Part 6: Episode V: I Am Literally Just Auron
New Music: The Savage Coast
Well, Ive seen better ferry rides in my time. Endir has managed to wash up on shore following the tidal wave that took out our boat. Its probably for the best. Im very weary of extended boat rides in fantasy settings.
Apparently, we have washed up on the Forgotten Shore. Who can say if thats just a general name Endir has given to an unknown stretch of beach or of its some dumb local moniker. Regardless, Setsuna and Aeterna are nowhere to be found. Im sure theyre fine. The rest of the ferry staff? Not so much. But, such is the disposable lives of those without a character portrait...
A short ways up the beach we find the first proper save point since the end of the tutorial map. Nive Island didnt have a single one to its name, just to emphasis the point of saving on the damn map whenever we hit it. No, this reiteration isnt drilled into my head after losing two hours of progress from forgetting to save and my PS4 suddenly locking up, leaving me bitterly paranoid. Why do you ask?
A bit further down the shore, we find a shining glowy bit on the rocky shore. Upon further investigation, this turns out to be...
Oh, its Avalanche Kelp. Of course! What else would it be? There are semi-hidden shining spots throughout the land which will give us free materials. Beyond shimmering lightly, they make a rather loud chiming noise when walked across, so its not too hard to miss em if even the least bit observant. The game does keep track of all the shiny spots in a region and will inform us of all those weve picked up and how many are missing in the Snow Chronicles.
I wont be mentioning them much again, unless we find something particularly peculiar. Mostly because there are 28 shiny spots in this region alone... Nobody wants to hear about all that vendor trash.
Continuing our march along the Forgotten Shore, we come upon...
Oh. Welp. Looks like Setsuna ate it in the wreck and her bloated corpse is being fed upon by local wildlife. Maybe not the most professional of hits in Endirs career. But, hey. Jobs done. Lets get our bearings and see if we cant employ a boat back to our employer to cash out.
Or we could jump in and save her from being mauled to death while unconscious. Sure, why not? Endir seems to now be fully committed to his new duty as Setsunas pro bono guardian.
Hey, you know how you could rewrite this narrative to make a lick of sense for a mercenary like Endir to take on a massively pain in the ass assignment like escorting someone across a continent to some dangerous far off land in order to fulfill a much less demanding contract? I had a fairly simple scenario as follows:
Have the village elder of Nive Village give Setsuna a small fortune for her journey. Then have Setsuna hire Endir to escort her instead, with promise of him getting the large sum when she makes it to the end of her journey. That way hed have reason to go through with this, since hed be fulfilling both contracts by becoming Setsunas bodyguard and having her die at the end of the journey. This would appeal to his mercenary sensibilities doing dirt for a paycheck and maintain his always follows through with a mission reputation. And you could even plug up the why doesnt he just stab her and call it a day detail by the fact its pretty shit for business if word gets out you ganked an employer.
But hey, whatever. Lets just continue on our uncompensated security detail for no particularly strong reason. Setsuna doesnt seem to be quite as dead as she looked at a glance...
Thank goodness... Youre all right...
*looks around* ...Wheres Aeterna?
Probably dead. Shame, that. Oh well, lets boogie.
*shakes head* No... shes nearby... I can tell...
...Then why did you even ask me?! Sheesh.
Alright, Setsuna has rejoined the party. The Forbidden Shore is a rather linear path. Then again, so are most areas. All we can do is follow the beach to its end for now.
There are a couple new enemies in this area. White Flapper is the overgrown seagull looking critter. Being a basic ass bird enemy, its own attack is flapping its wings and hitting a single party member for light damage. It can also cast cure spells on its allies if its feeling spunky. White Flappers only have 50 HP or so, so Endir can take one out in a turn or two.
Now, the strange, freaky eyed owl creature...? Couldnt tell you anything about it just now. Thats a rare enemy with some nice drops. It also has an extremely high evasion rate and will almost immediately Flee the battle. Shucks.
A slight bit off the beaten trail, we find an unlocked treasure chest with the first new weapon upgrade of the game.
Windrider is a new sword for Endir with a sizable buff to his stats. I mentioned it in the Snow Chronicles update, but if you were just skimming that (I know your type, degenerate) you might have missed mention of weapon properties. There is no armor upgrades in I am Setsuna. Instead, the usual defensive stat boosts associated with upgraded armor is rolled into weapons as well. So a shiny new sword will both significantly boost a party members offense as well as given them a bit of a bump in defense as well.
Leveling up does increase our stats slightly, but its far less of a bump than the ones given from equipment upgrades. Endir has hit Level 6 and his Strength has gone up by maybe two points total. Compared to the 12 point boost just shoving a new sword in his sheathe grants. Good stuff. Hopefully, the rest of the party will follow suit in short order.
Equipping our new weapon and continuing our trek across the chilly shore, we soon come upon...
Setsuna! Youre safe!
Setsuna and Endir run over to Aeterna...
Im fine. What about you, Aeterna?
Thank you, Setsuna... but you dont need to worry about me. Just concentrate on looking after yourself.
*turns to Endir* Oh, and youre alive, too. What a pleasure to see you again...
Well, well. Frogger managed to cross the road without getting run over.
You heard me.
So what are we going to do now?
Stay here and wait for help.
We only made it like a couple miles away from that island. Lets wait for the next boat to pass by and get a lift.
*shakes head* Theres no point... No one knows that our ship sank... No ones going to come to help us. We dont even know where weve drifted to...
Lets look for the ship.
There is no scenario where just wandering out into the wilderness is the good call.
You think well find it?
Unfortunately, Id say its probably at the bottom of the ocean right about now... Wouldnt we be better off trying to think of a way to get to Floneia by land?
How about we try asking some of the local people?
...Do you people know how many crappy, uninhabited islands are around the mainland? Tch... Fine! Lets just wander around and hope for the best. RIP everyone else on that boat.
Welp, onward to aimless marching. Itll all work out if we just keep following the one path before us!
New Music: March of the Brave
Welcome to the second major area of the game -- the Floneian Territories. For some reason, Floneian makes me think of some bastardization and degeneration of Floridian. Like The Last Lands is going to turn out to be the ruined husk of Miami or some shit. Thatd be a horrific twist.
Its a lot harder to spot on the overworld map. But there are Shiny Spots scattered about while traveling between areas as well. Theres one right above the patch of trees in the clearing ahead. Lets see what we got here...
...Weve picked up a cursed new menu item coming to an Outback Steakhouse near you this fall. I got real drunk on a business trip and decided it was a good idea to try eating a Bloomin Onion last year. It was a grave miscalculation on my part.
The only path available to us, since cutting through thin stretches of woods without a designated entry point is just rude trespassing, is directly north to the village of Serendale. At least civilization wasnt too far away.
New Music: A Poignant Reminder
Looks like no one lives here anymore...
*nods* Lets head on.
I mean, after we loot the place. Naturally.
Yeah, looks like we dont have any other choice...
*looks around* This place is pretty run-down, but it doesnt seem to have been taken over by monsters... Strange... Youd expect an empty village to be teeming with monsters...
*looks north* Look! Over there!
Hell be fine; its just a small fry. Look at the size of his sword. Im sure he can handle himself...
That thing is too big to be called a sword. Too big, too thick, too heavy and too rough. Its more like a large hunk of iron.
...Are you trying to quote something?
Uh-huh. Anyway, that guy looks like hes got this.
Oh, no! Look out!
...Or maybe not.
Im sorry, but if a guy cannot handle a penguin, theres just no hope for him.
How could you say that!? Fine... Ill do something myself! I cant just leave him!
*shakes head* Looks like weve got no choice...
Alright, fine. Well handle the solitary basic ass, literal first enemy we ever fought in the game Pengy that is owning this jerk. By the way, Id like you all to keep track of the number of times someone declares some variation of guess weve got no choice in this games script. Aeterna alone has said it three times already.
About five seconds and an extremely dead Pengy later and this green samurai looking joker is rescued. Lets see what he has to say for himself getting ruined by a penguin, of all things.
New Music: Path of Redemption
Phew... No, Im fine. Its nothin... Im just a little tired out, thats all... Damn... that was a close one...
Unless thats just an ornamental sword, you need to start using it to protect yourself.
Ha ha ha! Actually, it is an ornamental sword!
Anyway, Ive never seen any of you around here before...
Im Setsuna... This is Endir, and this is Aeterna. We came from Nive Village.
! I see... Nive, eh...
Do you know it?
Mm... yes... but that was all a very long time ago...
Youre a little off track to be traveling from there, eh?
...We had some issues along the way.
Whoops... I havent even told you my name yet! Im...
A future party member, if the fact he had actual character art for his portrait wasnt a tip off. So... we have an Endir and a Nidr. Nobody pointed out that two names that similar might get a little bit confusing? I suppose we could always rename him... Though, I cannot say I could think of any good alternatives right now. I mean... beside... I dunno... Auron. This guy is literally just fucking Auron from Final Fantasy X but wearing green clothes instead of red, ditching the sunglasses, and missing the opposite eye.
You get absolutely no prize or accolades for successfully guessing his vague familiarity with Nive Village from long in the past. Your first guess is exactly right.
You with the mask... Youre still a lil rough around the edges, but youve got real skill with a sword.
You can talk.
...You had trouble with a Pengy? Really, guy? Even if youre clearly just holding back, thats just sad.
Ha ha! Ygot me there!
I havent met the three of you somewhere before, have I?
Not that I remember.
You sure? Theres somethin very familiar about you...
You sure? You had weirder looking eyes... And you with the mask... you were dressed like a fool. Maybe you were with some sort of big cat guy and a burly fellow with the stupidest hair Id ever laid eyes on... There might have been a titty witch too.
...What the hell are you talking about?
...A mere coincidence, Im sure.
*nods* Yes, I suppose so...
Is something the matter?
*shakes head* Oh... no, never mind... Anyway, whatre you doin in a ghost town like this?
We want to find the nearest village.
Inhabited village, that is.
Well, if you keep headin north, youll come to the village of Purikka... If you go there and talk to the captain of the resistance, Im sure theyll be able to help you.
Do you live there, too?
Mm... yeah, well...
If youre going back that way, shall we go together?
Yeah, wouldnt want a chipmunk or something to roll up and start kicking your ass after we leave.
No, Im gonna keep walkin around for a lil longer...
*looks around* Are you sure youll be all right? I suppose there dont seem to be too many monsters around here...
Yeah, not anymore...
*puzzled* Not anymore?
Yeah... Thanks to the protection of the sacrifice, I mean. Dont you worry about me, anyway. Ive been doin this every day for a long time now!
All right... Well, please be careful...
Ha ha! Thank you...
Music: A Poignant Reminder
At this point, we can just head straight north and exit Serendale back out to the overworld map. But there is a bit more to explore of the town and its surrounding area to the east. Not far from where Nidr is hanging out, we find an open drawbridge. Unfortunately, the switch to close it is on the opposite shore. Cuz thats how drawbridges are usually constructed.
Directly south is... yet another drawbridge. This one has its operating lever on this side of the inlet.
So lets go ahead and operate that. Im not sure why an abandoned town would have its bridges raised in the first place. Its not like this inlet seems to be flowing with traffic. Its small enough to not even be visible from the overworld.
Across the bridge, we find the area teaming with hostile wildlife. Including a brand new enemy! Lets make its acquaintance.
Music: No Turning Back
Meet the Poison Puff-Puff, a common species of ridiculous bloated seal native to the Floneian Territories. This roly-poly boys sport a health 100 HP. But with Endirs newest upgrade, hes dishing out around 60-70 HP of damage with his standard attacks now.
True to their names, Poison Puff-Puffs can cough out poisonous vapor. Though, the actual poison status effect is called Sap in this game. And it is annoying as hell if inflicted. It drains around 6-8 HP from anyone inflicted every few seconds, regardless of whether were on Active or Wait battles.
Sap also persists outside of battle and will continue to drain another 6-8 HP every few seconds while making the screen flash purple and causing a damage sound the entire time. This is irritating as it sounds, so getting rid of Sap from our characters ought to be a priority ASAP. Unfortunately, Antidotes cost 100G a pop and our new rotund seal friends are quite common in this region. Well get a remedy for that shortly, but thats the situation for now.
Poison Puff-Puffs also have a secondary dangerous quirk. They dont just die when defeated like standard monsters. Oh no. They frikkin explode, damaging any of our party nearby upon their detonation.
I think these enemies were meant to teach us that spacing is important in battles and not to get careless about everyones positioning. In practice, it doesnt work that well since the suicide bomber seals death explosion both relies on a hitbox proximity that isnt very clearly defined. On top of that, theres still a dice roll as to whether the explosion will whiff, do standard damage, or do critical damage.
Really, these encounters are simply dealt with entirely by having Endir finish these guys off with Cyclone, as that will almost always knock back Puff-Puffs to a safe distance for bomb disposal and with his new weapon, a momentum augmented Cyclone is almost certainly enough to one-shot em. Likewise, DO NOT use Aeterna for finishing em off, as all her attacks have her at ground zero for getting a face full of bloated seal shrapnel.
The eastern forest outside of town carves a big circle back around to that first inaccessible drawbridge. While battling my way through the area, I managed to trigger a Singularity in battle for the first time.
Referring back to the Notes section of the Snow Chronicle... yeah, that doesnt really clear up what the heck a Singularity is, does it? And the Singularity we triggered, Timelight, is the single most vaguely worded Singularity in the game and one utterly useless at this point. The full text for Timelight is:
Timelight Prompt posted:
Damage adjustment counters will no longer be reset, even by enemy actions. The counters that will no longer be reset are:
Hit Chain, Skill Chain, Same-Element Chain, Multi-Element Chain, Actions (Total), Actions (Type), Used Momentum, Unused Momentum, Total Healed, Attacks Received, Damage Taken, and Critical Hits.
...Yeah. So there are damage multipliers for certain attacks. This Singularity will stop the multiplier from resetting. But... we dont have any abilities that can utilize that at the moment so faaaaaart.
So what is a Singularity? Ive literally shown you everything the game offers in regards to an explanation. Not great documentation! And no, theres no manual offering some further insight. Basically, whenever we use Momentum (remember, filling up the Snowflake gauge and then hitting Square/X when performing an Attack/Tech to get a buff) there is a completely random chance the RNG gods will smile upon us and grant a party wide buff for the duration of that particular battle.
Theres no way to manipulate the chance of a Singularity. It just kinda happens whenever! It could be a major boon in a boss battle or it could trigger at the end of some bullshit fight when theres one Pengy with 5 HP left. So theres no planning around it. Just be happy when it happens or dont sweat it when it pops at a useless moment.
Again, Timelight is a terrible first example for a Singularity. But hell if I know when the next one will pop and were basically hitting some... maybe less than well designed gameplay bits the rest of this update. Ill just go ahead and list off the rest of the potential Singularities we can encounter in our adventure:
- Probability Change Boosts critical hit rate and status infliction rate.
Now why couldnt I get that easy to understand example first? Mildly useful. Still a slave to RNGs wily machinations.
- Momentum Control - The rate at which the SP gauge fills up is greatly increased, allowing Momentum mode to be used more frequently. Also increases the power of effects generated by Momentum mode.
Really useful! Theres almost no reason to ever neglect using Momentum buffed commands. Having the gauge fill quicker and buffing its effects is the good stuff.
- Guardian Goddess - The HP of allies can no longer be reduced below 1. However, allies can still be knocked out by Death.
Unless an enemy has an instant kill spell, the party is effectively immortal for that fight. Not all that useful, since optimally we should not have a team on the cusp of death...
- Elemental Inflation - Attacks cause damage of all elemental types. Also raises resistance against all elements to the same value as the character's highest elemental resistance.
We become a god of the elements for a time. Pretty nice since almost all enemies have a weakness to some element/elements in general and any resistances are negated by the fact that every other element is coming to the party.
- Complete Drop - Enemies will drop all previously dropped materials, regardless of how they are defeated. However, either a normal or rare material will be dropped, not both.
Enemies become a piñata of dropped materials. Though, still being at the mercy of RNG for a rare drop is a bummer.
- Ascendant Shift Causes Fluxation to occur more easily. Also increases damage according to the number of Fluxes added to equipped spritnite.
This can be useful when dealing with another system of questionable design that were going to hit up in just a minute.
Beyond Ascendant Shift, the rest of those Singularity effects are hopefully a bit easier to parse. Now go ahead and dont worry about that entire system cuz unless it pops off during a boss battle, Ill probably seldom mention it again!
Music: A Poignant Reminder
Continuing our trek through the outskirts of the abandoned village, in a lonely chest on the very most eastern edge of the map we come upon a new weapon for Setsuna: a Hair Shuriken. It offers a nice bump to her Magical Attack, even if the rest isnt too spectacular.
Most pressingly, it made her headgear go from rather unwieldy to outright goddamn ridiculous. Setsuna, that thing is twice the size of your head. Youre going to have trouble clearing doorframes with that thing sticking out of your scalp. Jesus, well find you a cloth sash to strap your weapon to your back or your hip. This aint working, lady!
In the northern part of the map, we come upon a chest containing the first new Talisman: The Chaos Orb Bracelet. Unlike weapons, which are all character specific, Talismans can be equipped on any character. You can see this has a Flux Bonus of Critical Hit Rate and Support Bonus. What the hell does that mean? Well, its both really simple and overly complicated at once.
So Talismans are equipment in which we can slot Spritnite into in order to use character specific Techs. As Ive said, Spritnite is basically Materia from Final Fantasy VII. Slot it in and that ability is good to go. They know that ability. Its just Spritnite only works on certain characters. Setsuna cannot learn Cyclone nor Endir learn Cure. Every Spritnite only works on the specified character who can learn that Tech and the number of Spritnite we can equip at a time is limited to the Talismans slots. Thats not an issue when we only have one Tech a piece. But we will have to mix and match later on, which is... less than ideal.
Additionally, we have Fluxes. While equipping a Spritnite into a Talisman will instantly grant use of that ability, the Flux bonuses on the Talisman are NOT instantaneously granted. Those bonuses are only granted if the Flux is activated while the Talisman is equipped. How do we activate the Flux, you ask?
Referring back once more to the Notes section of the Snow Chronicles... this is the only documentation or tutorial we receive as to how the hell Fluxes work. Thats about as clear as mud, eh? Well, heres the lowdown...
Its entirely based on RNG! The random chance of Flux activation can be manipulated by outside factors, like that Ascendant Shift Singularity business we talked about earlier. But mostly, shit will happen whenever it goddamn feels like it. I got remarkably lucky here. I equipped Endir with that new Talisman and two fights later the Flux Bonus popped. This occurs randomly at the end of a battle. The first time I played through, I was two bosses from now before the Flux Bonus screen confusingly popped up on some nothing battle.
We've been given the option to turn the Flux bonus on or off here. Which seems like a weird thing, cuz why wouldnt we want a buff like this? Well, thats because Spritnite can only obtain a limited number of total Flux Bonuses from a Talisman. And remember how it said the Flux Bonus for this new Talisman was Critical Hit Rate, Support Bonus. That means either of those could randomly pop. Not both and theres no choice in the matter. We got lucky here because hell yeah, Ill take a Critical Hit Rate buffed Cyclone. Thats great! If wed gotten Support Bonus to pop instead? Guess what? That does DICK for Cyclone. Better luck next time, grinding for RNG on top of RNG to get the buff we want...
Its kind of a badly put together system overall. Really, we dont have to participate dinking around with Fluxes at all to progress in the game. I am Setsuna is not very difficult of a game. Its just this entire system is an over-complicated mess for something that ought to be simple. It seemed like they were going for a cross between FF7 Materia and FF9 Equipment teaching abilities (maybe an earlier game did this, it's all a blur), but threw in a bunch of RNG bullshit on top just because hey... old games loved that, right? And new ones? There has to be some nebulous audience that enjoys RNG because we keep putting it in things and nobody complains too loudly!
Sheesh. Just use a formula of: Use <Spritnite> X number of times and it will gain <Talisman>s ability. Put one buff per talisman or make them mutually exclusive to balance it. There. Done! Perfectly fine system with a fraction of the hassle. What are you even doing, game?
Well... Glad to get that off my chest. That is my rant on the convolution of the dumb Spritnite business and the dumbass systems surrounding. Im sure Im forgetting something else throwing another idiotic wrinkle in, but thats the gist of it. Its not the worst RNG nonsense Ive seen (hello again, The 3rd Birthday.) But ehh...
Anyway, theres a boss fight arena in the northern most part of the woods outside of town. No boss though... Weird. Probably not relevant.
The path outside of town is just a big loop taking us back to that earlier drawbridge. We can lower it and return back to where Nidr was chilling out. May as well see what hes up to before we depart.
I wont mess up like that again... Thanks, though.
If you say so, buddy. Continuing north past Nidr, we find the exit to the abandoned Serendale and on to greener pastures.
...Nah, just kidding. Its going to be more snow.
Nidr Official Art This guy is missing his left eye. Auron was missing the right. Totally different! Move along.