I think I’m going to have to kill Bastila. I take her on most missions because her Heal is immensely useful, and so far I haven’t bothered to build Juhani up the same way, but in addition to her general waspishness in dialogue, she’s developed a less-than-endearing quirk in combat: Running around like a headless chicken. Earlier she broke off attacking the enemy who had about a quarter health left to charge at a closed door and open it. I’m pretty sure that opening random doors is only that important if you’re a cat. Usually I can just pause and redirect her at what she’s supposed to be doing, but if I’m managing abilities on another character, I’m not always quick enough to react before she decides to aggro something that was minding its own business rather than continuing to hit the thing she was already fighting.
I’ve probably also gone a little too far into tankiness with Alora. I have an absurd number of hit points, but my damage is a bit pants. I’m working to balance that out now and with just two feats there’s a noticeable improvement, so hopefully I’ll be able to strike the right balance before I arrive at the endgame. There have been a couple of fights which were close scrapes, but only one which has resulted in defeat and reload. It took three goes, but taking my vengeance was fun.
I’m 20 hours in and I still don’t think the endgame is that close, which is no complaint as I’m having an unexpected amount of fun. Why unexpected? Well, because the game is a bit barebones by 2017, spoiled by later Bioware RPG standards, but after a while I stop really noticing the small zones, awkward zone boundaries, and flickery loading screens, because I’m really interested in seeing where these characters go. I did get spoiled on one twist regarding my character’s memory when I looked up a side quest that was being elusive, but it didn’t actually come as a huge shock — I likely wouldn’t have gotten there on my own due to certain assumptions I was making about names and gender, but Bastila and the Council’s heavy-handed nagging about the Dark Side were a significant clue that my origins probably weren’t all sweetness and light.
So, led by visions shared with Bastila about Revan and Malak’s discovery of the Star Forge, the Dantooine story concluded with me finding a piece of the map that they used and being sent to locate the other pieces on four different planets: Kashyyyk, Korriban, Manaan, and Tatooine. You can tackle them in any order you like, so I opted for Tatooine first, being fond of deserts (and Jawas). It was better looking and a bit more seamless than Dantooine, and I enjoyed that the main thrust of the plot there humanises the Sand People a little and gives an insight into their history, without actually making them any less xenophobic. And the Jawas are super cute.
I basically played through the planet in one sitting, despite a huge backtrack when a companion’s quest sent me right back to the furthest reaches of the zones I’d just been through. Talk to your companions more often than I do, folks. I was going to head to Kashyyyk next, but got a quest that pointed to Manaan, so off I went.
Manaan is a water world. Here’s the thing. I absolutely hate water. I don’t know if I’d call it a phobia, but it’s certainly a fear. I get cold and breathless when I watch depictions of deep water. There was a bit in Guild Wars 2 once where a guildmate and I started swimming towards a point of interest underwater, and the water turned black. I noped on out of there as fast as I could, feeling all clammy. My idea of horror is watching Blue Planet. So the idea of a water world wasn’t filling me with joy, but I was pleased to see that it all seemed to take place in a mostly-enclosed floating city…
Until I found a Republic NPC who went ‘we built something at the bottom of the ocean that we shouldn’t have, and now you’re going to have to go down there and bail our asses out; oh, and the thing you’re looking for is probably down there too’. Well, fuck. Cue me shuffling along the seabed with one eye shut muttering ‘this is not okay this is not okay this is not okay…’ while zapping giant sharks. Who are only the babies of the much gianter shark that I’m apparently going to have to deal with, and I can’t just poison the damn thing from behind a nice safe computer control because that will potentially contaminate the kolto supply and I’m trying to do a Light Side playthrough. Double fuck.
I did actually encounter one situation that I thought was morally ambiguous and ended up accidentally getting some Dark Side points from choosing what I thought was a compassionate solution, but the game and I apparently differ on the definition of compassionate. Call me crazy, but I think that telling someone you don’t know what happened to their sexbot is kinder than sending a sapient, if mechanical, being back into sexual slavery. Still, given I previously complained about the lack of moral ambiguity and situations in which the Dark Side choice would actually be tempting to someone who isn’t the Joker, I guess it was nice to find a situation in which the right choice was actually unclear.
Given I’m taking my time to talk to every NPC and hunt down every side quest, and I’m at the 20 hour mark with at least two planets left to go, I think it’s unlikely my total playtime will come to under 30 hours. So this is the end of my 20-hour challenge, but not the end of my game, and I’ll probably do at least one addendum to this post to detail the remainder of my playthrough before I move on to my next 20-hour challenge (which will likely be Sunless Sea).