Part 57: Episode XXXIX: In Which This Forest Seems Off...Episode XXXIX: In Which This Forest Seems Off...
Welcome to ominous The Tainted Forest of Woodland State, the Land of Forests, Midgard. Don't be fooled into think it's a new area. They have just reversed one of the Chapter 3 maps and put a sickly green filter over it. We've seen One's DLC, Drakengard 3. We're already onto your map recycling initiative. I'll have to keep of how many times each map gets reused between the DLC and the alternate main campaign branches. I want to say the most reused is that fucking open desert with the three temples map or the Prologue Notspain map but it's hard to remember.
Verse 1: Into the Woodwork
Before we start I should mention it is now important to rotate out our stable of disciples. Well sort of... Kind of... Barely... Look, upon the completion of Branch A an unseen count is kept of how many times we use each disciple in a mission. After being Zero's companion in the field for four complete standard missions (bosses/dragon mounted/weird story missions don't count) the disciple's "affinity" for Zero will raise. When that happens the disciple will hand over a second unique weapon for our ever growing collection. These weapons all count toward the final ending path unlocking so it's important to be sure to gather all four before then.
I am pretty sure the game fails to tell you this is a thing at any point. At least I had a friend that played through this and never changed disciples and just jammed through end of mission prompts, not noticing the disciple gifts. So there's that. All told, "use all four disciples four times" is the solitary esoteric weapon unlock in the entire game. The rest are story related, weapon chests, Accord Request rewards, or weapon shop purchases. Let us not forget Drakengard 1's shit like "waste 20 minutes in a mission that could be completed in 5 for a weapon to appear" or "go in a specific path through this series of identical connected rooms" and the like. So no bitching from me.
Yeah, you do that.
Somewhere out there there's a sidestory about the dopey adventures of Mikhail off dicking around between missions. Since it would be an entirely unnecessary gaiden tale, it would just be crammed full of prequel characters shoehorned in. Mikhail no doubt bumps into Angelus and Legna hanging out being grumpy. Leonard's Fairy and Verdelet's dad being an asshole and a racist asshole respectively. Caim's great grandpa. Yoda. Seere's Golem. Emil's head rolling by at one point. The Grim Reaper before Caim stabbed it to death. Triple H. That one oldman rebel NPC in Drakengard 2 that went "Lady Manar".
You know. The usual suspects.
Music: Antipurity - Battleground
Is there really a non-eerie forest when you get right down to it? Sure, you might think that stroll through the woods is pleasant. But just think, next time you're out alone among the trees: something, somewhere out there is watching you and is fucking something, just fucked something, or is about to fuck something. And you were what it was peering at in the interim... I mean sure. It might just be a bird or a bee. Or a toothless banjo strumming creepin' swamp folk in the brush. Think about it next time...
I'm telling you, something's weird about this forest.
But... what? If you say "The discomfort is exquisite!" or some shit, I swear I'll cut your head off.
Why is Octa fighting for Zero?
It doesn't matter. Octa is our enemy now.
Where is Lady Three?!
I don't know... We lost contact with her a while ago.
Well send another messenger!
Three's imperial troops are still hanging out. I do believe we've seen every single variation of their enemy class in the game. Except for maybe the Enhanced Soldiers of Three's in a fair, non-dragon mounted fight. I guess that would sorta, kinda count. But they are nowhere to be found at the moment. So it's just another day sending the men to the Zero abattoir.
A bit beyond the first rounds of battle we come to a blocked off arena filled with more soldiers. This time accompanied by spirits. It's just more ho-hum cannon fodder imperial troops for this fight. But specters become a real bitch in later stages when they really start stepping up their possession hosts of choice. Man FUCK Possessed Sand Ogres!
Spirits are attracted to deceased human corpses.
They claim the body and force it to battle the living.
That's some hobby.
Dead bodies make great disposable transport!
Curse the traitorous Intoner!
Lady Three freed us from the oppressive rule of the past. We owe her our lives!
Reinforcements! Call for reinforcements!
There's something weird about this forest. ...What's the deal with this fog?
We don't have time to worry about that. If we don't stop that dragon it'll torch us AND the forest!
Many bouts of dead soldiers, busted ghosts, and suggestive forestry imagery later... We proceed further into the forest. Only to come upon undead skeleton warriors stalking the fog. No doubt to obscure the strings used to hold them up and look spooky on this budget.
Truly, Decadus? This turns you on as well?
No. Defeating such weak foes actually... displeases me.
Well, it is filled with both spirits and the undead.
And it's a pain in the ass.
It's not just that. I'm thinkin' this fog might be... poison.
Eh. It's probably fine.
...That's it? Really?
Yeah. Good attitude there. But I suppose that's the best a grunt like you can hope for.
Grunt? I am a disciple, just the same as you!
Heh. Yeah, no. We may have the same title, but the similarity ends there.
I, for example, am amazing. While you are... less so.
Hey, Decadus. Try not to kill him, okay? 'Cause if anyone here is gonna kill him, it's ME.
Now you kids play nice. We've got some Necromancers to deal with here. Eight necromancers in this area, to be precise. Necromancers are just upgraded wizards. Beyond higher defenses and stronger attacks with their fireballs, they can now summon undead skeletons to fight alongside them. All told... they barely ever seem to actually do so unless left to their own devices for a very long, non-stabbed length of time. Necromancers always were kind of lazy bastards. Always summoning like one great pain in the ass undead evil and then pissing off to hang out the rest of the evening. Shitty wizards.
Beyond that... Uhh... I guess their fireballs are now purple instead of red. That's neat.
Other than the eight necromancers scattered about the area they each come with a vanguard of...
They do seem to enjoy entrapping their prey.
...Did someone say entrapment play? Nnnngh...
I hate this one- and two-at-a-time shit. I wish they'd just rush me all at once and get it over with!
For once, Z, I think I actually agree with you. ...Which is pretty scary when you think about it.
You do love to provoke our fair Intoner, don't you?
Yeah, and I'm gonna love killing you even more!
A few dead necromancers in groups of two or three at a time later...
Oh? I had no idea.
Don't be impressed. He pulls all this shit out of his ass.
Tch. Come now. This forest is tainted because it lacks faeries. Don't you see it? Suuurely, I can't be the only one?
...I really, really hate this guy.
An accurately quite tedious area of fight a handful of the same two enemy types later...
These necromancers are a bunch of ******* ****less ****-rammers!
Hee hee heeeee! Perhaps our foes are entomologists out to find new insects for their collection!
You're an idiot. Is that what you were waiting for?
After a good four minutes of necromancer and lackey grinding, we can finally move on to the final area of the mission. Here we meet a somewhat familiar foe.
Look who is back for another go at it. It's Three's Rave Dolls the Armisael. We haven't taken care of them yet in this timeline so they're still kicking around. Granted they're straying a bit far from home at the giant tree shrine this time around. And our dumb baby dragon is AWOL as well. That's a bit of a change.
What a nice surprise! They say only those of pure heart can see these little guys, you know.
Stop talking and fight already! Ugh, this is driving me crazy!
Persistent little bastards, aren't they?
Dammit! I'm sick and tired of playing with dolls!
Patience, my lady. 'Tis better to bend like a reed in the wind than to topple like an oak.
What the hell are you talking about? You're starting to sound like Cent!
On foot the Armisael horde are... just as pathetically easy as they were mounted on a fire-breathing dragon as a boss battle. Maybe even moreso. For one they come in much smaller numbers: no more than five or six at a time
Beyond that they're made out of tissue paper, are not particularly aggressive, and a single standard series of sword swipes is enough to stunlock any one of 'em to death in about five seconds. It'd be pretty tedious to kill all 50 with just Zero and the two clowns running in circles behind her but...
Once Zero downs twenty five of these clowns Mikhail finally gets off his ass to get summoned to aide in the fight. Or Zero just remembers "wait crap I have a damn dragon I should probably call it for help". It's hard to tell with those two sometimes.
Yeah, I did. So move it!
Hee hee. You need me, huh? You need me!
Shut up and get to work already!
Not bad, for a big baby dragon!
That's right! I'm not bad! Not bad at all!
Mikhail's sporadic carpet bombing burns through the remaining stock of Armisael in short order. Assuming any have spawned in the area he randomly decides to raze. Bit of a crap shoot there. Still takes a little bit to mop up the rest of the stragglers.
Oh ho! It appears my lady is unaccustomed to such tedious work.
I'm not used to any work.
Killing isn't work. It's like takin' a piss--it comes naturally.
Zero you have such an eloquent way of putting things. Slaying the last of the Armisael gives way to... absolutely nothing! No rematch with the giant Armisael doll. I'm pretty sure that was the actual extra-dimensional Angel hanging out in the cannibal space baby tea party in the sky or whatever is going on with boss summons. The dolls were just things Three made and were hanging out or... Err. Look.. here's a cutscene. I dunno!
Itty-bitty mini dolls appear to roll away the heads of their fallen compatriots. If they weren't filled with the souls of Three's tortured human experiment soldiers it'd be kind of cu--wait tiny mini-soul filled dolls...? Err... Not even going to ask! I already know the answer. It's probably Drakengard!
Oh. Look who's here. It's Zero.
Heya, Three. I'm in a rush, so...
You ready to die?
Heheh. I suppose. But...
<looks around> Something's wrong... with the forest...
Can't you hear the voices? The crying?
Ugh! No! No, bad Drakengard 3! Do not call attention to those textures! That's not a thing you want to do under any circumstance. That looks like PS2 shit. BAD PS2 shit. Didn't you learn your lesson from the water in the first chapter?!
Zero looks around the area and...
Our dear sister One... holds the secret.
Up ahead... Deeper in the forest...
And with that all the Armisael dolls spontaneously shatter into pieces and scatter into the wind. Three vanishes along with them. Chalk her new teleportation creepy powers up to Intoner magic I suppose.
The few remaining remaining heads that were being rolled away decide to pull an Emil and bounce off on their own. Thus leaving Zero alone wondering what the hell that was all about. Then likely immediately annoyed about how she needs to go chase down Three again. You know how it goes.
And thus concludes the first mission of Branch B. How many parts are there to this alternate timeline we're apparently in...? It is... not nearly as many as you'd think!
Before we depart for greener pastures, we do have our very first new weapon of the post-game content. It was picked up right in the beginning of the stage, just behind where we started. Let's take a gander:
Gaia's Flame posted:
A sword used by a celebrated holy woman.
Weapon Size: Medium
Beauty is only skin deep.
The twisted hearts within remain unseen.
I wish for the fortune of man.
I scorn the persistent insects.
A flame illuminates the night.
But it brings only Stygian dark.
To burn is proof of witchery.
And I am the one who lights the fire.
Shut up, story. I still have The Witcher 3 downloading here. Christ, why do you think I'm working on this upd--I mean! See you next time for more of the Alternate Murder Roadtrip!
Video: Branch B Verse 1 Highlight Reel
Three Concept Art - Why do you even have those dual-katanas? Aren't they just poking into you all the time with all the slouching? To make no mention of that buckler. Is this what happens when Octa doesn't dress you in the morning or something?