Part 4: Reunion
Update 4: Reunion
Some distance to the north of Hazatak, there's a cyborg who looks just like Mieu.
"... but I'd know his black sword anywhere!"
"Ohhh, so you're the crazy cyborg wandering the desert. Sorry about that, Mieu!"
There are several caves on Aridia, but the one we want is the eastern one of this pair, due west of Hazatak.
It's fairly linear: you go around the whole cave in an anticlockwise spiral, and there are two short detours you can take for a Dimate and Escapipe.
This cave has some new monsters, and they can be a little tough. Gilatoads are the big brothers of Glowtoads; they do a fair amount of damage and they can still poison you. I actually let Mieu get killed by one at one point because I underestimated how hard they could hit.
An interesting side note, by the way: characters in this game can use healing techniques outside of combat even if they're at 0 HP. They can even use Rever to revive themselves.
Grinders don't hit very hard with either their physical attacks or their weak Gra techniques, but they have very high defense and HP, making them a pain to kill. Also, they attack by wiggling their ears at you, which makes them look even more ridiculous than they already do.
"You must be Wren. I'm Prince Rhys of Landen, so you'd better do what I tell you."
"... to serve you. I'm a technical systems and combat specialist."
There are several Wren-type cyborgs in PS3 and PS4, including one who joins your party in each game. Both of the ones who join you are simply called Wren in the English version; in Japanese, they were Shiren and Forren respectively.
Wren isn't that impressive right now. He has good HP, but his defense isn't that great. He can use techniques, but they're not that powerful and he has very little TP.
Of course, it doesn't help that he has no equipment right now, so he can't even attack. We're going to have to do something about that.
The overworld music changes as you add more characters to your party, with new instruments being added in. It's actually pretty nice right now.
We swing by Hazatak and get Wren a Protector and Head Gear; they only increase his defense by a few points, but they're cheap and better than nothing. We also get him a Hunting Shot from the weapon shop. Wren's guns do a fixed range of damage regardless of the target's defense. The Hunting Shot hits for about 45-50 points, which is a bit worse than Rhys's sword against enemies with low defense, but much better against enemies with high defense.
Wren also has access to the two classes of technique I haven't yet talked about : Melee and Time. Melee techniques do direct damage and cost 2 TP; Time techniques are combat buffs and debuffs that cost 1 TP.
Foi does fire damage to a single target, Zan does wind damage to either the front or back row, Gra does gravity damage to all enemies, and Tsu does water damage to either the left half or right half of the screen. Some enemies resist one or more of these techniques, taking about 1/2 to 1/4 of normal damage. In PS2, Tsu was a single-target laser attack, but oh well.
It's best to max out one technique and forget about the rest, since that's the only way they'll do enough damage to be worth bothering with. Wren already does plenty of single-target damage with his gun, so I've focused on Gra. Unfortunately, his Gra doesn't even do enough damage to reliably kill a group of Tsveidons (probably the weakest enemies worth using it on), so it's a bit useless.
Ner increases one character's speed in combat, Rimit increases your chance of fleeing from enemies, Shiza has a chance to disable an enemy's special attacks for a few turns, and Deban has a chance to disable an enemy's physical attacks. Once again, the effects have been changed somewhat since PS2; Ner and Shiza are the same, but Deban increased physical resistance for the whole party, and Rimit paralyzed an enemy.
Ner is generally useless: you're sacrificing a turn so that another character might act earlier in future turns. Rimit is unnecessary, since your chance to flee is pretty good even without it. It's best to max out either Shiza or Deban; they can even work on bosses if you're lucky, and if you can get both of them to stick then you've shut down an enemy's attacks completely for as long as they last. Deban has a higher base accuracy, so if you want to use both it's probably better to max out Shiza.
Anyway, our next destination is that tower we've heard about. It's far to the southeast of Hazatak.
The tower is the most difficult dungeon so far, and it might actually be possible to get lost in it for a while if you aren't careful.
As always, with a new dungeon comes new enemies. Clumps are nothing special, but the Hopliz can hit the whole party with Zan for a fair amount of damage.
Start the dungeon by taking the first staircase you come across...
... then head all the way east for a Trimate. This is the strongest single-target healing item, and it's kind of overkill right now, so you might just want to sell it for 250 mesetas.
Go down the staircase next to the Trimate and head east for a while, and you'll soon encounter a familiar face.
"I need your help to thaw out my whole world. People are dying from cold and starvation! Farther in here are the weather system controls. Your Wren cyborg can fix it up in no time at all. In return, I'll join your party to help out."
Lyle is an amazing party member, with high speed, good HP and decent defense. He takes forever to gain levels, but even at level 1 he's already great.
He can only use Melee techniques, but he's very good at them and has a large pool of TP. Max out his Gra and he can dish out about 40 damage to all enemies; max out his Foi and he'll do close to 100 damage to a single enemy.
He starts out with a crappy staff, but once we upgrade his weapons, he can even become the strongest physical attacker in the party as well.
From where you meet Lyle, head east and take the first turn to the south, and you'll find this machine. Good thing we've got Wren with us!
"I owe you more than I can ever repay. Please come with me to see my beautiful land. We can go by ship from the village of Rysel."
"If you really want to help me, you can tell me if you've seen a woman named Maia. About this tall, blue hair, no memory of anything before a couple of months ago?"
"Um, no, I can't say I remember seeing anyone like that. In fact, I'm sure I haven't. Sorry."
After leaving the tower, we have to backtrack through the Aquatica-Aridia cave. Looks like Aquatica's already thawed out.
The only thing that isn't good about Lyle, by the way, is his effect on the overworld music: his presence adds an annoying tinny flute sound to the mix.
Now that Aquatica is no longer frozen, the people of Rysel are able and willing to help us out.
And we get a lead on Maia, too! Looks like we're headed east.
First, though, we pick up some gear for Lyle. He can now hit as hard as Mieu, and his only real flaw is his lack of healing techniques. (And yes, he is wielding a staff in each hand. No, I'm not sure how that works either.)
Taking the boat near Rysel, we emerge on the other side of Aquatica's ocean, near two towns. Let's check out the southern one first.
Looks like we've made the right decision, because the northern town is full of Layans!
"They've got Maia! We have to rescue her!"
"... especially the fountains of Shusoran!"
Hmm. I wonder what he could mean by that.
"Indeed. Why, it's almost as if they're human."
Agoe's armour shop has some new body armour for Mieu and helmets for Rhys and Wren.
None of the weapons are much use, though: we have nobody who can use Slicers, while Knives and Needlers are both inferior to Swords for Rhys.
By leaving Agoe to the north, we can visit its castle.
Everyone there talks about how the Layans are kicking their asses; if Shusoran decides to invade, Agoe will be wiped off the map.
"I can't let that happen! We've got to head for Shusoran right away and wipe out every single one of those Layan dogs!"
The streets of Shusoran are strangely empty.
In fact, everyone in town seems to be hiding in their homes, in fear of the Orakians.
"... that of Cille, to the north, at low tides. The sand bar won't form unless the moon returns."
"Thanks for the information, I guess, but I don't really see what I can do about that."
On the bright side, the shops are open to us and they sell some great stuff, even if it's outside our price range. Star Mist fully heals the whole party, and Moon Dew revives dead characters.
There's new armour for everyone, although we can't afford it all right now.
Those weapons are nice, too, so we definitely want to fully upgrade everyone's gear here as soon as we have the money.
Shusoran has its own castle just like Agoe, although it's not open to the public. The castle gate looks the same as an Orakian one except with Laya's emblem lazily painted over the top.
"Didn't somebody in Agoe say something about Shusoran's fountain? Maybe if I walk into it..."
This secret passage is filled with some very dangerous monsters. That black Moos is a Fearmoos, and it's aptly named: its normal attacks do 10-15 damage, and its Foi technique does a whopping 25-30 damage. Worse still, I've seen them appear in groups of up to 3 at a time.
From the entrance, head north for a Trimate...
... then back south and all the way to the east to emerge in Shusoran Castle!
"Hang in there, Maia! I'm coming to save you!"
"Perhaps it would be best if we avoided drawing attention to ourselves while in hostile territory, Prince Rhys."
The greenish things are Glops, which can use physical attacks for not much damage or cast Foi, also for not much damage. The ugly naked woman in the flower is an Irisa; she has a fair amount of HP and can poison party members, so focus your attacks on her.
We want to head northwest and take these stairs back down into the dungeon, leading us to a passage where we can pick up another Trimate before re-emerging in another part of the castle.
Not long after that, a somewhat confusing conversation begins.
"Wait, it's who? What am I talking about? There isn't anyone here."
"I found her."
"Please help me take her away, Lyle!"
"If you want her back, fight for her! I have to leave you now, Prince Rhys. I'll explain why later, if things work out."
"What just happened? Who were we just talking about? Why did Lyle suddenly start trying to pick a fight with me?"
Lyle runs off, only to reappear about 30 seconds' walk away from where he left. The way we came in is now blocked by Layan guards, so we've got no option but to talk to him.
By the way, is it just me, or does that person standing behind him look familiar?
I'm pretty sure all of that previous conversation before "I have to leave you now, Prince Rhys" was supposed to go here, and somebody on the design team screwed up. Big surprise.
Anyway, now we have to fight Lyle. Somehow he looks a lot less threatening in this picture than he does in his character portrait.
He's no joke, though: he'll spam Zan techniques for heavy damage, and we have to fight him with Rhys alone because our pet robots have decided that now is a good time to stand around being useless for some reason.
"Man, now I regret trying to level you up."
Luckily, he still only has about 75 HP, so three or four hits should be enough to take him down. Carry a Dimate or two if you want to be safe.
"Someone wants to speak with you, by the way."
"Before we get Maia, we must backtrack a bit. Return to Aridia and put my Moon Stone and Lyle's Moon Tear into the satellite control system. That will bring the moon back to its proper place and open a land bridge from the rear gate of this castle to where Maia is being held. Let's go rescue Maia!"
"Wait, I still don't get what just happened. Why did Lyle just attack me and then join up with my party again? What are you doing here? Why are you still helping me look for Maia?"
At least we've finally got a full party of five members.
Lena's going to be pretty useless until she's gained a few levels, though.
She can use knives and needlers, so you can eventually set her up to deal good damage to a single enemy or so-so damage to a group. As an Orakian, of course, she'll never learn any techniques.
If we try to head north at this point, we run straight into the ocean, so there's nothing to do but backtrack through Shusoran. Fortunately, the castle gates are open now so we can just walk out without having to go through the dungeon again.
"Wait, Lyle's a prince too? Why doesn't anybody ever tell me these things?"
Next update: we find out if there's any character in this game who isn't either royalty or a cyborg!