Mechanical Anatomy

I recognize that my posts here haven't had much consistency to them and I hope you guys don't mind. I'm driven to write about what's interesting to me at the moment to keep it entertaining for me and you, hopefully.

So, in light of last entry lambasting the grind, I want to talk about a mechanic that I think works WONDERS. And it's a small one but I love it.

I started playing Pillars of Eternity recently and though I'm only a few hours in and I can tell I love it. It's essentially made for me in a season of games made for me (Bloodborne's Lovecrafty stuff, of course). And when I try to think of what is so impressive about it, I keep coming back to one very small thing.

See, resting is important in any RPG. JRPGs give you tents and savepoints and plentiful consumables to shore you up between towns. WRPGs are different. Dungeons are longer, consuables are pricier and often don't restore spells/mana. In Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale, etc, resting isn't handled very well. They need to make it a risk or else you'd do it after every battle and a string of fights that stretched your resources so thin would be exhausting. But resting needs to be effective or there's no point. The way those games handle it is a die roll. And I'm just now realizing that sucks.

See, in those games, you rest when you are hurt but you mostly rest when you need spells. And often, when resting in a dangerous location, you have a good chance of having your sleep interrupted by a monster. This makes sense in the fiction but fails in the game sense and the execution. In a game sense, it's overly harsh. You're resting because you're at the end of your rope and waking up, unrested, is a kick while you're down. Your casters are still useless and everyone is likely still hurt.

What this means is you quick save before hand and reload if it doesn't work. I can't figure out another way around this. And if there is a situation that has a binary solution and requires little player input or skill and you're quicksaving around it, it may as well not be there. It's as bad as grinding. It's a waste of time.

Pillars of Eternity makes resting a consumable in and of itself, while simultaneously healing most damage after battles automatically. What this means is that, though your characters can eventually be so worn down as to require rest, its rare. You can go a lot more encounters before needing it so being able to rest four times in a dungeon isn't a big deal. And you can find more consumables to extend that number. To top that off, casters have some at will/free encounter powers that make them useful even if they're tapped out.

This is great. It changes the way you approach dungeons. You're still gambling that you can take on one more room but your ability to do so is skill/tactic dependant rather than luck dependant. You have a good shot, even if you've been around the block, so to speak. Save scumming, a mechanic I generally defend in those games, is no longer necessary for this formality and instead can be relegated to trying different tactics for major encounters.

This isn't totally unique. One of my favorite games this year, Darkest Dungeon, did something very similar. In that game, you can be awoken to monsters but 1, it's part of enforcing exactly how brutal that game is and 2, it's AFTER you've recovered your resources so you take on that rude awakening at full strength.

This is likely to end up in a much larger review of the game on Comrade and as a Bside to a future Infinity Engineers entry (coming back soon, I promise!) but I had it on the mind and wanted to get it out.

Love you baes.