On the way, Jespar decides to drop some more information on me about the Living Temple. Thank you.
Specifically, that it is totally conscious and – Constantine adds later – is probably mad as a hatter since it’s been around since the Pyreans died off and the High Ones destroyed the world.
Now, this is a cool concept, but more importantly Constantine informs me that the Pyreans had a habit of sticking human (well, Pyrean) souls into objects. Rarely, but it happened. This temple is one of those.
So there probably are millennia-old talking swords in this setting.
Why they thought this was a good idea is lost to time, unfortunately.

- I got distracted from the main quest by wandering into a Pyrean ruin called Old Miskamuhr at this point. Some of these ruins are basically one large room with a couple of monsters and some goodies, and some of them are full-blown dungeons, and you can’t really be sure which is which until you dive in. I have a quest from some starling trader group in Ark to check on these whenever I find them and bring them back artifacts in exchange for gold pennies or magic equipment.
Miskamuhr, it turns out, is a full-bore dungeon. It’s pretty hardcore, actually. It’s peopled by ice golems, frost trolls and some of the harder forms of undead (ancestors, and a new type of faintly glowing skeleton called Decaying undead, which sounds like it should be the easiest type of Lost One, not the hardest), plus the occasional wandering ghost snake, and they tend to come in packs of 3-4.

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Nice lighting in Miskamuhr, too, if a little rave-y for my tastes.

- Since I got that Bound Bow III spell, I’ve been branching out into archery, and that helps a lot here. So the way stealth works in this game is you crouch down, and there’s a little icon in the middle of your screen that starts as a horizontal line (unseen) and gradually opens into a full eye to indicate you’ve been spotted.
So I shoot way down the hallway and peg something (bow sneak attacks are x1.5 damage), which gets it charging towards me. But, and here’s the important part, the eye is usually only half open. So even though they know where the glowing arrows are coming from, they don’t see me, which means I can rack up 3 or 4 sneak attacks to the face to thin the herd out before they actually get to me. And by then my elemental has positioned itself in front of me, which is a nuisance for aiming but very good for not dying.
It feels good. Since I’ve started picking up bow talents (I’ve already gotten to the top of the entropy (summoning) and heavy armor trees, though I could go back and backfill in talents there or go into one handed weapons if I wanted), I’m hoping there’s one that lets me sneak while moving at normal speed.
But if I get antsy and tired of sneaking around I can still just switch spells and stab things with a sword for a while, so it works out.

- So I get to the end eventually, after a puzzle that involves stripping down to my underpants and running really fast before sawblades pop up and turn me into giblets. Being an adventurer actually involves a lot more strategic nudity than I was anticipating, going into things, but never mind. So I run the gauntlet and I meet… a guy named Miskamuhr.
Old Miskamuhr isn’t the name of the ruin, it’s the name of its master. And he is not happy with me for killing all his trolls and ice elementals. Are these tamed trolls I've been killing? This guy is hanging out in the last room behind a pop-up Pyrean slasher trap, maybe he's been hiding out in here for who knows how long.

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I’m guessing that this guy is actually some kind of undead Pyrean, which is weird because we’re looking for something exactly like this but my only option is to shoot him in the face until he dies. Actually, I have a talent from entropy called Entropic Blood that can turn enemies into my obedient slaves. I’ve mostly been using it to make Arps fight to the death in comical bum fights before one of them explodes (if the slave dies, he explodes, it’s pretty great).
So hypothetically I could mind-control this guy and march him all the way from the Crystal Forest back to Ark. I’m not sure what I’d tell Tealor Arantheal when I got there, but presumably ‘hey here’s a Pyrean lich, have fun’ would distract him from my totally bad (also, rad), no-good use of forbidden magicks.
I’m actually not that sad I don’t have the option, because having to walk this guy back to Ark while recasting Entropic Blood every 30 seconds would be a nightmare.

- So I kill this priceless repository of ancient lore by stabbing him in the face, and find he’s wearing three pairs of shoes in addition to his sword and bow. I’m not even sure how that works, but I take all of them. And start wearing one, since these steel boots have been old and busted since level 10 and without the Handicrafts skill I’m totally at the mercy of whatever I can dig out of random ruins.

- That accomplished, I head on to the Living Temple, which looks great. And then it looks even better once I put the thing in the thing.

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Wait, we're looking for what? Undertrain?? I thought we were here to stop the invasion or something! Which... wouldn't require us to visit the Temple of Doom, I guess. Huh. Well, it'll all turn out fine in the end, probably.

- Constantine monologues at me for a bit about how the Living Temple is basically Castle Heterodyne and going to kill us, but I forgive him because that’s pretty cool.
Jespar also has a bout of self-consciousness and asks why Constantine keeps paying his exorbitant fees. Constantine reassures him in his own inimical way.

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Love that guy.

- There’s also an exchange where Constantine says that he’d run naked through the streets before trusting these Order guys with saving the world, and Jespar says he wouldn’t mind seeing that. And Constantine replies, ‘I bet you would.’
Woah, what? Jespar, buddy. I know it’s been a while for you, but still. Between this and that 'What do you want, a love song?' comment from earlier, I'm wondering if I'm being a little third wheel-y right now. Should I leave you kids alone? I mean, I love Constantine, but I still don’t want to see his old man bits flopping about, y’know?


The Takeaway:
Well, the distractions are over and I'm finally entering the Temple of Doom! Well, following Constantine to make sure the glowy moat is safe to cross, but there is definite forward momentum going on here. Maybe in the next update I'll actually manage to finish this quest! Fingers crossed.

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Buccaneer
Paladin
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What an awesome update! I hope you have the opportunity to continue your excellent series.

Going to Old Miskamuhr was certainly a hard-core detour. Well done.
badgesareus
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OMG, so you've been playing Dominions IV for weeks? Isn't that ... click click click ... almost there ... click click click ... just a few more minutes . . . click click click . . . almost ready to attack . . . click click click. . . .
dyslexicfaser
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- Once we step inside the door to the Living Temple, we’re greeted by this loading screen.

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Well that’s fucking ominous.

- The first room in the Temple is a huge, wide-open space. Vaulted ceilings, all that. Also swarming with Lost Ones, although ‘swarming’ isn’t really the right term. ‘Ambling’, maybe. There’s probably a dozen of them, including a ‘Grotesque Lost One’ that looks like Enderal’s version of a Skyrim giant (possibly I should have expected this when I saw the mammoth parked outside), but the room is so huge we’re basically fighting them one by one.
Constantine and Jespar just walk right on down and start fighting. I replayed this bit in case I missed some dialogue, but apparently they didn’t have anything to say. Felt a little weird.

- We do that thing we do, and move on once everything is dead.
We learn that Pyrean interior decorating leaves something to be desired.
Scowling moai heads everywhere.

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So we need to split up to get the three portcullises to different paths open. Now, I want to make a joke about what a good thing it is that we happened to bring exactly the right number of guys, but mostly I just want to know why. Why would you design your temple this way? Did everyone who wanted to make the pilgrimage to the Living Temple have to come in groups of three?
I don’t know, maybe in better times the Living Temple kept all the portcullises open and you could pick your path instead of having to jump through these hoops.

- So there’s wisps and fire elementals to work through, and what’s basically Enderal’s version of platform puzzles!

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I kind of applaud them for trying, anyway.

- I really wish this ancient ruin was better lit. I can’t wield a bow and a torch at the same time, so I have to sword-and-torch in some places.

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Ask and ye shall receive, I guess.
Why would you build your temple this way.

- There’s this bit where you need to pop open a portcullis to proceed, except the lever is guarded by two of those lightning traps like the one from Fogville, where you have to knock the crystal off its pedestal to disarm it, but these ones are set far out of reach. Also, they only start zapping you when you’re almost to the lever, so you have to try and run back down the passageway to get out of the range, but it never works, and you die. So you have to shoot a ton of arrows and hope you knocked over the crystal, but you can’t be sure because if you get close enough to tell if it’s knocked over it’ll probably lightning bolt you if it isn’t.
I guess my point is, fuck lightning traps.

- I had a trapper-keeper just like this in high school, except there was also a sweet unicorn on it.

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At first I thought the Pyreans just liked decorating with glowing crystal, but the random placement suggests this stuff just… grew here.

- So me and Jespar meet up, and we discover Constantine chanting in strange tongues and making obeisances before a Giant Statue™ that all the Pyrean temples seem to come equipped with.

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Now on the one hand, that statue looks great. Less overtly menacing than our old pal Kor or the fertility goddess type statues I’ve seen here and there. Staff in one hand, book in the other, good traditional God of Wisdom motif.
On the other hand, don’t you do it, SureAI. Don’t you dare.

- Oh, they did it, all right.

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Extremely strong performance by Constantine’s voice actor, here (barring, possibly, the one line that sounded like Andy Serkis voicing Gollum). I mean, it’s overacted, but that’s kind of the point: Constantine is in the midst of a full-blown breakdown/religious mania here.

- So the way this shakes out, the Living Temple got into his head and showed him what drove it mad, back in the day. The Cleansing. Burnt flesh everywhere, Light™, etcetera. Ragnarok stuff.
Constantine has some lines like ‘the sin is US’ which are presumably going to be prophetic at some point, like we brought the High Ones on ourselves or something. More importantly, he recognizes that killing us all won’t fix anything, but maybe it will make the Giant Statue feel better, so that’s what he’s gonna do.
So I holster my sword and meet my death just on the off-chance this is some kind of test, but after dying and reloading, Jespar and I put the old man down like a dog.
After burying him where he fell (nice touch), and bouncing my sword off the statue’s head a few times to express my feelings (bitch), Jespar and I move on.

- Some strong art direction in this part, and a much-needed cooldown from the Constantine thing.

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It’s never explained exactly what this is, but I’d hypothesize that these were living quarters for the temple staff and either had some sluice gate or dam that failed over the eons, or the water level rose during the last Cleansing.

- In the little house, Jespar recognizes a smell and goes to investigate.
Bloated, water-logged corpse is apparently a smell he’s familiar with. (Jespar, why do you recognize that smell).
He comes right back out in a minute and asks me for a pass-code, something he and I shared together: that thing with Yero.
Because inside the house, washed up on shore after who knows how long at sea, is our old buddy Sirius.
Also, my own corpse. Still pristine and undamaged by the seawater, presumably so I can be sure to recognize myself.

What the fuck, SureAI.


The Takeaway:
Aixon, all the way back in that dream sequence for Something Momentous II, was apparently right: I’m something dreamed into existence while my body died, strapped to a rock and a dead friend. I am post-living, bought the farm, shuffled off the mortal coil, dearly departed, etcetera. Just like all those sadsack skeletons I’ve been putting down for the last dozen hours.
If I ever see Aixon again I’m going to punch him in the mouth twice as hard for being right.
All this and I haven’t even found the Undertrain yet! This is a long one.
badgesareus
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Enderal’s version of platform puzzles! . . . I kind of applaud them for trying, anyway.
You have no idea. I hope you play Nehrim next, then you'll see what happens when SureAI brings on platform puzzles with a vengeance. Players sobbing, curled up into fetal positions. They took pity on us this time around.
- I had a trapper-keeper just like this in high school, except there was also a sweet unicorn on it.
You really lost me on this one.
This is a long one.
Think so? Once again I hope you play Nehrim. :D
dyslexicfaser
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Trapper keepers were a thing back in the 90s, for keeping your school supplies in. For reasons unknown, they all felt like they had the same artist in this trippy style, and they tended to have any of the following on them: unicorns, whales, space, water, rainbows, clouds, basically anything that would look totally sweet under a blacklight.

Here's one:
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So now whenever I see glowing crystals or whatever, I think of those old trapper keepers from my middle school days.
badgesareus
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Thanks, I think. I shouldn't have looked at this right before bedtime, I'll probably have nightmares about psychedelic seals staring at me and glowing in the dark. :lol:
Buccaneer
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I had been anticipating your reaction to the two events in the temple and you caught them, well done, I had missed their significance until much later.
What the fuck, SureAI.
is the perfect reaction.

I mean, if I had thought about it (instead of trying not to die all the time), I questioned whether I was real or not, whether the world was real or not or whether the only thing that was real were the daddy sequences... or not.
dyslexicfaser
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15.08.2017 00:48Buccaneer hat geschrieben:
I had been anticipating your reaction to the two events in the temple and you caught them, well done, I had missed their significance until much later.
What the fuck, SureAI.
is the perfect reaction.

I mean, if I had thought about it (instead of trying not to die all the time), I questioned whether I was real or not, whether the world was real or not or whether the only thing that was real were the daddy sequences... or not.
Good acting and good twists all around, really.

Although now that I've done the Undertrain bit, I have to wonder: was the Living Temple REALLY necessary? Really, Arantheal? Couldn't we have taken a goddamn boat or something?

If Jespar can pilot an ancient doomtrain that probably requires you to shovel souls into the incinerator or something, he could have sailed a boat where we needed to go.
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