Spoiler warning! First 5 hours or so of gameplay will be spoiled.
Blade & Soul has been quite the experience for me so far, between the long server queues and the fact that I’m sitting in a pool of my own tears. No, it’s not the copious amount of salt that I rub into my eyes daily trying to figure out how to online order at Taco Bell. It’s because my best friend in the game passed away, out of completely nowhere, and then I realized just how deep that story was.
On my summoner, one of the first parts of the game is the Hongmoon Clan getting basically “rekt’d” by the forces of evil. You then become a Ronin wanderer, like in most martial arts games, and are basically the last of your school. That’s until you meet Hajoon, who also survived. Hajoon finishes the tutorial, teaching you the rest of your skills.
At the start, you battle directly with him, meeting him in various hidden areas. It’s a really majestic kind of thing, considering you get to meet up with someone you’ve lost, and the world in Blade & Soul becomes a bit happier. Chirpy, happy music arrives each time you enter a training area.
Then, it seems you start to fight another summoner instead of Hajoon. Hajoon has you practice with this partner. Then, in the Goldleaf Foundry, horror strikes. On your way out, you’re constantly under attack, until you learn he’s corrupted.
The corruption isn’t curable.
He dies right in front of you.
At that point, you realize, he hasn’t been teaching you anything personally because he’s pretty much has been dying this entire time. A short epilogue concludes his story, confirming his spirit passed on, and that yes why of course he was dying the entire time. It’s pretty tough to deal with emotionally, and is really hard to even process for me.
Mostly because in the middle of villagers fighting off corruption and evil spirits, Hajoon added a little bit of comedy, some extra fun, and someone for your character to relate to. Now, after his parting, the only gift you’re given is his outfit, the ability to water walk, and a pool of tears.
I think that kind of writing is notable and the direction NCSOFT made with the English voice actor was spot on. The cheerful voice constantly beckoning you to come train, that you’re likely to make fun of in the game’s barren’s chat, is just even more painful.
I find it to be a good thing, because it engages you. If you weren’t paying attention up to that point, and you didn’t skip the cutscene (even if you did, the later contextual clues will hurt even more), you’re going to be nearly crying, unless you’re so heartless that you couldn’t care. The story then grips you and what was, up until that point, a mindless questing fest, opens up into a far more engaging story.
That only applies to the main story, there is so many side quests that reading everything that they have going to explain why some evil is attacking villagers isn’t my cup of tea, but the main story path (anything with voice acting) is really good.
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