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The V5 Read-A-Thon; Lets goooo for it
Topic Started: Apr 2 2017, 10:02 PM (5,595 Views)
Blastinus
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One for me as well. I basically missed all of V5, so it'd be good to catch up this way.
V7 Kids
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Blastinus
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Alrighty! Let's crack this walnut open!

Considering the username of his handler, it was quite appropriate that Joseph Chaplin would be a chainmail addict as well. Aside from his interest in metallurgy, there's really not much else to his profile though. He's quiet, socially awkward, and a bit of a lovable dork (wearing a chainmail vest to school would be really endearing if he'd developed that more). But enough of the profile, how did his game go?

Pregame!

He goes to a fantasy shop, buys some dice, feels like he's on the outs because he doesn't know anyone there, and then the thread ends before he can interact with anyone. Not much to say really.

The Island!

Not a bad start, all things considered. He wakes up, has a bit of a freakout about his weapon (or lack thereof), and immediately gets to the forming of alliances. I like that his social awkwardness is played out as a lot of inner monologuing that doesn't quite manifest itself in clever dialogue. He's a guy who clearly overthinks things and doesn't have the easiest time expressing himself, and I think ChainmailleAddict put that across in a very well thought out manner. He's not very assertive, basically lets himself be ordered around, but he earnestly tries to be useful for the group.

That said, he kinda doesn't do much. The group just hunkers down in a convenience store for several days, then they set up camp in a different area until it becomes a danger zone, then they return to the convenience store. I'm saying "they" in this case because Joseph just follows the group, offering advice that nobody else really cares about in his team. As far as his contribution goes, he's just another voice in a fairly passive squad of characters.

Then we get to his end, and it's...Well, I actually liked the idea of it. Basically, he gets angry at Logan for drawing on his face and he ends up smashing his face into a weight bar while chasing him. It's a different way for a character to "kill" someone and I liked the imaginative nature of it. Speaking as a guy who's whacked into a weight bar while just moving at a casual walk, I can actually believe that you can brain yourself running full-tilt into one. It might stretch the suspension of disbelief a little, but considering all the other weird stuff that happens in this game, I'm willing to give it a pass.

Overall, I wish that Joseph had contributed more. He ended up just being another random casualty of the game, and I feel like he had more potential than that.

Could I do another?
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Blastinus
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I think I was sold on Garrett Wilde before he even arrived on the island, though I admit, I had my concerns at first reading through pregame. There was that one somewhat cringeworthy scene in "Walk slow, talk slow, keep your head low" where Garrett becomes an impenetrable wall in his debate with the religious Hansel. His inner monologue, where he decides he has to "save" Hansel from his beliefs, immediately turns me off the guy. Rather than framing him as this skilled intellectual, he seems more like an arrogant self-important douche, which only becomes worse when he effortlessly sees Hansel about to punch him, rolls with it, and then delivers a snide one-liner.

But then I read on, and once I got the bigger picture about him and Mirabella Strong, I started to warm up to the guy. Unlike the conversation with Hansel, Garrett shows some actual vulnerability and becomes a bit more fleshed-out as a guy who puts up a shell of being this super intellectual in order to purposely distance himself from folks. But when he actually lets someone in, he reveals almost a dorky side to himself, acting super gallant and going with some pretty corny romantic lines. There's a sweetness to him in the scenes with Bella that was lacking whenever he hung around with anyone else, and it made me feel a bit better about reading through the rest of it.

Then suddenly, the payoff at prom. What I thought was just a one-off scene to establish Garrett as this intellectual superior suddenly comes slamming back in his face, and he has to deal with the fact that he tore away at someone's beliefs and took that someone's girl. Worse, he lied to her about the confrontation, which eats away at her trust a little. There's a moment where I really thought that the whole thing would fall apart, that in an instant Garrett would suddenly lose the girl he loved, right before the island adventure. But he recovers, and it's back to the corny romance again. I start to wonder at this point if there's ever going to be a time when he says the wrong thing. The guy's flawed, but never in a way that actually seems to have real consequences.

Yet.

When I start his island posts, I can definitely see the arrogance starting to bleed through. The guy doesn't even flinch when he's held at gunpoint by Eliza Patton, and I find that a little weak, really. This guy has had a rough childhood, yes, but there's no way that he'd have such a harsh upbringing that a gun leveled at his head would be of no concern to him. He's so intent on sticking it to the terrorists that he just dismisses the people who want to play as "perfect slaves". And there's that mention of "saving" people again. Garrett has such a high estimation of his own intelligence that it's starting to become a bit unbearable. When he's accused of murder, he just responds with snark and a grin. When people criticize his plan, he just meets them with indignation and disbelief. Everything about everything he says would make me absolutely loathe the guy if I met him in real life, and I begin to hope that he meets Bella soon so he'll actually show some friggin' humanity.

I will admit though, his escape plan is kind of interesting, albeit doomed to failure from the start. It factors into his arrogance quite nicely, because he thinks that he can poke holes in the terrorists' plot and beat them at their game. Rather than fighting back against them or trying to find a way to escape, it's just a silent defiance, calling their bluff, delaying their wrath while the authorities track them down. Sure, we know by the format of the game that it'll never work, but it's fun to see his thought process behind it and how he tries to put it into action. His intent whenever he finds people is just to pull them into this fold of nonviolence, and he actually thinks that he can find players and turn them back into model citizens. If it wasn't for the fact that he's just doing it to beat the terrorists, not to actually save lives, this would almost qualify as heroic rather than self-serving. But it's nice to have someone try to subvert the game for a selfish reason rather than being a selfless paragon of excellence.

That being said, he really doesn't have anything he can use to convince people rather than sweet words. The constant killing, the paranoia, and the pressure from the terrorists are all really big counter-points to any hope he has of making a difference. And then his big scheme gets the final nail put into it when Michelle Weschler brings up one really huge flaw: the terrorists are probably just taping the show for later. There is no rescue to delay for, so his scheme is entirely pointless. As I said above, we as handlers already knew it wouldn't work, but in-game, this is the last straw for any hopes of "winning". This is what makes Garrett come up with Plan B: hunt down the killers to slow the rate of death due to repeat offenders.

Naturally, there's a flaw in that logic too (wouldn't that make his group appear to be a marauding band of killers themselves?), but it means that he's stopped becoming a passive observer and he's starting to actually do something in the game itself. Even better, he FINALLY runs into Mirabella (Yay!). The amount of affection he shows, coupled with him losing his cocky veneer, brings me back to a time when I actually liked Garrett, even if the scene is incredibly fleeting.

And then we get to the kill, his single, solitary kill, and it's genuinely unsettling. Suddenly we get to see the dark side of his superior attitude, the truly fallible end result of him thinking that he has to "save" people from themselves. The part when he suddenly decides that someone is beyond redemption and it's his moral obligation to remove them from the equation. The killing of Jaquilyn Locke demonstrates where an attitude like his can go very, very wrong, and nobody comes out of it feeling like they did the right thing except for Garrett himself.

Winding down now, we approach Garrett's death scene, but before that, we have an uncharacteristically emotional moment where he actually weeps over the death of a friend. Maybe I just missed it, but I don't know if there was anything really leading up to this sudden breakdown. After everything else, it feels a bit like too little, too late, since in the very next scene, he just pounds towards Hansel, his old enemy, with zero hesitation or mercy. Hansel's obviously no saint himself, having amassed a decent record, but the way Garrett takes the lead on this, even after Hansel offers him mercy, it's clear who's the aggressor here, who's really the deranged psychopath just waiting for a chance to burst forth. Garrett might try to justify it, but if he hadn't taken the knife to the back, he'd have become a colder, more vicious killer than anyone else on that island.

And ultimately, that's why I find Garrett's story fascinating. As much as he bills himself as this guy trying to save everyone, when it really comes down to it, his emotionless, superior attitude means that he was on the cusp of becoming a terrifying player himself while justifying it as some sort of moral end. The guy claimed to be a hero, but he ended up being a villain by the end.

Could I take another?
V7 Kids
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Blastinus
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You know, just reading through Xavier Contel's profile, I'm starting to get the feeling that he likes anime. Not sure where that's coming from

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he owns every single T-shirt and hoodie from the web epic Homestuck, often wears a straw hat modeled after the Monkey D. Luffy wears in One Piece that he thatched himself, and always wears a pendant based on the miniature drill from Gurren Lagann. He also has a rather uncomfortable red coat modeled on that of Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist which he sewed himself.


Right. As one may be able to tell, anime forms a large part of Xavier's self-identity, and so does yelling, apparently. Not sure if the two are related, but in his first thread, he seems to have difficulties with his volume control, and that gimmick goes away after that thread, so eh, whatever. Still, he means well, not even bothering to check his bag for weapons until he notices that someone else has a gun. The guy's every flavor of nerd, referring to his friend Arthur Wells by his internet handle instead of actually using his name, and it's kind of endearing, not gonna lie, though the constant anime references can be a bit distracting at times.

Anyways, just like Garrett, he decides that he's going to become a hero on the island, saving people who think they have no choice but to kill others. But rather than coming at it from an intellectual side, it seems like he's instead bought into the anime shows and wants to emulate their example. Of course, it doesn't work, and instead he starts beating himself up over his inability to follow through on his fantasies. It doesn't last long enough to really make anything substantial of it.

But hey! Who should he come across than Theodore Fletcher, one of V5's notable killers. Just like Garrett, it's time for him to prove that he can tangle with the big dogs. And to his credit, he makes a decent showing of it, wrestling with the guy and laying down some good blows before finally taking a bullet to the chest. And just like a good anime hero, he gets to say some touching last words to Arthur before kicking the bucket, having made a valiant effort, but falling very short.

In truth, I don't think the anime angle really amounted to anything other than a series of sporadic callouts, and even then, if you didn't know the subject matter he was referring to, a lot of his inner monologue wouldn't make any sense. I don't hate the kid's story, but I didn't find any meat to it either. He was just another well-meaning victim with a very specific gimmick.

One more please?
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Blastinus
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I know that Maynard Francis Hurst would take umbrage at this word, but by golly, was this kid adorable when I read through his pregame stuff. A socially-awkward nerd who approached everything with cheerfulness and positivity even though he was riddled with self-doubt just resonated with me, start to finish. It made me a little hesitant to unpack his island experience, because before the game started, he was this innocent guy who just wanted to be accepted and to have the same kinds of social interactions as everyone else. He was apologetic when he thought he was stepping over people's toes and he was hesitant to be forward, and there wasn't a trace of cynicism or spite in anything he did, just a polite sincerity. In particular, him inviting Gwen O'Connor to the prom was a joy to read, and I wished it hadn't ended so soon.

Naturally, the kid isn't ready for the frightening circumstances of the island, so his first big conflict is with his own bowels, resulting in an uncomfortable and embarrassing start to the game as he pals around with Adam Morgan and Natali Greer. Even worse, he's in no physical shape to be keeping up with the rest of his team, putting friction between him and Adam pretty quickly as it seems like Adam has to take the lead on everything.

And so it goes for the first few threads, with the trio eventually finding a place to bunk down. Things seem to be going okay, and he's build a rapport with Natali...then the first announcement hits, and funtimes are officially over. Maynard is simply not ready to hear that a friend has died, and has a breakdown right there on the spot. The kid is so sensitive and kind, and it's difficult to watch him try to cope with this horrible situation. There's a subtle transformation here as the group continues on. While before, it was Natali trying to comfort Maynard, suddenly Natali's starting to succumb to the stress and it's Maynard who's trying to calm her down instead. While Adam serves as the leader of the group obviously, he tends to stand at a distance from the character interactions, so as far as the group's concerned, it's basically Maynard and Natali, also featuring Adam.

But then, Natali dies, in a subtle way that might be hard to notice if you weren't paying attention. Just skimming through it, I was like "Wait, she's dead? Why?" and I had to read back to see the part where she got a head injury, because she just falls asleep and dies peacefully several posts after the point where she got hurt. This whole scene of Maynard waking up to see Natali dead beside him is just heart-rending. Won't anything go right for this poor guy?

Well, I guess he reunites with Gwen. For all of five seconds. Then it's back to just Adam again. What I do appreciate is that Adam is becoming more a part of the party dynamic rather than just the guy who stood watch and barked orders. He and Maynard are opening up to one another after they've been an inseparable duo basically all game long. So you'd need something pretty drastic to drive them apart, something like, say, Adam trying to get Maynard to give up his weapon after he has another announcement-related breakdown, only to accidentally yank the naginata right into his own belly.

You know, stuff like that.

So at this point, Maynard loses all his lifelines and he has to strike out on his own. You'd expect him to have basically fallen to despair at this point, but Sansa's not through yet. Though for his first thread alone, he's suddenly more confident than when he had people to lean on. Even stranger, back when he had a group, he would always be out of breath or struggling with his bags, but that seems to fall by the wayside as well. If there was a steady progression of him becoming more competent and sure of himself, this would make sense, but instead, it's just there suddenly, and gone just as quickly when he has a chance to drag James Wade into the fold instead. I won't say it diminishes my enjoyment of the character, but it is kind of odd. This episode here is a strange blip in an otherwise consistent progression.

In his last few threads, he discovers that he earned the Best Kill Award, which only makes him feel worse, then James leaves him and never comes back. So as the downward spiral continues, Maynard finally reaches his lowest point when he's confronted by Juhan Levandi and realizes that he has no way to justify his kill (though technically, that was all Adam and he was just refusing to let go). With one last act of kindness towards Ami Flynn, he turns his BKA weapon on himself and fires. But SansaSaver isn't content with him just going out that way, so he just paralyzes himself and Ami has to finish the job, putting one last tragic nail in this kid's miserable coffin.

I have to admit, I didn't have fun reading Maynard's story. It wasn't intended to be fun. It was a story of a lovable, well-meaning, emotional kid having every good thing pulled away from him, and who would enjoy reading that? V5 has been better written in general than V3, so there's less unintentional comedy from campy, bizarre, or nonsensical characters. Instead, we get well-written, believable kids who become steadily unhappier before they die in some miserable way. I left Maynard's story with nothing but a hard lump in my gut, and part of me wishes that I'd never read him at all.
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Blastinus
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Oh. My. Gosh. After dealing with kids who are, at worst, well-meaning, I finally get an honest to goodness, no ambiguity, clear as day, grade A jerkwad! This is the best moment of my life!

Ahem. So...Miles Strickland. Right from the get-go, you can tell that he's going to be a real treat to work with. Upon entering a locker room, he reflects to himself:

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"Ugh. Smells like poor people."


Charming. And it kinda goes from there. I respect Cake's ability to make Miles seem real while also making him extremely vile. His high and mighty attitude is tempered with enough friendly moments to show that he's not some Chaotic Evil ignoramus doing bad things for the heck of it. Instead, he's a little politician, dissing folks when he can get away with it and otherwise exuding a kind of slimy chumminess that makes your skin crawl. It's to the point where his prom invitation, important and awkward affairs for Garrett and Maynard, was just him trying to win a pick-up contest. With every smug line or haughty gesture, he makes it more and more obvious that he's setting himself up for a fall, and it's going to be great!

That being said, Miles' last threads are kinda just him popping into other students' vignettes. He enters, says a line or two, then pops right back out. It's a shame that Cake went with that approach, since it means that he had a somewhat limited interaction with other students in the pre-game. But at least we got enough to get a picture of who he is and where he's going. Probably somewhere unpleasant.

Sure enough, first thing he does on the island is lord himself over a flock of seagulls. He meets some people and starts schmoozing them like a good politician would. He's no frenzied, mad killer. He's a thinking man, one that knows to keep your enemies closer and all that. To that end, he starts practicing with his weapon, the Hunga Munga throwing axe, only to be distracted by the appearance of Stacy Ramsey. The axe goes wild and finds a new home in Chuck Soileau's throat, Kat Tolstoff stabs him in retaliation, and just like that, any hopes of being political have gone out the window. I found that an interesting direction to go, because with his credentials, Miles could have been a schemer and alliance-builder, but instead, he's injured and on the run, albeit with Stacy's help.

One nice thing about being injured though, it's really easy to gain sympathy, so Miles meets with a group that mends him up, and he's back in action, more or less. For what it's worth, Miles' friendliness has paid off for him thus far, and he has the presence of mind not to curse out his benefactors out loud when they plan to leave him where he is while they go out. It's one of the first occasions where I've seen that happen, where a simple offense ISN'T blown up into a giant grievance, and I respect Cake for averting that. In fact, when Joe Carrasco wants revenge for Chuck, Miles doesn't fight and instead succeeds in talking him down and getting him to leave. Miles' tongue has been as useful a weapon for him as his blade, and it's quite remarkable to see. He's still a jerk, but he knows to dial that back when he needs to.

Of course, that being said, he's still human, as shown when he finally loses his composure with Rachael Langdon. Maybe it's the fact that people have been constantly trying to kill him because of an accident, or that he's been having to deal with difficult people for days, but when Rachael breaks down in apathy, that's when he finally storms out in a temper, Stacy following along.

Unfortunately, this is the end of Miles' story. He goes inactive at this point and he's picked up by SOTF_Help. He engages in a brief deathmatch with Andi Victorino that leaves both of them dead, and that's that. Which is a shame, because I found myself enjoying the guy's tale. He wasn't a likable person, what with being haughty and arrogant, but when you consider that everything that happened to him wasn't actually his fault, his attempts to rally from his mistake and try to survive are a very fun read. Unlike Maynard, who was lovable but had an absolutely horrendous journey, this guy was entertaining from start to finish.

May I have one more?
V7 Kids
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Blastinus
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Aria's a bit hard to talk about in the pregame because Aria's a bit hard to talk to, period. He's got some serious nervousness combined with a tendency to overanalyze everything and say things that he immediately regrets. In effect, conversations are rather slow-going because it's a struggle for him to say anything. Not to mention all the cringe. Because of this, I found it difficult to pin down whether or not he actually made any significant relationships during pre-game, and I was curious to see how this guy's inability to express himself would manifest on the island.

Well, unfortunately, Aria's overanalysis manifests itself in an immediate distrust of anybody and everybody. Though perhaps it's not completely unfounded, since the two girls he meets to begin with immediately start hatching a scheme to ditch him if anything goes wrong. But what that means is that he's alone on the island, and there are only two threads left to go. Not looking good for his chances.

And that right now is the clincher for poor old Aria. Even as he meekly makes a couple new friends, it's fairly evident that time is running out, and so, as he settles into his new alliance, suddenly out of nowhere, he goes hysterical at them, and a short confrontation ensues in which a knife finds its way into his chest. It really feels like it comes out of nowhere, and I can see why jimmydalad had trepidations about me reading this one. As I said, because of Aria's social anxiety, he doesn't make significant contributions to the plot, and because his death feels fairly rushed, it doesn't make a huge impact either. It's not bad, per se, just kind of "Eh." Which, depending on your perspective, might perhaps be worse.

Keep 'em coming!
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Blastinus
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Hey, a softball girl! I've been told that V5 was a real hub for softball players, so I suppose that I was going to get one eventually. True to being a sports person, one thing we immediately see from Kathryn's pregame is that she's competitive and strict. In her first thread with the softball team, she chews out Andi Victorino for her attitude while helping to arrange a batting practice order. Her harshness shines through the most in her pregame threads, and it seems like the sort of thing that wouldn't get her a lot of friends, but the island is a different kettle of fish than a softball team.

Sure enough, she actually takes a friendly tack when she hits the island, chumming it up with James Wade and acting casual and jovial. It's kind of a departure from the sharp-tongued lady she was in pregame. Matter of fact, when she finds a fellow student who was given a Clue game box, she proposes sitting down and playing a game with a couple other folks who waltz in. And they do. While everyone else is freaking out or in varying stages of panic, there's this group of four students who decide Day 1 that they're going to play a board game all day. A bit weird.

It's at this point that Kathryn reunites with a couple of her softball teammates, Alda Abbate and Iselle Ovalle-Vandermeer, and they form a tight-knit alliance of sorts. Kathryn sometimes speaks up in conversations, but she rarely takes the lead, and as a result, it's hard to see in this period of the game where her contribution truly lies. It's often just Alda and Iselle working off one another, with Kathryn observing. Then Alda kills someone in front of her, and she finally steps up to deliver a point, throwing a baseball over Iselle's shoulder in the process.

What transpires is so stupid, I want to stop and just focus on it for a second. That baseball? The one that goes sailing over Iselle's shoulder? It kills someone. Seriously. Carlos Lazaro just materializes from the ether to take a fastball to the cranium, and he drops like a stone. It happens so far offscreen, Kathryn doesn't even notice, and she falls asleep, just in time for ANOTHER stupid death to occur when she has her gun out while she's sleeping. Iselle bursts into the room and Kathryn fires on reflex, killing her too.

I guess we're just lucky that Kathryn didn't accidentally choke someone with a Clue game piece.

But wait a moment, that's all of Kathryn's listed kills, and we've still got five threads to go. What else does she get up to in that time? Well, there's a brief confrontation with Virgil Jefferson-Davis, a quick nap, then she gets herself attached to another group, where she mostly just follows again. There's an entire gunfight that occurs in front of her, and she merely stands and watches. Then her group turns on itself, and she stands and watches. Then she leaves.

Finally, we have her death scene, where she finds Matt Vartoogian and they get into a wordless gun battle of three-line posts each before she gets cornered and dies. After her opening island thread where she manages to have a fun peaceful scene, it's just really unfortunate that her story ends on such a flat and emotionless note. For someone who made it so close to the end, Kathryn was seriously kind of a non-entity in the long run. There's nothing wrong with being a sidekick in someone else's story, but if you're going to do that, you need to own the part. Build people up and be a good foil to them. I don't think she managed it.

More, please!
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