Those Final Mountains [Spoilers]

For those who’ve put themselves through this, what are your thoughts on the consequences of sailing East?

It’s a very particular quest line, quite unlike every other in the game. Most of the major endings are not only clearly detailed, in terms of benefits and loss for future Captains, but are also clearly sign posted, from start to end. Even colonising Aestival, another ‘Secret’ ambition, is brought to the players attention when creating a new Captain and discovering what’s required to achieve it is merely a matter of visiting two locations: the Grand Geode and Irem.

What’s referred to as ‘Uttermost East’, by comparison, is far more elusive. The game makes a point of only hinting at it’s potential, via the Carnelian Exile and the Burning, Yearning menace. Then, assuming that you’re not using a wiki or some other online source, the player is likely to need to enter Frostfound at least once to identify what’s required to obtain their Burning Name, before going back in again, potentially taking a further hit to stats. The player also has to think literally outside of the box, pushing past the map boundaries when it would be reasonable to assume they’re hard limits.

So you manage all this, including a nerve wracking ride home from the South (Bugger off Megalops, PLEASE!). You’re then put through a horrific ordeal, clicking away almost all you’ve achieved and all you set aside for those to come (again, assuming you’re not already aware of what’s coming - surely this cheapens the experience? To each their own, of course). Then to Irem, where it looks almost as though it was all for nought, with a collection of ‘Impossible! - This choice is not yet available! It will be, some day.’ options that are exceptionally misleading (at this point, to my eternal shame, I felt forced to research online as it looked as though the quest line was unfinished - this may be a step too far in terms of obscuring things in my opinion).

FINALLY you send the ship off screen for the final time, stripped bare of all you own, practically all you’ve achieved (bar the Legacy items), and the reward for all that sacrifice amounts to an in-game achievement and story panel. That’s it.

Make no mistake, getting to this point felt like a sure accomplishment, even with the stumble at the final hurdle. Still, it seems very odd that the harshest and most elusive End quest line is also bereft of any real benefit. Arguably nothing should offset the rending that the final moments of the quest present, but there is no trade at all, not even an unfavourable one. In a strange way it feels as though, having taken so much already, NOT taking away Legacy items on top of everything else is a little uncharacteristically fang-less in the context of the line as a whole.

TLDR: VERY punishing yet somehow not as much as it could have been? I’d argue too misleading right at the end. Questionable return in terms of the sacrifice requested - still glad I went through with it all.

Personally, I loved the Ambition and the conclusion. It was actually the first victory that I achieved; even after I created the Zong of the Zee, I couldn’t resist going farther (although I too had to look up how to pass the ‘Impossible!’ options at Irem).

The ambiguity of what you discover in the East is, for me, part of the appeal. To get there you need to (as the Carnelian Exile says) master the map, and explore places (such as Frostfound and Caution) that the other Ambitions don’t require you to. Fittingly, your reward is an entire new world (or whatever it is) to explore. Sure, we don’t actually get to see what’s out there in the East (or in the High Wilderness, which it’s implied you will eventually reach if you tell the Exile that London will always be your home), but we can imagine it, like some sort of impossible DLC or sequel (‘Sunless Sea: Salt’s Song’, coming 2017?). Would I like to have seen or read more about what’s out there? Perhaps, but in a way that would almost cheapen the experience.

Of course, because successfully reaching the East is a victory condition, you lose everything…but not quite. Aside from the Legacy items, Salt is kind enough to let you keep your Hearts rating, half of which you can then pass on (along with an officer) to the next captain of the lineage, and you get one of three possible paintings depending on what you told the Exile.

(So, what do you think is out there in the East? Aside from pine trees, of course…)

I quite like it, though when I discovered that it removes your scion I decided to leave that ending for when I’m deciding to end my lineage. Salt is probably the most active and intriguing god in the zee (relevant username), and that ending really felt mystical, like frostfound. Much of the game’s rewards are in the stories anyway, (I mean, you don’t play this game to ‘level up’ your ship and roflstomp everyone) that that one was good enough for me.

Also, the ending references music and all. &quotSalt’s Song&quot. Mysterious music is my thing, heh.

Ambition: Kingdom is a bit more difficult than first presented because of the sheer massive grindfest after actually establishing the colony in the first place. Fittingly though for something that difficult it can give any legacy item.

I think the real issue with the puzzle in Irem is that Impossible! makes sense from the title but not from the description. Coming from Fallen London it was more intuitive for me, as there are a few times when Impossible! is used for hint branches. It’s a bit obscure, but then again the whole Ambition is obscure to begin with, and I’m not sure there’s any easy way to make it less misleading.

Outside the confusing final puzzle, I don’t really have any problems with the Ambition. The game’s pretty explicit about what’s coming at each step as well. Mastering the map is explicitly painful to anyone who’s ever zailed off the map, and I for one did that on my first captain. You’re warned not to enter Frostfound without a good reason (and I’d be surprised many players pursue Exaltation without first doing at least part of the Tireless Mechanic’s storyline). It’s always clear there will be great cost, both in Frostfound - though there’s no warning of Wounds, you’re given a way to lessen them - and at the sacrifice. The final puzzle is obtuse, but everything needed is unavailable right there as it were.

I’m getting all the trophies before Zubmariner releases and having a reset button is nice to get a fresh start every so often. So far I’ve gone through Exaltation twice and my only confusion is whether not wiping Hearts is actually intended. (So what do I think is in the East? Nothing, or at least nothing real in this world.)