-Broken Triad, Part 2: Tempest Isle-
The second mission of Eshaktaar’s “Broken Triad” is just as good as the first one, and with a different aesthetic. You’re in the ruins of an ancient civilization now, and much of the style compares with our world’s Egypt (there’s even Anubis statues!). There also are not many AI combatants in the early part, which gives the mission a different pace. (In the later stages of the mission, though, there will be plenty of patrolling AI.)
Similar elements drive this mission as the first one. There are not as many items to get and use on Tempest Isle, but there are some, and the analogy of this mission to a weighty puzzle-cube still holds. There are lots of paths to take, lots of locked doors and gates with alternate paths around these, lots of ‘unlocking gates from the other side’ and looping, and a few really good puzzles. One of them involves learning of and deciphering the name of the civilizations’ first emperor, which involves a few readables scattered across the mission, and a translation sheet for hieroglyphs.
A memorable story-scene comes soon after the mission’s start. First walking into the heart of the ruins, the player comes into a large opening of some temple area, cylindrical in shape, with a lava pit in it. Across the fiery chasm is a large platform rising up, and on it, a throne, with a skeleton sitting on it, with a sword thrust in its skull. It piqued my curiosity as to the story behind it. The player may learn of this in a readable lying somewhere, a scroll detailing the assassination of one of Caerul’s, the civilization’s, emperors. It’s rewarding when, much later in the mission, players come out on the other side of this area, and can walk onto the platform, getting up close to the throne and the remains of the murdered emperor. This is also a great example of looping.
Like in the first mission, there are moments where you see something, wonder what it’s for, and then have a ‘lightbulb’ moment later about it. One example in this part is the fire elemental—a stationary, fiery globe. The player may wonder what it’s for. Hopefully the player remembers this later in the mission when obtaining a hallowed candle. Again, it’s a process of discovering disparate pieces, and then having them fall together.
A key component of this mission is a central hub, to and from which the player transports. The hub is a Keeper library compound, familiar scenery for a Thief player, and it can be accessed by using a few Keeper glyph symbols throughout the mission. These were put there by Keeper Aleph, who, like Garrett, is working to stop the demon Nyarasal (if you’re not, don’t worry about keeping up with all of the story details like these whenever I cite them; it isn’t necessary for the purpose of this write-up). In the Keeper library hub, Aleph leaves messages for Garrett. These serve as a story-drive, as he gives Garrett steps for what he must do to defeat the demon. They aren’t hand-holders, though; it’s still up to players to explore, find items, and put all the pieces together, though Aleph may give some overall, long-term guidance.
The Keeper hub serves as a way to transport between areas of the mission, as each glyph in it links with a different area of Tempest Isle. The player also picks up a Keeper medallion left behind by Aleph, which can be used to transport oneself to the Keeper hub from any point on the isle. This is equivalent to the fast-travel option in many open-world games, and is a nice design addition on Eshaktaar’s part. Transporting in this world is also used in one of the mission’s puzzles.
The ‘core’ area of Tempest Isle is the Necropolis. The first main objective is to access this area. Once at the Necropolis’ doorway, which takes some time to get to, the player may pull a lever that opens a gate leading to an earlier area of the mission. This is another great looping moment.
Once in the Necropolis, the mission becomes more challenging. For one, many AI combatants, all some form of undead, roam the halls. For another, the main goal in this section is to access the Inner Chambers. To do this, the player must obtain a number of items, and notice a number of well-hidden passageways. The items are few: a handful of Star Gems, a couple piles of incense ash, a Hallowed candle, and old Brother Reginald’s rosary beads—which come in use in this mission.
It’s very fun and satisfying exploring all of the Necropolis. I’ll let my playthroughs speak to this experience. Here I’ll note that summoning the spirit of Brother Reginald, for him to aid one in crossing a chasm to the Inner Chamber, is one of the most memorable moments in this mission. I loved summoning him, and also the way that this loops back to something in the prior mission. Personally, I thought when Brother Reginald first handed me his rosary, back in Arkford’s cemetery, it was just a token. In mission two, it is an integral piece of the puzzle.
The finale portion of the mission is brilliant, and it uses earlier elements, such as the Keeper hub world, and Brother Reginald (again!). Once the demon Nyarasal has been felled, walking around Tempest Isle, with all unlocked and accomplished, is very satisfying. Seeing it all finished, though, makes me want to do it again.
The very end has a reference for Thief players. After teleporting away from Tempest Isle, the player finds themselves in “the Lost City”, which is the location of a mission from Thief I. The people on Tempest Isle came to that place from the Lost City. It’s a surprising, fun end to what is one of the top, greatest Thief II fan-missions.