|Fallthru consists of vast distances with little to discover in between.|
About 6 hours into Fallthru, I'm not sure I understand its point. Some commenters have praised it extensively, but I confess I don't quite see the charm. The game seems to delight in needling me with constant logistical considerations while blocking any kind of progress I try to make on the plot.
After the last post, I was determined to figure out the scope of the game world. I had made enough ralls from combat and selling one ikon (as for the two others, see below) that I could afford plenty of food. I decided to go west as far as I could and see if I could find the western border.
500 steps later, I arrived exhausted in the city of Oshan on the western sea. The city turned out to have nothing of note, so I pretty much just turned around and headed back. The trip was valuable for the journey itself. From all of the warriors I fought and defeated on the way, I rose to Level 22, and from all of the peasants to whom I had generously donated food, water, and ralls, I received several gifts in return, including a silver amulet (which warns when danger is near), two rubies, and a "wherstone" that, when you LOOK AT it, gives your present coordinates on the map from a southwest origin point.
Oshan turned out to be at 0, 625. Or'gn, the opening city, is at 500, 625. Later, I walked to the cliff that makes up the northern border, and found it at 750. However, this might not be the actual northern border because the game says that I can see a desert at the bottom of the cliff and some of my bits of lore refer to settlements in the desert. I can't get to the eastern border yet, for reasons I'll recount below. I'm still insisting on mapping, in a giant Excel workbook with the coordinates frozen in the first row and columns. It's so big that it doesn't fit on a single screen even at the lowest zoom level.
|The parts I've mapped. The road heading west goes for about three more screens before it ends at Oshan.|
With so much space--at least 412,500 squares so far--it would be a waste of time to aimlessly wander the wilderness, hoping to find dungeons or special encounters. Lore and signs point you to places you need to go, and almost everything of value is found on a road. I've been mapping farms, forest, and plains when I have to leave the road for a particular reason, but mostly I've been concentrating on the street network.
Despite the value of the journey, long trips are tedious for several reasons. First, if a warrior or commoner is going to appear in a square, it takes a couple of seconds for this to happen after you arrive. If you're rapidly typing W-ENTER-W-ENTER-W-ENTER, you'll blow past them and never have any encounters.
Second, food, water, and stamina steadily deplete during the trek, and every so often you have to eat, drink, and rest. Although you can carry some food and water with you, this generally means finding a farm or inn where you can buy food and get free water. About every 10 minutes of game time, you've got to find a stopping point next to a well or spring and enter some series of commands like this:
MOVE FROM BACKPACK TO HAND 5 FOOD
You've got to keep switching between them because if you do nothing but rest for 5 rounds, you'll end up really hungry and thirsty. You might even die of hunger while you sleep. And apparently eating and drinking brings on the fatigue. It's a bit of an effort to get all the values to their max score of 8 at the same time.
|I feel like Tuco Ramirez.|
This was an interesting logistical challenge early in the game, but now that I have enough money and storage for plenty of food and water, and have mapped most of the water locations in the area, it seems a little unnecessary. It would have been nice if the game had just decided, after a while, "All right; I'm going to assume that you're all set on food and drink now." It doesn't even really make sense for these things to deplete at the same rate.
Transferring items also continues to be a pain in the neck. By the time I got back to Or'gn from Oshan, I had enough money for a burro, which the game named "Pecos." I haven't reached his max carrying capacity yet, so it's nice to have something that can carry a lot of food and water. It's just annoying to have to keep moving stuff from hand to backpack to burro. Late in the last session, when I had enough money for a "Flyr"--a device that allows rapid traveling--I hauled my backpack full of ralls into the store to buy it for $300. I don't see any reason I couldn't have just typed BUY FLYR and had it automatically deduct from my backpack. But it insisted that I drop them on the counter first. Unfortunately, owing to the other stuff I was carrying, I could only handle about 100 ralls at a time. Thus, BUY FLYR became:
MOVE FROM BACKPACK TO HAND 100 RALLS
DROP 100 RALLS
MOVE FROM BACKPACK TO HAND 100 RALLS
DROP 100 RALLS
MOVE FROM BACKPACK TO HAND 100 RALLS
DROP 100 RALLS
Yes, there are shortcuts for the commands (like "MV" for MOVE) and some of the objects ("P01" is the first backpack), but they don't save that much time.
On to content. The primary thing I've managed to accomplish since the last session is defeat a bunch of warriors and get my own warrior level up to 32. Such combats are lucrative enough that I've also managed to buy a sword and armor. It took me a while, but I've figured out the logistics of the system. Basically, any two warriors at the same level are evenly matched as long as their equipment is the same. So if I'm Level 20, wearing no armor, and carrying an axe, and I meet ALI-FU, who I know is also Level 20 and is carrying an axe, my odds of defeating him are about 50/50. The odds seem to increase by around 10% for every variance in levels, so if I meet a Level 15 warrior with the same equipment, my victory is essentially inevitable.
But the equipment makes a big difference. Every weapon upgrade (knife to mace, mace to axe, axe to sword) is worth around 2 levels, with scimitars worth an extra 2 or 3. Armor is worth about 5 levels.
Thus, if I'm Level 20 and armed with an axe and no armor, and I meet a Level 15 warrior armed with a sword and wearing armor, his functional level is more like 15+2+5=23, and he's going to win about 80% of the time.
|I know from past experience that ASOECOEVI is Level 30. But his knife vs. my sword means that I can subtract about 6 levels.|
When you encounter a warrior, you have three options: accept his challenge and FIGHT, say HELLO and get his level and some lore, or just walk away. If you use the HELLO option, he leaves immediately afterwards, so you can't fight him until you encounter him again. But NPC warriors never increase in levels, and their equipment changes all the time. So if I previously met AYUANA'GO and I couldn't defeat him because he was 5 levels higher and carrying good equipment, I might run into him an hour later and find that thanks to my own level improvements and lesser equipment on his part, I can easily beat him. I mostly decide to attack when my odds are higher than 70%. If my opponent wounds me to less than half my hit points, I'll YIELD and pay a few coins. Occasionally, I die, but death doesn't have major consequences.
|Victory! Rewards for successful combat vary between 1 and around 30 ralls. I think it has to do with the level variance between you and your opponent.|
The game does scale the level of encounters with warriors. Now that I'm above Level 30, I never encounter warriors at Levels 0-20 anymore. Rarely, I'll meet one who's 25. Mostly, I run into 30-45. Again, since warriors never increase in levels, the game keeps up by just generating new names. Weird names. Some examples: EZE, BA, ECA'NOASE, AZOEGU'WU, ACO, AHOAQO'PU, VE, EYEEJEAJU.
On the plot side of things, I'm having trouble making much progress. A few things I've tried to do:
- My attempts to explore the fringes of the map--including finding the eastern terminus--have been hampered by "renegade" warriors who attack immediately upon encountering them. This is a problem because most of them are higher levels than me, and I don't like having to FLEE, which doesn't always work. These renegades are responsible for most of my deaths. I've never encountered them towards the center of the map.
- As we discussed last time, I explored a small dungeon beneath Slavhos and found a treasure room with rubies and several ikons. I was able to carry the bronze ikon back to Or'gn for sale, but even if I'm not carrying anything else, the game insists I'm not strong enough to pick up the gold ikon or any of the stone ikons.
- Beneath Forod, there's something called a "stone maze." I haven't explored all of it because I keep stumbling upon silver ikons and--you guessed it--I can't pick them up.
- The silver amulet opened up the door to Black Water Cavern, which I found beneath a grassy mound northeast of Odetn. The dungeon dumps me into a watery maze full of leeches who quickly sap my health. I can find my way to a valve, but if I try to TURN it, the game says, again, that I'm not strong enough.
|Being nibbled to death by leeches while I try to get through this area.|
Clearly, "strength" is a thing in the game, although there isn't any kind of visible strength statistic. I wondered if it somehow was affected by combat level. To run a test, I found a farm, where you can gather all the rocks you want. I dropped everything and picked up rocks until I couldn't carry any more. Then, I started a new game with a Level 0 character and did the same thing. Both carried a maximum of 45 rocks. So either strength has nothing to do with combat level or carrying capacity has nothing to do with strength.
Lore tells me that "opal scimitars" increase a warrior's strength. I also know from lore that opal scimitars are the only things that can cut through the "lithian chains" on the vault in Or'gn, and that I can find one in Eyry, which is "west of the cleft, outside the gate of Hole-in-the-Wall." This is somewhere along the cliff that marks the northern border, so perhaps this is my next trip.
|A useful bit of lore.|
A few other quick notes:
- More creatures! I had already encountered squal (quail) and rabir (rabbits); to this, we can add squir (squirrels), hyens (hyenas), and davi (deer). I encountered most of these critters in the "Glu'me" woods. As an anonymous commenter pointed out, creativity in naming wasn't Mr. Deal's strength. Davi can be hunted, though apparently not with knives, so I need to buy a spear. If it turns out I need the food and money, I'll do that.
|I don't particularly want to kill squirrels, but I'm hungry.|
- In a game obsessed with logistical issues, you thankfully don't have to feed and water the burro. Moreover, he appears "in hand," as if you're carrying him. You have to DROP him to go up a tree or down in a dungeon.
- The game keeps track of lives, adding one to your count every time you restore. I was worrying about this, thinking I might run out or it might subtract from my combat effectiveness, but I just noticed that it resets the count every time you restart the game.
- The Flyr allows you to move up to 20 times normal speed, which is really handy if you're traveling a route that you've already taken. It's not handy if you're trying to map all of the paths, or if you want to encounter warriors or NPCs along the way.
I still have lots of roads and pathways to explore, but I wouldn't mind if the game started offering a little more in terms of content and plot betwixt these vast distances of featureless farms, forests, and roads.