Friday, 28 February 2014

To Kiccigiorgi in Search of the Black Samurai (Shin Megami Tensei IV)

Isabeau on the roof

Last we left off, Flynn and the gang started hearing rumors about a black samurai going around spreading literature to the Casualries of the kingdom. They were largely works of fiction, but this style of writing was unknown to most people here. By the looks of things, what people can read is tightly controlled, focusing on history, fables, and educational material. This revelation certainly paints the Kingdom of Mikado in a darker light and the literature is making some people question their lot in life and why Luxorors have the authority while Casualries do not.

So, after Flynn was done hanging out with Jonathan and Walter, I had him turn in for the night. Shortly thereafter he was awoken by his two friends who wanted him to accompany them to the roof once more. Apparently Isabeau was up there reading all by herself, and they wanted to sneak up and startle her. Walter was too talkative, though, and she noticed them pretty quickly.

We did get a peak at what she was reading, and it was manga of all things. This too doesn't exist in their world. I'm not sure if it's viewed as negatively as literature here. The game hasn't really said. Isabeau seemed to be enjoying it quite a bit, as she was very enthusiastic when telling everyone else about it. The conversation also put things in perspective as to their world being different from Earth. She mentioned that the manga she was reading took place in a fictional country called France, so my guess is that they're either in a different dimension or time. In any case, it was a nice moment because it showed a more human side to Isabeau. She's usually very serious but here she let her guard down as she gushed about the story she was reading.

Leanan Sidhe
Leanan Sidhe has been a
wonderful addition to the team.
Just then they noticed a fire off in the distance. It looked like one of the nearby villages was being attacked, and it was Kiccigiorgi, Flynn and Issachar's hometown. With that the four of them rushed down to the courtyard where they saw several samurai running around preparing to leave. They were going to see what was wrong at the village. Of course, everyone wanted to go too, especially given that it was Flynn's home that was in danger. The senior samurai there at the time was against it since the four hadn't received orders to mount up, but then Hope arrived and gave the okay for them to come along.

When we arrived in Kiccigiorgi things were in a shambles. Houses burning, terrified villagers, commotion everywhere. Talking with one of the locals, he explained that they were attacked by demons. He thought they were the stuff of legend, so I've gotta assume that up until now demons have been contained within Naraku. In any case, a number of the villagers fled into the woods to try and escape the monsters, and it was up to the samurai to go in there and save them.

While wandering around the forest we encountered a number of new demons that were a fair bit stronger than what we'd been facing in the upper floors of Naraku. They weren't terribly difficult to deal with and it was a good opportunity to try and do a bit more recruiting as well as some fusion depending on who joined us. I brought on a few more demons and they opened up the door for some interesting new possibilities, so it was off to meet Mido so we could fuse them together and make some extra fancy minions. The main ones that I scored out of this, and who are fixtures in my party now, are a Gremlin and a Leanan Sidhe. The former has been great for it's mix of offensive abilities, the latter for her ability to both enhance everyone's defense in combat as well as having a healing spell that hits everyone. This does mean that Leanan Sidhe in particular can wind up consuming a lot of mana but her spells have been a huge help to the team.

As we slowly rescued the villagers, Flynn and the gang were able to get a better idea of what happened. Issachar returned to the village and the thing he was so excited to show everyone was literature. The Black Samurai had gotten to him, and now he was spreading the word. While on the surface it looked like these books may have some good ideas, pointing out societies inequalities and such, the problem with them was that it turned those who read them into demons.

Kiccigiori forest
There were some nice demon recruiting opportunities in the forest
surrounding Kiccigiori.
Relaying this information to Hope, he ordered everyone to head deeper into the forest to try and find the Black Samurai. This lead to a single winding path with a treasure chest along the side and a cliff that we could jump off of, leading to another treasure chest. After helping myself to the contents of the chests (nothing exciting, just some earrings and a revival leaf if I remember correctly), we reached the end of the path.

Here we encountered Issachar who was obviously quite angry at the world and the inequalities in it. After giving us a talk about how wonderful literature and the Black Samurai were he revealed that he was becoming a demon, so we had to put him down. The fight was pretty easy and there were times where the action would pause for more conversation and I was given the option as to what to say. I went with being the nice guy and Issachar started to feel bad about what he had done. I also tried to show him some mercy when he asked to be killed, saying we'd find a way to help him. This split the party in terms of how they felt about it. On the one hand Walter didn't like it because he felt we should have killed Issachar right away. He was a demon now and could not be saved. Meanwhile, Jonathan was very understanding and felt it was more important that Flynn show compassion to his friend.

Corrupted Issachar
Things have gone terribly wrong for Issachar.
With Issachar out of the picture we went a little ways further into the forest where we encountered the Black Samurai. She seemed to want to tempt people with knowledge and felt that most of the people of this world were sheep doing what the authorities told them, not really seeing things for what they were. I get the impression that she's from another place or time judging by how she talks, and also by the clothes she wears as its the same military jump suit from the cover of SMT: Strange Journey. I haven't played that game yet, so have no ideas of the implications of this. Guess I'll find out soon enough or I'll need to go through the DS game in order to connect the dots.

Just as we were about to engage her in battle, the demons she summoned cast a powerful charm spell and all of the men in the group were rendered unconscious. Here Flynn encountered Stephen in a weird dreamlike plane where he was directed to have a conversation with a young girl that needs his help coming into the world. Lots of ominous stuff going on and I'm not terribly inclined to trust them just yet. Stephen was helpful in the demon domain but that girl, how do I know she isn't some sort of destructive deity or something?

After this brief chat with the girl, Flynn regained consciousness and everyone was fine. Isabeau managed to deal with the baddies herself and Walter and Jonathan were feeling better as well. At that time, Hope contacted everyone on their gauntlets and ordered them back to the village for a full debriefing. After being appraised of the situation, he had everyone head back to the castle for some shut eye while the senior samurai and clergy discuss what transpired at Kiccigiorgi.

On the whole, I rather liked this bit of the game. It was a welcomed change of pace from Naraku. Sure, there wasn't much in the way of exploration, but it did a good job of advancing the story. I'm very curious about the Black Samurai, Stephen, and the girl. Who should I trust? Everyone seems to be hiding something that may or may not be sinister. The trip was also a great opportunity for getting some new demons. I especially like my Leanan Sidhe. She's doing a fantastic job!

The Black Samurai
We've finally met the
Black Samurai. She's so
Waking the next morning, everyone was summoned to the courtyard for an update on the whole Kiccigiori incident. It wasn't only top samurai here were there, though. Members of the clergy were also present, and it was they who did the talking. They expressed their concern about demons being found outside of Naraku and the trouble that the Black Samurai had caused. It was their opinion that the Unclean Ones were on the move. Basically the humans of Mikado's ancient enemy.

The only way to stop this was to delve deeper into Naraku than any samurai had dared venture in centuries. This will lead to the Unclean Ones' city where I assume the clergy would like to take the fight to them. However, this has caused a good bit of consternation among the samurai, as it generally goes against their code to go where they're being sent. There are even warded passages and the like to prevent it. However, given the extreme situation that they now find themselves in they have no choice.

It's also being speculated that the clergy are pushing this as a pretense to gather more technological relics from the area that are on par with the samurai gauntlets. They would never outwardly admit such a thing, but some of its members don't exactly strike me as being on the up and up. One of their monks in particular comes of as being pretty slimy.

Before we headed down to the dungeon we popped by K's bar since we needed to hit up the the black board and officially get the quest to go so deep into Naraku.  Jonathan, Walter, and Isabeau were already there so we decided to team up again.  We also grabbed what extra side quests we could, and with that we headed out.

Getting to the fourth floor of Naraku took a little while, as it's a bit of a hike. The stairs were just past were the entrance to the demon domain we'd been in early. Heading down, the next floor was a lot less finished. Already we were seeing a transition from well constructed, bricked walls to simple caves on the third floor. The forth had seen hardly any improvements made to it. For the most part the area was caves with subterranean waterfalls and only the occasional ladder or bridge installed to make travel possible.

The Minotaur of Naraku
The Minotaur was one tough cookie.
The demons were stronger once again, though there were some repeats of stuff that we'd encountered in the forest. I recruited a couple along the way but was mostly concerned with seeing how far I could go into Naraku. Eventually we came to a massive door. Burroughs detected a powerful demon on the other side, but we decided to forge ahead. When we entered the next chamber things seemed pretty calm but then a massive Minotaur appeared before us. He was the keeper of the gateway that we'd just passed through.

So, it was time for another boss fight and this one was a doozy. He has very strong physical attacks and one swing can cause a ton of damage. What makes him particularly difficult is that he has one ability called Labrys Strike. It's an attack that strikes multiple times in one use. When he does it and the hits are split between party members it's not too bad because the damage is spread out, so people tend to survive it. Things get tricky when the hits all stack on one person, as this means they're going to take a lot of damage and will most likely die. It just sort of snowballs from there because he'll start getting critical hits that give him extra attacks during his turn and he may well get a smirk boost in the process.

Flynn and his demons were around levels 10-12. The end result was us meeting an untimely end, so I figured it might be a good idea to level up a bit more, doing some side quests, and maybe try fusing a few more demons in order for everyone to get stronger before trying again. This actually worked out quite well. There was a decent fetch quest we could hand in for Fuxi Feathers, which I had a ton of in my inventory.

Fighting Ares
Challenging Ares was a nice
We handed those in and Flynn leveled up. Having been sitting on some App Points, I decided it was time to spend those, and plunked them on Fundraising, as money was always tight for the group and I wanted Flynn to buy some decent gear as well as pay for one of the special fuses that I'd been keeping an eye on. This ability has been really helpful in earning extra coin when combined with the side quests. We even got a quest from one of the demons in Naraku after Flynn started fundraising. I haven't done it yet because the game is giving me messages saying I'm under leveled for it, so that's on the back burner for now.

There was one other side quest on my plate that I thought I'd give a try, but this one required going all the way back to Mikado Castle. Apparently one of the gauntlets that the samurai wanted to use for future recruits was inhabited by a demon, Ares, who would only leave if bested in battle by a mighty warrior. No one else had managed this yet, so Flynn and the gang gave it a shot. It was a pretty tough fight, and took a few tries to win, but we managed. It largely came down to Strigoii saving the day with his Bad Company ability. Ares managed to kill a couple of my demons fairly early on in the fight, so I needed to use this ability as a means of replenishing my ranks as the battle wore on. I had to do this twice, but after that it was a no go since Ares managed to take out Strigoii. Thankfully by then we had him on the ropes and a round later we emerged victorious.

Between our fundraising ability and these side quests Flynn had managed to accumulate a nice chunk of change, so it was time for a shopping spree. Our first port of call was Q's Blacksmith where we snapped up a new sword and armor. For the sword I opted for an Athame. It's not the hardest hitting weapon out there, but it allows for multiple strikes in one attack, and doesn't completely break the bank in terms of cost. For armor, I grabbed Ahazuya Red (that name sounds like it should be a trendy drink =p ). It had some okay stats and resistances, and made for a decent replacement to Flynn's stock samurai garb. The remainder of the money went toward a special fusion to make a Fortuna. She has some nice abilities like Sukukaja which help party members evade better when cast as well as some good heals, so I thought she might be good to have in the reserves when taking another stab at the Minotaur.

Fortune Megami
I haven't done anything with Fortuna
yet, but that may change soon.
Heading back into the dungeon stronger than ever, I thought it was time to try my luck with the Minotaur once more. It was still Strigoii, Gremlin, and Leanan Sidhe fighting alongside Flynn. The Minotaur is actually weak against ice attacks, and since Strigoii had Bufu and Gremlin Mabufu, I figured they would be must-haves in for the fight. On the way back through the dungeon, Strigoii gained a level and I had an opportunity to gain an ability through whispers, so it seemed like a golden opportunity for Flynn to learn Bufu himself and really stack the deck against the Minotaur.

When we finally reached him, the first try was a bust once more because Labrys Strike was stacking again. We made it pretty far through the battle, but ran out of steam toward the end as people fell. On the second go, things went a lot better with Labyrs Strike being spread out a lot more. Leanan Sidhe was keeping everyone's defense up while casting media to keep the party's health topped. Meanwhile everybody else just spammed their Bufu spells like it was going out of style. This gave us a bunch of extra attacks each turn since we were striking the Minotaur's weakness. Strigoii and Gremlin were hitting hard, but Flynn was just shellacking the monster. This is in no small part due to my having poured a ridiculous number of points into magic each level up.

After a little while, we finally managed to beat the Minotaur. It was still a stressful, hard fought battle despite hammering him with ice magic, and it felt great to win. Now Flynn and company find themselves venturing into uncharted territory, going where no samurai has dare tread in centuries. What will they find there? Will they meet the Black Samurai again? I can hardly wait to find out.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Demon Fusing Fun and Entering a Domain (Shin Megami Tensei IV)

Having recovered the ring for Hope in my last post, it was time for a bit of leisure. I took Flynn to the roof to visit with Jonathan and Walter briefly where we had a nice chat about being samurai now, but it wasn't hugely eventful. Next it was time for some shut eye, and here Flynn had another strange dream where he encountered the alternate versions of Walter and Jonathan once more. It's still really vague, ominous stuff, so I'll just have to be patient and wait for the game to get to the point about why we keep getting shown a blasted modern metropolis despite everything taking place in a medieval world.

After completing the first bit of tutorial-like tasks in Naraku the other day, it was time for a bit more as the game has decided to teach me all about side quests. There were three of them, two that required collecting things from the dungeon, and another where I had to hunt down some extra powerful monster that was lurking down there.

The first two were easy enough. The apothecary needed some reagents in one of the quests, and I just so happened to have them in my inventory already, so that quest was over before it even began. Another was for the local blacksmith who needed griffon talons. There's no lack of these giant birds roaming the upper levels of Naraku and I was able to track some down fairly quickly, defeat them, and help myself to their remains.

Orthrus was a decent challenge.
For the third quest, fighting that big bad beastie, that took some time. It was easy enough to find, having parked itself in a room adjacent to the stairs combining floors one and two of the dungeon. However, it got two attacks per turn and hit like a truck. The thing's name was Orthrus but it looked more like a chimera from legends. What gave me the most trouble was that it had a fire-based group attack and one of my demons as well as Flynn were pretty weak against those. So, it was either one-shotting them ore severely damaging them all while scoring extra attacks for its turn because of this. This just meant it could dish out even more pain and would result in at least a couple of deaths per turn.

Seeing that this was futile, I decided to wander around hunting demons for a while and just work on getting stronger hopefully scoring a level up or two. It was also a good opportunity to recruit some more and try my hand at fusion, combining two demons together to create a stronger one.

The hardest part for me is remembering the names of the myriad of demons in the game. I haven't really gotten past referring to them as "the big, red cow", "giant goat guy", "the fairy looking chick with wings, seemed pretty good at healing...I think she may have been blue, come on, you know who I'm talking about!" and other such breathtakingly helpful descriptions. I should try and at least remember some of these guys' names.

Still, it's fun experimenting and seeing what kinds of new creatures I can make. There are lots of pros and cons to weigh before pulling the trigger on a new fusion. What can the demon resist? What is it weak against? What kinds of enemies will I be fighting going forward, and how can I create a fusion well suited to taking them on? The last question I don't have answers to at the moment since it's my first time playing the game, and I'm not really sure what to expect. As such, I mostly go with ones that look cool to me, hopefully having an interesting mix of skills. Ideally, they'll have one or two skills that could be useful to Flynn as well so that he can learn them or upgrade existing skills should an opportunity to whisper come along (Whispering is how demons teach some of their skills to those they ally with).

I mostly made a Strigoi because
I thought it looked kinda cool.
Anyway, after leveling up a couple of times and fusing together a few demons I was happy with, I decide it was about time to take another stab at Orthrus.  Joining me for this fight were a Strigoi, a Stonka, and a Pixie. (I had to fire up my 3DS and look at my monster list to get those names. About the only one of those I absolutely remember the name of is the Pixie. =p) Getting back on track, the fight was still challenging, but I got really lucky on the attacks Orthrus was using. The group fire attack only came down once and when it did my Strigoi actually managed to resist some of the damage and survive. My Pixie was using a skill that improved everyone's defense while Flynn healed (I'm building him as a magic user). Strigoi and Stonka had to handle the majority of the damage dealing. The former was particularly helpful as he could cast Bufu, an ice spell, which Orthrus happened to be weak against. After a few rounds our prey was dead, and my guys were still alive. Mission accomplished.

With that, it was time to head back to the castle. However, upon returning we were greeted by a samurai who told us that Navarre was missing in Nakaru and someone needed to save him. We had to keep it on the down low, though, as the samurai worried that Navarre may off himself if people found out how badly he'd screwed up.

So, back into the breach! This time we had to go all the way down to the third floor where even stronger enemies dwell. Before getting too far we were stopped by a mysterious robed man who didn't seem terribly keen on Casualries, thinking Luxorors far superior. He seemed annoyed that Flynn and Walter were doing so well even though they were from the lower classes. To teach Flynn a lesson, the mystery man unleashed a couple of fairly strong monsters on him. These things hit pretty hard, but we managed to beat them. Seeing that we were actually pretty decent fighters, the robed fellow beat a hasty retreat.

Going deeper into the dungeon, it was obvious that the path ahead would be difficult. Not only were the monsters here stronger, not only was there a guy after us here, but also parts of the dungeon were flooded with poison. Walking in this would hit party members with the corresponding status element. Thankfully there wasn't too much of the stuff and we had a decent number of antitoxins on us, so everyone got through this area relatively unscathed.

Stephen is a mysterious man I'm hoping
to learn more about.
Shortly thereafter we encountered the robed man again, this time bringing a horde of demons with him. Here Isabeau, Jonathan, and Walter appeared and joined my team to help fight the legion of baddies in front of us. This made the fight go by quite smoothly and afterward we got the low down on what was going on. The whole thing was a ruse by Navarre to lure the others into Naraku and generally make their lives miserable. It was becoming apparent that this guy was a very small, petty man.

Once more we delved deeper into the dungeon.  We came across another samurai who was escaping back to the castle, having been spooked by a scary doorway he discovered.  Before too long we found ourselves in front of the passageway, so we hopped in to investigate.

It actually lead to a demon's domain, which was kind of like a different dimension being super imposed on another. Chances were good that this is where we'd find Navarre. The monsters here were about on par with what we'd been fighting earlier on in the dungeons, but the place had a very strange, almost organic look to it. Things got a bit weird when a little girl would appear in front of everyone. She didn't say anything, but it did raise the question of who she was. As we continued, we met another person, a man named Stephen who was dressed in a suit and sat in a wheelchair. He explained the nature of the domain everyone was in and how to close it (kill the demon who created it, a very straightforward solution).

Shortly thereafter we found said demon, named Alraune, and low and behold there was Navarre and one of the samurai who was helping him. The slimy weasel had the nerve to beg for our help and even the demon called him out for being such a selfish prick. After this, the fight commenced. I was going in with the same selection of demons as when I fought Orthrus and they did a good job. Again, the Pixie got our defenses up and helped on healing, while the others focused primarily on damage dealing. It didn't take too long for this demon to go down, and this caused the domain to collapse with the surrounding area going back to normal.

The whole ordeal seemed to have traumatized Navarre and he went a little crazy. Everyone was upset with him, and he'll likely be punished for what he did, but now with this all over he's gone and locked himself in his room at the castle.

Alraune in the flesh, and lots of it.
Side quest tutorials out of the way, and having cleaned up after Navarre, everyone was granted a day off to do as they liked. Jonathan suggested a bakery in town we should try out, so we arranged to meet there with Walter. Isabeau again opted not to come along. Before heading there I decided to got for a stroll and talk to the townsfolk. Most people didn't have a lot to say but a couple did mention a strange person going around town called the Black Samurai. Hmmm...

When I finally did get around to going to the bakery, Walter and Jonathan were already there. Briefly we chatted with the owner and he was all excited about some books he was reading. Apparently there isn't any literature in this world. Books here seem to be educational, historical, or of fairy tales. The baker seemed to find this literature stuff fascinating, and he had the Black Samurai to thank for introducing him to it. The literature was getting him thinking about the inequalities of the world between Casualries and Luxorors, and how unfair it all seemed. After a time, everyone excused themselves as they weren't too comfortable with the level of zeal that the baker was displaying.

We bumped into Issachar while
at Lake Mikado.
Escaping the encounter, the three went to Lake Mikado to enjoy their bread. Here they bumped into Issachar briefly who was heading back to his hometown. He didn't stick around long to talk with Flynn. Apparently he had something that he wanted to show to everyone back home as soon as possible, and like that he was off.

With the samurai alone, they got to eating and the conversation turned to the rumors around town about the Black Samurai and the baker's excitement about literature. No one could make heads or tails of any of this stuff, and before long they were done their meal and went their separate ways to enjoy the remainder of their day off.

This is where I've left the game for now. I'm guessing these books and the Black Samurai are going to matter a lot more going forward. By the sound of it, this world tries to control information to a degree. Why else would no one know what literature is? To what end are the people in charge doing this for? I'm certainly curious as to why this may be. ^_^

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Now Playing: Shin Megami Tensei IV

Main characters

One RPG down and a whole slew to go. For my next playthrough I've decided to go with Shin Megami Tensei IV as I've been meaning to sink my teeth into it for quite some time now. My experience with the series is pretty limited in comparison to other major JRPG series, so I want to do something about that. Mostly, I have vague memories of recruiting monsters and maybe fusing them or some such. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a way to take screenshots for this particular 3DS game, as there isn't a Miiverse community to support it. Because of this, I won't be able to smatter my posts with quite as many images as when I was doing The Last Remnant. Instead, we'll just have to make due with artwork and whatever screenshots I'm able to track down that seem relevant to what I happen to be doing in the game. Anyway, let's begin. =)

Things started off with the game's main character, Flynn (I opted to stick with the canonical name) floating high up in the sky above the clouds with ominous voices calling out to him. Everyone was low on details, but I reckon Flynn may have some sort of important destiny to try and fulfill. Things quickly shifted to a modern city engulfed in flames, wreckage everywhere. In the distance a glow that looked like a person, and a voice calling me over. Upon investigating, the form took the shape of a young man who introduced himself as Walter and said we'd make the world a better place together.

Walter seems pretty nice.
Then as quickly as I arrived here I was whisked away again, now finding myself in what appeared to be a desert with the collapsed remains of a statue to the distance. Again there was a glow that called me over, and again when I got closer it took the form of a young man but this guy's name was Jonathan. He too thinks that we'll work together to save the world.

After this, another flash and suddenly Flynn is by a lake in a medieval kingdom. It looks like the previous stuff was a dream and he was actually taking a nap on the way to Mikado Castle with his friend Issachar.  There they will undergo special rites that determine whether or not they can become samurai. It's a very important role in their kingdom, not many pass the rite, and for those who do it's compulsory that they join. It's a highly respected position and those who qualify automatically become Luxorors, aka members of the kingdom's upper class (more on this later).

After arriving at the castle, Flynn and Issachar find the place where they take the rite. Issachar seemed pretty convinced he was a shoe-in to become a samurai, so off we went to discover our destiny. Issachar went first, and shortly after it was Flynn's turn. Approaching a row of samurai with a monk standing before them, he was asked to put a device on his forearm. The thing looked quite advanced compared to the medieval world he was in and when it was properly attached it lit up with what appeared to be a LCD monitor glowing. This meant Flynn was chosen to be a samurai, something that hadn't happened in a few years.

Just like that he was recruited and Flynn's new commanding officer, a grizzled old samurai named Hope, sent him to his room to rest and prepare for training that would begin the following day. On his way to the barracks, Flynn passed Issachar who looked quite shocked that he was not chosen yet his friend was.

The next day Flynn woke up bright and early to see another new recruit standing in his room. It was Walter from his dream. The two chatted briefly and at first Walter didn't show any signs of knowing Flynn, but before the two headed out he did mention that Flynn looked familiar. Perhaps they had some sort of shared vision but don't realize it yet?

With that the pair headed to the courtyard to begin their first day of training. There were three more new recruits already there waiting. Everyone introduced themselves and two of them seemed nice enough, Isabeau and Jonathan, but the third was an arrogant prick named Navarre. They were all from the upper crust of society, the Luxorors, while Flynn and Walter came from the Casualrys, which are the lower classes. Navarre really lets his station in life go to his head, and he wasted no time looking down on Flynn and Walter. Walter, not one to take crap, was quick to shoot back at his snipes.

Navarre is just a prick, though.
Isabeau seemed nicer, or at least not as unpleasant as Navarre. She also came off as a bit cold and more inclined to do her own thing rather than interact with the others. Meanwhile, Jonathan was quite nice. Also, he appeared to be the same person from Flynn's vision. Again, there were signs of recognition, but they were quickly dismissed as everything having been a dream.

It was at this time that Hope arrived to explain the duty of a samurai and what their first task would be. As it turned out, the world had demons in it and they could cause all sorts of problems if left unchecked, so it was up to samurai to stop them. However, they can also recruit them if the demon is so inclined, and as such they will fight together. It's an unusual relationship to say the least, but nothing we haven't seen before in a SMT game.

The first order of business would be a trek into Naraku, a sprawling dungeon below the city that was teeming with demons. Here the recruits would have to learn both how to fight and how to recruit demons. Game tutorial time, go!

Upon entering the dungeon, Flynn's arm device lit up and introduced itself. Inside was an AI named Burroughs that would assist him in his tasks. She would help explain everything Flynn needed to do on these quests and a lot of the basic game mechanics. While the conversation is nice, players will mostly be using her to save games and unlock apps which are abilities and skill improvements that can be purchased via points earned from leveling up.

A napaea
Napaea make for helpful healer demons early on in the game. ^_^
Fighting and recruiting demons early on proved extremely challenging. I'd heard before that the first couple of trips into Naraku can be brutal and it certainly was the case. Deaths were abundant, recruiting demons was challenging because they can be so arbitrary, and it became easier to just save often and reload said save when things took a turn for the worse. Doing otherwise simply felt like a waste of time and resources just to fill out my roster of demons.

Slowly but surely I was able to recruit three demons and complete my quest that asked me to do such. I took two offensive ones and a healer (a Lham Dearg, a Mokoi, and a Napaea). Rounding out my group like this made a huge difference and it became a lot easier to handle fights. It was here that Hope contacted the recruits on our Burroughs units to give us one more task: find an item of value hidden in the dungeon. The first one to get it wins.

A Lham Dearg
I rather like the Lham Deargs as well. They're good on
offense with powerful single and multi-target attacks.
So, the race was on, but I decided to fight demons for a little while and get everyone stronger first. This paid off when I finally found the item as it was guarded by a powerful horde of demons. We managed to beat them, though, and recover what Hope had planted, a woman's ring. With that the recruits were recalled to the courtyard as training was over.

Upon returning, Hope congratulated Flynn on a job well done. Navarre was none too pleased to have been beaten by a lowly Casualry, but it felt good to do better than that smug prick. With that, training was done for the day and we could do as we liked. Jonathan invited us all to the roof of the castle, as it had a great view, so that's what I'll probably do next, but for now it's time for a rest. It was an interesting first hour or so in the game. I like how we're in a medieval world yet there are remnants of ancient technology around. I'm curious how they're all connected, and I'm also looking forward to the wonderful world of demon fusing which should be coming up soon. There's a lot of fun stuff coming down the pipe, I reckon, but that can wait until next time. TTFN. =)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

And That's That! The Last Remnant: Finished

last remnant part 11 - 1
It's time to fight the Conqueror's main army.
It was a fun ride but the adventure is finally over. I've defeated the Conqueror and finished The Last Remnant. I didn't waste much time since my last post, not bothering with anymore side quests, or to build up anyone's weapons. It was just a steady march going where the game told me to in order to complete the remaining objectives for ensuring victory. A lot of the questions I had were answered, there were some nice cut scenes, and a fair few enjoyable battles, so on the whole I was quite satisfied with the last remnants of The Last Remnant.

The first thing we had to do was take on the Conqueror's main forces marching on Elysion. This was very easy and reminded me of the fights outside of the six bases surrounding Koenigsdorf where it was just wave after wave of regular unions and a slightly more powerful one in the last batch. We didn't have any problems thanks in no small part to David and Pagus being able to use Gae Bolg and Megalore quite frequently. As a result, everyone just melted before us, even the army's commander.

last remnant part 11 - 2
A dragon parked in front of where I need to get to.  Great!
This gave us access to Elysion again where we tried to use the Ark in order to teleport to the Sacred Land so we could confront the Conqueror. Unfortunately, Irina couldn't get it to work, so we'd need to find another way there. After a brief trip back to Athlum to regroup, I had Rush talk with everyone so I could figure out what to do next. Chatting with his mother revealed that talking with Oswald in Nagapur might set us on the right path. He'd already established himself as being surprisingly in the know from other quests I'd done there, so it made sense. However, Rush's mother let slip that he was her father, so maybe there was a whole lot more to it. Again, it was something the game just dropped on the player without bothering to flesh out, but whatever, just tell me how to get to the Conqueror.

After meeting up with Oswald, he told me to try going down the Sixth Path, as it would have a means to get to the Sacred Lands. I'd been there before exploring and had been to the section of the Final Fortress that it lead to. In that area there was a massive door that, at the time, I couldn't open. So, now I assumed it would open. Why else would I be sent there?

last remnant part 11 - 3
Wagram trying to stop us again.
When I did arrive at the doors in the Final Fortress, the game seemed to want to have some fun with me, as it planted a great big rare dragon in front of them. If I wanted to get to the Sacred Lands I'd need to fight my way through the thing. It wasn't too difficult of a fight, but the beast had some strong attacks that I needed to be careful of.

After beating the dragon, we headed through the doors and found a chamber that looked exactly the same as the Ark in Elysion. Just as Irina was about to bind with it, Wagram appeared, intent on stopping everyone. He summoned a very powerful creature and the fight was on. This guy took a couple of tries before I was able to beat it. The first go around it got pretty trigger happy with it's one shot kills, so that was a no-go. On the second try, things were a lot better, as the monster didn't seem quite so inclined to use those attacks. It was another case of the random behavior that can worm its way into the fights in this game. We won, though, and with that not only was the creature defeated, but it looked like Wagram died as well, once again implying that Rush was a Remnant as he faded into dust.

last remnant part 11 - 4
Smacking around homunculi.
One more obstacle out of the way, it was off to the Sacred Lands. This trip was a lot more challenging than the first time Rush visited it, mostly because monsters were there. Making it even tougher was that not only were there regular ones to deal with but quite a few rares. I had to fight through about four of them on my way to the last room. Navigating the place, I got a lay of the land, and toughed it out against these more difficult enemies. The problem with this was that some of them hit really hard, and I had unions dying a lot. As such, they were burning through potion reagents and by the time we'd gotten through the gauntlet our inventory was looking pretty sparse. Thankfully there was a teleporter near the door to the final room that could be used to exit to the main map. It was a useful tool for those looking to skip back to town restock, or perhaps have a save file on standby where players can teleport out and meet all of the necessary prerequisites to make tougher versions of the Conqueror available for the final fight.

I used the teleporter so I could restock on potion ingredients. Unfortunately, this meant having to travel all the way through the Sixth Path, Final Fortress, and Sacred Lands once more in order to get back to where I was. The run actually wasn't too bad. I managed to avoid most of the groups of enemies. Some harpy-like ones were unavoidable as they could cast slows on Rush as he ran by. Other than that it was pretty uneventful. If anything, I found it kind of exciting trying to avoid all of the enemies, especially when Time Warp was on cool down and I had to be extra careful while juking around charging enemies. Some of those homunculi in the Sacred Lands run fast! The trip also got me wondering if the rare monsters I fought the first time through the Sacred Lands were even rare because they were back again. Maybe they aren't rare, but more like elite monsters that just got tossed into the same category?

last remnant part 11 - 5
The doors to the Conqueror.
After reaching the doors at the end of the Sacred Lands, we entered and there was the Conqueror along side his two most trusted generals, Castanea and Roeas. It was time for the big confrontation complete with slow motion walking scene of Rush, David, et al as they approached. For a moment I wondered if they were going to board a space shuttle to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth. =p Cheesy scene out of the way, the Conqueror finally explained his goals. He wanted to set the Remnants free because he didn't like everyone using them for selfish reasons, potentially leading to them being destroyed. To do this he was activating a massive machine that would release the Remnants. However, if the Remnants were to be freed they would actually consume all life on the planet. So, it wasn't really in anyone's best interest to let that happen. Cue big fight against all the baddies.

last remnant part 11 - 6
The Conqueror finally explains everything.
First up were Castanea and Roeas. In order to beat these two, you need to treat them similarly to the fight against Hinnah and Hannah. Either split your unions between the two and bring their health down at about the same speed or focus one down, and once that person is flashing red switch to the other. I learned this the hard way because focusing down Roeas first and killing her causes Castanea to enrage, using Overdrive II every turn. This will wipe out your party. Taking Castanea into the red, switching to Roeas, killing her, then finishing off Castanea worked a lot better.

last remnant part 11 - 7
The Conqueror has a lot of scary attacks.
After Castanea went down, the Conqueror stepped into the fray as reinforcements. I got him as Rank 3, so not super tough by any means, but still a fun challenge given my army was only around battle rank 78 or 79. He has a lot of one shot attacks and troublesome status ailment afflictions he can unload, so this fight took careful thought, with plenty of strategic retreats to tend to the wounded. Luckily, Jager was able to summon Lob Omen early in the fight which helped a ton, as the Remnant tanked quite a lot of the damage that the Conqueror was dishing out. We weren't getting lucky with Omnistrike, Gae Bolg, or Beowolf procs, though, so we had to make do with more traditional attacks. Nonetheless, we toughed it out and before long the Conqueror was defeated.

last remnant part 11 - 8
Rush sacrifices himself to save the
He wasn't going to go down quietly, though. With his last strength he teleported back to the machine in an effort to release the Remnants. Irina tried to stop him using Marshall's Blessing, but the Conqueror was able to resist, knocking her to the ground. This caused Rush to lose it, glowing all green again, and run up and plunge his fist into the Conqueror's chest. Rush finally figured out that he was a Remnant as well and that stopping the Conqueror this way would also lead to his demise, but he was okay with that if it meant, Irina, David, and everyone else would be safe.

So with a teary goodbye, the Conqueror and Rush were destroyed in a massive explosion, but everyone else was saved. They would be returning to a world without Remnants, making a new future.

last remnant part 11 - 9
Tidus! Nooooooo! I mean...Rush! Nooooooo!
And with that, the game was done. All in all, I enjoyed it. The story could have explained itself better, as it didn't flesh out plenty of aspects. I'm still wondering how Rush's parents got a hold of him and how much they knew about him and the Conqueror. The battle system in the game was quite interesting, and dealing with flanking and the like, being mindful of battlefield position was fun. I would have liked a bit more control of my unions. There's only so much you can do through thoughtful leader and unit selection, and turning off abilities in the options menu. The AI can still make some pretty terrible decisions whenever it reassesses a situation, and sometimes all of the options at the start of a new round of battle can be awful. Nonetheless, it was innovative enough to keep me hooked for over 60 hours. It's also worth noting that the game has a great soundtrack and very nice art direction. The Last Remnant is a game worth spending some time with for those who like JRPGs and go in with the understanding that it's a bit rough around the edges. It can be had for super cheap at Steam sales, so it may be a game to consider if you're okay with the shortcomings.

last remnant part 11 - 10
I love it when a game hints there'll be a sequel and you just know it
isn't going to happen. =p

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Side Quests, Building Weapons, and Heading Into the Home Stretch (The Last Remnant)

It's time for some side quests. First order of business: Finding Lob Omen.
I can feel things beginning to wind down in the game, or build up towards a climax I suppose. Everyone needs to head to Undewalt to talk with the God Emperor to see why he chose to help the Conqueror. Before doing that, I've opted to hammer out a few more side quests and look into upgrading a few weapons. It's basically checking off boxes on my "To Do" list prior to ploughing toward the end of this game.

Be careful if you spot this thing in the
aqueducts of Nagapur. It's really strong!
The quest that I really wanted to get sorted out was helping Jager get back Lob Omen. I wanted to make him the leader of a union as his Unique Art, Beowolf, is pretty darn good. So, having the ability to summon Lob Omen on top of this seemed like a good way to make him even more formidable. To do this we had to sneak through the aqueducts of Nagapur and enter Wyrmskeep. It was largely an uneventful trip through the waterways, though I did come across a rare monster that I'd been meaning to hunt while wandering around there: Death Tank. He was easy enough to kill, but I did need to be careful in the main chamber of the aqueducts, as there is a new boss hanging around for an extra mission: The Fiery Gates. I tried engaging the thing once before and got wrecked as I was a good 30 battle ranks lower than it, so I made a point of avoiding the thing this time.

Upon entering Wyrmskeep, it was all about chasing Lob Omen hither and yonder. The thing would be hanging out with other monsters, so I needed to do a lap of the place, fighting everything I saw. He wasn't tough by any means, so the whole quest did feel a little bit tedious constantly seeing him run off after a battle. The process repeated itself three or four times before we finally had him, but now Jager can summon a Remnant from time to time, and the creature has already been quite useful.

Our second side quest took us to The First Path to close
some magical gates.
This mostly came from the next quest I did which had me venturing into the first Sacred Path. A yama in Melphina asked me to go there and close some magical gates, as he worried they could be dangerous and there were powerful monsters in the area so he wasn't able to handle it himself. I want to open all of the paths and gain full access to the Final Fortress at some point, so I figured I might as well do this quest.

The monsters here were about the same strength as my characters, but easy enough to beat. The ones that were summoned when approaching the magical gates were much stronger, though, and were often some of the more annoying types like giant birds, powerful evil eyes, and such. The last gate in particular was extremely challenging. It had a proper boss accompanied by two groups of powerful homunculi, and two more high-end evil eyes. There was a lot of one shot mechanics being thrown around and the boss had a powerful area of effect attack. Lots of wipes ensued as I tried to figure out a way to beat these guys. The time I was victorious was a bit of a fluke as Jager was able to summon Lob Omen and the thing wound up tanking half the enemy unions taking a lot of the heat off of everyone else. It was still a long, hard battle, and I still needed to play smart, but Lob Omen's presence made the whole thing far more manageable.

Fighting the boss at the final gate in the First Path. This attack
was, how shall we put this...problematic. =p
This quest was pretty nice because I was getting a bit bored with how easy the game was becoming after finishing up the six bases. Being plunged back into more challenging content was most welcome. Also, I am pretty curious about the seven paths and the Final Fortress. They drip of mystery and leave me wanting to learn more about them.

These quests out of the way, I decided to hunt some rare monsters, and general components to upgrade weapons. A lot of my teammates have constantly been harassing me to help them find this or that for some upgrade they're working on, and I want to get a better sword and shield for Rush as well.

Traversing Mt. Vackel on the way to
This element of the game can be pretty time consuming and a tad confusing. First there's the matter of finding out what components a specific upgrade needs, then figuring out where to farm them. The easiest way to do the latter is consulting an online guide, as the game is very bad at explaining itself (and this isn't limited to just crafting, but really most facets of the Last Remnant would benefit from better in-game help for the player to understand how various mechanics and the like work). Some components are only available after completing guild missions of various sorts where the rewards are different magazines and periodicals that teach everyone how to find these parts. This can draw out the game, especially if you need to kill a certain rare monster to complete the mission and thus get the magazine. Farming these rares might be something for the hardcore completionist to consider, but it doesn't appeal to me a whole lot.

They say Undewalt has seen better days, but it looked pretty great to me. =)
I don't know how absolutely necessary getting these fancy weapons will be for finishing the game. They may well fall under "nice to have" but I'll be able to make due without them. Granted, if I were to try and go for one of the toughest forms of the Conqueror for the final fight, it would be a whole new ball game, but I'm not going out of my way to do that, so going for top grade weapons may not be all that important. For now, it's more of a leisurely stroll through various locations, keeping an eye out for potential stuff I can use, but if I miss out on something, it's not the end of the world.

All of that out of the way, it was time to head to Undewalt. This required trekking across Mount Vackel. There wasn't much in the way of exploration here, mostly just heading down corridors from one subsection to the next, but given that we were on a mountain it did make for some nice vistas to look at along the journey. Arriving in Undewalt, it's a very large, pretty city. After all, the God Emperor does live there. Some folks were giving the impression that the place was on the decline, but I didn't see it. The place looked pretty great to me.

Meeting the God Emperor.
During our audience with the God Emperor, we finally learned why he was helping the Conqueror. Turns out the man in red is actually a Remnant that was laying dormant under the city. He's fully sentient like all of the other races of this world, and has his own ambitions. In the ancient past, Remnants were worshiped as deities, and it looks like he may be trying to bring that back, and the God Emperor wants to help. So does Wagram, it would seem, as he has finally made another appearance in the game, having been absent since the destruction of Nagapur. Basically, they're both supporting the Conqueror and think he should be treated as a god. The God Emperor also told David not to interfere and have the other dukes to do likewise.

The area beneath Undewalt looks a lot
like the Sacred Lands above Elysion.
This would explain why the Conqueror would sometimes glow red, and why he needed to be careful around Irina. With her power to control Remnants, she can probably control the Conqueror if she's strong enough, a troubling issue for him, no doubt. It would also explain why Rush was glowing green in Nagapur when he fought the Conqueror, why he was constantly going on about Rush awakening, and why Rush had vague recollections of a forgotten past when he entered that white room in the Sacred Lands. In all likelihood, Rush is also a Remnant.

So, it's an interesting revelation, and I'm glad the game finally got to the point with it. I am left wondering how his parents found him, then, why they took him in, and why their daughter just so happens to have Marion's Blessing. It just seems like too many important events tied together to be mere coincidence. Did they have their own plans for the world via a sentient Remnant and someone who can control them?

Entering this room, it became blatantly obvious that there were connections
between the Conqueror and Rush.
Hopefully we'll find out soon. I'm pretty sure my adventure is coming to a close. The Conqueror is marching on Elysion now, and I need to face him at the Holy Plains. The game is really emphasizing that Rush and company are barreling toward a final showdown with the guy, so I guess we'll see. Hopefully we'll be able to put a stop to his plans, and learn the rest about Rush's origins.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Six Bases are Down! (The Last Remnant)

last remnant part nine 1
The rematch against Hinnah and Hannah went very smoothly. ^_^
It looks like doing all of those side quests and unlocking extra characters helped quite a bit. Returning to base four to lock horns with Hinnah and Hannah, I didn't know what to expect, but we wound up stomping them quite soundly. The same fate laid in store for the remaining two base bosses, Young and Milton. Then the hits just kept coming, as we smacked around Duke Hermeien, and stomped through Darken Forest in order to once again try (and fail) to thwart the Conqueror's plans. It would seem actually being around the same level as the enemies you're fighting, and not grossly under leveled, makes the game a lot easier.

I was actually surprised by how easy Hinnah and Hannah were this time. On my first attempt to fight them my army's battle rank was in the low 40s but this time we were about 60. They still used Twin Snowpetal at the beginning of the fight, so I gritted my teeth, waiting to see most of my unions die. However, the attack only hit for about 25-50% damage on them, and usually it was more on the lower end of the scale with that. It was a very easy attack to deal with now, and their remaining attacks were quite manageable as well. Even when Hannah was unloading Overdrive after Hinnah was defeated, the attack wasn't overwhelming. The strategy I took this time was to send all my unions after their support unions first. This went fairly well with only one of my groups getting intercepted by a boss. Once the trash was taken care of I focused my unions on Hinnah and Hannah, dividing them equally between the two. We also had a Cyclops up, so it just went and did as it pleased. After a couple of minutes of this, Hinnah and Hannah were dead.

last remnant part nine 2
Young was a pushover.
The whole thing felt a bit anti-climatic given how easy the encounter wound up being. It looks like my army was about on par with Hinnah and Hannah. From what I've read they're average battle rank is around 57 or 58 and we engaged them around 59 or 60 this go around. If we'd been 62 or so, then we'd have triggered their next bit of level scaling and they'd be stronger, but as it stood we were on a fairly even footing strength-wise, and this just made the fight too easy for my tastes.

Attacking bases five and six were equally easy. The fights against their outside forces were cakewalks, and David seemed to be getting a lot of Gae Bolg chances while Pagus was able to unload Megalore quite often as well. So, regular units melted before us and it was a quick trip to both Young and Milton. These bosses were quite easy. I did my usual tactic of taking down the support unions first, then focusing down the boss. Young was an absolute pushover, though Milton put up a bit more of a fight toward the end. He had an attack that would insta-kill the leader of a union, leading it to be botched (basically an uncontrollable union that is suddenly very unreliable). Often times he'd repeat the move and wipe out the union. This started more so when his health was flashing red and he brought me down to one active union and my Cyclops. When this happened, I got a little bit worried as Pagus' group was the only ones left and for some reason I wasn't being given an option to save the others, which seemed a bit strange. So, I sent them in to fight as hard as they could. Luckily, Milton went down in the next round so things turned out alright.

last remnant part nine 3
Milton was also easy, but at least he put up a bit of a fight
towards the end.
After this, I was greeted with a cut scene for having cleared the six bases, and somehow David and Rush were afflicted with a black mist. This was causing the Gae Bolg and Cyclops to go crazy, and attack everyone so we had to fight the things to make them stop. It was a simple fight, but it got me thinking how much of a piss off it might be were someone to be trying hard for a low battle rank clear, struggling through their last base boss only to be plunged into this. There's no option to save between defeating the last base boss, then fighting these two, so dying to this fight would suck seeing as not only would one have to re-fight these Remnants, but also whatever tough base boss they'd just been up against. *shudder*

With all of that base-related shenanigans out of the way, it was time to march on Koenigsdorf. I was expecting a big ol' dungeon crawl here, but all it wound up being was a big ol' brawl just outside of the place. The Duke of Ghor was there trying to fight Hermeien, and having no luck whatsoever. Just as it looked like he was done for, Rush et al intervened, fighting against Hermeien and his forces. Again, it was a very easy fight, and for some reason David and Pagus were getting a ton of opportunities to use their Unique Arts again. Regular unions were wiped out quickly, then we just had to deal with the fallen duke. He wasn't very difficult either, but he had this weird Remnant that he wore like a suit of armor. He looked like he was piloting an elaborate, medieval Gundam. So, while he was easy to beat, at least he had a really nice design.

last remnant part nine 4
Hermeien sporting the new spring line, a giant, mech-like Remnant.
With Hermeien taken down, the Conqueror appeared, knocked everyone about, and proceeded to smack around the duke a bit before finally killing him. I was happy to see this, as Hermeien was hugely annoying. However, like so much in the game, it would have been nice if things were fleshed out more. Why was Hermeien even working for the Conqueror? He was a self-serving twit bent on world domination, and I'm not entirely sure what sort of skill set he was bringing to the table. At least the Seven (the base bosses) were good fighters, and seemed to be fanatics willing to do anything for the Conqueror. Hermeien was a sniveling, petty wimp with nothing to offer. Surely, he would have been better off dying in Nagapur. It just seems like he was kept alive so that the game could have a villain players totally dislike. While the Conqueror is the main enemy, he hasn't really made himself unlikable. He's just shrouded in mystery.

last remnant part nine 5
Sniveling turd Hermeien finally gets
his comeuppance.
Hermeien dead, it looked like the Conqueror was losing patience with Rush awakening. I'm guessing this has to do with when Rush started glowing green in Nagapur. There's obviously something up with that, but the game is taking its sweet time in getting around to addressing it. Just as the Conqueror was about to kill Rush, Irina stepped in using Marion's Blessing to stop him. After this, the Conqueror just leaves, and everyone heads back to Athlum to figure out their next move.

It's not long before Irina decides to run off on her own, heading to Darken Forest where it's believed that the Conqueror may be up to something. This caused a new section of the forest to open up with ruins laying about everywhere. I liked the layout here with fallen pillars and structures slowly being consumed by the forest as vines, moss, and the like gradually grow across these remains of a lost civilization. I'm not crazy enough to think the game will make any attempt to explain the history of this place, but it did get my imagination running a bit. Maybe there was a much more advanced civilization here long ago, maybe the ones who originally made the Remnants.

For this trip, since Irina had ran off on her own, that meant that she was no longer in my army, so I needed to find a replacement. I opted to recruit Sheryl from Nagapur. She has some interesting magic abilities, and as a character is pretty fun. I unlocked her from a series of side quests in Nagapur where they were having a festival, and she was the maiden at the center of it all. At first glance, she can come across as a bit ditsy, but Sheryl is actually quite a good character. She's not a permanent fixture in my army just yet, but I'm thinking about changing that.

last remnant part nine 6
Facing off against our rampaging Remnants.  Ooooo, scary! =p
After finally making it through the forest, we found Irina and the Conqueror. She was being suspended in the air telepathically by the Conqueror with mists swooshing all around her.  When Rush came running up, the Conqueror transformed Irina into a strange monster similar to the creatures we fought in the aqueducts of Nagapur when first trying to rescue her from Hermeien and Wagrum earlier on in the game. This time the monsters just had a color swap and new abilities, but on the whole were quite easy to beat.

The excursion to Darken Forest ultimately felt like filler, though. There was no real reason to go there outside of the Conqueror once again saying how Rush needs to awaken. I wish the game would just explain it more, rather than drawing it out as it has been. This is getting tedious.  Moreover, it got me wondering why the Conqueror didn't just do this outside of Koenigsdorf. Then, it suggested that Irina can be problematic for him due to Marion's Blessing, but in the forest she was no match for him. I have to assume she is only able to tap into that ability instinctually when Rush is in danger, otherwise it lays dormant. So if the Blessing comes out, the Conqueror has to back off a bit, but if Irina is normal he can do as he pleases. Well, that's how I look at it, at least. Whether or not I'm giving the game too much credit for having a perfectly logical explanation for all this is another debate entirely.

last remnant part nine 7
Irina, transformed into a monster...again.
Upon returning to Athlum once again, David is visited by Duke Qubine of Celapaleis, and given some very good news. With the Duke of Ghor still out of commission after his fight with Hermeien, David has been chosen as the acting chairman of the Congress. So, basically, David is the head hancho of all the city states and whatnot now. Moreover, Athlum has been granted its independence and is no longer a vassal of Celapalais. That means it's goodbye Marquis David, and hello Duke David. Happy times are here again.

The next order of business is setting off to Undewalt, where the God Emperor lives. Before the Congress existed, he was ruler of the world, but now he's more a figure head, though he possesses a fair bit of power himself, albeit waning. David needs to talk to him and find out just what the Conqueror is up to, as the God Emperor actually granted the Conqueror much of his powers and authority in the first place.

last remnant part nine 8
I'm not even sure our most recent trip to Darken Forest was
So, that's what I'll be getting up to in the not so distant future. Before that, I want to take care of a few more side quests. At the moment, I'm helping Jager get back his Remnant, Lob Omen. This should make him even more formidable than he already is. After that, I may do a few more. There are a few areas I still need to unlock, like some of the Sacred Paths and such, so I may get on that as well. All in all, though, I get the feeling that this adventure may be coming to a close soon. There can't be that much left to do other than work toward the big final showdown with the Conqueror. The game can only draw out this awakening stuff for so long.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tough Bosses and Getting Stronger (The Last Remnant)

Ludope proved to be quite the challenging boss.
It's been a busy few days spent half between banging my head against some base bosses and half doing side quests in hopes of making my guys stronger. The whole thing has left me very confused as to just how far The Last Remnant goes with its level scaling. Some of these bosses have hit like a truck, and their minions were no pushovers either, to the point where one of them I don't think I can get past without everyone raising their stats a fair bit. Meanwhile, doing side quests to take care of that has been a cakewalk, with monsters melting before my army. I'm having some serious doubts to claims that this game does have level scaling. If so, it's incredibly inconsistent, or at least applied to only a very small number of enemies in the game.

Ludope casting Galaxy.  T_T
The boss fights have somehow managed to tap into a masochistic side that I never knew I had because hard as they've been I wound up stubbornly banging my head against them for quite some time. Ludope in particular proved quite the formidable challenge. He's a qsiti mage in charge of Base 3 and he has an absolutely devastating attack called Galaxy. This move hits every union you have on the field, and from what I can tell luck is the only thing that can mitigate its damage. It was hitting my guys so hard that it took all of my unions from full health to dead in one shot on several tries to defeat this bastard. Some people may be tempted to view this as a terrible, frustrating, and even game breaking mechanic, and I wouldn't argue with them on that. It was seriously pissing me off. However, I didn't want to give up because that would mean not finishing the game. So, I dug in my heels and fought.

Leaving Ludope for last while focusing on his minions helped a lot. These guys could be troublesome too, so clearing them off the battlefield made things at least a little bit more manageable. This way Ludope was only doing one-shot mechanics that could wipe out one union at a time. This was still a pain in the ass, but nowhere near as troublesome as Galaxy. It seems the best way to minimize him casting that is to only have one union engaging him at a time. His chances of casting it then seem greatly reduced, though he did unload it on me a few times still, leading to wipes. When I finally did beat him, it was largely because one of my unions somehow resisted some of the damage from a Galaxy attack and were only taken to half health instead of being killed outright. This lead to running all over the room, trying to resurrect my fallen unions while Ludope gave chase. For the longest time, for every time I raised a union, he'd just one-shot another making my efforts for not, but I couldn't just turn around and face him, because then he'd probably just one-shot my remaining union. I'd need at least two, ideally all, of my unions to finish him. It got to the point where I'd used up all of the items in my inventory that were for resurrecting people, so finally my guys did have to fight him. Thankfully by then his health was flashing red, so it wouldn't be long before he died. When Ludope finally did go down it was an immense relief.

Turns out these two are even tougher
than Ludope.
After him, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I went straight for Base 4. Big mistake. The bosses here are even tougher than Ludope. They're twin girls named Hinnah and Hannah, and they love opening the fight with Twin Snowpedal, an even more powerful attack than even Galaxy, and there seems to be no way to prevent them from casting it. At least with Ludope, he lays off Galaxy if you don't engaging him too heavily. With the twins, they don't need a reason to use their move. They were constantly opening the fight with it whenever I engaged them. It was just boom, my guys were dead, so I'm left to think that I may in fact need to do side quests in order to build up my characters, get them stronger, improve their weapons, and maybe recruit some of the more interesting quest-related characters that can be unlocked.

Helping Emmy on a quest.
So that's what I'm doing now and in terms of difficulty it's like the pendulum has completely swung in the other direction from crushingly hard to ridiculously easy. It's not satisfying at all being able to stomp all over these monsters without any trouble. Even fights where I go in with morale about even aren't very interesting, as my unions can easily destroy these guys. If anything, I prefer the massive disadvantage I was at against some of those base bosses.

Some of the side quests I've been doing have been in more
remote areas with really pleasant villages.
The quests themselves have often been pretty fun, though. Helping Blocter, Emmy, and Pagus with some personal stuff were particular standouts. Blocter's was simple enough, as he wanted to enter a tournament to become one of the best warriors in the world. Emmy's required going to Aveclyf and while the enemies there were ridiculously easy, I did enjoy trying to navigate the place, grabbing the right elevators so we could get to a room in the back where our quest objective was. Of the three, though, Pagus' quest was the best. It involved him running into some old friends from times long past, and they're all searching for a legendary Remnant. It was nice to see Pagus enjoying himself as much as he was. This cemented him as my favorite general alongside Blocter.

Doing this battery of side quests also unlocked a few more characters that I can hire at the guilds if I choose.  So far I've only brought on Glenys, a young warrior with good sword and healing skills, as well as Jager.  I was surprised to see him available for hire (he's pricey at 65,000 gold), but maybe I shouldn't have been.  Obviously he's a mercenary, and will just work for the highest bidder.  As far as he was concerned, his old boss, Wagrum, was dead, so it was time to find a new employer.  It just so happens that it's me who hired him.

Saving Pagus' friends from a dragon.
My merry band has made quite a nice bit of progress over the last few days. Granted the main story hasn't been pushed too hard what with the sudden difficulty spike, but it's been a nice detour doing all of these side quests. Some of the stories have been pretty good, and it's been a great opportunity to unlock more areas in the world. However, it's probably about time I got back to trying to defeat Hinnah and Hannah. Hopefully we'll be able to bring them down now. Hopefully.