Three daedra guard a house on the highlands. From my months of Battlespire experience I can tell that this house contains something important, or something optional, or nothing but glitchy furniture, or a bug that will crash the game. This is where my thirty seconds of reading the Battlespire wiki experience come into play. I have to do my research–otherwise I might miss something important, like an apology.
Not since the Jehovah’s Witnesses dropped by Innsmouth has anyone approached a front door with more flop-sweating white-knuckle tension. Not because of what’s inside, necessarily, but because of how close I’m getting. After several blurry weeks of grinding, juking, and cussing, I’ve finally got a full house. I’ve got the rune of entry. I’ve got the hidden spear case. I’ve got the six hidden pieces of armor. I’ve got the five hidden keys. There’s only a conversation, a hike, and a boss battle between me and the end of this level, which means the only thing that can stop me is absolutely anything.
So what do you call the guy in the shack? Is he really a hermit? I mean, on the one hand, he’s a dotty old dude who lives alone in a shack. On the other hand, the shack’s near a village. But everyone in the village is long dead. But this whole area’s crawling with daedra. But the daedra don’t bother him. But he’s right in the thick of their hunting grounds. But he’s literally the only mortal in the dimension. It’s an intractable semantic riddle, which is why I’ll compromise and call him “a twit.”
But wait–there’s lore! Old Man Chimere here’s got a serious case of backstory. Ages ago he tricked the daedric prince Mehrunes Dagon and ended up getting the wish of his choice granted. “I want to live forever surrounded by the voices of my loved ones,” he supposedly asked. “That will give me time to catch up on my reading list. I’ve been meaning to get around to ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ for ages. Is it about zookeeping?”
So it turns out there was a slight loophole where everyone Chimere loved had to die horribly and he was doomed to eternal agonized isolation. So, listen–if you ever get a free wish from a powerful being, immediately answer “kick me in the groin right now.” With any luck they’ll be too confused to come up with anything really shitty. Also, the next time you get a chance to thwart the machinations of the daedric princes through cunning and proud ruses, consider taking a nap instead.
It’s too bad Chimere’s been alone all this time, because it’s separated him from his first love: exposition. Now that we’re here he’s going to hand it out like fistfuls of linty sweets–as soon as we best his gauntlet of fake quests, that is.
There’s a decent gag with this guy where you ask him what you need to progress and he sends you off after decreasingly plausible quest items. It may be immediately clear, and should at least become clear, that he’s just ageless and confused and sending you off on wild goose chases. In each case you can and probably should just immediately tell him “I couldn’t find the thing,” at which point he berates you for misunderstanding him. It’s a good joke, as long as you don’t buy into it and run out and scour the level for six hours and die to a daedra and have to start all over with no idea what you did wrong. Repeatedly. If you do take him seriously, then this videogame might just be the worst thing that ever happens to you.
Once you’ve cut through that bologna Chimere comes to his senses and offers his quest solving services. Bring him the savior’s hide pieces and the spear case and he’ll provide you with the Spear of Bitter Mercy. A worthy addition to the Elder Scrolls canon, because the one thing that’s remained consistent throughout the series is the central and vital role played by spears.
The Spear of Bitter Mercy can kill the unkillable daedra on the level, which means that Most Dangerous Opponent on the Level status now belongs to an unnamed scamp that has 10,000 health, because I really have no motherfucking idea why. And yes–before you ask, I can use the Spear after all. I was sweating about that. I’m pretty positive I took spears as a forbidden weapon at the beginning; I guess that’s where the Mercy bit comes in. Heaven knows I’m acquainted with Bitter.
Only one thing left to do, really. I’ve got to do it wearing the Savior’s Hide armor instead of my hand-picked speed-and-agility boosting gauntlet gear, because I don’t really understand what I needed the armor for and it’s not like anything in the interface tells me. I’ve got to do it without the benefit of experience or much in the way of guidance, because I’ve never even kind of gotten this far and because the game’s less documented than D.B. Cooper’s Vegas wedding. I’ve got to do it without the benefit of all the potions I’ve nervously pounded. In short, I’ve got to do it live. How hard could it be?
I juke back up the hill to the castle, shiver my way up a suspiciously geometric staircase, brave a trapdoor, and find myself face-to-face with the final boss of the level. The lord of the hunt. The master of the hounds. The guardian of the sixth key.
Herne, I’m hooome.
NEXT WEEK: SO A MAN WALKS INTO A BOSS…
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