The Second Sky: The Final Chapter?

The Second Sky is the largest DROD by a very comfortable margin. That much is clear to me now. It’s like the designers, knowing that this was going to be the final episode, decided that they had to use all their ideas now. The thing is overflowing.

Previous episodes grouped rooms into levels, but TSS additionally groups levels into chapters. I suppose that’s essentially what Gunthro and the Epic Blunder did, too, but this time it’s more formalized, and there are more chapters. A chapter can be linear, going through a sequence of levels one after the next, or it can be open, just giving you access to a bunch of new levels and letting you flit between them as you like. I’ve been doing a lot of such flitting about, because the puzzles in this game aren’t just numerous, they’re also very hard.

I said earlier that I was hitting the end of the game, and just taking some time to finish up side-quests before finishing it off. The game encouraged this notion by providing an isolated campsite where I could go to wait out the Turning whenever I was so inclined. Obviously I wasn’t going to do that — not without finishing everything I had started! So over the past few days, I have taken care of unfinished business, even going back and clearing out the Tar Recycling Annex, which has nothing to do with Beethro’s goals at this point in the game but which does have a RCS stamp for my collection. It was here that I needed a bit of a nudge from the Caravel Forums hint boards, but only for one of the four rooms I had previously given up on.

And, having done all that, and having set the plot in motion again, I find that there’s an entire additional chapter, with some really big levels. I’m not as near the end as I had thought. The campsite is still there, in case I want to give up, but nah.

Without going into too much detail, Beethro’s plan for saving the surface-dwellers from the Turning in the chapter I just finished involves posing a really difficult question to the Truth Vessels, one that they’ll need to keep spawning more Truth Vessels sorcerer’s-apprentice style to answer. It’s another of those metaphor-for-game-design moments, Beethro trying to come up with an adequately difficult puzzle for a whole bunch of other people to solve. And there’s a neat bit of resonance there, because if the player decides to end the game early, it means Beethro gives up on looking for really tough puzzles for his audience, and the consequence for the player is that you miss out on a bunch of really tough puzzles. We are the Truth Vessels.

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