Part 5: Vault
Now that we're out of Vale, we finally move onto the marginally less horrible chunk of the game. That butterfly-esque thing is our first djinn and, surprise surprise, we have no autonomy over whether we'll pick it up.
A traveling warrior! And I see you're an Adept, too! You are just the kind of fighter that I've been looking for. Will you take me with you? [No]
By this point, I honestly don't know what's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and what's just idiotic.
Djinn can be set or in standby. When in standby they increase your stats and when set they can be summoned. You can set them in the main menu or by using them in battle.
After a battle they have to recover, then go back to standby where you can attack with them and then summon again. Having them on standby also gives you different psynergy, and mixing and matching djinn elements opens up new magic spells. There's a grand total of one type of obstacle that involves doing this.
Words it took me to explain Djinn: 90
Words it took Camelot to explain Djinn: 225, much less clearly (with other things, like a Rock-Paper-Scissors element chain and correspond experience boosts, never actually mentioned anywhere in-game)
At this point in the game (that is, the first 90%), there is absolutely no reason not to spam Djinn every turn they aren't recovering.
What...? The bridge? This is awful...How are we going to get to Kalay now?
This planet's structural engineers tend to be on par with everyone else in terms of intellect, so roughly 9 in 10 of the bridges in this game are broken and only get repaired as a reward for triggering completely arbitrary event flags. If you actually thought things would open up to any degree upon getting on the world map, you clearly forgot just what game it is you're watching.
Vault is about a hundred feet from Vale, meaning that the inconsequential feeling of pseudo-freedom you get lasts about six seconds. Ah, Camelot.
The speech patterns of neighboring towns have certainly rubbed off on them, I observe as the author of this LP.
To sum up the NPC infodumps, Hammet was visiting and gave Ivan a rod. Ivan then lost the rod, so Hammet decided to abandon him alone a caravan-length away from Kalay, the town they're both from, until he found it. Then Hammet couldn't get back to Kalay because a bridge had collapsed in the last hour, so he decided to wander into an obvious trap we'll hear more about in ten pages. None of this was told to Ivan, the teenager tasked with bringing the rod back to him. Presumably the hope was that he would run into Hammet somewhere around the time he was fending for his life alone and unloved in a treacherous, uncaring world.
His response to all this was to camp out in the mayor's house and read the minds of random strangers, perhaps hoping that somebody's thought process would be "As a person looking at this kid, I know that I have this rod and it's right over there."
Yes. I...I do possess strange powers. What? My power...It's called Psynergy? I had no idea! We have so much in common...
Camelot didn't seem to understand exactly what level of mysticism they were going for, so psynergy is unknown and mysterious, even to people who regularly read minds, summon lightning storms with their thoughts, are employed by people who casually throw out terms like "the Shaman Rod", and/or live a minute's walk from a city where everyone can use it. This is somewhat like living in Arlington and not realizing we have a President.
I feel I can trust you with this. I am quite troubled -- Master Hammet's rod was stolen. Would you please help me get my master's rod back? [Yes] Thank you. With your help, I believe we can recover the rod.
Spoilers: We play absolutely no role in helping to recover the rod. The only thing that does play a role is that whole Ivan having the ability to read minds element, which perhaps should have occurred to Ivan as being a better plan than idling in a living room for a few days.
Throughout this, Ivan keeps mind reading obsessively. He's like a reverse Holden Caulfield who cares about other people's opinions so much that he would never think of having an independent thought or asking questions.
Isaac and Garet, I am Ivan. Isaac, both you and Garet are Adepts...Maybe that's why you can tell when I'm reading your minds. Ordinary people can't see anything. There's nothing to worry about.
Ivan, you didn't know what an adept was at the beginning of this conversation. Why does everybody become experts in every subject midway through their introduction just so that they can dump exposition that we already know?
Let me read the minds of the townspeople to find the rod.
No, I didn't cut out any part where you get an explanation for why helping a random kid finding some decorative wood is more important than the "saving the world" quest you embarked on ten minutes ago. From this point on, that whole (hour long) introduction becomes pretty much forgotten and Camelot comes up with entirely new excuses to railroad you into things. As revealed next update, the actual reason you need to do all of this turns out to be that there are leaves in the way.
It will probably not shock you to hear that Camelot never really gets the hang of this whole game progression thing.
Talking to this obviously suspicious man reveals his awe-inspiring thought that thieves shouldn't just hang around the towns they loot, in contrast to the strategy they've been employing of renting out a hotel room for the week and vacationing there.
Upstairs in the inn we can play an incredibly pointless minigame to trap people in a corner so Ivan can read their minds, which for some reason they don't bother to resist in any way besides running around in predefined circles. This is, after all, the best possible way to seem inconspicuous.
From doing this, Ivan finds out that they decided to hide all of their loot in a well-populated inn in the very middle of town, then stay in that same inn for a few nights and act as suspicious as possible to everyone who goes upstairs. So where in the inn did they keep the loot? A chest, safe, or even some place like their closet?
Nope, a storeroom accessible by ladder and regularly used by the inn's employees to store things. Oh, and they did all of this during a volcanic eruption that this town's residents imply actually happened yet show absolutely no indication of being affected by. And in here is a bound and gagged man, implying that the thieves had already discovered the crazy fact that it's very easy to get into this room and then only became suspicious of the possibility a few days later.
These may well be the worst thieves in any video game I've LPed. They don't even have the courtesy to be associated with 2 Tone subculture.
Maybe all that stolen stuff is in these crates...
Actually, now that I think about it, that's not a fair comparison at all, given that these guys somehow managed to hoodwink the entire even less intelligent town and pack its entire net worth neatly into crates. Maybe one day I'll play a game where the collective IQ of its NPCs enters into the third digit. It will probably not be made by Camelot.
They do have plot-convenient timing, though, and the conversation's buttery smooth segue (this doesn't exist) leads to them suddenly talking about those guys who ran off earlier.
I hear Hammet fled to Lunpa after the eruption.
Did you say Lunpa? A man with Master Hammet's money shouldn't go anywhere NEAR Lunpa! The town was named after its founder, Lunpa, the noble thief...
That family of thieves remained noble even when his son, Donpa, took over.
But Donpa's son, Dodonpa, is an evil thief.
To add onto the whimsical tale of Lord Hammet, he decided that the best thing to do after abandoning a kid because something was stolen was to go to a village of thieves so more of his things could be stolen. Given that we just saw him try going to Kalay, a town which is not Lunpa, I guess the last few minutes saw him come back to Vault, tell people where he was fleeing, and then flee, continuing to ignore a kid who was trying to recover his rod. However, since they claim this happened after the eruption, it might instead be the case that Hammet fled to Lunpa, left Lunpa for Vault, left Vault for Kalay, saw the broken bridge, and went back to Lunpa where he got kidnapped this time. As usual, people are soon going to make a big deal about Hammet being unbelievably wise.
Then they try to convince you to let them go free but fight you even if you say yes because Camelot.
This is the first boss fight of the game, and it's incredibly easy. As I mentioned earlier, there's absolutely no reason not to just spam Djinn and Psynergy until they die. Ivan has the power to create lightning storms inside this building while the thieves have daggers made of clay and, going by the size of that chest in the background, are about ten inches tall, so the battle is a rather one-sided one to say the least.
If you'll give me Master Hammet's rod, I'll head to Lunpa now. What will you two be doing, Isaac?
I suppose we have to go after Felix and the others...
Sigh… I guess we'll actually save the world instead of fooling around helping strangers with pointless tasks five minutes after embarking.
Both of the people who played Flower Sun and Rain might remember how Sumio's character flaw was that he compulsively helped people with minor inconveniences, causing him to ignore the slightly more pressing terrorist attack he was charged with preventing. Ignoring the fact that an intentionally over-the-top version of the trope still managed to be more credible than what Golden Sun ends up doing, I think Suda might have been inspired by playing this game too long.
I see...So that's what happened...
Meanwhile, Ivan continues the proud tradition of using psynergy as needlessly as possible, like by reading the mind of someone to find out what he's currently explaining.
The mayor comes in and useless text happens. Ivan gets a rod.
What will happen to Master Hammet?
Calm down, Ivan. Master Hammet is probably still alive and unharmed. Dodonpa knows that he can use Hammet to extort a ransom from Kalay. We can't do much until Dodonpa makes his move, but at least we know Hammet's safe...for now.
You might notice that this chapter featured a number of appearances from Sunshine, which shows how little Camelot cared about anything that goes on here. Pretty much the only point of this was setting up Hammet's inability to not get himself kidnapped and repeatedly telling you to go there, so take a wild guess where we're going next…
Well, you're wrong. This Lunpa/Dodonpa stuff is an optional sidequest that won't open up until much later in the game and we're actually going somewhere entirely different.
I don't even know what to say anymore.