The Elder Scrolls

Beyond Reach: Realms of Oblivion done right

Content of the article: "Beyond Reach: Realms of Oblivion done right"

Firstly if you're not used to playing unvoiced and/or unfinished games (such as Morrowind, or the myriad of games that go through public beta testing) you're probably going to have a bad time with Beyond Reach, I love it and can look past all the flaws but I'd understand if that was a deal breaker for some. For the lack of polish though it's quite a concise game, I've come across maybe two major game breaking bugs and I was able to progress by either reloading or running a setstage command1>) but far fewer bugs than you'd see in a Bethesda game, I know some people have had pretty bad experiences but it's a lot more polished than it once was.

I'm going to do my best to avoid spoilers and just praise the atmosphere of the Oblivion Realms you visit, never has a realm of Oblivion felt so appropriate to it's lord, Deadlands of Oblivion? Shivering Isle? Not even close. Bethesda hasn't made Oblivion realms feel as horrific and terrifying as Beyond Reach does, the whole vibe of the mod is 'things are looking fucking bleak' and it doesn't get less bleak but the realms you visit feel like you've been ripped out of the relative safety of High Rock and thrown into the pits of hell, during my first visit and despite having companions I genuinely had the hair on the back of my neck standing up because I was so uneasy – for a brief moment I was no longer playing Skyrim but was playing a horror game. This is in no small part due to the visuals that the author conveys, some of the creatures are obviously reskinned Skyrim base creatures yet you won't really care in the moment, they're absolutely horrifying to look at. The misanthropic eloquence of the writing is almost beautiful even when it's describing something so morbid and grotesque. Even if throughout the entire game you were clueless as to who the first realm belongs to the second you arrive it makes perfect sense, the same applies to the following realms – the second your feet touch the ground you know, and you feel like there is so much living in the sprawling landscape that you can only see but not reach. Even if the current worldspace you're exploring is diminutive it still feels like there's something just over the hill waiting for you, or something above you ready to pick you off your feet and cast you into an eternity of suffering, you never grasp the scale of something because it always feels bigger than it is and for all the graphically horrific stuff you see it does a great job of letting you play tricks on yourself.

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I cannot sing it's praises enough, it's brutal, unrelenting and miserable but it's beautiful.

Skyrim, Oblivion and Morrowind feature some graphic content like cannibalism, sexual assault is alluded to in both game and lore, the Falmer blinding prisoners by plucking the eyes from their heads but it still feels PG-13 like the gorier details are left entirely unsaid, even in Mehrunes Dagons Deadlands, a realm which is based on the popular Christian view of Hell – you got a few bodies and some plants that sneeze on you. This is far from the case for Beyond Reach – it's explicit and doesn't hide the gory details. This is both the biggest draw and the biggest flaw of the mod, if you're not expecting it it's a fucking gut punch right away, I like feeling like shit from movies and games so this is only a draw to me but if the allusion to graphic content is enough for you in Skyrim you're again going to have a bad time with Beyond Reach. The Authors intent is very clear, to make you feel cold, alone, disgusted and worthless and you do, there is not a smile to be had in the Reach and I personally wouldn't want it any other way.

1: life pro tip, use the command "help" followed by arnimamain and you'll find all the main quests so you can progress if something breaks, you can usually determine a quest by affixing a characters name or place to 'arnima' and the help command


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