Part 58: Episode 28 - The Abyss Jumps Back Into YouEpisode 28 - The Abyss Jumps Back Into You
Welcome back. Let's finish this.
We've got five different ways into the Farplane, and the differences between them are mostly trivial, which can be annoying when you're doing all five.
Sphere hunter team Gullwi... Hm? Your friendly neigh... Heh? What are we called now?
Does it really matter?
Good point... Surging Flapping Neighboring Gullwings, attack!!
The Gullwings' last mission. Let's do it.
I already said I'm not covering any Last Mission conte... oh! Oh, I see what you mean.
Hey, hey, hey, none of this "last mission" business, you hear?
For me... it probably will be.
I'll be fine. We're just going to talk, after all.
This scene is delivered more ominously than I think they intended, which is made further useless by the fact that nobody actually cares about Shinra.
Every entrance to the Farplane has its own little scene for jumping down the hole. I believe you can also enter the Farplane by landing at the specified locations and walking to the fayth, but Brother warps you right there, and I think you have to go through his menu for the route completion to count.
The path to the Farplane consists of linear rocky floating platforms, but at least it has a unified and neat-looking design sense. One of the things that really makes this section work is that, as you descend, you will see in the distance all the other paths that you could have taken.
The Besaid path is straightforward, but there are some floating platforms which will send you backwards if you jump on them. With a Charm Bangle on, it's nothing more than a slight inconvenience. Besaid's path roughly encircles the entire area, sending you running all the way around the periphery, so you'll get a good look at the other paths.
We're entering the final dungeon at an average party level of 33, which isn't even that low if you've been skipping all of the optional content. The next boss fight is pretty easy, so I decided to go with an original costumes party, just 'cause. I'm also not going to use the Ragnarok for the next few bosses, since it has a tendency to turn my White Mage into an Alchemist.
At the first large platform, Yuna finds a summoning circle, and another familiar aeon appears from it. We haven't seen one of these since Chapter 3.
As with Ixion, Dark Shiva's Overdrive isn't ice-elemental, so just relying on elemental absorption won't keep you completely safe. Still, it takes her a while to use any of her special attacks, and if you've got Firestrike somehow, you'll probably beat her before she gets around to it. Gunner is actually a good choice for this battle, since Shiva, like in the prequel, has some decent evasion.
Video: Boss: Dark Shiva
Shiva leaves behind a save sphere and lets us move forward. By the way, phantom treasure chests will randomly appear as you proceed through the various paths, typically granting high-end consumables like Mega-Potions and Turbo Ethers.
We want damage output for the next boss. Berserker is especially good for multiplying damage through counters, because it's a 3-on-3 fight.
The Dark Magus Sisters can be annoying to plan for because of the variety of their attacks, but mostly because of the conflicting priorities those attacks encourage. Attacks that are naturally multi-hit, like Darkness and some Blue Bullets, are a good way to increase your raw damage output, but it's also in your interest to focus fire and take out one of the sisters as soon as possible, removing their capacity to use Delta Attack. Delta Attack does the same thing that Yojimbo's Zanmato did, and with three enemies ganging up on you, you don't want to be in that position. Dark Cindy will buff the enemy to make a quick kill more difficult, but the other two will just attack you relentlessly, so counters are a good way to make them pay for their aggressiveness.
Video: Boss: Dark Magus Sisters
Winning the battle shatters this large platform into smaller floating ones. No matter what path we're on, though, the stepping stones will always be in the right position to let us proceed.
Almost at the bottom, but there's one more fight to prep for. Status protection is advisable. I'm primarily interested in preventing Itchy.
That's the last of them..
Dark Anima is much more durable than the last two aeon bosses, and compounds the difficulty by applying poison, silence, itchy, and Breaks. It's weak to Holy, though, which I exploit. Unlocking Holy with Supreme Light would be kind of annoying, so I went with two Warriors using Excalibur instead. This also let me block most of the damage of Oblivion, which actually deals physical damage, with Sentinel.
Video: Boss: Dark Anima
Now that we've set all the aeons to rest again, the fayth of Bahamut appears before us. He was our fayth narrator in the prequel, giving us hints to defeat Sin without the Final Aeon, and defeat Yu Yevon thereafter. Here... he's an ambassador.
Yuna. I'm sorry. We weren't strong enough to stop him. We wanted to at least warn someone... but instead, we were dragged into the darkness. We're no better than fiends.
It's all right. Please. Tell me. What is he?
"All right" isn't quite true, since people did get killed during the dark aeons' rampage. "Not your fault" would be more accurate. But at least she's taking the opportunity to get some insider intelligence.
Shuyin? Just a shadow. It may look like him, but the real Shuyin died long ago. Even after a thousand years, his hate and misery linger on. His feelings grew so strong, they began to act on their own...
Things like this are why I ponder the exact nature of Shuyin. If he were just an unsent, they'd just call him an unsent. As it is, we know how the current incarnation of Shuyin grew, but not exactly what he grew from. The original Shuyin might even have gone on to become a fiend and been slain and sent centuries ago, but left enough anger behind in the Den to eventually reform.
Just a shadow... I can handle a shadow.
Are you sure?
Yes. Leave it to me. I'll banish shadow with light.
You know, a big part of this plan is relying on the hope that Shuyin will willingly give up his crusade. Knowing that he secretly craves non-existence, at least, gives us something to bargain with.
The screen fades to white, and we suddenly find ourselves in that flower patch where we first encountered Shuyin. And we seem to have reinforcements. Or maybe we are the reinforcements.
Why are you here?
Because the boss never goes against Lord Nooj's wishes.
As we was headin' in, we found a sphere addressed to the boss.
He said, "Don't follow me. Turn back now and wait for my return."
Actually doing what you're told? How novel.
What can I say? One look at Noojie-Woojie's dashing visage on that sphere and I was - oh! - charmed. How can I say no to such a kyootzie-wootzie face?
What is the matter with you?
Leblanc's not without her doubts, though, as she steals a glance at the portal.
What if he-
Don't worry. If he knows you're waiting, he has a reason to come home. We'll tell him that you're waiting like a good girl.
You do that, love. And don't forget to stress "good girl."
For the time being, Leblanc will hold the fort here, as well as act as an item shop. But before we proceed, there's four other routes to clear. Back to the airship.
Stay strong, Yunie. This'll all be over soon.
Shuyin, a shadow... I guess you and I aren't the only ones haunted by our pasts.
Fortunately, once we reach the field of flowers, Brother opens a shortcut to it in his menu, so if we decide we don't really want to walk all these paths, we can skip right back to where we were.
Kilika's path is straightforward, but dotted with timed jets of fire that you have to avoid. It's only ever tricky when they show up on tiny floating platforms where there's no room to avoid them if your timing is off.
And the bottom of each route now will show the field that awaits us.
Djose is a little trickier, in that its path contains tiny floating platforms that aren't in place yet. To proceed, you have to push three of them into three other ones and try to knock them into place like billiard balls. A little bit of trial and error is all that's required.
Bevelle is just as simple as Besaid was.
Finally, the Calm Lands path contains not only the occasional flame jet, but teleport traps that will bounce you around from platform to platform. There's only one spot where running blindly forward will catch you in an infinite loop, and the solution is to go backwards once you reach that spot. It's not nearly as frustrating a teleporter puzzle as Square has made in the past.
The reward for linking up all the routes is a phantom chest containing Megiddo. Since the game is kind enough to give it to me, I'll be using it shortly.
There's one more thing to finish up on the airship, though, and that's a kind of Episode Complete for Yuna's family. There's a series of scenes we can see if we've rescued Cid and attained a certain level of completion percentage. In the first, Shinra explains what the heck he was talking about with that whole "last mission" crap.
What are you looking at?
Farplane data. The more I study it, the more fascinating it gets. There's limitless energy swirling around in there.
The life force that flows through our planet... I think. With a little work, we could probably extract the energy in a useable form. Of course, that'd take generations.
Think how much Spira would change if we ever got it to work! Maybe one day we could build a city full of light, one that never sleeps!
This seems out of character for Yuna. I wouldn't expect her to be okay with building yet another technology out of ghosts. Then again, there seems to be a pyrefly surplus at the moment. Note that Shinra is probably leaving the Gullwings to collaborate with Rin, who admitted to investigating this very thing if you fingered him in the Case of the Mi'ihen Mayhem. This is the other conversation that suggests a connection between this game and FFVII.
There's something that the game has been dancing nimbly around for some time, but Paine's comment regarding this optional conversation is, I think, a rather overt hint. Vegnagun was housed in a secure facility in Bevelle that created an infinite supply of fiends as security guards. When it was threatened, it tunneled into the Farplane to defend itself, and left behind a reconstituted aeon. It then tunneled up into all the other fayth and reconstituted their aeons as well. And Vegnagun was built to fight in a summoner-machina war.
I have this imperfect theory that Vegnagun is a mechanical summoner; something with the capability to independently manipulate spiritual energy, programmed to subvert all the aeons it detects against their summoners. I don't think Shuyin was involved in creating the dark aeons at all; remember, at the time he was still inside Nooj, and couldn't get close to Vegnagun because Nooj's dominated consciousness wanted to destroy it so badly.
I've been pointing out parallels between Yuna and other characters this whole time, but it seems like there's also parallels between Yuna and Vegnagun. Considering her detachment and forced emotional responses, Yuna started out her pilgrimage as much an automaton as Vegnagun, and ultimately became dangerous to Bevelle when she stopped listening to who they said was good and bad and friend and foe.
Anyway, after seeing Shinra's scene, we can leave the bridge and return to find Brother and Buddy missing. We find them up on the deck, talking about the future of the Gullwings, and naturally Yuna decides to eavesdrop.
So Shinra is leaving, huh?
I'll miss him, but that is life.
Maybe it's about time we did some recruiting?
Hope we get some cute girls.
Come on, I'm serious.
All right, all right. But we really better think of something. If we don't find new members, we'll end up stuck with Cid.
If you're not going to take care of the ship, I'll be happy to do it for you.
No, no, not that!
Once everyone heads inside, we can find Cid in the cabin for some Casual Antifeminisim Theatre.
Can't you be a little more... you know, ladylike? Ehh?
Get with it, Pops! Oooh! That is so primitive!
Hmph, so I'm an old fart, that it? Can't keep up with the young 'uns, eh?
You said it, Pops.
Well... No, not just here. When I think of all the places we saw on our journey... Now, each and every one of them feels like home to me.
Don't remind her, Paine. Anyway, now Rikku's missing, which is our last cutscene trigger.
It's just... Why do I always feel like I'm being left behind? Yunie, you're changing. You wanna change. And Paine's changed a whole bunch.
But, Rikku, I have you to thank for that. If you hadn't invited me along, I might never have left Besaid. And the way I was before, I could never have lived like this. So, I think next time...
Yeah. Next time will be your story.
Oooh! Really? What kind of story?
Hmm, well, let's see...
A properly timed fade-out keeps the writers from having to do work.
It's a nice scene, where Yuna acknowledges how she's changed. She wouldn't be nearly as compelling a character without her self-awareness. But it's also a good summary of why I don't really like Rikku as a character in this game, because she doesn't change, and rather than taking action, she prefers to whine, get jealous, and subsist on fantasy.
All right. Into the abyss.
The ending scene here is really reminiscent for me of the final dungeon of FFIX. It's a nice mesh of mechanical and organic, giving a sense of something manmade that has spun completely out of control.
As soon as we enter, a floor pad and a nearby synthesizer keyboard flash to indicate their puzzle importance.
This is actually less of a musical puzzle and more of a switch puzzle wearing a musical puzzle's face like a mask. As long as you find all of the floor switches, the keyboards will tell you all the clues and what order they go in.
Playing the correct tune on a keyboard will disable nearby security systems, including electric traps, sentry robots that shoot lasers at you, and force fields.
But you know what? Avoiding security systems is for chumps.
Trying to punch through one of the force fields will trigger a boss fight with Azi Dahaka, the Guardian Beast's meaner big brother. Damocles Photon should look familiar, but what really makes this boss difficult is that its normal attack has a drain effect. Assuming you're not using Cat Nip, you'll probably want defense-ignoring attacks, but those are usually charge-time abilities. Azi makes seven normal attacks for every Damocles Photon, and because of the way the battle system queues instant and charge-time attacks together, Azi will usually be attacking between each of the girls' actions. This means that, in order to win the fight, each individual party member has to, on average, deal more damage with a single attack than they take, and the margin determines how long the fight will be.
Bated Breath is also frustrating not just for the damage it deals but also because it carries a dispel effect, removing your buffs. I got really lucky that Paine never got hit with it. Protect is vital in this battle both for keeping yourself healthy and cutting off Azi's healing supplies, and Dark Knights' high defenses can help in this regard too. If the fight is too hard, you can always escape and solve the puzzle instead, but it's worth encountering Azi at least once so it starts showing up in the Via Infinito. Beating an Azi disables the rest of the security systems nearby as if you had solved the piano puzzle.
Video: Boss: Azi Dahaka
Moving on, Gippal is taking a breather just in front of some floating platforms.
I got... careless.
Are you all right?
I could use... a nap.
He went ahead.
She just won't keep out of this business, will she?
I never said where I would wait!
Well, then please, take care of Gippal.
You dare give me an order?
Look, we'll tell Nooj you're waiting like a good girl and doing your part for the team.
All right, I'm in.
Hey, Dr. P.
That's our collection complete.
It's from two years ago. Said it was inside the sphere camera.
I'll watch it later.
Hey. You should watch it now. Think about it. You know you won't be able to fight your best as long as it's on your mind.
Whaddaya got in mind for fun? Any ideas, Dr. P?
If you remember, in Crimson Record 3 the team were discussing what they would do during the Calm to keep Nooj too entertained to die. Paine was hidden behind the camera the whole time, but during this video, the camera keeps getting passed around.
A ship that glides through the air. That thing you mentioned before. If it's for real, I wanna fly it.
You get to be pilot, then. And maybe I'll try my hand at navigation.
Then I'll be engineer!
Nooj will have none of this shit.
Ah, that's perfect.
You'd let an amateur be captain?
Chill out, Noojster. All you gotta do is shut up and look important and you'll fit the part.
Like a glove.
I'll work you like dogs.
Everyone else thinks Nooj is the most hilarious grumpy old man and piles into frame for a group shot.
Video: Winno Memories
She's inside you, sleeping.
Well, wakey, wakey! Time to set sail!
Your captain and your navigator are waiting!
How long until the Paine within Paine wakes up? I wanna meet her!
I haven't lost my old self. But it might be a little longer before I find her.
The last little bit of puzzle in this dungeon actually requires you to hit the floor switches in the correct sequence. However, the flying CommSphere Gippal repaired can be used to survey the area and watch the sequence. The real trick is dealing with how the camera angles change between the survey and actually climbing over the things, as well as figuring out which platforms are elevators and where they go. Fortunately it's not too hard to map, and the sound cues actually give you an extra hint if you did something out of order.
A hunch it is, then.
Rikku's hunch, naturally, is wrong, but only a little. We're not quite to the point of no return, but it's close enough.
Next time; the end of the world as we know it.