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Thirith

Missed a trick with Marek? ***ACT II SPOILERS***

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Just finished the game, and I'm torn between thinking it's a wonderfully charming adventure and being disappointed, mostly in terms of story and characterisation. I don't regret backing this for one second , but I have to admit that I kinda see where John Walker was coming from in his thoughts on the game, at least in 90% of all cases - though I disagree with the vehemence of what he wrote.

Anyway, before I elaborate on what disappointed me most, I still want to say this: I enjoyed the game, I enjoyed playing it and finding out what happens next. The art is beautiful, as is the music - and I love how much affection Double Fine put into this. Having just finished the documentary too, I would very much want to Hug Attack each and everyone of you from over here in Switzerland. If you ever make your way here, I'd be happy to treat you to a glass of something and some of that gorgeous chocolate we have. :-)

On to the more critical stuff, though... Obviously this is a matter of opinion, but I think it's a big shame how Marek is written in the second half of the game, for two reasons:

1) In Act 1 he seems cleverly set up as a version of Mom that is more palatable to teenaged Shay. His tasks aren't that different from hers, he's also making Shay do busywork at no personal risk to the boy, but he packages them in a narrative of danger, responsibility and "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and that includes some hard decisions." Yet nothing ever comes of this parallel.

2) I find the Thrush underwritten anyway, and visually they're not particularly interesting. Wolf Marek is more mysterious, ambiguous and interesting than Marekai. Nevertheless, there's the interesting fact that other than the other Thrush he sees the appeal both in Shay and in Vella. He's intrigued by them and finds himself drawn to their personalities, where the rest of the Thrush see them at best as means to an end. IMO it would've been considerably more interesting to explore this side of him, to keep him ambivalent - is he a friend, is he a foe, is he undecided, and your actions may push him in either direction? Instead the story strips him of the things that made him fascinating and shows no interest in doing anything other with him than making him a disappointingly generic villain.

What do others think?

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Firstly, this thread should probably have a big ol' SPOILER warning in the title...

Well ,with 1) I would say that nothing needs to come of that parallel - after all, you spotted and analysed it! So did I - in fact, I suspected there would be a twist that Marek was simply a more sophisticated yarn pal. I'm sure the player is supposed to suspect this. But once it turns out not to be true, the irony is still there that Shay escaped his fake space-hero adventures only to be fed a new one. I think that's interesting enough without becoming a narrative point.

With 2) I don't know that I saw that stuff about Marek being so personally involved in Shay and Vella. I think the Thrush are 'under-written' but in a way that feels like a conscious choice - they suddenly appear halfway through and are this unknowable, barely interactable manipulative force and Marek becomes a Star Trek villain on a screen. Honestly, I don't find them as immediately satisfying a villain as, say, Ripburger, but I feel like these tricks were missed on purpose.

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Good point re: 1). Nevertheless, I think for me it would've improved things to see this referenced in Act II, in whatever way; as it was, it felt like a fairly relevant theme was pretty much dropped.

As far as 2 is concerned, it may well have been done like that on purpose - but then whatever point was made by this passed me by. Marek was one of my favourite characters in Act I, and in Act II I lost most interest in him. For the overall plot to work, there was no need to reduce him to a more generic villain, so for me it was a net loss. Perhaps I'm missing something in terms of the game's themes, though - the way Mom and Dad change from one thing to another and the way Marek does, perhaps these are connected and can reflect on each other.

What do people think?

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I likes me a good villain, and was glad at least that there was an attempt to explain the motivations of Marek and the Thrush. It's difficult to manage the infodump that caused, and I think that was handled better than I expected. My personal feeling was that the themes introduced by the eugenics subplot were a bit strange -- but this game has so many eccentric ingredients, I'm hardly going to dwell on that.

We get a taste of the people and politics "beyond the plague dam". We dock there, stay on the ships, and very quickly find our adventure complete. It's like we were never really meant to go there. (Or, quite reasonably, the scope of the game prevented it.)

Marek is perhaps TOO well acted, and his introduction made him as interesting to players as he must have seemed to Shay. Despite being willing to bide his time for years, and play dress-up to advance his agenda, and having deep connections with the Thrushmaster, he turns out to be a fairly "disposable" villain.

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This. I thought exactly this. I was SURE Marek was just the adolescent version of Yarn Pals (Yarn Pals: The Yarnening?) and the secret was going to be Shay discovering why his mother didn't really want him to grow up. Then when Act 2 came about, I was just like, oh, ok. Guess that was just misdirection? Or maybe a missed opportunity.

Still enjoyed the game, but definitely wanted to +1 your idea, cuz I thought the same thing while playing.

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