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Published October 28, 2013

OUR HERO EVERYONE!

Solstice is split between two different main characters: Galen and Yani. Both have their own personal secrets and motives for coming to the North, but of the two Galen could have the bigger personal experiences while Yani has to most to accomplish with the larger world. Er, perhaps I should explain.
With Galen you would’ve had to have seen or read The Last King of Scotland to understand my interest. In The Last King of Scotland the character of Nicholas Garrigan went to Uganda mainly because he was bored with his comfortable, well-planned life. There he meets Idi Amin who is a fan of the Scottish people and it all goes pretty much to crap from there. The key to the movie is that Garrigan being in Uganda didn’t speed up or slow down the atrocities Amin committed while he was in power.

What made the movie so interesting was that while the audience knew Amin was dangerous, Garrigan had to realize it on his own because being the friend of a ruthless dictator has some perks. Most of the movie was watching Garrigan dig his way into a hole that all logic and reason dictates he will pay for his willful ignorance…and he does.

At least for the immediate future, I see Galen’s route falling along the same lines. While he is clearly intelligent enough to be a doctor, his priority is his own pleasures. Like Garrigan, Galen implied reasoning for traveling to the North is just a whim. While his easy-going manner is somewhat refreshing to the grim and troubled protagonists we usually get in these kinds of stories, it does raise the question of whether or not he’ll survive to the end of this one.

Now, don’t take that in the wrong way because I liked Galen. He is definitely bold, inquisitive and courageous or stupid to challenge anything that doesn’t appeal to his particular view of justice I.E. that whole slavery thing I talked about in Part One. But that doesn’t change the fact that he needs his eyes pried open just a little bit before he ends up hanging from a pair of meat hooks and that is something I hope we’ll see in the story proper.

Why? For me anyway, it ties into the fact that modern fiction treats childish naiveté like a virtue. The Moacube team has a record of having the exact opposite viewpoint and often has a great deal of fun mocking popular culture’s love of it. So even if it isn’t quite as cutting as Cinders could be from time to time, I do expect for Galen to do a great deal of maturing during the game, especially since it seems he will deal with the more intimate storylines.

Galen’s storylines are rife with obsession, betrayal, lust, the downfall of societies and numerous ideologies unique to each character’s life before Galen ever stepped foot into the Jewel of the North. All of these are very personal mysteries that are just as much about our protagonist as it is about the suspects. I won’t get into those mysteries because of spoilers I’m sure Moacube wants you to find out on your own, but it gives the reader a chance to explore his mindset and creates a starting point for his character arc.

Long story short: all good stuff here.

Another point to Galen’s character is his connection to another Moacube creation: Madame Ghede. Cinders players will remember Ghede from that game and her presence here through Galen seems to point out some kind of shared universe here. This raises interesting possibilities since we do have confirmation of a spin-off of Cinders featuring Sophia: her younger sister. It could point out Moacube’s intentions of spreading things out even more down the line, but the immediate point is that it builds on the supernatural elements of the game; specifically the entity called Kala. That and another mystery women, have brought me to an issue I cannot avoid.

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THE MYSTERIOUS ALLURE

While Galen deals with the more personal side of the story, Yani brings the full weight of the City’s shadows with her. Her exact purpose for traveling to the North is something of a state secret, but what happens as her path begins slaps precaution in the balls. So let’s instead talk about some overall themes concerning Yani.

The key to understanding Yani’s character is to accept that you won’t get the character-driven plot you will get with Galen. Yani is technically an engineer brought in to ensure the machines that keep the dome up don’t malfunction, and it is clear on how she talks about the machines she is actually trained to be a mechanic. This is important because it conflicts with exactly why she said was sent up North, which opens up her actual motivations and the motivations of the other supporting characters.

It doesn’t take the top of the class to tell you it’s a dumb idea to live in a City in the middle of a frozen wasteland with your only protection a glass dome and the only way to survive being either become a slave or enter in already filthy rich. So the question of the City’s allure to so many seems to be a factor in Yani’s goals. And while I doubt we will dig into her background like I think we will with Galen, we may get a few peaks underneath the shields to get a better rational of what drove up to the Jewel of the North other than the reasons stated in the demo.

Sorry about jumping around spoilers, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

On top of her mechanical training, are the routes of questioning she goes on to the minute she begins making her way through the City. Unlike Galen who has no choice but to tread cautiously, Yani seems to have no problems or fear from questioning the City’s elite. If she’s in town to do what she thinks she’s in town to do, then is either brilliant or reckless. Brilliant because it could force her targets into making mistakes she can capitalize on later in her story, or reckless because it could cause HER to make mistakes that could directly affect Galen’s story…we haven’t talked about that yet have we? One more paragraph on Yani and then we’ll talk about it.

Keeping with the goals of her investigation, I truly believe the strength of Solstice’s Trust mechanics will be shown during Yani’s storyline. Most time this device is in use it’s a bit oxymoronic and you don’t get much with the device other than extra endings. And while Galen’s story may take better advantage of the device later on, to stay true to his character in the beginning honesty seems to be the best policy. However, Yani’s story makes it clear from the beginning that deception is your best tool. Sometimes it’s best to play along, other times being headstrong is the ticket. It all depends on which response gives you the most information without pissing off the character you’re questioning so there is a lot of room to experiment with strategy here.

Finally there is the obvious question: if there are two main characters, does that mean their stories intertwine? Unfortunately there is no information yet, but both Yani and Galen share the same game journal. But if the narrative jumps like it did in the demo between them it’s hard to imagine that they won’t overlap at some point. The ultimate question will be how their separate investigations will affect the supporting cast. For example, if Galen decides not to do something for Yakone, will that make Yakone more favorable to Yabni which will keep Galen from completing a task?

Doubtful but some degree of that type of gameplay will be involved I believe. It’s just a matter of how it plays out along with the mystery of Kala. My research shows ties to Hindu mythology and upon further research I was able to come up with a few Sanskrit definitions that could help clear up the mystery a little bit:

  • ·         kāla 1 means “black, of a dark colour, dark-blue …” and has a feminine form ending in ī –kālī – as mentioned in Pāṇini 4-1, 42.
  • ·         kāla 2 means “a fixed or right point of time, a space of time, time … destiny, fate … death” and has a feminine form (found at the end of compounds) ending in ā, as mentioned in theṛgveda Prātiśākhya. As a traditional Hindu unit of time, one kālá corresponds to 144 seconds.

Yeah…those don’t exactly give you a lot of warm feelings of what’s to come.

Throughout the demo we’re not given one strict definition of what Kala is in this world. An archeologist believes it’s an ancient treasure while others believe it’s the city itself. Still others consider it to be a part of something much darker. Much of this will be traced through Galen who is given an inside track to that side of the mystery thanks to the only local the game provides in the beginning: Yakone.

Ultimately, it is safe to say that whatever is going wrong with the Jewel of the North can be tide directly to Kala. But all of this will have to wait for another time. We still have no concrete release date for Solstice but if given permission I would like to do a Top 3 video to show some of my favorite moments from the demo…spoiler free of course. Until then, I hope this little look into the demo has spiked your interest if this is your first time hearing of this great group. Moacube has created some great games so far and Solstice is looking like it will be able to hold its on not only within the EVN community but in the gaming community at large.

Until next time!