The Shadowy Forest does seem like a natural continuation of the environment seen in the Besieged Farmlands. It is the home of the Romany and the Drăculeşti, and in the ramshackle caravan camp the fate of the war with the vampire army of Mara will be decided.
The zone is not as visually impressive as the Besieged Farmlands, mainly due to the fact that all the trees obscure much of the view. There are still some fantastic individual locations in the area though, whether it be the church and Drăculeşti graveyard that looks like its walked straight off the set of a Tim Burton movie, the ruined Drăculeşti village, or the creepy Dimir farm.
The Shadow Forest is packed with memorable characters and the writing is some of the best I've yet encountered. The section of the main quest where you have to persuade Octavian (it's hinted that he may in fact be Gaius Cassius Longinus, the Immortal Centurion of legend) to help in your quest to raise Vlad Dracula is brilliantly written and voice-acted.
His internal struggle to overcome his bitterness and frustration at being trapped in a septuagenarian body and just wanting to end it all was moving and profound. The resolution in him finally admitting his love for a young girl over 50 years younger is beautifully played. In fact, the whole relationship between Emilia and Octavian is so well drawn.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity."It's refreshing to see such a relationship portrayed so sensitively and there is no doubt that their love is real, despite the huge difference in age. Emilia is well written too, a strong female character in her own right (something TSW excels at, probably due to Ragnar Tørnquist's involvement as he has always written strong, powerful and realistic female characters).
But what if your life is eternal? What becomes of the echoes?
I'll tell you. I'll tell you!
They thunder and roar. They become deafening reminders of your failures.
They remind you that you once stood with the blood of murdered friends on your hands, and that it was all for naught. And when you've listened long enough, you realise there's no absolution, no redemption. No point to any of it.
So don't tell me how we can change the world, and how I am needed.
This world has nothing left to offer me, nothing worth saving, and I couldn't care less if it all burned.
Just leave me alone...
|Octavian is already one of my favourite characters. Plus he wields a mean axe!|
My liking of the gruff, honourable old man was probably helped by the fact that his character really reminded me of Druss from David Gemell's books, a particular favourite character of mine.
The area also had some other fantastic characters. Silviu Dimir and his mother Olga are memorable villains. Their home-made sausages are full of special stuff, and they make a genuinely creepy pair. There are also plenty of characters straight out of Romanian myth, such as The Iele and Moşul as well as the usual werewolves and vampires.
The main storyline is getting really interesting now, though I still don't have a completely clear picture of what is happening. I know that Mara (Dracula's bride? partner?) is breeding a new army of vampires using soviet technology, and that a trio of heroes was prophesied to stop her. The Owl (Cucuvea), the Dragon (Vlad Dracula) and the Eagle (Octavian) worked together to plan her defeat in some manner, and it seems to involve raising Dracula's spirit in some way. Oh, and they all seem to have some connection to the mysterious "Sixty-Four" that I heard of in Egypt. It all kind of makes sense, honest!
The main impression came away with of the questing in the Shadowy Forest is how bloody difficult it is! I thought the Besieged Farmlands had some tough quests, but many (possibly the majority) of the quests in the Shadowy Forest are labelled as "hard", and they ain't kidding! I now have a build than can solo many of these, but I still needed to group up to get some of them done. The enemies are starting to have more new attacks and defences that you need to overcome, and it certainly keeps you on your toes.
I certainly enjoyed my time in the Shadowy Forest, but it was again a step up in difficulty in some regards. The story is really gathering momentum now and I'm looking forwards to seeing how it works out when I travel to the Carpathian Mountains, the final PvE zone of the game.
|Don't eat the mushrooms!|