The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 6: Episode VI: Country Hospitality

Episode VI: Country Hospitality

Civilization at last... maybe. Before we knock on the town gates, there is a treasure chest there just waiting for some plucky adventurers to plunder. Since any rural town just loves it when outsiders roll in and immediately start stealing their shit.

That’s quite the cumbersome item just to cure confusion... On the subject of status effects, Shadow Hearts has several but they’re pretty stock variety:
Pretty standard stuff outside Berserk being way more assholish a status than usual. Anyway, about that gate...

New Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish
(Kind of an odd track name for a landlocked town in the middle of the night.)

<looks at gate>
What’s up? Something wrong?

Alice walks away from the gate.

That’s what it started to say, anyway. I think we should be extra careful.
Oh! Look who’s the crazy voice in my head expert now.
Ha ha, how cool ’n’ collected you are! You talk as if it’s happening to someone else.
<gets nervous>
Don’t worry too much about what that voice warns about. Once it told me to “Beware an opulent foe who devours all” and it just meant a really fat drunk guy at a train stop...
But not to worry. Nothin’ can surprise me at this point.

Two children wander over from opposite side of the gate. They have the descriptive names Red-Eyed Child and Yellow-Eyed Child. Nobody remarks on this fact.

Hey, look!!
<jumps in surprise> Wh-Wha!?

Don’t freak me out like that or I’ll kick your scrawny little asses!
Please don’t beat up children.
They spooked the SHIT out of me. Gotta learn ‘em that ain’t cool!

I knew it!
You’re right! It’s true!

Yuri walks up to the gate and starts kicking it.

Huh? Look, you brats live here, right? Here in town? Great. Open the gate. <kicks it again>
Um, nobody gets in at night, so you’re just gonna hafta stay out there.
Yup, we can’t let you in.
Plus you look like kind of a dirtbag.
A real shifty drifter...
Hey, ya brats! I do not!
<concerned look>

Run along and get your mommy. Tell her you’ve got guests.
<notice Alice>
Hey... That’s a woman, right?!
Yeah, she’s TOTALLY a girl, right?! Nice and soft!
Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
Given where we are you should be surprised we understand English.
We usually speak Manchu but we’ve been learning Mandarin as the dialect is quickly overtaking the region.
Oh... Guess that’s a good po—dammit! I don’t care about this! Open the damn gate! <kicks gate again>

Alice walks up to the gate since Yuri is getting nowhere.

Ooh, she looks so tender!
A nice, juicy girl!
...Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.

The clearly evil kids open up the gate and run up to Alice.

Eh heh heh! It’s okay, you can come in!
Tee hee hee. Yeah, you can come inside now!
I’m really having second thoughts about this...
<nervous laugh>

All four walk past the gate.

<claps hands> Our house is at the very end of the square. We’ll be waiting! Bye! <runs off>
<slaps his knees> Whee, whee, a girl, we have a girl! Gotta go tell Granny Mayor right away!! <runs off as well>

Maybe the voice was on to something...
<increasingly concerned look>

Yuri and Alice follow the kids into the village as the gates magically close shut behind them. Yeah, nothing to worry about in this town. No sir. They’ve just got surprisingly advanced automation for being out in the sticks. That’s all!

We now have free reign to wander around the town -- Zhaoyang Village. Nobody on the critical path has the decency to mention the town name during any story scenes here. We’ve got to talk to townspeople or save the game to get the location name. Our first order of business is...

...naturally to double back and acquire a hidden item in some debris near the gate on the previous screen. Shadow Hearts really loves pixel hunting hidden items out in the field. There is rarely any indication an item is nearby. Yuri will just have an exclamation mark pop out of his head if he’s near a hotspot he can interact with in the vicinity. So that’s fun. I definitely don't have a FAQ open at all times to find where the hell everything is hidden.

In case someone gets hit with Paralysis, we can just toss a hair clip at their head and sort that out. Good to know. With that in hand, let’s get to chatting some townsfolk.

I figgered the outside world had totally forgotten about poor old Zhaoyang Village.
Wouldn’t get my hopes up for a tourism boom, guy.

But women... Women are fulla fat ‘n’ gravy... Hee, hee hee, hee hee hee...
Is everyone picking up the slack since I promised I’d knock off the horndog stuff...?

Just a moment, folks. You seem to have dropped some mystical arrowheads. You guys won’t want those back, will you? Didn’t think so. As it says, this will increase the size of the Judgment Ring’s Hit Area. Which has its uses.

But that was a long, long time ago, weren’t it? Heh heh heh...
So you guys were just too lazy to ever clean up, or...?

Shadow Hearts doesn’t have the largest budget on the planet so there are a LOT of repeating generic NPCs that have just changed the color of their clothes and skin shades to masquerade as different character models. I do appreciate every single unnamed character gets a descriptive title to give them a bit of flavor to make up for that fact.

No matter how many times I go through labor, there never ends up being any babies left...
Please don’t describe anything as “sweaty trouble” again, lady. Thanks in advance.

They’re all so greedy, you know? So I gotta share everything fair-like. ‘Cause if I don’t? I might not live to eat again.
I don’t think I follow but I also don’t think I wanna follow...

Continuing further into the town, we come upon a save point and a well containing a Tent if we want to top off Alice and Yuri’s health during downtime. Unfortunately, Zhaoyang Village does not contain a proper inn. There are inns in this game, mind you. Just not here. That aside, we can speak with the last few villagers...

Eek! H-How... embarrassing! You heard me singing, didn’t you?!
I didn’t not hear you singing.
So? “Take it out, peel it off...” kinda sexy, don’tcha think? Sure ya do. Just a little. Sure.
I’m gonna walk away creeped out now.

See, when yer young, ya like stuff fresh, but as ya get older ya like it aged. ...Don’t get it, do ya?
I hate everyone in this town.

That’s enough messing with weirdos. Let’s talk to the only important NPC wandering the streets at the moment: the first merchant.

B-But, there’s just... something not quite right about it, don’t you think?! ...Oh, say! Since you’re here, how’d you like to buy something? I have plenty of useful items!

Shops are about what you’d expect in a RPG. We can buy and sell inventory. The sell prices are middling at best. We’re not exactly flush in cash at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we cannot browse. Let’s take a look at what this guy is peddling that we’ve yet to lay eyes on...

“Yes, yes ma’am... This priceless relic was carved from a gleaming red pearl in the dark ages by the most talented of Franciscan monks.”
“Why is it green...?”
“Come again?”
“You said it was made from a red pearl but this is clearly a dull green.”
“Oh well... you see... Err... Hundreds of years have altered the color of the pearl. Yes, yes... the ravages of time. Anyway, that’ll be $2770. Cash only. No credit.”

So you’re selling me a human bone carving from a Buddha? You, a rando merchant in the middle of nowhere China has this readily available. Multiple copies of it, no less? Well, it does prevent confusion so it must be legit! Let me get my wallet.

We’ve yet to encounter it but characters’ Judgment Ring can get status effects as well. Things such as making the needle spin faster or reducing the Hit/Strike Area on the ring. We’ll get into those in further detail when they actually crop up. This goes for 90 Cash and having a few on hand isn’t a bad idea.

Please don’t start eating silver to slow down your Judgment Ring. I can guarantee that is not a healthy practice. Even if it’s only 100 Cash a pop.

That’s it for the merchant. There’s nothing we need right at this juncture. The house to left of the Wandering Peddler is where those two clearly evil children told us to visit. But it seems they’re not ready yet. Instead, we’re just going to wander to the northern end of the village, where we find...

Music: Destruction - Noise of Fangs

The bones of people… killed here! What’s happening in this village…?!
Lemme take a look there... Hmm... Yep. Definitely a human skull. Punched enough of those in my time to be certain.

<inspects skulls> Looks like the voice was right. These people’re cannibals.
Look over there, that shrine… It’s as if it holds all the anger of people that died here.

Hee hee... Good travelers, you like the shrine?

Gah! What is it with you people in this town!?
I think we just found that out...
Ergh... Oh right... Evil cannibals. Of course they’re going to be sneaking up like creeps. Duh.

What is it, pops?!

A bald old man wanders over.

The Black Tortoise God?
Ain’t got no idea what that even means. Do you?
<shrug and head shake>

Yes, to pacify the Earth Spirits, humans deified him, and built this shrine. It’s all such nonsense! But now with the troublesome Black Tortoise God gone, we’re free to do as we please! We can even take the form of humans! We couldn’t ask for more!
Just layin’ it all on the table, huh?
You found our human bone pile, sonny. What’s there left to hide?

The only problem is now we get hungry… It’s all thanks to the new protector of our town, Yamaraja!
Yamaraja? What kind of a name for a demon is that?
Sounds like the name of a restaurant with food that’d give me the runs for a week.
<looks back at the shrine> I suppose I’d find him in that shrine there?
<stamps foot> How… how insolent! But, no matter… You won’t last long… Tonight there’ll be a special feast, for our rare guests… Now, you just run along and say hello to the Granny Mayor. Hee hee…

The Vacant-eyed Old Man wanders off.

<shakes head> Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not too fond of the idea.
<stamps foot> I’m not happy about it either, I can tell you!
Ha ha ha! It’s all right, I’ll protect you.

So we are going to get out of here?
Yup. Gonna get out of here and go kick those cannibals’ asses!
That’s not what I meant...
Sorry, can’t hear you. Busy going to give an ass kicking.

The pair leave the shrine and immediately encounter the Children of the Corn twins from earlier.

Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish

<waves> You really came!! We’re so glad!! C’mon, c’mon, come inside!!

Welp. May as well follow into the obvious trap. What’s the worst that could happen?

<bounces> …Juicy!

Yuri and Alice enter.

We sure could use a bed for the night.
Yes, yes! I heard all about you from the children. You just make yourselves at home. We rarely get visitors here. We don’t have much for you, but please rest your weary bones.
We’ve got just the place for them.
<nod in unison>
Hey, thanks, ma’am. We’ll be out of your way by early morning.
Hee hee… Now, now, no need to rush. You just stay as long as you like!
Those meaty thighs of yours must need a rest. Maybe a soak in a nice hot broth.
Don’t you mean “bath”?

Thanks, ma’am. It’s kind of you to let us stay, having just shown up in the middle of the night like this.
What a nice-mannered young lady. But you don’t have to worry about your manners so much here.
<nod in unison>
…For, it won’t change the taste of their meat.

<chuckles> Kind woman! You all talk as if you’re going to have us for supper!
Hee hee hee… Well, at least one of you has brains! Eat you both, we will!
<gets frightened>
Ya know I can kinda respect demons that are upfront about being man eating cannibals. None of that cute double talk or making coy puns crap. Right to the point.
Hee hee. We like to maintain our country hospitality.

I’ve got to go tell Yamaraja we have an offering for him. Hmph, let me get through here… Okay, okay…

The Mayor Lady stands up and walks out the front door. Alice give Yuri a “dude what the hell?” gesture as she walks past.

Don’t worry, we’ll be right outside so you can’t get away!
Oh dear... whatever shall we do?

The two cannibal boys run off outside. They have an amazingly awful arm flailing run cycle. Yuri proceeds to start pulling on drawers looting the place.

Looks like they’ve got us trapped.
<pulls on another drawer> It appears so.
<stomps foot> How can you be so calm at a time like this?!
Years of practice. It’s a gift.
<walks up to Alice> Aw, c’mon, if you get too anxious, it’ll just make you hungry.
...And I don’t think you want any Solaris Meat Sandwiches from around here.
A what...?
Old expression. Don’t worry about it.

Let’s take a rest, and see what their next move is.

And so Alice and Yuri retire for the evening. At least, until...

New Music: Sweet Pillows

They asleep?
Looks like it!

Music: Sea - Highnoon Fish

Quietly, now, or Granny Mayor’s gonna kill us!
Nah, she ain’t getting’ a chance, ya little turds.

Alice and Yuri rise off the floor.

Yikes! They’re NOT asleep!
Y-You tricked us!!

And maybe wait more than like 90 seconds before sneaking back in? Maybe the girl can pass out in that time.
But that’s a little quick for most folks to fall asleep, dumbasses.

You’re finally ready to show yourselves for who you really are? Huh? Little goblin brats!
Darn! If we let you get away, everyone’ll get mad and then they’ll eat us up! And if we DON’T let you get away, they’ll know we tried to sneak a taste, so they’ll eat us anyway!
If we’re gonna get eaten no matter what, I at least wanna taste the girl! Lemme have the girl!
Hah! Tough luck, kids! If anyone’s going to eat her, it’s me!

I thought you said you were going to knock that off?
Look, it sounded better in my head, OK?

Ooh, you’re so bad!
We’ll kill you!!

Music: Brain Hopper

And so the twins reveal their true form – Hellcats! Which seem to be barely stronger than a normal human ten year old so the transformation won’t really help them. They’ve only got 45 HP each.

Either of Yuri’s Fusions is enough to completely destroy one of the twins in just a single combo or two. The Hellcats are Light element and since we’ll be sorting them out with physical attacks, Raging Tiger is the better choice since it’s slightly stronger physically and won’t take as much damage from their magical attacks.

Exorcist Arrow are the Hellcat’s only offensive ability. It only does around 8-10 HP worth of damage, but the twins will each do an Exorcist Arrow in succession. Unless we make one of ‘em stop breathing first... Then it becomes significantly harder for ‘em to double up on the damage.

Alice doesn’t have much to do during this fight. She can whoop one of the twins over the head with her bible which might be enough to take ‘em down with Yuri’s next attack. But it’s not a big contribution. She can also heal if the twins decide to exclusively target one of our characters and the damage mounts up, especially on Alice with her still quite low overall HP. But it’s hardly necessary.

Turns out beating the shit out of children is exceedingly easy. Who’d a thunk?

We get a modest reward of EXP for our troubles. Also bosses and mini-bosses count for multiple ticks on the Soul Energy meter. Each Hellcat added +2 Light element. Unlike Malice, any additions to these meters at the end of battles are welcome.

Music: Destruction - Noise of Fangs

He’s not human!!
You’d just get the runs if you ate us, anyway! Got it, fools?
BARF!! <dies>

The two children fade away, indicating they are very permanently dead. That’s not just a demon thing. For some reason in Shadow Hearts, all characters who are actually dead will fade away like a Jedi whether they’re human or demon. That said, I’m glad we got the traditional LP child murder out of the way early on. I swear I’m not doing this on purpose in games I pick to LP!

Alice goes to the door and looks around outside.

Oh? So the whole town’s decided to show their true selves, have they?

The pair head outside.

Welp... This escalated quickly. Tune in next time as Yuri and Alice explore Zhaoyang Village Helltown, China as Shadow Hearts continues!

Video: Episode 6 Highlight Reel
(Worth watching just to see those children’s run cycle and dancing cat spell casting.)