The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 43: Episode XLIII: Face/Off

Episode XLIII: Face/Off

New Music: SSC - Special Short Cuts
(This is the Berserk version of the Europe random battle music. It doesn't actually play here but eh... When is going to be a more appropriate time to hear it?)

Here we go. The final battle against Ghost Dad Fox Face. Unlike our original encounter, where it was impossible to beat him, or any of the potential Malice encounters, where the best we could do is drive him away temporarily, our subconscious nemesis actually has a solid pool of HP this go around. 555 HP, to be exact. It's time for Yuri to get to work punching the shit out of his dad.

Our first order of business is the old classic play of Fusing into Inferno and immediately buffing that with Fighting Spirit. I've certainly missed having access to Yuri's nuclear option these past few chapters.

Fox Face will immediately try to deter Fusion by hitting Yuri with an attack that saps 20 SP. I could see that being problematic at lower levels but... Yuri's packing 48 SP and it only takes 16 to perform a Fusion. I'm fairly certain we'll be done with this fight within the 14 turns worth of Sanity remaining.

From here, it just devolves into a brawl with the two Hyuga boys punching and kicking each other in the teeth repeatedly. Fox Face is only dishing out around the ballpark of 50 HP of damage while Yuri has a solid NO FUCK YOU DAD comeback worth around 140 HP of damage in return. This is not going in Fox Face's favor.

Which means Fox Face needs to resort to dirty tricks. Such as that the flashy "!!!" move which reduces Yuri's health to a single hit point.

This is a real fight. If Yuri goes down it is Game Over and there hasn't been a save point since before we fought crazy Yuri back in the real world. Dying here would be less than optimal. So after Fox Face performs !!! we need to drop everything and IMMEDIATELY shove some leaves into Yuri's gob to get his HP back up to a reasonable level. Not like we have a healer in the immediate vicinity who is sitting this one out for no reason other than dramatic effect.

From there, it just kind of goes back to the two slugging it out.

...It does not go in Fox Face's favor.

Music: Results

Fox Face drops a big old bucket of experience and Cash in Yuri's lap. Does dream money that manifests itself in reality count as counterfeit currency? The dubious legality of that aside, Yuri doesn't particularly need the extra bump of experience here. We'll come to find Yuri has jumped up to Level 28 since Shanghai while the rest of the party is still around Level 26. I guess half-ass absorbing a dark god did him a little good in the long run.

More bafflingly, Yuri also grabs a sweet pair of brass knuckles he can take from his subconscious back to the real world and use it starting punching folks...

Music: Tanjou

Oh no... Standing in a dark void with spotlights? Yuri! Turn back! That's the Narration Zone™! There's still some budget for the game left! Get the hell out of there!

Fox Face stands up and turns to Yuri.

We really messed up Ben's hair in that beat down, huh? That mop almost looks like...

Yuri, you've got to get a haircut. I'm not even sure how you manage to have cowlicks with their own cowlicks.

It's always the worst when you drop a seemingly expensive mask only to realize it's actually some cheap polygonal knock-off.

RIP Fox Face. He lived as he died. In Yuri's head.

Yuri escapes from the Narration Zone™ thankfully unscathed by its dreaded effects. The sun has risen on the hill. PCSX2 bloody HATES whatever weird filter they're running on that sunset and runs the scene at like 20 FPS.

Long time, no see.
I think... I've kinda lost track of time with... Err... Well, you saw all that...
*nods* Yes.
Wasn’t that stupid of me?
<nods> Yeah.
<shakes head and turns away> Hmph!! I’m sorry. Making you come for me in this place.
<shakes head> Not at all. I wanted to see you.
Ergh... So... How DID you get in here, anyway? I never really understood this place. I thought it was in my mind or my soul or... somethin' like that. So... You being here kinda put some holes in those theories.
I have no idea. I just woke up here.
...Was kind of hoping there was a more concrete reason like you cast some spell or did a ritual. Now that's worrying if just any bozo can pop up here.

Not that YOU are a bozo or anything! I'm just saying... I don't need like that creepy Meiyuan guy suddenly rummaging around in my soul or anything. Gotta put a lock on the gate or something...

Yuri decides to blind himself by walking to the edge of the hill and gazing into the sun going supernova sunset.

I thought to myself, if I can control him, I could save Shanghai!
Or her... It did have big boobs... I'm not sure.
But reality bit me in the butt. Its consciousness flowed into mine, and I could feel myself losing it… I… I didn’t know what to do… I was scared. Very scared.
I felt myself like... shrinking into a corncob.
A corncob...?
Which is weird because I've never even eaten corn before.

That’s why you wanted to die?
Because I’d much rather die than go on living with a dead soul. I didn’t even have the will to fight. When I called out for help, that damn Fox Face showed up. For the longest time, I thought the God of Death was my Dad… But it was a manifestation of my weakness.
You'd think I'd lose the notion my dad was an unstoppable God of Death after finding what an idiot that Dehuai guy that took him out was...
<walks up to Yuri> I was never scared of this graveyard or that fox. That fox is half of your soul… A very important half.

Yeah. Let’s travel together again.
<nods> Yeah.
Let's also NEVER speak of any of this to the others.
...So. how do we get out of here?
<shrug> Sometimes you can go out the front gate. Other times it just kind of fades to white... Ah... Yeah, here we go! Just like thi—

Music: Coffin Fetish

And you say she faints like this all the time..?
Yeah, don't worry about it. The kid just does that every so often.
...I feel like that is most assuredly something to worry about.
Meh. It's fine.


Alice!! Are you all right?!

Alice and Yuri pull themselves to their feet.

What in the world happened?!
Well, I ended up—
<death glare>
I'm not really sure.

Yuri steps forward. Zhuzhen immediately snaps into a fighting stance.

Yuri?! Is it really the honest-to-goodness Yuri?
Yes, Zhuzhen. It really is Yuri.
<shakes head and waves dismissal> Now, why are you taking that tone with me? You know I never was honest-to-goodness to begin with. You old adept-at-nothing Adept!
I'm a likable scoundrel or puckish rogue at best.

Zhuzhen relaxes his stance and walks up to Yuri.

Choke… sob… you gigantic knucklehead, you…
Ah, c’mon. Don’t go crying on me now, pops! Now, c’mon! Stop it! You’ll dry yourself out if you cry like that!
Aw, stuff it! Don’t you know I’ve been worried sick over what kind of trouble you might be in?! That’s why I came looking for you, you ungrateful son-of-a-bitch!! It just chokes me up! Can I help it if the tears come easy in my old age!?
Hahah! Well, as you can see, I’m chipper as a graveyard butterfly!
That's not even a real saying.
Well, it is now! Point is I'm perfectly fine.
Perfectly fine!? You smell like a bag of trash that has been left out in the summer sun all season.
Eh...? I don't smell anything.
<frown> You're a little pungent, Yuri.
I'll need to burn incense for a month to get this room back to form.
OK. So maybe I could use a shower and a dry cleaner. But other than that...

There’s nothing to worry about anymore. You can retire from all this, pops. Leave the rest to us.
Aren’t you funny! I have no intention of retiring as long as I live!! And who’d want a booger-picking kid like you to look after them, anyway?!
Aww, c'mon. You know me better than that. I'd put you in an old folks home.
I'll finish what I started whipping your butt before you put me in a home, kid.

<turns to Alice> My goodness, it’s hard to know whether these two are bosom buddies or sworn enemies… Which is it?
<laughs> Oh, I guess you could say both.

Soul overridden by a dark god. You know how it is...
Haha, not at all. Besides, it was your intense burst of energy which finally roused me from my sleep. And with the world changed so much in the 200 years I was asleep, I think I’m in a traveling mood.
Ergh... 200 years...?
He's a vampire.
Don't worry, Yuri. He's really nice.
O... kay...?

Which reminds me. You all seem to be on some sort of special journey yourselves.
Well, kind of…
The journey was mostly just finding Yuri again. Everything else since then got kind of shelved.
I'm glad you all found me so quickly and slapped some sense into me. It would have sucked to have been stuck like that for much longer.
Don't mention it.
How long has it been, anyway? I kinda lost track of time. What like a week or two?
...Yuri, it's been six months.

You did what I asked you to do, so I guess you’re finished here. But you have piqued my interest. If you don’t mind, can I join you in your travels? I promise not to get in the way.
We appreciate your interest, but… the enemies we are fighting are no ordinary monsters. We can’t possibly guarantee your safety. Listen. You’ll have a lot more fun if you travel with that widow and her daughter from the village.
I feel as though you have forgotten to recall that I am an ageless 400-year-old vampire.
Yeah, but frankly we've been slumming in the minor leagues with the stuff like that ridiculous mayor's curse.
That what now?
Don't worry about it!

Oh, no, I certainly don’t expect any guarantees! I’m just insufferably tired of all the empty hours. I just want to be freed from this endless tedium of nothing to do.
In that case, why don’t you just… Er…
Welcome aboard Keith!
If you've been a traveling companion of these two, you're probably OK.
I met them earlier this evening.
...Eh, good enough.

So, where are we headed?
Let’s head back to Prague, Zhuzhen. Margarete might be there by now.
Good idea! We can plan our next move when we get there!
Yeah... Prague!
...Where the heck is Prague?
I hope you're ready to do some walking, kid.

Yeah! This is getting exciting again! Come on, then. No sense in letting the grass grow under our feet!

Keith and Zhuzhen leave.

He’s happy. He kept me going for the last six months. Oh. I almost forgot. This is for you!

Alice walks up to Yuri and hands him...

I found it in Kuihai Tower.
Or... at least under the rubble where Kuihai Tower was...

Let’s go!
Um, yeah.

In one of the bigger dick moves in the game, an item sparkles where Yuri was sitting earlier. We don't have the chance to collect it here because we're immediately booted out of the castle as soon as this chapter ends.

We're now allowed to reform our party. As you can see, Yuri has managed to outpace the rest of the party by a couple levels (and will never again be on par with everyone since he's permanently in the party from here on out) despite sitting out the last handful of chapters. We're allowed to reform our party now. Alice is pretty much going to always have a spot since we do need a healer most of the time. The third slot might rotate a bit. But Zhuzhen? Zhuzhen is pretty much done on the active party unless absolutely necessary. He's the slowest party member in the game and his entire second half of the game spells just eat through too much MP to make him particularly useful. But Shadow Hearts is one of those games where usually all party members participate in important story cutscenes even if they're not in the active party. So at least it's not like he'll completely vanish from the relevance.

Sometime later...

What’s wrong?
Look! It was red, but now… It really IS a blue castle!
Farewell, dear castle. Farewell, my ancestors. Do not begrudge me a little bit of time to travel. And if I don’t return, may you vanish again into the mists of time until a new master arrives.
Guys... where the HELL are we...?
My home -- the Blue Castle.
No like... where is that!?
...Where the heck is Romania?
We're in Europe, Yuri.

We're now given back control. Yuri has once more taken over as the lead character. So long Alice and her flailing girly run. We could just leave now to end this chapter of the game. But...

Remember that shiny back at the top of the Blue Castle tower? Yeah... We should probably go back and get that now.

This does mean we need to once again take the climb ALL the way up those stairs... It's identical to last time but we won't have to stop every few floors for some loot. We'll naturally just jump past that for the LP. But there are a couple things I want to point out as far as Yuri goes in battle post-Fox Face.

Music: NDE - Near Death Experience

Previously, when Yuri would use Fusion he'd grab his head, stumble around and scream before transforming into his monster form. Now he just confidently waves his hand and instantly turns into his Fusion without any fuss.

Yuri's post-battle victory while using Fusion also had him regain his human form with left him stumbling and nearly falling over when he was done with the Fusion. Now he's just back to normal like it is nothing. It's the same animations known badass Ben Hyuga had during that flashback. It's a nice touch to show that Yuri has gotten over some shit. It's also worth mentioning that Yuri no longer accumulates Malice from battles. So that's a nice bonus too!

Music: Coffin Fetish

Anyway, ten minutes of climbing stairs later and we can return to Yuri's old squatting pad and retrieve that wayward item we left behind in a cutscene. What was worth all of that effort, you ask?

The Dark Gravestone! What's that? Well, it's only one of the items necessary to unlock Yuri's Level 3 Fusions. In addition to his new animations, Yuri previously had a cap on Fusions limited to what we saw in the China section of the game. Now, once an Element is leveled up with enough Soul Energy, Yuri can unlock a Level 2 version of the Fusion in question, which is just a flat upgrade from the original form. In order to get a Level 3 (aka the top tier) Fusion of an element, we need a Gravestone like this one in addition to leveling up the Soul Energy element in question rank to Level 3. Most of the Gravestones are obscure endgame JRPG shit you ought to be accustomed to in these sorts of games and we won't have access to a lot of 'em until the actual endgame. But this one is just a tedious freebie so we may as well claim it while we're here.

The shittiest part about getting the Dark Gravestone? There's no skipping back outdoors when we're done. We now how to turn around and march ALL the way back downstairs again. Yeah, I didn't need this half hour of my life for anything better.

At least, if nothing, we're getting a whole lot of Soul Energy to claim those newly available Level 2 Fusions. Heck, the Dark element managed to reach Level Max by sheer virtue of fighting 90 of those Dead Knights in random battles traversing those damn stairs three times now. The game hadn't been telling us up until now (the post-battle screen Soul Energy screen straight up gone for the duration of Yuri's absence) but we'd actually been accumulating Soul Energy the entire time it had been just Alice, Zhuzhen and later Keith. So that's nice. We'll be cashing in heavily in the Graveyard to upgrade all of Yuri's Fusions (other than that slacker ass Water) in the next chapter.

For now, we bid Blue Castle adieu and with it this chapter. Tune in next time for Yuri and the gang's new adventures in Chapter 14: The Witch of Prague. Villains really need to stop announcing their intentions to ambush folks in the between chapters save screen titles...

A lot went down that chapter but nearly none of it filled out entries in the Library. The only thing we added was...


Enemies are everywhere!

Video: Episode 43 Highlight Reel
(You should watch this.)