As we discuss how to get the item we need out of the Mystech Museum, PAL-18 decides to go off on his own to solve the problem. We play as PAL-18 for a short bit until he gets, needlessly I might add, rescued by Stiletto who then also decides to join forces with us. I didn't really catch what her motivations for that were, other than that she didn't really have much else to do at the moment.
|PAL-18 tries to prove himself.|
Rho gives us a quick lesson on what seems to be happening. First of all, there is the Big Bang and the Big Crunch. The universe expands and contracts cyclically forever. This can only happen because there is a certain amount of matter available in each universe. Apparently, someone is dumping matter from a previous universe into our current universe (don't know how a previous universe exists to be able to do that, but that's how it is) and it will eventually lead to our current universe crunching into non-existance earlier than it's supposed to. We need to stop this from happening, obviously.
|Rho tries to keep it simple.|
Now that we've got the item Rho wanted, it is time to take on Grumpos task of getting to the Mystech Library on Hephaestus - the lava planet where Mystech comes from. Since Rho accidentally activated Mystech all over the known universe, the monks on Hephaestus have been very quick to earn money from it by churning out Mystech from the lava and sell it. It's already a booming business, and some people are saying that they only do it for the money but the monks themselves assure everyone it's for the good of the universe.
|Hephaestus, such a nice place for a vacation.|
However that may be, as we get to Hephaestus we quickly learn that the abbot of the monastery won't give us access to the library unless we can solve some problems for him first. Of course.
What the game doesn't tell you at this point is that whomever you happen to have in your party when you leave Sender Station Station for Hephaestus are the only people you bring along (though I think you can technically fly back to SSS at any point to swap members, it is a bit of a trek - literally). Every other time the party has stuck together, except for that one time when PAL-18 didn't come along to the Hive for some reason. When you get to Hephaestus the party also agrees to split up, meaning Boots is on his own at first. You can see your chosen party members, in my case Grumpos and Stiletto, walk around the areas on their own, so that is a nice touch.
|Have to get everything done myself.|
Let me tell you a little bit about some creatures called "Bipidri". When I first came across them I thought they were tiny maintenance robots. I think they're biological creatures though and it seems to be a running gag (if you want to call it that) how mistreated they are by pretty much everyone. They're eaten, kept as pets and abused in every imaginable (and unimaginable, as you'll find out in the Red Light District...) way, though I am fairly sure they're sentient to some extent. I really hope the game resolves the Bipidri side-story by me setting them free or something. I really feel for these little cuties.
|I mean they have suitcases, they need to be sentient right?|
Let me talk a little bit about the music too. When I mentioned it before I said that it was a bit subdued and I hadn't really noticed it. That was on Anachronox and things have changed significantly since then. Interestingly enough the music has taken a big step up and offers quite a wide range of genres and there are loads of great tracks here. When I go down into the underworks of SSS there is a track that I swear could be straight out of FFIX. And then you have this nice little jazzy tune that plays on Hephaestus or this cool spacey techno tune (can't remember where that plays though). There were many composers on this soundtrack so maybe their diverse talents shine through here, either way it is well worth listening through, I can almost promise you'll find something you like.
|Said no one ever.|
Back to the abbot and his problems then. First of all you need to refill some substance they're running low on and secondly someone has stolen some relics from the monastery and you need to find the thief. Getting the substance means going down into the lavaworks with all its hazards. Before you're done down there you'll have struggled through poisonous gas, tried not to be electrocuted and avoiding spouting lava that would've made Bowser proud. Great fun in other words.
|Everything is a maze.|
My second task is more up Boots' alley, some good old detective work. It mostly revolves around questioning a lot of people about where they were and whom they suspect but in the end I find the culprit thanks to some nasty grit found on the crime scene. Before I go to apprehend the thief however it is time to round up my team again, it's always better to not go into those situations on your own.
|But the game makes sure you don't get lost.|
I could harp on about how great this game is, and I will probably say it a couple of times more before I am done playing it. It really is more of reading a crazy book than it is "gamey", and maybe that is what could put people off. You do have to do a lot of talking, but so far I haven't tired of it because they all say hilarious things. You just know that something completely unexpected and funny is going to happen around every corner and I kinda don't want this game to end.