The Reconstruction Part 2 (Guest Review)

Last time on The Reconstruction, we hadn’t even finished the intro sequence.
The camera finishes scrolling when it reaches the enemy ship.

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“They’re banned outside of Fortifel, you know.”
Ensign: “Banned, Sir? What sort of device is it?”
Enemy Captain: “An illegal contraption used on… shall we say… ‘unregistered’ craft.”

The story is playing its cards oddly close to its chest about this – a “contraption” could be pretty much anything, much like that “thaumaturge” thing in Beautiful Creatures. It does imply that it could be mechanical rather than purely magical. If they have functioning engines, that elevates their technology level even higher than in my previous speculation.

“I bet they’d still style themselves as part of the Wadassian Royal Navy, though. Hah.”

But in social terms, it looks like monarchies are still around, and they seem to have enough power to command a navy at least (and probably a land army too). More on this later.

Ensign: “Maybe they’ll leave us alone. We are carrying several members of the Nal-Guard, after all.”

There’s a pause.

Ensign: “Captain Yat?”
Captain Yat: “It’s gaining speed. Ensign, who is piloting that vessel? Can you make out that figure?”

The ensign peers through the telescope.

Ensign: “It appears the man standing on the front of the vessel… oh, it’s a Shra, I think.”
Captain Yat: “What?! Not a raiding party of those things?! If they reach us, they’ll devour us alive!”

He turns away. The ensign continues looking through the telescope.

Ensign: “Wait, Sir, it appears there are several Humans on board as well.”

Ah, here we go: “humans” is capitalized. This is actually pretty consistent throughout the game. I guess the developer figured if they were capitalizing the other species names, they might as well capitalize “human” too?

“The Shra may have commandeered their vessel. Perhaps they need assistance?”

Yat pushes the ensign roughly out of the way and peers through the telescope himself.

Captain Yat: “No, wait a moment. That isn’t just any Shra. (Those eyes… that’s… Rehm Sikohlon?)”

This message is a good example of something kind of nitpicky that bothers me throughout the game: the way thoughts are handled. Usually they’re denoted by parentheses, but the placement of quotation marks are all over the place. Here, for instance, the endquote is placed at the end of the message, after the thought. But the thought isn’t spoken aloud, so it doesn’t make sense why it’s included in the quotes. Usually, it seems like quotation marks just act like brackets for message box text, instead of following speaking rules.

(“But how… how could he find me?”)

And here there are quotes inside the parentheses, which I guess makes a degree more sense, but they still seem superfluous.

Ensign: “I never knew you to associate with those creatures. Do you think he is hostile?”
Captain Yat: “There is much you do not know.

Hello contrived plot withholding. I suppose the question then becomes whether or not this is better than forced exposition, though I think in this case the exposition wouldn’t be too forced. It honestly seems weirder for the captain to be withholding information that could be pertinent to the crew’s survival, though maybe the point is supposed to be that he’s a dick?

And, he is a Shra, Ensign. Of course he is hostile. It seems we were destined to meet once again. But this time, I have the upper hand…”
Ensign: “Again? But, what—”
Captain Yat: “Evasive maneuvers are useless against a ship like that. We’ll never reach Nal in time. Halt our course. Have any of them who try to board killed where they stand. I’ll alert the mercenaries on board. They will prepare some barricades for lockdown.”

We cut back to the Vigil.

 photo 2013-08-1913_24_17-TheReconstruction.png
Navigator: “Cap’n, they’re drawing their sails. They’ll be dead in th’ water soon, they will!”
Captain S: “They’re slowing down? Oh, Captain Yat, you sly dog. You’re still scared of me? I’m sure you’d just love a fight, huh, mate.” (“…sorry, Dad. Gotta do it. It’s my job.”)

…Huh. Even after beating the game with 100% completion, I still don’t have the slightest clue what that last bit means. Maybe it was part of a subplot that got dropped.

“Hold this speed. Let them know we mean business. We can’t afford to lose him today.”
Navigator: “Aye aye. Brace fer impact, ev’ryone!”

We cut back to Captain Yat.

Captain Yat: “S-stay at your post, Ensign. Try to stall them. Are you carrying your knife?”
Ensign: “Captain? Who are they? Beryl pirates? Black market traders? Please tell me!”

Yat just looks at him, then looks back at the approaching ship.

Ensign: “Captain?! Captain!!”

Yat backs away slowly, then turns and runs. The ensign turns to look at him as he departs.

Ensign: (“Let the waves have mercy on us now…”)

We cut to a new scene.

 photo 2013-08-1913_25_20-TheReconstruction.png
Crewman Todd: “The new uniforms? Nah, they’re not so bad. I liked the blue better, though.”
Crewman Murphy: “Well, anyway, I don’t know why they even bothered issuing one to me. When we hit Nal, I’m off this dog of a boat, and for good this time, I hope.”
Crewman Todd: “Oh yeh, that’s right, the wife and kids and all.”
Crewman Murphy: “Yep, gonna retire to some place nice, I think. Do’Ssha, maybe. You know, the Fih’Jik?”
Crewman Todd: “You’d been servin’ in the Nalian navy for 20 years? Then you got stuck wit’ Yat.”

I think some wires may have gotten crossed here, as this seems to be a bit of a non-sequitor.

Crewman Murphy: “Ehh, something like that, yeah. Just got to last one more day, hahah.”
Crewman Todd: “Hey, you hear somethin’?”

The screen suddenly goes white, and there’s a crashing/booming sound.

Crewman Todd: “Urgh… the hell was that… What…? Oh no… Myrphy?! Murphy!! Not today… not today!! Murrrrrrphy! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!”

There is a pause.

Crewman Murphy: “Huh? I’m right here.”

 photo 2013-08-1913_26_25-TheReconstruction.png

Todd looks around in bewilderment for a bit.

Crewman Todd: “Oh, oh yeah. Right.”

He moves toward the spike.

Crewman Todd: “What the hell do you suppose this is?”
Crewman Murphy: “Looks like… the nose spike of a ship? This is kind of an odd place for it.”
Crewman Todd: “Could be pirates. Maybe we’re under atack.”
Crewman Murphy: “Yeah.”
[pause]
Crewman Todd: “Coffee?”
Crewman Murphy: “Sure.”

The first time I played this, the point of this scene was completely lost on me due to my tragic lack of culture. I now see that this is a brilliant parody of what TV Tropes calls “Retirony“.

New scene.

 photo 2013-08-1913_26_52-TheReconstruction.png

Ensign: “Ouch. That was a heck of a crash.”

He gets up and walks forward.

Ensign: “That ship! Did it sink? There is no way it could have survived a crash like that.”

 photo 2013-08-1913_27_07-TheReconstruction.png

Do characters ever learn not to tempt fate?

A second grappling hook follows the first, and the ensign starts backing away.

Ensign: “Uhh, guards? Somebody? I need some help back here…”

When he turns back…

 photo 2013-08-1913_27_24-TheReconstruction.png

I’m pretty sure the only point of that was so there didn’t have to actually be an animation of the main characters boarding the ship. But in fairness, spriting is hard, especially animations. It’s not even that noticeable in isolation; I think the only reason I’ve really noticed it here is because lots of other RPG Maker games do it.

Captain S walks up to him.

Ensign: “M-marauders! Mercy upon us!”
Captain S: “Your captain. Where is he.”
Ensign: “H-he ran away a while ago, toward the bow. I don’t know where he is now, I promise!”

Captain S looks toward the bow of the ship for a moment, then turns back.

Captain S: “Don’t try nothin’ funny, mate. We don’t intend to harm any of you, as long as you comply.

He pushes the ensign forward, backing him against a crate.

Captain S: “Do you understand?”
Ensign: Y-yes, S-Shra… anything you say…!”

Captain S turns away for a moment.

Captain S: “And don’t call me ‘Shra.’ You’ll make me sound like some sort of savage. Just ‘Sikohlon.'”
Ensign: (‘Sikohlon’? That cult of pacifists…? Why is he here? …Maybe I can scare him off…”)

And now it’s still doing the quotes inside of thoughts thing only there’s no start quote why you do this, game.

I actually have more objections to this line than the punctuation error, though. Here is where we run into the in medias res problem coupled with fantasy terms in need of definitions being bandied about. This line always felt incredibly forced to me, especially since it’s a thought snippet. The thing is, you don’t actually need to know anything about the Sikohlon at this point. There’s some good opportunities for the game to talk about them coming up fairly soon, but right now is really not the time, especially since the game has worked so hard to uphold a fast-paced action movie tone. The fact that this ensign recognizes the Sikohlon as pacifists is intriguing in that Captain S doesn’t seem terribly pacifist-y, but it’s not at all necessary to understand the plot at the moment.

I honestly think it would have been a better move to fully embrace the in medias res theme and leave things like this unexplained. It would make more sense to inform the player about the Sikohlon later, after things slow down a bit and this information actually becomes relevant. In fact, I actually think that saving the revelation that the Sikohlon are pacifists until after the prologue might actually work better, for reasons that will become apparent in…well, in a while, sorry. Long cutscenes.

“You won’t get far! The Nal-guard onboard are at the ready, and they’ll cut you down…!”

Is this ensign just supposed to be really, really stupid? Regardless of whether or not he was part of a pacifist group at one time maybe, he is most definitely acting violent and non-pacifist-y right now. I’d think that would give most people pause for thought instead of…this.

Captain S turns back to him, and there is a dramatic pause.

Captain S: “I’m sorry, is that a threat?”
Ensign: “Ahhh…”

Captain S turns to his crewmates.

Captain S: “You see, mates? That’s what mercy gets you. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so…soft.”
Vasra: “Such a shame it’s come to this, Captain. He seemed like such a nice young man.”

Captain S turns back to the ensign.

Captain S: “Forget mercy. Get out of my sight. Go, run, to your precious guards.”
Ensign: “But I just—”
Captain S: “GO.”

He hesitates for a moment (why?) before running off.

Pvt Clap: “Why would the militia guards from Nal be on a ship like this anyway, Captain?”
Captain S: “I’m not exactly sure, mate. Mercenaries, perhaps. Money is in high demand, ya know.”
Vasra: “So, you’d say Captain Yat is rather well-off then? Plenty of coin to throw around?”
Pvt Clap: “Is he gonna try and bribe you for something? Wait, we’re not here to…collect, are we?”
Captain S: “We ain’t here to rob anyone. This is a much more delicate matter.”
Vasra: “Of course it is. I’m just worried about that hole we just punched in the lower deck.”
Captain S: “He has bigger problems now. Namely, us.”

Captain S looks around.

Captain S: “This ship is bigger’n I remember. Hmmm. I fear we may have to split up, mates.”
Pvt Clap: “Oh… well, don’t let me get in the way. I’ll just climb on back down, and…”
Captain S: “Don’t sound so crestfallen, mate. Stick with one of us if you like. We can use you.”
Pvt Clap: “…perfect. D-ah, yes, Captain.”

Captain S takes a step towards the prow of the ship.

 photo 2013-08-1913_29_23-TheReconstruction.png

He bravely said to the crate.

There’s a prompt to save here, so I’ll take that as a good place to stop. Next time, actual gameplay!

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