The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 80: Episode LXXX: Nobody Knocks the Door

Episode LXXX: Nobody Knocks the Door

Music: Atmosphere - Blow Up

We are now officially done with every single bit of side content (within reason) in Shadow Hearts. Nothing remains but tackling the Neameto Float.

Since we had around 700,000 Cash in our war chest going to waste, we may as well splurge a bit ahead of time getting some Acupuncture from Wanderer Meiyuan for our ultimate weapons. At least, the ones for our main Yuri, Alice, Margarete party... And only the Level 1 and 2 Attack Power and Hit Area.

Despite having blown through all the additional content in the game, we are still woefully short on funds to fully upgrade everyone. Meiyuan's prices are insanely unreasonable to even fully upgrade a single character. Just getting Yuri's Nightbird Claw to Level 3 in all three areas would cost 300,000 Cash. Alice would be another 226,200 Cash and Margarete would be another 276,720 bucks for a grand total of 802,920 to fully upgrade all three characters.

Were you a crazy person and wanted to fully upgrade all six characters weapons to maximum it's 273,360 for Zhuzhen, another 291,500 for Keith and finally 244,920 for Halley... Or a grand total of 1,612,700 Cash or a little less than a million more currency than we've accumulated the entire course of the game.

Meiyuan, maybe fuck off forever out of the series after this point, yeah?

The rest of our funds can go toward stocking up on consumables, particularly MP restoring ones. None of this is remotely necessary for the final dungeon. It's a final dungeon in a JRPG. We're have technically meant to have gone straight here and conquered it right after Amon and the Nemeton Underground.

With that said, buckle up because this is the longest dungeon of the game by several magnitudes. The average Shadow Hearts dungeon was like... 10-15 minutes in length and like three screens long. At the far end, you'd maybe have a thirty minute stretch with the Ancient Ruins, Kuihai Tower or Nemeton Underground type actual dungeon type areas.

Music: Nobody Knocks the Door

This one has a run time of two and a half hours from start to credits roll. And that might be with me getting fed up with the random encounter rate and tossing on the accessory that halves it mid-way through.

We briefly encountered this opening foyer with its lovely ornamental beating heart centerpiece. The aesthetic of the Float is... odd, to say the least. A mish-mash of sci-fi, technorganic weirdness and... just kind of Ultimecia's Castle from Final Fantasy VIII too. As I said, it's a long ass dungeon. Regardless of that, up above the heart we've got two stairs up.

Let's head to the northwest first, where we find...

Huh? A dead end? We gotta find some way to remove this seal, eh.
Really wish I remembered how I did that 40 foot leap off that train the one time... Seems like it would save me a lotta headache at this point.

OK. So we need to flip a switch to turn off a forcefield. That seems easy enough. Let's just go the other way. Except, of COURSE, there are random battles in the final dungeon. Why wouldn't there be? Foolishness.

Music: NDE - Near Death Experience

We don't have very interesting enemies on the first floor (ignore the part where there's clearly multiple stairs upward and most of it is on like the third floor) of the Float. These are Enkidu, which are just a gross looking variation of the Shear enemy type. The most annoying thing they can do is steal 50-100 MP from a single character. But they all only possess 250 HP and the gang can easily wax them all in a single round.

Enkidu at least has a touch of mythology behind its name.

Wikipedia on Enkidu posted:

Click here for more.

Enkidu is a central figure in the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was formed from clay and water by Aruru, the goddess of creation, to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance.

In the story, he is a wild man, raised by animals and ignorant of human society until he is bedded by Shamhat. Thereafter a series of interactions with humans and human ways bring him closer to civilization, culminating in a wrestling match with Gilgamesh, king of Uruk. Enkidu embodies the wild or natural world. Though equal to Gilgamesh in strength and bearing, he acts in some ways as an antithesis to the cultured, urban-bred warrior-king. Enkidu then becomes the king's constant companion and deeply beloved friend, accompanying him on adventures until he is stricken with illness and dies.

The deep, tragic loss of Enkidu profoundly inspires in Gilgamesh a quest to escape death by obtaining godly immortality.
Sure, I guess those look like wildmen ignorant of human society. Other than basic farm working. You know, with the scythe and all...

Beyond that, we have Emptiness, which is just a remix of those floating armor ghosts from way back in Keith's castle. These actually the most dangerous things early on solely due to the fact they have HP Lowering as their default attack and that just flat out deletes 66% of the targeted character's HP regardless of defenses.

Lastly, there are Hangmen. It's just a different palette of the upsidedown guys that shoot you. That is... that's all. They've got nothing new going on. They just cast Gun.

Music: Nobody Knocks the Door

Anyway, battles aside if we went this direction earlier, Yuri would have zero comments on this mid-aught first-person shooter corridor. But now that we've seen that force field, this scene will trigger.

OK everyone, let's just look at the ground and walls for a minute. That'll probably help. You'd think that giant tube in the center would be of note but you'd be wrong. After a bit of shuffling around the room, Yuri demands everyone check in.

<head shakes and shrugs>
Damn. Nothing, eh.
Of course we need some kinda science guy for the last stretch. Where are we gonna get one of those?
Wasn't that Roger Bacon guy all about science?
Yeah, but he's gotta work the teleporter.
It appeared he was just running on a treadmill and the rest was automated.
Yeah, well... I don't think he can fight. We can't bring him here.
<frown> ...I haven't fought since Rouen.

<turns and kicks a wall> Damn it all!!

Is there no problem that a punch or a kick will not solve in the Shadow Hearts universe? Very rarely and it's usually because some bullshit is obstructing said punch or kick.

Everyone makes a break for the door. Except...

Huh, what is going on here?

Yuri goes up to touch the clearly bad news electric force field like a dingus.

This is a type of seal… An incredibly powerful kind. Touch it and you’ll be burned to a crisp in the blink of an eye!
<recoils> To a crisp!
Or at the very least, it will zap you strong enough to make you do a full flip across the room. Remember when that was a frequent occurrence?
...Man, I'm glad that stopped happening very often after China. Either way...

<shakes head> That doesn’t sound too good. Why'd this happen?
<shakes head and shrugs while looking at Yuri> ‘Cause this kid was kicking it!
<shakes head> ...

<disappointed head shaking>
Just hold on a second. I'll find a way to break the seal and get you out of there.

OK... So, it's time to pick a new party leader from the remaining four characters. Now, 97% of the way into Shadow Hearts. Also, it's semi-randomized who will be trapped in the force field with Yuri. The playthrough I did prior to this one it was Yuri and Halley. It might just pick randomly from your active party but I'm not even sure about that.

We're just gonna go with Margarete to hold down the fort. Alongside her is the going straight into the endgame with minimal sidequests Halley who is still semi-viable. Keith... exists, I guess. Sorry, Zhuzhen. We are never using you again. You're the Cyan of this group. Literally, everyone can do anything you bring to the table but faster and more effectively. Which is a shame, since you're definitely more of an actual character than Keith, who barely exists in that regard, and Halley, who immediately stopped mattering or even speaking after Koudelka was rescued. But such is the nature of JRPG mechanics and team compositions.

Now, you might think the game is going to pull a Final Fantasy VI where you need to split up the party into different teams to go through multiple parts of the dungeon. And be really annoyed the first time you played it because fucked if you used more than half those characters. The FUCK am I gonna do with Gau in a party? Gimme a break. But, it's not exactly that. Let's go back to that force field from earlier that we the player saw deactivated but our party has no idea Yuri actually helped and didn't just break things like an idiot.

So I guess this is what they call a mixed bag of blessings...

I think I've heard a mixed bag and a mixed blessing but not combined. That seems like trouble honestly.

So right past the force field stairs is this Halo's Covenant ship looking ass corridor. See that big triangle on the wall that just looks like a background thing? What if we check that out.

Well, there's no other way I guess. Here goes. Push!

If you think that bizarre prompt was just Margarete being kind of weirdo... naw. Straight-laced religious girl Alice Elliot will also feel the desire to slap that Duke Nukem Forever wall titty cop a feel on this switch. Which results in...

And I'd have never spent that year in Hokkaido if not for punching that horse.
That's a heck of a story...

Somehow you all did it!
I had faith in... some of them...
You don't have to lie to me.
Yeah... Let's go see if they're trapped in a force field now.
...Oh no.

So we're just playing as Yuri and Alice now. For reference, I got it exactly one random battle with Margarete, Halley, and Keith. And one battle with just Alice and Yuri. If we retrace our steps the whole... three screens it took to flip that switch, then...

Hey, kid! I see you got out.
Thank God. I thought I was stuck!
That'd be a real anti-climax, huh?
A wee bit.

You caused us a lot of trouble, you know. I hope you at least feel sorry.
I know it and I feel bad, okay.
Even though it really feels like all you had to do was go up some stairs and hit a big switch.
Pretty much!
Yeah... my guilt tripped feelings are already waning.

Well at least now we can go forward.
You're either very, very lucky or very, very good.
<laughs> Ya see, you got me to thank after all.
Y'all had me doubting kicking stuff would work. I had like a minor existential crisis over that.

So that gimmick of splitting up the party and perhaps being forced to use a less than optimal configuration? Yeah. That was five minutes long. It never happens again. We just use our preferred party the entire rest of the dungeon. I'm mildly baffled why that segment existed.

Also, that's cute you keep trying to sneak into the party Zhuzhen. Get out!

Back to the dungeon at hand... part one. We have a path to the north and southwest.

Southwest? Force Field #2: Lime Edition. We'll just put a tack on that and remember it for later.

Northern path? A few more sets of stairs before we come to his techno-bone altar platform and something that couldn't look more like a boss encounter if it tried.

We're pretty good with prep for this boss just having the usual stuff and Crucifixes. But we are going to move everyone to the back row for reasons that will become apparent shortly into the fight.

No dialog or fanfare for this beast. Just an exclamation point shooting out of Yuri's head and away we go!

Music: Demon's Gig

Meet Yamaraja: Wind's even more cosmic horror looking distant relative: Soul Block. Don't ask me about that name. It's exactly the same in Japanese and there's no theme going on with the five in total bosses of this dungeon.

It's all late-game Bloodborne ass looking nightmares as bosses here on out. This is honestly the most low-key one of the bunch since you can kind of easily describe it as some malformed dark angel thing with a spiked tentacle for a face. They get way more abstract after this... Looks aside, Soul Box is a Light elemental affinity beast which has 7500 HP we need to burn through in order to reach the next part of Neameto Float. So let's get started.

Our first order of business, and a common thread for bosses going forward is to Fuse Yuri into Seraphic Radiance and use For Everyone, which boosts err... everyone's stats dramatically. Especially, their magic stats are of interest here.

The reason? Much like Yamaraja: Wind this guy is just plain immune to physical attacks.

So we're just going to have to go all in with everyone's best Special Attacks. With For Everyone, all three characters are doing within the ballpark of 500-600 HP of damage per turn. There is one big downside of For Everyone that I didn't mention and it seems a mistake entirely related to mechanics that seem like the same kind of dumb shit Koudelka (the game) had running through its veins. For Everyone boost Agility by +30 across the board. Boosted Agility not only means everyone gains their turn faster in the unseen battle order. It also means the Judgment Wheel spins way faster. So basically everyone has near double-speed Judgment Wheel spins since most characters have Agility in like the 50ish range. Which makes all attacks, especially endgame ones, way harder to successfully pull. That doesn't feel like a mechanic balance thing. That feels like a whoopsie or mechanics are tied to something dumb we didn't think through the thing.

Beyond the Physical strike immunity, Soul Cube is kind of a nothing boss since it has Shockwave, which hits everyone for around 100 HP of damage.

It also has Pulse, which... hits everyone... for around 100 HP of damage. It's just two attack animations that do the same exact thing. I think Pulse might be Light elemental so if we had a Dark Elemental fused Yuri out here then maybe it would hurt more. We do not. So no, it just has two attacks that do the same thing but one is flashier.

It can also slap folks with its noodle head, I suppose. That also does around 100 HP of damage but to a single character this time. It looks gross though, so it has that going for it.

That's kind of all that can be said about Soul Polygon, a boss that is just sort of an early boss with its model rejiggered, a new palette and better stats.

Music: Results

Nothing about the first floor of Neameto Float is putting its first foot forward. But fear not, there's still a lot of it to go. Like an unreasonable lot...

But on the plus side, tune in next time for maybe the best music track in the game as the final dungeon of Shadow Hearts continues!

Video: Soul Block Boss Battle Highlights