Part 11: Episode IX: In Which This Level Never. Friggin'. ENDS!Episode IX: In Which This Level Never. Friggin'. ENDS!
Verse 6: The Escape - Music: Impatience
"Stop her! After her!"
"She's disappeared... Damn this fog."
"She's boarded a ship!"
"Who left the keys in the ignition?!"
<pats self down> "Aww crap!"
"She's escaped? Can...can she get away?"
"Nowe, what the hell are you doing!?" Chase down that ship! Get on your dragon...and follow her! I don't care if you have to take down the whole ship with her. Just don't let her get away!"
So yeah...the Knights of the Seal are so incompetent that they not only tried to execute someone who can use magic to control the elements by using fire, but also let her slip away AND hijack one of their airships right out from under their noses. How do you even manage to fuck up that badly? It's mind boggling.
"The heretic must be cleansed in the fires of justice! There is no other way."
"Was her crime really so evil, Eris?"
"Nowe! You're talking nonsense! If we allow her to flee, she will turn against the other districts, too. We have to stop her!"
"I am one of the Knights of the Seal, right? That's who I am."
"If you don't catch that woman, General Gismor is liable to demote you to Grand Shrine janitor at this rate. Now get going!"
"I'm telling you now, my boy, I don't want any of their type riding on my back. The last time I allowed that it took me weeks of bathing to feel clean again. Ruined the shade of my scales in the process."
"Legna, we don't have time. Just fly, alright?"
The goal for this mission is to pursue the hijacked airship and shoot it down within the time limit. Said limit is about five minutes and that is more than enough time to ground the thing.
The airship will attempt dropping floating mines behind it and shooting off cannon balls in an effort to ward off Legna and Nowe. The mines can be shot out of the air with Legna's dragon breath, but cannon balls need to be evaded. Luckily, the hijackers have pretty terrible aim with both, so break through their defensive isn't too taxing.
With the destruction of the Flame Dais, a new Breath Sphere has been unlocked for aerial missions. The new power-up is called Blaze Breath and it is basically fireball bombs that will explode into an aerial of effect damaging plume of fire on impact. Pretty damn handy for clustered groups, as it's almost a guaranteed one-hit kill on standard enemies. It does a hell of a number on fantasy planes too.
"I'm not following. Did we not just shoot this woman's vehicle out of the sky?"
"Well, yes but...I didn't want to hurt her."
"And the dozens of others we inevitably burned to ash by hitting the engines with my fire?"
"Now I don't follow..."
"We have no choice. Put her down over there. I know a place we can hide nearby. We may be safe there..."
"We have to catch her. Legna, do you sense anything?"
"No, not a thing."
"I do smell a few things. Be glad you do not possess my nostrils. Your lot does not mix well with fire."
"She must be hiding nearby. She can't have gone far. Let's go."
Legna: Confirmed Bachelor.
Verse 7: The Closed Land - Music: Unrest
"No, not yet. If the guilty are good at anything, it's running and hiding."
"Alright... Then we should press on, but carefully. I don't think many people have passed this way before."
Welcome to the final mission of Chapter 2. It is by far the largest map we've encountered thus far and as such it goes on forever. For the record, the previous longest stage was about twelve minutes long.
Since I'm sure you do not want to hear every single detail of this horrible slog of a ground mission, I'll just give you the highlight reel. First up, Nowe needs to slaughter his way through dozens of goblins to make his way through the first canyon pass. Where did all these goblins come from? Did they just breed like rabbits between games? They were in like...three missions in the first game. What happened to those guys with the paper bags on their heads? I miss those goofballs.
Anyway, after that we must go seek out several hidden crystals scattered across caverns to take out a barrier Manah set up. Well, hidden in the sense that that each cave is the identical, poorly lit brown and if you get caught up fighting the enemies that spawn outside, it is quite easy to get turned around and waste half a minute re-treading the same caves.
After that, there is a canyon with a strong gust of air that is simply impossible to pass through, even on Legna. Never mind that our dragon could probably just fly out of the canyons for a few seconds and just circumvent the wind barrier. But then how would our ever helpful Knights of the Seal comrades be able to follow along and aide in our arresting of Manah?
The solution to this dilemma is to venture into the sandy central area of the canyon and watch the random geysers of steam erupt from the ground. There are about eh...a dozen or so in the area. Randomly, one of these steam bursts will blast a red mist.
Nowe has to smack the ground where the red mist emanates in order to reveal another crystal which can be shattered and stop the wind gusts. Peachy.
Next, the Knights of the Seal's bumbling asses run further into the area and are immediately jumped by a horde of goblins. Great going guys! Glad to have you on board for the mission! Anyway, cue another Murder Meter to wind down in order to continue to the next step.
Finally, after another five minutes or so of ground based combat, since the area is choked with Shamans that will blast Legna out of the air, the party comes to a cavern that is no doubt the rebel hide-out.
"Well, we've no choice."
"Right! We have to push on!"
At this point, Eris and Nowe need to dungeon crawl through the cavern, taking on imperial rebels by the dozen along the way. Nowe is apparently looting the slain insurgents' belongings with each kill, as he keeps finding notes about how to open a hidden door ahead. Probably not the best method of keeping a secret entrance secret guys, mmm?
As the final note stated, Nowe has to hit the walls at a dead end left, right, and then down to reveal the hidden path. Surely now we've found Manah's hideout?
Music: Formidable Enemy
Haha! No dice! Giant anteater/boar lovechild out of fucking nowhere! Hope you don't die here, otherwise it's starting the last fifteen minutes of the level over from the beginning.
"Why are you referring to them in the plural form? There is only the one, Nowe. Are you sure you haven't hit your head in the past few days...?"
Meet the Behemoth. Remember the doom boar, Goose, from NIER? This mid-boss is basically proto Goose, minus the regeneration and nerve gas farts when defeated. Its primary attack is charging toward Nowe in an attempt to ram him. If you've fought any pissed beast that does charging attacks in an enclosed area, I'm sure you know the method of stunning the thing.
If you somehow have avoided playing any of the dozens of video games with this boss gimmick, then I'll fill you in: charging monsters and walls do not mix well. If the behemoth smashes its face into the side of the cave wall, it'll turn blue and become stunned briefly, allowing Nowe or Eris to rush in and attack. For some reason there is a rebel rambling on during this fight like he's riding the monster. I guess they just couldn't be bothered to animate an anteater mounted imperial. Thank god this thing can't drift or we'd be in real trouble.
If Nowe overstays his welcome on the offense, the behemoth will perform a continuous ground pound and send him flying back. Both the ground pound and the charge attacks of the behemoth hurt a lot and god help you if you get knocked toward a wall and stun locked. I hope you like re-doing 20 minutes of progress in that case.
Once the creature's health drops to a quarter, it will turn bright red and begin attacking far more aggressively (read: rapid charges one after another across the area.) It still hasn't gotten smart enough to avoid whacking its head full force into solid stone, so it isn't all that difficult even with the added aggression.
And that's a wrap! ...For the mini-boss. The mission still isn't over yet.
Now the former boss arena fills to the brim with more rebels as well as portals. These portals will transport the party to various points along the sides of the arena. We need to follow a specific order of teleporters (found by killing every rebel along the way and snooping around their corpse' pockets) as we make our way around the arena perimeter, or else it will just dump Nowe and Eris back at the start and they'll have to try again.
Finally, at the top of this maze of portals we catch up to the fugitive Manah. I thought this was some improvised escape plan she had when she told her guys to crash land around here, not some mage Batman set of contingency plans she had prepared just in case something like this should happen.
"There she is! You've nowhere left to run, Manah!"
"Lady Manah, we'll save you!"
"No. Don't throw away your lives. We will flee."
"She's getting away! She had an escape route planned all along."
"Nowe, stop wasting time! After her!"
Despite Manah's orders to flee, the mission still ain't over. Insert three minutes of killing more insurgents with awful camera angles due to tiny corridors. I died to the behemoth the first run through due to the aforementioned hit into wall stun-lock with its stomping attack. So I'd been doing this stage for about 45 minutes now... I was not a happy camper at this point.
At the end of the caves, the mission mercifully comes to an end. 25 minutes of one level of Drakengard is far too much. That previous aerial mission with Legna was 1:45 for reference...
"She escaped on a ship that the rebels had ready for her. Damn that woman!"
"Legna, why didn't you stop her?!"
"Those humans all look alike. How was I supposed to know which of them to look out for?"
"Well, she had blond hair and...umm-"
A Knight of the Seal rushes over to Eris...
"Withdraw? But, we almost had her..."
"He must have his reasons... All forces, prepare to move out! Nowe, you go on ahead and report to General Gismor."
All that and she just got away...? That entire, nearly half hour level was utterly pointless...? MotherFFFFFFU-
Meanwhile, back at the Grand Shrine...
"If I don't do something soon, I might not get another chance."
General Gismor is...evil...? The shock! The betrayal! Say it ain't so, Cavia! Say it ain't so! Well, at least there was that small twist to end an otherwise chapter conclusion. Don't worry, Chapter 3's opening act has lots of Gismor being a huge douchebag and proving once more than he's the best character in the game. Stay tuned!
Verse 6 Cutscenes
Verse 7 Cutscenes and Chapter Outro
Airship Concept Art - I've always wondered how fantasy settings in video games so frequently manage to make engine based flying vehicles but almost never manage to make a car first.