Sunday, October 11, 2020

Anachronox #15 - The End?

I thought I knew this game by now, I thought it couldn't throw me any curve balls anymore. I thought wrong. The end of Anachronox offers up some exhausting material and now that I feel like I've closed it down for the final time I don't even know how to wrap up my thoughts. What did I even experience? What did I just go through?

It's a roller coaster for sure and while the end is probably the games' weakest point it doesn't leave me unfulfilled. No wait, that is not entirely true. In many ways it does exactly that. I can't explain it without going in to major spoiler territory, but I guess we've already passed that in all my previous posts.

Detta's castle/fortress/home base is another maze. But I've got to hand it to them, even though almost every place I have gone to in this game has been some sort of maze, at least they've been pretty inventive with the areas. I still don't feel like it's repeating itself, too much. 

PAL works alone.

For Detta's the schtick is that we've got the entire team with us for once, which means we split up in three teams that you can easily swap between. Sly heads one and Stiletto heads one and PAL is on his own. The teams need to solve different puzzles in order to open up paths for each other and it's a fun experience. 

I think overall they've done a good job with keeping the same concept interesting, because as I've probably mentioned a couple of times the general idea is that you go through some sort of maze like structure, solve puzzles and fight some enemies. But the variety, both in settings, enemies and puzzles is good and it doesn't bore me.

And dark. Don't forget dark.

Of course the characters and the story is the real highlight of the game and there is a lot of potential here. I wish there was more of it, even after almost 40 hours of playtime. By more I mean more world building, it's a really interesting place that we get to explore here and I would love to see more of it.

Once we get towards the end of the game they've made several choices that give me reason to be frustrated though. First of all, the difficulty ramps up significantly. I guess when my team mates told me they needed better weapons they weren't lying. The final bosses, because spoiler there are two, are silly difficult compared to what I have been fighting so far. And honestly I really don't like it when games does this. I played another game recently, though I can't remember which, which was quite easy on regular enemies and extremely difficult on bosses. Anachronox has been fairly easy throughout though, and throws me off a cliff right at the end. Not cool.

You're not a true mob boss without an indoor pool.

The boss fight with Detta sees my team dead except for Sly (unfortunately I am forced to bring Stiletto with me for this fight and she is easily my worst team mate). Detta does an attack that just about halves my hp, so every other turn I need to throw a full heal and every other turn I can do an attack. But only my special attack does damage to Detta, my regular one always misses. This means I can only do damage to Detta every four turns (because the special attack needs recharging). And Detta himself does an attack that literally takes 30 seconds of cut scene every. single. time.

I have no happy memories of this room.

After Detta is defeated it seems like we're about to win the game. But then... it turns out Grumpos had been on the side of the bad guys all along. No I am not talking about Detta, but the actual BIG BAD that has been threatening to destroy the universe. Thanks a lot Grumpos!

I never understood how these people could get henchmen anyway, doesn't Grumpos realize that he is part of this universe too? He is kind of putting himself in the same danger. But apparently Grumpos still thinks he's better off helping the bad guy than trying to stand against him. Coward.

So instead of throwing the Key Stone into the energy well like he is supposed to, to destroy it, he activates it and summons the bad guy on our confused and shocked asses. And then it is time for another, even worse, boss fight.

Ok ok, this fight maybe actually isn't so bad. It's just that I haven't been allowed to save at any point since I beat Detta and the fight is confusing as heck. This time we get to fight with all six of our remaining characters (Grumpos not being with us for obvious reasons, traitor). Mr Evil as I will call him since I can't recall his actual name (though it is bound to be along those lines) fights on a platform with six colorful orbs around him. Ok, I think. I probably need to destroy those orbs first in order to do damage to him. This turns out to be only partially correct. And the bit I got wrong is pretty dang important.

For some reason I can only attack him with three of my six characters, though this also means only these three characters take damage. Again unfortunately Stiletto is on my team and again unfortunately she is still useless. Each turn every single one of the six orbs do an attack on one of my characters, while they don't do much damage it is extremely tedious to have to sit through. And as soon as I destroy one and start to focus on the others it respawns again. Ok, I think. So I have to destroy them all at the same time?

Again, only almost correct. After I manage to do that, which also is extremely tedious and time consuming I realize that that isn't doing what I was hoping it would do at all. I don't do more damage to the boss and the orbs almost instantly reappear. At that point my play session has been going on for way too long and I actually need to go to bed. Should I leave the game on for 24 hours and continue the day after? I choose not to do this but simply close it down, mostly out of nerd rage reasons to be honest.

So how am I supposed to beat that sucker then? Oh, apparently you need to move your characters into position whenever you destroy an orb, so that they can't respawn. Of course... I wish I had looked that up before my annoyance got the better off me and now I probably have to do the really frustrating fight with Detta all over again too.

They look as disappointed as I feel.


Especially since I now also know the game doesn't even end, even after you manage to beat that guy. It's intentionally open-ended because the creators wanted to make a sequel. But we know that is never going to happen. And if they ever do announce one I will go back and do those fights again, maybe. Because dang, they were some horrible fights.

Everything up until that point was really good though, and I think that is the reason I am so disappointed with the ending. I guess I could live with the non-ending if the difficulty didn't karate chop me so hard over the neck though. That's just not cool, it's like they didn't actually want me to see the end once I got there.

It's so unfortunate because I have had ~35 hours of great fun with this game and then the lasting feeling with me ends up being some of disappointment, frustration and pure "oh come on!". Like that one time I went to a birthday party at a restaurant and we had an amazing time but one of my shrimp must've been a bit off because I got really sick and all I can think of now is how unwell I got, not how much fun I had beforehand.

But those last couple of boss fights were definitely some sort of bad shrimp and I still can't shake how frustrated they made me feel, unlike anything else in the game.

I'll get over it, I hope. And I hope I will remember the game for what it really is. An extremely underrated, funny as hell, well written and well played out little gem that I definitely recommend anyone to play through. And I wish there would be a sequel, that would be amazing. Because I actually think this world and these people have a lot more to tell before I get bored.