Kongming’s Archives / SOSZ returns

I’ve been on the internet long enough to remember when you dialed into a specific subset of the “internet” and durable websites were rare. In that time I’ve been on a lot of websites, especially forums. We’re now in a place on the internet where the bulk of discussion happens on monolithic sites, and ends up being shallow, combative or generally misunderstood. I’ve always preferred the forum format because it is interactive, generally promotes equality of readership (i.e. it doesn’t bury/surface things quickly like Reddit does) and it is durable (i.e. even a months-old topic can resurface, with all the context intact). Although there are things to like about formats like Reddit or Discord, those kinds of communities tend to be insular and celebrity-focused. That’s if there is any sense of community at all.

When I was bringing videolamer back online early last year, it brought back a wave of nostalgia for how I used to use the internet – rather than refreshing resetera or reddit, monolithic single points of entry for discussion, I used to frequent a half-dozen forums at a time. Discord looped me in to where the communities from some of them are, but there was a hole where Kongming’s Archives (and its forum counterpart, The Scholars of Shen Zhou) used to be. While the Archives are a fantastic resource for fans of Three Kingdoms or related games, the forum (or at least how I used it) is a broader discussion group. I have fond memories of reading discussion on the forum or diving into the officer biographies on KMA going back to the mid-2000s, so seeing it “partially online” was distressing – it has more than 20 years of discussion archived, so the forum itself has become an archive of odds and ends around discussion of Three Kingdoms and related (or tangential) games. I can’t think of anywhere else I would look for discussion of Fantasy Sango / Genso Sangokushi, as one of the more esoteric examples.

Anyway, I was very glad to see Kongming’s Archives and SOSZ have resurfaced. Thanks to James for his work reviving a dedicated, warm community. While I haven’t been an active poster for roughly a decade, I’m excited to see it back up and running. Cheers to those sections of the internet keeping forums alive.

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Strange Journey Part 11: The Finale

As a reminder, these entries contain direct, unmarked spoilers for Strange Journey (specifically the Neutral path finale). If you’re reading this, please be aware.

I actually completed Strange Journey in November and had most of this written by mid-December, but I wanted to ruminate a but on it before putting it up on the internet where the world can see.

Overall I enjoyed Strange Journey Redux, but it was still longer than I feel it should have been. Specific “this is too much” moments are Carina (did we really have to chase Horkus three times?), Eridanus (teleporter maze + fetching forma for the bad guys), Horologium (11 floors…yeah). Fornax + Grus actually weren’t that bad, from memory. Antlia was fantastic, Bootes and Delphinus were kind of tedious but okay.

If SJ were about half its length, it could have been a snappy “sci-fi horror survival” story with a pro-ecological message and engaging characters that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. With the co-op system and demon fusion pain, and dungeons that go longer than they need to, it’s an incredibly slow burn even if it’s fairly easy to pick up and put down.

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Strange Journey Part 10: The Eggs

Just after we attempt to navigate the Vanishing Point to Horologium, we are shown – for once – a clear vision in which the Three Figures reveal what exactly it is they want. This is the longest and most consequential cutscene since the very beginning, in which everything was wrapped in mystery.

I’m sure it’s become obvious by now, but this post will have spoilers for some endgame content of Strange Journey. Delve with diligence.

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Strange Journey Part 9: The Illusionary World

After plunging once more into the Vanishing Point armed with more data, we manage to make it to Sector G: Grus. It initially appears similar to Antlia, but indications are that it contains diverse sections deeper inside.

In Grus, we are able to proceed without incident for awhile, but illusions block our path and Mastema shows up. He has been gathering angelic forces in a hidden enclave within the sector, to prepare for the eventual war with demons over humanity’s fate. Zelenin asks him for guidance with respect to the Red Sprite crew, as she feels they are headed towards internal conflict and hopes for peace. He tells her that she does not need his guidance now, but will someday and to seek him out when that day comes.

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Strange Journey Part 8: The Abstract World

After being rudely rejected by the Vanishing Point emergency-exit, we find ourselves in Fornax, the sixth world of Strange Journey. This world has a relatively muted, orange-ish design with lots of floaty shapes, and the music is actually identical to the second part of Antlia, so in terms of actual aesthetics, it is the most disappointing world so far (although to be fair, I’ve quit the game midway through Bootes twice).

The opener section of Fornax is at least relatively action-packed, since you end up fighting a boss within the first half hour of exploration. This demon makes itself known as Moloch, Morax reborn. It becomes evident that Fornax is some kind of demon breeding ground, and although it may not be the only source of demons, the “Mother” that lives in Fornax created Morax, Mitra, Horkos and Asura but they weren’t able to retain their strongest forms in the upper layers of the Schwarzwelt.

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