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Thank you Obsidian, I believe in games as an art form again


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21 replies to this topic

#1
alsey

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I’m rather late to this party but wanted to share my thoughts on this game and a potential sequel. The IE games were an embarrassingly large part of my life in my late teens. I haven’t played many games since then because I thought the few that I did play sucked. For years I thought BG2 was the high water mark for games, with art since traded for bland 3D graphics, story for MMO and D&D mechanics for click-the-shiniest-button or whatever.

 

My brother-in-law told me about PoE about a year ago as I had long since stopped looking out for good games myself. Skeptical until I had a look around the forums and the wiki, it wasn’t long before I was writing pages of notes on my character’s background (I played a rauatai/elf/scholar/wizard on hard). Being a completionist and not having as much free time as I’d like, it’s taken me this long to finish it.

 

Obsidian, you didn’t disappoint. If I could pick one thing that took this game further than just a reincarnation of the IE, it would be the setting. The world in its appearance (and all the art work that went into that), history, metaphysics and even geology (!) struck me as incredibly imaginative in a genre that has been interpreted a thousand times already. And the lore was an effective part of the story rather than a random set of facts, giving the whole game a refreshing sense of cohesion.

 

As I busied myself in Defiance Bay and then Twin Elms, for some reason I thought that the ending of the game would be its weakest link but no, this game just refused to let me down. I have seen on these forums that the closing events of the game did not ring true for every player, and that’s fine, but I loved it. These days we expect villains to be written with at least an attempt at making their motives understandable but IMO that is rarely achieved. In the final dialogues however, I looked at those ‘yeah actually I agree with you’ options and had to, if only for a few seconds, consider choosing them. The notes of philosophy were just right, not so much as to be pretentious but enough to make me think.

 

To highlight a few other things I particularly liked about this game:

  • The renaissance setting worked perfectly as part of the story and helped to give a sense of a growing civilization rather than a static world.
  • The art (visual, music and writing) was beautiful and emotive.
  • The class structure, spells/abilities/talents and combat mechanics were fun to play, the battles were tactically engaging and I found it easy to strike the right balance between roleplaying and strategy.
  • The game took itself seriously and the humour was subtle and well placed. I have seen the other topic here but please don’t ruin a sequel with unnecessary comic relief. It was also nice to get through a game without every other character hitting on me.

 

With the risk of sounding like I think the game is perfect, some things I didn’t like so much:

  • Multiple races of kith. I feel like elves and dwarves have been done to death and it’s time to drop them from fantasy. If all the kith in the game had just been humans I don’t think it would have changed my experience one bit, with the possible exception of Pallegina (and the godlike are really just mutated humans rather than a genetically distinct species).
  • The game needed more interaction within the party. I really liked the companions and there was a lot of untapped potential in those characters.
  • The dialogue for the PC seemed a bit flat. I got the impression that this was intentional to avoid forcing a particular style of speech on the player, but it felt awkward at times responding to the eloquent dialogue of a NPC with something that made my character sound bored.
  • Overall the combat was great but enemy magic users were too weak. A bit like BG1/IWD1 they don’t have sufficient magical protection and I missed the spell battles a la BG2. The final battle was over way too quickly. You could say that I should play PotD but this complaint is not about the overall difficulty of the game.

 

So is it better than BG2? Perhaps it is, and that is complement enough. I believe artistic integrity made this game what it is, and I don’t know exactly what part crowdfunding plays in that, but it is a rare thing so please don’t forget it.

 

On to the White March...


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#2
higo

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Will you be starting over for the white march?



#3
alsey

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I reloaded a save from act 2, wanting to keep the rest of the game as fresh as possible for when I do a full play through in a couple of years or so. I'm regretting slightly not doing the expansion as part of my main game. I didn't because I have plausibility issues with characters going off on extended side quests while the fate of the world is put on hold, but because the ending worked so well for me it actually feels a bit strange now to continue playing.


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#4
Bonte

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No no no. Don't get rid of the dwarves! My favorite fantasy race. I do agree that we need more interaction with the companions. I felt like we only touched on the surface for most of them. I liked most of the Clever options when it came to my Watcher. It added a lot of flavor for me. 



#5
ManifestedISO

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The music score is absolutely why I keep coming back. Dwarves I could take or leave, but they're a staple, like cheese and potatoes. 



#6
Ink Blot

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Dwarves aren't just a fantasy race: they're the only fantasy race. Don't mess with the dwarves.


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#7
hrwd

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While I will agree with Scaetrfolc(Wood Elves) being fairly bland and unimaginative, you can't really say the same for Glamfellen(Pale Elves). The closest would be Falmer in TES, but they're extinct afaik. Unless you believe in that silly notion that Riekling = Falmer.

As is fairly obvious, often it's not that the Elves, the Dwarfs etc are boring, but it's HOW they are done is boring. If all you do is copy / paste Eldar or Asur(Warhammer Fantasy High Elves), the result is going to be a bland, unimaginative copy. Who would've said that, eh?

#8
Pus-in-Boots

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Well, I pretty much agree with Chris Avellone that elves and dwarves are terribly tired cliches. I never pick them during character creation in fear it may induce nausea. Sorry, elves and dwarves lovers, just a personal opinion. :)


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#9
KDubya

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I like Dwarves, tend to be them whenever I can as I like the strong stocky head on approach that I associate with them.

 

That said I think Pillars would have been better off just going with humans, god-like, Orlan and Aumaua.



#10
Loren Tyr

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The music score is absolutely why I keep coming back. Dwarves I could take or leave, but they're a staple, like cheese and potatoes. 

 

But why would you put cheese on potatoes? 

 

:biggrin:



#11
hrwd

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They should've went with:

Humans(Thrytan fit Pillars the best imo)
Aumaua(awesome race I must admit-Island variant since Coastals are shunned and rare in Dyrwood)
Glamfellen(no need for Wood cliche)
Boreal Dwarves(Mtn Dwarves are just cliche)
Orlan(whatever variant-creative race)
Godlike(any variant-nice idea but I've a problem that not every head has its matching portrait - most noticeable in the Nature variant)

Would that do? There is a lot of familiarity yet a lot of difference within races here and in typical Fantasy setting. Pale Elves, Inuit / Eskimo dwarves, towering Maori dudes...what's that if not creative? ;)

#12
alsey

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My problem with it was not the creativity but the overall meaning of the different races. Moving away from monocultures is great but then I'm left asking what it means to be race X. When I encounter an amaua in the game I ask what does it mean to me that you're an amaua. You're kind of big and like swimming, but you could also have been a human that's big and likes swimming and it wouldn't have changed the story. In a game where every aspect of the setting is meaningul to the story the different races seemed somewhat arbitrary. The godlike are an exception to that but then I didn't interpret them as a race/species as such.



#13
tinysalamander

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The music score is absolutely why I keep coming back. Dwarves I could take or leave, but they're a staple, like cheese and potatoes. 

 

But why would you put cheese on potatoes? 

 

:biggrin:

 

 

Grab a frying pan and see for yourself :biggrin:



#14
Messier-31

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Moar elves, moar dwarves.

 

I really like cliche elven mages, elven rangers and dwarven fighters.

 

It's the writing that makes a character interesting, not its race/class.


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#15
hrwd

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Moar elves, moar dwarves.

I really like cliche elven mages, elven rangers and dwarven fighters.

It's the writing that makes a character interesting, not its race/class.


Well, do you like Elves with 2H Axes?
Dwarven Mind Mages?
Half-Orcish Bards?
Human Runemasters?
Gnome Kensai?

...what? I see nothing wrong with that ;) .

#16
Barbedbeat

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It's the writing that makes a character interesting, not its race/class.



^^^This. So much -this-.
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#17
Ink Blot

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It's the writing that makes a character interesting, not its race/class.



^^^This. So much -this-.

 

Indeed. The race/class is just the canvas. The writing is the paint and the artwork.


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#18
Messier-31

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Well, do you like Elves with 2H Axes?
Dwarven Mind Mages?
Half-Orcish Bards?
Human Runemasters?
Gnome Kensai?

...what? I see nothing wrong with that ;) .

 

Sure, why not. They still can be interesting if well written.

 

But I'd rather see a good generic cliche dwarven warrior with an axe and shield than a unique kobold bard made for the sole purpose of having a character that is 105% different than the others.



#19
Sonntam

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The whole problem with elves/dwarves is that on the one hand they had been done to death, but on the other hand the moment you make a fantasy setting people go "ok, but which of those races are the elf/dwarf stand-ins?"

 

People just love to have them and they are a basically one of the staples of fantasy, along with the middle ages + magic. 



#20
Fenixp

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they are a basically one of the staples of fantasy, along with the middle ages + magic.

One has to wonder why's the genre even called "Fantasy" anymore...

Edited by Fenixp, 03 October 2016 - 08:36 AM.





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