Part 36: Episode XXV: In Which There is Blood on the SandEpisode XXV: In Which There is Blood on the Sand
Music: Descendus - Instrumental
Mikhail is recovered after his harrowing single mission kidnapping and we're back on the trail of... wandering the desert aimlessly hoping Two will pop up at some point. The party has given up on attempting to justify how they're going to find the next Intoner sister. It's a video game. The boss will be at the end of the set of levels. Deal with it.
That out of the way, completing Verse 1 unlocked a new duo of weaponry. Both 25,200 gold a piece. I like the extra 200G as just a smidgen more of a little "fuck you" for the price. Let's browse the new stock before we gather the party and venture forth...
Imperial Claws posted:
Combat bracers left behind by the Holy Emperor. Effective vs. undead.
The new nation spread across a bountiful landscape,
but it was home to a vast, destructive war. The old retainers
muttered under their breath, cursing the brash young king.
I care not for the past, said the king. No matter how hard,
we must move on and bring fortune to the land! And so
he began an never-ending war against their neighbors.
The land's resources filled the kingdom's coffers for a
time, bringing prosperity to all. But eventually the land
began to run dry, and the people grew weary of war.
Despite the losses and deaths, the king refused to give up.
He would not cede the promised land, no matter the cost.
...I shall save what happened for another time.
You know, you could edit most of these down to two paragraphs and it would just be the same deal as Dark Souls item descriptions.
Robber King posted:
A spear of betrayal once owned by a man who usurped the throne.
Weapon Size: Large
She was a prostitute with a habit of falling in love with her
customers, but they fled whenever she proposed. This puzzled
her, as she was unaware her job was viewed with disdain.
One day, an ugly old man came to her. Once their business
was done, the woman asked for his hand in marriage. He began
to cry, for though he was king, none had ever loved him.
The prostitute became queen of the land. But soon after
the ceremony, the king was felled by his own heart, leaving
her with untold fortune and all of his political power.
The woman had been so close to happiness, but now her
beloved was gone. Thus, she took up his spearthe last
memento of her husbandand fled the palace forever.
This is one of two weapons to have made it into all the Drakengard games as well as NIER (albeit under a different name.) So good on it. Robber is a silly word and completely unrelated to anything in that story to boot.
Now that the weapon business is sorted out, let's get on with the next mission...
Cent claimed Zero's dragon would be her downfall. What was the meaning behind this ominous prophecy?
I am not even going to question where they found that pile of lumber to build a campfire in the middle of a desert ruin. To avoid the implausible elephant in the room, let's talk to the jerks gathered around it instead.
Why ya sayin' that in front of Zero? Jealous?
N-No! It was hardly my intention to imply that--
I really don't care.
...Oh. Very well then.
Too bad, freak. No ball kicks for you today! Heh ha ha ha!
To her soldiers and to her disciple, an Intoner is a godlike presence.
...That you just happened to either actively bang or want to bang. I wonder if that is just due to the Intoners being pretty anime girls or if this is just a matter of fact in Drakengard's version of earth. I mean there was a Drakengard Jesus with disciples and all... Just sayin'.
Never believe what your enemy tells you.
But we all saw what he did to Lady Three, a fellow Intoner.
Go to sleep already, would you?
You may dismiss it, but my concerns about Mikhail are genuine...
He just devoured the one Intoner. It's fine. Dragons just sometimes get a taste for young anime girls. I mean remember that one ending with the dragon apocalypse where they ate Manah? You didn't even have to fight any of those jerks.
I don't even remember what he said.
He said that dumb dragon would be your downfall!
No, I'm not worried. ...Are you?
Me? Hell, no. My downfall started the day I met you!
Not that anyone cares, but I need a bath something fierce...
This is all going to turn out to be a fourth wall breaking business where there's another Mikhail segment with a really dodgy camera that makes a boss fight a pain in the ass. Oh well, let's see Mikhail's take on events.
A golem "told" you? Golems can't talk, dummy. They're stone.
Well, he didn't talk or whatever. It was more like his soul spoke to me.
There's no such thing as a soul.
So who knows where the Shrine of Sands is? ...Anyone? ...Show of hands? ...Thaaat's what I thought.
Guess we'll just have to wander around like idiots until we stumble into it.
I heard tell that nearby underground ruins are being used as barracks for the enemy troops.
Good enough. We'll start there.
So what should I do?
You fly up and scout ahead, yeah?
You got it, Zero! You got it!
Verse 2: Violators
Music: Prevolt ~ Battleground
You cannot have a desert area without the obligatory underground ruins level, now can you? I mean it is the desert. That is one area that has gotten the short end of the stick on level types. You've got your arid desert map. Your arid desert above ground ruins. Your ruins and/or caves level. And maybe if you're lucky there will be a combination of the lot. Throw in some quicksand or a vengeful sun spirit if you're feeling saucy. Not here though. Do you honestly think AG has the budget for fucking quicksand?! Are you out of your minds?! We've already blown through 28% of this region's maps that first mission!
Incidentally, go watch the Highlight Reel video at the end of the update just for the fantastic pathfinding present during this next conversation:
Oh ho ho ho! Who needs darkness? Pretty much anything makes me hard!
But that's not even...
<sigh> You really are hopeless, Octa.
So for this adventure, we'll be running the gauntlet desert level template of underground ruins built into a cavern system. Synergy!
In addition, all Proto-Imperial troops from here on out will be of the Red Dude variety. Which is a bit silly considering we are just now getting to the blue color themed Intoner sister. But it is what it is. I mean it's not like there is a red themed Intoner. No, blood splattered red eyed Zero does not count.
That is other than archer guys. Archers never get an upgrade. They will forever be a one-hit-wonder. As if otherwise, they'd have to actually balance the chakram weapon to be worth a shit and man forget that noise! They'd have to completely change up the enemy lay-outs they've just introduced with the cannoneer arenas. Pfft!
How could she have made it all the way here?!
The accursed Intoner!
Tell me where Two is, or you're dead! And if you don't know... you're still dead!
Ho ho! Ever the gung-ho Intoner, eh?
We... we can't let ourselves be annihilated!
Sir! No survivors found in the first squadron!
Shit! Now what do we do!?
The answer to that previous soldier's panicked inquiry is quite simple. At this point in the game of course send in the wizards.
That's right! The Washington Wizards are here and ready to jam. They have dark arcane arts at their disposal. Hey you, whatcha gonna do? Here's your chance, do your dance.
Wizards, as in most fiction, are tremendous dicks. But they're also about as sturdy as tissue paper. And I'm talking the real shit sort of tissue paper that feels like bible pages you get at a crappy hotel. Disciples, if their AI feels like actually participating, can even stun lock these fools. And that's just sad.
A wizard, it would seem.
Is that different from a sorcerer? I can't keep track of these assholes.
Better be careful, Z. You don't wanna piss these guys off. I mean, they pretty much sold their souls to gain power.
Yeah? They call sell their assholes for all I care--they're mine, now!
The trouble with wizards comes apparent in a few ways. First of all, Drakengard wizards enjoy traveling in packs of 4-10. Couple this with the fact that all wizards have invested their skill points in nothing but projectiles and you can easily have a fiery clusterfuck on your hands in no time. Especially given they're the spray and pray sort of multi-directional magic missiles.
Couple that with the fact wizards are mobile little jerks. They can ought right teleport across an arena at will, summon forth magic discs to surf around for a better angle on Zero. Or just float higher than usual in the air just to be obnoxious. Like I said, wizards are dicks.
Eight wizard asses owned by Zero later...
No ancient ruin would be complete without levitating platforms to transverse, now would they? All desert based ruins are legally required to either have levitating platforms, a spike trap, or a gigantic boulder peril. Workplace safety inspectors crack down on failures to live up to code.
Not this platform shit again...
This will require both quick reflexes and extreme patience.
I'd rather just break 'em in half and bury 'em along with this whole damn place.
My lady, please! The ruins!
Lady Zero's crude behavior is quite troubling, no?
Well... I prefer to think of it as... spontaneous.
No, I think "crude" is the better word here. I mean, hell, she ate raw meat off the floor earlier! I've seen dogs who are pickier than that.
An Intoner who's cruder than a dog? Oh ho! That pushes ALL my buttons.
Shut up before I pull out all your tongues!
A trial of precision jumping later...
What was that?
My lady, these ruins are extremely valuable and--
WHAT WAS THAT?!
N-Nothing, my lady... Nnngh...
A-AHH! I can't! I just can't do this!
The eternal song herself, Lady Two, watches over us! Now fight!
Is that Zero? I heard she was scrawny but DAMN!
And I heard she was pretty, but DAAAAMN!
Well, I heard she'll kill you in your sleep. So shut up and stay alert.
Several dozen casualties of war later and we come upon the next trial of the underground ruins. Dual-golems! Indeed, that solitary golem the previous mission was an anomaly. These big stone behemoths like to employ the buddy system. Rock men need to look out for each other in these trying times.
You and me both.
Come on, Z, let's get this over with!
Hmm... It's strange, isn't it?
Magic drives these beasts. Yet where does it come from?
Dual golems are kind of a massive pain in the ass. Due to their nature of big, lumbering mountains of HP there is no real way to separate two of 'em apart from one another to take down more efficiently. Golems don't have any range closing attacks unlike pretty much every other mid-boss enemy. They're happy to just fire missile arms and employ heat vision for as long as Zero is running out of melee range.
It doesn't help the range a golem's AI decides is too far to attempt to mash Zero the old fashion way is roughly the chunk of property a golem's model occupies in an arena. So if Zero runs around to one side of two golems rubbing elbows, she's got a good chance of having to contend with both rocket punches and a butt stomping/ground pounding golem attacks at the same time.
If you do happen to get golems both in range of triggering their melee attacks it makes for quite a bit of real estate under siege until they simmer down for a bit. Unless getting juggled around by large angry fantasy fists is your idea of fun.
Thankfully, literally everything in Drakengard's universe bleeds buckets of blood and you can squeeze quite a bit of it out of a stone as it turns out. I can't imagine there are a whole lot of golems in existence. How many does Zero need to kill before we take out the one that made a pact with Seere and cause a time paradox.
...Wait a minute, you couldn't even recruit that little runt before getting to Ending A leading to Drakengard 2. Shit... Is Drakengard 2 the inevitable constant dark future fallback if the timeline gets fucked up...? Ugh. Gross.
Several brown corridors later...
Behold: The final platforming challenge of the game. It takes like 20 seconds. 40 if you go for the treasure chest with the weapon unlock in the room.
My lady, please remain calm. Anger will solve nothing here.
Oh ho ho! Another of Lady Zero's beloved jumping puzzles, I see.
But seriously, what's powering all this?
Lemme guess--magic, right? You know how it goes. Weird shit like this always gets written off as magic.
No I didn't write this game. Shut up. Pretty sure I wrote that exact same exchange at some point though.
A hop, skip, and a slight bit of wrestling with the camera later...
Hmm. It appears to be an underground lair...
They built it right into the ruins. How clever.
No underground lair is complete without a horde of soldiers pouring out of it like a cavernous clown car. Nobody tell them it probably would have just been easier to call the area a loss and have one of those cartoon bomb soldiers martyr himself taking out the bridge overlooking this bottomless cavern.
It's time to show Lady Two what you've got!
This is no training round any longer! This is real, you hear me? The fighting AND the dying!
Pfft! They've got a bunch of juniors guarding this place.
Funny to hear you calling anyone "junior."
Hey, cram it! I told you, I'm 22!
You may be new recruits, but you're still soldiers! Fight well, and Lady Two may choose you for her elite guards!
The remaining imperial forces pull out all the stops for this final gauntlet. There's scores of sword guys, spear guys, shield guys, cannoneers off in the distance raining down support fire, archers lining the area's parameter, and even some wizards thrown in for good measure. Zero doesn't actually have to fight any of them. Running past is a valid option. The only downfall will be the fact the disciples' pathfinding will completely shit the bed and they'll fall to their dooms, respawn, and do it immediately again a dozen times over.
When we reach the far end of the chasm Zero runs into a bit of trouble along the way in the form of a sand ogre ambush. Unlike standard, unremarkable ogres the sand ogre branch of the family has powerful foresight and choose to attack Zero within the dark confines of the Cutscene Zone.
Zero puts up a valiant gravity defying show against her attacks. But again, this is the dreaded Cutscene Zone where all rules go out the window and welp...
...Stuff like this can just happen on a whim. No limbs are safe with the dark cinematic letterboxed gaze is upon you.
The disciples prove to be just as useful in cutscenes as they are ingame. I'll just assume Octa has tumbled off a cliff for the seventh time or has gotten a foot caught on the edge of a gate leading into the arena.
On the way down from being disarmed, Zero proves resourceful for a change and equips her severed arm and its death grip on her sword to slice open one of the sand ogre assailant's faces on the way down. Which is all told pretty metal.
I don't think that's how this thing works. I thought we already established the whole giant blood flower nightmare regeneration bus--
...Oh she can just reattached her arm like an action figure. Well, that'll be a useful thing to keep in mind with the future given Zero's inability to keep all her limbs attached, right. Zero never reattaches a limb like this again.
Well, you heard the lady. Let's get this party started and add another mid-boss enemy to the death tally.
Our final opponent for this mission is a team of six Sand Ogres. While the vanilla ogres were barely more threatening than a couple of normal soldiers, their desert dwelling brethren are right bastards. First off all they don't walk. It's the desert. Sand is hot. These fools know to truck it if you're moving anywhere. So they're quite good at keeping up the pressure simply by bum rushing Zero at all times. Double so since they have a dashing slash when catching up with her.
Not only are sand ogres fast, they're damn strong too. A single attack landing will knock Zero flat on her ass and take off a sixth of her health bar at this point in the game. That ain't no joke for damage output. One good hit from each of the jerks in this battle would be enough to take down Zero.
Another note about the sand ogres' speed is that they've learned from Zero's dodge stepping ways and can evade attacks themselves, complete with invincibility frames when jumping around. That seems kind of irritating an ability when you're on the opposite side of it. God help us if they learn to dodge-cancel attack animations.
Oh, trust me, it's not just her arm. Z can actually regrow almost anything.
Hmm? Something the matter, Decadus?
Probably grossed out. He's pretty delicate... for a freak.
An Intoner with detachable arms too much for you?
No, my lady. As your disciple, I must learn all there is to know about you.
Indeed. There are far more horrific things in the world, after all.
Yeah. Like your sex drive.
At least they seemed to know how much of a jerk ogres were and allow you to gib the pricks down to a pair of legs spraying a fountain of blood out of its waist by the time you're done beating on their broken corpse. It's the little things in life that are satisfying.
Six very dead sand ogres later...
...It doesn't seem to feel pain anymore. Seems I'm getting less human by the day.
Pictured: The look of three men in need of updating their resume and realizing they're totally boned when it comes to past experience references.
Three down, two to go.
And that concludes Verse 2 of Chapter 4. We're actually over half-way done with this chapter. The next mission is the last real one before it's time for chapter boss shenanigans. We're getting there.
Before we head out the door, it's been quite a while since we're picked up a weapon during a mission. It's another crummy chakram. But hey, gotta catch 'em all. Even the substandard lots...
Ring of Lament posted:
A compact chakram infused with a sorcerer's curse.
Weapon Size: Medium
Why does no one recognize my arcane skills? Why do they
not respect me? Applaud me? Why, why, why!? I hate it!
I want to beat all of them into the ground!
It's HIM! HE steals my magic! That's why I don't receive
the praise I so richly deserve. It's all his fault. That's why
I must kill him. I do it for justice. For the human race!
Cold steel is the perfect reply to his idle words. I am not
in the wrong! With this cursed blade, I shall silence the
sorcerer and prove that I am worthy! Not him! Me! ME!
Hear the laughter as I behold the bloody lump that used to
be a sorcerer! Now I am the greatest magician in the world!
Such a shame I fell into this well in my excitement...
So that's who was down that Pun Well in Lahan back in Xenogears! It all makes sense now... Well, mystery solved.
Video: Chapter 4 Verse 2 Highlight Reel
Wizard Concept Art - Yes, Frank. Everyone has seen you do the fire discus trick. Nobody is impressed.