No intros, let’s just start with Damian:
I like how things start with him. We help him out, he becomes our friend and the assumed weak guy of the group. Then Nora bullies him, and soon after he gets infected by the deoxys virus.
Up until now, I mostly like the dynamic needing to help the weak guy; my only gripe is that he does almost nothing to even try to help us in the journey. I’d like, for example, that he teams up with us at the Jade tower to at least fight off some sky cultists. Anything that is more than just standing there and watch how the player does all the work.
But from this point onwards, the new Infected Damian kind of loses all character, simply because he only follows the orders of Harmony’s father (who I’ll call grampa for short). Grampa even said something like “Damian didn’t choose to follow me, but he’s happier now”. So, I can’t really credit him for anything he does since he’s just being a puppet; and anything he does, grampa could have done on his own.
There is one exception to this case though – when he gives you the crystal shard without the grampa’s premission, showing that he trusts you. I would really like for this to be the case in more occasions: maybe the grampa doesn’t want to help the player, and it’s Damian who convinces him to collaborate at the base of Mount Rose. And also make him show some doubt or some opposition when grampa tells him to go kill the player in the nightmare realm. These little things could really ramp up his redemption from being the cart weakling, instead of feeling like a lifeless puppet. (And also remember: Damian never held any resentment towards the player, only towards Nora. If anything, he’s grateful to us for helping him in multiple occasions).
And lastly, his final arc with Audrey felt incomplete. I would like to see how he confronts his mother. Additionaly see if he makes peace with Nora.
Speaking of Nora, it’s her turn now:
Little disclaimer – I go by the theory that Nora is supposed to be somewhat cocky, Gary style, while not necessarily too strong. If that’s not her schtick, I don’t know what she’s supposed to be.
Do keep in mind though that she’s cocky, but not egocentric or selfish. When she discovers that the player is another chosen by pixies, she’s relieved that the prophecy might not be about her.
Throughout the first half of the story things go pretty well by her character: she portrays her confidence a tad too much at times, and Damian even comments on it at the library entrance. She has otherwise an average friendly rivalry with the player. If anything, I’d say to tone her cockiness UP a bit.
However, after she snaps at Damian, her character does a 180º turn, and 99% of the time she is 1: worrying about Damian, or 2: standing around and watching how the player beats every cult. You encounter her very often, but she’s very… inconsequential to the events. She doesn’t really help, doesn’t really bother either. She’s just there.
Again, there is one sole exception to this case: when confronting Taen at the dragon ruins. That felt more like a relevant character who is doing her thing.
You could argue about another exception: when she gets kidnapped by Nyx. But two things, 1: I don’t think anyone but the player could win against Nyx; and 2: Nyx could have easily threatened the player with commiting mass homicide or something to lure them to the trone of the hegemon. So not only did Nora not have a choice there, but also her kidnap didn’t carry any real consequence, beyond being able to provide some moral support before the battle. I don’t think this event really needs change, just saying it doesn’t add anything remarkable on Nora’s character.
However, one positive that I have is that, after Nyx’s battle, Nora finally stops being so cocky and fully acknowledges the player as stronger. In posterior battles against her, her response is less a whiny “but how did you beat me?” and more an admiring “but how are you so good?”. At least that’s the feel I got.
But aside from this good point, I can totally see Nora being annoying for most of the game, and never really getting any redemption or improvement for a lot of people. So, I would suggest two things:
First, make her consequential. Make more parts like the tag battle against Taen. After all, she does absolutely nothing against the Abyssal, Infernal or Darkrai cults. The Sky cult too for that matter. Make it so that, maybe, she saves your butt from Persephone at one time, or she clears you the way of cultists to reach Audrey at the whirl islands in time. Just anything even remotely useful.
Second, make her mess up, probably due to her cockiness. Or better yet, since she becomes so regretful after bullying Damian, give her lack of confidence and self-doubt issues from that point onwards, and perhaps you have to save her a couple of times, such as maybe at the Infernal base. All of this so that, somewhere at the end of the game, she recognises that she has been immature and has caused problems to both Damian and the player, and apologises for it. Perhaps she could ask something like “do you think I’m an annoyance?” and you get to give her a mental wallop with a yes, if you really want to.
Anyways, that’s about everything I had to say. This turned out longer than I expected, I hope that’s not too much of an issue ^^’.