Part 36: There is nothing left to bind you
I totally forgot to go shopping in Cyrum, so let's cover that real quick:
The Shadowblade (+100 ATK, -50 DEF) is a trade I'll gladly take.
The Main Gauche (+62 ATK, +10 DEF) seems appropriate for a primarily spellcasting character, but the bonus is too low to have any impact.
The Purple Robe is a source of Paralysis resistance in the armor slot, which is always welcome.
Finally, the Anklet (+40 MOV) is a pretty significant boost to MOV if you're into that sort of thing.
Alright, back to unearthing ancient horrors.
This dungeon's gimmick: Undead, and lots of 'em. A few dragonoids in the first area are the only living enemies you'll encounter. Sprinkling some Holy Ashes around would have been an option in the normal game, but the latest version of the hard hack makes most combat items too weak to be practical.
I rather like the aesthetic here. It's not too pretty, certainly, but most factories aren't, and it makes for a nice contrast with the other Silvery White Light Age ruins we've seen so far - all religious sites.
Back on the subject of the walking dead, these guys.
HP: 3800 (from 850)
Abilities: Power Crush (~700 damage, , Cancel), Air Slash (~650 damage, AoE, )
Weak to , Resistant to
Yeah, that's right, an attack that does a good third of a health bar, in an area, with a (fairly high) chance to confuse everyone hit.
Sometimes they come in packs of six. Obviously, the fight above would've gone much better had I equipped Confusion resistance and not gotten surprised, but even that doesn't guarantee success. Not getting confused merely means you stand any chance at all of surviving an Air Slash - It takes a few good casts of Fiora to moveblock them so they don't just beat you to death with it. And even after that, a six-pack of them still has enough damage to drop two people a turn before you get your Runner stack up.
I'm going to go ahead and call them the hardest normal enemy in the game. Hopefully, I haven't forgotten one that's even worse.
The first area pretty much all looks like this, so I won't go into too much detail about it. This knife for Roan is probably the most interesting piece of treasure in it: +75 ATK and 10% lifesteal. Initially, I was going to complain about this being an inappropriate enchantment for a magic-focused character like Roan, but the knife also does bonus damage to the new enemies in the next area. I'm not sure why, but I'll take it.
Throwing a switch moves these cylinders out of the wall to form a path to the second area.
Underground Plant 2 is pretty neat - it consists of these metal platforms jutting out of the abyss below, connected by pipes.
There are several layers of platforms and pipe networks and you can see the lower ones while you make your way down to them.
Area 2 introduces the second new undead enemy of the dungeon.
HP: 2600 (from 850)
Attack: ~450 (7-hit combo)
Special: , -2 on hit
Abilities: Stram, Zap! (~800)
Resistant to bloody everything
While the Warp Warriors are the strongest enemies we've encountered so far, these guys are definitely the rudest. If two of them attack a character, they'll drop them down to Plague levels of IP speed while poisoning them for good measure. The fact that their attack is a combo means you will never, ever dodge it.
This is, of course, assuming you saw "Vein Brain" and immediately mashed the Shhh! button - if you didn't, they'll happily three-shot your entire party with Zap! instead.
Speaking of spells, good luck using them. Lightning, Earth and Wind all do 0 damage, as do all of Millenia's Valmar abilities. Ice might as well do 0, as it's reduced by 95%. Fire works best, only being reduced by about 50%. Having said all that, they come in smaller packs than Warp Warriors and are easy to silence, so they're more annoying than scary.
and boy do they know it
A little ways into the second area is this little contraption; only one set of parallel walls can be open at any given time. There isn't really a puzzle attached to it though.
Further still is this pack of Vein Brains, which is one of the few packs in the game that's actually hard to surprise. You have to lure them to the pipe, back off a bit and quickly turn around if you want to start the battle with initiative. Somewhere around here is a save point that marks the halfway point of the dungeon.
Similarly to the walls two screenshots up, a switch rotates this length of pipe, allowing north-south or east-west passage. Still no puzzle attached to it. Since the dungeon refuses to provide me with non-combat things to talk about, here's a Skull Snail stabbing one of those brains right in its smug little cortex:
I'm quite pleased that the walking dead are not immune to Confusion (specifically, Craze on the Gravity Egg.)
Other things to note about fighting the undead:
* Roan's Vitality March is quite good at clearing up everyone's ACT debuffs in a long fight with Vein Brains.
* Warp Warriors drop a ton of SC, but nearly no MC. Conversely, Vein Brains shower you in MC and skimp on the SC.
* There's a lot of packs of enemies in the dungeon, but the boss might make you regret it if you skip too many of them.
On that last note, the Underground Plant is pretty huge - what we've traversed so far is probably bigger than all of Aira's Space, and we still have another area to go.
The third area is basically a smaller version of the first, and the dungeon's starting to wear thin by now, so I make a break for the exit.
If you know exactly where the save point is, this is often the most efficient way to take on the last part of a dungeon. Be careful, though - there's a pack of 6 Warp Warriors right in front of it just itching to Game Over you if you let them surprise you.
Having reached the save point, we can now go back and clear out the area for XP and goodies, but I'll spare you the details. Instead, here's a quick inventory of interesting treasure we've picked up along the way:
Forbear Necklace: +10 ACT, suppresses IP reduction
Fine Broadsword: +70 ATK, who cares, I have the Shadowblade
Warp Shoes: +10 DEF, no MOV bonus but has the same warp effect as Roan's old knife
Miracle Elixir: Revives a character straight to COM. Definitely the most valuable thing in this dungeon - if most of your party is dead but Elena happens to be in it, this is a great way to have her alive and casting Droplets of Life to save you from a Game Over
The Special Coins I've been getting have mostly gone to skills - I've nearly maxed out Speed for Ryudo to maximize how many turns he gets, as he's my most reliable Canceler. I've also upgraded Mareg's Beast-Fang Cut to level 4, so he'll be joining Ryudo soon in that regard. Magic Coins have been going to water chants for Roan, as his healing is starting to fall behind our party's increasingly large health pools.
I think that's the most gameplay talk I've had in this LP at one stretch! Let's cap it off with the dungeon boss, shall we?
What's this thing?
Looks to me like some kind of factory. THIS is the power of Darkness? How ridiculous...
Keep it together, kid. Start looking around.
As we approach the back of the hall, an alarm sounds.
Well, THAT sure as hell isn't my brother.
Its SMELL is that of the one who brought destruction to my village. Of this, I am certain.
Whatever it is, it's possessed by the Claws of Valmar! And it's getting closer!
HP: 15000/9999/9999 (from 14000/9000/8000)
Attack: ~1800 (body), ~900 (arms)
Abilities: Tail Piercer (~1500 damage, -2, Cancel), Infernal Sigh (~1400 damage in a wide cone), Avenging Claw (~1900 damage), Gravity
Left Arm Abilities: Thunder Bullet (~900 damage in a cone, ), Healer (~1900)
Right Arm Abilities: Ice Bullet (~1000 damage in a cone, Cancel), Fiora
Weak to , Resistant to /
VIDEO: A bunch of its abilities if you're into that sort of thing
The Eye was hard, but at least it had a little subtlety. It used a wide array of magic spells and status effects against you, it delegated. The Claws just use an Attack against you and by Granas it makes big numbers come out of your mans.
As usual for Parts of Valmar, the Claws consist of three enemies that act and are defeated separately. The main body has two very strong single-target attacks, but the big issue is that all three parts can do massive damage in a cone outwards from the Claws' position. This makes this boss fight extremely position-based in a way most fights in Grandia 2 aren't - not only is it essential to have characters Evade so that they aren't clumped up, they also have to avoid being collinear with the Claws and another party member. In other words, the Claws need to stay surrounded.
Preparations for the Claws are more difficult than for most other battles because it has access to three different flavors of massive AoE attack (). I chose to equip a few Fire Charms, as the main body acts more often than the arms and its fire-elemental attack is the strongest of the three. Another consideration is that of Moveblock - the right arm can and will cast Fiora, disabling our party's crucial Cancel specials. Move Block Charms can be used to avoid this, but curing it is probably the more efficient choice. Finally, serious consideration should be given to Revival Gems, as any turn saved could make the difference.
The fight itself feels like a three-stage boss. Initially, when both arms are up, the party has to stay spread out using Evades and well-timed physical attacks while attempting to kill one of the arms. Killing the right arm is ideal, it being the one with the healing spell, but the left one goes down somewhat faster thanks to its fire weakness. Cancels should be focused on the main body or any part that's getting ready for a special move, as their spells don't actually do damage. After one arm is dead, the fight slows down enough for MP and SP recovery to be viable, but the boss still has enough damage output to be more threatening than most bosses are at full power. Finally, once both arms are down, the body alone is unlikely to wipe the party and, provided you don't run out of items, the battle of attrition is in your favor.
i came dangerously close to running out of items
An Automata... Soldiers created to fight in The Battle of Good and Evil...
Mareg. You said the smell was that of Melfice.
I am certain of the SMELL. However, I must allow that the one that appears before us is not Melfice.
The Claws of Valmar... Aha! It must have been controlled by another Piece of Valmar... nearby.
Then, we indeed close in on our quarry. Melfice is undoubtedly afoot.
I thought that we had sealed this up because it was too terrifying to see our horrible past, our old scars...
And it was just a mechanical plant for producing tools of destruction! We were... just gatekeepers!
Roan! That's enough!! It's alright...
This one is but a victim as was I, and I would not leave it behind.
VIDEO: Free (rest of the update)
She too is a victim of Valmar...
She really does look like a doll...
Hey! She moved!!
There is no more danger... There is nothing left to bind you.
What should I do?
I no longer sense the will to fight...
Don't worry. She is just a puppet. Without commands she can do nothing.
I, too, was a puppet, bound by the commands of tradition... Without ever questioning them... Just what had I been doing?
Roan! There's no time to lament. We have to figure out the cause of this catastrophe!
You're right! I must question Father about why he built such a ridiculous factory!
Exactly. Come on, let's go, Mareg.
You are now free.
From now on you can do whatever you want.
Official Art: The Claws of Valmar; Tio, Possessed (mildly )
Fan Art: Tio, Possessed (by lok-tar, mildly )
New Voice Credits: Kim Mai Guest (Tio)