Where were we?
The second episode of Gaming Corps AB’s The Descendant begins with a prisoner interrogation scene, as a method of discussing just what on earth has happened to Ark 1. Ark 1, if you’ll recall from the previous episode, is one of the long-abandoned Vault-like constructions which were built to save a select few members of the human race (known as the descendants) from a nuclear catastrophe. The only other inhabitants of these Arks were known as ‘janitors’ – they were responsible for ensuring the Ark’s systems ran properly in order to protect the descendants.
So, with the descendants missing and likely dead, the off screen interrogator asks the subject of this interrogation – what the heck happened?
MSRP: $11.99 (Episodes 2-5)
Length: 1-2 Hours
How do we fix this?
Following this little setting of the scene, Episode 2 throws the player right back into the thick of things. At the conclusion of Episode 1, ‘present day’ characters Donnie and Randolph were in the midst of piecing together what happened to Ark 1’s janitors. Those janitors, Mia and Silas, were busy dealing with an emergency that threatened the Ark in the past.
Episode 2 centres around a failure to the Ark’s filtration system. This event is used to anchor both the present and past narratives that the series intertwines to tell its story. For Mia and Silas, the failing filtration system is used to create a conflict between the characters, their duty to the descendants they have been tasked to protect, and their own concern for survival.
In the present narrative, the filtration system is identified as a site from which Donnie and Randolph can restore power to the Ark. This episode spends much more time drawing out the relationship between Randolph and Donnie, including their own individual motivations for participating in the Ark 1 rescue mission. This was a sensible choice by Gaming Corps AB. Given that the two janitors were the predominant focus of Episode 1, Episode 2’s focus on the present works to balance out The Descendant’s overall narrative. Because of this choice, the present-day story arc also requires the player to make more time-sensitive decisions based on certain plot developments, as opposed to the arduous puzzles that this episode throws into the Mia/Silas storyline.
We’re done already?
While The Descendant likes to pressure the player by imposing time-sensitive choices during certain character interaction scenes, I have yet to really see the impact of these decisions. I have been warned multiple times, for example, that “Silas will remember that!” or “Randolph will remember that!” It will be interesting to see if The Descendant delivers on these statements in future episodes, as it could certainly impact the ongoing development of these characters in a positive way.
Like Episode 1, this episode also came in very much on the short side. While there is still enough here, suspense wise, to keep the player engaged, I am curious to see if this pacing will have a detrimental effect later in the season.
Finally, the ‘puzzles’ featured in Episode 2 were a lot less satisfying – the required objects for solving a particular challenge seemed to be all-to-conveniently placed, essentially making the entire process a redundant exercise to push the narrative forward.
Despite having a few more shortfalls in comparison to Episode 1, this instalment also ends with something of a cliff-hanger in attempt to keep players hooked. A mysterious ultimatum is made to one of the present-day characters, which suggests the various motivations for each character may not be what they seem.
While the puzzles suffered a little here, the plot continues to thicken. As a story, I remain interested in where The Descendent is going.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.