The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 68: Episode LXVIII: The Dollhouse

Episode LXVIII: The Dollhouse

Music: Atmosphere - Blow Up

We continue our trek east and squashing the sidequests in our path. Today's journey takes us back to the humble city of Prague where the second half of the game kicked off.

For this session, Alice is a prerequisite part of the party. The third member doesn't matter, but we'll be bringing Margarete along because we may need to do some fightin' at some point.

Music: City

As we all know, the only place anything is going down in 1914 Austro-Hungarian Empire is at the two table dive bar on the edge of town. Let's roll into Gismot's joint to see if anything new is going down since last time we strolled by the tavern.

Have you tried talking to that guy there? He's new in town, and he just mumbles to himself all the time.
Is that unusual? I mean everyone else I walk past just kinda blurts out their thoughts without prompting already.
Gives me the creeps.
Yeah, same.
Yeah? I heard the man right there ran away from his own home.
To specify... which man are we talking about?
The one that hasn't been sitting at that table by the door for six months.
Ah. Gotcha.

He said he saw some ghosts. Does that make you want to exorcise again?
...That was never my gig. More of a punching spirits sorta guy.
Is there a difference?
I rarely get paid...

So we need to speak with the new guy hanging out in the bar to actually trigger this sidequest. There is a really lax policy of tolerating patrons in this bar when a mumbling creep standing dead center in the middle of the bar looking at a wall and talking to himself is just quietly accepted.

<turns to Yuri> Wha?! You're an exorcist?! If so, please help!!
Yeah... I'm not actually, err...
Just a little ways from here, there's a house cursed by a terrible poltergeist!!
Where the heck is Alice...? This is her kinda de—
Can you suppress the spirit? I'll do anything! I have lots of money!

Well, we have no real reason to do this and clearly more pressing issues to attend to here. Like, I don't know, the end of the world later this week. But sure, let's do a ghost hunting exercise for some spending money to help some random, possibly mentally ill, guy in a bar.

Music: Atmosphere - Blow Up

Now, I'm fairly certain that the Runaway Ewan fella said the poltergeist haunted house was, and I quote, "a little ways from here." A new location has opened up on the world map: The Dollhouse. Which seems to be a bit northwest of Warsaw, Poland some... 600 km away. I do feel that would qualify as being a wee bit further than "a little ways from here" but maybe casual measurement of relative distance go by different terms in Eastern Europe. We're actually going to go check this one out next. Unlike Cave Temple and Ancient Ruins, which are just full stop bonus dungeons with high end enemies/bosses/loot, Dollhouse is a full blown fleshed out sidequest area.

Before we hike over to Poland to bust some ghosts, we're going to take the precaution of equipping the party with our two Crucifixes and the short straw getting a Zodiac and Cosmic Bracelets to ward off potential spectral threats. Or obnoxious enemies that spam status effects. One of the two...

Again, Alice is mandatory for this segment of the game. Runaway Ewan won't appear unless Alice is in the party, even if she doesn't interact with him in any way. Likewise, we need to have Alice along for this entire next area for... reasons. This side quest is sort of like a companion piece to Kowloon Fortress from the Asia half of the game in that it feels like an area that got cut from the main plot but they already put the work into making assets and didn't want to actually cut it. So it's just sort of awkwardly stuck in a place where it feels really weird to have a somewhat lengthy sidequest subplot. I have no actual concrete information to confirm anything about this, but this sidequest extremely feels like it was meant to be part of Alice and Zhuzhen's Spirit Detective Agency adventures alluded to at the beginning of Europe but just got relegated to an endgame sidequest with everything's stats inflated to compensate.

Music: Someone's Table

What is it?
<turns to Yuri> It’s cold. Be careful. There’s an aura of bitterness all around the house.

So Alice is now suddenly the party leader again if you needed more of a suggestion that this whole sequence was supposed to be from the beginning of Europe. I could see why you'd get rid of it because doing this and Bistritz's nonsense where the plot is completely stalled out and Yuri is AWOL back-to-back would be a wee bit much pacing wise. On the other hand, this isn't exactly a super long dungeon. It's like a 40-minute affair tops, random battles and bosses included.

Anyway, enough speculation. Let's get to it! There is a locked storeroom just to the left of the entrance. Like nearly every dungeon in Shadow Hearts, this area is heavy on the backtracking and combing the same set of rooms several times over. So naturally, we'll need to return here with a key later. Let's just keep in mind we've found a locked door right off the bat and head on in.

Wow! What a err... no, this is actually just a moderately sized house for once. I guess Jack's Murder Orphanage filled that niche but even that was honestly just an unreasonably large foyer connecting to a three bedroom house with no indoor plumbing. That place was just fronting as a mansion. Oh well, there is a point of interest downstairs just to the left of the entrance.

The Crank for winding the clock is on the floor.

OK. We've got a crank taken from a nine-foot tall grandfather clock. I'm sure that'll serve us well in busting a ghost.

There's only a single door on the first floor and it opens into a rather poorly repaired den of some sorts. Where do people even sit in this place? It's all tables and zero chairs.

One Lottery Ticket though. Not that we need any more Lottery Tickets considering there's only one member of the guild left. But there's no sense in skipping any this far into the collection.

The only other point of note in the room is this fireplace that clearly has some manner of wheel or crank in it but it's simply too dim in this room for Alice to take note of it at present. But you know, there's also something else staring at Alice in here...

Music: NDE - Near Death Experience

Random battles! Also, that stuffed antelope head either has a Resident Evil jewel puzzle or it is possessed by evil spirits. It could certainly go either way in this series. There's only three enemy types and they only attack in two different mob configurations.

These Water elemental zombie boys are Ghouls. Nothing special there. The reason we equipped everyone with accessories that warded off the fact that all of these Ghouls' strikes cause a randomized Status Abnormality. Ghouls show up in every random battle in the Dollhouse so that can get old quickly. I don't think I need to go into the mythology of what a ghoul entails. Though fun fact: Ghouls (al-ghuûl) originated from pre-Islam Arabian religions. They were still just flesh eating zombies that hung out in graveyards.

Ghouls sometimes come with these squat zombie snails known as err... Ghoulers. They're Ghouls but more so, I guess? You'd think it would be the other way around given how pint-sized these little guys are, but what do I know? Ghoulers are Fire elemental and have slightly more health (300 versus the Ghoul's 250 HP.) These guys also just do nothing but inflict Status Abnormality strikes. Why rejigger enemies you cut from an early part of the game when you can just slap status effect infliction on their attacks, boost some digits damage wise and call it a day?

The third and final potential match-up for a random battle in the dollhouse is a piss yellow miasma of skull ghosts called err... OK... Wait, that is can't be right? Is this right? Alright, if you say so Shadow Hearts. This Wind elemental skull ghost is named... Spanky. I don't know of any occult lore behind that and it's not a translation flub. Its Japanese name was also Spanky (OK technically Supankī.) Well, Spanky spams a shockingly strong Lightning attack that does 200-250 HP of a damage a cast and... that's it. These should probably be targeted first since the Status Effect Ghoul Bros are only doing around 20-50 HP of a damage a pop.

That's all there is for random battles. But since we're finally getting into some fighting in an end game sidequest, we may as well go over a completely unexplained mechanic regarding Level 3 Fusions and unlocking their ultimate attack. Amon technically counts as a Level 3 Non-Elemental Fusion even if there isn't a Level 1 or Level 2 version to build up to that point.

Music: SSC - Special Short Cuts

You know how the entire game we've been avoiding having characters go into Berserk status? There's even a stat in the Score screen that will begin to admonish the player and lower their rank if their sanity wavers too often. Well... what if we ignored that and just let Yuri go Berserk with one his high end Fusions. Amon in particular already drains 56 of Yuri's total 62 Sanity on Fusion. I also equipped Yuri with the Small Jug (raises a bunch of stats while doubling SP loss per turn) to hurry the process so it isn't the entire party going Berserk before Yuri. Anyway, if Amon falls to Berserk Status, then...

He'll automatically cast The End which is Yuri's equivalent of the Atomic Dust attack that Albert Simon Amon used back during his boss battle. Needless to say, a random battle trash mob doesn't hold up well to a demonic nuclear blast.

And now the Amon Fusion can use The End at any point it wants for a cost of a hefty 100 MP. Though the first hit is free! That's all there is to it! Just go Berserk once while using a Level 3 Fusion.

Unfortunately, we need to go do that for each and everyone one of Yuri's Level 3 Fusions individually. Not a big fan of stopping everything to perform a gimmick, especially with Fusions we are unlikely to ever use again outside showing it off the one time. But you all don't need to worry about that.

Our Light Elemental Fusion, Sandalphon, gains Pulse -- an orbital cannon strike that hits all enemies for Light Elemental damage. It costs 72 MP a cast. Which, when you get right down to it, is downright cheap for calling in a satellite beam strike.

Meanwhile, Czernobog our most powerful Dark Elemental Fusion gains Revelation the very first Special Attack we ever saw in Shadow Hearts back when imposter Roger Bacon kicked Yuri's ass back on top of the Trans-Siberian Express. This does a load of Dark Elemental damage to all enemies as well as has a chance of causing Instant Death to enemies susceptible to that sorta thing (i.e. everyone in this poor trash mob we were fighting when Yuri unlocked it.) This too costs 72 MP per cast.

Music: Someone's Table

That's about all that is to be said about random battles and Fusions while in the Dollhouse. For now, at least... The collection of Wind, Water and Fire elemental enemies present in this area is just what we need Soul Energy wise to unlock the last three lingering Level 3 Fusions. So maybe some grinding is in order after we're done with the initial proceedings.

There's nothing else of note in this chair lacking living room. Let's continue to the back of the house where we find...

You can see a small key at the bottom of the fountain...

That calls for an actually kind of tough Push Ring. That Hit Area is a near full 360 revolution on the ring and it's really easy to mash too hard and overshoot it since there is more momentum to the button mashing moving the cursor than you'd think.

That nets us a very direct answer to where the game wants us to go next. And yes, item description narrator. A key left at the bottom of a grimy fountain likely qualifies as something "not well looked after."

Hey, we found all the wayward chairs from the living room. Shockingly, this store room is just a storeroom and not some arcane murder dungeon or haunted hell font. In here, we also find...

You started the generator using the crank for the clock!

Well, at least now we have some light in this haunted mansion. That's a start. Perhaps something back in the main house has been illuminated. Like, say, a dark fireplace, for instance. But we'll investigate that in a minute. Let's thoroughly investigate the storeroom first, eh?

Do I even want to know what is sitting in those top shelf tin cans? Murky mason jars? It's hard to say but I don't want nothin' to do with it. Now this bucket by these rusty tools? That's another story.

I'm going to need to get used to that Breaker arm system from Devil May Cry V. This, though? Ah, it's just another weird consumable we'll never use. This one expands all the Hit Areas on the Judgment Ring so it's impossible to miss. But, do we really want to waste a turn on something like that?

In any event, the storeroom has a ladder connects to a wine cellar. I dunno, I'd probably give some haunted wine a sampling. What's the worst that's going to happen? I'm gonna have haunted piss later that evening? Pfft. There is a point of interest at the bottom of the area on what is either a decaying table or a warped steel drum.

There is a small slide plate next to them.

OK? But... can't you just hold it up to the light and see what's on it, Alice? You just activated the power. You're standing RIGHT BENEATH an overhead light! C'mon...

Well, let's see if there's a projector somewhere around here. Maybe in this back room of the wine cellar?

Naw... That's just an underground bunker sealing a forbidden evil experiment. Or an Umbrella BOW laboratory. They don't HAVE to be in full-blown mansions, you know.

Water trickles down in droplets. It seems that the weight of a huge amount of water is holding it shut.

Well, there's certainly no projector down the drowned doom hatch, now is there? Let's return to the main house and see what's upstairs, eh?

Aha! There's a projector! In this... library? This house consists of a foyer, a den with a backyard fountain, a library, a storeroom with a wine cellar and a forbidden basement. No bedrooms. No bathrooms. No kitchen. Does this even qualify as an actual house or is it just a poorly designed community center? Meh... Anyway, before we fiddle with that projector for reasons only known to Alice and her lack of understanding of how film slides work, there's a desk on the far side of the room with a journal.

Ewan took a picture of Laura and
Lillith to celebrate the anniversary
of their first meeting!
Lillith kindly spoke to me. Perhaps
this will ease my loneliness somewhat.
Nice meeting you, Lillith!

Yeah, I know Alice. Who spells Lilith with two "L"s? Well, enough of that. About that projector...

Merry Christmas, Laura and Lillith!
December 24.

OK. December 24th. Christmas Eve! Just the festive time of year for a 12 year old to take a sledgehammer to the face, ya know? Let's just keep that date in mind and return to the first floor of the building no humans actually dwelt in.

Now that a lamp has been turned on by the restored generator, Alice can detect the gigantic wheel inside the fireplace. That'd make the thing a wee bit difficult to use for its proper function. But then if you'll take a closer look, you can see the fireplace itself doesn't have a base. It's just the wooden floor down there. This is the worst fireplace I've ever seen. Is there even a chimney? I wouldn't be surprised if it just rose to a bricked off section of the wall.

This fireplace wants some digits out of us and since literally every puzzle in the game involving digits has just been transcribing a date we learned only minutes earlier, obviously the passcode is December 24th or 1224.

Note: The player does not get to actually hear the sound of water draining. Just Alice.

But we have been somewhere that water has played a factor earlier. Back we go to the forbidden dungeon hatch in the basement. Let's just slide that sucker open and...

Oh, so there is a bedroom in this house. It's just in the sub-basement of the storeroom. Silly me. So umm... I suppose we should get to investigating this edgy child's haunted ass room. It looks surprisingly dry for having apparently been submerged in water just no more than five minutes earlier. Those crayon doodles and blood painted walls were shockingly water proof. Also that rocking horse is just rocking on its own. Must be a draft.

(It felt like the doll turned around and smiled!)

Well... you're looking right at it, Alice. Did it ACTUALLY turn around and smile? And if so, would that actually be so unusual? You've been battling a horde of zombies and ghosts for the last fifteen minutes alongside your regularly transforming into a monster semi-boyfriend. A haunted doll should be a small fry.

I cannot believe Winnie the Pooh is fucking dead. I'm just glad some hero finally did that insufferable garbage tier Disney character in already. It's about damn time.

Alice, I'm squinting really hard and while I can clearly see several instances of the word "Help" the word "me" is entirely absent from that wall. Do we need to get you glasses, Ms. Elliot? This quest is throwing your visual competence into question.

What a remarkably fancy bed except for all the parts that seem like they were retrieved from a dumpster.

Alice, we the player can see the doll and it has not moved nor smiled. This is turning into a Sci-Fi Channel ghost hunters level of crap. Are you going to walk around the room and claim to feel a chill coming from a particular spot next? Perhaps mark out over some unusual cluster of dust that strikes the camera lighting in a peculiar manner?

The most important thing to be found in this creepy child's room is a third Crucifix hidden next to the bed. Now all three active characters can stop worrying about status abnormalities. Not a bad haul. Welp. Beyond that it doesn't seem like anything is worth mentioning in this room haunting wise. Let's just head for the exit. However...

<turns around and looks around> Wh-who's there?!
Ahha ha ha... Over here. Don't see me?

Alice steps forward toward the rocking horse.

Heehee! Don't be so scared. You're my new friend, right? In place of Lillith?
Part-time exorcist, actually. Well, I was... It's a long story.
C'mon. Let's play!
Is Lillith the girl on the slide?
...So that means, you're Laura?!
Yes. Lillith died. Ewan only comes home once in a while.
He has been away for some time now.
He's in a bar in Prague.
...That would explain it.

Come on, play with me!

Yeah, OK. How difficult can it be to defeat a haunted do—

AWW CHRIST!! Of all the enemies to bring back from Koudelka, why'd it have to be the dead fetus orb!?

Video: Episode 68 Highlight Reel
(Watch if you want to see some trash mobs get completely overkill deleted.)

Czernobog Render - That's not how you punch. You're gonna hurt your wrist doing that!