Part 24: Episode 12 - Ceremony of Innocence
Episode 12 - Ceremony of Innocence
Welcome back. It seems Leblanc is set on doing something about Vegnagun, and she's decided Yuna is too. This... can't end well.
The establishing shot this time around shows Leblanc and her posse hanging out on the hood of the airship. It's a nice detail.
You just wait, blondie! Yuna. What next?
She's off to save Spira, of course!
This scene does one thing really right and one thing really wrong. Here we see the really wrong thing. At the beginning of this chapter, Yuna decided she didn't want to get involved in this Vegnagun thing, and nothing's really happened since that would change her mind. They know where it is now, but they didn't care; Leblanc says it's capable of destroying the world, but she's going by the word of Nooj, who has an agenda; it's getting more and more dangerous to get between Yevon and the League; and if we sided with the League, we also have to deal with the probability that Nooj manipulated Leblanc into stealing that half-sphere while Yuna was distracted meeting with him. We've got nobody to trust and no reasons to do so. The only good motivation Yuna has right now for getting involved is the same one she had in Kilika; they can't decide to play nice with their superweapon, so she's going to take it away. But Vegnagun hasn't even been mentioned between then and now, so it doesn't make sense for Yuna to reverse herself.
Always getting herself dragged into trouble.
Things only make sense if we relax the assumption that Yuna's out to destroy Vegnagun. Then not only do her actions become much more tentative, and thus consistent, but she can have a whole host of different motivations; keeping Leblanc from lighting a powder keg, testing Baralai's intentions, or even just figuring out what the fuck that dream she had was about. And it's kind of neat that the party isn't all on the same page; Rikku just wants to protect Yuna and see the giant robot, Paine's sick of all the secrets, and so on. But none of that is made clear by the game's script. I can't help but wonder whether a subtlety got lost in translation or Yuna's motivations were decided by game developer fiat.
Here's the good thing this scene does, though. With just a few lines of dialoge, Yuna graduates through the first three stages of dealing with grief: denial that she can keep her carefree lifestyle; anger that Leblanc assumes she'll want to get involved; and bargaining that if she does return to heroism, it'll be a one-time deal.
Even the mission screen isn't clear on exactly what we plan to do if and when we find this thing. It's just grown to be too big a mystery to ignore.
It's obvious! We nab the head honcho. Then, we make him lead us to Vegnagun, and... checkmate.
I got no problem with this. Our target is the New Yevon praetor, Baralai!
A girly man like that doesn't stand a chance without his escort.
There's a typo in Ormi's subtitles here. Yet another thing I missed first time through while obsessed with completion percentage.
Careful. He's much stronger than he looks.
Lucky timing, Paine, but don't think you won't have to explain that comment.
Oh, the high summoner! Please, forgive my rudeness!
If we gave the sphere to New Yevon, we get a free pass into the main gate.
Well, good luck!
Otherwise, it's the same as when we visited Bevelle before, and we have to fight our way down the Highbridge.
Once we're past the gate, everyone's too busy worrying about their own problems to care about us. It looks like our target has gone conveniently missing.
The guards are distracted enough for us to explore Bevelle now. In the east wing, we find a floor switch that makes a section of wall somewhere fall away...
...and in the west wing, behind that section of wall, are hidden elevator controls for the central lift. Flipping them to the down position gives us access into Bevelle Temple.
Bevelle Temple is easily the best part of this chapter. It's a fairly straightforward dungeon of considerable length, broken up by some well-designed puzzles, many of which are optional if you're not into them, and boss fights. It's a refreshing change from all the criminally short linear corridors we've seen so far.
The temples reek of secrets. Don't let a couple of fiends throw you.
Easy for you to say. We don't have to ride around on a magic pedestal this time through the Cloister of Trials, but monsters will pop out at us at specified places.
If you remember how the Cloister is laid out, it's easy to find your way to the Chamber of the Fayth.
...That hole is new.
Yuna decides to jump down the mysterious hole glowing with unnatural orange light. I'm glad this happens as early in the dungeon as it does; whatever her motivation was when she first stormed Bevelle, now that there are fiends in the temple and a hole where the fayth used to be, there's a legitimate mystery that she, as a former summoner, would have an interest in solving. I, on the other hand, was thoroughly creeped out at this point my first time through, yelling at Yuna to stop making rookie horror movie mistakes.
The hole opens up into... an underground city? A giant machina?
Wh-What is this place?
Yevon's always liked hiding things, but this is really ridiculous.
It's just like Noojie said! From the look of things, there must be something incredible down here...
Man oh man, what have we gotten ourselves into this time?
You almost have to admire them for being able to hide something this... commodious.
An alarm begins to sound. Looks like something doesn't like that we're here.
I don't take orders! But... I'll make an exception this time. Leave it to us, love!
If this is where the fiends are coming from, Yuna doesn't want any more of them to get out.
While Leblanc watches the hole, Yuna grinds down a chain onto the central platform. It's a little ridiculous, but since she's the only person in the original cast who didn't get the chance to surf down steel cables in the prequel, I'll give her a pass.
When we hit the platform, sentry robots fly up to attack us, but if we're on Yevon side, there's an extra line of dialogue to reflect the team's surprise.
I don't think they care.
Before moving on, we should set up the party. This room contains some repeatable boss fights which come into play if we want to solve all the puzzles. Both of the new bosses rely almost entirely on magic attacks, so Rikku gets the Shining Mirror, a Yevon-side exclusive grid that causes her magic to pierce Reflect. She will start every battle with Reflect and then heal the party with Pray or a piercing Cure if necessary. Yuna and Paine will deal the damage as Warriors. Fully solving all of the puzzles means one or both of these bosses will Oversoul, giving them physical attacks as well; when that happens, Yuna will start as a Songstress to apply Matador's Song. Bum Rush, an upgraded version of Vanguard, was our prize for completing the uniform hunt.
The platform contains a ring of six towers with security interfaces which control blades that jut out into the center area. There's a couple of openings in the center, and solving the puzzles involves figuring out how the towers manipulate the blades to create a stairway down.
Every time we activate a tower, though, we trip an alarm that forces a battle. The bosses we face are YSLS-Zero, the boss of Chapter 1; Precepts Guard, formerly the guardian of the Chamber of the Fayth in Zanarkand; and Georapella, the zombie whale that almost ate Tidus at the beginning of FFX. Both new bosses are relatively easy fights with our setup, and if you have an MP Stroll accessory, including the Heady Perfume we could have won from massaging Leblanc, we can grind on them for levels and Oversoul drops.
Video: Bevelle Underground Pit Bosses
Eventually we can get all the way to the lower opening, which hides our first Ribbon. However, if you're in a hurry, you can get to the middle opening, which is the way forward, with only three fights. Again, the nice thing is that you can skip most of this puzzle if you're impatient, and you're not particularly penalized.
Eventually, we come to another large room with impressive machinery. You know, I think the Bevelle Underground dungeon is the first new interior dungeon that I've actually liked from an aesthetic standpoint. It falls into blocky corridor habits at times, but the visual design is actually consistent with the rest of Bevelle.
Yunie! That sphere with you-know-who in it. Wasn't it recorded here?
Well, if Yuna was down here to find out about that dream and sphere of hers, she'd be feeling really vindicated right about now. Really, I wish this room had been visible in the Reassembled Sphere, even if just in a single shot. That one minor change could have tied the end of this chapter and Yuna's motivations together so much more neatly. Anyway, now that we've progressed past another chokepoint, Leblanc advances to bring up the rear again.
This room is also our next puzzle! There's a switch hidden off the bottom of the screen that stops the cells from moving around, which lets Yuna climb all over the thing. It's really simple, but the mechanical design makes it totally fun, and there's a couple of really nice treasures to get. If you don't care, though, it too is completely optional.
Bloodlust and Wring are interesting accessories. Bloodlust beefs up your Strength and puts you in permanent Berserk, while Wring beefs your Magic, cuts Black Magic casting time, and grants permanent Haste. They also poison the user, though, so they're a double-edged sword. Their real utility, though, is that they reduce the user's HP by 40%. Equipping both and then removing both is enough to instantly put any character into Critical status, which lets you manipulate any Critical-activated abilities you might have. We now have three of the four items necessary to completely cheese every boss in the game.
Moving on, there's one last puzzle to solve. The lifts to either side take us to an upper platform. We can move on by climbing onto the two raised floor switches...
...but we can also drop back down. Now the center lift takes us to a secret room in whichever direction is missing a side lift. I guess it doesn't have the clearance to move while those side lifts are in place.
Activating switches in those secret rooms raises platforms to the treasure chest on this screen. Finally, we can return to the upper platform, take the lift, and find our last new dressphere of this chapter. This puzzle is also technically optional, but if you skip it, you are a dumb.
We now have the opportunity to save, which means there's a boss coming up, and we might as well play with our new toy. Two Dark Knights will be our primary damage dealers. Dark Knight has a nice spread of status immunities, but unfortunately Stop isn't one of them, and we'll need that in the upcoming fight. So for once we're using Highheel Shoes not for the First Strike ability, but for one of its gates. Rikku will provide healing as an Alchemist, since the upcoming boss likes to steal our MP, and is using Downtrodder, which absorbs gravity attacks. The two Recovery Bracers were stolen from oversouled Precepts Guards, and provide permanent Regen to fuel the Dark Knights' Darkness attacks, since you're not likely to have any other abilities learned on this brand new job.
You don't have to tell me. I know why you've come. You're here to destroy the weapon that threatens all Spira: Vegnagun. Am I right?
Maybe. We're not really sure yet.
If it could be destroyed we would have done so long ago. But Vegnagun must not be touched. Neither you nor Nooj seem to understand that.
You talked to Nooj?
Paine raises a good question. We've been led to believe the two leaders had no diplomatic relations. What the hell is going on behind the scenes?
He...cannot be trusted.
And you can be?
Touché. Yes, I suppose Yevon has brought that distrust upon itself. At any rate, you need not interfere. Leave Vegnagun to me.
What are you planning to do?
The only thing I can do:
Paine is sick of these secrets, and so am I. It's almost enough to forget how many she's keeping herself. That's three important NPCs now she seems to know.
Baralai has some nasty attacks if you're not prepared for them. Looming Glacier inflicts stop and drains all of the target's MP, he occasionally combos his physicals and attacks three times in a row, Demi pierces Reflect, and Drill Shot is a Blue Bullet you can only learn from him that deals 75% of the target's max HP. I took the opportunity of starting as a Gun Mage to cast Mighty Guard, which helps mitigate our damage. He also has a staff-spinning attack that only hits targets close to him, which highlights one of the failings of X-2's ATB system; there are a handful of attacks which depend on target placement, and attacking enemies from behind will double the damage you deal, but the game doesn't give you any real control over where your characters stand, so it's impossible to exploit those dependencies for an offensive or defensive benefit.
Video: Boss: Baralai
Once we win, Baralai runs off.
You have your reasons.
Fill us in later, 'kay?
Before we run after her, it's a good idea to head back to the save sphere and reshuffle our equipment a bit. There's one more boss to fight, and it's immune to basically every status effect, so we dump Paine's Venom Shock. Rikku doesn't need Gravity absorption any more, so she switches to Highschool Sports, and she'll be a Songstress and White Mage in the upcoming fight.
Moving forward, we find what looks like the platform from Yuna's dream, overlooking Vegnagun. But Vegnagun is notably missing.
Instead, there's... Bahamut?
Stunned, Yuna runs forward and tries to reason with the beast.
You must stop!
Despite Yuna's protests, Dark Bahamut attacks.
Dark Bahamut has all its familiar attacks. We can't stop its physical attacks, but Protect and Matador's Song will mostly nullify them. Mega Flare is actually pretty puny, and I'm not particularly over-leveled either; I have to believe that Yuna's plea is making the big guy hold back, because there's no other good explanation for how weak it is. Impulse actually does the most damage to us, now being a fractional attack, but it's based on our current HP, so it can't actually kill us.
Video: Boss: Dark Bahamut
Once the fight is over, Yuna sinks to her knees. This is just too much to process.
After a moment of reflection, the team turns its attention to the topic at hand; a big fuck-off hole where Vegnagun should be.
This hole was made recently.
You think it was Vegnagun? Unreal... How deep do you think it goes?
It must have fled in terror, knowing I was coming.
I don't think so.
What? No. Stop being dumb, Leblanc.
I must report to Noojie-Woojie at once.
Vegnagun. Was it really here?
So much sacrificed, so much hardship. And nothing seems to have changed.
And if that wasn't enough to deal with, the radio chirps on.
That's the end of Chapter 2. Those playing along aiming for full completion should be at 44.8%.
Next time: We undo that doo-doo that we do so well.