Chapter 1: Footsteps of Fate
Chapter 1 picks up right where the prologue left off, which makes me wonder in what sense it's a prologue, but whatever. Lyn and my non-character have arrived in Sacae's center of trade, a town called Bulgar, to buy supplies for our journey. The intro narration to the chapter shows Lyn moving across an old beige-and-brown map toward a blue dot, and as she approaches, two mounted figures appear from the bottom of the screen heading toward our dot. The narration says Lyn is about to discover something life-changing before the screen fades out the level title, which is apparently done as chapters.
No sooner have we entered the city than Lyn is accosted by a flowery man in green armor. He spouts faux-poetic pick-up lines to my girl, but Lyn's unimpressed. After volleying a few insults that don't seem to pierce the knight amour, she leaves. Apparently I stay behind, however, for some reason? Another knight, a man named Kent wearing red armor, appears and starts chewing out the green knight, Sain, whose flowery speech apparently lsn't limited to pick-up lines. Kent appears to be the one in charge, and is already annoyed by Sain's stupidity.
Boy, can I relate to this guy already. Hope I don't have to kill him in this level. Lyn reappears and Kent apologizes for blocking the road. Kent thinks he recognizes Lyn, but Sain ruins the moment by getting angry at Kent for trying to cockblock him. Lyn storms off, and apparently I hang around the knights for a while again for no given reason. Kent's even more pissed at Sain now, though, because he was being serious. Sain seems boggled at the notion that someone could have motive for talking to a woman other than picking her up, to which Kent finally explodes, "I am NOT you!!!" I'm really torn here as to whether I want these guys to be the enemies for this level so I can kill Sain, or my army's first recruits so I can keep Kent around, but it's looking like the former when Kent explains that she's the object of their mission.
Outside of town (wait, what happened to buying supplies? Did it happen off-camera? I don't get any say in what we bought? Argh.) Lyn is accosted by an ugly lump of man with a stupid laugh who calls her Lyndis and has been paid to kill her. A small force of bandits appears, but Kent and Sain catch up and offer their assistance. Lyn doesn't really want their help (despite bemoaning that there were too many for her to take on alone not a moment ago), but agrees to let them join the fight when Kent offers to submit to my commands on the field.
Apparently we're still in Scripted Tutorial Mode
, and Sain wants to show off to Lyn by leading the attack, which annoys me even more coming so soon after that debacle with the mining probe the other day. On the upside, maybe if I get Flint to play through this on his own later it'll drive the point home better than I managed to in debriefing. The tutorial takes this opportunity to warn me that Lyn's death results in a Game Over, which confirms that she's the real main character of this game, but I don't really mind at this point.
Once again, I don't really get to choose my own actions. I have to follow the scripted battle and lead with Sain, who flubs the attack and gets an axe in the head for his trouble. Kent chews Sain out for not taking the fight seriously enough
, at which Sain admits that being blase about his screw up is just a cover for true incompetence, because he brought no sword. Kent passes him a spare sword of his own and offers to make up for his companion's screw-up. The tutorial confirms that this game does have a typical weapons triad model like that used in all the SS titles, but obviously with different weapon classes. Here, it goes sword>axe>lance>sword, with bows excluded.
Kent takes a nice chunk out of the first bandit, and Lyn finishes him off, ending my turn. A pair of bandits advance on me for the entirety of theirs, and on my next Sain wants another chance to prove himself. Alas, I'm still scripted and can't make him withdraw, so instead he flubs another attack. I'd feel worse for him being the Butt Monkey
of this level, but he really has made himself out to be asking for it thus far. Kent explains terrain advantages, another feature I'm familiar with from SS, and had guessed were in place here due to the cursor displaying stats for ground tiles. Kent goes on to make up for Sain's screw up again, so Lyn decides to let the two of them handle that bandit and goes off to engage another on her own. The first bandit attacks Kent on his turn, and the other merely advances further.
On my turn, Sain hasn't yet realized he was injured in his first failed attack, and Lyn reluctantly offers him a healing potion (hang on, we were supposed to be buying supplies in Bulgar, but there's nothing here we didn't have at the end of the prologue!). Sain is quick to drop the gallant act when she appears to change her mind. The tutorial text here is once again overbearing, apparently convinced I'm too stupid to figure out how to so much as press the up and down keys to move the cursor up and down the list, I kid you not. At least it gives me enough choice to give Sain the healing potion (Vulneraries, in this game) that she'd already used in the last chapter. Another mechanic is introduced here, that cavalry units can move a second time on their turn if they haven't attacked, which makes them analogous to vehicle units in SS in the earlier games.
After Sain unnecessarily wastes a vuln on hardly any damage, the scripted battles makes me... wait, really? Excellent, the scripting is over! I actually have full control of my units now, even if it's only Kent and Lyn. The remaining bandits as well as the boss (whose name I forgot to get) are mopped up easily by the pair after a couple turns. I intended to let Lyn score the boss kill, but a lucky hit on his part led me to giving it to Kent, ending the level.
After the fight I'm treated to another still image of Lyn with the two knights and their horses, with my character's profile half-visible on the edge of the screen. Kent explains that they come from the province of Caelin in the country of Lycia in search of their lord's daughter and her family. Ugh, royalty. Alright, so revise my plot prediction: the bandits will have been hired by the Lycian aristocracy who are in turn working for the dragons, because Aristocrats Are Evil
(Truth in Television
right there, of course). Here's hoping I don't get hit with a Gerard scenario and have to kill Kent later on when his royalist brainwashing kicks in over his friendship with the rest of my team.
Anyway, the knights are looking for the marquess's daughter, Madelyn, whom he disowned after she eloped with a Sacaen nomad almost twenty years ago. He received a letter from his daughter last year, however, that told him of an 18 year old granddaughter bearing his lost wife's name (no points for guessing what that name is). The gesture soothed his heart, and he wishes to meet this girl. Obvious Trap
if I ever saw one, but naturally Lyn and I have to walk into it
. Kent explains that he recognized Lyn from her mother's portrait
in the castle back home. Lyn is overwhelmed at the discovery that she has family again, which I suppose is understandable after six months totally alone following her parents' deaths.
Lyn recalls that the bandit called her by her full name when he first appeared, leading Sain to jump to the conclusion that a Lord Lundgren, the marquess's younger brother, is behind the attacks in an attempt to secure the succession for himself
. So not only is Sain an idiot
, he's the marquess's plant
to throw us off his trail. I'd better kill him off in battle at first opportunity.... Kent either buys Sain's deduction or is in on it, and insists that Lyn travel to Caelin to sort the mess out under his and Sain's protection. After another one-sided conversation with a fake choice
, my non-character agrees to accompany Lyn to Caelin before the screen fades out.
Watch your back tonight, Lyn. Sain may be creeping into your tent to try and stab you in the back, in one sense or another