Every hack and gash bled numbers. Ones and zeros, fives and niners. 272. 70. 199, even a CRITICAL 426. As the colour-cycling wracked the sprite's animation and the dither-fade kicked in, I hummed along to the victory ditty, letting out a reserved smile. Maybe now the plot would actually advance.

I'd searched the maps and exhausted every dialogue branch and wasn't getting anywhere. I'll be the first to admit there wasn't all that much ground to cover in the latter. It is always almost depressing to find out the very finite nature of interacting with mindless drones, regardless of their status in the plot. With a total of about five pre-programmed replies to blurt out regardless of the query, and virtually no depth beyond raising his apparently-grafted beer bottle every now and then, the scintillating self-evidence of sloppy scenario writing shone through the monochrome automaton portraying my father with every worthless idle gesture. Whatever the hell it was all about, it sure wasn't developed by Black Isle.

Ultimately, enough time had been spent on the puzzle; Clutching at straws would ensue. I checked my interaction menu. The command wasn't greyed out. Had it ever been, earlier? Now the solution felt obvious, and only a slight unease would remain. Plot advance might spawn adversaries. It may even reprogram all the other NPCs, so I had better get equipped for whatever follows. It might be very linear for awhile.

Now only the boss fight itself needed realization; I would be ready for enemies. They can't even case "DOOM" in these parts, can they? Hope I'll level up. I chose the glowering command: ATTACK.


This is pure irony and provocation, by the way. The first thing I ever wrote about what happened to me, it's idiosyncratic of me to take the ironic route even under dire circumstances. Knowing me I probably would've intended for this to be the only text on the subject. I'm glad I've gotten myself to open up more.