|Apparently, my crew perished in cryogenic sleep, as there was no Sentinel Worlds 2.|
If I'd known how close I was to winning when I made my last entry, I would have kept playing. After getting out of the Sentinels' caverns, I returned to the raiders' base and spent about 90 minutes finding my way back to Malcolm's throne room (I hadn't taken good notes in my previous exploration).
By the time I arrived, I was almost out of ammunition and not looking forward to a melee battle with Malcolm.
I needn't have worried. Instead of using the same combat protocols the game had used up to this point, the moment the "battle" with Malcolm started, I was taken to a screen similar to when I faced Shadar, showing our respective energy levels. Mine was about half of his. He blasted away at me while I tried to figure out the controls. It turns out I had to wait for the leters "DEF" (defend) and "ATT" (attack) to appear on the sides of the screen. When DEF was there, I hit the right arrow to defend; when ATT was there, I hit the left arrow to attack. That was it. Once I had the hang of it, it was easy, and I bled away Malcolm's energy advantage.
Slowly bled it away, I should say. ATT and DEF only appeared a few times a minute. It took over half an hour to win this tedious, pointless battle. I'm trying to save my invective for the GIMLET, but this is easily the worst final boss battle that I've experienced in a CRPG, and that includes chasing Minax all around her castle. Final battles should use the tactics and items and experience you've gained up to that point, not introduce an entirely new interface! I never even used those extra spells that the Sentinels gave me.
Anyway, eventually Malcolm died and expressed incredulity, in language as stilted and awkward as everything else in the game:
At this point, the game could have been nice and given me the final screen at the top of this posting, but no, it made me hike all the way back out of Malcolm's fortress to my ship first. That was another 30 minutes. After showing me the final screen and prompting me to save the game, it commanded me to wait for the sequel that never came.
Lots of items were unaddressed, including the history of the Sentinels and why Malcolm turned dark. We never found out what the aliens were digging for on Caldorre. There was also some suggestion that the shops in the towers of Caldorre were just illusions created by Malcolm, but like most things, the game didn't bother to explore this beyond some awkward dialogue.
Looking at the manual, I realized the game hadn't used even a third of the available paragraphs, so I read through the "extra" ones. There were a bunch offering false leads at fake coordinates, a few chastising the reader for reading paragraphs you're not supposed to read, and a host with contrary plot points. Perhaps my favorite "fake" entry is:
The globe rises slowly, pulsating with a raw energy that completely illuminates your surroundings. "I am the Key of Thor. Tremble before me vermin! I shall use you and your pitiful mechanical conveyances to fulfill my destiny. We shall go to Norajaenn 1875,1060 where the Sentinels, reside and crush them. Let us go!
There was a related one that, if it had come true, would have been an awesome plot twist:
"You fools!" Malcolm screams, "can't you see what you've done? You've freed the most horrible power the cosmos has ever seen. The Sentinels have been held in check by the Gates of Truth since before your race clawed it's way out of the primal ooze. Your ancestors called them 'daemons' and feared them above all else. And rightly so for they delight in slaughter and mayhem! There is but one hope now. Use the Key of Thor, for it has the power to bind them. That's how we managed to lock them into the stronghold of Truth. Unveil the Key in their presence and then take them across the Gates. Once there you will be able to walk back across the threshold while they must remain. Go now and undo the damage you have wrought!"
Generally, these bogus paragraphs actually offer a more exciting gameplay experience than the real game.
Short posting, GIMLET tomorrow.