May 25, 2015

Swords and Serpents - End Game

Swords and Serpents?  More like Snores and Serpents!  Everything was going swimmingly until dungeon level 11 when I hit the dreaded bane of all RPGs — the experience level cap.  Now at level 16, I still had five more dungeon levels to contend with and absolutely no reason to engage in combat.  Even before reaching level 16, most characters had maxed out their HP/MP and were only receiving the one point attribute increase, but at least that's something.  But what about gold?  Gold was even worse and had become pointless after the shop on the first level.  By the time I reached the shop on level five, I already had better equipment that the shop offered, and level ten was no different (all the shops sold similar items).  With no reason to horde gold, there was also no reason to hold on to equipment loot to be sold later.  This led to the annoyance of having to navigate the somewhat slow menus to discard every piece of equipment that was inferior to what the party already had.  Each party member only had one free slot due to their own equipment plus the ruby artifacts (only some of the artifacts are equippable).  This made me so mad that I just had to unleash my wrath in some way.

Ahhh, the classic nut shot eases my pain.

At least the mapping got a little more involved so I had something to mentally chew on while I tried to avoid combat.  There were a few sections that required copious usage of the Passwall spell, slowly dwindling away the magic reserves while also having a battle after each jump, resulting in even more MP draining away due to healing.  At one point, I got stuck in a room with no MP left and had to employ the Last Resort option which allows me to kill everyone in the party, then off myself, only to be resurrected at the last temple but sans gold and any experience we might have had.

Yeah, I think I'm a gonna start with Magnu.

Since gold and XP were meaningless to me at this point, the Last Resort is essentially a free warp spell, though I never did exploit it as such.  The last few levels had a few tricks up its sleeve, such as many up and down stairways between two levels combined with secret doors and educated guessing where a Passwall might work.  There were also lots of warps back to level ten, which was a real pain in the ass, and got me so riled up that I needed to release some tension again.

"Ummm, I do not have that which you seek."

The final level had the biggest puzzle of all.  Scrawled throughout the entire dungeon were phrases with the keyword victory that gave the correct sequence of moves to reach the titular serpent.  I had been pretty complete in my mapping and had all the phrases needed and soon enough the final battle was at hand.  Unfortunately, neither Mangu nor I had any MP left for healing or even a shield spell and I expected a quick defeat.  I had a few buff spells, such as Strength and Deadeye, that I hadn't used at all due to their only lasting one combat, and wanted to deploy here against the final boss.  The battle started off as expected, with Serpent getting a free attack on every character in the first round.  When our turn came around, we attacked in earnest though we predicted nothing other than utter defeat.  We got in our fair share of hits, though at these higher levels, monster's HP bars don't start decreasing right away so one actually can't tell how much is left until they're almost dead.  Hits and misses have sounds associated with them, so at least I could tell how well I was doing in that regard.  I wasn't even bothering doing the groin shot, just mashing away at the default attack, waiting for Serpent to do us all in.  Suddenly, within the span of half a second, its bar dropped to half, then zero.

Aw shucks, you ain't so tough.

An incredulous me looked at my companions, then shrugged and made our journey to the final screen, which consisted of a trippy light show and shaking all over of the screen before settling down to show our high score in the pointless hall of fame.  In regards to my competition with Magnu, I had 18's in all my stats (just like in real life) and was stronger than her, but she was still smarter than me by two points.  Anyone being two points smarter than yours truly is pretty unrealistic and completely broke the total immersion I had up until that point.  Okay, so I'm lying and just being bitter, but I don't have any more screenshots of me sacking monsters in the sack to calm my inner turmoil.