Monday, June 23, 2014

Skyrim Mod Review - M'rissi - A Tail of Troubles

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Review:
M'rissi - A Tale of Troubles v1.2.2

Score: +2/-4, playthrough aborted -- too irritating to continue playing, lost faith in mod author's ability

When the author starts by saying, "At first I was planning to do a catgirl comedy, but the story happens to became more serious, lorefriendly and sometimes sad. There are still some cat jokes, though", it is a bad sign. Why? Because somewhere along the way they changed the script and ambiance -- they lost focus, and the story suffered. You'll see this in the dialogue and how the story progresses.
+ Voiceovers. The voiceovers are sometimes quite soft in volume, so unless you want to repeatedly reload, just turn on subtitles -- which some people don't like to do because it causes you to start reading subtitles instead of looking at the character talking to you. Also, the mod's subtitles don't always match the actual voiceovers, which further distracts you from the story. For the most part, however, the voiceovers are fine.
+ Unexpected events. The story is basically linear, but there are a few unexpected events to keep things interesting. It isn't a boring go-here-fetch/kill sequence.
- Takes over your character. There is basically only one dialogue option, which you have no choice but to click on. Unlike vanilla Skyrim which has neutral topics to pursue and in that way generally does not assume anything about your character's personality, this mod gives you a line to say. More than that, it assumes that you are a wisecracking thinks-they-are-funny sort of person prone to occasional callous murder. You can see how the author started / tried to do a "catgirl comedy" by making your character supply the humour, but overall this choice in how dialogue is handled is very presumptuous and irritating.
- Text dump. There's a point during the main quest "Total Recall" where you are asked to read a journal. It is very long. The story presented is not particularly well described. It is also highly implausible. This sort of text dump and unnecessarily long-winded explanation should have been cut and changed to something more straightforward or at least more "show" and less "tell". Any traumatic story would have sufficed, but instead the author tries to demonstrate how clever they are at storytelling, only to provide a narrative that is confused and inappropriate.
- False options. Some options are essentially quest-stoppers, which is completely pointless in a mod that you can uninstall. The only reason for getting this mod is to either get a human-faced khajiit companion (in which case you probably won't care to do her quest), or to follow the quest. Options where you essentially abort the quest early are pointless. All that does is force the player to reload. And if they didn't have an earlier save to roll back to, they now have to uninstall and reinstall the mod to try again.
For example, (and since this is in the FAQ for the mod, it's not that big a spoiler), it is possible to make a "wrong" choice and restore M'rissi's memory, thus turning her into a mental vegetable. The author basically tells you to reload and try a different choice. Two problems with this: First, why bother giving the choice in the first place if they are going to have to reload if they choose one of the paths? Second, and more importantly, why lock the player into the limited choice when a reasonable person would have had a different and more reasonable response.
- Scaling problems. The first boss can hit you with a lightning spell for over 200 if not close to 300 (?) damage with a single cast -- that is just an estimate based on the level 21 character I playtested with, who had 300 base Health plus minor bonuses. According to the FAQ, if you are having problems, the mod author recommends using Paralysis poisons or effects. There are numerous issues with this response, not the least being that the author is recommending not just a very specific solution, but also a very cheesy one. Boss fights are not particularly interesting if you have to cheese your way through it. The main issue, however, is that the mod author is too lazy to adjust the boss character by levelling them better.

I basically decided to abort playing this mod after Total Recall, given how the mod author handled various aspects of the mod. Overall I was feeling irritated and lost faith in there being a fulfilling resolution.

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