The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

by The Dark Id

Part 30: Episode XXX: Zodiac

Episode XXX: Zodiac

Music: Old Smudged Map ~ Europe

A new location has spawned on the map -- one "Manmariana Island", which seems to be smack in the middle of the northern Adriatic Sea. Now, this map is somewhat inaccurate and stylized. But, just to make it to from Florence to the nearest Podunk coastal town is, if you took a 100% direct route and weren't forced to use, you know, roads and whatnot, is a 109 km trek alone. Just outside of town! You can't miss it! You only need to charter a boat and then travel probably another 50-100 km to a goddamn island is all. Piece of cake!

If you cannot guess a mysterious fictional island in the middle of a body of water with some kind of special McGuffin growing on it is going to turn out to be a dungeon, you haven't been paying attention to how video games function. Before Yuri and the gang steal a boat or however they're making it to this island, let's do a little bit of housekeeping and spend some of those Soul Energy points we've accrued the last couple of boss battles.

Sub note: Maybe shave 60 Soul Energy off that tally. I MIGHT have had to replay the Wales portion of the game prior to Florence and forgot to do the Graveyard trek I did during the LP to obtain the Level 2 Dark Element Fusion. And only noticed it now. Whoops!

Music: Holy Mistletoe ~ Graveyard

There are only two elements left we've yet to upgrade Yuri from weird cheap cosplayer to a proper demonic transformation. The first up is the Water Element. Let's pop 60 Soul Energy into that sucker and...

None of you prepared for how much of an ugly crier Yuri turns out to be.

It could totally cause another great flood. No problem. Yuri is just lacking the MP is all. Yeah, that's the ticket... Beyond that, Mahrae's newfound stats are:
Definitely saving this for when some heavy magic needs to be employed. It ain't a brawler.

Mahrae, through leveling, also can now potentially gain:

Cure Plus: 24 MP. Restores a large port of HP to one ally. This is definitely a support class Fusion so an extra potent heal is nice.
Icicle: 32 MP. Small-area Water elemental attack. You know the drill with these by now.

The final Soul Stone we've yet to charge up properly is the Light Stone. Solely because, outside that Grimlock boss in which Light element was a bad pick, there just... haven't been a whole lot of Dark Elemental enemies to deal with. So we could hold off. But now since we're unlocking 'em all...

Had some overly spicy curry the other day and I felt that too, bro.

Harmonizer Fusions are very gender-fluid, it turns out. I'll take this over that goofy bootleg The Joker cosplayer Radeus. Stat wise, we are getting:
Again, another magic support class Fusion. I'm sure we'll have need of that someday. Probably...

As always, Puera comes with its predecessor's abilities and can now potentially learn:

Raise Up: 24 MP. Restores a small amount of HP and SP to one unconscious ally. Optimally, we don't want to be using something like this. Optimally...
Nova: 32 MP. Medium area Light elemental attack. Again, everyone gets one of these attuned to their Element.

It is worth mentioning that we gain those additional abilities by pumping Soul Energy into the Soul Stones to level them up. I believe that function came up back when the Graveyard was introduced in that game. But we've neglected to actually ever do that in favor of hitting all the thresholds to unlock the Level 2 Fusions first. Going forward, the Soul Energy mechanic is going to be solely for pumping up Fusion levels. There are Level 3 Fusions for Yuri still to come. However, much like in the first Shadow Hearts, unlocking them is tied to special items. Special items of which we're not be seeing cropping up until near the second half of the game. So get used to the current Fusion roster. Other than maybe one story addition (again a decent clip from now) this is it for Fusions going forward until further notice.

In any event, that takes care of our time in the Graveyard. Indeed, that's probably the last we'll see of that joint for a number of chapters. With that done, let's make our way to this Manmariana Island. To explain what the hell this place is, Carla the Fortuneteller is going to give us some exposition apparently delivered AFTER we left her establishment... That's not how that usually works, but OK...

Music: ENDS. Sounds of the ocean play.

East of here, on a small, uninhabited island in the Adriatic Sea....

...there blooms, each month, a flower called the "Adriatic Magnolia." Bring me back that flower!

Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God

Welcome to Manmariana Island home of the infamous Adriatic Magnolia. We can leave here any time via what appears to be a rowboat on the dock. Apparently, the entire party and Lucia (who is also with us) just all piled onto the and rowed for fifty kilometers to this uninhabited island. I really wish they showed that. It's a fun mental image.

Now, about this uninhabited island. You know, this uninhabited island with a dock and steps in good repair leading to a pristine looking massive mansion with full working electricity. Uninhabited. Sure, I buy that...

Well, no sense hanging around here. Let's head upstairs and investigate this mysterious island.

Uninhabited mansion with a fully automated gate that looks like a demon's mouth. This all seems perfectly on the level to me.

A nice little "summer home," huh?
I used to live here when I was a little girl.
So where's this flower, anyway?
Is it clear across this mansion past a bunch of emblem locked doors and puzzles and crap?
Well, it's... Tee hee! I forgot!
Well, there's my answer...

<walks to the very obvious switch on the floor> Maybe it's this way?

Music: Vicious 1915 ~ Battle in Europe

And we're straight into it with the fisticuffs. All mansions are just innately inhabited by at the very least a poltergeist upon their completion. It's just one of those facts of the world. Do not question it. Manmariana Island villa is home to a couple of doll themed creatures for... some reason.

First, we have this moth-doll hybrid going by the name of Katherine. This is a Dark elemental being with a light 57 HP to its name. It attacks via ramming targets with its both err... abdomen? I'm not sure what the proper term for a moth butt. However, getting smacked with one deals around 35-40 HP of damage. If that doesn't work, Katherine can blast its enemies with Dark Ray, which is just a DBZ Kamehameha, for a roundabout the same amount of damage. Much flashier though!

I have no idea and could not find anything relating to the name Katherine and anything to do with moths or dolls to make that name relevant in terms of any folklore derivatives. I guess that's just its given name its moth-doll parents gave it.

The other enemy present in this fight is Domovoi, a creepy doll that runs up to people pulls its head off and then does a forward flip to smack 'em in the face with it. That's it. That's all it does. Beyond that, it is a Light elemental enemy with a middling 63 HP under the hood. This thing would probably get along well with Gepetto's doll.

Unlike the seemly random Katherine, Domovoi has an easy to trace folklore name. Domovoi (or more commonly spelled Domovoy) are Slavic household gods or spirits that watch over the occupants of a home.

Wikipedia on Domovoy posted:

(Click here for more information.)

In the Slavic religious tradition, Domovoy (Russian, literally "Household Lord"; also spelled Domovoi, Domovoj, and known by other, local variations of the same term and by other names) is the household god of a given kin. They are deified progenitors, that is to say the fountainhead ancestors of the kin. According to the Russian folklorist E. G. Kagarov, the Domovoy is a personification of the supreme Rod in the microcosm of kinship. Sometimes he has a female counterpart, Domania, the goddess of the household, though he is most often a single god. The Domovoy expresses himself as a number of other spirits of the household in its different functions.

The term Domovoy comes from the Indo-European root *dom, which is shared by many words in the semantic field of "abode", "domain" in the Indo-European languages (cf. Latin domus, "house"). The Domovoy are believed to protect the well-being of a kin in any of its aspects. They are very protective towards the children and the animals of the house, constantly looking after them. These gods are often represented as fighting with one another, to protect and make grow the welfare of their kin. In such warfare, the Domovoy of the eventual winner family is believed to take possession of the household of the vanquished rivals.

They are believed to share the joys and the sorrows of the family, and to be able to forebode and warn about future events, such as the imminent death of a kindred person, plagues, wars or other calamities which threaten the welfare of the kin. The Domovoy become angry and reveal their demonic aspect if the family is corrupted by bad behavior and language. In this case, the god may even quit and leave the kin unprotected against illness and calamity.

The Domovoy is usually represented as an old, gray-haired man with flashing eyes. He may manifest in the form of animals, such as cats, dogs or bears, but also as the master of the house or a departed ancestor of the given family, sometimes provided with a tail and little horns. In some traditions the Domovoy are symbolized as snakes. Household gods were represented by the Slavs as statuettes, made of clay or stone, which were placed in niches near the house's door, and later on the mantelpieces above the ovens. They were attired in the distinct costume of the tribe to which the kin belonged.
...I mean, it IS defending a mansion so I guess the name fits. And there's nothing saying Domovoi CAN'T manifest as a squat clown puppet.

That all said, pretty much every character in our active party can clown these enemies in a single basic physical attack string. Blanca might have a little bit of difficulty being the only one still hanging out with only a three strike combo. But maybe that'll change in the near future.

Music: Result ~ Victory

Regardless, the enemies in this mansion are kind of a joke to the point that rarely did they even get the chance to attack before being slaughtered on our party's first turns. There is a third enemy type we'll see deeper in the mansion but it's even weaker than Katherines and Domovois (Domovoii?)

Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God

Gee, I wonder...

I wonder indeed. Time to get to exploring this mansion. Look at this place! It has colors! There are purples and golds and... hell even the treasure box is a different vibrant color. I forgot what that was like after three dungeons in a row of subterranean shit-stain brown.

It's a little hard to notice at a glance but just past the foyer is a door leading north and two sets of stairs leading upward to the west and east. Let's stick to the ground level before snooping around the upper reaches of the joint.

Up ahead? But there are three doors!
<looks at the doors and ponders> Let's see... Was it the door on the right? I think it was...
<looks to the left door> But it could be the door on the left... Eenie, meenie, minie...
<turns back to the party> ...I think it's the one in the middle! Tee hee hee!
<ponders> Come to think of it, it could be upstairs too. It has been a while.

I'm really starting to miss the old days when cranky old Chinese men were the most annoying people I had to deal with...
Well, whatever. Let's just try opening them all.
But there's something on the doors. I wonder what those things are?
Oh, that's right! There are frames on the doors for fitting zodiac tiles into. The poems are hints. If we put the zodiac tiles into the frames just right, according to the poems' hints, the doors will open.
What a complicated setup! But of course you know all the answers to the puzzles, right?
<nods and looks at the doors> Oh, of course! Let's see... We put the sign of the shrimp here, and the sign of the turtle over there...
I think the echidna and the bat belong there, and... Hmm... And the kitsune and the hedg—
*ahem* Those zodiac signs don't exist.
...Are you sure you're Carla's best student and this isn't just a prank?
Of course I am her best disciple! I better well be seeing as I'm her only disciple.
...And, there it is.

...Well, there's only one thing to do. We'll have to collect all the zodiac tiles and figure it out ourselves.

And here is the rub of this dungeon. We need to obtain tiles for all twelve zodiac signs scattered across the mansion to open these doors. It always comes back to emblem collection in eerie monster-filled mansions, doesn't it? Anyway, the chest just ahead contains not one but THREE tiles right off the bat! Thankfully, all the tiles come in sets of three and not one in every corner of the dungeon.

Time for our Key Item inventory to get cluttered as all hell. Remember, these games NEVER delete any key items even long after their use has passed.

Covenant has some opinions about the dispositions of each zodiac sign and is going to throw shade at every last one of them after a backhanded positive perk.

Yeah, well fuck you too!

We'll refrain from looking at the puzzles on the doors until we've gathered all the tiles. I'm sure there is speedrunning tech where we only ACTUALLY need two treasure sets of tiles to optimally get through this dungeon. But, we're about ten hours into the game and the record is something insane like 5:58:22. I don't think we're going to hit that WR this run.

Returning to the foyer, we'll now head upstairs to the right and explore the eastern wing of the mansion. If you're wondering, the western wing is currently locked.

So how loaded is Carla from fortunetelling to own a private island with a massive sprawling estate?

Music: Vicious 1915 ~ Battle in Europe

It is (barely) worth mentioning that the third enemy type on Manmariana Island is found in the upper reaches of the manor. This is the Fortune Stick an Earth elemental magic err... stick with 53 HP. It bops people on the head. That is it... It's a magically animated stick, what do you want out of it? It's a limited toolset when you're just a stick.

The original name of this thing was Cube Lot or Casting Lot. It's basically an elaborate stick used for randomly drawing numbers for lottery purposes or Cleromancy (read: divination by err... randomly drawing numbers.) The more you know!

Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God

Back to mansion exploration, a random lamp down the upper corridor contains a new Seal type. We can also use a couple of extra points in strength. This dungeon is actually ideal for popping Seals in a battle for the maximum spread of bonus points since most fights only contain three enemies. As such we can pop a Seal with the first character and then still finish the fight before the enemy even gets a chance to attack. Efficient!

Just opposite the Seal of Strength, there is a small uhh... lounging room, I guess? That chair looks kind of comfy. I could see someone getting blazed and hanging out in here for a while. But more importantly, there's another chest with a trio of Zodiac Tiles.

Libras -- known centrist dirtbags.

ARIES!!! :argh:

Capricorns -- the incels of the zodiac.

Also in this room is another Lottery Ticket cast into a random corner. I feel like we're getting quite a surplus considering we've only seen all of... three Lottery guys total.

But the most important aspect of this room is found hiding in the back corner. If we approach the very back we trigger...

Can't you be a bit more friendly? Last time, you just said your stuff and took off. Let's get to know each other!
You got any hobbies or anything? Or—
Here you are!

Well, alright then. Blanca can have this Attack Boost which also means everyone in the party now has a four-hit physical attack string. Nice.

See, you're doing it again!
You know the rest.
Okay, I'm off. My wife's waiting.
Huh, you're married?! You've got a wife?!

Ring Soul vanishes.

There is more to Ring Soul then meets the eye. He's clearly the most intriguing new character in the game.

We're just about done with the eastern wing of the mansion. All that remains a chamber at the far end of the hall containing a single treasure box. Inside we find...

I want the occupation of "bear driver." Does that require like a Class C license?

That's it for the eastern half of the villa. Now it's just a matter of backtracking to the main foyer and taking the opposite staircase.

Sure enough, the Star Key does indeed unlock the second half of the mansion. Tune in next time for more zodiac sign shade throwing and puzzle-solving. Also, remember it's always good to know your blood type in case of injury or... you know, the unforeseen JRPG puzzle...

Video: Episode 30 Highlight Reel

Manmariana Mansion Concept Art - A dungeon that actually has effort put into its design aesthetics? What the-?!