Part 128: Episode CXXII: Brought to You by Square SpaceEpisode CXXII: Brought to You by Square Space
Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God
Welp. Let's rip the Band-Aid off the first of SIX endgame dungeons of Shadow Hearts: Covenant. This is a return trip and further spelunking into the depths of the Neam Ruins.
This is Anastasia's character sidequest so she'll be taking the party leader reins from Yuri for the duration of the affair. Kurando is also a mandatory component of the Princess and Company team. They're both a bit underleveled compared to our usual battle buddies. But, it's not too big of a deal really. It's just going to make fights take a little longer. And by fights I mean the boss of the area takes around five minutes longer than it ought to. Anastasia is a good magic user. Kurando is fine for just hitting things well. He mostly got shelved because he joins the party way too damn late in the game and his overall utility beyond hitting stuff is limited due to the lack of Crest Magic. Anyway, we'll bring Joachim along so he doesn't get in trouble for slacking with Anastasia and of course Yuri is coming because... it's Yuri. He's the best character in the game in any situation.
It should be noted that all the endgame dungeons have their own mandatory party leader but this is the only one that has two forced party members. And it's not because Anastasia and Kurando are sharing their character-focused dungeon. Kurando has his own character-specific area later. It's also a terrible dungeon. So look forward to that!
The Neam Ruins are rude for several reasons. The first of which...
We just have to straight-up replay the first four floors of the dungeon, puzzles and all, to make it to the newly unlocked area. We can save some time not bothering to go after treasure since... we already looted it all the first time around and there is no treasure to get. But still, it's annoying to have to repeat content. Especially, since random battles are still active here. They're still the same mid-Disc 1 enemies from the first go around. We could have left Gepetto to nap in his apartment in Paris and if he were to sneeze there it would still obliterate the entire species of any monsters we encounter on these upper levels in a fight.
Eventually, a short jog away from where we fought the Grail Gazer and retrieved the Émigré Manuscript, we find a new red block we can ride to a level below.
And look at this fucking mess of colored blocks and switches goddamn everywhere like a nightmare Minecraft session. Including the ten-minute waste of time getting here, did I mention this dungeon took two and a fucking half hours to complete? This is partially due to the insane density of switches to flip and blocks to ride all over the place and the backtracking, oh the backtracking, to get to other switches and other blocks.
But mostly, it's due to the overwhelming frequency of random battles.
Music: Vicious 1915 ~ Battle in Europe
New creatures of filled the lower reaches of the Neam Ruins. First up we have the Aerolite. This bouncy little bastard is a Wind elemental enemy with 219 HP which is JUST enough health that it can usually tank a magic spell AOE. This is unfortunate because these guys come in hordes of four to six per battle and it sure would be handy to wipe out multiple at a time. Aerolites hit for around the 150 HP range of damage and can inflict Tight Ring in the process. They also have a Wind elemental spell that can deal out around 200 HP of damage to a single target.
An aerolite is a type of meteorite. Don't ask me what that has to do with the squat little brother of the Mass Production Evangelions.
Every single random battle configuration in the lower Neam Ruins also includes this big boy -- Talos. This is the source of what draws out random battle lengths the most in this dungeon so every damn one is at least a three to four-minute affair. Mostly due to the fact it has far too much health for a common enemy wit 880 HP and is of the Light element. You know... the Light element. The element that Kurando, a mandatory party member who is only good at hitting things, is also aligned with. So he does reduced damage against the enemy with the highest pool of health. Thanks, game. It is swell you did that.
Talos just hits like a truck to the tune of 200-300 HP of damage and can cause the Reverse Ring Abnormality. It has a Light elemental spell that I think I only saw one of them cast once. It mostly just lumbers over and punches people. Every random battle here boils down to quickly killing everything else and then everyone focuses on chipping away at the remaining Talos. It's a routine that gets old. Fast. Especially when you have to repeat it eighteen times. I counted. I had eighteen random battles in the lower Neam ruins. This did not count the three or four squash matches in the repeated levels of the dungeon. That would bring the total to twenty-two random battles for one dungeon. And that's following a guide to do this optimally!
I hate this dungeon.
Lastly, and certainly least, there is the Onlooker which are Fire elemental creatures with 210 HP. In the eighteen random battles here I encountered these enemies exactly once. They just cast fire spells and die easily. They are otherwise completely unremarkable. Supposedly they can inflict Fast Ring but again. I saw three of them total and they all died one round after going "what the hell are you" when they managed to appear the solitary time.
Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God
I'm not going to go completely in-depth with every single step of going through this nonsense stream of colored box rides and switch flipping. As just following the critical path is not enough since there are two Key Items we need for other sidequests here. Here, I'll all the steps just to get to the first key item. Assume between every two bullet points there is a random battle:
- Arrive in the new area and ride the nearby purple block.
- Ride the gold block where you arrive.
- Go southeast and ride the purple block. Flip the switch here. Ride the block back down.
- Go north and then east. Ride the purple block.
- Now ride the gold block here.
- Ride another purple block.
- Ride another purple block down.
- Ride another ANOTHER purple block down.
- Ride the red block up.
- Hidden around the corner of this room out of sight find your reward.
All these steps are roughly a quarter of the traversal of this area. And this is just to find a hidden porn mag. These go for a premium nowadays what with most Shanghai smut being obliterated when Seraphic Radiance magic nuked the city.
Hey! Old Roger must've been running away pretty quick to leave this behind!
Wait... what was he doing down here... Ugh. I shouldn't think about that.
What kind of book is it?
I-it's nothing!! You shouldn't look at it, Kurando! You mustn't! It would poison your pure heart! Yuri, quick! Put it away! Just seeing it out of the corner of my eye makes me feel sick!
We'll need to remember to give this back to Roger Bacon the next time we see him. It gets lonely in Wales. Unless you lust for evil. Getting back on track, we're just going to get to the treasure of note. Assume at least twelve actions that included riding blocks and flipping switches were performed between each area of interest.
In any area that requires additional backtracking and switch pulling to form a bridge to a treasure chest (and then retreading all the steps to reset it because it blocks our path to the exit otherwise) we find an Eternal Key. This is the only one of these in the entire game and as it says, it functions like the Third/Fifth/Seventh Keys only it can potentially be used limitlessly as long as we had superhuman reflexes and continuously hit Strike Areas. The Judgment Ring speeds up over time so it's not like it's feasible to do an infinite combo with it. But in theory... you could have Yuri do a five hundred-string combo to punch someone so much their entire bloodline, past and future, feels it.
Much more importantly, in a much less hidden area (it's just an extra block ride down to a lower area while taking the critical path to the exit) we find the Hieroglyphics the ghost of the professor in the Fort of Regret requested. So we can wrap up that sidequest when we get out of this infernal dungeon.
Jump to about forty minutes later and we finally come upon a red block that leads down to the lowest level of the Neam Ruins. We're going to want to equip everyone with accessories that guard against at least some of the more annoying status ailments. Optimally, we should have probably waited until later in our endgame quest marathon to tackle this dungeon as we would have picked up a few accessories from other optional dungeons that would negate all status effects.
But eh, we'll deal. Neam Ruins is tied to the Fort of Regret, the Trading sidequest (or at least one bonus item associated with it), and no less than three ultimate weapons that just so happen to go to three members of our core party for the LP when not forced into a shitty dungeon with two mandatory characters.
I didn't even know this was here. These ruins must be huge.
If there's any more than this, I don't want to see it.
The waves are focusing in the center of the altar. You can feel something creepy coming of them, right?
There's definitely some sort of chaos energy coming out of that emerald.
<nods> Mhm. It'd be terrible if it fell into the wrong hands.
I've got to get a photo of this monster, whatever it is. Otherwise, it'll all just have been a waste of time...
Did we really come down here so you could fill up more of your scrap album?
This is important documentation that can be passed down to future generations to protect Russia from great evils.
...Well, it's not going to protect 'em from boredom.
Yep... Yep, that sure is a dick with an eyeball growing out of it... That sure is exactly what we're all looking at right now in Shadow Hearts: Covenant for the Sony PlayStation 2 home video game entertainment console. Yep.
Look! If you've got something to say, just spit it out!
What's with all the weird pauses? Are you out of breath? Are you reading off a cue card somewhere? Hurry it up!
...? Hehe... I... have... awakened... the power that sleeps... within the earth...
I can't wait around for this, you snail! Just get to the point! What's this sleeping power you're talking about?
I will destroy the world... with the sleeping power...!
Do you really want to destroy the world that badly?
You need to get in line. There have already been at least three guys ahead of you trying to pull this nonsense. It is really getting stale.
Yes. Once the land is ruled by my hand, then...
I thought you said you were going to destroy the world? Now you're going to rule it? Who are you going to rule if you destroy the world? Rocks? You can't have it both ways! Have you even thought about this for more than a minute?
I will rule... all...
Once you rule it, yes? And then what?
Then... I'll have to think about it...
You don't know, do you?! You just come up with this stupid plan to destroy the world and call yourself a monster?! You're ridiculous!
And you LOOK ridiculous. What are you even going for? You've got this big flappy flesh bulb with a tentacle with an eye coming out of it and a big weird bug body with... is that horse legs coming out of your chest? Why the heck are there horse legs coming out of your chest?! That's the stupidest looking thing I've ever seen. What purpose does that even serve. Why are they wiggling around? Can you even control them.
...They are a touch erratic, but...
And you've got this whole greasy goth long haircut and dumb looking puffy shirt with oversized work gloves and that gaudy crown! Ugh! I wouldn't put that thing on one of my dolls. And I can tell you right now that red eye shadow? It does NOT go with your gross purple skin.
I... I have a look I'm trying out.
Oh you're TRYING to look stupid? Well, you're succeeding! And that's not even getting to that giant carpet-looking excuse for a cape. And you have those huge bug wings fluttering? Aren't they just smashing into your cape constantly? How are you even hovering like that? It's going to get really embarrassing for you when one of your wings gets caught up in the fabric and you topple over like a stupid klutz.
That... that has never happened!
I barely even want this thing's picture anymore. My photo album has standards and this is falling far beneath them.
Damn, kid... Harsh.
I'm sorry if honesty is harsh! But everything about this monster mash is stupid! Especially his stupid plan or lack thereof one.
Yep! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
What? Are you going to fight us now because you're mad? Way to be just like every other stupid world-destroyer wannabe!
You will pay for this insult!
Music: Glint of Light ~ Mid Boss in Europe
Time to take on our second optional boss and final obstacle of Neam Ruins -- Orobas. Orobas is a Non-Elemental class enemy with a healthy stock of 7500 HP. This boss is actually fairly tough compared to recent entries in the boss arena. Especially with a somewhat underleveled Kurando and Anastasia, even if they did shoot up several levels by sheer virtue of the density of random battles we faced to get to this point.
One of the tougher parts of Orobas is its unique skill, Euthanasia, which is a Water elemental AOE attack that hits for nearly 300 HP (closer to 200 for Anastasia with her innate Water element resistance) but more harshly it inflicts a medley of status effects all at once. It literally throws the book at everyone and 2-3 will likely stick. This is why we wanted accessories that guarded against the more debilitating statuses. Even then I still had to blow a couple of Daphne Fruit (cures all status ailments) on Kurando and Anastasia to get them back on their feet. Plus cure everyone from the sizable hit. Thankfully, Orobas only uses that attack very infrequently. We just need to limp past that opening blow from it.
While we're here, we can take Orobas' Snap Shot to grant Anastasia the ability to use Euthanasia herself. Which mostly is just a strong Water elemental attack for her as just about any major enemy this late in the game will be immune to status effects. So the whole inflict every status thing is a bit moot.
Orobas also likes to cast Mirage on himself to increase his Evasion rate. I swear these kinds of buffs are just broken for enemies as I spent most of the fight just having Yuri, Kurando and Joachim just beating the shit out of Orobas with physical blows. Hell, I blew a Fifth Key on Yuri in the middle of a Combo right after he cast Mirage just to speed the fight up and we're sitting on five of 'em while approaching the end of the game. That was twenty-five hits in a row and zero misses occurred.
Orobas also has Astaroth old trick of the Hail Crest AOE which lowers Evasion which... again, the amount of times attacks have missed or been dodged I can probably count on one hand.
The Neam Ruins' big boss' normal attacks are fairly damaging but it also can employ Dying. This is just its normal attack string but it reduces the target's health to a single HP. That needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Beyond that... it's a Shadow Hearts boss. Buff. Keep your health up. Always be doing Combos. Same shit, different
Music: Result ~ Victory
Remember how I said we'd have an accessory that negates status effects? This is one of those accessories! The Crucifix is a returning accessory from the previous game. It only gives +5 Special Defense but more important it has immunity to all Status Effects AND Ring Abnormalities. It's quite good! There are four total in the game and this is the first of 'em
Level Ups for everyone! Even the people that haven't been used since Battleship Mikasa.
Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God
I hope that taught you a lesson! If you turn over a new leaf and work for me, I'll spare your life.
Otherwise, the full wrath of the Russian Empire will be upon you!
Ahem! Spare me, what?
S-spare me, please?!
Fine. If you promise to behave yourself, I'll take you out of here and show you there's a great big world out there.
Hey, this thing is NOT joining our party.
Hush! I am still speaking!
I'm giving you a chance to forget your stupid plan, and come up with a new one.
One that DOESN'T involve destroy, ruling, or otherwise stupid worldwide ambitions.
So? Don't I deserve some thanks?
I'm your servant now...
And by servant, he means he'll transform into the Orobas Magic Crest. Oh hey, we get our own Hail Crest to use finally. That actually could come in handy. Aqua Resist less so since most major endgame bosses going forward are Non-Elemental class and will just kind of throw out whatever attack they element they damn well please.
Anastasia marches out of the dungeon.
I'm starting to think we should have just let Nicolai take over the Russian throne if that gremlin even has a slight potential to take over someday...
A scary thought.
<walks up to Kurando> You'll probably have a lot to put up with, Kurando.
Huh? Well, um...
It's going to be tough to have her carry around your balls in her purse. But be strong, Kurando. Be strong...
And with that, we can get the hell out of the Neam Ruins (we are thankfully teleported to the exit immediately) and never, EVER return there for any reason. Two and a half hours... Fuck. Me.
Anyhow, while Anastasia said to return to Roger Bacon's house, there isn't actually a reason to do so. He'd just be neat, thanks for sorting that out. EXCEPT, we did pick up that Shanghai Heaven porno rag. If you'll recall in the first game, we stole a similar Erotic Magazine from the wizard Dehuai to later trade to Roger Bacon for err... status augmenting panties for Alice. Guess what we're going to go do now...
Huh?! W-what's this?!
You dropped it.
We found it. A glowing ray of hope in that dark, evil place...
Y-you brought it back for me?
Yuri turns around and looks to the sky.
Music: ALICE (Piano Arrangement)
It was like I lost a part of myself when it was gone...
...I know how you feel.
That gnawing emptiness in your soul.
...So you'd better keep it safe.
Nothing will fill that hole in your heart once it is gone...
Yuri turns back to Roger.
I really wanna thank you! Here, have these!
And so we once again we gain magical panties from Roger Bacon. Let's not ask why he has a stock of women's underwear imbued with magical power. As the description suggests, this halves all physical damage and gives a generous +10 Physical Defense on top of it. In the previous game, only Alice could equip this. This time around, all female characters (Karin, Lucia, Anastasia and Gepetto's Cornelia) can do so. Karin will be equipping these as she is our female character mainstay. I can easily tell you that they do actually change Karin's underwear color since Karin is physically incapable of not flashing you if she does any animation ever in battle. 2B flashed me less and she was regularly double-jumping.
Oh by the way Anastasia was just off-screen watching our protagonist trade a Chinese porn mag for a pair of panties. Most RPGs reserve endgame character quests to expand their background or give them a key moment to shine or resolve issues of the past. Shadow Hearts: Covenant says those RPGs all cowards and is just mostly here to shitpost.
And I can respect that.
For the rest of the LP, I had done Library entries at the end of chapters. But... roughly a quarter to nearly a third of the game's entire Library entries are sequestered to the endgame portion of optional content. And considering we're frequently going to be doing entire new dungeons, we'll just do Library cap-offs at the end of 'em to make things more manageable. Otherwise, I'd have to do an entire Library update and... I don't want to do that. So here we go!
They're second cousins, twice removed artificial constructs.
And then smashed through several hundred feet of Welsh cursed earth to end up in a bad dungeon. Along with a hundred others of its race. Wales, man...
It saw it was going to be punched until it exploded and accepted the inevitable fate.
Hephaestus, you're a dick. I'm glad Kratos murdered the shit out of you.
Lord of Warps. Warp pipes, warp zones, wrong warps. He's got it all on a lockdown, baby. And it drives me crazy.
Orobas Concept Art - Mhmm... Mhmm... I like what you're doing here. But I am gonna need to have a penis on it. It's essential.