The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

by The Dark Id

Part 132: Episode CXXVI: The Doll House - Eastern Branch

Episode CXXVI: The Doll House - Eastern Branch

We are returning to the dungeon well today since... hell, we still have three optional dungeons to go. Today's adventure takes us back to the mean streets of Yokohama for perhaps the final time. And remembering Yokohama has multiple streets since it really is laid out unclearly. The one street that seems like it would lead somewhere due to the camera emphasis just exits the map and the one that looks like a dead-end is the second half of the town. I definitely didn't get confused about where the hell the plot trigger for this next bit was located...

Music: Rising Sun ~ Japanese Town

It's actually probably more confusing because you begin Yokohama in the eastern half of the city starting from that inn where Ishimura was staying early in Disc 1. But the game, upon return visits, starts you in the western half of town which... kind of had nothing going on and you just ran through it once. Whatever. The point is, there's now this man in a blue suit loitering outside the inn and we want to speak to him. Again, do not ask me how one is meant to figure out this trigger on their own without mindlessly going through the entire game and talking to every single NPC in hopes of new dialogue or a newly spawned copy and pasted NPC from the pool of about a dozen models to cast new insight.

Buy the guide, jackass! The RPG mantra of the day.

What? You mean Cornelia?
Cornelia, huh...? Oh, sorry. It's just that she looks just like a doll I saw a long time ago...
A doll that looks like Cornelia? Why don't you tell me more about it?
All right. It was nearly thirty years ago... A French doll maker moved into that mansion up ahead. The dolls he made were exquisite! I remember thinking as a child that they looked alive.
Thirty years ago? French? Could it be...? ...And does he still live there?
No, nobody's seen him for a long time now.
I'd reckon about 30 years, hence the modifier on the statement's timeframe.
I hear he lost his only daughter to an accident just before he disappeared. I don't know if he went off somewhere with his broken heart, or whether he just died alone in his mansion.
Is the mansion haunted or cursed?
Absolutely! Heckin' cursed and haunted to boot!

His daughter, huh...? I see...
The mansion's been left just as it was. If you're interested, you could go and check it out.

Returning to the Japan world map, we now gain the Doll House as a new location just to the south of Yokohama. As may recall, a Doll House location was a spooky mansion optional dungeon in the endgame of Shadow Hearts 1 which was Alice's exclusive area. That one was, of course, back in Europe as the back half of the game was entirely contained there. But it seems Japan has its own Doll House dungeon variant. This tradition continues into the third game as well. The developers just really like haunted mansions that heavily involve creepy-ass old dolls and murdered children surrounding local residencies of evil.

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

This is one of those strange Shadow Hearts dungeons that have a ton of effort locked off in an easy-to-miss, completely out-of-the-way optional area. It reminds me a lot of Kowloon Walled City in that it's very survival horror-esque in its trappings and is nearly entirely unique assets. Which is a breath of fresh air after the last two optional dungeons were the laziest asset flips that weren't just another goddamn cave in a game that’s weakest foot forward is definitely its dungeon design.

Gepetto, you really seem interested in that doll maker. Do you think you know him or something?
What do you think all doll makers and puppeteers know one another?
Uhh... no. Not really?
Well, they do! It's a part of the trade.
Oh... huh... OK?

Well... Look, sorry, but could you leave this one to me? It won't take long, I promise.
Oh, yeah. Sure.
Sorry, but I think I'd better take over here.

And so we need to form the Puppeteer Party which has Gepetto as a mandatory member. Gepetto is lagging the furthest behind on levels of anyone, even somehow slightly behind Lucia despite the fact I immediately dumped her after... the incident.

But, unlike Anastasia and Kurando's lackluster level situation, that's barely a problem for this dungeon since it is breezy in length and combat is barely an issue. It's like they knew nobody is probably going to use Gepetto... We'll be taking Yuri, Karin, and Joachim for this trek. We kind of need to maintain Joachim being up to snuff with his leveling. He might have some fighting to do in the future...

There is a door in the back of the first floor but entering it now would be a waste of our time. Like literally, it would just be Gepetto declaring he doesn't know the hell to do yet and they should investigate elsewhere if we looked at anything back there. So instead, we are going to head upstairs to actually unlock the ability to progress in the dungeon.

Pay no mind to the incredibly unnerving, cobweb and dust-covered faded paints out of nightmare lining the decaying walls of the mansion. That's fine! It's fine. The guy who did the cover illustrations of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark just vacationed in Japan one summer in the early 1900s. Instead, we should worry more about...

Music: Deep in Coma ~ Battle in Japan

...The giant monster cockroach infestation of the Doll House. The only random battle encounter in the Doll House are Bailey, which is a really huge cock-up localization of "Buggy." Somehow, Shadow Hearts 1 got that right. It's bizarre how much better translated the sequel is overall except for the few times it most definitely is not.

This just in, Bailey are buggers of the Dark element with 210 HP and usually come in fairly large swarms of 6-8. But they like to bunch up in clusters allowing for easy AOE magic disposal in short order. A task even the under-leveled Gepetto could, in theory, perform. If he wasn't so damn slow and the rest of the party can usually sort it out beforehand. If we fail to do so, the Bailey abilities including smashing their face into folks for rather paltry damage. Or far more taxingly, performing Nightmare which swarms in an ergh... well, swarm of fellow monster roaches to drop a targeted character's health to 1 HP. Anastasia can learn to summon a nightmarish swarm of demonic roaches by taking a Snapshot of them if you're so inclined. I personally do not feel comfortable giving that ability to that gremlin princess.

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

Beyond that, we're going to be running around this mansion quite a bit doing perhaps more puzzle-solving elements than the flipping switches and riding moving platforms and hundred and twenty times of Neam Ruins or... just running circuits down lengthy samey corridors that Tiffauges Castle entailed. Or the combination of the two Immortal Mountain blessed us with... It's a good thing Gepetto packed a magic lantern somewhere in his coat. Perhaps he borrowed it from Karin now that she's done with the Fort of Regret's basement levels.

In any case, there are two rooms on the second floor of the Doll House. We are going to ignore the first one and go to the one at the end of the hall to find the plot trigger to begin progression in this mansion.

Who laid out this mansion? Who puts couches and other furniture at that kind of angles? It's like your dead grandpa's fucked up bed placement at the beginning of Stardew Valley up in here. This place was destined to be cursed. By the way, mentioning the earlier amount of detail this place gets? All those boarded-up windows have animated wind knocking around the crudely nailed in boards and they've not repeated windows either. A bizarre amount of craft put into this place after the copypasta hellholes the last few bonus dungeon sessions have put forward.

On the table in the back of the room, one particular book, among the 17 other toppled tomes of near-identical look and size, catches Gepetto's eye and he deduces it as the diary of the mysterious doll maker of the Doll House. We need to read this to get anything done in today's dungeon plundering. So let's invade some privacy!

> July 17 <

No matter what I do, this emptiness
inside still tortures me. I know what
I'm attempting is foolish and a waste of
time, yet I keep trying...

...Trying to make a doll to take my
daughter's place... with her sparkling
eyes, her lips, her porcelain skin...

> July 20 <

There's a mountain of ugly failures all
around me. Vacant stares, lifeless lips,
cracked skin... As I look up at them, I
feel once again my limitations as
a doll maker...

> July 24 <

My teacher once told me about a crest
that holds the power of a demon. That
crest is here in my hand now. Where in
the world did I get it? These past few
days are nothing but a blank...

But that's not what's important right
now. If what my teacher told me is true,
my salvation is near. I can use the
power of this crest to resurrect my
daughter's soul...!

> July 25 <

There's been a change. Some of my
failures have developed wills of their
own and started talking! This is the
crest's power! I can feel my spirits
lifting. I named the talking dolls.

Rebecca, always all alone. Illeana, who
tells nothing but lies. Gina, who loves
to trick people. Well-behaved Barbara.
Quiet Diane. Tina and Emma, who get
along so well with each other.

My hope has turned to conviction. My
daughter will be reborn! All I need now
is a vessel for her soul...

> July 30 <

The doll is ready... my masterpiece. A
lovely doll, with features just like my
daughter's. I'll finish the process in
the cellar. I've put a code lock on the
door to keep out intrusions.

At last I can be with my daughter again!

So you know him? This doll maker?
If it is who I think it is.
All us doll makers know each other. We're a tight brotherhood of like-minded individuals.
Weird and I don't want to know more.

But it said something about a code...?
Do you want to go down into the cellar?
Huh? Did somebody say something?
I know the code. I can tell you if you want...
That doll is talking! Just like it said in the diary!
Ugh. Didn't I do this once already...?
Not this adventure. This is like saving the world journey round four for me in two games. Some things are starting to repeat.
Do you want help or not?!

Yes, please, Miss. Could you tell us the code?
I'll tell you the code if you say my name.
Your name?
Ever since Papa's been gone, nobody ever says my name. It's such a pretty name too...

We do want to talk to the doll behind the desk here. However, first, we can investigate behind the askew couch to the left of the room to find another of Anastasia's Silver Angels. Remember, getting all of those (five in total) and returning them to Edgar is another seldom mentioned sidequest on the docket. Mostly because they just all kind of fall into our hands by doing other sidequests and there's no going out of our way to obtain most of them other than being diligent exploring.

Anyway, let's talk to this clearly on the level animated porcelain doll sitting in front of a painting of the offspring of a sickly vampire and a Redead from The Legend of Zelda. As you do.

This doll's name is...

We are given a list of the names mentioned in the diary. If you don't want to scroll through that diary, the gist was:
Spoilers: All the rooms we passed earlier contain multiple dolls within them except this one. Which only contains the one doll. This means this is Rebecca.

However, we are going to intentionally botch the name here which pisses off the doll in question and throws us into a battle.

Music: Deep in Coma ~ Battle in Japan

Now while I said Bailey were the only random battle encounters in the Doll House, angering the dolls will have us face a unique enemy -- Torso. These are Wind elemental animated dolls of the sinister intent variety with 225 HP. Despite coming in groups of six, they're all easy dispatched with any higher-end AOE magic attack. They only do around 100 HP of damage if they do get the chance to attack.

The reason we initiated this encounter on purpose is that these are one of the only permanently missable enemies in the game. They're only accessible via the dolls and once a doll is given its proper name it cannot be angered. So we could have a permanent empty slot in our Library entries and we simply cannot have that! The lost lore would be devastating.

In any event, now that our bestiary is updated we're free to give the naming thing another shot and will correctly select Rebecca this time.

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

...I'm sorry. I don't know the whole code. The first letter is "B." That's all I know. But the other girls know the rest. They all want you to say their names too. If you do, I think they'll tell you.
All right. Thank you, Rebecca.
Say, Mister. Your marionette has the smell of blood... She must've taken many lives...
She used to before we got a full party of adventurers and suddenly my arcane puppetry wasn't good enough for battlin'. Phooey.
...I see. If you have your marionette do the killing, you don't have to get your own hands dirty...
The perfect crime. Devious.
I'd never do something like that... <strokes beard and ponders doing something like that>

The dead child's soul leaves the doll. That's one down.

We now return to the previous hallway and enter the door we skipped on the way to the Rebecca Chambers. This leads to another dilapidated, clutter-filled bedroom. It's worth noting a third Crucifix can be looted from just south of the entrance to this room. It's not like a bunch of overgrown roaches and dolls with dead children souls for stuffing are going to need it. That aside, this room three dolls located within it. The first one is on the far side of the room straight across from the entrance.

This doll is concerned for others. Tina and Emma come as a pair, so it's neither of them. It's chatty so it's not Diane. It could be tricking us or lying. But, this seems like well-behaved behavior so let's go with Barbara.

So to thank you, let me tell you. The third letter is "I." ...To tell the truth, I'm jealous of Emma. At least she can cry. I can't even shed tears. Papa said he was going to use them on a new girl, and so he took out my eyes. Now I can't see, and I can't cry.
But I can die. I am going to go with that now. Barf!
So, let's see. She said the third letter was "I," huh?

There are two dolls in the northwest corner of the room. We already know the crying doll is Emma. This doll is not crying. This doll is silent. Which would lead one to believe it's Diane, the quiet one. However, remember there's Gina that loves to trick people and Diane was mentioned as quiet which is different from completely mute. So, let's go with Gina. I see through your ruse. And I already demonstrated the Torso so I don't want another unnecessary fight!

Guess I have to tell you. The seventh and final letter is "T." Say, Mister. Do you know why I pretend to be other girls? Because a doll is nothing but a substitute for somebody else, anyway. Even your own marionette is a substitute for somebody you love, isn't she?

Dolls are starting to get all philosophical up in here. Moving on, we've already had it confirmed this is Emma. So that's an easy one.

*sniffle* Papa is dead. He made us, then he went away and left us all alone! But I have to go on living and crying like this for hundreds of years...
Hundreds of years? But he only made you around 30 years ago...
Time is hard to tell when you're a doll, alright?! Don't be mean!

We can now leave the second floor behind us and return downstairs to the first door we originally skipped. Which leads to the final chamber full of dolls. "Doll" is starting to stop sounding like a real word. Putting that aside, the first doll is just to the side of the room's entryway.

Then you should watch out. See those two there? One of them tells nothing but lies.

OK, we know that one of the dolls has to be the wayward Tina and the other has to be the quiet one, Diane. We still have Illeana who is full of shit. And who else would more appropriate of claiming someone of being a liar than a liar themselves. Projection is a powerful drug.

The fourth letter of the cellar code is "D." That isn't a lie, so relax. Fooled by a mere doll. You must be pretty mad at yourself!
But, you didn't fool me at all...
We dolls aren't the human's servants, you know. We get sad. We get mad sometimes too. And we might even curse and kill our owners too if we feel like it!

Very edgy. The next doll is on a shelf in the back of the room and this is all it has to say. That seems fairly quiet to me. So this must be Diane.

Talking dolls are spooky, aren't they? People know dolls can't talk. That's why they like having them around.
Ventriloquists are an affront to god.

Diane over there never talks to me. It's so boring!

By order of elimination and the fact she likes talking to other people, thus likely has a missing friend, we know that this one is Tina.

Now I'll tell you the code. The sixth letter is "E." Don't forget, now! ...Phew. I'm tired. Dolls have to be so nice and friendly to humans all the time, or they just get rid of us...

We now have all the letters of the secret code to the doll maker's cellar and wouldn't you know it, there is a sinister-ass-looking door in the back of this very room that has an input device for some kind of code. We must manually input all the letters. I hope your memory isn't complete rubbish. But if it is...

The code is B-R-I-D-G-E-T. Good thing the mysterious doll maker never mentioned his departed daughter he was mourning to the point of dabbling in demonic arts by name in that journal. Else this whole code business scattered between the talking dolls would have been moot.

What are you all gloomy about? You're not taking what these dolls said to heart, are you?
Huh? ...No. No, of course not...
It's not like you crafted your creepy little puppet girl after someone you've lost. If that were the case, it would be super weird you dress it up in fetish costumes and have it kill things for you.
<coughs> Yes... that would be... unusual. Let's get going.
...You didn't do that, did you? That thing isn't supposed to be your dead daughter or anything, right?
<walks away> Watch your step, it's dark down here.

Tune in next time as we descend into the dark depths of the Doll House and discover the masterpiece doll. Doll doll doll. I can say with utmost certainty there is no way it will be tremendously evil, try to manipulate Gepetto in any way related to his past or result in any kind of boss fight. When has that ever happened before in a video game?

Preposterous! Utter madness. Unheard of!

Gepetto Concept Art - It was still the 1800s when Gepetto last stood up straight.

Gepetto Head Concept Art - Cursed images of Gepetto without glasses or a hat.