on Jun 9, 2016
The standoff with Trudy is a perfect example of how this game initially seems like it’s trying to be a Fallout-style RPG. You get several dialog checks. The events seem to hint that you’ve stumbled into the middle of a story. If you’re familiar with Bethesda or (better yet) BioWare games, then you’ll probably imagine there’s all sorts of details you’re missing out on.
But once you play through it, you realize it was all a facade. Your dialog checks don’t really matter. Trudy offers you 100 caps to help out, but if you just roll in and gun down Wolfgang without talking to anyone she’ll give you 100 caps anyway. There are a bunch of little cul-de-sac dialog options, but most of them just change which pair of people you gun down and how many caps you get for doing so. Trudy doesn’t have a story to tell. Her son Patrick doesn’t even get a proper dialog. You don’t learn the history between these two groups and it’s not used to characterize your fish-out-of-water protagonist or establish the setting around you.
The moment Wolfgang is dead, the story is over. For the rest of the game, Trudy opens every conversation like Wolfgang just died a few minutes ago. Patrick huddles in the corner recovering from Jet addiction, forever.
This game is cotton candy. It might look big and substantial, but the moment you try to bite down on anything it just vanishes. This game is often pretending to have something to say. Synths! Technology! Freedom! For my first few hours with the game, I always assumed I was picking the wrong dialog choices, and that there was something deeper or more interesting just around the corner or on the road less traveled. But the moment you play through a conversation twice, the spell is broken. Not only is the other road just as shallow as the first, it usually leads to the exact same place for the exact same reward.
Oh, I can choose to murder a shopkeeper and her son, or some thug. What a profound moral dilemma. Thanks Bethesda.
What’s worse, this choice is completely a no-brainer. Wolfgang offers an unknown quantity of money. Trudy offers a clear 100. Trudy runs a general goods shop and even sells a couple of rare / unique items, and Wolfgang just sells chems. Much of this game involves liquidating large piles of loot, a process which is throttled by your access to shopkeepers who all have valuable goods and cash. And Trudy is the only reliable and convenient shopkeeper for the first several hours of the gameThe other shop is Carla, but she roams around and isn’t always near a fast-travel point.. There is no reason, in-character or out of character, to side with Wolfgang unless you’re just trying to play your alignment as Chaotic Stupid.
EDIT: Should this be titled, “SHAUN!”? I dunno. Whatever. Close enough.