Jedi Fallen Order Part 10: The Sideshow

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 22, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 79 comments

At some point in this game, you’ll eventually encounter some bounty hunters. There are a few different bounty hunters and numerous different places they can spawn, but sooner or later you’ll tangle with these idiots. When that happens, you’ll get hit with a writer-mandated stunlock and end up getting captured.

You are captured by a hitscan, un-blockable, un-dodge-able stunlock that lands the instant your foe has line-of-sight. Okay, that's how cinematics work in linear stories I guess. Although the game designer can sod off with this bullshit 'nice moves' taunt.
You are captured by a hitscan, un-blockable, un-dodge-able stunlock that lands the instant your foe has line-of-sight. Okay, that's how cinematics work in linear stories I guess. Although the game designer can sod off with this bullshit 'nice moves' taunt.

And so we come to a great big pointless sidequest with…

Sorc Tormo

I'm so glad to see you after barely two and a half minutes of separation!
I'm so glad to see you after barely two and a half minutes of separation!

Cal wakes up in a prison cell. BD-1 is missing. His lightsaber is gone. His communicator is gone. He’s cut off, alone, and defenseless.

Well, not totally defenseless. We still have the ability to shove stuff around with the Force. So we need to break out of our cell and explore the seemingly empty complex. We rescue BD-1 and reach a gladiatorial arena run by the crime lord Sorc Tormo. We have to fight waves of monsters, followed by a rematch with the bounty hunters that captured usSorcTormo sportingly gives Cal his lightsaber..

This entire sequence feels disconnected from the rest of the game. I imagine it must be the product of one of two things:

  1. This was supposed to be a longer and more involved side-story, but it got hacked down to the bone when time / budget ran low.
  2. This bit was thrown together at the last minute to pad out the runtime or satisfy some obnoxious and heavy-handed corporate mandate.

Nothing about this is set up beforehand, and none of it pays off later.

Hopefully you remember our pilot Greez from earlier in this series. Previously the story has hinted that Greez has a gambling problem and he likes to bet on these sorts of arena fights.

Tormo claims that Cal has Greez to thank for his capture. But how does that work? What did Greez do wrong? Did he tell Tormo how to capture Cal? Did Greez have a bunch of debt and Tormo randomly decided to capture a Jedi to pay off that debt somehow?

He’s No Jabba

That sounds serious. I'll be sure to never follow up on it.
That sounds serious. I'll be sure to never follow up on it.

I can kind of see what the writer is doing here by attempting to repeat the Jabba the Hutt story from the original trilogy, but Jabba’s story got plenty of setup. By the time Jabba appeared, we knew him by reputation. It was an awesome moment to finally see what Han Solo’s long standing nemesis looked like! Furthermore, the confrontation against Jabba served the main plot:

  1. Show our heroes being united after the events of Empire Strikes Back.
  2. Show just how far Luke has come in his training. He couldn’t overcome Vader at the end of ESB, but he’s obviously outgrown the petty squabbles on Tatooine and has a broader perspective now.
  3. Introduce the tension we’re going to be feeling during the rest of the story regarding Luke’s seeming flirtation with the Dark Side. He shows up dressed in black and Force-choking dudes, which seems pretty sketchy. But he also attempts to negotiate with Jabba peacefully rather than just murdering everyone outright.
  4. Advance the Han / Leia romance.
  5. Rescue Han Solo, who is instrumental to the plot later on. Also, this will end his entire subplot and allow him to fully commit to the Rebellion.

In contrast, this bit with Sorc TormoEvery time I try to type this name my brain thinks I’m trying to type Sancre Tor. comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.  Here is another case of a writer borrowing a fun idea, but leaving out all of the context, stakes, build-up, suspense, and catharsis that made the idea fun in the first place.

That doesn't tell me anything.
That doesn't tell me anything.

Imagine how much more punch this sequence would have if the game had been spending the occasional line of dialog to build up Sorc Tormo and convince the audience that he’s a major threat. As it stands, he needs to introduce himself because we’ve never heard his name before stepping into the arena.

The game acts like you’re supposed to know who this clown is. So I thought maybe he’s from the Clone Wars or something and this was just some really clumsy fanservice? Nope! This is his first-ever appearance.

The sequence doesn’t even make sense. You wake up in a cell with no guards around and you’re free to explore, solve puzzles, and rescue BD-1 at your own pace. Then when you arrive at the packed arena Tormo says, “It took you long enough!”

And I’m like, “Well, this is why you don’t have your conscripted gladiators keep their own hours, you massive dipshit.”

Rescue!

Nitpick: The mantis is crashing through the window of this apparent space-station. The place doesn't decompress for some reason. Bonus Nitpick: In the subtitle, the word 'Incoming' should be in quotes and followed by a question mark.
Nitpick: The mantis is crashing through the window of this apparent space-station. The place doesn't decompress for some reason. Bonus Nitpick: In the subtitle, the word 'Incoming' should be in quotes and followed by a question mark.

Once the fight is over, your friends crash the ship through the giant window and rescue you. This seems a little obvious and easy, but whatever. Afterward, Greez apologizes, but I’m not clear on what exactly he did wrong. If he helped Sorc Tormo capture Cal, then that’s too great a sin to be casually forgiven and forgotten in this brief exchange. If he had a bunch of debts he couldn’t pay and Sorc decided to kidnap Cal, then that’s on Sorc for involving Cal in business that was rightly between himself and Greez.

In a gameplay sense, this feels sort of random and unwelcome. It’s just a half hour of puzzles that are shallower than the stuff we’ve been doing, followed by an out-of-nowhere boss fight against foes we don’t really care about, followed by a rescue out of nowhere.

In a storytelling sense, this whole thing is an abrupt interruption. The main story had just started to get “good”. Previously, the story was built around the large and abstract stakes of rebuilding the Jedi order. After the events on Zeffo Pt 2, those broad stakes had become deeply personal as we discovered the unresolved personal drama between our main villain Second Sister and our quasi-mentor Cere. Then suddenly the writer yanks that away so we can get captured by someone we’ve never heard of, over business that’s never explained.

The one silver lining is that the writer left Sorc Tormo alive. Presumably he can show up again later in the series. Hopefully next time he’ll have a better introduction and more relevance to the main plot.

Next up, we’re heading back to Kashyyyk…

Kashyyyk

I have a hard time reading this environment, but you can usually figure out where to go by looking for a cluster of idle stormtroopers that are impossibly marooned on a useless platform. Head for those guys, and you're back on the rails.
I have a hard time reading this environment, but you can usually figure out where to go by looking for a cluster of idle stormtroopers that are impossibly marooned on a useless platform. Head for those guys, and you're back on the rails.

I’m not a huge fan of the Kashyyyk jungle terrain. I understand the need to keep introducing fresh new environments, and I can’t deny this place is gorgeous, but for whatever reason I had a terrible time parsing the Kashyyyk terrain. I’d get to some platform and have no idea where I was supposed to go. I couldn’t tell what platform was my next destination, and I couldn’t get a sense of which bits of knotted roots were platforming features and which were cosmetic scenery. I never had this problem in the tomb levels or imperial bases, but on Kashyyyk I spent a lot of time fumbling around and trying to figure out what the game designer wanted from me.

I don’t know. Maybe I need to spend more time outdoors?

Lack of Clarity

If you're going to have an enormous Venus flytrap as an environmental hazard, then you MUST make them work on enemies as well as the player. I spent a long time dancing with this clown to get him on the trap, and was terribly disappointed when I discovered they're somehow on the same team. (EDIT: In the comments people have pointed out that 'traps DO eat stormtroopers, but some traps are duds and don't eat anyone.)
If you're going to have an enormous Venus flytrap as an environmental hazard, then you MUST make them work on enemies as well as the player. I spent a long time dancing with this clown to get him on the trap, and was terribly disappointed when I discovered they're somehow on the same team. (EDIT: In the comments people have pointed out that 'traps DO eat stormtroopers, but some traps are duds and don't eat anyone.)

We finally reach Chieftan Tarfful and he says that Cordova went to the temple at the top of the world tree. So that’s where we’re headed next.

Hang on… did I really need to track down this Wookiee head of state to get this information? Wouldn’t the fact that there IS a temple on top of the most famous and recognizable landmark on the planet have been enough for me to go on? Wouldn’t it have been common knowledgeOr at least, not a state secret. where Cordova went? Couldn’t I have just asked around?

I’m picking at this because Cordova’s plan is so hopelessly muddled. Did he hide the Jedi holocron and THEN go on this planet-hopping expedition? Or did he go on this expedition and then hide the holocron? If the former, then why is his path so random and based on bits of ephemeral informationHis chain of hints would fall apart if Tarfful died in the war that’s currently consuming his planet, or if the perma-storm on Zeffo ever changed position.? If the latter, then how did he know to record all these vlogs for us?

I’ve been through this game three times, and I’m still foggy on these details. It’s possible Cordova’s plan actually makes sense if you can manage to straighten out the timeline, put these messages in order, and follow the logic of his research. I’m just saying this whole setup is needlessly convoluted. The plot needs us to go to four planets to find a thing, but we’re hunting down secondary artifacts and following out-of-order clues that take us on a looping pattern through the systems.

Confusion is the enemy of drama. This entire plot would have been stronger with more clarity.

Going Up!

Wheeee!
Wheeee!

The climb up the world tree is filled with interesting moments. We get to befriend and ride an enormous bird. We unlock some new abilitiesWe can now dive below the water instead of just swimming on the surface. Have fun re-visiting all the planets and hiking all the way out to every stupid pond to gather up those collectibles you couldn’t get the first time!.

We finally reach the top and get the next update from Cordova. Apparently he found the Astrum here on Kashyyyk. So… he found it, right? He has it? Mission accomplished?  The first time I saw this cutscene I saw that Holo-Cordova had THE Astrium in his hand, so I wondered why he sent us to look for it. Like, he’s holding it now. So are we supposed to figure out where he put it? Also, he says he couldn’t find one on Dathomir.

Then at the end of the cutscene, Cal concludes that our next stop must be Dathomir?!?

Dude! He just said he’s already been there and couldn’t find it. And he’s holding it in his hand! Why do we need to go there?

Whelp, I got MY Astrium. I don't know where YOU'LL find one. Seeya, loser!
Whelp, I got MY Astrium. I don't know where YOU'LL find one. Seeya, loser!

What’s really going on is that we’re not looking for THE Astrium, we’re looking for AN Astrium. That was not made clear by the earlier dialog. Cordova apparently found this one and we never learn what he did with it. But I guess we have to go get a different one? Apparently he sent us on a scavenger hunt to find a thing he already has, at a location where he already failed to find one???

Actually, I’m making it sound more sensible than it is. He doesn’t directly tell us where to go. He just announces how happy he is to have found the thing he sent you to look for, and his message ends. It’s like he forgot why he was recording these messages. Cal just assumes that he’ll be able to succeed on Dathomir where Cordova failed.

Like I said, this tomb-tourism plot is really muddled.

 

Footnotes:

[1] SorcTormo sportingly gives Cal his lightsaber.

[2] Every time I try to type this name my brain thinks I’m trying to type Sancre Tor.

[3] Or at least, not a state secret.

[4] His chain of hints would fall apart if Tarfful died in the war that’s currently consuming his planet, or if the perma-storm on Zeffo ever changed position.

[5] We can now dive below the water instead of just swimming on the surface. Have fun re-visiting all the planets and hiking all the way out to every stupid pond to gather up those collectibles you couldn’t get the first time!



From The Archives:
 

79 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 10: The Sideshow

  1. Redrock says:

    If you’re going to have an enormous Venus flytrap as an environmental hazard, then you MUST make them work on enemies as well as the player. I spent a long time dancing with this clown to get him on the trap, and was terribly disappointed when I discovered they’re somehow on the same team.

    I’m reasonably sure that in my playthrough the flytraps worked on the enemies. I seem to recall them chewing up some stormtroopers, but I think I’d seen one of them bite a chunk of health out of that Inquisitor guy. I mean, it was a while ago, and I’m way too lazy and hate backtracking in this game way too much to go check, but still. Maybe they just have really messy detection and a cooldown timer?

    1. emptyother says:

      Yeah, the fly traps did chew up stormtroopers on my game too.

    2. Sam Agyagi says:

      I remember that place on the image specifically and that one or two of the flytraps were either disabled or became disabled somehow but I had no idea what caused that. I could kite some enemies in through them or run through them myself and most of them would shut but definitely not all of them. But it was the same for both me and the enemies – it would either shut for both of us or neither.

  2. ContribuTor says:

    I never thought I’d see a video game steal a line from David S. Pumpkins while allegedly taking itself seriously. Apparently Sorc Tomo is not his own thaaang.

    1. Alexi says:

      I’m Sarc Tomo!

      I know, but, like, who are you?

      I’m Sarc Tomo, baby!

      Ok, yeah, yeah, and Sarc Tomo is…?

      His ooown thaaang!

      And the gladiators are…?

      Part of it!

      Why are you part of this game?!

      To do this!

      1. Dennis says:

        I started crying laughing when I got to your gladiators bit. My girlfriend is looking at me weird from the couch.

  3. CJK says:

    All on the front page, as is tradition.

    1. Thomas says:

      This is the way.

      1. Geebs says:

        (All of) this (on the front page) is the way

  4. Grey Rook says:

    The entirety of the article is on the front page again, Shamus.

  5. Mr. Wolf says:

    What’s with fantasy mod bosses and to-the-death gladiatorial contests? Why can’t they just enjoy naked mud-wrestling like everybody else?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Or betting on lethal podraces?

      Take one of the good ideas from the prequels, and change up the gameplay at the same time!

      1. Decius says:

        What good idea?

        1. SidheKnight says:

          What good idea?

          Well.. if it turned into a good game, does it count as a good idea?

  6. Hal says:

    IIRC, you’re not even finding these recordings at these locations; reaching the locations unlocks the recording in your droid’s memory, yes?

    If this were a table top game and I put this in front of my players, the first thing they would do is try to hack into the droid and get that data out. If I said, “Nuh-uh, you can’t do it,” then they wouldn’t go on the scavenger hunt; they’d go find someone who could unlock the droid’s info.

    Eesh.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Oh absolutely, or they’d dismantle that place where we know the holocron is brick by brick by brick. Doing this scavenger hunt would be maybe not the last thing they’d try but definitely low on the list. Unless they were really, really willing to humour the DM.

    2. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Yeah your unlocking the droids brain, and he definitely recorded them as he went. Later you realize that when Cordova says “my friend” he’s referring to BD-1. He was just talking to his Droid buddy, then later realized he could use BD-1’s memory as a map and locked it. This actually explains why his directions were so unhelpful. They were never meant to be directions. The first recording you see was the last one he made talking to the hypothetical future Jedi (you). The rest were just his travel dialogue with BD.

  7. Lars says:

    This Sorc Tomo subplot sounds a lot like planned DLC which made it to the actual game. An unrelated story arc that could easily be cut, introducing an anthagonist never heard of an never to be seen again. It reminds me of the Shadow Broker alien and other ME DLCs.

    1. ContribuTor says:

      Meh. The Shadow Broker at least was teased and brought up multiple times in the ME games before the DLC. He didn’t come out of nowhere. Sure, the exact species and nature of the Shadow Broker were a surprise, but the game clearly established that he existed, that he was powerful, and that no one knew much about him. He was an established mystery that a player might reasonably be interested in solving.

      Even Fallout 3’s famously unplanned DLC all tied in to the main game in some way (even Mothership Zeta had a latch to the Alien Crash Site and the Alien Blaster from older fallout games).

      Here, though, other than “there are bounty hunters involved, and bounty hunters are a Star Wars thing!” there’s no real tie to the main game. No character teasing. No mystery in the main game world explained. No additional color on a location or conflict in the main game.

      I’m not staying you’re wrong, just that this would have been awful DLC.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Eh. The Missing Link does a similar thing of “coming out of nowhere with no relation to the plot, making you prisoner and taking away most of your abilities before allowing you to make your way out and force a battle with the antagonist before being able to resume the main story” in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it works perfectly fine. It’s the execution. TML takes its time to build up its main villain on its own and doesn’t have the “no weapons” part be merely an afterthought. You have to slowly rebuild yourself back up, do a lot of puzzle solving and escalating combat and you get to meet all the characters, allies and enemies through several interactions, which makes them all more interesting.

        Seriously, the idea for a DLC is pretty sound. It just would have needed a proper execution in this game, because otherwise it would feel exactly like what it currently is: padding.

        1. Christopher Wolf says:

          I know they were not people’s favorite games but I really loved Deus Ex Human Revolution. Also a big fan of Alpha Protocol. That game needs a sequel.

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            I don’t know what you mean. Human Revolution is insanely popular. It’s Mankind Divided that has people… well, divided.

        2. modus0 says:

          I think The Missing Link works because it adds something other than “nap in a cryo-pod for 3 days” after your second departure from Hengsha. And given that in-universe Jensen had no idea where he was going, and ends up a a secret installation, having no buildup isn’t really an issue there.

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    Man, I finished playing this game a little over a week ago and I already had forgotten the whole Suck Thermos sequence (or however the hell he’s called, I already forgot and I’m too lazy to look up).

    I do remember the bounty hunters, mainly for two reasons:
    1) More than once I died to them and when I restored the game they weren’t there. Some of them would show up later at the same location, while others never did. If it’s frustrating to die to an enemy several times before being able to defeat it, dying to an enemy and being unable to rematch is rage-inducing.
    2) After the one time they hit you with an unblockable/undodgeable stunlock attack they seem to entirely forget they have this weapon at their disposal, because they never, ever use it again. I understand that it would have been refund-inducing to have it happen several times, but story-wise it makes no sense. That’d be like Lex Luthor throwing away all of his kryptonite before going hunting Superman.

    1. After the one time they hit you with an unblockable/undodgeable stunlock attack they seem to entirely forget they have [it]…That’d be like Lex Luthor throwing away all of his kryptonite before going hunting Superman.

      “Nah, I won’t ever need THIS again!”
      This is a very specific mental disorder, and one of the many signs of Villain-itis.

      Seriously, though, they could have had a section in which you disabled, or fund some counter to the weapon before fighting them again. It would have made story sense and given the player a sense of acheivement…though at the risk of having a random bounty hunter completey overshadow Sorc Paladin or whatever the crime boss is called.

  9. Darker says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t complain about the part of the giant bird flying sequence where Cal acts like he sees Kashyyyk from high above for the first time. When I saw it my first thought was “Dude, next time just look out of the window of your spaceship!”

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah. It’s almost as if the writer hasn’t properly internalized the setting in which they are working, or its probable effects on the characters.

      1. Radkatsu says:

        Easy way around that issue is to have Cal be surprised not at how the planet looks from up here, but how ‘different’ it is compared to seeing it from a porthole on a spaceship or whatever. The air around him, a connection to the life of the planet, blah blah blah, Force, blah.

  10. Thomas says:

    I’m going to guess that when they were brainstorming levels for a Star Wars game they wrote down ‘Arena fight ~ bounty hunters?’.

    Then when they built the level they couldn’t make it fit with the story and were going back and forth about whether to cut it, before deciding to keep it in. Even though it’s also now missing a bunch of polish because everyone was working on the bits that wouldn’t get cut at the last moment.

  11. Biggus Rickus says:

    I think you’re probably right about cut content. The gladiator sequence seems like the kind of thing where there would have been some kind of running sketchiness with Greez that culminated in being captured and having to fight in the arena. I’m also open to it being bad writing. Story-telling across all media seems to take things for granted more and more often, failing to provide proper motivation for actions.

  12. Christopher says:

    Ratchet & Clank had these arenas where you could do various combat challenges since the second game, and it’s a nice treat when the combat is fun. I guess it’s not hugely thematically appropriate for a goody two-shoes jedi to go ham in the colosseum for cash but it would probably have been neat for the gameplay.

    Ratchet Deadlocked/Gladiator was basically this premise for an entire game, which got a bit samey, but I could see it work as a neat subplot with the added parts you described.

    In terms of Souls games, I guess it’s most similar to those bag guys in Bloodborne tossing you in the slammer in an opional area if they kill you, which I remember being pretty cool. You had to actually lose to one, though. It wasn’t some scripted plot point, just a cool surprise.

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    Maaan. They should have leaned into the “temple at the top of the world tree” thing. Like, the imperials have turned it into a tourist attraction! When you arrive on the planet there are posters for it everywhere. The lady at the information booth tries to give you a flyer for it. There are air-speeder tour guides hawking you to hire them. Cal could have a bunch of lines about not getting distracted, and focusing on the mission. They could even throw a “Stay on target” reference in there! Then, when you finally discover that’s where you were supposed to go all along it could be this great “Cal is a dumbass” beat.
    Bonus points if all the stormtroopers you have to fight at the temple are in giant-head mascot outfits.

    1. Sardonic says:

      This sounds glorious. I haven’t played JFO, but if they had done this I would buy the game immediately.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      See, now I seriously want that. This is exactly the sort of thing a Spaceballs videogame would do.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        And now I seriously want a Spaceballs videogame…

        1. Nimrandir says:

          As should we all, friend. As should we all.

    3. Philadelphus says:

      The best part about not having played this game myself is that now this is how I’ll always think of it from now on.

  14. ccesarano says:

    I feel like the arena was intended to do two things: develop Greez while simultaneously creating some sort of “arc” (where his gambling debts involved those around him that he’s now come to view as a family), while simultaneously contextualize the presence of bounty hunters appearing throughout the system at random.

    The funny thing is that it was an expensive method of doing this when a single fight would have done better. You don’t need the arena or anything else. You just need the bounty hunter (perhaps after the first fight?) to explain why they’re gunning for you… even if… it’s… guilt by association? I dunno. The logic is falling further apart the more I think about it.

    So yeah, pretty bad either way.

    As for Kashyyk and that bird, the entire mud slide portion of that map is where I decided I would not bother with a 100% of this game. I like to 100% a Metroidvania when possible (oddly enough, easier done in 3D games than 2D), as the exploration is part of the attraction. But doing that entire on-rails segment a second time for just one chest that I missed that was bound to have a cosmetic?

    Nuts to that.

  15. Steve C says:

    I’m enjoying this series. Though it is reminding why AAA games are not for me. The stories are always either so straightforward/ on rails it would have made a better movie. Or it is convoluted to the point the writers lose the thread. I was really lukewarm on KOTOR for similar reasons. This series reminds me of finishing both Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter and thinking, “That was enjoyable. I’m glad it is over. I do not want to do more of this kind of game.” (Returning for a collect-a-thon with new abilities exhausts me.) None of the games on Shamus’s wish list interest me for similar reasons.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is…

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      Are there stories in games other than AAA where the story is not on rails or overly convoluted? I guess maybe if you’re looking at specific kinds of story games that don’t have much in the way of traditional game play, but those hold no interest for me. I do prefer a game where the story is just kind of a loose framework for the game or can be ignored (see XCom or Skyrim for examples).

      1. Steve C says:

        I don’t think there are, no. If a AAA game like that exists, I’d like to know about it since I’d might like it. What I prefer is the reverse of what you suggest actually. I want gameplay I like and the story has to get out of the way. For example Battletech’s story gets a lot of criticism. It serves as a functional backdrop. The player isn’t even the protagonist in it. Yet I like it. A lot. It is exactly what I want in a video game story– functional backdrop. A trailer for a AAA game with all its sweeping cinematics and VO (say Cyberpunk 2077) is a complete turn off. Advertisements like that pretty much guarantees I won’t even consider playing it. I want to play a game. I do not want to watch a machinima.

        I like a story that can be ignored, but gives me a compelling reason to not ignore it. I also like emergent stories. The original XCom might have been the very first game with an emergent story. It is one of my all time favorite games. I did not care much for the remakes. They felt ham-fisted by comparison. A story I really enjoyed was Star Control 2. That story wasn’t told *to* the player. You had to unravel it and pull on all these threads to tease it out. The story was the meta-gameplay. That’s my gold standard for how I want my video game story to interact with me as a player.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          Man, I would love to see a Shamus retrospective on Star Control 2. It’s not nitpick proof—what is?—but it stands in glaring contrast to…like, >90% of stories in games. Returning the Ultron to the Utwig and especially when the Yehat discover the Shofixti aren’t extinct after all still give me goosebumps, just from a bit of voice acting and lots and lots of amazing story contextualizing it all and making you care.

          No joke, my first thought upon discovering the Serrated Disk spell in Noita was, “Now I have become the Kohr-Ah!”

          1. Boobah says:

            The Path of Now and Forever: If they’re all dead, they can’t hurt you.

        2. Radkatsu says:

          @Steve C: if you’ve not played Kenshi, I HIGHLY recommend you do, it’s exactly like that. You have to talk to people, explore, read, and extrapolate from multiple sources to piece together the world and its history, and different factions have different interpretations of historical events, so you’ll never get a truly accurate picture, just as it is in real life.

          Your meta actions as a player then drive your personal story of growth and failure. It’s a fantastic game, one of my top 10 all-time favourites. Though it’s also brutal, so expect to fail a lot until you learn how everything works :)

          1. Steve C says:

            I have played Kenshi. I thought it was interesting. It did not resonate with me and I stopped playing. I forget why. I know it was not due to the brutal nature of it. Maybe due to the fiddly bits? But yes, if you thought Kenshi while reading my preferences then you got it right. Kenshi is exactly the kind of game that attracts my attention.

            1. Radkatsu says:

              Ah, that’s a shame. I can definitely get where you’re coming from, though, it can have some fiddly stuff and general jank. The good news is that Kenshi 2 is in development and is using Unreal Engine, so it’ll have more QoL and less jank (not to mention Chris has a decent-sized team now, unlike when he was making the first game).

  16. Doctor Beat says:

    I believe Cordova’s timeline is laid out chronologically in the codex. IIRC – he finds a locked vault on Bogano, learns about the Zeffo tombs, and travels to find out more. At some point he discovers he needs an Astrium to unlock the vault. He tries to get the one on Dathomir, but can’t due to the dark side vagueness. He then finds one on Kashyyyk, enters the vault, and sees the vision of the Jedi purge.

    He tries to warn the Jedi council, but they ignore him. So he locks the holocron with the names of force sensitives in the Bogano vault. The recordings you are seeing were him simply talking to BD-1 on his travels (“my friend” refers to BD-1). He encrypts BD-1’s memory, trusting the droid to reveal how to get into the vault only to one BD-1 trusts.

    Definitely convoluted. But I think that’s how it went down.

    1. SidheKnight says:

      That.. actually makes sense.

      Or at least, more sense than what Shamus interpreted the story to be. Makes Cordova sound less like a fool, and more like he run out of time to properly secure the Holocron.

      1. Doctor Beat says:

        Thing is, Shamus’ point still stands. Only pieced this together after almost finishing the game, and went back to read the codex entries to try and figure out what had been going on with Cordova. During the actual run through of the game the whole thing is very confusing as to why Cordova did what he did, and how the timeline fits together. Especially as you unlock the codex entries of of order, I’m pretty sure you can miss unlocking entries, and it only comes together to make sense when the game is basically over.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          Until I saw this mention of the codex, I admit I thought the designers were going for the intentionally vague worldbuilding of The Series That Shall Not Be Named. Now that I know there’s something actually in the game helping players track the story, I’m confused.

  17. The gladiatorial arena felt to me like at some point some Star Wars fan was all “SHIT we forgot to have a wretched hive of scum and villainy! QUICK BREAK OUT THE ARENA!!!!”

  18. camycamera says:

    Who am I? I’m the Joker, baby!

    1. Bubble181 says:

      See, and my mind goes “…I’m two-four-six-oh-one!”

  19. Elmeri says:

    Sooner or later you’ll tangle with these idiots. When that happens, you’ll get hit with a writer-mandated stunlock and end up getting captured.

    At least they lampshade it. The bounty hunter who captures you is named Null Chance, which I thought was pretty funny.

  20. Abnaxis says:

    The more I read this series, the more I think the problems are less about Nu Star Wars versus the Original Trilogy, and more that they were trying for Original Trilogy and failed so bad it looks like they’re trying for the prequels.

    For example, in your last entry you talk about all the problems with the Trilla “reveal” being nonsensical because the story is trying to set up Cere as liable for her “betrayal” of Trilla, and Cal is stupidly prosecuting Cere on behalf of Trilla for her faults. However, that wasn’t my read at all for what the writer was (poorly) trying to do. Rather, they were trying to recreate the betrayal of Luke by Obi-wan, and failing spectacularly.

    In ESB, after the big reveal, the first fixation Luke has after the initial shock is on Obi-wan, and how he left Luke in ignorance about his father–“Ben…why didn’t you tell me…?” This is understandable, and well built up. Luke grew up as an orphan, raised on a backwater planet by a strict aunt an uncle. All the while, Ben was watching over him, hiding the secret and even allowing Luke to seek out and potentially kill his own father in blithe ignorance rather than tell Luke the truth. It’s a betrayal that goes to the root of Luke’s identity and he even calls Obi-wan out on it later when given the weak-sauce BS dodge of Anakin being dead “from a certain point of view.”

    Contrast with Fallen Order, where Cere vague and mysterious about her past. Cal, meanwhile is haunted by his failure to help when his master was killed. What’s SUPPOSED to happen from a drama standpoint, is Cal is supposed to re-attach to Cere as his surrogate master and feel betrayed when Cere lets him go off to fight Trilla without letting him know Trilla is her previous padawan. After this, Cal is supposed to have his “Cere..why didn’t you tell me…?” moment–and he literally has that exact line, but it falls flat.

    The problem is, everyone in the whole cast is vague, untrustworthy, and untrusting of each other. Obi-wan’s betrayal of Luke’s trust strikes true because Luke came to rely on Obi-wan as a mentor, and Obi-wan just flat out lied to Luke’s face about his father’s death. Cere, OTOH, kind of vaguely mentions she had a brush with the dark side of the force and was tortured, but only lies by omissions about Trilla, and there’s no mentor/mentee relationship between Cere and Cal to betray, and even if there was we’re still a good few hours away before we get really deep into Cal’s survivor-guilt that should lend the mentor/mentee relationship more dramatic weight. Then, when they “betrayal” actually happens, Cal just looks like he’s being melodramatic when he goes through the motions of feeling hurt because the stakes were never set up.

    The whole thing with Sorc Tormo is a similar problem–the game is much, much too vague, trying to keep Greez’s debts and his past “mysteeeeeeeerious” until Cal is caught by a BS unavoidable stun attack. I almost wonder if this is an issue with writing for a video game–they have to streeeeeeeeeeeetch these reveals out over the run-time of the game, so they make all the characters stoic and secretive with their pasts. However, that means none of the relationships are built up between the characters that need to be there for you to tell an Original-Trilogy-type of story, so the drama falls so flat it begs comparison to Episode 3 instead of Episode 5.

    One of my biggest peeves with the game is that the best-written crewmate doesn’t actually join the crew until the last 5-10% or so of the story, after you do your second run on Dathomir and you’re ready to grab the holocron. However, now I’m wondering if that’s because when you pick up Merrin she only has a small amount of screen time, so they don’t force her to spend tens of hours vaguely hinting at her back-story, and instead wrote actual dialog for her.

    1. Shamus says:

      I agree with all of this.

      It really is mystifying that the story forces you to fall out with Cere before Cal’s conflict is even introduced. So many problems steam from Cal’s lack of conflict in the first 2/3rds of the game.

      1. It’s even weirder because there’s no particular reason why Trilla needs to come out with her backstory at that particular moment. She could have taunted Cal with something else that, you know, actually related to Cal and helped set up some conflict for Cal, and Cere could have helped talk him through it. They could have done the Cere scene later in the game after Cal’s arc is at least established enough that you buy Cere as his surrogate mentor and you grasp why Cal would feel betrayed.

        1. It bugged the crap out of me, also, that they basically tease that there are X number of Sisters but you only ever face TWO of them. Instead of having Trilla here, how about having another sister for you to fight? Could have been an interesting combat without having to launch right into the backstory of what is (effectively) the Main Villain this early in the game.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            I think the Sisters are a cameo from Clone Wars? Maybe that limits the number of them they can use as opponents here? I dunno, I kinda lost my passion for the Star Wars universe after Phantom Menace.

            1. Benjamin Hilton says:

              Correct given the events of the clone wars tv show this night sister could be the only one left.

              1. They could train more, since the Jedi are mostly dead or on the run and they’ve got all this Imperial apparatus everywhere.

                1. CJK says:

                  Second Sister isn’t a Nightsister / Witch of Dathomir, she’s a member of the Inquisitorius. They were introduced in the Rebels TV series.

                  The backstory of the Inquisitorius is that they’re all fallen Jedi, turned by Palpatine or Vader to hunt Jedi.

                  At the moment Second Sister, Fifth Brother, Sixth Brother, Seventh Sister, Eighth Brother and Ninth Sister are accounted for, along with 3 other members, but it’s unknown if those other members are numbers 1, 3, and 4.

                  So they can easily write in 3 more, and honestly they can make the numbers go as high as they need to without really breaking anything.

                  1. Abnaxis says:

                    When you say “accounted for” do you mean in just the Rebels series or are you including Fallen Order? Is Trilla dying in FO cannon?

                    Also, are the numbers ranks or identifiers, i.e. when Sixth Brother dies does Seventh Sister become the new Sixth?

                    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

                      Between the clone wars, some comics and the game they name and account for everyone we see. And yes the game does appear to be cannon.

                2. Benjamin Hilton says:

                  It might not be clear in the game, but the night sisters are a species not a group or creed, so it’s not as easy as training. It was literally a race genocide.
                  Edit: Sorry I was confused on what we were talking about. Yes they could train more inquisitors, but they need force sensitive to do that, hence the holocron.

                  1. Joe Informatico says:

                    How many Jedi do the Inquisitors think are still out there? I.e., is inquisitor a job with a lengthy tenure? Because I feel once the remaining fugitive Jedi are no longer seen as a threat, the inquisitors now become a perceived threat to Palpatine and Vader.

      2. Benjamin Hilton says:

        I’ve heard many people say they liked it better the second time through, and I have to imagine it’s because they know his character by and are able to map his motivations during the dry first 2/3s.

      3. Abnaxis says:

        I’ve been thinking about this over the weekend, and it seems more and more clear to me the problem is just how out of order the story beats are. I have a theory about that, but I might be jumping the gun on what Shamus planned on writing about later. Sorry if I’m getting too far ahead/spoilery…

        Specifically, I think someone had the bright idea to use Cal breaking his lightsaber as a metaphor for his personal conflict and really wanted to include it in game. Because to be fair, the saber breaking just as Cal is undergoing a crisis of identity is a really good metaphor. How you fight with the lightsaber is the one avenue for individual expression available to players, everything else is canned platforming and puzzles with only a single avenue for progression, while lightsaber combat lets you decide how aggressive you want to play, how much you want to use force powers, when and whether you want to run away, etc. For example, I play much more aggressive than Shamus does, wailing with sword swings to take combatants out of the fight and make them predictable instead of patiently waiting for counter opportunities.

        By breaking Cal’s lightsaber the writer takes away the player’s vicarious identity at the same time they make Cal doubt his own identity, and it makes for an immersive story beat that works really well for the video game. BUT, you can’t take away Cal’s lightsaber for half the story in a game about lightsaber-fighting. That mean’s Cal’s identity crisis pretty much has to be introduced and resolved in back-to-back sequences within the same act. That is fundamentally at odds with creating a spiritual successor to the Original Trilogy.

        What’s supposed to happen, is Cal’s skeletons are supposed to be revealed in the introduction, supposed to escalate to a crisis in the middle, then resolve at the end. But we can’t let his crisis build that long if we’re breaking his lightsaber as a storytelling device. Working within this story constraint kind of gives you three bad options–break the saber at the start, middle or end of the narrative and live with the consequences if you’re still going to try and force a Star-Wars-like hero’s journey.

        If you break the saber at the beginning or the middle, you have no place to go with the story because you introduced and resolved the conflict in practically the same scene. It’d be like Luke asking Ben what happened to his father, then Ben says “yeah he’s my previous apprentice, and he’s a super evil overlord of the empire who murders people for LOLs,” then Luke shoots Vader in the back right after he kills Obi-wan, and we spend the next two-and-a-half movies watching Luke learn about the force in peace after decapitating the Empire.

        If instead, you break the saber at the end, you wind up with exactly what’s happened in Fallen Order–you have all these dangling threads that are supposed to weave into Cal’s personal conflict, but the conflict never gets introduced until much too late. The sequence where Cal faces a force-vision of his dead master and finds himself wanting, breaking his saber in an emotional fit, SHOULD have happened way back either just before or just after Prauf died, but it can’t happen that early if we want to resolve Cal’s conflict all the way at the end of the game so Cal’s conflict isn’t introduced until the final act.

        The thing that’s interesting about this, is I don’t really know a good way to fix it. It wither requires a total rewrite, or it requires you to abandon a really good narrative device that work very well in video games as a medium. It’s just a fundamental problem with how the story is constructed.

        1. Syal says:

          Replace it with a Sith Saber? Or, like, awkwardly glue it back together so it’s got big ugly seams on it, or flickers on and off? At least then you’ve still got the visual part of “things are different now”.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            I was thinking that, but it doesn’t have the same weight if you don’t feel it in gameplay. Part of what makes breaking Cal’s saber really good, is it really uses the video game medium to convey the idea effectively by affecting how the player interacts with the world.

            IIRC (been a day or two) Trilla’s lightsaber caused Can physical pain, you could have Cal steal her saber and have it do physical damage or limit his force abilities while it’s on? I dunno

        2. Benjamin Hilton says:

          I honestly think allot of Cal’s character issues could’ve been solved by seeing the order 66 sequence earlier, but its clear that they wanted to save that for a gut punch near the climax

    2. G-Mon says:

      The more I read this series, the more I think the problems are less about Nu Star Wars versus the Original Trilogy, and more that they were trying for Original Trilogy and failed so bad it looks like they’re trying for the prequels.

      Or as I’ve come to call it, these problems are caused by “cargo cult storywriting”: trying to copy previous, successful stories without understanding what made them work.

      Come to think of it, going through Shamus’ back catalog of articles, it seems a lot of AAA games have this problem, and not just in the storytelling.

      1. The Wind King says:

        This is, I believe, a problem with Producers & high level managers who think in the way “We can only do what’s been proven to work, we can’t risk this much money on something untested”, so they’ll copy, and imitate, and cargo-cult all day long, exactly because it does work, just enough to get money into pockets and provide the finances for the next big forgery.

        And if it’s not story, it’s genre, or style, what other reaon is there for there to be so many “XXX-Clones” in Video-games? The high up people don’t know what the next big hit will be, nobody does, and they can’t innovate because they’re too busy either trying to keep their development studios from failing and leaving their staff out on the street, or swimming in their money like Scrooge McDuck and sipping brandy from cups made from the skulls of nubile slave girls (on a scale of reasonably responsible to cartoonishly self-invested) and so the innovation falls mostly to the people who don’t “have” to make money. They might still want to, but that’s entirely personal.

        The biggest failing I’ve ever found in Business education is the line “A business exists solely to make money” because it’s the core line behind this “Man Mind Thyself” capitalism, a Business should exist to “move” money, take it from customers, spend it on employees, pump capital around like a heart pumps blood through veins & arteries.

        I’ve vastly, vastly oversimplified the simile, but I’m not sure that’s a discussion for here.

      2. SidheKnight says:

        cargo cult storywriting

        I’m stealing this term. It’s perfect.

  21. Liam says:

    Typo alert:

    Although the game designer can sod off this this bullshit ‘nice moves’ taunt.

  22. Duoae says:

    It’s possible Cordova’s plan actually makes sense if you can manage to straighten out the timeline, put these messages in order, and follow the logic of his research.

    And this is why I had become convinced during my first playthrough that Cordova was alive and that these were live messages…. until this Astrum one.

  23. Karma The Alligator says:

    Funny thing is, when you mentioned Greez and his gambling being the reason for Cal being captured by bounty hunters, I was thinking maybe he set it up so that he’d have a winning streak by betting on Cal.

  24. Benjamin Hilton says:

    For me the worst part of the auto lose fight was that I had just caught the bounty hunter with a combo the should have killed him, only to watch him stop taking damage. As I’m trying to figure out what happened he captured me. I was so irate.

  25. Mersadeon says:

    I actually had the same thought re: Sorc Tormo (or whatever his exact name was). I immediately assumed he was a fan-service cameo and that’s why the scene is so out of place and barren. I figured since Saw Gerrera and Tarrful were cameos that I knew, this was simply someone else’s turn to have one and I just didn’t know him. Finding out he isn’t makes that scene even more puzzling.

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