One of the (or THE?) most successful German game series, Gothic, is soon going into its fourth round (Release date is October 12, at least for the German version). After a lot of quarrel between publisher JoWood and developer PiranhaBytes, “Arcania” aka Gothic 4 was developed by Spellbound. That’s not what I’m going to discuss though – if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you can probably guess this is about GIRLS IN GAMES! First off though, let’s start with two points I want to make. [Spoiler Note: This post contains plot spoilers only for the Gothic 4 Demo.]
First point on the graphics: They are really pretty. I’m not usually this sparing with words I just quickly need to get to something I’ve never seen before: Gothic 4 features two color modes. A brighter “American” and a toned-down “European” mode. Do we like our grass less green here? And, is it really always greener on the other side? I haven’t really thought about this too much so far. But it’s a fascinating thought – tell me where you’re from and which you like better! (I’d include a poll WITHIN this post, but I don’t know how! I’ll start and say after a lot switching back and forth, I stuck with the less bright European mode. Here’s a split-screenshot for you to base your judgement on:
Left: European colors. Right: American colors.
[Update:] Here are two screenshots atop each other (The first one was kind of a bad choice because there is dirt to the left and grass to the right. Thanks Digiom for the comment!)
American mode top, European mode bottom
Second point. I often have trouble finding loot and items in the game worlds, and it gets worse the prettier and more detailed the graphics get. (I often tell other gamers that I like the (unique item) Plasma gun in Fallout 3 because it’s easier to spot the loot when it’s fluorescent green goo…) I often wished there were markers, or a Hint key, or something to make sure I didn’t miss something good. Gothic 4 has solved this problem very elegantly. It’s not simple markers. They’re animated, context-sensitive and very subtle. Items have a faint glow, herbs have butterflies circling them, and loot has….. yes, flies and swirling stink!
Left: Butterflies around herbs. Right: Ughhhhh.... what a smell!
But now, let’s get to the girly gist of this post! Yeehah! Something that has always bothered me about the series, is that it didn’t feature any women. Truth be told, I haven’t completed all of the them, but I can’t remember a single female character that bore any kind of significance to the story. If the demo is any indication, this is about to change radically: Meet Ivy! (And if you know the song my post title alludes to, you might grin at the notion that she already has a sun tan! I did!)
In ArcaniA, it’s a few years since the events of Gothic 3, and you’re a different Mystery Man than in the prequels, And you’re about to get married to Ivy during the Demo. I like her! She’s natural and very non-sexualized, probably still underweight, but let’s not get too bitchy, eh? (I just had dessert!)
To gain weight…. no, wait, that’s not it. To gain her father Gromar’s consent, he sends you to drive off a certain guy from your home island of Feshyr, and then get an engagement bracelet for Ivy.
The guy is good old Diego. “Old” in a literal fashion. “Diego the Grey”, as someone called him (would quote but can’t remember who it was. Really LOLed!) You’re friends and he taught you to fight, so you simply strike a deal to trick Gromar into believing you killed Diego (of course it’s a bit more complicated than that!).
Diego the Grey
You get the bracelet by helping Gromar’s Orc Slave get his fix of his favorites shrooms (of course it’s a bit more complicated than that!) and then eventually have Gromar’s permission to marry Ivy…. who is pregnant. Before settling down as a happy little family though, she wants to see some adventure – yay, action girl!
To get off Feshyr, you once more talk to Diego, who wants one last favor (of course it’s a bit more complicated than that!). In the course of this quest, you meet Lyrca, a witch who activates your magic talent through a ritual. You wake up in a cave, and get to fight creatures that have two “states”, one of which makes them immune to physical damage. I usually hate game mechanics like that, because they usually don’t work as well as I’d like. I had fun this time though! Before the demo ends, you get to try out several weapons against several types of enemies, and for the first time in the Gothic series, I REALLY, REALLY ENJOYED COMBAT so early on in the game. (As much as realism has its charm, Gothic usually really makes a painful point about proving to you what a n00b you are during the first hours of the game!)
The demo ended before I got out of the cave system, but it really left me wanting more! I am curious to see what happens with you and Ivy. Remember: You’re a shepherd who wants to marry her – she wants adventure! So she’s definitely got potential, but ever since Queen Amidala’s transformation from kickass girl to whiney dumbass girl between Star Wars I and II, I’m somewhat paranoid in that regard.
I really hope that it’s MUCH less buggy than Gothic 3 and turns out a success… ’cause you see, the developer is German – and the publisher is Austrian! So it’s my patriotic duty to say great things about this game!
To prove that I was just kidding, I will post the ONLY hiccup I experienced.
The hero takes the inward turn. In fact, he takes it quite literally!
With that inlook ends my outlook to what looks like a great game!!! (Three‘s a charm, right?)