In this episode Henry faces tragedy, trials, and tribulations. The peace around Skalitz is disrupted when a massive army arrives and sacks the town.
After the tutorialpalooza that was the previous episode, this episode featured some… slightly better masked tutorials. However, unlike the previous episode this time around the threat of death was very real, and dare I say even somewhat likely!
This segment of the game is still fairly cutscene heavy, but it does feature a fairly difficult chase sequence where you need to escape from Skalitz. The first part of the escape has you running on foot down a path along the side of the keep. After running for a bit you acquire a horse, then race towards Talmburg.
The portion on foot is pretty straight-forward, but you are faced with a bit of a moral conundrum towards the end. Your friend Theresa is being subdued(to put things nicely) by multiple invaders, and you have the choice to either leverage the distraction to steal a horse unnoticed, or to try and help her, but make stealing the horse more difficult. I opted to whistle while I was near the enemies to lure them off of her, but I’m not exaggerating when I say it almost got me killed. When I whistled one of the nearby horses walked right next to the aggressors, which rendered me unable to mount it because I knew I would have been immediately dismounted if I tried. Fortunately I was able to bob and weave a bit, and steal another horse further away, but I cut it very close.
Once I was on horseback things didn’t go much better. You are pretty much immediately shot in the leg during a cutscene which causes your character to bleed. From there it is a race against blood-loss, and a trio of invaders following you to get to Talmburg. Some of the riders have bows and arrows as well, and on hardcore means you can really only take 1 or 2 shots before you are doomed to fail the segment. I was able to lose 2 out of 3 of the riders by jumping rivers and fences, but the last one stuck to me all the way to Talmburg.
The lack of a UI here was definitely a challenge which made stamina management of the horse a real challenge. However, the lack of a map wasn’t a huge obstacle here. Obviously this not being my first play-through of this segment helped, but really there is a lot of scripted activity between Skalitz and Talmburg that helps keep players on track. Regardless, I think this initial segment is a brilliant way to train players both in horseback riding, and to “put the player in their place” so to speak. There is really no combat option to this segment, so forcing the player to run reinforces the fact that you are an untrained peasant who is being thrust into a war.
Once you arrive at Talmburg there is a fair bit of exposition. Without going into too much detail the hightlights in no particular order are:
- You get some food and a chance to sleep
- Sir Radzig and survivors from Skalitz were able to escape at night
- Lord Divish promised Radzig he would keep Henry confined in Talmburg.
- The invaders may or may not be Hungarian mercenaries hired by Lord Sigusmund
- The Lady of Talburg is thirsty AF
The episode ends with Sigusmund’s army leaving, and me pondering ways to escape my confinement in Talmburg.
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Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your day, week, month, year, and life!
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