Hindsight: The Sword Coast Pt. 1

As it happened, I was doing a favor for my grandmother restoring her laptop. They had created a recovery disc set which, to my knowledge, is a normal procedure. What I did not expect however is that it consisted of 15 CDs! And while I was sitting there, swapping discs I came to think of Baldur’s Gate. I wished that I hadn’t lost it somewhere, or scratched up all of the discs. However, later that day the Enhanced Edition was on sale on Steam. €4 for a great chunk of my childhood. Soon I decided to rediscover the Sword Coast and the Bhaal spawn. The main question being, does it still stand?

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The Enhanced Edition has had a face-lift in the menus, and I realize when I create my new character that all of the features in Shadows of Amn is in place. The character creation process is a fragile process, and I have to start over several times. I remember always picking a mage back then, and a paladin for Shadows of Amn due to the number of vampires you have to face. This time, I wanted to try out something I never tried before. It turned out as an Elf Archer. I’ve never had a character using bows for some reason. As I am to find out, it is highly beneficial.

I hurry through Candlekeep. I’ve been there so many times trying out so many of the classes. As I am playing a Lawful Good Character this time, I won’t kill any guards for their plate mails. Thorondil is bugged and won’t speak to me. Imoen and Gorions voices are so familiar. English not being my native language, some of the sounds didn’t make sense at all to the younger version of me. “Nestled atop the cliffs.”  For example, the first sound that you hear as you start the game didn’t make any sense to me. But still it brings back those feelings now that I understand what it was all about. An thinking about it just makes me want to reroll a new character. But then there would be no revisit.

Using all of the original textures and enabling scrolling was good enough of a compromise. The zooming creates two problems. The first being that the ground looks awful zoomed out, every texture minimized separately creating a weird pattern. The second is the much smaller areas that you have to hit.

I meet Khalid and Jaheira at the Friendly Arm Inn, and I know that it is to help new players finding characters to make up the fellowship, but most good characters are stuck with baggage. Like Khalid, he’s useless, and I guess that the game jokes about that fact. You keep him, and Jaheria since they were with you from the beginning. Making my way down south to Nashkel I meet Neera, one of the new characters, a wild mage femme fatale. And Minsc! Oh, there is nothing to hate about the ranger turned berserk with his giant miniature space hamster. Minsc, and Boo bring life to the game. It must be one of the greatest characters ever written. “Butt-kicking for goodness” and “Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!” and “Ahh… We are all heroes; you and Boo and I. Hamsters and rangers everywhere, rejoice!” are a few of the great quotes that they gives us.

minsc

Adding Minsc to my party posed a problem though. He comes with baggage. He desires to save Dynaheir whom he is supposed to be a body guard for, part of the Dejemma thingy. Nobody really cares, there is greater glory in the copany of Alorin. Trying to push away these thoughts I pursue the strange events of the Nashkel mine. Killing Mulahey is a lot easier than I remember it. And I don’t care about Xan, even though he has a cool flaming sword.

Down in the mine I am also struck by the unforgiving nature of the game. The first trap that most people walk into will kill you instantly. I recognize that there is a tutorial section now, but the game is generally unforgiving. Which is good really, I feel like we are in a time where the game has to teach you as it goes or have a tutorial. It kind of makes you stupid, or makes you feel that way. The tricks are so obvious if you know what to look for. Perched birds that fly away if the game is progressing as it should, tall ledges that you fall from so you know you can’t go back, the list goes on and it makes you sick playing a game where you see all these signs. GO THIS WAY –> (This is not a hint). That’s something to make a game about, go ahead steal the idea.

Using the Dungeon and Dragons rules makes you level up every now and then, as opposed to the games today where leveling up is all you ever do. If a character dies, you have to carry them back to a temple and pay for a resurrection. And your characters need to be at least level 9 to learn it, if they know priest spells.

Back to Dynaheir, I go to save her. Killing all the gnolls are easy as Minsc has them as his racial enemy. When we get up to save her she asks to join us, and I tell her no. Minsc leaves. This is a dilemma, I thought that I would play this game differently than usual. I still want to have this Wild Mage, never played one. A thought creeps up on me. From somewhere deep down. It might be from the part of me that is spawn of the God of Murder. What if, she did not exist. Surely that would solve things. I select my character and aim an arrow at her.

The arrow sings through the air and burrows deep in her flesh. Dynaheirs body falls lifeless to the floor. The silence and anticipation is thick.

Nothing. No reputation loss, not much loot. I talk to Minsc, who stood by her side as she fell. He is willing to join us again. I guess that hit to his head did more than I thought to his mind.

And I was that much closer to becoming what I was destined to become.

Now back to the ADVENTURE! Bobo, go get your own toilet paper, or send Gabe. I won’t be back for a while, I have a great work to do.

-Ken

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