The Let's Play Archive

Ar Tonelico Qoga

by Feinne

Part 1: Gamma Sublimed

I think it’s time to start a new story, children. And no, this one is not all about me. In fact I manage not to be in it directly at all. Still, it’s the most important story of our time…

Video Record- “Gamma Sublimed”


Today I’m going to begin the story of the end.

People believed that these “Lyrics” were the hands their Mother used to embrace the world, so they continued singing.
However, all of that is ancient mythology now.
This tiny world has forgotten how to sing the prayers for the Goddess’ blessings…
As though it were a dead, arcane language that had long been forsaken.
And when the people forgot the Songs, the world lost the Goddess herself.
An endlessly vast world without ocean or soil, or even a sky.
It exists solely for the sake of its own existence.
It was in this sort of world that he was born…
To save the maiden who sings…

Our story begins in a tiny town clinging to the base of Sol Cluster, the third Tower. Here humans clung to a miserable existence, hoping not to suffer the wrath of the dreaded Reyvateil empire, Clustania. This is where Aoto lived with his mentor, Steeps.

Video Record- “Aoto”


Steeps: What do you think you're doing, slacker!? You're burning daylight!

You know, I’ve never thought to ask your father why heroic types have so much trouble in the mornings.

Steeps: Don’t you talk back to me. I must’ve ruined a really comfy nap. You were snoring pretty loud there, kid.
Now why aren't you busy working on the temple!?
I finished it a long time ago!
Steeps: You what!? That’s pretty fast…
Hmph, I've been a steeplejack apprentice for 5 years now. It was a piece of cake. I finished it before breakfast.
Steeps: Hmph, looks like you've gotten a little cocky, too. Alright, kiddo, I'll give ya something else to do.
Steeps: ...Go fix the damage to Paper Scissors that was caused by that mudslide we had the other day.
What the hell!? You just came here to give me more stuff to do?
Steeps: You said you liked heights, right? It’s right in front of the house. Just go and fix it, alright?

Aoto wasn’t terribly happy to have more work, and decided to put it off.

Alright, I’ll get right on it, right after I take this nap…

He never got the chance, though.

???: Mr. Kiraha, please be alright!
???: …Run away…
???: Give it up already! It’s over…
What’s going on!? It’s so noisy outside.
I better go check it out…

A terrible battle was being waged outside between a pair of travelers and the Clustanian Army.

...Huh? What the hell!? That's...the Clustanian Army?
...Looks like somebody collapsed! This is no game of make believe! I have to help them...!
Hold it!

The Clustanians were led by a very strange Reyvateil indeed.

That's my line, bro. Noble Clustanians, all aloof inside the Tower... Whattaya want in our Great Fang village?
That's none of your friggin' business, you little pipsqueak! Just get the hell out of my way!
What!? You're the one who's WAY TOO GIANT, moron! A man's worth isn't only measured by their size, you know!?
Man...? You're calling me a man...? Do you need your eyes peeled, cretin!?
What makes you think such a beautiful and graceful girl could be a dude, asshole!?
I call ‘em like I see ‘em!
I’m a girl, you little pantywaist!
Butch, don't make me have to settle this the old fashioned way!

Of course, the person he had rushed to protect without thinking wasn’t terribly ordinary herself.

Huh? …Oh, I’m just a good samaritan.
I don't know what's going on here, but I can't allow a Clustanian to trample over our sacred soil. So...I'll help you out.
...I appreciate the reinforcement. May I ask another favor of you?
My limit draws nigh. I shall vanquish my enemy while I still can. Afterwards, I ask that you look after...this maiden.
…This maiden? Who are you talking about!?
You will know soon enough. Can I count on you?
Alright. I don't know what's going on, but I won't let you down!
What the hell are you two mumbling about!? Bring it on already, pipsqueak!

I understand she was singing a very strange Hymmnos, but perhaps that can wait for later in the story.

Video Record- “Battle with Mute”


Feinne on Qoga: Battle Basics 1
We get our first battle here, one on one with the butch Reyvateil we’ve been arguing with. They take this opportunity to teach us the basics of battle. It’s really quite simple. We run around with the control stick and attack with square. Right now all we have is our basic three-hit combo. If we’re not in a moving or attack animation we’ll guard automatically against enemy attacks. Just time your attacks around hers and you’ll never be in much trouble. The music in the background is a Hymmnos song but we’ll hold off talking about it for now since it only barely even gets to start.

She didn’t take her defeat very well.

Video Record- “Saki”


*huff* *huff* What's wrong? Out of Song Magic? A Reyvateil without Magic is pretty useless.
Urrrgh! Don't underestimate me! Come on! I'll kill you all with my magic!
Clustanian Soldier: Sgt. Mute, please stop! If you keep this up, we're all going to be put in the brig!
Shut up! You don’t give me orders!
Clustanian Soldier: This is not good! Don’t let her ruin our mission! Retreat! Retreat!
Clustanian Soldier: Ugh, ah…!

They ended up having to drag her off in a rather undignified fashion.

…Who are they?
Please take care of the rest…

That’s when things got even more strange.

The woman in armor vanished in a burst of light, and another girl was in her place. Aoto didn’t have much time to worry about that right at the moment, though, because her companion was in even worse shape.

???: Urgh…
Yo, hey Gramps, are you okay!? What's your name, mister!?
Kiraha: I’m…Kiraha…*cough* *cough* *cough*
H-hey! You're gonna be alright! I'm taking you to the hospital...
Kiraha: Don't waste your time. I won't survive anyway. Just...take care of...Saki.
Saki? Is she this girl here?
Kiraha: ...Indeed. She's on the lam... The Clustanian Army is after her...
The whole army…!? Why!?
Kiraha: ...Oh...I must give you this...

It always seems like these important little things are necklaces. I guess it’s just easy to stick something on the end of a loop and call it a day.

Kiraha: …Please…give this to my…son…
Son...? Who is he and where can I find him!?
Hey, Gramps! Hang in there! Hey!
He's dead... What should I do...?

Before he could think things through, though, the girl began to wake.

Hey! Are you alright!? Who are you...?

As confusing as things were for Aoto, they were even more so for her.

Don’t you know anything?
Mr. Kiraha...? Mr. Kiraha! No... Please don't die! *sob* Wahhh!
You... Was he your...?
...He was always protecting me, even all the way out here. He's my savior.

*sob* *sob*

Mr. Kiraha and Saki were being aided by a group of rebels whom they had been separated from in the fighting.

Man: Saki, run! The Clustanian Army is already looking for you in the village!
Um…? Whoa! Someone’s dead…!
Man: This is...Mr. Kiraha! can't be true! ...He's dead!?
He was killed by the Clustanian Army...
Man: ...Damn those skunks...! They'll stop at nothing...!
...Please take care of Mr. Kiraha...!
Man: What…!?
Let's go! We have to get out of this village!
Just come with me! I'm Aoto! He entrusted your safety to me!
! Aoto…
Man: Hurry! You can still catch the bus!
Go to the Bus Terminal!

They rushed through town to where their means of escape should have been waiting, but there was nothing there. They were not, however, alone.

Video Record- “Tatsumi”


???: What’s up, Aoto?

Tatsumi had recently moved into the area to train at an odd little sport peculiar to Sol Cluster. I tried to tune details of it out. Anyway he and Aoto had become friends.

No, idiot! I just met her.
Her name's Saki...and she seems to be in some trouble.

Oh yeah? ...She doesn't look happy. Are you alright?

Saki, let me introduce you to Tatsumi.
He's sort acquaintance of mine. He's been V-Board training here for a month.
I see… Nice to meet you…
You guys waiting for the airbus?
Yeah…but I don’t see one…

If they’d thought things through more, they probably would have realized the Clustanians cut off all transportation before they attacked.

What? Was there an accident or something? Are the drivers on strike?
How am I supposed to know?
Damn it! We have to get out of here before they catch up with us.
They? Someone’s after you guys?
Well, we're kind of in a real big jam here.
What happened?

I’ve got some experience in situations like this and every time I’ve heard a question like that asked it sort of answered itself.

Clustanian Soldier: There she is!
Damn, they found us!
Clustanian Soldier: Hey, kid! Give us that girl!
Request denied.
Clustanian Soldier: What did you say!?
I said, "I won't let you lay a finger on her."
Clustanian Soldier: You dare defy us? You surprise me. Alright, we'll take her by force.

The Clustanian army was vast, so it was rather lucky that Aoto had made friends with someone like Tatsumi.

Want me to help?
I don't know what's going on, but I hate when a bunch of people gang up on a few.
Plus, you always help me find good V-Boarding spots.
...Alright. I'm counting on ya, Tats!
You’ve got it.

Video Record- “Battle Tutorials”


Feinne on Qoga: Battle Basics 2
Now that our party has another Vanguard, we obviously can’t control both characters at once. We can pretty freely switch which character we’ll control, and though I stick with Aoto here in this combat I’ll probably switch things up a bit because the computer does tend to do better with Aoto than Tatsumi.

The Clustanians just kept coming, though.

Hmph! Bring it on, morons!
Clustanian Soldier: Would you still say that knowing that your continued defiance will make your entire village suffer?
What!? You cowards…
Clustanian Soldier: If you keep disobeying us, then you're going to force our hand.
Huh…!? A mech…?
Clustanian Soldier: This is your last chance. If you don't want to become hamburger meat, I suggest you give her to us.
Dammit...once I've decided to protect someone, I can't just cop out on them!
...Hey Aoto, we hafta...

They would have been in real trouble if not for something rather important Saki hadn’t mentioned.

You’re what!? A Reyvateil!?
That's fantastic. I expect a lot from you, Saki.
Y-yes! I, Saki, will do my best!

Feinne on Qoga: Battle Basics 3
Now we have a Reyvateil. Song Magic works a bit differently in this game. Rather than having Red and Blue Magic for offense and defense, we get passive healing and later on buffs while our Reyvateil is singing. For now, though, we just get small healing ticks and are stuck at the weakest level of magic. Having a Reyvateil also gives us the Harmograph in combat. The lines in this correspond to the beats of the music in the background, and timing our swings to higher peaks will improve our performance in combat. Having a Reyvateil also gives us another thing to worry about in combat, though, because she’s very vulnerable to enemy attack. If an enemy gets close to her she’ll start losing health, but fortunately our Vanguards can knock enemies back with a special technique called a Blow. We can’t use another Blow for a short time after executing one, though, so be careful to keep enemies engaged and away whenever possible. Saki’s Song Magic hits a circular area anywhere on the field, by the way.

It still wasn’t enough.

Video Record- “Saki’s Prayer”


Aoto! There's more of them!
Damn! This is getting us nowhere!
They outnumber us a millionfold! We're kind of screwed here.
…Aoto… Tatsumi…
...I'm sorry, Aoto and Tatsumi!
...I can't cause any more trouble for you two. I'll hold these ladies off, so please escape in the meantime!
You’ll hold them off!? How is that possible!?
I can.
I’ll say a prayer!
A prayer!?
...Saki, we're fine. I'm not going to lose to these...
Please…give me power…
Please give me power!

I’ve been telling people for years that clothes were a hassle and I felt vindicated when I heard that there were Reyvateils in Sol Cluster who take clothes off in order to absorb more energy to improve their magic.

But, um, not wearing clothes is very bad. For some reason. So wear clothes.

Please…please save us!

Anyway Saki turned them into cakes, which is equal parts cute and really unpleasant.

Clustanian Soldier: Uh, we better retreat for now!
What was that!?

Hey, Saki! Saki!
…We better get out of here. Hurry!

They carried Saki out of the village, hoping to find a safe place to plan their next move.

Video Record- “Mystery”



Feinne on Qoga: Save Circles
Save circles are intensely useful little things. We can save and load of course, but we can also Rest to recover health and create items at them. We’ll see how that works later.

That was about when Saki started to wake up.

…Ah, Aoto…
Oh, Saki? You’re awake.
Wh-what did I do…?
Don’t you remember?
Not…really… I’m sorry.
You don't need to be sorry... Ah! I wanna ask you something. When we first met, were you in a disguise?
A disguise…?
Like, were you dressing up like a female warrior? To fight the Clustanians...?
I'm sorry. I don't understand what you're talking about.
Huh? …Oh yeah, I see. Actually, she looked way different from you.
So, about Mr. Kiraha… Who was he to you?
Mr. Kiraha…?
You don’t remember him, either?

It seemed Saki couldn’t remember quite a lot of things, in fact.

Maybe she has partial memory loss from all the shock.
I’m sorry… don't remember saying that you were gonna pray and then getting n-n-n-naked, either...?
…Aoto, you pervert!
I-I'm really sorry. B-but, you embarrassed me so suddenly...
You seem to remember that pretty clearly...
That’s so boo of him…
So, Saki, what else can you remember?
What else…? Saki was a caretaker of children.
What was your job? Where at?
Ogai? Where's that? If it's close, I'll take you back there.

Unfortunately, that was one of the many things it seemed Saki wasn’t sure about any more.

Oh... Then what should we do? Have you ever heard of Ogai before, Tats?
I don't think so. But I do know someone who might.
He's a Reyvatologist who runs a small clinic in a city called Eternus Shaft. He knows a lot of stuff.
Besides, he's a medical doctor for Reyvateils. If he takes a look at Saki, maybe he can help her with her memory.
Oh! That's a great idea! I didn't know you had such a big social network, Tats.
Well, I don't really... I just happen to know him personally.
Saki, are you okay with this?
Y-yes! Please let me meet that doctor.
...I have a question.
Y-yes. Please ask Saki anything.
Are you some kinda special Reyvateil? I've never seen a Reyvateil who can turn people into cakes before.

Neither of them really understood the situation well enough to be as amazed by this as they needed to be unfortunately.

The Goddess? Are you serious!?
Yes, I am! I heard that Saki has the "power to perform miracles."
Well, whether the Goddess really helps her or not, it's a fact that a miracle did happen right before our eyes.
But anyway, let's go to Eternus Shaft and see the doctor.
Alright. I have to take Saki home safe!
Th-thank you very much! I'm sorry for the late self-introduction. I'm Saki! Pleased to meet you!
It'll take a good while to get to Eternus Shaft, so why don't we camp here and head out in the morning?
Good idea.

Little did they know their enemies were already plotting their next move.

I-I'm sorry, General. There was an extremely formidable man in the village. He was far beyond the limit of humans.
???: That's your excuse? I entrusted you with the entire legion, and you were defeated by a single man?
But…that was…
???: The mission I gave you was to secure Saki and bring her back to the mainland. Do you remember?
I specifically told you to make sure there wouldn't be any casualties.
But that…! I just…
???: I don't want to hear your excuses. This is your last chance. Do not fail your next mission.
If you do, I'll relieve you of command and demote you back down to private.
???: I have another matter I must attend to, so I cannot leave the mainland. You must bring Saki back.
Yes, General!
…Kh! That little pipsqueak… I’ll never forgive him!

But for the time being they were safe. Later in the night, Aoto had a visitor.

Sure. What’s up, Saki?
I apologize for barging in at this late hour.
Are you okay? Did you have a nightmare about a serial murderer in a mask or something?
N-no. I have no particular reason for being here, but…I’m a little afraid of being alone right now.
I get it. After such an incident, I probably wouldn’t want to be alone right now, either.
Yes. Still, I’m sorry. I tried my best not to be a bother to you, but…

Then, how about this? Starting tonight, you can talk with me any night you want before you go to bed.
Yeah. If we talk a little, maybe it’ll calm you down and you’ll be able to sleep better?
But I will be such a bother to you, Aoto…
Not really. I mean, I’ve wanted to get to know you more, anyway.
We just met a few days ago, right? We walk around pretty much all the time, so we haven’t had much time to chat.
So if you don’t mind, well… I thought it’d be nice for us both to talk a little at night.
…Whattaya say?

This at least gave Saki something to be happy about.

Awesome. I’m glad to hear it.
Yes, thank you very much, Aoto! I’ll look forward to speaking with you at night!
Heh, excellent. It’s a deal.
Aoto and Saki’s Secretive Rendezvous Operation starts tonight!

Feinne on Qoga: Reyvateil Talk
Just like the other games, you’ll get topics you can talk to the heroines about when you Rest at a camp. These serve the dual purpose of character development and gating a system we’ll see later that veterans of the series are already of course familiar with that requires them.

I understand they talked about what had happened earlier.

Hey, Saki, remember how you turned those people into cakes?
Huh? I turned people into cakes?
Oh, yeah. You lost part of your memory…
When you were attacked by Clustanian soldiers, we were spared because you prayed.
Not only that, but you turned them into cakes. They were all huge cakes!
Really!? I wish I could remember that.
Why? Do you like cakes or something?
Is there a girl who doesn’t?
I guess you’re right.
I kind of want to eat them.
Oh, speaking of which, I have a question for you.
Those cakes are transformed humans.
That means, they may look like cakes, but what about the taste?
P-please don’t say such things, Aoto!
Really? I think they might be simply tasty.
Urgh…I don’t think I can eat cakes for a while…

Anyway, that’s enough for today I think. Next time I’ll tell you what happened on the way to the Eternus Shaft…