Hey everyone. I originally had an idea in mind for what I’d do for Valentine’s Day and play Beloved, a rather cute and funny game where you play as a hero trying to beat undefeatable monsters, only to find that the damsel he’s trying to save is not his beloved, and each time you try again and again, you face even more unbeatable monsters, until you finally settle on a damsel you rescue (each time you do this, the damsel you rescue next will have one more trait that’s like your beloved).
I do have to say, it makes for some very hard-hitting brain teasers, such as “how can I beat this monster?” to more dramatic stuff like “do I push on, even though these monsters I face next will be even tougher?” and in the end it practically asks how much you love your beloved. It makes for an even crazier brain-teaser when you realize you are in control of how these monsters are unbeatable. Will you base them off a popular character; one you know is close to impossible to beat without quick thinking, clever planning, or even a last minute Deus Ex Machina? Will you start simple (a red dragon) but make the enemies more complex as time goes on (half-red-dragon Tarrasque brought back from the Shadowfell)?
Thing is, I’m not sure how to best do this for a replay blog outside of me posting a small story blurb about a fight between the hero and the monster(s) he’s fighting, then repeat that until the hero or I am satisfied with the damsel we rescued. I worry that I might not get the best ideas in my head for how I should make each monster unbeatable in their own way, and if I do, chances are I already have a good strategy of how to beat them in mind.
So I do what I always do when in doubt regarding the RPG: research. And what I found blew my mind. You remember when I said that the game provoked thoughts as simple as defeating a monster to something as complex as settling for less or pushing for more? The author of the RPG, Ben Lehman, has a lot of other RPGs that have this dramatic thought process. Hell, one of his latest RPGs is essentially a LARP scenario where you have one last video chat with a recently deceased loved one. This post explains in more ways than one about how thought-provoking Ben’s RPGs can become. One of his quotes regarding the RPG Polaris actually makes him seem like the RPG equivalent to Lemony Snicket.
What helped me decide on what to do for Valentine’s Day was this session done by the author himself and the discussion of Beloved, in which some people also talk about what the theme of the game is. I should stick to playing the game, but not in the way you think. I will write a narrative prose in tribute to the game and a possible theme it presents. For added challenge, I will do it in media res. Without further to say, let’s begin.
Nine monsters stand in my way this time, each of them stronger than the last. This time, I am sure to save my beloved. I arm myself with a sword and the knowledge from beating thirty-six monsters and rush off to face my foes.
My first monster was a humanoid blade that I cannot touch with my hands lest they suffer a thousand cuts. I instead try to clash with my sword, though that seemed to cause the blade to cut it so many times that the sword began to dull. However, as it fought, I noted that the blade was flat. With one swing of my now dulled sword, I knocked the monster over and stabbed him with the only sharp part of my sword: the tip. With the monster dead, I break off my sword and replace it with the corpse of the blade.
The next monster was made of pure air. I couldn’t cut through it and every time I try, I keep getting blown away. At first, I found that it was hopeless and that I cannot defeat this air monster. I retreat and replan my steps. Eventually, I concluded that if it could blow, it could also suck… Yes, I am aware of the innuendo. So I bought bombs and took them with me to my battle. I made sure that each and every single one fell into it. When the bombs went off, the force caused the winds to disperse, thus killing the monster.
After that was a monster whose body was made of soap. His attack always involves blinding me with the soap and making me slip up. I lost my bombs in the battle, I have no idea where the monster is, and every time I try to attack, I slip. It wasn’t until the fifth time I tried to attack that I could use the slipping as momentum. The next time I came across the soapy monster, I slid across the soap and slashed through him, killing the monster instantly.
As I defeated the fourth monster, another monster sped by me and cut me up instantly. There was no way for me to properly time the monster’s attack with his speed, even if I slipped around with the soap. So I stood still. As the monster hacked away at me, I analyzed where he strikes from, where he goes after, and how he swings by for another attack. As he came to me, I held my blade out and stabbed the monster.
Now I’m gonna be a little tricky here. I’m going to have Tangent Zero generate my next enemy.
[Tangent Zero Result: Rooster and Virus]
After that, I began to feel ill. The battle took a lot out of me, and I could see chickens running around. I felt pain as the chickens pecked at me. I pass out. When I awoke, I saw a big bird-like monster and no chickens. The Rooster monster taunted me. It had me right where it wanted as its large talon pierced into me. The tiny chickens began to peck at me as the illness returned. The Rooster bragged on and on about his power to make me feel sick and told me that I will die soon. I couldn’t lift my sword to swing at it.
Holy crap! Why didn’t I think of using the dice before? These would be perfect for giving me a challenge. I’m actually stumped as to beating the monster without bringing up a deus ex machina. I do know its fatal flaw though. It’s very prideful, but I have no idea of how to take advantage of that. Let me say right now, this is some good storytelling gameplay right here. No need for dice, no need for numbers. Just two little images is enough to make a pretty tense fight. Kudos to you, Ben.
As it gloated, I tried to lift my legs as high as they can. The rooster was too distracted for me to grab the tail feathers with my feet and pull downward with all my might. As the rooster slipped, his talon ripped out of my body and I was healed. I got up and while it fell down ranting about how impossible it was to beat him, I hacked away at him. Even though I turned him into chicken in a way the Colonel would appreciate, I do not wish to eat him lest I get sick again.
A flash of light blinded me. A monster that seemed to be fused with a camera was my next foe. Much like the soap monster, this monster had a nack for blinding me. However, he blinds me from far away, so I can’t reach him. By the time I recover my vision, he’ll just blind me again. My obvious solution as to close my eyes as soon as my vision returns so when he flashes, I’ll block it. However, the problem is seeing where he is. Fortunately, I can see his constant flashing through my eyelids and I manage to cut through him by walking right up to them.
The next monster was a fire monster, with flames so hot; he managed to melt my sword. The heat convections made it difficult to handle him in melee range, and any weapons I’d use in a ranged combat would prove to be feeble. I could try dousing him in water, but it would result in a very hot steam that would melt my skin right off. However, like all flames, it too had to die out. It seemed that the band of monsters that kidnapped my beloved seemed confident that the fire monster would kill me instantly.
The second to last monster was a being made of wood, who had rushed in right as the flame monster died. I have no weapons on me as it chucked heavy blocks of timber at me. My only chance was to grab the timber and throw them back at the monster. It worked for a bit, but I couldn’t fight wood with wood. The flame monster’s fires were dying out, but there was enough to get one last spark. I ignited the timber and threw it at the tree monster. It caught on fire and burned to death.
Now, with the monster taken care of, I finally see…
My beloved. Right in front of me. No damsels that they had kidnapped. This was her. This was my beloved.
I count the number of monsters I faced. Eight. I recalled how many times I’ve been through this before. Each time I fought for my beloved, I had to face an increasing number. Eight was what I encountered last time. I was expecting a ninth… So why is my beloved here? Unless… Unless she is the ninth monster.
I have no idea why she’d be a monster I would face. I would never beat her. Not in a million years. So why? Why is she the ninth monster? I began to think about it. This was finally it. If I defeat this challenge, then my beloved will be mine… And then what?
And then what?
I just realized a fatal flaw in everything I strived for. While I fight for my love, I don’t think I am ready for it. Her gorgeous eyes entrance me, yes, but for how long? She is perfect to me in every way imaginable, but for how long will my current definition of perfect last? I kiss her, I marry her, and what? That’s it? What are her parents like? Will they like me for who I am? Will they think I’m not her type? Will they only see me as a meal ticket?
How will we live together? All I thought when I looked forward to spending time with my beloved was just cuddling underneath the tree as we sang to each other ballads of our love. But of course, life must be more than that. I might need a job to sustain me and my beloved’s lifestyle. My job as monster hunter has me covered there, however. But those days where I go out, those days I fear would be my last… How would my beloved handle it? Will she accompany a suitor while I’m away? Will she wait for me, even when it’s certain I will die? I don’t wish for anything to happen to her.
And what if she wants kids? I worry about how I would be to the kids. Will my stories of triumphing over monsters inspire them into risking their own lives or scare them enough to shelter themselves from the world? I may need to get more jobs just to sustain them, if we have more than one child. A thousand scenarios played in my head, but there was one scenario that stuck out in my mind.
I saved her from all these monsters, yes, but I cannot save her from one: The Grim Reaper. Even if I surpass the monsters that are my worries for my life, I can’t defeat death itself. Eventually, either my beloved or I will die, and I can’t do anything about it. I’m not ready for the long-term. I’m just not. Tears well up my eyes as this realization came through me. I utter a “sorry” to my beloved and run away.
Eventually, I have been defeated by the very same monster that had me going on the journey: My Beloved.
Well, that was the story and my interpretation of what the game means. Hope you enjoy it. Give the game a shot if you want a challenge. The ones I did were pretty challenging, with some even requiring me to step away from the computer and actually wondering how to best overcome them. To give you an example, during the fight with the camera monster, I took a photo of myself using the flash on my phone with my eyes closed to see how it’d fare compared to if I had them open, which helped prove my idea of how to defeat the monster. This game applies real thinking to your actions. Definitely worth checking out. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
Oh, right, I should have mentioned that Ben did another RPG in which the brief premise is that you’re piloting robots powered by love in a post-apocalyptic setting. Well, think I know what to do for next Valentine’s Day.