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The Sacrifice

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I played Broken Age, the Vella part up to the cloud-world and I was really really shocked by the sacrifice scene.

It seems like it's normal for the family /villagers to lost lives for that beast. Death is nothing special.

"We'll miss your sense of humor" ... but it's such a great honor to be sacrificed for that creepy chowhound!! Really?

Dad is proud. Little sister doesn't really know what to expect or finds joy in Vella's misfortune (Schadenfreude).

Why certainly! Grandma takes it for granted!

Only Grandpa and Vella herself feel that something is wrong here. Although... Vella almost gladly put on her cupcake-costume later. Hey, Happy Cadaver Carnival everybody! "Can I take a sip from your bottle?" ... "Yes, just take it! I don't need it where I'm going!" Slusssshhh

And how dedicated to a feast/sacrifice/religion can a mother be?

The whole family should burst out in tears knowing that their most precious member is going to be wasted for moggie mog.

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The creepy cheeriness is very much intended and the old woman isn't her grandma -- she's the organiser of the whole event. If you prod the scene a bit more closely, you can tell that the family is actually deeply conflicted about the whole affair.

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The family seems to be conflicted, but not deep enough for the fact that Vella will be sacrificed imho. The only deep conflict I see is the mother who can not find her knife fast enough, so that the entire ceremony can start more quickly and her daughter can be gladly munched to death.

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It's a great honour to be sacrificed, no matter how barbaric it seems. For a start, you're sacrificing yourself in order to save your family, friends, home town. It's understandable that they'd revere such people. Additionally there seems to be a romantic notion that maybe, just maybe, it doesn't mean death -- or at least, that's how I read it.

The bottom line is that while, everyone is going along with it, and putting on a brave face, you can bet that Vella's family will be distraught once she's gone.

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It's a great honour to be sacrificed, no matter how barbaric it seems. For a start, you're sacrificing yourself in order to save your family, friends, home town. It's understandable that they'd revere such people. Additionally there seems to be a romantic notion that maybe, just maybe, it doesn't mean death -- or at least, that's how I read it.

The bottom line is that while, everyone is going along with it, and putting on a brave face, you can bet that Vella's family will be distraught once she's gone.

While I found the excitement over it to be pretty unsettling, I liked the quick change in expression the family shows once the Mog actually appears.

The facade drops for just a moment.

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I just see it as a coping mechanism. They've been forced into this very uncomfortable arrangement. They can live in its shadow, an existence of fear, or they can attempt to internalise it until not only is it acceptable, it's celebrated. They're kidding themselves, which shows when they are actually forced to confront questions about it, and see the reality of the thing for itself, but it's what gets them through it.

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Additionally there seems to be a romantic notion that maybe, just maybe, it doesn't mean death -- or at least, that's how I read it.

It means immortality, actually. One of the maidens even says that they will be remembered forever as heroes. The town probably puts up statues and whatnot.

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It means immortality, actually. One of the maidens even says that they will be remembered forever as heroes. The town probably puts up statues and whatnot.

No, that means death. I picked on the notion that they don't know for sure if the maidens die or not -- The organizer lady talks about how they're taken back to beyond the Plague Dam... as if she'd still be alive. Probably a kind of willful ignorance on her part, I think.

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Yeah, taken beyond the Plague Dam... in the monster's belly. Nah, the hag knows very well what's what.

I didn't mean literal immortality, just the kind available to regular humans.

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SORTOF SPOILER AHEAD:

OMFG! "Plague Dam" = Quarantine zone! Where Marek put the "creatures" (who were obviously the maidens)

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The tone of the Maidens Feast was inspired by Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery, which for some reason you can read for free here: http://sites.middlebury.edu/individualandthesociety/files/2010/09/jackson_lottery.pdf

But reading it now you kind of have the ending spoiled, so read it later when your older and have forgotten about this post!

Okay, that's enough time. Read it now.

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SPOILER AHEAD:

I think the sacrifice is something even weirder than expected. Let me explain what I can piece together. Mogs come from beyond the Plague Dam. What is this plague, how does it manifests? My suspicion is that people infected by this plague cannot live longer than 15 years or something like that. Arguments: Shay's ship and the Mog are the same thing, there are NO living adults on the ship, there is a kind of urgent need for the Mog to come every 14 years for new maidens. So, the purpose of the Mog is to facilitate the breeding of Shay's people. It's the only way they can preserve their knowledge and culture. All other settlements that are outside of the plague zone seem primitive and affected by magic (talking trees) and the evolution-halting effects of magic. After a selected maiden gives birth to a new boy, that boy will commandeer the ship-Mog, the maiden will shortly die because of the plague and her mind will be transferred into the Mom computer program, while Shay will be transferred into Dad. So the sacrifice implies death but it's not an immediate death (it's through exposure to the plague). Also, what the old lady said is true: the maiden will be carried (alive) in the Mog's "belly".

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The tone of the Maidens Feast was inspired by Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery, which for some reason you can read for free here: http://sites.middlebury.edu/individualandthesociety/files/2010/09/jackson_lottery.pdf

But reading it now you kind of have the ending spoiled, so read it later when your older and have forgotten about this post!

Okay, that's enough time. Read it now.

Gruesome story. Even though I knew it wasn't going to end well it still made me feel very uneasy after reading it. The ending reminds me of South Park's episode Britney's New Look, but that I mostly remember as 'the harvest'.

To get rid of these disturbing feelings I'm going to pretend now everything's fine just like those happy villagers, and simply think of three-legged stools and 'cheerful' Broken Age ;-)

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I understand the explanations given for why the family doesn't seem more taken aback by what's happening, but for me this is one of the flaws in the game's writing/storytelling, both of which I generally like a lot. There's simply too much of a contrast for me between Vella's attitude and that of pretty much everyone else. If we'd seen more cracks in the veneer or her family's apparent happiness at her being chosen, if we'd got a feel that there's a full range of responses to the situation, I would have found it easier to buy into it - but as it is, Vella's rebelliousness seems to be motivated primarily by her being the main character, which isn't enough to make it fully credible or to make the others' consent in what's happening credible.

I was wondering how this could have been improved for me, and in the end I think it could have been addressed e.g. with more hints that Vella's rejection of her culture's horrific tradition came from somewhere other than "Oh, well, she's a strong character", perhaps that it developed over time and was prompted by something other than her function in the story. Again, we have hints why she might have become a bit of a rebel (e.g. her grandfather), but I don't think this is presented as well as ideally it would've been.

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I too agree with Thirith!

This is a fundamental problem and since I started with Vella, it colored my whole perception of the game a bit negatively.

Vella needs to have more of a confrontation with her universe, like Shay does. It would explain her determination.

Another pretty fundamental thing is that Vella would be stronger if she were more impatient, in a funny way. If she showed more anger.

Right now Vella deals with the monster emotionally like how a normal person deals with a seriously annoying problem, like, say, you can't get your car out of the parking because someone has parked in front of it. But that is not how you feel when confronted with a monster that is going to eat you because it blackmails your whole universe.

Her weird lack of any other emotion than determination is vaguely funny, but somehow it doesn't seem like the storyteller (yes, You, Tim!) is aware of this, because there's not really a point being made of it.

Because of that, Vella (and Tim) kind of lost me at the start of her story, although I love the way her universe looks and feels.

Now what I would consider engaging behavior by determined people, is the way my own wife deals with something trivial like a midge at night. Midges really freak her out. Whenever in the deep, dark silent night I hear this soft 'eeeeee'-sound coming from somewhere and nowhere, I think: come, drink a bit, you're welcome - but I know that my wife thinks differently and tonight is going to be WAR. She turns on ALL the lights. Looks up various weapons like pillows and racket like things and hides in a corner of the room, totally tense, with eyes like a hawk.

If my wife had stood before the monster, she would have stood there with the same determination as Vella, but she would have let you *feel* her determination via lots of anger against the beast and big, big heaps of unhidden sarcasm towards the other girls. (Yes, I fucking love my wife!)

I know Vella is a lot more introverted, but I think she still needs to *show* her angry determination more emotionally, at least to the player, and have it explained in a way Thirith suggests above.

As for Shay, it would be nice if one of the adventures in the very beginning would allow him to become really furious for a while and molest things, so he feels a great relief ('Whoa, that was good'). Right now he expresses his anger only in a passive way (boredom). The ride where he can let his agression out would also be the one he at least enjoys a bit. Maybe some parody on 3D shooters. It would also feel good for the player and provide another way to connect with Shay.

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I think there are enough cracks in the veneer, actually, and repeat playings revealed more of them, I think - but I do agree that Vella's motivations feel a little underdeveloped. But it's not unsalvageable. If they play their cards right they can do a good job of placing her actions in better context in Act 2.

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The tone of the Maidens Feast was inspired by Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery, which for some reason you can read for free here: http://sites.middlebury.edu/individualandthesociety/files/2010/09/jackson_lottery.pdf

But reading it now you kind of have the ending spoiled, so read it later when your older and have forgotten about this post!

Okay, that's enough time. Read it now.

I got that vibe from the ceremony while playing DFBA. Great job on that!

Clarification: I read The Lottery before playing the game.

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Hmm. I thought Vella was pretty well done. She's determined, but also rather practical. She knows that a weapon is necessary to beat the Mog. She's also very willing to be brave for her family, she just disagrees on the manner in which it should be accomplished.

SPOILERS AHEAD (in case that's not a tag here. )

While it seems like she just gives up after escaping, a lot of chat options imply she believes her family may already be dead. So again, she's portrayed as practical almost to a fault. After some time of "I have to get back asap" has passed, she knows enough time has passed that either the mog already destroyed the city, or that isn't actually what will happen when a girl isn't eaten. From that point on the focus is on meeting the mog at its next location, preferably with a choice weapon.

Admittedly, she's a lot less talkative about all this, than say, Guybrush might be, but I took that as being quirks of her character. She's determined, and brave, and quite sure of her abilities at any point. I don't think she expends any ineffectual effort.

AGAIN, SPOILER. You are thrice warned.

Unless of course at the end, the mouth closed the usual way, rather than the dead thing settling way meaning it's still alive. There really were so many sorta small quirky crossover details, that I didn't expect the literal cross over at that point. I guess I was thinking more... double day of the tentacle. Super large time loop. Though it seemed some decisions were not as they were being made, so I thought perhaps there was more of a moebius alternate linked realities thing. The end of act made me sit and just wonder, then be pleasantly surprised that I could scroll the credits. All credits should do this. Sometimes you miss things. Rewinding is so VHS. Scroll is the way!

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