Friday, 25 October 2013

Out into the world

  The wild lands outside Selphia’s main gate at pretty tame overall.  The region is populated by weak creatures akin to bunnies, who hop about menacingly but aren’t much more aggressive than the sign posts.  Resource points here are frequent, and while Lest may not have all of the tools he needs to harvest resources here yet, this region is rich enough to make passing through profitable, and safe, early venture. 

  A fallen tree prevents movement to the south, but areas to the east of the gate allows Lest to go just far enough to find the entrance to the Yokmir Forest.  Hazards within are a little more acute, but hardly dangerous for the prepared.  I found the great challenge to be keeping my inventory empty so that I could harvest more of the plentiful goodies I can’t use yet.

  It is also hard to get truly lost within the Yokmir Forest, as by and large, the region is a straight line running from the save pillar at the entrance, to a save pillar just before a dark grove.  Colorful butterflies lead the way before Lest, further pointing the direction with infallible skill.  Sooner or later, Lest must enter the dark grove, out of boredom is nothing else.

  Waiting within is something that immediately reminded me of Metapod, a large, larger than Lest anyway, cocoon suspended on a bent branch.  Battle music plays, and the mood is set for a titanic encounter.  Of course, the cocoon is non-combative, and simply hangs there until its hit points are wasted.  Lest can take his time with this stage of his target, striking, cavorting around looking for weak points, it is all the same here.

  Once the cocoon is cracked, though, a beautiful girl emerges from the cocoon spreading butterfly wings behind her.  Lest can be forgiven for trying to talk to this creature, who looks for all the world like the humans in town but bigger.  She kicks about as hard as any girl I’ve met (don’t ask).  Lest now finds himself in a swiftly moving “dancing battle,” where his opponent may be a little sluggish, but has enough hit points to last through his clumsy attacks.  Getting struck by this butterfly girl not only hurts, it sets her up to use moves that I swear reminds me of Butterfree.  Paralysis, sleep spores, and a frequent use of waves makes this butterfly girl dangerous enough, but avoiding her attacks keeps Lest on the offensive and able to act.

  The battle is swift and fierce; Lest with patiently raised levels is more than a match for the hentai-mon.  After knocking her down twice, the butterfly-girl proceeds to explode repeatedly, a scene right out of the old school rpgs, and then flash a white light.  In the next scene, the butterfly girl is replaced with a much less suggestively dressed normal girl.  Doug wanders onto the scene with perfect timing, and agrees to help Lest carry the girl back to Jones’ clinic.

  The next day, “Amber” has joined the cast of Rune Factory 4.  She’s apparently a bachelorette, but that’s talk for another day.  Right now, she has amnesia, and Illuminata instantly opens her home to her. Worryingly, Amber clearly retains butterfly wings, though no one else seems to notice.  If Lest wants to return to the grove, he can find another “Ambrosia” monster waiting to challenge him again, but without the chance to create another marriageable girl.

  Before moving on, I should ponder the messages this chapter brings forward.  Absolutely no part of the game is necessary, and players can be completely satisfied busying themselves with farming, cooking, and a few forms of crafting.  While there is certainly always more to do, the main quest is opening up, and challenging the player to rise to the challenge.  How does anybody refuse such a calling-out?

  But there are messages being communicated, deliberate or not.  Ambrosia is a monster; every player knows it and we laugh at the player characters that are not able / permitted to know it.  Illuminata, just as a for instance, is a self-styled detective searching for supernatural occurrences.  How fitting, then, that the most supernatural of all housemates is now living under her roof!  It is simply not possible for Lest to warn Illuminata of the girl she so enthusiastically embraces as family, so the only thing Lest can do is keep an eye on Amber and make sure she never transforms again.

  The narrative recalls more than a few after-school anime programs from Japan, and reflects a good bit of paternalism and faith in martial power to boot.  After all, suppose Amber did revert to Ambrosia, what could Lest do about it except pummel her one more time?  It is a point of view that plays fast and loose with violence, gender relations, and I’m sure eventually, sex. 

  Regardless, Yokmir Forest plays its role in the game perfectly.  The wilds outside of town may have monsters running about, but Yokmir demands more than “run up and swing” tactics.  It demands planning, and punishes foolishness.  By the time Lest has KO’d Ambrosia, he has learned a great deal of when to attack and when to run, and is probably quite fast on his feet.  I didn’t find any attack runes before this battle either, suggesting that the chapter is more like a final exam on attacking and moving.

  I actually did get a bit further, but I’m going to save that for the next post.  TTFN, kiddies.

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