|I know things are looking kind of grim right now, with you set for sacrifice to a fish-faced god and all, but look on the bright side: I’m about to get a new set of goggles!|
As with any quest run solely for the completion, the most efficient approach is to bring an over-level character and run the quest through the “golden path” only, avoiding as many fights as possible and all optionals. I have to leave for work in a few minutes, efficiency will be necessary.
But I ran into a snag. An entirely self-created snag. Some background may be necessary to help explain:
What made it amazing was not the graphics (though they were outstanding) or the story (though it was the first – and best – Star Wars prequel). No, the truly innovative features were the relationships between the protagonist and his/her companions, and the relationship between the protagonist’s actions and the outcome of the game.
Anyone who had played other Bioware games might have expected some of this. Bioware companion NPCs are not your standard wooden plot expositors, but instead are fully-fleshed out characters you quickly come to love or hate, to cheer on, and often romance, if in-game character actions count as “romance”.
Unlike any other game up to that point, character choices impact the plot and gameplay. Dozens (hundreds?) of in-game situations that force the player to make a choice between good, evil, and sometimes, neutrality. The accumulation of choices change the way that NPCs react to your character, the gameplay options open to the character*, even the way your character looks: evil actions over time cause your face to twist and darken into a menacing Sith leer.
* Not just dialog choices but major gameplay paths. The last 10-15% of the entire game was dictated by your morality. Bioware wrote a game-and-a-half, with many hours of gameplay that could only be seen by being sufficiently evil, and many others accessible only by being sufficiently good.
I don’t want to go into a slash-by-slash recap of my path through the Dark side, although it remains surprisingly memorable though eight years in the past, but I can tell you that it broke my heart to kill off my companions. The most heroic of my companions pleaded with me in the closing minutes of the game – a final chance at redemption? – but no, I wanted to see the path through and his fate was sealed.
Even the girl I had successfully romanced chose power over me, ignoring my advances in favor of becoming my Sith apprentice and seneschal.
Oh, I won all right, but it felt terrible, and as I watched my endless fleet of Star Dreadnaughts streaming forth to dominate the galaxy I actually had to fight back tears* of regret at the actions I performed to reach my exalted and feared position of evil dominance.
* In a manly way of course, very macho tears, got to get that out front right way, studly he-man tears of glistening masculinity
It was as strong an emotion as I have ever had evoked by a video game. And I learned from it: I am intrinsically a good guy. My inner dude wears a white hat. Regardless of how I view myself in real life, my fictional self is a Paladin of the highest order, or at the very least a dedicated but Chaotic Good warrior of virtue.
Now back in the present day, and I am trying to rush Sacrifices as fast as possible. Finishing on a level 16 character is all but trivial, and I am at the end in a matter of moments.
Ready to rescue Arissa. But she’s not alone. Other NPCs accompany her, bound and captured, awaiting a rather horrid fate of sacrifice and maybe worse.
I am going to be late for work! But … there they are. Bedraggled and desperate, strewn about, hopeless.
I can’t leave them. I know how silly it is, I am not “leaving them” if I talk to Arissa and finish out, they are not really there in the first place.
Dimension Door back to the quest entrance. Run the entire quest a second time, but this time I stop at the cages in the third room. I manipulate the various switches, maneuver the bridges, open the bars. Free all the prisoners. Run through the rest of the quest. Free the prisoners at the end too. Finally, facing Arissa again, free her too.
Stupid, yes. Waste of time, yes. Completely unnecessary, yes.
But my inner dude, the one in the white hat, he gets to go to work with a smile.
Totally worth it.
🙂 😀 🙂