Part 14: Short Essay for Level 14 and the Ending
And so we reach the end.
But first, the level itself.
I think that the mountain facility shows one of the weaknesses of the game's engine and design; that being very sectional. There's the Entrance section, where we start outside, followed by the Garage, then the Server Chambers, then the final Boss Fight.
The opening area is pretty wide open, and that is to your detriment. I don't show it off in the video, but there's really nothing out here. You're at the mercy of all the Snipers, and if you don't know what you're doing and you stand still, they're going to ruin your day. Your best bet is to do what I did, grab the Phase cloak and rush the entrance.
Oddly enough, every enemy outside the actual facility itself is Blue Tier, Strikers and Elites. Of course, this doesn't apply to the Snipers, as they only have one tier - Mercury Bow. But once we get inside, it's Reds all the way through.
Oh, the Hypo I mentioned in the video is inside the first hut, the one to your right when you start the level.
The second section is the garage, and here the pace of the level slows down considerably as you have to backtrack back and forth across the upper level before allowing access to the main floor. Of note, the path that the truck comes down on (Hugh Jass? Seriously?) leads back to the two large entryways that I passed by on the way in.
If you run up them, you will find nothing, just the other side of the doors, and the ability to clip the camera through to see outside.
This section itself is pretty tight, and if anything, it's the last fight that's a problem. If you're anywhere near prepared, having the enemies that jump out of the truck all coming running right to you - including the driver! - isn't interesting.
What could have been done better here would be to get to the door itself, and Konoko to be annoyed that she can't get through it or the ones on the upper floor. She expresses herself, perhaps by punching the door and denting it to help show off her improved strength, and that's when the BGI truck arrives. If she can punch a dent, then the truck is just a larger, faster punch, right?
That way, Konoko is already at ground level with the enemies that spawn, and they don't all obligingly file their way up a set of stairs to you and into your waiting gun.
Speaking of being downstairs, I blew out one of the windows, and jumped down onto a trailer to minimize the damage and checked out that deactivated console.
Yep, it opens the stairs back upstairs, but doing this out of order spawns in some Blue Tier enemies in the stairwells to come and fight you.
The third section, after she knocks, is a very simple one, though it too is really divided into two parts itself. First is the triple unlock where you are told Muro's Plan, then the long ascent to the final console and destiny. It's actually very straight forward. I only make it look confusing because I'm paranoid I'm missing something.
So let be take a break for a moment here and talk about Muro's Plan. On one hand, it's been properly foreshadowed this whole game, but on the other hand, having it spelled out like this makes it lose some of its punch.
To summarize, Muro will use the previously established modifications to the Atmospheric Processors to either reverse or corrupt them, causing them to add pollutants to the atmosphere, rather than remove them. While this is happening, he will be offering third-tier Daoden Symbiotes to those who are willing to pay any price for a chance at health, effectively holding the world hostage and gaining a huge powerbase at the same time.
What I think people miss in the lack of context is that this is a Regional plan. Not a Global one. Muro, much like Griffin, isn't a power player in their respective organizations. They have authority disproportionate to their position, but both of them have superiors, and have a limit to their mandate. Muro's operation is, I suspect, him leveraging himself to the global scale.
You see, the facility we're at is a control node for the global Processing centers. But it's not the only such location, and it's not the final control center either. It's regional. And Muro's grand plan isn't going to directly affect the whole world. Have knock-on effects? Sure. But it's his and his alone.
What Konoko does is rather than have a controlled escalation in the contamination, is instead just blowing the whole thing at once. A single sudden shock to the system, damaging the machines in the process is, in her view, the better option than letting Muro's plan come to fruition. She knows that no matter what she does at this point, people are going to die, so why not try to minimize that number?
Here's the thing, Muro's plan requires responses that we don't see. I suggested back in level 7 that Muro brought unnecessary attention onto the Atmospheric Processing Plant by taking Shinatama there, and once the TCTF is there, they're going to find out about the modifications. And from there, they can unravel his thread enough to make his plan not as viable as he might want it to be.
Instead, Griffin throws it all away to hunt down Konoko, diverting resources to chasing down someone who, at that time, wasn't a threat instead of focusing on the actual problems at hand.
Look, Griffin screwed up from start to finish, and if we cataloged them, we would be here all day. But because he chose to focus on his personal problems, Muro was able to act freely and get all the last pieces for his plan into place.
Speaking of Muro though...
The Boss Fight.
Muro as a boss is much like his encounter in Konoko's dream back in level 11. However, this time he will break out his own counters to Konoko's Rising Fury and Devil Spin Kick, and much like her dream-self, he starts with a full Daoden charge that doesn't go away naturally. You have to beat it out of him, reducing his damage output and durability in the process.
His helpers are replaced as they go down, to make up for the fact that you have three TCTF Black Ops on your side, the toughest NPCs in the game. And they bring a VDG to the fight. So in order to win, do as I suggest in the video. Pump your health into Overpower mode and just pummel him to death. If you give him a chance to gain his momentum, or if one of his allies breaks through to disrupt you, he can quickly turn the fight around. Keep up the pressure, dodge and strike and know that you probably have more Overpower than he does.
But in the end, he goes down like a chump. Muro, for all his bluff and bluster isn't a threat. He's a final boss that doesn't feel like one. Being able to bring in Griffin and probably the last two Black Ops in the region make the fight a four-on-three in your favor, and that's not all that fun.
No, there is an alternative. There is a darker option...
There are no Subtitles for this Video. There's not enough time.
Muro Imago is the demon that Muro thinks Konoko should be. A Monstrous hulk of a monster that towers over all around them, a hero slayer out to... wait a minute.
WHY IS HE DOOMSDAY?!?!?
Muro Imago is a difficult fight, one that I make look relatively easy because I understand one thing about him that most people miss. His hit box is his torso, not his legs or arms. You can't go low, you can't throw him. The best way to fight him is to either stand a little above him, as I do at the start of the fight, and be even with his chest, or do what I do at the end of the fight and jump-kick him. His attacks are wide and designed less for dealing with a single enemy in front of him, and more for area control, negating Konoko's advantage in maneuver.
But in terms of timing, he's not that much longer than Normal Muro in terms of a boss battle. It's just you and him, no distractions, save the glow from both of you.
Yet, there's something about this fight that bothers me. Look at the opening lines. Yes, he says the same thing in both of them, but the line about choking on foul air is almost ... exactly the same.
I think that initially, the final boss battle against Muro was always going to be the Imago Muro, with some ideas that it would be a multi-stage battle where you fought him normally, but he decides to go for a second stage fight. The nature and cadence of the lines tell me that they were first recorded for the Imago fight, but then re purposed for the 'Griffin Lives' fight.
Narratively speaking, this ties back to Kerr's line about how the Chrysalis will invoke the subject's true, inner nature. For all she's done, and is, Konoko still wants to be human, while Muro embraces his inner monster. He thinks she hasn't tapped the full power of their shared post-humanist, but what he doesn't know is that she has. We just don't have it laid out for us as the BGI arc was cut from the game, the section of the game after Kerr dies and before she goes after Griffin.
The BGI Arc was supposed to fill in these small gaps, and we never got to see them. It may have even provided Konoko with a reason to spare Griffin's life, which leads us to the morality of the choice.
For those of you reading this on the LP Archive, and not on SA, I asked the thread what their opinion was regarding Griffin's fate, and it was quite in favor of killing him. Those who offered the opinion of mercy held to the general idea that doing so would be rewarded by the game. But the vast majority of those who offered their opinions were solidly in the "Kill Griffin" camp.
You see, the common refrain from them was that Griffins actions had long since passed from the realm of morality and into the region of Holy Shit STOP!, to put words into their collective mouths. They argued, to varying degrees, that shooting Griffin dead was the fast death, as the fallout from these events would see him made an example of by his superiors in the TCTF.
I... have a different thought. In my view, I've been making this comment the whole LP, both in the videos and in these essays. Konoko, is, was and in that moment, still an emotionally driven person. She acts not with any sort of consideration, but in the heat of the moment. In my view, the real ending to this game is that she does shoot Griffin. Not because of some moral or legal or sociological outlook, but because it is the solution to the problem at hand that provides the most immediate emotional gratification.
Konoko shoots Griffin. Because she wants to. There is no deeper explanation than that. There is no need to any further analysis, as all her character shows is that sort of thing. She never develops, and as a result, the consequences for her actions, and the actions of those around her keep piling up until everything is broken.
The world breaks because no one is willing or capable to take a breath and realize that Konoko, Griffin and Muro will never back down. And they can't, until two of the three are dead.
But you know what I find interesting about this game? Something that came up because I'm spending the time to write all this down, and I'm listening to the people making comments in the thread?
A lot of people were thinking that as the game came out in the early 2000's, that Bungie would have shoehorned in some sort of primitive morality result for choosing the kill Griffin or not. That the game would reward you with a better or more uplifting ending for sparing him.
That's not what happens.
The above image is a link to the ending video and closing credits.
Oni offers nothing. Perhaps as a result of the abridged development time, perhaps as I suspect, the second 'good' Boss fight was added at a later date, perhaps for some other reason....
Oni offers no Moral. No matter what you choose, Oni's ending plays out the same. Your choice makes no difference aside from the final boss. Killing or Sparing Griffin.... means nothing.
As it should.
Not everything is cut and dry, and there are no happy endings in this game. Oni is not a story where the protagonist eeks out a last second victory and all or most is forgiven in the service of higher causes. No, the entire back half of the game has been one of vengeance, anger, hatred and rage and none of that matters.
Muro doesn't get to see his victory. No matter what Konoko chooses, he dies there, atop a lonely mountain. Griffin's fate is... unknown, but regardless of her actions, he's done for. As for Konoko? There's nothing left for her. Everyone she knows is either dead, or a mortal enemy at this point.
No matter what you choose, this ending is bitter. In the end, there is no choice, and I think that this makes for a better game. Or a better ending at least. Once she started down this path, nothing she does can change the outcome.
And that's why Oni is great.