The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

by The Dark Id

Part 33: Episode XXXIII: A Typical Bad-Guy Headquarters

Episode XXXIII: A Typical Bad-Guy Headquarters

Music: Old Smudged Map ~ Europe

I can't help but notice Carla once again didn't actually provide us with directions to our next location. But regardless, the Sapientes Gladio Italian Branch HQ has popped up north of Florence. I now have to wonder how many Sapientes Gladio field branches there are out there? Is there an SG Manchuria Branch HQ? Sapientes Gladio Texas? How far does it go?

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

It's a rather unassuming entrance to the secret society's headquarters. Given what bumblelords we've been dealing with thus far, I was sort of hoping there would just be a big neon sign saying "Sapientes Gladio Headquarters ~ Italian Branch" above the entrance with an office operating hours sign in the window and a Claw Soldier clerk at the front desk. Alas...

Inside it is just another lavish mansion whose entry room's only notable quality is a ridiculously large jar on a table. Look at the size of that thing! It doesn't even look like that little table should be able to support that thing's weight. Yuri could climb in there and hide if he really wanted to... Well, there is that jar and also a chest hidden behind the top-rightmost pillar.

Pixies are such pieces of shit. Maybe once in a while, you'll get a passable fairy. But NEVER will a decent pixie cross your path. Horrid creatures all of 'em.

Yuri instantly senses something is afoot as soon as he walks into any mansion-esque building. The thing is, thus far he's always been right about something being off and sinister. Let's take a look around to see if we can shake out what hidden secrets await.

But first, let's prioritize looting this chest tucked behind the grand piano. It has one of the most useful early game crests around.

Uvall provides Arc Cure aka the first Full Party Heal. We're just about getting to the point in the adventure where enemies start upping their game and healing up multiple characters per round may start becoming necessary. We'll stick this on Lucia since well... Lucia ain't exactly going to be contributing much on the offensive front in her main party tenure.

Looks pretty depressing, this book...
I bet that vampire weirdo from the old party would have liked it. What was his name...? Kevin?

I knew it would be gloomy. Play the piano so late and you'll wake the neighbors! La la la at twelve, huh...?

There are several books scattered around this room. They may all have a common thread connecting them.

A hat trick with the one you love?! What a stupid book. Kick off is at six, huh...?
What does that even MEAN?! And who starts a passionate night of love at like six o'clock? The sun is still up. Sheesh.

Hey! It was just getting good! Where's the rest of it?! Damn missing pages! *sigh* The hand reached nine, huh...?

I'm glad some developer managed to sneak a picture of their dog into this dungeon.

I knew this book smelled... A fart should come around three, huh...?

Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a very educational game. Proper farting etiquette aside, you may have noticed all of these books had a time mentioned in them. And wouldn't you know it, there's a suspicious-looking stopped clock in the back of the room with very conspicuous unaligned textures behind it made even more obvious by running the game at 4X the usual internal resolution. :v:

It's pretty easy to deduce which of four given times is the correct one to proceed. It might be the one involving a dead end in a trap-filled house. Just a hunch. But, what if we enter the other times. Such as the 3:00 from the "It's a Gas! All About Farts!" novelization.

Good lord! Sapientes Gladio is weaponizing poo gas! They're even more insidious than we thought.

Alright. What about "Love Hat Trick! Nighttime is the Right Time" and its suggestion to start bumping uglies 6:00 PM and never stopping?

Well, at least Yuri got some inspiration out of the deal. He'll get over Alice one day.

What about "Recital for One" and its 12:00 piano concert? Yuri assumed it was a midnight practice but for all we know, the author was just a shut-in that did his piano business at noon and bothered everyone having their lunch instead.

Yuri cannot abide poor piano playing. He'd hate Rebecca Chambers.

OK. Let's stop mucking about and 9:00 time from "A Spy Dies at Night III". You would think after the first two spies got aced at night the third one would try for a daylight operation.

9:00 does prove to get us some progress in the form of the grandfather clock and the floor beneath it spiriting Yuri up to the second floor of the manor. It's got to be a tight fit for Lenny to ever use this thing. Or any of the Claw Soldiers in full armor, for that matter. You know at least one of them has gotten stuck before.

It was either gonna be that or a secret passage would open up behind the clock. I'm OK with avoiding a basement for once.

This hallway seems a bit off. There is just a dead-end fork not far from the clock elevator. It's a touch suspicious.

At the far end of the hallway is another dead end leading to the south. Speaking of suspicious... this strange portrait of a man in a silly hat looks out of place as the only furnishing in the hall. I like the way his head is tilted, it's like the hat is too heavy for his head.

Sadly, we don't see Lenny or someone poking their eyes through to spy on Yuri as he walks away like some Scooby Doo shit. Instead...

Look, a grandfather clock elevator is one thing but having a hidden passage painting as well? That's just opulent.

This seems to be some elaborate communication room or... something. It's rather unclear what all these gizmos do and Yuri isn't particularly inclined to investigate on his own other than looking for a switch to get into other hidden areas.

Hey! I think something happened.

Such a switch just happens to be a random open panel on the left. That works. If Yuri checks the panel a second time it's now asking for a password. Guess we'll need to track that down somewhere.

There's also a doohickey with a missing component. Password and machinery doodad retrieval? Got it. I suppose we should start by checking out that newly opened passage except, well...

You know the drill by this point.

Music: Vicious 1915 ~ Battle in Europe

Claw Commanders are naturally occupying the Sapientes Gladio HQ. They're identical to the ones that were hanging out with Lenny during his boss encounter back in Wales. They also obnoxiously prioritize setting up combos and thus are our primary focus in any battle they appear in.

You would think that would be the only enemy type alongside maybe a new or palette-swapped variant of the Claw Soldier grunts. But nope, as it turns out the SG Italian Branch is just lousy with roaming Gremlins. They're fairly frail with only 56 HP and despite their color, they're actual Fire elemental enemies. They like to muck up the party's day by inflicting Small Ring with their physical attacks or just setting folks on fire.

Gremlins are a fairly recent folklore bestiary addition dating back to World War 2 as something to blame mechanical failings in planes on instead of them just being buckets of bolts.

Wikipedia posted:

Click here for more!

A gremlin is a folkloric mischievous creature that causes malfunctions in aircraft or other machinery. While depictions of these creatures vary, past findings present the animals to be similar to the Chupacabra with spiky backs, large strange eyes, and small-clawed frames that feature sharp teeth.

Although their origin is found in myths among airmen, claiming that the gremlins were responsible for sabotaging aircraft, John W. Hazen states that "some people" derive the name from the Old English word gremian, "to vex", while Carol Rose, in her book Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia attributes the name to a combination of the name of Grimm's Fairy Tales and Fremlin Beer. Since World War II, different fantastical creatures have been referred to as gremlins, bearing varying degrees of resemblance to the originals. The term "gremlin" denoting a mischievous creature that sabotages aircraft originates in Royal Air Force (RAF) slang in the 1920s among the British pilots stationed in Malta, the Middle East, and India, with the earliest recorded printed use being in a poem published in the journal Aeroplane in Malta on 10 April 1929. Later sources have sometimes claimed that the concept goes back to World War I, but there is no print evidence of this.

An early reference to the gremlin is in aviator Pauline Gower's 1938 novel The ATA: Women with Wings, where Scotland is described as "gremlin country", a mystical and rugged territory where scissor-wielding gremlins cut the wires of biplanes when unsuspecting pilots were about. An article by Hubert Griffith in the servicemen's fortnightly Royal Air Force Journal dated 18 April 1942, also chronicles the appearance of gremlins, although the article states the stories had been in existence for several years, with later recollections of it having been told by Battle of Britain Spitfire pilots as early as 1940.

It's worth noting that a Gremlin also appeared in Shadow Hearts 1 but it was... err... just a yellow bat? For some reason. I suppose this is a little bit closer to the mark.

Accompanying the Gremlins is this nightmare creature of two petrified women attached to a teethed vagina with four insect legs. This is a Langsuir -- a Water elemental enemy with 72 HP. These mostly stick to casting Hail Break but can bite folk with the aforementioned teethed vagina and inflict the Petrify status. So they're priority number two if no Clawed Commanders are present.

Langsuir or Langsuyar also has a mythological origin that is basically a Malayan/Indonesian vampire ghost.

Wikipedia on Langsuyar posted:

Click here for more!

The langsuyar also, lang suir or langsuir, is a female revenant in Malay and Indonesian mythology. The word is derived from the Malay word for eagle (helang).

A langsuyar is a type of vampire which is the ghost of a woman who died while pregnant or giving birth. Langsuyars differentiate from the pontianak, which is the ghost of the child who has died at or before birth. She takes the form of a beautiful woman, with long black hair that reaches her ankles, although she may also take the form of a floating woman's head, from which entrails and a spinal column hang. Langsuyars have also been described as having incredibly long nails, hands extending down to her feet, and wearing green robes. She preys on humans, preferring the blood of newborn male children, but also consuming newborn female children.

The langsuyar is associated with certain trees and the parasitic fern "sakat," which grows in dark green clusters and is said to be a common resting place. Woodcutters that harvest wood from the poisonous Rengas trees in Malaysia must undertake elaborate exorcisms to counteract being haunted by langsuyars and other spirits. Langsuyars are also associated with a nighthawk or owl, which is said to perch on the roof of the house while a pregnant mother or infant are being attacked by the vampire. In some traditions, langsuyars take the form of a night bird, and it is believed that the hoot of an owl is the cry of a woman seeking her lost child.

The rest of the tribe can prevent a deceased woman from returning as a langsuyar by putting glass beads in the mouth of the corpse, a hen's egg under the armpits, and needles in the palms of the hands. It is believed that if this is done, the deceased woman cannot become a langsuyar since she cannot open her mouth to shriek or wave her arms and open and close her hands while flying.

In the folklore of the Sakai, an indigenous people in the northern Malay Peninsula, a langsuyar can be repelled by using charms or chants against the demon. The leaves of the gandasuli are also considered to be a powerful charm against langsuyars.

No mentions of teethed vaginas but y'know, this depiction is at least in the ballpark of its namesake. Which is a lot more than several creatures can claim.

Since we're in random battle time, we may as well give a test run for Lucia's abilities in a relatively safe fight. The Tarot ability brings up this spinning roulette of randomized Tarot Cards. Hitting X will stop and bring up our selection. Pretty simple stuff. You may notice one of the cards is sparkling. If we happen to get that card, the effects of the random Tarot Card in question will be greatly amplified.

Oh yeah, something that wasn't made clear earlier in those Tarot Card descriptions. All the cards can be drawn upward, to get the described effects, or Reversed, to get the opposite effect. So in this case, the Reversed High Priestess Card...

...Screws over the entire party by halving everyone's MP. Good stuff, Lucia. You're really not endearing me as an asset to the active party and not someone that should be sharing the bench with Gepetto.

Well, that could have gone better. Let's instead try out Aromatherapy. We only have two mixes at the moment -- Ocean Oil x Misty Oil or Misty Oil x Ocean Oil. Very different mixtures, somehow... Look, it's a highly complicated process.

Ocean Oil x Misty Oil grants all of Lucia's allies (remember Lucia doesn't benefit from this technique) a 50 HP bump. Which is utterly useless when we just got Arc Cure Crest Magic which only costs 16 MP vs Aromatherapy's 20 MP, cures everyone for more than 50 hit points AND also benefits Lucia as well...

If you're curious, the opposite mixture of Misty Oil x Ocean Oil grants... protection again Status Abnormalities for one turn. Again... I dunno. Not really feeling it, Lucia... I could have Joachim here knocking people into space or turning into a nasally bat.

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

Oh well, maybe she'll improve. Or maybe she'll bungle one of her abilities so badly later in the dungeon that she locks in a permanent benchwarmer spot. Who can say? In either case, let's return to dungeon exploring.

In the next room, we find a poorly arrange library with a couple of items of note that are worth looting. Such as this chest containing...

Thera Root is the next level of the HP restoring consumables. Chowing down on this root restores a healthy 300 HP. We'll probably keep this in storage for a while considering our characters are barely past 150 HP maximum at the moment. That's a touch overkill.

In the central part of the library, Yuri comes upon a password. I'm not sure if it was scrawled on a note or written on a book or the floor or, hell, even what the password itself is... Yuri just bends over and the game declares we have found the password. Fair enough, I suppose.

On the far eastern side of the library, we also find another Lottery Ticket. They're really stuffing our pockets with these considering how long it's been since we've seen another Lottery Member and we don't actually encounter another for two more areas.

Anyway, let's retrace our steps and enter that password in the secret machinery room.

Let's see... It was "unagi."
I feel like I forgot to mention that earlier. The password was definitely "unagi." I didn't just make that up just now.

Hehe. That's the way!

I actually got a little bit turned around because that scene of the wall sliding open was from a different camera angle than what is actually in-map with no landmarks to denote it was actually just south of the painting.

We've got another poorly organized library and yet another instance of Yuri bending down and claiming to do something. I don't see any switch anywhere, buddy. But if you say so...

Aha! A secret path to the basement! From the... second floor. Look, don't worry about it.

We've got looting to do! Like finding a Toggle Switch for that gizmo in the hidden room. I somehow doubt Yuri has the technical knowledge to install this piece of electronic equipment properly. But, hopefully, he can wing it.

Rummaging through a barrel gets us a DCP improving Seal. I believe this is the only one new to Shadow Hearts 2 considering... well, DCP didn't exist in the previous game. People just knew magic innately back in 1913. Folks just knew Taoist arts or had ESP or vampiric powers or had a magic cellphone to call in airstrikes and summon sniper rifles. None of this Crest Magic crap. Those were the days...

In the back of the room, we find an item that can instantly turn Joachim to his Invisible Form. I'm not sure while they're called "Strongoids" though considering the package clearly says Stealthoids and that makes more sense (and is indeed the Japanese name for the item.) Is there some grifter in the west selling Stealthoid brain fuel or some shit I'm unaware of...?

Now it's just a matter of backtracking, slamming that toggle switch into this menacing Telsa device ass looking piece of machinery and firing it up.

The machine whirls and glows brightly before a grandfather clock is heard ringing in the distance.

Aha! The old advanced machinery powering up the grandfather clock elevator to access the THIRD floor, eh? Oldest trick in the book! Yuri knows the score.

Yuri rides the clock to the third floor.

We arrive in a break room of some manner. Nicolai seems like the type to have a show bookshelf behind him and books stacked all over his desk to make him seem busy.

Meanwhile, the jukebox and pool table are definitely Lenny's requests. Lenny might not be the brightest but he's got a hell of a billiards hustle.

One of the jars in the foreground also contains an upgraded version of the Phoenix Down equivalent consumable. This one restores a character with 50% health versus the 30% health offered by the Talisman of Luck. Hopefully, we won't have a use for this too soon...

Next to the break room, we find what couldn't be more of a "hey, there's a boss fight ahead" area if it tried. Let's save, use a tent and march forward into the inevitable.

...OK, this is definitely where Veronica hangs out on her downtime.

There isn't anybody here.

Maybe we should have asked one of those goons if they'd seen him before beating them all silly.
Let's not get crazy, now... What's a gremlin gonna tell us?

I guess we'd better look for him somewhere else...

The party heads back the way they came to leave. However...

Oh, you thought we were going to get through a dungeon without a boss fight. Pfft. Of COURSE, they'd leave a two-headed buff winged demon to guard the torture room. What are you even thinking?

Video: Episode 33 Highlight Reel

Sapientes Gladio Italian Branch HQ Concept Art - Really has that rustic, old-world Italian badguy base charm.