Exploring Cataris more, I carefully inspect the map, looking for routes to areas that I haven’t completely mapped, and that aren’t blocked by impassable obstacles. I pore over every detail, and identify a few points where it looks like I might be able to make headway. Time and again, I’m blocked by Power Beam doors (I don’t have the Power Beam yet), low tunnels that I can’t get through because I don’t have the morph ball yet, and hot areas that do damage and I can’t go through because it will kill me to try.
I do find several “interactive devices” on the map and activate them when I get to them. They alter the flow of the magma that powers the place, and this opens up some parts of the map that I couldn’t access previously. I also find an Energy Tank, which is great, it’s only the 2nd one I’ve been able to collect. I keep going, and I find a download station which provides me with the map data for Cataris.
You’d think this would be just the thing I need to figure out where to do and what I need to do, but it doesn’t immediately answer any questions for me, and opens some new ones. I see a spot on the map that looks like a major point of interest — some sort of main control room, or something. I try to figure out how to get to it, but the way is again blocked by things that I don’t have the ability to get past.
I take another route, and eventually find my way to another platform that looks like a train station. I stand on it, and it offers to take me to a new zone, Dairon. Am I supposed to go there now? I haven’t defeated a boss, beaten the EMMI here, or found any useful items beyond one Energy Tank and maybe a missile container or two.
I guess if I go I can always turn around… unless I get softlocked by a one-way and end up stuck.
I get on the train and ride it to Dairon.
I can’t progress very far into Dairon. There’s obstacles not a screen or two into the area that I’m not equipped to get through. Everything is a dead end. There are some enemies here, and they’re super tough. I’m clearly not meant to be here yet. So I walk back to the train platform and get on and ride back to Cataris.
Walking back from Cataris, I get stuck. There’s thermal door, which I had passed through on my way to the train station to Dairon, which is now closed. WTF? There’s no way to open it. I go everywhere that I can access, and my only other route out is a block that I can’t move/destroy, and it looks like I need the Power Beam to be able to do anything with it.
Did I seriously softlock myself?
I go back and forth, looking everywhere, and there’s no way past the obstacles that are in my way.
I suicide, but I just respawn at the station platform for Dairon again. I am softlocked. It seems like there’s no way out, and even dying and respawning won’t put me in a location where I can continue the adventure.
How did I get so far off track that I exceeded the designer team’s contingency plan?
It looks like I will have to fucking start over then. Mother fucker.
The only positive about this is that the game is pretty fun to play, and the 10-15 hours I’ve put into it so far represent only maybe 2-3 hours of work for a player who knows wtf they need to do and how to do it.
I’m still pissed off about it, though. This is bad design. Someone fucked up the level design pretty bad for this to be able to happen.