After some tense diplomacy, Talmburg avoids a clash with Sigusmund’s army. However, Henry is trapped within the keep’s walls and needs to find a way out so he can return to Skalitz and bury his parents.
At the start of the episode Henry is a prisoner of sorts in Talmburg, which is fitting because we are still a prisoner to the tutorial quests. The goods news is we start to at least get the illusion of choice when it comes to how we get to Skalitz
In my previous playthrough I chose a strength/vitality initial build, and as a result I ended up needing to jump the bridge to escape Talmburg. However, this time around since I went double charisma, I was actually able to reason with the guard at the gate. He said if I procured a set of guard armor he would let me out under the guise of being a guard going out on patrol. After a bit of sneaking and locking picking I was able to procure said armor.
The game called for me to find a horse, but I wasn’t quite sure where to find one. Not wanting to push my luck, I decided to just hoof it on foot and avoid possibly getting tangled up with the guards by aimlessly searching for equestrian assistance.
Once I arrived at the Skalitz outskirts, I opted to stay focused on the main quest. I looted the occasional body on the way, but the loot was minimal so it wasn’t really worth the effort. The bandits however, provided enough loot to multiply my net worth several times over. The good news is those initial bandits are pretty much complete push-overs even on hardcore mode. I was able to make quick work of them even without access to the more advanced fighting mechanics.
Once you are in the inner Cloister of Skalitz things get pretty linear. You step over the bodies of various familiar townsfolks, find your parents, and eventually decide you need to find a spade. You then immediately hear a dog barking in the distance, which is obviously the game trying to point you in the right direction. When you find the dog you run into Zbyshek, a Skalitz resident that Henry is not too fond of, who is trying to loot a body being protected by the dog.
It turns out to be the body of Skalitz’s blacksmith, who is the dogs former owner. Zbyshek also has a spade that you can try to persuade him to give you. At this point you have a few dialog options, but I ended up calling out Zbyshek on his bullshit, and a fist-fight immediately ensued. As much as I want to say I beat Zbyshek into a pulp, it was actually a pretty even fight that wasn’t exactly going my way. So I elected to draw my sword which sent him running, collected my spade, then hypocritically looted some more corpses and went on my way. Afterwards I made my way back to my parent’s old home and the final set of cutscenes commenced.
In the first cutscene Henry is digging graves for his parents under the linden tree by his home. During the sequence the blacksmith’s dog approaches, seemingly having forgiven Henry for rummaging through his previous owner’s corpse. After the graves are ready, Henry makes his way to his parents’ bodies and tries to steel himself for what he must do next. However, before the first body is moved a voice can be heard in the distance.
Henry is then approached by gang of what appear to be thugs being guided by Zbyshek. Some words are exchanged, and Henry ends up in a fight with the biggest thug referred to as Runt. I was able to get a couple of licks in, but without the ability to dodge Runt inevitably lands the 1 or 2 blows needed to knock me to the ground. At this point it is looking like game over for Henry, but fortunately Runt’s final blow was deflected by Henry’s plot armor.
A split-second before Henry is stabbed in the heart, Theresa shouts down the thugs getting their attention. Just a moment after that a group of knights ride by and drive the bandits out of town. The scene ends with Henry lying on the ground in the rain on death’s door, and then transitions to the “opening credits” of the game.
I have to say that even with the plot armor, the scene does a great job of closing this chapter of the game. All of the gameplay sequences leading up to, and including the showdown with Runt have emotional weight. I left the sequence not really sure what as accomplished, but feeling like Henry took a first crucial step to understanding what he needs to do to move on from all of this.
I do worry that the open-ended nature of the game will start to detract from the strong narrative provided by this opener, but that is a concern for another video…
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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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