This spoiler heavy guide illustrates my favourite thing about this game: just how much you can bend it to your whim.
Big spoiler warning
Just getting this out of the way now, spoilers ahead, if you don’t want ’em, now’s your final warning.
Alright, let’s talk crazy stuff.
1. Get you a Quintar
First things first, you need a Quintar. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to beat the fancy Quintar in the second quintar cave at the top of the highest mushroom, past the crystal. From there, take it’s eye to the crazy quintar guy and he’ll give you a flute that lets you summon one whenever.
I put this in to illustrate how little of the game’s progression is fixed. You need a quintar, but really, once you’ve got one, so much opens up.
2. Rent you a salmon
Once you’ve got your quintar mount, ride it along the salmon river until you get to the salmon sprint shack at the end of the line. If you don’t know where that is, go left out of the capital and ride your quintar across the broken bridge (You need the extra distance to clear this and a later gap) and enter the cave at the west of that area, travelling further west until you’re out in salmon town.
You can avoid all the enemies if you’re careful, but if you have to fight them they can be tricky, at least early game and on hard mode.
Once you’re at the shack, rent a salmon for 1 silver so you can participate in the salmon sprint race minigame.
3. Steal you a violin
Once you’re in the salmon sprint, completely ignore where the salmon are going and instead take a sharp right out of the wooden platform area. You’ll need to swim some distance along the shoreline going northeast before you go full east and deeper in the water. (z and x control up and down) The reason you need to go along the shoreline quite a distance is because the water is infested with strong sea beasts who will mess you up if they get a chance. Go far out enough and you’ll just slip past them. It might take a couple of tries.
Once you’ve cleared past them, you want to go due eastwhile scanning for a cave opening on the seabed which is surrounded by kelp. If you’ve never been before it’ll take you a couple of tries to find the place, so make sure to save before you blow all your money on salmon rent.
Once you’ve found the kelp hole swim straight down into it. You’ll find an underwater cave with a sign, a home point and a chest. Inside the chest is the tool that lets you summon a salmon; the salmon violin.
Water, which was once your enemy, is now your greatest tool for travel.
You don’t have the Ibex yet.
4. Win you a cello
When the two minute clock runs out, you get shot back to the salmon sprint sign in station. You want this, because now with your own salmon, you can race for free AND you actually have a chance of winning, which you very much want to do, because the first place prize is a Salmon Cello that summons an even FASTER salmon mount. You’ll want this mount.
The race itself is pretty easy. You race for free so just keep trying to you win first place.
Either before this or after, swim out into the area near the salmon sprint shack and swim directly up the waterfall in the middle of the lake. There’s a riddle inside the structure you’ll enter; all the right answers are at the bottom of the list and you get a crystal for hopping across the riddle-asker when you get it right.
Now, let’s talk to the Quintar.
5. Loot you an artefact
With the aquatic mounts in tow, head back to the quintar caves (either, they’re connected in the waterways so both are good) and enter the second cave, where you fought that boss from earlier in this guide.
Instead of going that way, go south-east until you find the water of the cave flowing down into a different area.
Congratulations; you just broke into a tomb.
There’s a puzzle here, six switches that need to be pressed in order and on a time limit. It’s a hell of a lot easier to get to them in time with the faster fish. The order is top left, bottom left, bottom middle, bottom right, top right, dead centre. There are a few enemies here; they will mess you up if they find you, but it’s easy enough to avoid them if you just stay in the water where it’s not required to leave it.
With the puzzle solved, you can enter the Quintar’s holy site (disclaimer: may not actually be holy, speculations on Quintar religious beliefs are hypothetical) and steal some dohicky that lets you communicate with the Quintar.
You still do not have the Ibex.
What did we learn?
I write this to show you just how open this world is. You can crack it open like a walnut; skip HUGE sections if you know what to do… but even so, you can miss massive chunks. I mean, I STILL don’t know what’s up with that huge funky cube by that one beach.
I’m looking forward to watching people speedrun this amazing game one day. It’s going to be a thing of beauty.
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