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Ruts vs. Battlespire CH26: The Running Manling

By Rutskarn
on Wednesday Sep 14, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play


Across trackless dimensional matrices, through the eye of manifest malice, in the murderous playground of a bloodhungry god, across a hostile plain patrolled by unkillable horrors, through the waterfall, across the unbridged chasm, past an army of daedra, I enter the tower. A dozen eyes burning with blue rage turn to me–and I’ve already popped the boots out of the footlocker and whistled briskly out the tower exit.

I am The Most Disappointing Game.

'Did he just...? Shit. Can somebody help me down?
'Did he just...? Shit. Can somebody help me down?

My brisk trot breaks into a full run when I get back outside and the army, who have not calmed down since two seconds ago, resume their bombardment. I leap down the unbridged chasm through a hail of shortfired green bursts. This time I’m lucky–I hit the water, not the rock wall. Another inch forward and I’d be stuck, and a sitting duck for the only kind of magical attack I’m apparently not immune to.

But I’m not out of it yet. The rocky tunnels wind left, right, forward, backward…I hear more magic bursts going off, but I can’t possibly wheel my point of view around fast enough to see how they’re landing. I’ve never gotten this far before. I don’t know the way out. I need to get out of this cavern fast. Where the hell is the exit? Let me check the map–

This, frankly, is some frog-and-scorpion shenanigans. It’s not that I should have guessed the map would be glitchy–but as my need was great, obviously I should have been ready for something important to glitch out. Battlespire has a knack for letting you get so immersed in solving a problem that you take something, anything, for granted–and it has an unerring instinct for what the worst possible thing to break would be. And then it’s time to forget your plans, drink your potions, hustle, and pray.

A few minutes of bottle-popping and creative swimming later and I’m out the door with the boots. And I’ve successfully accomplished the very first item on my revised fifteen-step island-clearing level plan. It’s only recently jumped to the front of the queue–not because of proximity or convenience, but more because up until now it was the only obstacle with a 100% failure rate. What’d I do right this time? Not die or get stuck in a wall, I guess. For me to know what I’m doing wrong I need to know what’s going on in general.

Some of you have expressed the informed opinion that the saving-and-loading glitch on Level 5 probably doesn’t kick in until ten, twenty, even thirty saves in. I genuinely appreciate the advice, but here’s the thing: when I play Battlespire, about a hundred different things at a time are simultaneously going wrong. On the off chance a few saves don’t end up okay, and something breaks down, I can’t guarantee I’ll notice it until I’ve lost considerable time and invested considerable progress towards the game’s final areas. So instead of gambling that the bug report on the wiki is accurate–not as safe a bet as you’d guess, as very much about the Battlespire wiki is incomplete speculation–I’ll regretfully stick with hustling and praying.

Next up on the schedule is Fort Showstopper. I mentioned it last post; it’s a big walled courtyard with four towers, each just large enough to accommodate the ubiquitous wooden up-and-down magical lift. The lift shakily cranks you past a few empty and useless floors before bringing you to an incredibly narrow roof staffed by irate daedra who can kill you in about a second if you’re unlucky. Past them is a button you need to press. Go get ’em, tiger.

I’ll be blunt; these lifts are not ready for primetime. They’re not only the most dangerous things I’ve run into on the level so far, I’d argue they’re the most dangerous things in the entire game. There’s no end to the peril: If you don’t proceed directly to the center of the lift, you’ll brush up too close to the ceiling, get stuck in the environment, and die. If you accidentally get off on the wrong floor–or glitch off the lift onto it, because everyone needs a little spontaneity in their lives–the elevator will be stuck wherever it was going to and the game’s weirdly fussy invisible ledge walls will force you to use the glorious imprecise jumping controls to get down, which will virtually guarantee you get stuck in the environment and die.

Eventually you’ll figure out how to use the elevator correctly, reach the top, and one of the daedra on the roof will hit you and knock you into the elevator mechanisms. Where you’ll get stuck. And die.

The first few times I got to this part, it was after I’d swept about half the island. That was before I started worrying and learned to fear the geometry.

But don't take my word for it.
But don't take my word for it.

Which brings me to some good news and bad news. The good news is that I’ve now managed to scoop up all the hidden items on the first part of the level, which means I’m ready to forge onward. The other good news is that from the looks of it I’m not going to have to worry about level geometry for a little while.


That’s the bad news.


That’s a hot air balloon. I’m supposed to pilot that thing. For the record, I’m anxious…about hopping off the shore onto the pier. The thought of gambling all my progress that a Bethesda flying vehicle works is downright petrifying. But what choice have I got? My destination’s up a very steep incline with no obvious ingress. My kingdom for a horse to hump the slope with.

I only have one guarantee: whatever comes up next, I’m not going to be ready for it.


Comments (59)

  1. Felblood says:

    The Spire itself is your greatest foe.

  2. MichaelGC says:

    Where’s the hot air balloon? I can’t see a hot air balloon. There’s an upside down pyramid thing. Which might be a suspiciously orthogonal sandstorm, now that I look at it. And then under that there’s a little building which looks like a gazebo or a … gondola … ruh-roh.

  3. Da Mage says:

    Rutskarn the Savior, he plays Battlespire so we don’t have to.

    A balloon…..because of course these dev’s thought they could pull off flight mechanics….I sure hope it’s a scripted thing and not like the boats…..

    • MrGuy says:

      If there’s one thing that we should expect in this world of magic spells, potions, crazy ledges, sense-defying sigils, nonsensical three dimensional spaces, and magic walls that ensnare people for no reason, it’s a realistic and meteorologistically faithful simulation of the physical effects of wind currents on a lighter-than-air vessel.

    • Sunshine says:

      I am now in(battle)spired to make a hot air balloon mod for Fallout 4. It will be easy and work well.

  4. Rob says:

    Ah late nineties 3d game physics! Half Life had the lift-glitch-die feature too, I remember.

  5. Mortuorum says:

    I assume that you’re running Battlespire on an emulator like DOSBox. Rather than use the in-game save feature, is there a way to save the entire game state? Apologies if this has been brought up before.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I suggested this option when the issue first came up. I know for a fact that some versions of dosbox out there have savestate management though I don’t think the version GOG uses in their wrapper doesn’t. Or at least it didn’t when I was playing the early Might and Magic games sometime last year, but after I decided to savescum my way through parts of those the substitution of the version went without a hitch. Of course it still means interfering with the delicate balance of the game and the stability of the new version can’t be guaranteed 100%.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:


    This will spiral out of control rather quickly.

  7. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    I feel like risking a save before attempting to break the bonds of gravity is ENTIRELY appropriate. I can EASILY imagine a scenario where the balloon works for 2 minutes and 13 seconds… then your corpse is SHOT into the sky like a catapult for no reason, while the balloon explodes. You didn’t get hit or anything, you just rammed the skybox.

  8. Fists says:

    How did this game ever get made? and released? Such wonder, but I think we all know the real question that Ruts needs to answer:

    “Is Battlespire better than No Man’s Sky?”

    • swenson says:

      “One of them has weird vehicle controls, bizarre inventory design, crazy monsters, and a story that doesn’t make a great deal of sense! The other… is Battlespire!”

      Or something. I haven’t actually played either, so I can only make lame jokes riffing on what Shamus, etc. have already said about NMS.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Both are games where you can play for a hundred hours, and still feel entitled to a refund.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      After battlespire,bethesda went on to improve their mechanics and ended up making fallout 4.So no,no mans sky is not worse.

    • Sunshine says:

      It’s really that NMS has mechanics working against each other to rub you the wrong way, but they function, whereas Battlespire is more like “That doesn’t work now, or works differently, or only intermittently and there wasn’t any way to know the change because this is a place beyond reason and logic and screw you anyway.”

      • Humanoid says:

        Both games are very similar in that they evidently planned a lot of features that they later found they were unable to implement properly.

        On realising this, Hello Games decided to silently shelve said features and hope the public wouldn’t notice that anything was missing.

        Bethesda on the other hand, decided the best approach was to implement them anyway.

    • Philadelphus says:

      I now finally have a game to point to the next time someone on a forum somewhere starts waxing nostalgic about how back in his day games were released complete and bug-free, none of this modern “let’s continue patching and improving the game after it’s out” nonsense. So thanks for that Rutskarn.

  9. Christopher says:

    Fair’s fair: If I was playing Skyrim and all of a sudden there was a huge hot air balloon, I would be amazed. It’s the part where it’s in Battlespire that makes this all go bad.

    • MrGuy says:

      This assumes s lot.

      If I’m in the middle of sky rim, riding my horse around the countryside, and I encounter an interactive balloon I can climb in and pilot, I’d be amazed.

      If I found a hot air balloon that was basically just a fast travel point, where I could tell the balloon man where I wanted to go and have him take me during a stoppable cutscene, I’d be mildly interested (hot air balloon is the new silt strider!)

      If I found a hot air balloon that didn’t do anything, or was locked away behind walls but just talked about, I’d be annoyed (Chekhov’s balloon)

      If I could climb in the balloon and it would always immdiately crash into the ground and burst into flames, instakilling me, and the only help I could find was vague forum posts with alleged control systems that don’t actually work, and a few comments to “L2Balloon nub,” then I’d think this was surely built by the people who built Battlespire, and I would be sore afraid.

  10. Xaos says:

    Hey Ruts, don’t take this the wrong way, but I can’t decide if I want to see you succeed or fail.

    Ruts….don’t get me wrong, if you actually beat the game under these conditions and avoid all of the pit falls and game crashing glitches, it will be an INSPIRING tale of man winning over UN-nature.

    However, if you do lose, it will surely be one of the great tragedy stories of our era: One man, fighting valiantly against a poorly coded Bethesda game, with no ability to save (why is that, again?), and with massive glitch-holes in his pockets (why is THAT, again?), with no hope in all the world of survival, HEAR THE TALE OF HOW LONG HE FORESTALLED HIS UNAVOIDABLE DESTINY WHICH THE FATES HAVE ASSIGNED TO HIM! (And also hear them cursing loudly in bewilderment that he is STILL PLAYING!)

    You sir, are a hero to us all.

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