The Reconstruction Part 7 – “Crop Busters” (Guest Review)

Let’s explore Wadassia! Every new location has lots of delicious flavor text, and is usually more detailed than the ship in the prologue.

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I find this amusing! Wordplay is always fun to see, true as Act’s indictment of the English language may be.

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Definitely not skipping out on his duty to teach his daytime classes. Oh no.

Oh, look, Tehgonan, it’s adult you! Why don’t you bond over your mutual laziness totally justified hatred of the education system.

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Yes, that’s probably correct. And there are guards all around the place who probably look for kids who are doing exactly what he’s doing. You’d think the academy robes would make it rather obvious that he’s cutting class.

He was briefly suspended after his second day of Tertiary School for turning an area of the academy floor into a patch of broken glass. He thought it was funny as hell.

Again, I’m just not seeing it. A thirteen-year-old, sure, I could even believe a twelve-year-old, but an eleven year old? Kids that age can have a mean streak, but younger kids tend to have a greater respect for the rules, not less. He’s at that transitional age where he might start pushing his boundaries, but turning the floor into broken glass (and probably getting lots of people hurt in the process) is a bit much. Surely his parents object? Do they have absolutely no control over his behavior?

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Hovering over this guy will produce a description, but you can’t interact with him for some reason. That’s odd. In other cases, there’s still some flavor text if you haven’t tripped the relevant event flag. Must be an oversight.

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The armor she wears is special, for it was passed down from her mother to her, so she dons it every chance she gets.

Aw, that’s sweet.

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Travelling is a rather dangerous activity in these times. Nonetheless, Zargos appears ready to saddle up and move out at any time.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense. The world doesn’t seem to have descended into a Dark Ages-like no-man’s-land outside of the cities. You travel a lot throughout the game, but never encounter any “danger” while on the road, not even random encounters like in most RPGs.

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“Pelt” D:

It’s unusual to think that only a hundred years ago, slavery was taboo at best. Nowadays, it’s a necessity of life. How far we’ve come.

Ah, right, slavery hasn’t been around very long. I forgot that. So, most if not all the originally captured shra are probably still around.

The two people around it are having a conversation, and I can listen in. The red one is from Nal, and says it looks malnourished. Ye gods, if a Nalian thinks it’s in poor health the poor thing must be at death’s door. He also mentions that he can get slaves for cheaper in Nal. The rest is just typical bartering talk.

So yeah, shras’ lives suck. I sometimes feel that the game is a bit excessive about this. Past a certain point it really feels like it’s heaping misery and suffering on them for no real purpose. There’s no mention of abolitionists (though The Drop later retcons this to insist there totally were, we just never saw them) and sympathizers are mentioned, like, once (and turn out to be other shra anyway). This gives the impression that the acceptance of slavery is universal, in which case I have no choice but to assume the entire world is populated by amoral scumbags, in which case why should I care about what happens to it? In a game about helping random strangers and solving the world’s ills that’s pretty important. It is possible that it’s just not a problem that Dehl is personally concerned about (because he has issues). Since we generally only focus on the ones he does care about, that could be a reason it doesn’t come to a head until much later.

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He is quite young for a Shra, likely only a hundred years old at the most. His third horn is a most unique and unusual feature.

Yeah, he’s got a super special mary sue trait. Believe it or not, though, I don’t think he’s terribly suish overall, so I’m willing to give this a pass.

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After an impromptu departure from Fortifel, he has been seeking to rekindle his glory as a mage and invoker to seek his own limits. Banding together a guild just might give him that chance. How he and Dehl became friends is another mystery altogether.

Indeed it is. I kind of wonder if the only reason they became “friends” was because Dehl is a spineless wuss who lets Qualstio walk all over him. There remains the question of why Qualstio cared about Dehl in the first place, though…perhaps he saw a certain kinship in their circumstances, but personality-wise they’re different as night and day and I don’t really believe in the maxim that opposites attract, at least not to this extreme. I can see him providing help to a stranger in need but I can’t really see how a long-lasting friendship grew out of that.

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They seem pretty modern in a lot of respects, but they’re still using medieval swords and armor even though they have gunpowder? Maybe destructive magic removed the need for guns and so technology never went down that path, but in that case, you’d think magic would still fulfill that niche. Metal armor would be suicide in the face of temperature-based spells, for one thing, and any kind of physical protection is completely useless against psychic powers.

Actually, that does raise the question of why people seem to only be focused on physical protection when targeting the mind and soul is also a thing. It’d be really neat to see people wearing tinfoil hats and holy wards instead – if the gameplay mechanics can be generalized to the setting, people should be considering those things as important as actual armor. I guess this is a disappointing example of gameplay-and-story segregation. Pity.

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“I need a guild with more experience, a guild that won’t mess up as bad as I did.”

Well that wasn’t very nice. He has a portrait, though, so he must be important.

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He escaped the holy wars ravaging his home land some time ago; the war may have calmed down, but he still refuses to resettle there.

So he’s not some criminal on the run, then. Probably. I don’t know Wadassia’s policy on harboring refugees, though, so he may still be in legal hot water.

I think this is a good example of flavor text being used effectively – it provides background and setting details that aren’t obvious but nonetheless important, yet it’s able to tell us directly using prose narration rather than character dialogue.

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They utilized a pressure system designed by a Fortian to project great arcs of water upward in a fantastic display. However, with water rationing in effect for the farmers’ sake since a few years ago, the fountains have all been disabled. Using seawater was briefly explored, but deemed unsatisfactory due to mineral damage to the pipes and kelp in the trees.

Oooh, an actual mention of economics and finite resources! That’s nice to see. So many video games take the small stuff for granted and skip straight to huge epic plots without any consideration for if these societies are actually stable or make any sense.

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Hm. Looks like there was a text box malfunction here.

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…So the male farmer is the one who actually did something and gets to brag about it, and the woman is just there to “gawk”. Really, game?

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…Buhwha? The RPG heroes are…actually doing the responsible thing and…not taking everything that isn’t nailed down?

what is this i dont even

Well, that’s everything. Let’s cast off the shackles of civilization and go hunting in the wilderness.

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After I gather my party members, I wander around in search of things to fight.

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These guys (tchiitra hatchlings) are actually pretty courteous. They won’t attack you until you run up to them and press the “interact” button. They’re not too tough, either – they’re basically the tutorial enemy. Pretty much everyone here can oneshot them.

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This place looks like it should be important, but it isn’t. There are some things to examine though. The basin in the bottom-right contains some vegetables, and there’s also A sack of inedible Lushbrew Apples that have been collected. They must be gathered before falling off the tree, or they’re no good. There also seem to be small Tchiitra bites all over some of them .Seems even those things wouldn’t take them. If they’re so inedible, what are they used for? Cider?

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“The Tchiitra, too… it’s almost like everything is out to destroy our lives at once. Things had better pick up soon if we don’t want to end up like Nal did.”

There are NPCs to talk to, as well. This one is pretty ominous! I actually don’t believe it’s ever mentioned why Nal is such a blighted wasteland. Judging from this, they could grow their own food once. Did they overfarm and drain all the nutrients? Was it less flooded/swampy before, and the weather/climate recently took a change for the worse?

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“See it all? It grows along the shores here, messin’ up the stream when it takes over. Soon it’ll choke the stream completely, and it’ll run dry. We need this water for our crops! We don’t know what to do! We don’t have any poison we can use that won’t kill the fish.”

The farmers are environmentally conscious! Good for them. Maybe my overfarming theory for Nal is right, and that shocked everyone into realizing they had to be more careful.

When I go across the river, I find something interesting.

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So we are doing the kleptomaniac hero thing, but at least the narrator is trying to rationalize it.

Using it now will give 500 Mana Points to the character that found it, split up if there is a group currently being controlled.

Alright, I’ll take it. 80ish mana points for everyone.

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The boundary limits for this place are kind of wonky. It looks like I should be able to go deeper in, but I can’t. I’m pushing up against an invisible wall here. There’s similar weirdness in other parts of the area.

At the end of the path there’s a message saying you can’t go any further because it leads into the farmlands. I was a bit disappointed that I could never see the Fertile Quarter in my first playthrough, but to be honest it would probably be pretty boring.

When I double back, I head north, and find…

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Looks a bit fiercer than the hatchlings. They’re also a bit more observant, and can spot you if you walk in front of them.

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These are tchiitra scouts. They’re a bit tougher than hatchlings, and quite a bit faster. Both of them are able to act before anyone else, even Fero.

They weren’t guarding anything, unfortunately.

I clear out some of the other tchiitra wandering around, and get some essence for my trouble. I improve everyone’s stats a little bit, but unfortunately I didn’t get enough skill points to upgrade any abilities. I notice that Fero and Santes (the fastest characters) have far more skill points than anyone else – another advantage to having a high agility stat.

Now that that’s done, let’s talk to this poor exclamation point guy who I ignored earlier:

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He explains that the tchiitra have invaded the farmlands and are destroying the crops. Without a good harvest this season, hundreds of people could starve! I…hm. This is a little nitpicky, but somehow I don’t feel like that’s the only reason a farmer could give. If there’s crop failure, they starve too, not necessarily because there’s no food but because they can’t turn a profit. If everyone’s farms are going bust, then yes, mass starvation – but if that’s the case, helping this one guy isn’t going to solve the problem. If anything, it’s going to be very good for him and him alone, because he’ll have the only supply in the entire city. Maybe I’m being cynical, but unless they’re Communists, this seems a bit too selfless a reason.

But on the other hand, he is advertising to a guild so maybe he’s purposefully playing to their moral sensibilities. In any case, yes, let us avert catastrophe by saving agriculture! Ilganyag to the rescue!

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I can talk to the farmer here. He says Smash up ten or so for me, and try not to step on the crops, okay? This is a reference to one of the “special objectives”, which requires that I refrain from stepping on the crops. Many of the special objectives are actually pretty well-done in that they make logical sense like this. I’ll do as he says and not ruin his crops – that would kind of defeat the purpose of exterminating the bugs, wouldn’t it?

There’s a tchiitra on the path leading out of the starting area. I kill it. Dehl seems oddly okay with doing so for a professed pacifist, but it’s just a bug, so I suppose he can make an exception.

There’s a landowner further along the path who reiterates that I shouldn’t step on the crops because Each one is precious. We can’t afford to lose any more this year. The farmers are really invested in the public service aspect. Maybe Wadassia does incorporate some Communistic ideals and farmers are highly respected because of this? It would make sense since Wadassia’s whole schtick is food production.

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Here’s what the fields look like. The dark green grassy things are the crops.

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If you head to the river, you’ll find a scout. I think it’s supposed to be kind of like a miniboss, because you fulfill a special objective for killing it.

After I kill ten bugs, I get the message There is little we can do besides drive away the ones that emerge too close to the city. We’ve done what we can for today. This kind of thing pops up a lot for the more generic and minor quests where you don’t have a specific, important goal in mind.

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Ques chimes in amidst a fanfare noise to note that I’ve reached rank 2.

We cut to the registry office.

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Ques explains that with a higher rank, the guild will be better known, and eventually it’ll grow beyond the scope of a single city, providing international aid. Dehl expresses interest in this prospect.

This is basically how the favor thing works. At certain favor thresholds, you increase in rank. New quests will become available to you at higher ranks. It’s a bit redundant, though – each quest is usually designed to give you exactly enough to reach the next quest in sequence, and certain quests can’t be tried until certain event flags are tripped anyway.

Something pretty neat, though, is that Ques says a unique message for every rank up. It’s a small detail, but it makes them more than just an accumulation of points to reach the next stage, and I like that.

This would be a short cutscene if we just ended there, though, so we also get a look at the other party members getting to know each other. The screen pans over to Zargos, Fero, and Santes. Zargos asks how long Fero’s been in Wadassia.

Fero: “Well, friend, I’ve counted eight sun-ups and seven sun-downs thus far.”
Zargos: “Ehh? So, ’bout eight days, then?”
Fero: “Days, yes, that’s right. The sun over Kir’Ssha does not move with such haste.”

This is an interesting detail that completely flew over my head the first time I saw it but is obvious in retrospect. Kir’Ssha is located in the far north, and thus has longer day/night cycles. Which actually…huh. I wonder how big the world is. It’s pretty heavily implied that the landmasses are relatively small and not continent-sized, so even the southern one can’t be too far from the north pole. It can’t reach to the equator or there’d be a desert or tropical area, so the archipelago must be completely relegated to the northern hemisphere. (Although maybe it does cross the equator; there’s a tropical/swamp area towards the middle. It seems like the landmasses should be larger in that case, though.)

Santes immediately starts blathering about how sunsets all day long sound so romaaaantic and wants to go right now because LOL Santes is detached from reality isn’t it hilarious. Fero warns them to stay away, though – “There is nothing to see, but ice, and sand, and blood, friends. Nothing more,” to which Zargos has says, “All right, didn’t mean t’ rile ya up. Yer outta that place now, so, just relax.” I, uh, what? Fero didn’t seem “riled up” at all, he was just cautioning them. Is this some kind of passive-aggressive put-down for Fero showing any emotion at all? Like with Dehl earlier, Fero shows no reaction to this weirdness.

Next is Qualstio and Tehgonan:

Tehgonan: “Melted rocks? Comin’ out of the ground? C’mon, Pops, you’re yankin’ my chain here!”
Qualstio: “I’m tellin’, ya, the stuff is all over the place! Powerful too. The whole city could use it!”
Tehgonan: “Fortifel, you called it? That place sounds badass. You gotta show me some time!”

Now that I think about it, it’s odd that Tehgonan wouldn’t have been taught something as basic as this. At Tehgonan’s age I knew about volcanoes and was being taught about the continents. Are the various cities not on speaking terms to the point that Wadassian academies steadfastly refuse to teach anything about other areas? I guess I’m supposed to write this off as Tehgonan not paying attention in class, but somehow I’d think this would be the one class he did pay attention to.

This seems like it would make sense in a more medieval setting where people don’t travel much and education is poor if not nonexistent. However, we’ve clearly established that the setting is a bit more modern than that, so this feel a bit out of place. It’s honestly getting pretty weird. The setting seems to be heavily reliant on medieval fantasy tropes in appearance, but it’s including very modern social elements. Anachronism Stew, I guess.

…Also, I’m not a geologist, but doesn’t molten rock imply the volcano is active? It’d be pretty dangerous to live there when the whole thing could blow up at any moment.

Next Qualstio says Hey hey, watch the language, kid and seriously? He jumps at the chance to ditch his parents and run into a battlefield and Qualstio’s not only unfazed by this but approving but he lets loose a swear and oh no, we can’t have that? I don’t even.

He says Fortifel’s not actually that great and it’s better to stay in Wadassia. The camera shifts back to Ques and Dehl and they basically just say that they have to go back and continue the questing. I’ll cut the update here, though.

Sorry things are taking so long to get moving. One of the most frequent criticisms leveled at The Reconstruction is that it takes so long for the plot to pick up steam. (This is yet another reason why the prologue is a bit dishonest.) I’m more patient than most people when it comes to stories, but I can understand why people might get tired of it. I’m definitely feeling the pain in these long, drawn-out updates that barely get anywhere. Next time, I promise I’ll be showing a more interesting quest.


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