It's hard to know what to say about a game like this, honestly. I'm still thinking about a lot of stuff - or deciding what to think, maybe.
I'll start with my party! Fall-From-Grace and Morte are my easily my favourites, followed by Dakkon. The rest I could take or leave, except for Annah, who I just plain dislike. It's not so often that I dislike a character who wasn't meant to be disliked or steeped in moral dubiousness, but Annah... I just cannot find one likeable thing about her. Overemotional, full of snap judgements, super clingy, rather shallow compared to the rest of the cast.
When I first heard I'd be meeting a healing succubus in a brothel and she'd join my team my eyes were spinning in their sockets but Grace is just completely awesome. Classy, firm, always gives the impression that there's plenty she knows and is keeping to herself, utterly fearless when politely and cerebraly telling off people who have a problem with her or your party... I kind of anticipated the succubus would be the clingy one falling all over herself for you, and I'm glad I was surprised.
I shouldn't even have to explain why I like Morte. He's hilarious. And he's also an incredibly steadfast friend. The flashback you get pulling him off the tower of skulls upset me more than any of the other horrible things I saw my past self doing, and I was pretty easily upset by all of those awful things. Poor Morte. He's like some kind of secret woobie skull who is always ready with a hilariously inappropriate joke or a pass at Grace. It is wonderful.
I played a Neutral Good TNO, and in general I did go through the game feeling genuinely guilty for the stupid shit my asshole past selves kept doing to people. It's hard for me to imagine doing an evil playthrough of this game - I'm attached to TNO, he's easy to get attached to, and everywhere you go someone has already done an awful lot of evil while wearing your skin. I expected, since hearing Deoinarra's prediction at the beginning of the game, that I would meet a good/evil/neutral incarnation at the end, but I expected them to be more like abstract concepts of the alignment system rather than the actual incarnations who had preceded and caused so much trouble for me. That was a nice touch - and one that would have been nicer had I been able to punch the "Practical" incarnation in the face.
Her prediction goes two ways, though - It can refer also to Ravel, Trias, and the Transcendent One. And if I have a sole complaint about this game's story/story decisions, it is that Tony Jay was chosen as a voice actor for the Transcendent One. It talks and all I hear is Megabyte, and that is really too "mwa ha ha" for a game like this. I think it should have had a quiet, insubstantial, hissing kind of voice. Not high pitched or overly hissing like Ignus, but something with a lot of reverb.
The ending doesn't answer all of your questions for you, but it answers enough. That's a precarious line to walk, normally, but they did it well. There are things I wonder about - What did the First do that was so terrible, what lie did Morte tell to lead TNO to his death? - but I think I am happier not knowing so specifically. It's one of those cases where telling me straight out would probably be more mundane, invite me to judge whether or not each instance was really so bad, and distract from the point - the point is not what the First did so much as how he ran from it and how it's affected everything (and even his sentient mortality) to this point, so I can understand that and let it go.
I played through the ending several times - and how I love that you can talk rather than fight your way through it, that makes the most sense. I'm glad that you can settle things with Deionarra, too, because that was weighing on my conscience. Anyway, I merged him with me after asking what can change the nature of a man.
You know, I can't help but appreciate this game in contrast to other games - not even just other games of its ilk, but other games that are trying to tell a story. "What can change the nature of a man?" is a repeated question and a defining theme, but that's all they give you, and they give it to you sparsely enough. It's not repeated every single cutscene. Nothing spells out for you that this is ultimately a game about roleplaying and about defining and discovering your character. It's... I wouldn't call it subtle, it's easy to grasp, but it doesn't beat you over the head. This game respects your intelligence.
Compare to other games like recent entries in the FF series and their Important Keyword Repetition, or everything I've seen for Dragon Age II, which is... I know the game is about defining and creating Hawke without having ever played it because that's what they told me it was about, on the back of the box and as part of the framing narrative of the whole story. It comes with a whole bunch of preconceptions, too, about what are necessary points of interest when the point of the game is defining a character - I cannot be left to my own devices, and the character has to be literally the most important person ever in the whole DA universe? See, that's worthy of a Megabyte endboss.
I don't know. This game is a lot more than the sum of its parts. The ending was bittersweet, finishing it was bittersweet, and certainly packed an emotional punch. I'm sad that Stanley ultimately has to pay for the crimes of his past incarnations, but that's because I'm attached to Stanley, not because I'd have the game end any other way.
Well, hopefully he'll find Grace and Morte again, someday.
Stanley's class: Mage
Hardest battle:</b> Ravel
Most useful party member: Dak'kon
Progression of save file names:
stanley's adventurous life
what is this i don't even
don't fuck this up for me morte
pew pew lasers
stanley's hackalicious life
stanley's adventurous death