Part 106: Episode C: Purgatory
Episode C: Purgatory
Music: Grey Memories ~ Map of Japan
We now have access to The Bacon Jet and can freely return to the Europe map at any time from this point forward. The plot will not actually take us back to Europe for a very long time and even then it's just a day trip. The Disc 2 European adventures are almost entirely the realm of side quests. Most of them of the ongoing sort, but there are a few bonus dungeons and what have you.
The thing is... do you remember how in the previous game entering the final dungeon for the first time was the unlock flag for most endgame content? Yeah... Shadow Hearts: Covenant doesn't quite do that. I learned this the hard way by wasting an hour doing a quest that involved running across several earlier maps and doing a timed arithmetic test, that Shadow Hearts 2 will let us initiate several endgame side quests almost to completion. Except, the final step, you know, the reward phase, is absolutely locked off until we hit the final dungeon. I'm jumping between three different FAQs and an official guide I found scans of and they all sequester side quests to their own segments and NONE of them mentioned you can do 98% of a quest and have it completely stall out. There is one that is all just talking to people across the Europe map and having long flashbacks and you catch up to the person involving the quest and they... just lock the door, pretend to be the character's mom saying they're not there and tell you to get lost until the endgame.
So we're just mainlining the main quest and only hitting side quest stuff as it presents itself along the main path (see: the trading quest.)
It's been a time since we've looked at our stats. It didn't help I had to take a couple of extended hiatuses because my body is falling apart at the seams. We're now Rank 60 and equivalent to a giant cat. I'll take it...
I refuse to ever do a shortcut and will forget once more that is even a mechanic after I scroll to the next screenshot.
Ouka, Hien, Raiden, and Nicolai are just destined to sit unused at the bottom of this screen for the rest of the game.
Hmm... Can you tell who my preferred party members are...?
Enough of that. We now have a new location on the Japan World Map of the Forest of Wind. Which is an area we'll have to shuffle through in order to reach Katsuragi. Katsuragi is an actual set of mountains along the Osaka prefecture. The game doesn't specify which Katsuragi we're heading toward as there is an Izumi, Minami, Naka, and Yamato Mount Kitsuragi. But... I suppose it doesn't really matter when the last major event was fighting a mad scientist in a flying mecha contraption in 1917 and we're riding in a Welsh jet made by a 400-year-old philosopher.
Music: Field of God-Dog ~ Village of The Dog God
<looks around> This is... just like the place from before.
It's missing a bench and a strange English gentleman but it's otherwise uncanny.
<smiles> Yeah. It's from my earliest memories as a child. It's exactly the same...
There wasn't supposed to be a bench with a ghost British warlock. That was a Yuri's weird headspace dimension exclusive.
I would hope so.
What are you two talking about?
Huh? Oh, it's nothing.
Wow! What a beautiful mountain!
Mount Katsuragi. It's considered a holy mountain.
A holy mountain?
Legends say that a god lives here.
Given what I have gathered from recent events, I would prefer not to fight the god. But...
Is someone waiting for us?
I think so.
The old man said they'd have a character portrait. So they're probably important. Or... it's another wolf bout for Blanca. They're giving them out fairly generously in this adventure.
Blanca's keen wolf ears hear an ominous bell ringing in the distance and stops to sniff the air.
<looks ahead and growls>
What is it, Blanca?!
Grrr... (Be careful. Something's strange...)
Awroo... Grr... (I need to figure out how to write with paws so these dumb people understand me...)
<stops in place and raises an arm to halt Anastasia>
<looks around> Was that a bell?
Everyone looks around with concern.
Didja feel that? The wind stopped...!
It's the Forest of Wind, isn't it? That... probably shouldn't happen, right?
It should not. Ever.
The area starts shaking.
Gepetto is abruptly sucked into the ground.
The rest of the party is also sucked into the earth beneath their feet. None of them appear to enjoy the event.
Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon
Oh, you thought you were going to get a scenic forest dungeon? Well, think again! We're doing the Japanese set version of the Silent Hill otherworld zone again. Which, I'll fucking take. It's not industrial corridors or a sewer or a cave.
<looks around> Didn't we do this one already?
The last one was brightly lit, misty, and had a haunted forest flavoring to it. This one is far darker and full of fire and brimstone.
But doesn't that seem backward to you? Wouldn't the dungeon in the graveyard be the one that is some fiery hell area and the one in the forest be... the forest one?
You've got me, kid. I'm not the one conjuring pocket dimensions.
We're not up to our ears in creepy dolls, so that checks out.
Careful! This place seems even more evil than the last!
Welcome to Purgatory. Not to be confused with the Otherworld. Completely separate locations. They don't even have good diplomatic relations with each other. And a hockey rivalry. So who is up for (faint drumroll) a gimmick dungeon?
Coming back is terrifying! Do you know the way to escape this purgatory? Fools who pass under the same gate time and time again are trapped here forever! Uh ha ha haaa!
Is it a puzzle to do with these candles on the table next to you?
Uh ha ha haaaa! I have no clue what you're talking about! Uh ha ha haaaa!
...That's a yes.
A powerful and fearful evil is emanating from the gate...
AKA the end of the dungeon and a boss fight. We need to unseal this path to reach the end of the dungeon. Now, if we look at the altar next to the jerkass child statue spirit, we find...
A configuration of candles on an inverted triangle. We may need to light all of these candles via arcane means. Or perhaps, doing a much optimized specific circuit run through the dungeon. More on that in a minute, is that some French merchants I spy in the hell zone again?
Why do so many roads in Japan lead to these weird places?! Oh, well, not to worry. Wherever there are customers... Now, then, what will it be?
The twins have yet to update their stock since the Imperial Capital so there is no need to shop at the moment.
Anyway, about this dungeon. So you can see there are two spokes at the start here and several ominous glowing red stars in the distance. Perhaps the northern part of this dungeon is shaped like an inverted triangle. And all of those stars represent candles on the altar from earlier. The gimmick of this dungeon is we have to hit all these stars in one circuit. And botching that will reset the puzzle and dump us back at the beginning of the dungeon to get it right. Kind of like how things were in the Otherworld but a bit more involved. So let's look at that candle thing again and plot a route.
I'm sure there are a few ways to do this. But this was efficient and got the job done. But that is, of course, not the only job to be done in a dungeon.
Music: Deep in Coma ~ Battle in Japan
Purgatory has a very small spread of enemies in it and a strangely low encounter rate. The entire crisscrossing the map I got into maybe five random battles. After the Hojo Labs were about two dozen fights just essentially walking in a straight line... I am perfectly OK with a low encounter rate. First up we have this chungus frog demon called a Towd. I do not know why they spelled it weird. Its Japanese name is just Toad. This is fittingly an Earth Elemental creature with the most robust health pool of regional hell enemies with 724 HP. It likes to throw rocks at people. It can cause the Fast Ring status effect while throwing rocks. That is... kind of it. It's just a big stupid red frog that throws rocks.
Next up we have the premium skin version of the Otherworld's Gaki -- the Enku. This little is a Wind elemental creature with a very easily defeated in a single turn 165 HP. It enjoys physical attacks that inflict randomized Ring Abnormalities and farting wind at humans. It should be the priority target in any fight because, like many smaller weak enemies, it loves setting up Combos.
Enku is a slight mistranslation of Enkō which is a specific fire-breathing mountain-based kappa (the dumbass Japanese frog demons that are in everything) that told one of Buddha's cousins to do some Guy Fieri ass charity work and feed some strangers or you'll turn into a demon at the end of the week. And they... just did a barbeque and invited over anyone passing by for some ribs or some shit. And Enkō was just kind of, word. Good stuff. And they were good. I have a fondness for a demon that's deal is just going up to people and yelling: "Hey make some fucking burgers and feed some random folk or I'll curse you!"
Finally, we have Yomi Samurai. They're just zombie samurai. They're Dark elemental, what with being zombies and all. And have a middling 302 HP. And they... are zombie samurai. They slash and stab people with their swords. That is... also just it. Zombie samurai. Make another fucking Onimusha, Capcom. You cowards! Nioh isn't the same. I want it to be stupid. I want Jean Reno.
Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon
Back to the dungeon. Oh, right, I already 100% explained how this goes. There are several chests along the path and not one of them is worth talking about. It's once again all consumables and Ring Hit Area goes up 1% crap. So we run the circuit around the unholy triangle and...
Yeah, we're good to go!
We have no need of much in the way of prep beyond making sure everyone is good to defend against magic attacks and can go all-in on physical attacks because the boss fight coming is fairly obvious and tactics haven't altered that much in dealing with the foe.
Garan teleports in at the foot of the Purgatory shrine.
I've been waiting for you. This is the entrance to heeeeeeeell!
Uh-oh! It's Baby Head!
You wiggling worms. Have you enjoyed my little tour of hell?
Actually, you're a lousy guide!
Have you not learned that I'm not a foe to be trifled with?
We kicked your ass and you flew away on your magic flying Baby Head Pillow, Baby Head.
I don't know. Looking at him in this lighting his head looks kind of like an egg. You know, a painted Easter egg, right...?
Yeah, I can kind of see that. But we can't call him Egg Head. That's a name for nerds and he's a nerd but... not THAT kind of nerd. That scientist jerk was an egghead.
I guess you're right. But what about like... Egg Baby Head?
Now that just gave me the mental image of Baby Head hatching fully formed out of an egg of unusual size and I don't like those images in my head.
Ghastly mental clouds!
I just think that's the coolest! Floating around like that!
I wonder how he does that?
You think there is a little hover motor underneath the cushion we can't see?
Like a fan of sorts pushing him up?
I totally want one.
<gestures evilly> Laugh while you can, my little ones! Soon you'll be shedding tears of pain! Haha!
It must be the pillow he's sitting on! I'm sure of it!
It has to be the true source of the Baby Head power!
You think so?
Everyone looks back at Garan.
This is the last chance to plead for your lives! Anything you wish to say before you meet your deaths? Well?
<smiles> That pillow... where can I get one?
Is there an outlet around here? Or do I have to go back to the real world? I can travel. I have an airship.
<quakes in anger> I will...
Tune in next time as we battle Garan for a second time and he continues to be the least respected mid-boss I've ever seen in a JRPG. Lenny was treated like a world-ending threat compared to this jobber.
Video: Episode 100 Highlight Reel (You should watch this for Garan the Baby Head disrespect.)
Garan the Oracle Concept Art - It is a nice pillow.