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PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Betrayal In Antara



So you might be thinking: Hang on, this sounds awfully similar to "Betrayal at Krondor," and you'd be right, it is! Intentionally! And made by many of the same people, too! See, Betrayal at Krondor sold poorly during its floppy launch, prompting Dynamix to sell the Midkemia license back to Feist and move on. But then when Betrayal got its CD launch, it sold well enough that they were suddenly nostalgic for making a game that made them money, so they straight up went: "what is the most Betrayal-esque game we can make, that feels really Betrayal-y, but uses an original license?"

And so we got Betrayal in Antara four years later, and oh how the world had moved on during that time. We'd progressed from the wilderlands of DOS to the civilization of... Windows 3.1? What the gently caress? It absolutely makes this a huge mess to get running properly compared to BaK, every cutscene WILL crash the game unless set to an un-recordable resolution, but barring finding a solution to that, I believe all the cutscenes should be on YouTube for me to steal. Other improvements include something like 80% of the game's narration and dialogue now being voiced, which means I won't have to transcribe those parts! Instead you suckers are going to get stuck listening to it.

There's also the graphics and general interface...



Behold! Playing the game is no longer like piloting a tank. Now instead it's like piloting a tank with the hatch popped so you can enjoy the wind in your hair, because inexplicably the controls are now much jankier and prone to ignoring input, even during basic stuff like typing save game names. And, of course, you can always return the interface to classic BaK style if you want to...



Revealing that we're no longer stuck with developers and their acquaintances in random Ren Faire finery but instead actual art. It's... somewhat bland art, not filled with a lot of stylistic flourishes, but it's a lot easier to take seriously than Pug's loving wig. The game world also looks more detailed and colourful but at the same time less crisp, everything about it looks kind of grimy and muddy. Still, it looks a lot more like a place than BaK did, and screenshots will be less infinitely repeating green corridors differentiated only by their amount of corpses lying around.

Interactivity

Another little complicating thing is that while Return to Krondor is almost completely linear, and Betrayal at Krondor is exhaustively documented even to an extent that I wouldn't have believed, no one gives a gently caress about Betrayal in Antara. Even the best FAQ's are threadbare and read like someone scribbled them on a sticky note, and none of them ever really engage with the game mechanics or explain when it's worth your time to go off-roading so, uh, I guess we're on a journey of discovery here, folks. This also contributes to this probably being a less interactive playthrough since frankly I'll have almost no idea what the gently caress I'm doing aside from barely-remembered tidbits from playing it when I was a kid where I seem to recall there were some absolutely busted spells you could whip out, so I can't really offer the thread many valuable choices to make since I have no idea what those choices are.

Spoiler Policy

lol as if any of you have ever played this loving game and remember it well enough to spoil anything.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 12:17 on May 21, 2023

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PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Reserved for an update index.

Update 1: A Nice Day
Update 2: The Game Kicks My rear end
Update 3: Still Avoiding The Plot
Update 4: Just the Absolute Worst
Update 5: Why Would They Do This?
Update 6: Tea
Update 7: A Peaceful Land
Update 8: Need For Sleep
Update 9: The Update With the Pope
Update 10: Murder and Cheese
Update 11: Fallout New Antara
Update 12: Big Birds and Racially Motivated Violence
Update 13: They Made It Worse
Update 14: Get Into My Swamp
Update 15: Lightning Bugs and Software Bugs
Update 16: Computer Controlled
Update 17: Molotov Cocktails?!
Update 18: The Nightmare Ends

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 16:05 on Mar 23, 2022

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Joke's on you I could spoiler a shitload about this game because I have a ridiculous memory for narratives.

I won't tho.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Well thisíll be interesting.

raifield
Feb 21, 2005
I remember there was a bug in this that gave you a way to create an infinite amount of...rations, I think. Maybe it was any item at all. I don't remember if it was patched out in the GOG release though.

I am very curious to see where this all leads.

Slaan
Mar 16, 2009



ASHERAH DEMANDS I FEAST, I VOTE FOR A FEAST OF FLESH
The betrayal has already started by choosing Antara instead of Returning to Krondor :(

raifield
Feb 21, 2005

Slaan posted:

The betrayal has already started by choosing Antara instead of Returning to Krondor :(

It's probably best to get all the betrayals out of the way before returning to Krondor.

Sum Gai
Mar 23, 2013
Most of what I remember about this game is the cover, and wondering if it was a sequel to Betrayal at Krondor, a spiritual successor, or maybe it just had a similar name? Glad to have that cleared up at least.

Xander77
Apr 6, 2009

Fuck it then. For another pit sandwich and some 'tater salad, I'll post a few more.



Huh. I just remembered that there was a remake \ "spiritual sequel with the exact same graphics" to Bak supposedly in the works for years. Probably should have mentioned it in the thread. But since no one else did, I imagine it's fairly dead.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012


Itís odd this is on Windows 3.1 when it was released in mid-1997. Windows 95 was in widespread adoption by the time this game came out. Wonder if there was some behind the scenes delays or an abnormally long production cycle.

AtomikKrab
Jul 17, 2010

Keep on GOP rolling rolling rolling rolling.

Ok I am interested in this... thing

OOrochi
Jan 19, 2017

On my honor as the Dawnspear.
This looks very interesting.

Eels
Jul 28, 2003

Shootenanny
I owned the original CD release of this game. I vividly remember the intro video but I found the game largely impenetrable. I vague remember a few the the characters, and some cultists or a dungeon or something, and that's about it. Lookin' forward to meandering trip down memory lane.

disposablewords
Sep 12, 2021
I've always been curious about this, though not necessarily enough to really devote serious time to it. I am on board with however much of a mess this turns out to be.

Vanigo
Dec 16, 2021
Oh, man, this game. I put way more time into this game than it deserved.

I actually had to finally register after like 15 years, because I have a very important warning for you: if your inventory is completely full at the end of chapter 5, the game will crash at the end of chapter 6, and the only way to continue will be to go back to an old save and play all the way through chapter 6 again. I'm almost positive this was never patched. This is not the worst crash bug the game had at release. When it shipped, it crashed at the end of chapter 8 100% of the time for 100% of players, and Sierra had to post a chapter 9 save file for download so that people could finish the game while they put together a patch. This game has so many stupid bugs. Like, the enchantment you can put on shields that's supposed to help block arrows? Doesn't do anything, because arrows ignore both shields and armor entirely.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!

Vanigo posted:

Oh, man, this game. I put way more time into this game than it deserved.

I actually had to finally register after like 15 years, because I have a very important warning for you: if your inventory is completely full at the end of chapter 5, the game will crash at the end of chapter 6, and the only way to continue will be to go back to an old save and play all the way through chapter 6 again. I'm almost positive this was never patched. This is not the worst crash bug the game had at release. When it shipped, it crashed at the end of chapter 8 100% of the time for 100% of players, and Sierra had to post a chapter 9 save file for download so that people could finish the game while they put together a patch. This game has so many stupid bugs. Like, the enchantment you can put on shields that's supposed to help block arrows? Doesn't do anything, because arrows ignore both shields and armor entirely.

Wait what? I can accidentally dead-man-walking myself for an entire chapter? Holy poo poo that's hosed! Thanks for the warning.

Also the chapter 8 to 9 thing reminds me of VtM: Bloodlines, where at the end of one mission the game would always, ALWAYS gently caress up, and the only way to continue past that was to use console commands. I don't think it was ever officially patched, either, only by fan-patches.

RedFlag
Nov 22, 2007

Hey, absolutely loved the BaK playthrough. I've finished that game a number times, although sadly my second and on attempts were marked by blatant use of the bard and overflow inventory exploits. I'm not proud.

Antara though... I don't think I finished it. I'm pretty sure I ended up bugged out. I know the first chapter well enough that I must have payed it through a few times. I remember thinking the spell creation system was nifty--I haven't found anything else like it until Tyranny (I'm sure there are other do-it-yourself examples).

Best of luck, looking forward to it, and my sympathies (in whatever order you need these in!).

Guildenstern Mother
Mar 31, 2010

Why walk when you can ride?

RedFlag posted:

Hey, absolutely loved the BaK playthrough. I've finished that game a number times, although sadly my second and on attempts were marked by blatant use of the bard and overflow inventory exploits. I'm not proud.

Its a single player game you've already beaten once, there's no reason to feel guilty about powergaming if that makes it fun or interesting for you. I say this as a person who uses the cheat chest every playthrough because I can't be arsed to go all the way to the invisible mountain I can never find to get the ale for the quest I always forget about.

Scaramouche
Mar 26, 2001

SPACE FACE! SPACE FACE!

Hah was going to say, I only remember two things about this game when it came out, and one of them was the chapter 8 -> chapter 9 thing. The other was that alt.rec.midkemia or whatever newsgroup got real salty about them releasing a non-Feist Feist game.

sb hermit
Dec 13, 2016





This'll be good. The only thing I remember about this game was that I despised the writing so much that I didn't get very far at all.

Xander77
Apr 6, 2009

Fuck it then. For another pit sandwich and some 'tater salad, I'll post a few more.



Xander77 posted:

Huh. I just remembered that there was a remake \ "spiritual sequel with the exact same graphics" to Bak supposedly in the works for years. Probably should have mentioned it in the thread. But since no one else did, I imagine it's fairly dead.

https://www.callofsaregnar.com/

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Update 1: A Nice Day



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znasiW-3U7g
I'll note that unlike this recording of the intro video, I chose the Normal difficulty.



Welcome to Antara! It's not Midkemia, but it'll do, especially since it looks a lot nicer. Despite being two years younger, the graphics conjure up a lot of Albion feel for me, something about the design of the sprites, probably. Unlike Albion, it isn't nearly as vividly coloured, and in fact everything has a sort of muddy graininess to it which is to the game's detriment. It got absolutely panned at release for this, with people complaining it looked like poo poo, but compared to Betrayal at Krondor, this is a breath of fresh air. No crusty-rear end digitized photo sprites, no terrible wigs, no everything being either green, white or sandy brown.



Let's take in the UI a little before we get moving. Much like BaK, each character is trapped in an orb for safe transport outside of cutscenes and combat, with their inventories and stat screens accessible by left and right clicking them respectedly. As a QoL bonus, the background colour of their orbs tells us if they're currently suffering from any conditions and the coloured circles are shortened and turn yellow and red as they suffer damage. In our lower right we have, clockwise from the top left, Camp, Flashback, Wizard, Options, Bookmark(Quicksave) and Map.

The main thing that's interesting and new here is the Flashback menu which records all conversations you have by character you have it with, and allows you to fish them out instantly if you want to be reminded of the wording of a sidequest or hint. It's supremely handy and frankly more games should have it. Everything else should pretty much be self-explanatory. So time for something that isn't: the skills screen.




So remember how in BaK you just either tagged skills or left them untagged, and it would focus on them for training, and aside from that you could kind of leave them alone? In Antara I get heart palpitations trying to understand the manual or tutorial on how skills work. I can select up to five for training, and then tagging them in on on the TRAINING DISC in the upper left according to HOW MUCH I want to train them compared to others, with diminishing returns.

Also skill-wise William is kind of like a Locklear to Aren's Owyn. They even left the hair colours the same, so it's not super subtle. I wonder who our Gorath will be?

In any case, I'm sure that magic is-




So what's meant to happen is that you combine keywords to create spells which Aren then "researches" and eventually learns as time passes so he can use then in combat, but in practice something about the UI just baffled me and all that I could figure out was how to make the orbs make a variety of odd humming noises and occasionally spinning. Satisfying, I suppose, but not giving me any real war crimes.



Thankfully the game has an option to just automate all of this, which to me hints at their knowing this wasn't a very good or easily understood system. You generally don't add an option to let players opt out of things you feel are functioning well and are good core systems of your game. Setting automatic spell research on gets Aren researching the "Static Discharge" spell, which means he might know how to cast a spell in a few days' time. Not that we're going to be waiting for that, we've got places to go and things to see.



Like this cool crater of molten glass that Aren blasted out of the beach in the intro.



The trackless ocean.



And a corpse to loot.

I don't know, William. I never thought I'd be stealing from a dead man, that's no better than what a common cutthroat would do.
We're just being practical, Aren. Look at it this way: nothing he's carrying can help him anymore, but it might help us.

Verbatim from the game, by the way, William seems awfully casual about looting corpses despite ostensibly being a noble-born son.



The inventory screens are largely familiar, though it's worth noting that rations are now banished to their own, shared, sub-screen, so you no longer have to wrangle them into everyone's inventories and split them up properly per character and so forth. It's a nice quality of life change. What we're looking at there is the basic leather armor, some lockpicks, some "Senwater"(this game's Restoratives), some coins and some rations.




Once again, someone was pretty hungry while writing the various food descriptions. The rations are the least of it. Another big inventory change is...




Rudimentary paperdolls! I always enjoy it when games visually represent the stuff I slap on my idiots, makes it feel more satisfying to find new gear.




Having a look at William, let's also have a look at the weapons. In Krondor, weapons were relatively universal in that they had a more reliably hitting, lower-damage Thrust attack and a less reliably hitting, higher-damage overhead Swing attack. The amount of difference varied a bit, with a few weapons having exceptionally good Swings or Thrusts, but it was more or less the same. Antara varies it up by giving every weapon a Thrust, overhead Swing and sideways Slash attack. For our starting short sword, it largely goes in the same way as Krondor, with the Slash being in between the Thrust and Swing, and the difference between Thrust and Swing being a lot larger in terms of accuracy. It now also helpfully notes a previously obfuscated stat, Hardness, which indicates how easily a given weapon loses durability.



We can also look at the jewelry that we ganked off Gregor. Note the stylized shepherd on it, which is mildly interesting if you bothered to read the limited lore in the manual. The humans living here in Antara apparently arrived after being persecuted by a bunch of non-humans, learned wizardry, kept the non-humans at bay with magic, got wizard kings, got tired of wizard kings, now have a non-wizard Emperor. A subnote to this is that the group tasked with keeping an eye on future non-human invasions were named the Shepherds. This probably isn't a coincidence.



The local maps are also notably more detailed than they were in BaK and, if we turn it on, it will auto-mark shops and NPC's on the map for us. If you noticed the game had two difficulty sliders, the left one is the actual game difficulty and the right one is the "quality of life"-difficulty. For instance, at max, it disables both the automatic spell research, automatic skill training AND the automatic map tagging(they can be manually re-enabled in the options while playing, though), so it doesn't make the game harder, it just makes it a lot more annoying.



The game overworld map is... hm. It's hard to really say if it's a bigger or a smaller world than the central Kingdom in Krondor, but it's definitely a world with a lot more content in the sense of towns and villages. For the moment we're headed west to Briala, to tell everyone Aren's leaving home to become a wizard.





I was originally going to complain that Antara lacked the "lock on to roads"-function that Krondor had, but it's only on reviewing footage that I realized they just moved the button to the upper right so it could be used without calling up the bottom-of-screen bar. Also, we're about to get into a fight, which I don't yet realize because I haven't seen the enemy.




Do you see the enemy?



Maybe now? Yeah, it's that drooling lump off to the side that's the exact same colour as the grass it's slouching on. Motherfucker.




Combat is probably what's had the most changes. Aside from adding a third type of attack, they've also added rudimentary "zones of control." Every character "controls" the hex they face(the manual implies some enemies may have bigger ZoC's, but we'll see), and enemies can't freely move through it, or cast spells/fire arrows if they're in it. This means that touch-range spells are a thing now, as long as you can distract an enemy away from your mage. Enemies and characters also automatically turn to face whoever's attacking them in a given round.



In any case, with no magic and limited options, this first battle isn't very interesting except that this big komodo-looking fucker almost eats William. A worthwhile thing to do at this stage of the game is to have everyone using Thrust attacks, since they're about 10 percentage points more accurate than Swings for the weapons we have at the moment, and only slightly mess damaging(about 10 actual percent), and attacks that don't hit don't do jack.



Another supremely wonderful thing about Antara, though we won't see it here, is that when you kill a group of enemies and click on one corpse... they have a shared inventory. This means no more having to hunt around for the angle needed to pick over every corpse individually. It is probably my favourite quality-of-life adjustment between the two games.






Towns also look more... towny, with a variety of different buildings rather than just the same two copy-pasted over and over, shops have signs outside and we can actually read things without needing to click on them. Among other rad things...




Overworld NPC's are actually visible and voluntarily interactible with now, rather than just jumping out at you from the bushes whenever you enter their extremely vague interaction zones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y58yhAJRbuA
Summary: It takes a bit, until William chips in, specifically, before Aren's father believes that he's actually done magic. At first he's a bit reluctant to let Aren go off on this adventure, but once William reminds him that he might accidentally blow up the tavern if he doesn't get proper training, he relents.

I'm so glad all the dialogue is voiced now, otherwise I would have had to do work for this. For some reason the audio quality here seems to be worse than when I was recording it... but you can just mute it and read the dialogue if that's a problem. You're not missing out on the world's greatest voice acting.

Since we're here, let's also check out the inn.



It's definitely a lot easier to parse than the inn interiors in Krondor, but it has that kind of uncanny weird effect you got with games like Quest for Glory 5, where you had character models slapped into pre-rendered backgrounds in a way that really made them pop and stand out. None of the locals here are interactible, by the way, except for the barmaid who sells rations and the fountain in the back that we can yank some coins out of. Having learned my lesson from Krondor, the only purchase I make is stocking the party up on enough food to sleep the year away if need be.



Across from the tavern is a small general store.




All of these are things I really want, but without a FAQ I don't know how many of each thing I need or how many of them I'm likely to be able to find at random around the gameworld. Plus I know that I need rations now, I don't know when I'll be dying, for, say, a length of rope.




Let's go hassle the other locals. Their dialogue isn't voiced, however.




Since it is, however, relatively compact, I decided to present it like this. Does this work well for everyone? Please don't make me transcribe it all. PLEASE. There's also a local farmer to harass.





Sweet, our first sidequest, and Balmestri isn't even in the completely opposite direction from where we're supposed to be going, only the mostly opposite direction! I'm sure this'll work out well.




As we pass through the center of town, we also come by this nice young lady hanging out by the well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRqORqLrdak
Summary: Laura is, like Aren's father, a bit slow to believe that William's life has actually been turned upside down, but has less protests once she gets it. Aren and Laura say their goodbyes.

So Laura here is Aren's future wife, possibly. I honestly can't recall if we ever see her again or if she ever features in the plot in any way, but I'd honestly be positively surprised if that was the case. We're still not leaving just yet, though, we have more locals to bother.








Sadly we can't invest in their chicken-themed future explosives industry, but we do know to keep an eye out for a Scott who may know something about magic. Even if he can't teach Aren anything about it, it sounds like he'll be good for a story or two.




If this was Krondor she'd have smacked William and Aren for non-trivial amounts of damage, I'm sure of it.







When this dialogue tree ended, the game made a mysterious "bwoim"-sound which probably meant something mechanical happened, but I couldn't figure out what. While checking out a threadbare Antara FAQ, however, I learned that doing this apparently provides a small Stealth bonus to the party. You'd have figured that getting covered in pigshit would result in the opposite, but I'm not arguing with a free boost.





Time to ignore the main plot and head south to Balmestri! We've got cows to save and I'm sure that Aren won't accidentally blow up a town along the way or something.

As we cross the town boundary, though...



We hear a woman's voice crying out in distress!

:twisted: And just what are you going to do about it?
Did you hear that? Sounds like someone's in trouble.
It came from over there!



Looks like a pack of bandits up ahead, they must be the ones menacing a traveller or some such.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cmbz3-zjt4

Not sure what William was trying to accomplish with that, but the practical upshot is that he landed us in a fight. :v: Admittedly a fight I wanted to be in, but still.



Aren still has no spells and we're up against three enemies. I have very clear memories of getting my rear end kicked by this fight as a kid, so I approach it carefully, letting our protagonists guard and the enemies approach us.



They hit about as hard as the komodo from earlier but are much worse at actually landing blows, so it's mostly about getting Aren and William both ganged up on one enemy at once, taking him out, and then moving on to the next. Eventually the enemies start actually hitting, which takes some chunks out of William, but I pull through in the end.



Supposedly the enemy AI was pretty badly panned at launch, with claims that they'd sometimes randomly flee and such. I don't see any of that, but I do see some badly pressed enemies sometimes just not do anything. Not sure if they're spending their action defending or their decision-making gears just gummed up from having no good decision to make.



Now, let's see what nice person we've just saved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx3f-XoYeok
Summary: Kaelyn grudgingly accepts that William helped her out because she can't stand his attitude, and forces herself into the party as much out of spite as anything. We're clearly not getting rid of her until she feels we've earned it.

Kaelyn seems to be smarter than both of our young men and is therefore a valued addition to the party. She just sort of forces herself into the lineup whether you like it or not, and will be in the way, getting ambushed, whether you head south or west from Briala.




She also starts with a bow and is clearly intended to be more of an archer, but starting out archery is not very impressive either in terms of damage output or its odds of hitting.




drat, these guys were loaded. Maybe I should be skinning bandits instead of animals.

Her existing armor is a bit threadbare so I swap her in a dead dude's coat. I'm sure she won't mind.




Reviewers at the time were apparently a bit hard on the "textured a wall as trees, this is a dense thicket now"-style, but I feel like it doesn't faze me. I've seen so many games do it that I just sort of "get" it as an abstraction and my brain doesn't even register it. I go poking around a bit by the water's edge here, hoping to stumble into something, and stumble into something I do!





Real, honest-to-God pirates. Hell yeah. Let's kick their asses and take their stuff.




So as visible here, the archery has less than half the chance of hitting compared to a melee attack, consumes ammo AND does barely half the damage of said melee attack. To spice things up, though, Aren has researched his first spell!



Touch range, does 25 damage, costs 10 health/stamina as magic works much like Krondor magic did in that sense. For now it does a bit more damage than his melee attacks(about 20 with each hit, usually a bit less), but is a guaranteed hit, which is very valuable since blitzing the enemy numbers down so we have more actions per round is important.



Not hugely impressive visually, but everyone has to start somewhere.




Repeated tazings put down these vicious corsairs, giving me a chance to paw through their stuff.




They've got several new things, like...



A weapon that's objectively worse than our starting shortswords unless I'm reading the stats wrong. I think, though, that the displayed stats reflect the badly damaged state of the cutlass, but sadly I can't repair it any.



Similar to the red potions in Krondor, Kor's Blood gives a temporary boost to melee skill.



I have to agree with the game here, more garlic is always an improvement on any cooking. I'm not sure if there are any actual differences between the different food types, mind you. Supposedly the non-ration food items are perishable and will be eaten first, but I can't see anything about how regularly they decay.




Past the pirates is this little stone mound that I can't crack into without a shovel. Have to hope I remember it's here once I get my hands on one...




Back on the road south, another pack of rogues blocks the way.



The fight itself is uninteresting except that I completely missed the super-obvious chest in the background right up until I was going through the footage. How did I miss that?! I look forward to cracking some chests, too, since they've upped the variety of security devices since Krondor.




With no one loitering on the streets, we may as well turn into the nearby tavern. Like in Krondor, you can't fully recover without magic or an inn, so I hope it is one, but it turns out to only be serving food, not rooms.



It does, however, have an exceptionally chatty fellow hanging around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cCWKtpio7o

I rather like Scott's dialogue, he's a fun fellow and believable as a storyteller. Now, once again, the game refrains from loving telling you what happens here mechanically, but the result is that Aren gets +5 to his Create and Detect magic skills which might open up some more magic research for Aren. Of course, it'll still take him a while to complete said research and the game doesn't bother to tell you when some is completed, thus making it an exciting surprise when Aren suddenly has a new spell unless you obsessively check his spellbook after every rest and before every fight.

It's annoying that for every other quality of life improvement they made, that one eluded them.



Of course, I hardly get out of the inn and manage to quicksave before the game crashes on me, even fully patched up, Antara is not a stable game, and I decide to hold the recording for the time being. Next time, we'll continue south to Balmestri, perhaps meet some more colourful characters and maybe get the party wearing something better than old leather rags and wielding something nicer than large knives.

Next time: I'm sure we'll get to Panizo any month now

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 17:22 on Dec 21, 2021

raifield
Feb 21, 2005
So far I'm not hating this like I thought I would. Definitely a victim of the mid-to-late 90's graphical jank though. People didn't know what to settle on, so they settled on "use all the graphical methods at once". Sierra's Birthright is hilariously bad in this regard.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016





Lol dude's name is Escobar and I immediately think of Pablo.

Psion
Dec 13, 2002

eVeN I KnOw wHaT CoRnEr gAs iS

Scaramouche posted:

Hah was going to say, I only remember two things about this game when it came out, and one of them was the chapter 8 -> chapter 9 thing. The other was that alt.rec.midkemia or whatever newsgroup got real salty about them releasing a non-Feist Feist game.

ah usenet, never change, never change

e: there are OCR transcribers which can probably chew through that text you're not transcribing pretty easily if you want to go that route, I've seen them in other LPs

Psion fucked around with this message at 21:26 on Dec 17, 2021

Black Robe
Sep 12, 2017

Generic Magic User


Oh, this is going to be an adventure :allears: "Well, I think something changed, but no idea what" is definitely the peak of game design re: player experience.

LeastActionHero
Oct 23, 2008
Random crashes, that's the BaA I remember. Thankfully there's a serviceable autosave system, though frequent quicksaves are still a good idea.

I think fresh food expires in a week, and it's significantly cheaper than rations, so there's a reason to buy it. You can also rest for free at Aren's parent's inn, in case you have a bunch of spells to learn. Or in case you want to cheese up some skills - training for long enough will increase the amount of skill you gain the next time you use it. Skills are capped by chapter though, so it's not too ripe for abuse.

Vanigo
Dec 16, 2021

PurpleXVI posted:

In any case, I'm sure that magic is-




So what's meant to happen is that you combine keywords to create spells which Aren then "researches" and eventually learns as time passes so he can use then in combat, but in practice something about the UI just baffled me and all that I could figure out was how to make the orbs make a variety of odd humming noises and occasionally spinning. Satisfying, I suppose, but not giving me any real war crimes.
What you have to do is activate all three orbs at once, and since those three keywords combine to make Static Discharge (and Aren starts with those skills high enough to meet the requirements) it'll let you start researching. This gets sort of clunky when you have more keywords to work with, but at least once you activate one orb every orb that you can't combine it with will get greyed out, so it's not unmanageable. It's cute, but honestly it's so rare that you have more than one researchable spell to choose from there's not much downside to automating it.

Another important thing to know about the magic skills is that, unlike other skills, tagging them makes them slowly increase over time even if you aren't using them. This is necessary, because it's entirely possible to have a magic skill too low to make any spells with, which would make raising it normally impossible.

Also, skill increases aren't quite as opaque as they look. There's the sound cue and a brief sparkling background on the character's portrait (if you look fast enough) when a skill increases, and most importantly the next time you open the skills screen it'll highlight the skills that have gone up since the last time you looked and I believe it'll tell you by how much if you mouse over or right click or something.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Update 2: The Game Kicks My rear end



Last time I made an executive decision to ignore the plot in favour of helping out some cows and I also managed to find a few resources with some very basic helpful info like, say, what items do. Because of course much like Krondor, half of the game's usable items have no manual or in-game description that clearly states what the hell their function is. One of the things I learned from said resources is that Antara is much stricter about "open" chapters. In Krondor, about half of the game's nine chapters left you with pretty free reign to range around 2/3rds of the game world, but Antara does not, so if you just go beelining for plot locations every time, you can very easily lose out on your only chance to visit certain areas.

So with that, let's have a walk around Aspreza and see what's up.



First things first, let's check out the local store.




The local store which literally only sells shields and nothing else. :v: They do also buy armor, allowing me to offload some of all the bandit/pirate clothes I've been picking up, but Antara stores in general tend to be a lot more specialized in what they sell than Krondor stores were. I do want some shields, though, I'd just rather not pay for them. Shields offer a flat amount of damage reduction while worn, have their own durability score and can't be repaired. Seeing as how they can't be repaired, I'm a bit loath to spend my extremely limited funds on them for now.

Antara posted:

Wooden Shield
Protection: 10%; Hardness: 10
Description: The stout wood planks bound together by a metal rim and studs was better than nothing, but its weight made it clumsy to use and it tended to splinter under the impact of strong blows.

Small Shield
Protection: 9%; Hardness: 20
Description: Shields like this one were small, lightweight, and standard issue among Imperial foot soldiers. While the soldiers liked their utility, the Imperial Army liked their low cost.

The two options are a Defense booster for characters and a Hardness booster for items, respectively.

Antara posted:

Steadfast Tonic
+15 Defense for duration of one day or battle.
Description: Magically distilled from the glands of ginger toads, garrisons stocked "frog juice" to make their defenders more efficient when outnumbered. Supplies dropped sharply after the Chunese savanna, the toads' main habitat, was vaporized in the disaster that created the Waste.

Hardening Fluid
Nonstackable; up to 10 uses per horn. Apply to Swords or Armor to increase Hardness until end of next battle.
Description: [Character] unscrewed the clamping ring and popped the parchment cap from the horn, then quickly recoiled from the cloying sickly-sweet aroma of the chemical fluid inside. Hastily replacing the cap, [character] paused to examine the parchment. A hard, rigid film coated the underside, the result of continued exposure to the fluid.

Hardening Fluid initially seems really great except that it only lasts for one battle, so unless you have a very low-Hardness weapon that's nonetheless of high quality or expect a battle where you'll be handing out sword swings like candy, you usually won't get that much use out of it. For now, I just use the store to unload some of my spare armors and move on.



The little outhouse-looking shed just outside of the store is actually a coach stop. If we were flush with cash and lazy, we could use this to whisk us to other towns, but considering that enemies don't respawn, it's almost always cheaper to just buy some rations and race down the road if you've cleared the path between the two locations. And if you haven't cleared the path, absolutely get on that, those fuckers are worth training and carry stuff that's worth money.



Most of the houses in Aspreza have red diamonds painted on their doors, indicating that those within are suffering from the Feeblepox, a nasty disease that sometimes pop up in the Antaran Empire and fucks people up. No one inside wants to talk to us. There are two empty houses which contain spare leather armor(which we already have), a spare short sword(which we already have) and some cheese, and one non-plagued house which contains a resident we can actually talk to.







Of course, we always have time to save lost children, but first...



I was gonna loop back to this chest. :v: Sadly it's just a normal pickable chest, not a puzzle chest. Lockpicking and trap disarming has also changed a lot mechanically since Krondor. In Krondor it was 100% deterministic, if you had the stat requirement, you passed all of the time, if you lacked the stat requirement you fail all of the time. Here, on the other hand, it's a random roll, so you just gotta spam lockpicking attempts and burn through picks until you get through. This is a bit more of a problem when we get to traps since every failed attempt is a reload, but it's a passable system for just normal locked chests and actually makes lockpicks a spendable resource rather than in BaK where you could potentially race through the game with just one single lockpick if you knew all the lock difficulties so you never used it on a chest or door you couldn't pick.

After five clicks or so, Aren busts the chest. I'm not sure why he's the team member with the highest Lockpicking, both Kaelyn and William seem like thematically better candidates, but whatever. I guess that's some leftover Owyn DNA.



Antara posted:

Tonguecoat
9+ Haggling.
Description: The closely-held secret of a Burlene trader until an aide got drunk with a competitor's agent, the charismatic enhancement of this mysterious brew explained the trader's meteoric rise to wealth. The impotence caused by repeated use explained why that trader's name had been lost to history.

Brooch
Description: Ladies of the Chailan court offset their simple gowns with brooches like this one. With the impending alliance between Chail and the Imperial Family, demand for the brooches among the Antaran nobility quickly outstripped supply.

The brooch is just for selling for money if I ever find a drat gem trader, while the Tonguecoat is a very handy booster that I keep forgetting when making expensive purchases because I am a moron and an idiot.




Heading south out of Aspreza, we pass by a Church of Kor with a few bandits hanging out around the back side and casually blocking us getting closer to the caves on the far side.



Unlike in Krondor where most temples had unique dialogue but the same services on offer(barring efficacy of blessings), temples in Antara generally have no dialogue but have one of three offerings of services. Temples of Kor, like this one, offer weapon and armor blessings, Temples of Senaedrin offer healing and curing, and Temples of Henne offer a vaguely defined "travel safety" blessing. Since A) our weapons at the moment are the cheapest crap in the game and B) the prices are exorbitant for this stage of the game, I pass on the blessings and continue on to get my rear end kicked by the bandits.




No, really, I spent close to 20 minutes getting my poo poo kicked in by these four assholes. See, because they had a mage I figured the smart move would be to sprint for him and take him down, at first, but since I couldn't reach him in one move that meant the bandits always got the first attacks in, which meant they wore me down faster every time. The closest I got to a win there was one time where William was the only survivor with a sliver of health left. Eventually I decide to take my chances with letting the mage do his mage bullshit and defend on the first turn so the bandits have to approach me and take the first hits.



Unlike in Krondor where this would have resulted in the mage nuking one of my party members out of existence each turn, here it just surrounds Aren with bubbles. I later learn that this is the spell Unseeing Eye which reduces all of a character's relevant combat stats, including movement, by 40% or 50%. This is bad, but less horrifying than many of the alternatives.




Despite the bubbles, victory is eventually mine. It's also worth noting that, as visible by the one coward pirate who doesn't want to get stabbed, enemies flee a lot more easily in Antara than they did in Krondor, where you might have the last enemy decide to leg it, here badly wounded enemies will often flee mid-battle. If you're confident and don't want to lose out on anything, position a party member in the rear leftmost hex, since that appears, as far as I can tell, to be the only one enemies can escape from. You'll probably want someone with spells or a ranged weapon there so they're still useful even if enemies keep their distance.





As another engine improvement, caves are no longer distinct zones, and you can just walk into them without a loading screen and an interaction! Or, at least, that's what the game pretends, it very obviously chugs for a second as it loads in the new zone inside and unloads the zone outside when you step over the threshold. But it's nice of them to try, in my opinion.

Also I didn't bring any torches so this place is as dark as the inside of a troll's rear end in a top hat.



This means that sometimes I trip over some vague shapes in the darkness and they hiss and try to bite the party's feet off.



Carliths are more of the big lizard that almost ate William in the very first fight of the game, even four of them aren't really a threat, just a speedbump. But since they also don't drop anything, not even hides or teeth or organs or something else we can profit off of, I'm happy when a bunch of them try to retreat.





The real pain in the rear end are these Masliths instead. More vividly green and distinctly smaller than the Carliths, they seem to be roughly as good at biting and taking hits, but sometimes, at range, they instead choose to use a poison spit attack that ladles 5% poisoned status on to a party member. It only takes one drink of Senwater to cure 5% of a status(basically the exact same functionality as Restoratives in Krondor), so it's not a huge deal if they just do it once, but if their AI decides it's spittin' time and they start hauling out tons of poison, it can take a chunk out of the party's medicine supplies.

There are dedicated anti-poison potions in the game which might be worth our time, but we've yet to have a chance to get a hold of any.




Fumbling around in the darkness I eventually bump into some rocky stairs and start climbing them.




Mmmm, cave cheese. And also a torch! Thank goodness. Now we can look at the surely gorgeous interior of this c-



:v:

I guess grainy brown is better than grainy black.





For some reason, though, enemy/character silhouettes in the dungeon tend to remain pitch black until you're almost right on top of them, even with a torch lit.





Except for the side paths with the single chest, the cave is more or less a straight line which leads to this pit in the ground, a pit with a kid in it.



A kid I can't save since I didn't bring any rope. :v: I'm really knocking it out of the park here. Only place we have a store that sells rope is... all the way back at Briala. While I'm there, I also pick up a bundle of torches and a shovel, may as well crack into that little cairn of rocks we found while heading to Aspreza, right? Ha ha, joke's on me, turns out the cairn contains another loving shovel. Goddamn.

So about ten minutes later...




Cool, let's head back and see if he made it back to his mom safely or if we need to fetch him out of another pit.









Mechanically, the reward for this quest is enough squidoroni to make up 14 ration packs, which means that Kaelyn will, in fact, be tasting squid for just shy of a week. Bet you wish we were carting around a bunch of hardtack instead, huh? Anyway, we're now free of obligations in Aspreza and can head further down the road to Balmestri.





The first encounter along the way is a group of bandits guarding a chest...



And it's our first code chest! Heck yeah! They're a bit different in that now instead of spinning single-letter wheels, you construct a word out of chunks you can select in any order and you aren't forewarned about what the exact length of the word will be. It definitely, in my opinion, makes it somewhat harder to brute force them. In any case, the answer to this one is C-U-TL-AS-S.



A half stack of Senwater and a half stack of rations is absolutely good rewards.



Aside from that chest, though, the only notable feature along the road from Aspreza to Balmestri is this thicket of white trees which splits the path in half. On the left side is a small pack of Carliths, and on the right side is a bandit ambush, though in my case the party spotted the ambush which meant initiative fired off as normal. Neither fight was particularly interesting, it's easy to tell we're largely still in the "tutorial" part of the game.

Of course I write that and then I get overly confident on the next fight and it ends poorly. :v:





The next group of enemies the party meets one-shots Aren when I have him burn too much health on spells. :v: This triggers a Near-Death condition just like in Krondor, which means that unless you're ready to burn 20 Senwater to get someone out of it, you're going to be camping for the next month. The rewards for this?




A shield for William, another Brooch and a Pearl, neither of which I've yet to find a place to sell. Thankfully, gems are the smallest item in the game, and they only take up quarter spaces in the inventory, meaning that you can haul around large numbers of them without clogging things up.




Welcome to the southernmost town in Antara, time to hit up the local inn and see what they're serving.




The bow under the table is a tier 1 bow like Kaelyn's, which we can pick up for free and later sell for money since it's not worth using in combat 90% of the time. We can also listen to some folks singing a drinking song...

Antara posted:

Say, barkeep, set up four strong drinks.
Although it may seem odd,
Tonight I'll buy a round or two
For our fine friends, the gods.

For all that they have done for us
A drink seems only fair.
But if they don't show up tonight
I guess I'll drink their share.

Chorus:

Well, I bought them a cup but they haven't turned up
So the day that I die I'll just look in their eye and say
"Hey where were you when the man poured the brew?"
And I guess I'll be drinking their share.

Oh, Henne lives in innocence
Where all true wisdom starts.
He gave us laughter, tales, and dance
And music in our hearts.

Since Henne gave us tavern songs
A drink is only fair,
But Henne's far too young to drink
So I guess I'll drink his share.

[Chorus]

Oh, Senaedrin's a woman fine,
The mother of all men,
A healer and a teacher
And a lady to the end.

Since Senaedrin has guided us
A drink is only fair,
But ladies prefer wine to ale
So I guess I'll drink her share.

[Chorus]

Oh, Kor's the strongest of the strong,
So question not his might.
And any man would hail him as
A brother in a fight.

Since Kor's the guardsman of us all
A drink is only fair,
But since a guardsman can't be drunk
I guess I'll drink his share.

[Chorus]

Technically only the first verse gets sung here, and we'd have to listen to the other verses at other inns, but by the time I got around to those inns, no one would remember the first verse and it's hardly like there's any spoiler material in them, it's just an in-universe, mildly blasphemous drinking song. I like the writing of it. :v: We can also have a chat with a farmer up by the bar...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cdinaCuDhA
Summary: This poor farmer is working in a tavern far from home because a drought ruined one of his harvests and that prevented him from paying rent, leading to his landlord seizing his farm and not even letting him stay on to work it. This happened up near Imazi.

I suppose it's a universal constant that nobles are going to be pricks. We're absolutely going to have to swing by this farmer's home region further north before we finish the chapter, just in case there's anything we can do for him.




Leaving the tavern, I note that there are three bandits just hanging around in the streets of Balmestri, which seems off, so I circle around them to the sword store before I engage.





This guy has a few new items up for sale.

Antara posted:

Shadowmilk
+8 Stealth for duration of one day or until the party enters its next battle.
Description: The best thieves took pride in their natural abilities, but lesser talents often relied on Shadowmilk to augment their capacity for stalking and sneaking. Illegal within the walls of most cities, the Imperial Army made sure their scouts had a flask with them on forays into enemy territory.

Long Sword
T: 15,15; S: 15,15; H: 15,10; Hardness: 16; can be Enhanced and Blessed. First available in Imazi in Chapter 1.
Description: The long blade of this weapon gave a fighter a tactical advantage over a foe with a shorter blade, enabling him to strike while keeping his own body farther out of reach. The unadorned blade and bare hilt marked it as the product of a simple smith from a simple village. Judging from the weapon's balance, though, the smith knew his craft.

Long Swords are better in literally every way than short swords, so I buy one each for Kaelyn and William. It's a +10% better chance to hit, roughly, and an additional quarter extra damage with every hit that lands, so not a negligible boost by any measure. I have no idea why the cutlass is so much more expensive when it's a marginal improvement on the Short Sword and worse than the Long Sword. Now that we've got some new tools for murdering with, let's go murder some criminals.




Hm, just three pirates. Hope we didn't just stab some dudes who were waiting for the coach, maybe something's up with the house they were standing in front of?







Well, that's shady! Let's go canvas the village until we find the mayor and then put the fear of Kor into him.







If we attempt the fight the kid here, we get stopped before we murder any children, thankfully, and nothing happens. If we "surrender" instead, we gain Assessment which works a bit differently than in Krondor. Primarily in that it no longer requires wasting an action on it, you just right-click an enemy and, depending on skill and range, get some of their combat stats.



Alright, so maybe the mayor's not living on the outskirts, but next to the central square with its nice well instead?




So one thing that's different about dialogue from Krondor to Antara is that in Krondor, most dialogues had alternates for if you had completed their objectives already or had otherwise already gotten some sort of information relevant to them. For instance, on Timirianya, Dhatsavan would have different initial dialogue if we'd already found the Cup of Rlnn Skrr by the first time we talked to him. Here, on the other hand, the first dialogue always seems to play and then you get the second dialogue when you try to talk to them again immediately afterwards. It seems like a bit of an odd step back, writing-wise. Now if we visit him again...




Sadly we can't arrest him or stab him ourselves, so let's find someone who can.






As a better example of what I just said about first and second dialogues, we bump into these guys around the corner. Instead of telling them about Penwhite and the Mayor immediately, we instead get sent away and then if we come back, we get verbose.






There's no immediate reward to this other than a warm fuzzy sense that you helped ensure a prick is going to get their dick kicked in by a noble's footsoldiers.

Still, we have a couple more places to visit, after all we have cows to save and Kaylen said she was headed here, so we may as well finish off her chore.





If we then haul the pelts out of Kaelyn's inventory and click them on his door, we get 35 coins for them. It's not huge, but it'll pay for a few rations. Lastly, we turn around a few corners to find Doc Myers.






This unlocks a reward if we go back to Briala, which we will, eventually. Not a huge one, but I have memories of this game being able to be exceptionally cruel at times, so I don't plan to take any risks. In any case, since we can't go any further south without ending up in the ocean, let's turn west towards Sortiga.



Unless any quest objectives suggest a better route, the plan is right now to hit towns in the order of Sortiga, Ligano, Imazi, Aliero, Midova, Panizo and probably a brief jaunt back to Briala to collect that reward from the farmer.




As I leave Balmestri I decide to take in the limited countryside a bit rather than immediately heading west down the road, as I do so, however, I spot something odd in the distance.




Unwittingly, a memory surfaces, and I remember these enemies creeping me the gently caress out as a kid.





:gonk:

They're not very scary, but they're just so gross! Make them go away! Thankfully the party's perfectly capable of just hitting them until they withdraw back under the ground. Brrrr.





For a while, it's just more pirates and bandits on the road west, nothing of any note. Beat them up, take their pocket money and fish and move onwards.






This thing is another temporary booster potion that gives an unspecified bonus to Lockpicking and Gambling. It'd be better if I knew when it was necessary to beat a trap or lock, but with the way the mechanics work and without a super-comprehensive data-mined FAQ, I just don't have any loving clue when it's useful and I'll probably just end up selling this.




This road has a lot of side paths, and only one or two of them don't have a reward, a fight or both at the end.




This one contains some new enemies! You'd be forgiven for thinking these guys are cave men or apes, but they're actually "Montari," a non-human species that we'll learn more about a bit later in the update. Mechanically they work the exact same as humans except that they tend to have less health than human enemies. Human enemies usually go down in about four swipes, Montari in three.




Also hot drat these guys were carrying some sweet loot! Upgraded shields for Kaelyn and William and a new tier of armor!

Antara posted:

Leather Armor
DA: 35%; H: 15
Description: The leather armor, its stiff leather plates bound together by thin metal strips, conveyed a certain measure of danger. The reinforcing studs helped deflect incomingblades and suggested the wearer wsn't someone to be trifled with. It wasn't pretty, but it did the job.

Small Shield
Protection: 9%; Hardness: 20
Description: Shields like this one were small, lightweight, and standard issue among Imperial foot soldiers. While the soldiers liked their utility, the Imperial Army liked their low cost.
Available: Chapter 1

Leather Armor is both harder to break and offers almost a third more protection than basic Leather Jerkins, while Small Shields offer about the same damage reduction as Wooden Shields but have about twice the Hardness and will thus offer said protection for longer.



And they're also guarding a chest! How much better could it g-




So, you might think: "Only a single busted sword? Putting a high-damage trap on that is just cruel!" Except the twist is that unlike in Krondor, where you could sometimes tank a high-tier trap to get a leg up in terms of gear or money, like on the first level of the Mac Mordain Cadal, in Antara if a chest blows up? It also blows up the contents. This, combined with a lack of comprehensive game info, also means that it's a lot harder to tell if it's worth your time to reload fifty times to try and break open one of these or if all that got blown up was a wheel of cheese and a wooden stick.

Traps also seem to be universally rougher. In Krondor, most traps would generally stop at taking off about 3/4's of a starting party's health, with a few exceptions that would just completely krangle anything but the most hex-edited, busted-rear end party imaginable. Here, I've only run into a couple of traps so far, but they universally left everyone in the red and killed at least one party member into the Near-Death state.




These pirates are also guarding a trapped chest, but we're not visiting them just to watch me get blown up by a trap.



Despite the close quarters, three goddamn mages means I can't keep them all in check at once and they get off several spells, mostly just Unseeing Eye, but one of them also casts...




The absolutely saddest fireball I've ever seen, unfortunately it does a non-sad 30 points of damage, which is about twice as much as if one of the pirates had just whacked Kaelyn with their sword, which drops her and, once again, forces me to spend valuable Senwater since we just sent the only doctor in the region up to Briala.





Up here we get ambushed by yet more pirates, it's a perfectly standard fight except that by sheer luck, I noticed Aren actually learned a couple of new spells in time for this fight. Don't ask me how long ago he learned them, because the little "bwommm" sound that indicates he researched up his magic skills plays every so often and indicates nothing of interest, so I might've well missed it ages ago.



There's Unseeing Eye which we noted a while back, in lieu of real "gently caress you" spells like Grief from Krondor, it'll probably be my go-to if any single large enemies come at us.



Aaaaaaaaand Lightning Bolt which absolutely fucks and is my new go-to. Two casts of it will take down some enemies and others will need two casts and a light poke from one of the melee characters. This vastly simplifies combat and also gives Aren something useful to do on those first turns where I decide to have the party hang back and let enemies come to me.



Also it's weird to me how the spell effects in Antara simultaneously look more crisp and more primitive than in Krondor. In Krondor they tended to look like a blurry mess but they absolutely had more size and weight to them. A Flamecast was a fireball the size of someone's torso, etc.




About halfway between Balmestri and Sortiga, I notice a canyon running into the cliffs to the north and decide that it's probably worth taking a look at it.





Turns out there's another cave there! And fuuuuuuuuuuuck exploring this place. Like, in Krondor every indoor area, whether it was a cave, a mine or the dungeons of a fortress was composed of right angles which wasn't very verisimillitudinous, but meant that exploration was relatively simple and maps relatively easy to parse.



Look at this loving mess of a map. Half the time it doesn't map the wall of a corridor as I move through it, and do you see all those little off-shoot corridors it looks like I haven't bothered to explore?



They're these little "half" corridors that can't be entered and which a sane map would just parse as a wall! But nope, they gotta be on there to confuse the hell out of me!

The encounters inside are, at least, relatively simple. A pair of Maslith groups and a pair of Carlith groups, the Masliths do unfortunately mean I gotta do some poison recovery afterwards, but it's a minor drain on my Senwater supplies. Plus there are, at least, a few boxes of loot in here.





Also none of them explode, they're only locked, thank God.




The red stone is a ruby, obviously just for selling, while the blue stone is a Sapphire Shieldstone. Shieldstones are temporary defenses against elemental damage types and exist in Sapphire(Cold), Ruby(Fire), Diamond(Electric) and Emerald(Poison) variants. Of course, for them to be useful you generally need to know when you're facing someone with the requisite type of elemental damage, and enemy mages sadly don't advertise what sort of bullshit they plan to pull. At least with poisonous creatures like Masliths the emerald version might be useful if I ever find any.

The bottle is just wine, which, like getting drunk in Krondor, aids healing if you get sauced before resting at an inn. I suppose it's handy if you want to get your money's worth from it. Lastly there's a pickaxe which can in some caves, but none of the ones we've encountered so far, be used to mine gemstones out of the walls.




Now, considering that this is a labyrinthine dirthole full of poisonous lizards and unattended boxes full of gems, you might be excused for thinking that this is merely some sort of abandoned mine or videogame logic dungeon scorned by all right-thinking sapients, but no! There's actually someone down here! Just chilling next to a pack of aggressive Masliths!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wikIe-J97cQ

Summary: The Montari we're seeing on the surface are out there raiding because they're desperate lower-cast Montari faced with starvation, said starvation is caused because some dickhead noble has diverted a major river to irrigate fields and fill his moat. Also all the masliths down here? Favored Montari food animals.

Welcome to the Montari they're like... I don't know. Rat people? Gopher people? Someone help me out here.

In any case I'm beating feet out of this maze. I was literally stuck in here for close to half an hour bumping off the walls and getting lost in the dark.




And then I decide to take a break because I'm still only slightly over halfway between Balmestri and Sortiga. It's hard to say if Antara is more content-dense than Krondor, but there's definitely a decent amount to do and at this rate it feels we'll be hitting about an update per town, not counting whatever re-visits and updates each chapter should happen to bless us with.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 17:19 on Dec 21, 2021

Vanigo
Dec 16, 2021
Shields aren't flat damage reduction, they have a flat chance to block attacks entirely. And IIRC, hardening fluid also raises the stats of the item you put it on for the next battle. With hardening fluid and Kor's blessing on the best armor in the game, you can get your damage reduction up to 95%.

Lightning Bolt and Unseeing Eye are indeed both excellent. The reason you were able to learn them is that Aren can unlock new magic skills by watching enemy mages use them, so he's picked up Range, Light, Destroy, and probably also Fire. This lets you unlock a lot of skills far sooner than you could in any other way - Fire, in particular, is otherwise unavailable until chapter 8. Speaking of spells, Scott should have given you a bundle of notes, which Aren can read to learn a couple more. Nothing especially exciting, though. I want to say detect traps and detect mineable resources?

Also, the tavern songs are fully voiced by what I've always assumed was the devs having a fun afternoon off. (Can't seem to find them on Youtube, though.) This game is a lot of things, but it's not short on love.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!

Vanigo posted:

Shields aren't flat damage reduction, they have a flat chance to block attacks entirely. And IIRC, hardening fluid also raises the stats of the item you put it on for the next battle. With hardening fluid and Kor's blessing on the best armor in the game, you can get your damage reduction up to 95%.

Lightning Bolt and Unseeing Eye are indeed both excellent. The reason you were able to learn them is that Aren can unlock new magic skills by watching enemy mages use them, so he's picked up Range, Light, Destroy, and probably also Fire. This lets you unlock a lot of skills far sooner than you could in any other way - Fire, in particular, is otherwise unavailable until chapter 8.

See what's really cool about all of this info is that as far as I can tell the manual doesn't tell me any of it. :v: So with regards to the shield mechanics they may be right, or the sparsely-detailed "Betrayal Wiki" which covers both Antara and Krondor may be right. I also genuinely had no idea about the learning magic from watching enemy mages, I always just assumed new categories of spellcasting were opened up when the base Spellcasting skill got high enough.

Vanigo posted:

Speaking of spells, Scott should have given you a bundle of notes, which Aren can read to learn a couple more. Nothing especially exciting, though. I want to say detect traps and detect mineable resources?

Also, the tavern songs are fully voiced by what I've always assumed was the devs having a fun afternoon off. (Can't seem to find them on Youtube, though.) This game is a lot of things, but it's not short on love.

Ah, yeah, I did get the notes from Scott and use them to produce a spell that tells me I'm about to have to reload the game and a spell that I probably won't be able to use for hours of gameplay yet until I reach a cave that actually has mineable gems.

And yes, the songs are fully voiced, though considering the bizarre decision to distribute them the around the game-world verse for verse rather than fully sung in one location... if anyone's interested I can try and staple together a listenable version by the time I get all the verses recorded.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 17:16 on Dec 21, 2021

kw0134
Apr 19, 2003

I buy feet pics🍆
Would you mind throwing in a quick summary of the conversations in the videos?

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!

kw0134 posted:

Would you mind throwing in a quick summary of the conversations in the videos?

Sure, I'll edit it into the existing posts and do it from now on.

Lemniscate Blue
Apr 21, 2006

Here we go again.

PurpleXVI posted:

Summary: The Montari we're seeing on the surface are out there raiding because they're desperate lower-cast Montari faced with starvation, said starvation is caused because some dickhead noble has diverted a major river to irrigate fields and fill his moat. Also all the masliths down here? Favored Montari food animals.

Welcome to the Montari they're like... I don't know. Rat people? Gopher people? Someone help me out here.

There's no mention (yet, I suppose) of their method of breeding, but the caste system and the tunneling remind me of the only eusocial mammals: the naked mole-rat (and one closely related species). If we find out that the Montari have one breeding female "queen" per community then that'll seal it. I doubt it, though.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Update 3: Still Avoiding The Plot





So last we left off, we were about halfway between Balmestri and Sortiga. As I start up the game again and go over my stuff, I then notice a serious problem. I had been assuming that weapon maintenance was less "strict" in Antara than Krondor due to whetstones not being a common drop but instead a thing I've so far only found in two stores(Balmestri and Briala, and I won't have found them in any more stores by the end of this update). It turns out I'm super wrong and my swords are down to like 25% durability, which is why it's felt like they've been falling off damage-wise in the last couple of battles.

My heading back to Balmestri is mostly off-screen except for one fun bug that happened on the way.




Antara lacks the very obvious "dang, we're heading south now, proceed?" and "dang, we're heading north now, proceed?" dialogue chunks that separate Krondor's world map into sectors, but it does have separate sectors that need to load in as you travel between them. Usually this just means some terrain looking a bit barren and then suddenly trees and stuff popping in but this time... the terrain didn't load. I must've found a hole in the triggers or something. :v: I had to run back and forth a few times to make the north part of the coastline actually load in so I could, you know, go places.

Once I get up there my swords are actually so busted that I replace them entirely and buy whetstones.





Along the way, I run into some pirates with a mage and decide to test out the "learning magic from watching enemies cast it"-thing.




With a bit of patience, I get this guy to cast Hotfoot at William. It's a direct-fire spell(i.e. it can miss) that does 3/4's of the damage of the lightning spell, at almost twice the casting cost. This makes it, in 90% of all cases, a worse option. The remaining 10% are when enemies aren't carrying swords(like animals or mages), or when the side-effect is useful. The side-effect it has is that when cast at max power(and when would you cast it at any other power tier?) it shifts the target to a random hex next to the one they start in. This can sometimes be used to buy a bit of space.



And whaddaya know, after the battle it turns out to be correct. This does change the uh, calculus of the game a bit in that for now, as long as enemy mages aren't mustering one-shot-kill stuff, I should obviously let them get off a spell or two before I aim for them and possibly leave them for last rather than going for them first. But imagine just coming to this game after Krondor and not knowing that, and thus screwing yourself out of so many magical unlocks by thinking you were a clever boy who always took out the wizards first.





Sortiga doesn't look awfully different from the other towns we've visited on the coast so far, but it has some new people to talk to and a new store to poke around in.











The first two houses introduce us to Sortiga's sidequest, where we're going to help someone get a wedding on the road, though, honestly, it doesn't particularly feel like a wedding I want to see happen. These guys sound kind of like assholes.

Before I find the third house in town related to this quest, though, I stumble into the local shop.




It has a few new items we haven't seen. The drums are Antara's version of the Tuning Fork from Krondor, but for worms instead of trolls and you can't just go ahead and use it, you need to find an NPC who teaches you the trick. The Fidali Leaves can be mixed with the otherwise largely useless Ale bottles every second enemy carries to produce Fidali Paste which is a counter-venom item that cures about 50% poison per use as far as I can tell. I'm also not sure if anything in the game ever quite tells you this, and it doesn't seem like Fidali Leaves have any use by themselves.

Lastly there are the Nudberries, which I can find absolutely zero information about anywhere. I'm not sure if they have any use or what. They do look nice, though, their flavour text informs us they're a crop pest, but I'd taste one. I end up buying enough Fidali Leaves for a full stack of Fidali Paste(bizarrely the Paste stacks top out at 10 while both ale and leaves stack up to 12, an odd and annoying choice).






Around the corner we meet the last of the NPC's relevant to the town's quest. This idiot mislaid the wedding rings and, of course, we can save his rear end. The only hint is that he hid them "near the coast."




Out near the coast there are no obvious containers, no chests or big mounds of stone to dig through.




After walking back and forth a few times, I finally spot this little bump on the beach. It's supremely hard to see unless you're almost right on top of it, and I wouldn't be surprised if I'd missed a couple of these along the coastline in other places.



I was wondering if this was a unique tradition to Antara or if it's something people do/did in the real world, too. I've never heard of rings for your firstborn kids. Anyway, let's see if the blond fella is thankful for this.





He doesn't seem too chuffed about it, but he still gives us a reward. It's a book that gives +5 Scouting to whoever reads it. Unlike in Krondor, books can only be read once by each character, rather than one guaranteed bonus and then a bunch of gacha rolls for more skill boosts. The way it works here it feels a bit like he might as well just have given us a +5 Scouting bonus as a reward for completing the quest rather than wasting our time.

Time to head back a bit east and then north to Ligano.






The road is, as per the older man in Sortiga, absolutely clogged with starving and angry Montari which we have no option but to kill. It's kind of a shame that, despite knowing what the problem is, we can't just pass them some rations and go on our way. I'll also note that so far, despite like... I wanna say 30+ fights, I've succeeded at all of one attempted ambushes. They are definitely a lot harder to manage than in Krondor, though not having any real access to a Weed Walker equivalent so far probably isn't helping. The semi-unintended route I took in Betrayal at Krondor got the party equipped with nice ambush shoes pretty early on, almost certainly earlier than the game was balanced for.



In this particular fight, the Montari mage uses a new spell, Tortoise Bind, on Aren. It seems as far as I can tell to be a strictly worse version of Unseeing Eye. Unlike Unseeing Eye it doesn't lower the target's accuracy, and instead trades that in for lowering their initiative. Since as far as I can tell all characters and enemies always get their one action per round, I'd rather make that action have a bigger chance of missing than making it come later.




It turns out they were guarding another code chest, and unlike the first one, this one I figure out relatively quickly.

E-ME-RA-L-D

Sadly all it contains is a stack of rations, nothing I'll turn down but I feel like chests so far are generally more of a letdown.





So far it's also worth noting that except for one stack of rocks and the sand lump on the beach, literally every lootable interactible(rocks, chests, etc.) we've found have been at the end of a path of some sort, never just in the wilds. This is a stark contrast to Krondor where almost every such object was, in fact, just hidden behind a hill, or behind some random trees, usually never hinted at by a path. So when I get here, about halfway between Sortiga and Ligano, the road suddenly widens up and there's a big woody dip in to the right, I instantly think: "hell yeah! gotta be some sweet swag hidden in here!" and dive off the road to check it out.




And then when I'm almost at the treeline, something very loving odd happens.



Suddenly every single tree is a different type! Like I've entered another kind of biome!



And the world behind me has disappeared!





I walk around for a while and find absolutely nothing. I note that there's a reference to a busted "gully" south of Ligano on some forum posts, apparently an issue with the GOG version that doesn't exist with the original has bugged out an area near Ligano to not contain a temple to Henne that it normally would, due to game files on the game's two CD's having the same names and the devs not being sure how to make it call the right one. As far as I know this one may yet be unfixed and... maybe this is it? Maybe the bug is loving up this place and making it not have a temple it normally would?

I'm genuinely unsure. Maybe it's relevant later in the game.





Back on the road I'm soon right by Ligano.





The only notable incident on the road is that the gang has gotten good enough with melee that I've taken them off mainly using Thrust attacks and on to using Swing attacks instead, which gives them on average +5 damage. It might not sound like a lot, but considering that William and Kaelyn were doing about 25 damage before, the upgrade to ~30 damage is still about +20%.



Ligano, like every other town in the game, has a stock of colourful NPC's who'll talk to us, but probably the least of any of the towns we've been in so far.




I'm not sure whether this is a result of us killing every group of Montari on the road to the south or whether we always get this dialogue on arrival.





I later learn that this was supposed to be a subtle hint that using some food on the house, i.e. giving it to Kalyx, would make him offer us some training(+5 Defense across the party). This is one place where I feel like Antara is a definite downgrade from Krondor, its handling of encounters like this. In Krondor, we would've terminated the conversation on a yes/no prompt to giving him some food, making it absolutely clear how much food would be given and that it was an option at all. In Antara it's all so much more vague, and there's never any tutorial element to make you keep an eye out for things like this, nor is it ever common enough to keep you on your toes for NPC's looking for inventory objects.

Aside from Kalyx and Rosie, the town also has an inn with no NPC's and two other houses to poke at.





And lastly a store.





This one has a lot of exotic stuff. Yelloweye is a nightvision potion, not sure why it would ever be superior to using torches which are much cheaper, maybe having no torches lit increases ambush chances underground or at night? Halder's Brew is a strength booster, I don't know what "An Optics Primer" does since of course it's the only book on the wiki without its effects described, but I would assume it boosts Assessment or Archery. Rings of the Ranger passively increase Scouting. Dervish Disks... I have absolutely no idea about because once again no one on the internet appears to have noted what they're good for. It's not on the wiki, it's in no FAQ's, so it's a complete and utter mystery.

From memory I think they're used to cast a powerful spell once, but if that's the case then their cost is completely insane unless it's a "win any battle"-spell. If I find one or eventually get a huge money surplus to buy one with, I'll test one out and report back. loving mystery-rear end game.




On the east side of Ligano is this little gap in the rocks which is INCREDIBLY annoying to navigate because, like in Krondor, you "bounce" off walls you hit at anything less than a completely 90-degree angle, but unlike in Krondor walls are no longer neat, straight geometric lines and instead have more realistic and organic shapes which means that moving down one of these narrow crevices, or narrow cave corridors, feels distinctly like being a pinball.





It does look rather pleasant, though, even if there's nothing at the end. Probably the place will be relevant in a later chapter or quest... or maybe this is where there was meant to be a temple which was bugged out of existence. The supposed temporary "fix" for said non-existent temple involves deleting a game file before approaching it, then placing it back again after leaving the area. For a game as janky and unstable as Antara, I think I'd rather not provoke it to wig out any more on me than it already does.




A short distance northeast of Ligano a bunch of Montari are menacing some vague, coloured blobs on the road.



As usual it goes extremely poorly for the Montari, after which I step in to see what the vague blobs want. It turns out they're Senaedrin nuns.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lAU-22u4L8

The janky part about this conversation is that the sisters want more food than is in a single stack, but because, once again, handing people stuff can't just be part of a dialogue, you have to hand stuff over and have a dialogue for it twice, with the first one resulting in nothing.

In addition to healing us when we first talk with them, and the reward for handing them the rations, this now makes them warp to Aspreza where they'll spend the time between chapter 1 and chapter 2 helping with the Feeblepox outbreak. This means that somewhat more NPC's will be alive there if we visit again in later chapters, meaning some more dialogue and a few rewards as well.

Also, of course, despite the dialogue there's no time limit on actually reaching the Sisters here and helping them out. They'll wait till doomsday(or at least the start of chapter 2) before despawning.

Having done this, I then promptly turn around and head westwards away from Ligano instead, intending to reach the western limit of how far we can explore before looping north to Midova.







As far as I'm aware, Poolkeep is nowhere in the explorable gameworld, nor is it mentioned anywhere. However, the answer is nonetheless possible to figure out...

M-ON-TA-R-I

Either by simply seeing it's an option or recalling that we've only met one group of expert burrowers so far.




This time, at least, the reward is more worth it. That's a very nice sapphire. However, I'll note that even by the end of this update, I've yet to find a drat store that buys gems. I managed to offload the brooches found farther down south in Ligano, but, and I feel like I'm saying this a lot, unlike in Krondor, Antara shops tend to be far more specialized both in what they sell and what they buy.






With mages being less threatening(at least so far), combat in Antara is(at least so far), notably less interesting. I'm skipping over most encounters that don't introduce anything new or kick my rear end as a result. You'd think that the zones of control would spice them up, but seeing as how each character can only "control" one hex immediately in front of them, you can't control facing(or even which hex an enemy is attacked from, the nearest is always picked even if there are multiple options) and the zone "only" prevents casting, archery and moving straight through, rather than, say, provoking attacks of opportunity, they don't actually spice things up that much.

If the ZoC could be "guarded" and facing could be chosen, it would quickly become viable to have Kaelyn and William run interference for Aren while he chucked out spells. Combined with some sort of obstructions on the battlefield you could actually make tactical decisions or bottle enemies up.

I have vague memories of battle maps with obstructions, but since it's close to 20 years since I last played this, that may well just be a flaw of my memory.




Almost as soon as the road from Ligano meets the north/south road from Panizo to Midova, there's a cleft in the cliffs to the west.





It opens up to this nice-looking foresty meadowy area, but if we attempt to cross the bridge, William pours cold water on our fun.



Dickhead.

Doesn't seem to stop us making a detour every time we're almost there.
I said I need to, not that I want to. We're taking every excuse we can to put it off.
Really? I've always wanted to see the mines in Aliero...





We're headed for Imazi anyway, so it's not much of a detour.
Oh, I'm sure you're deeply concerned about lord whats-his-face in Imazi.
I'd be lax in my filial duties if I didn't keep an eye on worrisome rumours near my father's estate.




See that huge square lump up there? That's Midova.




Krondor solved the issues of "towns too big to explain away as five houses by the roadside" by letting you approach their invisible outskirts, and then hoovering you in to a hand-drawn screen displaying the glory of the local area and often looking quite nice.

For Antara they for some reason did not simply tuck these towns away inside the omnipresent cliffs or after a lot of fields or something else that would let them warp you in from a distance. Instead they just encased them in these big protective cubes which look hilariously bad.





Like, alright, fair if you're going to wall them in. But then at least give them like... some guard towers or a gatehouse or something.

Before ducking into the city, I check out a hole in the cliff across from the gates.






All it contains is this scroll which is a quest item for a quest which we can't access for, I think, another two chapters. We also can't read it or anything, we just have to remember the family name and keep an eye out for when it pops up. Anyway, Midova!



The cube cities get little subscreens like this, it looks nice enough but it feels like a step down from Krondor's sweeping pieces of almost-painterly art.




The only thing of notice in the inn is that it has a single-verse drinking song. I do like it, though.




Two of the five buildings are also inaccessible at the moment, but I think both of them become relevant as part of the main plot as the game advances.



The local store is an armor store, but it sells nothing we haven't seen before, just leather jerkins, leather armors, rope and drums. The great thing about it, though, is that it lets us sell all the leather armors we've been picking up from the Montari along the way and they sell for FAT loads. The party gets close to 1000 Burlas once I'm done going back and sweeping the roads for more sellables.



The last building, the big one up north, is a market, which actually has four people to interact with: the nearest stall on the right, the middle stall on the right, the alley in the back and the nearest NPC on the screen(listed in that order because that's the order I interact with them in).





The first two are just fluff, this one is a sweets seller who tells us that the Montari apparently make the best chocolate in the Empire. Odd, not what I'd usually associate with mole people. But sure.



The next one is a vegetable merchant, and "please do not wave my carrot disdainfully" will never stop being funny to me.





The guy in the back tempts us with a "magical bracelet," and while it seems SUPER shady, I can't remember if it's bullshit or not so I click yes since it's pretty cheap...



All it gives us is a low-quality piece of jewelry. I'm like 90% sure it won't recover our losses if we sell it, but that it is something sellable makes the financial sting a lot less bad.






Lastly, the guy nearest the screen is the guy who teaches us how to use drums to scare off Field Worms. Seeing as how Field Worms drop nothing and only serve to waste our weapon durability and my patience, this seems like a win to me and is really the main reason(aside from selling armor) to come to Midova at this point, since there are no quests that start or terminate here for the time being.



Next stop: Aliero, Imazi and then at long last Panizo. But that's for the next update.

Vanigo
Dec 16, 2021
I think there's a riddle chest somewhere that tells you how to make Fidali Paste. I'm not sure if there's anything else that hints at it. Nudberries... I think they're used in some sidequest somewhere?

I'm pretty sure the Optics Primer boosts Aren's skill with Light magic. The Dervish Disk is a one-shot buff like Kor's Blood and Steadfast Tonic that gives you a 360 degree zone of control and, IIRC, boosts your defense a lot. Maybe also attack? It's definitely not worth the cost unless you have more money than you know what to do with (which will eventually happen if you hoover up everything that can be sold).

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!
Update 4: Just the Absolute Worst





Resuming the game, we're headed eastwards out of Midova to Aliero, and usefully enough, the first thing we see as we look down the road is a pack of worms. Let's test out how well the drums work on them.





The answer is that they work...



A bit jankily. In Krondor, you used the tuning fork and all trolls would bail for the edge of the battlefield to retreat as soon as their turn rolled around. In Antara, it seems to reliably make 3 out of 4 worms(all the groups I tested on were 4-worm groups) flee instantly, but the fourth worm would hang around doing nothing for multiple turns. In one case I lost my patience and just killed it, and it never fought back, and in the other cases they seemed to sit around for three to four turns before also instantly running away.

It raises some questions about Antara's morale mechanics which are very hard to parse. In Krondor you only had enemies run away when their own health was quite low, in Antara it also seems to be tied to how well their whole group is doing, as sometimes killing one or two enemies will make a completely "intact" enemy start legging it.

Anyway, this means that I largely won't have to waste my time killing these particular enemies without loot from now on, so it's back to travel.





I think Aliero is meant to be a mountain-y sort of town, the game simulates this by giving the terrain leading up towards it stair steps to indicate that it's rising, because Antara's engine can handle height differences, but not gradual slopes. Which is honestly a bit odd since it seems to be a direct descendant of Krondor's engine, and Krondor's engine could at least handle the slight sloping that happened at the start and end of every bridge in the game.





Now, there's Aliero, but before Aliero... there's a cave! And caves are always interesting.




This one is a, and possibly the only, I can't quite recall, mine-style cave in Antara, and thank God for that. 90% of it is nice, regular square corridors where I don't bounce off the geometry all the time.




Several of the intersections are these more natural-looking caves, but they're not too complicated and the worst enemies they occasionally hold are some Masliths and Carliths, which aren't much of a threat, especially now that I have Fidali Paste to neutralize even large poison scores.





The cool thing here is that this room has something special besides the little pond! Can you see it? I sure loving can't.



Even with the "find hidden minerals"-spell up, the deposits are only visible by being slightly brighter sections of the wall.



They either produce just plain money or decent-quality gems, but whether we get anything at all(though not, I think, the volume/quality) is down to our Foraging skill. This means that I actually end up burning through my three pickaxes down here when one high-difficulty(or just cursed-RNG) deposit melts through two full ones without yielding anything.




A couple of places the mine corridors are also intersected by these rift-looking cave structures. Somewhere in the background lore is a mention of an ancient chamber in these mine containing technological artifacts from a non-magical forerunner civilization, but there's no sign of anything like that here. It's always disappointing when the writing hints at stuff like that, and then you can't poke at any of it.





And, you know, sometimes this game can actually look perfectly fine! Good, even! This little cave lake with the stepping stone bridge feels like a neat place to come across. All it's really lacking is a few nice stalactites or something to really "sell" it as a cool cave.





Aside from the gems and a few nice things to look at, though, there's nothing important in the Aliero Mines, so now we can pop over to the town itself.





The structures up here are a bit different from the ones down in the south, more bricky while the ones down south were... more non-bricky? I don't quite know the term. But it's nice that it's not just the same house model reproduced across the entire world map.




Also one of the houses here contains some free pies. Sure, just go ahead and yank those cold pies out of an abandoned house and eat them, you loving slobs.

Can't hear you over how much pie we've got.

The house behind it...





I feel like we had something like this exact convo with a random farmer in Krondor.



Leaving that house, I discover a puzzle chest chilling in the plants behind the town.



So if you aren't thinking, you'll spell out SENAEDRIN here, and be puzzled that it won't work.

However...



The answer is actually D-EN-N-A if you read the description on a bottle of Senwater.





The reward being a book that boosts the reader's Foraging skill. I could've used that before I hit the mine. :v:





Appropriately enough the sole store in town sells mostly mining supplies and also finally buys our gems. Between the various pearls and stuff the party's picked up from chests and the stuff from the mine, it's about 400 Burlas which isn't bad at all. The only novel item here is Beeswax which repairs bows.



There's also a new tavern, and what I will absolutely congratulate Antara for is that every tavern and store has a different image, unlike in Krondor where there were three or four of each that got repeated over and over. We also have an NPC we can talk to here.






:smith:

Poor guy. At least he had someone to listen to his woes, though.




And the last house at the edge of town fills it out. Aliero has had it rough.





Heading east out of Aliero towards Imazi, it starts to become obvious that taking the northern route must've been what the devs intended, despite Kaelyn pointing you towards Balmestri. Every encounter up here is against smaller groups and no mages.





On the south side of the narrow pass are a few narrow canyons with some enemies and a bit of loot in them. The only thing of notice is that one of the loot chests there is a code chest.



T-RI-UN-E

The name for the three deities of Antara as a whole.




Not a big score, but still nice.




On the north side of the pass is this ledge which starts high up near Aliero and then drops in height towards the middle of the pass where it's just as low as the "steps" up to Aliero, but despite being so low it's still just treated as a wall which offends my brain slightly.





As soon as we're out of the pass to Aliero, we're right on top of Imazi, which looks more like the towns we've visited so far.







Oh, yeah, Imazi is where some dickhead noble was repossessing people's farms due to bad crop yields! Sounds like an absolute rear end in a top hat. I wonder what other sort of damage he's doing to this place.





Something a bit odd about this river, too...




Ha ha, oh yeah, he's responsible for the starving and aggressive Montari, too, due to damming up the river for his loving moat.







William is just the apex of good taste in jokes.







Oh and he's also taking bribes and pressuring local craftsmen. Sounds like he is, in fact, a greedy prick.





The store here has one new thing of importance, which is a weapon upgrade for Aren at long last. Very nice. I also take the chance to swap out William and Kaelyn's swords again. I'm not sure whether it's a consequence of their low maintenance skills or still being relatively early days in weapon hardiness, but it feels like it's consistently impossible for them to keep them well-repaired and they need swapping out for entirely new ones sooner or later.





Maybe we should have a talk with "Lord Garsson" and see what he's got to say for himself...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQZ2AAoAMbs

It appears that what he has to say for himself is unending justifications for being an abusive shithead. We can't do anything about it... for now. Antara seems to have a generally more jaundiced view of nobles than Krondor does, which includes their often being assholes and also includes their feeling the consequences of being assholes.





Heading east out of Imazi we're really just on the road to Briala again, where there's nothing new for us, but along the way I do run into this very long fence.





It leads to a very large farm that I can't find a way to interact with, possibly it's something that becomes relevant in later chapters or maybe it's just set dressing. I couldn't find any mentions of anything to do here. So, with the visitable area fully explored, I decide to head off and do a bit of cleanup, which is mostly me dragging large amounts of spare Leather Armors to Midova where they sell for about 120 gold a piece before heading down to Panizo so William will finally have to deal with his family again.





Like Midova, Panizo is a Cube City, but without brick walls.



The large structure at the top is obviously the Escobar Estate, and interacting with it ends the chapter, so let's visit the three other buildings first.




There's an armor merchant which sells a nice armor upgrade, Chainmail, better in literally every way than Leather Armor. It's also worth noting there here you get a mere 22 gold for sold Leather Armors, which is less than 20% of what you get for them in Midova. Another item of note is the Oil, which is like Naphtha from Krondor in that it gives your sword extra damage for a battle.




I also like how just a change of armor suddenly makes Kaelyn and William not look like dorks wearing rags and instead like actual soldiers or mercenaries.



Another bulding is, of course, an inn, where we can talk to the barmaid.





I'm not even sure what to really say about this whole interaction. It makes William seem like kind of a dick because maybe he shouldn't be fooling around with this girl when he's got a marriage incoming, even if it's likely a political one.




And the last building is a very underwhelming bookstore. The only new thing it has is, well.




A book about lizard sex that makes characters better at gambling. I have no idea how the gambling works in Antara, some inns have a single guy who wants to play cards with you, and my experience with gambling in these games is that it's either A) a complete and utter money sink(like real gambling) or B) you've found a glitch in the system and it generates infinite money. As I have yet to find a glitch, I won't be wasting the party's money on this.

On the gambling, that is, I still get the book for completion's sake. Then turn around and sell it right back to the guy because unlike in Krondor using a skill-boosting item consumes nothing from it.

That's all there is to do in Panizo, though, time to watch the cutscene for ending the chapter...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoVpMk-oL2g

I feel like what's really missing in Antara, personally, is the like... stakes. If we really care about the characters, then personal stakes like "William has dad problems" and "Aren wants to become a wizard" are fuel enough. But... man, maybe it takes time, but I just don't care that much about these characters so far.

Krondor plays it much safer there, having a threat to the entire Kingdom pop up from the very first cutscene, pretty much.

Still, it sounds like in chapter 2 we'll at least be dealing with a wizard and then some court drama.

Guildenstern Mother
Mar 31, 2010

Why walk when you can ride?
Yeah I think this was why I bounced off of the game when it came out. Even Chap 1 Owyn is more fun than these guys.

textbookOrigins
May 29, 2013

This will end well.

I just missed Krondor and got into this instead as a kid. It became one of my favorites (thank you, William's dumbass quips). I still have the official strategy guide! A bummer that so much of the music was lost under sound effects; I remember wanting to nab them for college D&D games. Thanks so much for this! :munch:

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Psion
Dec 13, 2002

eVeN I KnOw wHaT CoRnEr gAs iS

PurpleXVI posted:

I feel like what's really missing in Antara, personally, is the like... stakes. If we really care about the characters, then personal stakes like "William has dad problems" and "Aren wants to become a wizard" are fuel enough. But... man, maybe it takes time, but I just don't care that much about these characters so far.

It's not helped by them trying to build a setting at the same time; I don't care about any of these people or fictional stakes or lore dumps about how that one guy only talks to people of equivalent rank, because I'm given no reason to yet. It feels like Antara tries to do three things at once (background lore, main plot, characters) and none of them have enough space to work with so none of them really work at all.

maybe that'll change as we go but the opening feels very rough compared to BAK's chapter 1. For anyone who didn't read the Feist books do you feel the same way? I can't tell if I'm biased towards BAK because it was better at this or because I knew enough of the setting beforehand.

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