Pillars of Eternity draws me into moral quandries

Over the past week, I’ve set a daily goal to boot up Pillars of Eternity and play through one mission, zone, or 30 minutes — whatever comes first. For as long as I’ve played and reloaded this game, I’ve never beaten it. But I’m closer right now than I ever have been before, and I’m serious about finishing it before the new year.

I think my gaming diet needs some single-player RPG in it, and this one scratches a great itch. It’s so comfortable to slip back into, especially coming from the old Baldur’s Gate days, and I appreciate the addition of the party AI that helps out in combat. This mostly frees me up to concentrate on the story and exploration of new areas, and I think I’m starting to make headway on all of the quests that opened up in Defiance Bay.

Without making much of a stink about it, Pillars of Eternity threw in an awful lot in the way of choices. Quests can be resolved — and even failed — based on actions and dialogue, and I find that these choices draw me much deeper into the story.

One side mission in particular that stuck out at me involved the disappearances of three locals. The first part of the quest was all footpad detective work, tracking down friends and extracting details. All of them pointed to a local theater troupe, and when I made the right inquiries (backed by a full investigation), I was led to a secret underground theater. It was here, apparently (and full spoilers ahead) that rich and influential patrons would pay to watch the show — which always ended with the very real death of an unsuspecting actor or actress.

For anyone but a psychopath, this situation calls for justice. But the game gives a lot of leeway as to how that justice can be extracted. The theater operators can be killed, of course, but they can also be convinced to shut it down if a wealthy benefactor is put away. Additionally, I got to confront the benefactor (who committed suicide when I threatened to turn him in) and a stagehand who was trying to flee. There’s a lot of pull between the desire to see justice done and accepting de facto bribes from the game — extra money if a player doesn’t extract justice. It’s not *real*, so you can justify taking the money for that reason, but I couldn’t do that.

Anyway, my team is starting to gel together as a real fighting unit. I’ve structured it so that there are two frontline fighters and four ranged attackers who plug away with the slowest, hardest-hitting weapons in the game. It gives me a very good alpha strike, and I’ve been able to put away drakes in the first few seconds.

I am wondering whether or not I should get the expansions after finishing this game or move on to another title (there are so many in my backlog, including this game’s sequel). I guess that answer will be “depends on the GOG winter sale.”

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