Gates to Aesgaard – Episode 2! These guys sure like their episodes don’t they? Even their indie game has the subtitle of episode one. I am going off-topic though. There is no download for the main file on the Oblivion Nexus site, however you can download it here instead.
In episode 2, it continues the story begun in the first episode where you now possibly have the chance to *spoilers* save Ashen Rose’s soul from eternal suffering. You are actually contacted by an mysterious order who offer to aid you in this endeavor but you must help them first. They are convinced you are the ‘Chosen One’ and the only person able to retrieve the mystical Soul Sphere from the hellish world that belongs to the cruel sadistic King Stochan, who happens to now ascended to some sort of godhood.
Will you succeed in retrieving the mysterious orb? Or will you lose your sanity and perish in this nightmarish dreamscape?
I am going to admit right here and now that I am slightly confused. What visions was the order referring? Cause I am pretty sure I did not encounter any visions…wait, are the visions the video cut-scenes from the first episode? If so, then ignore this paragraphy because I am a genius 🙂
Still not sure how you are the ‘Chosen One’ though. Maybe I didn’t read the notes properly or missed something.
The second episode didn’t fare as well as the first episode did on Oblivion Nexus in terms of both downloads and endorsements. However, it garnered enough attention to be one of the higher rated horror mods on the site. I am actually unsure how many horror mods are on Oblivion Nexus. I know there was one that was similar to Amnesia in its concept. How do I know? I downloaded it unaware it was a horror mod till the first jump-scare. I just thought it was a cool island that I could explore 😦
Okay, now let us actually talk about the mod instead of going off on tangents.
Like its predecessor, it has custom videos/movies that play at key parts. In this mod, there are a total of 3 videos. The beginning video was really well-made and I think was a great way to set the mood for the rest of the mod. The second video, I am ashamed to admit that I already do not remember what it was. I do remember however that I had a hard time hearing what was being said in the video. I managed to understand the first line then had no idea what was said at the end. Oh I remember now, the second video was pretty darn creepy and scared the daylights out of me since it played so unexpectedly. I had just finished a mini-quest and since my game is slow, took a while for it to load me back to the farmhouse. Just when I recovered the ability to move and interact with the world, sudden video plays. The final video was the ending video with credits, what I actually enjoyed from the ending video was that there were examples of the concept art for the enemies. I thought it was a neat thing to add into the video. Add in with the fact that there is a custom soundtrack playing along with the movies, makes it so much more satisfying to watch. More engaging for the player too. The soundtrack fit really well with the movie.
The custom loading screens were neat as well, got very repetitive though which was a shame. More variation on the loading image and perhaps an occasional loading message relating to the lore of the mod could been done. Just an opinion.
I particularly enjoyed the contrast created in the land of Cahernia (did I spell that right?) since on the outside, it looks idyllic but when you explore the interior of the various locations, it reveals a nightmarish side. The contrast was an interesting concept and I think it tied in with the overall concept of how pain and pleasure were two sides of the same coin in a sense. There is a fine line between the two.
The sound design definitely improved in this episode compared to the first one. I also fixed my sound issue which I mentioned in the post regarding the first episode. It was indeed from the Malevolent mod but I am not sure what caused the sound to bug out from that mod. I might had done something too quickly like travelling between different areas or opening/exiting my inventory.
Now I didn’t actually read the read-me document properly so I encountered some landscape issues in Caherina. At first I thought it might be relating to my texture replacers since I have at least two different kinds of texture replacers for Oblivion and decided to read the document again. Turns out you need to edit the load order into a certain way so the landscape works properly. It was disconcerting at first seeing a land filled with broken texture colors and finding out there was no solid land, much less only a door when there was meant to be a farm house. Changing the load order however fixes the issue although I still had the rainbow color landscape. At least I had solid land to run on again, so I’ll take that rather than constantly having to swim across water and using the console to reach places. However it is recommended on the mod description to play this with vanilla Oblivion textures but if you do use the texture replacers, you need to make sure they are compatible with this mod (which is something I did not do either now that I think about it). The landscape bug only affects when you are in the Caherina world-space not interior cells.
There are actually a lot more enemies in this compared to the first episode. Even had variations of the enemies you meet so you do not always see the same kind of enemy. That was nice since a complaint I had for the previous mod was always seeing the same kinds of enemies. Some of the enemies reminded me of the Nurse enemies from Silent Hill games due to the lack of face. The enemies that did have faces were still creepy. So very bloody as well.
The level design differs vastly compared to the first and you actually are able to see pretty well for the most part. You do not need torches for most areas but some areas are a little dark requiring the trusty torch. Torches are not provided as much compared to the first so you better bring a couple of them with you. I brought 3 torches and they lasted me the entire adventure, even finding an extra 4 more towards the end. Again, like the previous mod you are encouraged to only use torches and no night-eye or light spells.
I did like the new level designs, even the Abyss levels had an overhaul which was surprising for me. I had thought they would keep it the same or certain elements from the predecessor. The new door designs serving as teleport stones was unique too. I liked how it is explained that most of the travel done in this dreamscape/other-world was done using this teleportation stones.
Some of the things I saw in the mod reminded me of other mods such as Dungeons of Ivellon (armor) and the Halls of Frost mod that I did (hallways). I think those mods came out much later since Gates to Aesgaard is such an old mod on the site. I may be wrong though.
Another thing that made me extremely happy was that you could actually see underwater this time. My main complaint for episode 1 was how impossible it was to see in the water since it turned everything literally black leaving you hopeless to navigate. This time, you have better visibility underwater which is a big plus in my book.
The second episode has made a lot of improvements but it seems to sacrifice a lot of things that the first episode did really well. Much of the horror aspect was missing, in the first episode there was always the overall sense of nervousness and some paranoia as you never know what would get you next in the dark. In this episode, it felt a lot more focused on combat since it was extremely heavy on the combat side. It was not as dark compared to the first since I actually had to hardly use my torches minus certain sections of whatever interior location I was in. I did not feel as paranoid or scared as I was in the first. I thought it was a shame that it lost some of that, but still the improvements were extremely well-done and I quite enjoyed the improvements.
I personally think the Gates to Aesgaard would make a good book. I would definitely read the book if it was ever written. However the concepts and rights of the mod belongs to the makers so theres the whole copyright thing. Seeing how the third episode would have played out is something I would love to see, but sadly will not happen. My personal theory is that Ashen Rose after losing her mind and the constant suffering her soul has experienced led her to joining Stochan. Possibly. I also predict you would had met Stochan in the third episode as well since there was the foreshadowing about him in the ending of both episodes. Perhaps there might been a section of how the player is battling an internal battle as well to not lose their sanity and keep a grip on reality. Reason for that is because some of the journal entries mention you hearing voices which is not a good sign.
Also I do not agree in giving that man the Soul Sphere. Something about the second note I read leads me to believe that the note may not been from the order (just checked, called the Fequrian Order). The first line literally said ” let your pain become your pleasure” which is something that Stochan and his buddies would say rather than the Order. He also showed up at too much of a convenient timing and place.
I also think the reason why the second episode wasn’t as well-received by the community was because it did not meet up to the expectations created by the first episode. It lost a lot of its ‘scare’ factor and became more of a hack n slash type of adventure quest. Some of the locations and enemies were disturbing but not much else. I enjoyed the story though and had a much easier time playing this compared to the first. I still have no idea why there would be dinosaurs though.