Part 11: Take a ride on the ReadingChapter 11: Take a ride on the Reading
Music: The Unforgiven
Last time, we were introduced to Cyan Garamonde just in time to see every single thing he loved and cared about die right before his eyes. Naturally, he's more than a little pissed.
Fortunately, the Empire is more than willing to meet his challenge, and he and a couple troopers have a fight that will never end if we don't intervene.
What's interesting about Cyan is that rather than succumbing to your standard fit of uncontrollable rage, he seems to be relatively in command of his senses, even going so far as to accept our help. You don't see this degree of levelheadedness in your standard revenge-crazed protagonist.
For these battles, Cyan will be acting on his own, as signified by his position in front of our line. He seems to mostly alternate between regular attacks and his Level 1 SwdTech ability, which I'll be showing off shortly. Naturally, you're not supposed to let him die, as that kind of defeats the whole purpose of helping him out, but he's more than capable of taking care of himself.
You might also notice that Shadow is just...well, a shadow of himself. That's because I threw an Inviz Edge, which gives him the Vanish status. In this special condition, all physical attacks will be a guaranteed miss, but he loses any resistances he may have to magical attacks, and if he happens to get hit by a spell, he loses his Vanish status immediately. This has potential for a hilarious glitch down the line when we can start Vanishing enemies, but for now, it's just a good way to keep the ninja out of harm's way.
: Allow me to thank you! I'm Sabin of Figaro. Now let's scram!
: But what of my home, my family... my friends?
: Look... If we stick around any longer we'll have a regiment of troops down our throats. I have a great idea...come over here!
: I'll explain later! Relax, just climb in.
Welcome to the 17th century, you old fogy. Seriously, why don't Doma's castle turrets even have turbines yet?
Another great line, one that I'd be remiss to exclude.
: Now listen, just use those levers located right by your hand!
: Sir Sabin, it is I who is in your debt.
And then Cyan uses his five seconds of knowledge to tear through a bunch of troops. For an old-fashioned knight, he learns quickly.
For the last part of the camp, we have a nice brief romp where we can use our Magitek powers again. Although if they have these things just lying around camp, why didn't they use them against Doma? That whole poisoning thing might have been avoided.
: Narshe, eh? Only one route, through the forest to the south.
It seems fairly normal from the outside, but...
Once we enter it, we discover that the Phantom Forest is not only a maze, but it's also one of the prettiest places we've seen thus far in the game.
I mean, just look at that! This little lake here acts as a Recovery Spring, but we've got no time to stop and grind, because leaving the Imperial Base has unlocked Shadow's third gimmick: every battle from the base onwards, he has a 1/16 chance of leaving the party after a battle. We could theoretically knock him out to force him to stay, but then he wouldn't be good for much, or we could knock out the other two characters, because (with one special exception) he's programmed not to leave the party when he's the only one left.
On the way through the forest, we take the time to use Cyan's Level 1 technique, Dispatch, which hits a single enemy for fairly decent damage, about equivalent to Sabin's Pummel technique. Generally, if you're going to use Cyan, you'll be seeing Dispatch a lot, because it's the only technique that doesn't require waiting time to use.
After a little bit of exploration, we discover the forest's end and see a train in the distance. This merits further investigation.
: There may be survivors inside. Let's have a look.
: Sir Sabin!
: Sir Sabin!
Suddenly, the train whistles and takes off with a jerk.
Music: The Phantom Train
: I-It's moving!
: If we don't get off now...
: What's with this train?
: This is the Phantom Train. It carries the departed to...the other side.
: Wait a sec...I don't want to go THERE!
: We all have to go sometime.
: I have things to do HERE. We have to stop this thing. Let's make for the engine.
Since this is a ghost train, spirits are now wandering around the compartments. Most of them will attack us if we try to talk to them, but a few will volunteer to join our merry crew temporarily. I tell ya, Sabin's chapter is all about the party members.
Since Shadow obviously can't run off while we're on a speeding train, I now have all the time in the world to show off Cyan's techniques. The Level 3 one is Slash, and as the name implies, it cuts an opponent's HP in half when it hits. Most bosses will just ignore it entirely, unfortunately, so its use is limited. You might even go so far as to say that it's horrible.
Since I was kind of a high level when I recruited Cyan, he already has the Level 4 technique, Quadra Slam. As can be seen, he does four slashes of about 150 each, and if there's more than one foe, he has a chance of hitting multiple enemies. This sounds useful, but bear in mind that Dispatch is doing damage in the upper 400's right about now for a significantly smaller charge time.
The helper ghosts are fairly weak due to fighting with their fists, but they have a special move of their own called Possess, which sacrifices the ghost's life (unlife?) to destroy a single foe.
For some bizarre reason, certain ghosts have decided to set up shop, and we can talk to them in order to get some necessary supplies. I'm not complaining.
After we've been walking through identical train cars for a little bit, this ghost here blocks the door out, and we have to fight him.
Ghosts are mostly unremarkable in their skills, but they are one of the first enemies to use magic fairly regularly. This naturally makes Shadow's invisibility scrolls pretty much useless for this section.
After defeating the ghost, Sabin stops outside to have himself a little gloat.
It's like that scene at the end of Return of the King, only with a sea of ghosts instead of lava, and the hobbits are actually two hairy men and a mute ninja.
I mean really, I know they wanted to account for the possibility that Shadow might no longer be in the party, but they could at least have given him one or two token lines every now and then.
Okay, I know that the party technically vanishes from existence when they walk into the leader, but this is just ridiculous.
However, it's not over yet. I mostly wanted to get this shot just because the ghost's shocked face never fails to amuse me.
: We have to detach the rear cars!
Conveniently, there's a conspicuous yellow switch inside the next car for just that very purpose.
And even more conveniently, flipping the switch back down opens the door into the rest of the train.
The next car we come across is apparently a dining car, and Sabin immediately takes advantage of it.
: A...are you going to be okay if you eat THIS?
: Worried? Can't wage war on an empty stomach!
This food is...
The ghost chefs will block our progress from the dining room, but if we sneak around to the back, we can steal their Earring right from under their noses.
In this passenger car, this conspicuous treasure chest is actually a trigger for...
Offscreen Boss: Stay where you are!
Ziegfried: I am Siegfried, the world's greatest swordsman! That treasure chest is mine!
: You look more like a manicurist! Now scram!
After a series of crippling taunts equivalent to the one above, Siegfried will assault the party with a volley of weak blows. The special gimmick about him is that he-
Oh, he's already dead.
Yes, that's right. This guy's name has changed from Ziegfried to Siegfried to Sigfried in the space of a few sentences. And then he grabs the treasure and runs like a sissy. Weird.
Moving right along, this fellow here gives us some important information, but neglects to inform us of exactly how to use the controls.
Also, I forgot to screencap this, but in another cabin, there's a row of chests with a Fenix Down, another Hyper Wrist, and a Sniper Sight inside.
Sniper Sight: Gives the character equipping it a 100% chance to hit with his regular attack. Since Shadow's throwing stuff, Sabin's doing Aurobolt, and Cyan's doing Dispatch, this is pretty much useless for us.
Once you pass a certain point, the friendly ghost will leave your party. Probably for the best, seeing as I was planning to sacrifice it anyway.
I hope you thought to check this table here when you came in, because that's the only clue you're going to get for how to stop the train.
Of course, the train isn't going down without a fight.
Music: The Decisive Battle
This fight is just silly, for a number of reasons. To start off, for some reason, the party has opted to duel a freakin' train by running ahead of it along the tracks. Second, the train is undead, so it's possible to kill it by throwing a Fenix Down at it.
Finally, you know how most bosses won't be susceptible to Suplex, due to the absurdity of a short muscleman launching them into the air? For some reason, Phantom Train doesn't have that immunity.
So yes, Sabin just suplexed a train. Go hog wild.
Combat-wise, the train will counter any attack by launching spare wheels at its attackers.
Otherwise, it will use magical attacks like Acid Rain to hit the entire party at once. I've heard that if there are only two living members or less fighting it, it will also use an attack that inflicts status ailments on a single member, but I've never seen it.
Regardless, after a few rounds of these three folks Throwing, Blitzing and Dispatching, the train goes down easily.
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we've just beaten up the local equivalent of Charon. It wasn't necessarily a hard fight, but that's still gotta count for something.
The train finally slides into the station with a loud squeak. If you listened to the end of the Phantom Train's theme, you've probably already heard it.
Sabin's all excited to leave, but something off to the side diverts Cyan's attention.
Oh, this is going to be awkward.
Cyan tries to catch them, but it's too late, the train's already leaving.
Next Time...Ah, never mind.