> However I do remember hearing a lot about how the story for POE was slow, boring , "dry" etc especially at the start. I've looked at a few reviews for this game and I am noticing that although it is reviewing very well some of the critics are saying the story is bad, they couldn't get into it and it's slow at the start.
Well, as someone who doesn't think highly of Pillars 1's story, I can attempt to explain why I dislike it personally. But before I begin, let me just preface my comments by saying that my dislike of the story has nothing to do with me disliking literature in general, or not liking dark stories, or anything like that. So if you're going to respond to my comment by painting me as an illiterate, or as having poor/unrefined tastes, you can **** right off. You're free to disagree with anything I write of course, these are just my personal feelings on the story.
SPOILERS FOR PILLARS OF ETERNITY 1 AND BALDUR'S GATE 2 BELOW
Anyway, here goes:
- Thaos seems ill-defined to me as a character and a villain.
He's just this cardboard cut-out that I'm following around because the plot demands it, rather than me actually being interested in him. He starts off as this mysterious character who has something to do with my awakening, but I don't know for sure, and we spend the first half of the game chasing breadcrumbs that he's dropped; then we come face-to-face briefly but all he really does is talk in riddles, and I'm left thinking: well I guess I'll run after him, but I'm not all that bothered really.
If I compare him to someone like Jon Irenicus: that ****er stole my soul. And he was a right pretentious git about it too. I wanted that guy dead from the very first minute I saw him, and it only grew throughout the game as he messed with me again and again and again. I'm not saying that all plots have to revolve around a particular type of character, but Thaos, to me, does make for a spectacularly boring villain. He lacks the charisma of other memorable villains.
I have played through most of Pillars at least 2-3 times now, 4 if I count my aborted first playthrough, and I have never gotten interested in Thaos. The one time I managed to complete the game (despite being utterly uninterested in the plot), I really didn't care what happened to Thaos. He was just a meaningless end-game boss to be defeated in order to access the ending slides.
- The writing style is generally overwritten.
I suggest that before you read the following paragraphs, you read through this: http://literarylab.b...tten-prose.html
After reading that, you should understand that what I'm about to say doesn't come from a dislike of elaborate or beautiful prose. For example, one of my favourite books is One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, an extract of which you can read here: https://www.nobelpri...quez-prose.html
At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs.
Pillars 1's writing is full of unnecessary complication, of the type discussed in the first link from Literarylab. It's a chore to read through endless reams of overwrought description and awkward similes. Much of it is contained within companion dialogue, which is surprising considering that the dialogue in the game is written by a variety of different authors, many of them established experts in their field, such as Chris Avellone.
I suppose this point is redundant without examples, so I'll try to provide some, but it's not as if I wrote down the worst examples I saw while playing through the game or anything like that.
- Example: Durance dialogue/description
Durance: His chuckle dies into a smile, a genuine one.
'Dies' into a smile? This is just an awkward verb to use here.
Durance: As you study [the staff] deeper, it shimmers slightly in your eyes, like water catching the light weaving across the statue. Whatever power was bled from the staff, it doesn't make it - or the wielder - any less dangerous.
This is from the moment where you meet Durance by the statue of Magran.
'It shimmers in your eyes' is a really confusing phrase. 'In' my eyes? How can something shimmer in my eyes? That doesn't make any sense.
'Like water catching the light weaving across the statue.' So this is an attempt at a simile. The staff is shimmering, and the effect makes the staff... no wait, not the staff, it makes it seem like there's water there... floating in mid-air? Between you and the staff? Ok, I guess... so it's as if there is water, and it's catching the the light weaving across the statue that's nearby... god, this is a confusing sentence. It's very pretty but it's quite difficult to dismantle the meaning.
'Whatever power was bled from the staff, it doesn't make it - or the wielder - any less dangerous.' Ok so this sentence is trying to create the image that, despite the power that's gone from the staff, it's still dangerous, and so is Durance. But why? This old man dressed in rags doesn't seem dangerous to me. He's more like a runty hermit with a boss eye than a deadly enemy. How would I even know how dangerous he is? How would I know what power was bled from the staff? (this is early on, before you know anything about the Godhammer and Durance's role in it) How would I know that despite the power being bled, he's still dangerous? Nothing about this exchange makes me think that this guy is dangerous.
- Example: general description from prologue
A handful of dark figures stands above the fallen, treading on limbs and backs and heads, jerking their axes from bodies as if from half-split logs as they prepare to add you to the sprawling pile beneath them. One of them, towering and severe with a thick beard tassled with knots, holds a wet blade at the neck of the man you recognise as Heodan, the last of your caravan left standing.
So this is another painful pair of paragraphs, this time from the start of the game.
'dark figures' It's not that dark in this scene. The enemies here could be described in detail and it would give much better understanding to the player.
'as if from half-split logs' This is another awkward simile. Half-split logs... so we're comparing these dead bodies to.. logs? Why? Other than similar shapes, why would you make this comparison? Does it make these enemies appear fearsome, to compare them to woodcutters?
'as they prepare to add you to the sprawling pile beneath them.' I'm already reeling from the confusing attempt at a simile with half-split logs, and now I have to dismantle this... add me to the sprawling pile beneath them..? The bodies can't be a pile. Unless they brought all the bodies together to put them into a pile. The bodies would be quite spread out. So not a pile. And sprawling? Remember, the definition of pile is a heap of things laid or lying one on top of another. So, a sprawling pile? This is just a really awkward description. It's quite difficult to think of a pile of things as being sprawling.
'at the neck of the man you recognise as Heodan' Another awkward set of phrases. At-the-neck-of-the-man-you-recognise-as-Heodan. Why not use 'at Heodan's neck'? Is it really so important to add this layer of detail, and in this sentence? 'The man you recognise as Heodan' just makes this entire sentence cumbersome.
Anyway, I could go on, but again these are by no means the worst examples. They are, however, representative of writing that is generally ponderous and difficult to understand.
Game writing, and really, good writing in general, doesn't have to be flowery and intricately detailed in order to do its job. One choice word, description, simile, etc is worth ten flat ones.
There are a few other points I could make, perhaps about some of the supporting cast, but I already wrote a lot, and Thaos and the general quality of the writing are the two main problems I have with the story, so I guess this is ok.