Part 54: Episode L: Victor's LossEpisode L: Victor's Loss
Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon
We are now forced to form a party with Anastasia being a required member. As I stated earlier, we're going to give Joachim a rest for a bit and let Anastasia take his place for the time being. We'll likely be rotating Anastasia and Joachim in the future depending on the situation (Anastasia is really good with magic, Joachim is really good with physical attacks in roughly equal degrees.)
We are also going to pump a few levels of Soul Energy into our Water class fusion as that may come in handy later in this trial. The Winter Palace has now become a hostile zone insofar as we'll be encountering random battles and a boss. To call it a dungeon is a bit of a stretch as it is quite short and there is an incredibly contrived reason why it takes us more than five minutes to go reach Rasputin doing dirt.
Perhaps the strangest part of recent events while Rasputin and Veronica were giving the entire palace magic roofies is that Gerard and Pierre have snuck into Anastasia's room as well while everyone was busy with the Empress being a flesh sock puppet for the mad monk's evil monologue. I suppose we should talk to them and see what the hell...
We want to help! After all, this is our chance to snag the imperial family as our best new customer!
...Oh right. Darn.
Now, don't ask such uncouth questions! You know you're secretly glad to see me! Now, then...
I'm in a shopping mood today!
We are indeed in a shopping mood today. Specifically, we'll be getting a new weapon for Blanca as he is the only one in our core party that is lagging behind in current weaponry.
A couple of grand in Cash nets Blanca a woodworking tool to sharpen his teeth and claws to the tune of +59 Physical and +61 Special Attack. Sounds unpleasant.
Technically, Lucia and Gepetto both have new weapons upgrade available as well but ehh... we're good. You can take a look at 'em at least.
Anyway, we'll just leave the unconscious empress with the portly clockmaker and two merchants that broke in while the castle is under siege by a wizard's spell for potential profit. I'm sure it'll be fine.
If you'll recall Rasputin's words when we confronted him in the palace throne room, he said we could find him in the Lion's Shrine. Presumably, he's still hanging out there. We haven't been given directions to where the heck that is, exactly. But remember the locked door north of Rasputin's bedroom where Veronica went back when Anastasia was introduced? It's there. In theory, we should be able to go one hall north of here and cut across the throne room hallway to get there in a jiffy. In practice... there is an unconscious guard blocking the way and... that's that! Yep. The door isn't locked or anything. There's just a guy passed out in the way and it would be a violation of his personal space to roll him aside.
OK. Fine. We'll just go back to the main foyer and cut across to the eastern halls that way.
Except there is also a guard slumped over here and Anastasia refuses to step over him. This is the contrived reason they're going with this dungeon taking twenty minutes instead of just two.
Instead, we're going to have to go downstairs to the first floor western hall and go that way to cut across the back of the palace because the guard formerly stationed there just wandered off in some sort of daze instead of dropping over like a sack of potatoes and barring the path.
This leads us to a new second set of stairs in the back of the palace. There is still another path here yet again barred by a ragdolled soldier's body. Are all of the royal guard malnourished or something? All the other party guests just got put into a stupor but every single sentry is out light a light in the most inconvenient of places. Speaking of inconvenience, this wouldn't qualify as a dungeon if it didn't have the obligatory random battles.
Music: Vicious 1915 ~ Battle in Europe
The Pendulum that attacked Anastasia has now become a common enemy. They're literally just the same thing we already fought so we'll just ignore them other than acknowledging they're here now and will participate in Combos if left to their own machinations. They should be targeted first as they're by far the strongest thing around here.
New to the swarm of monsters, which Rasputin apparently unleashed upon the Winter Palace on top of casting a spell to knock out all the guards and get everyone else mega high, which all seems detrimental to this scheming frankly, are these odd crystal goblins -- Quartzback. They're Earth elemental critters with 85 HP. They do have a couple of common Earth magic spells but mostly they try to initiate Combos and just hit people with their big dumb crystal limbs. They tend to group up in bunches of three and can be easily nuked by a decent AOE spell in the opening turns.
If you want to know the origin of their name... uhh... it's because the they have quartz... on their back...
Also new are these Wormgaur, a 107 HP Cyclops worm doofus of the Wind Element. These guys just spam a fairly powerful Wind spell -- Gail Spark. Much like the Quartzback, these tend to bunch up in groups of 2-3 and can be decimated by a decent AOE spell right off the bat. Not much to them at all.
Wormgaur is a nonsense name. Unlike in the original game, most enemies in Shadow Hearts 2 stick to a faithful translation of their mythological names. But here they completely changed it from its original Japanese title of "Awd Goggie" which is a Scottish incarnation of "Old Boogey" and is the origin of the Boogey Man concept aka adults being assholes to kids scare them straight so they don't run off by themselves like dumb kids or steal shit out of other peoples' yards. The original description of it was a giant hell caterpillar that'd erupt from the ground and ate children if they fucked about. So yeah... I guess this checks out.
Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon
In any event, we don't have to worry about too many random battles. Despite having to take this really stupid roundabout route to our destination, this dungeon is maybe twenty minutes with random battles included barring the boss battle. After the over two hours of St. Marguerite Island last go, I'll take it.
Before we continue to our destination upstairs, we can duck into a back storeroom the looks as though a Resident Evil block-pushing puzzle should be hiding out in. But in actuality, the only thing hiding out is another Magic Crest in the back upper-left corner of the room behind a sheet draped statue.
I got drunk once with some friends and watched the Netflix Will Smith movie Bright as a goof once and that was a cinematic crime.
We can now head upstairs to find yet another palace guard sleeping on the job. For reference, just south of here is where we started in Anastasia's room. Two morons drunk on the job on either side of the door caused all this delay. There better be a ticket to a Siberian gulag with their name on it after this crap.
And the door up here leads us to that connecting hall past the throne room. Good thing the guard here previously also just evaporated thanks to Rasputin's magic and wasn't an unmovable sack of dead weight on the other side of the door or we'd be in a real pickle.
Unfortunately, the door to the Lion Shrine is still locked. I can't believe Rasputin lied with his invitation like that. It seems we need to track down a key and the most obvious spot for it, in Rasputin's room right next to the door, is also blocked by a sleepy guard body.
So obviously, the solution is to go to... the corridor to the south and enter a random room on the right that is only noteworthy because they put a save point next to it... That save point has always been there, but I guess we know WHY it is there now.
Anastasia and her new friends enter the chambers to find...
The man you saw...?
He was conspiring with Rasputin before that monster showed up and I met you all.
So we should probably punch this guy repeatedly, huh?
Damn! I've been spotted. Prepare to fight, Princess!
Gathered as much.
Music: Glint of Light ~ Mid Boss in Europe
OK. Time to fight of the boss of the Winter Palace dungeon... this rando flunky! Even though he is never given a name in dialogue (he will continue to just be named "Assassin" the entire game) apparently his name is Victor and he's a chief member of Sapientos Gladio even if none of the other top members of the group beyond Rasputin ever acknowledge or interact with him. Sure, why not? Victor has brought along another Pendulum with him. I don't know why Rasputin seemed irritated we killed the one sent after the princess when apparently this jabroni can shit out several dozen more of 'em on a whim.
Victor is a Fire class enemy and for just being... a dude... he is surprisingly durable with 1800 HP which is just a little over a hundred HP shy of Lenny after he transformed into a crazy demonoid form and had been a reoccurring villain since the opening of the game. Sapientes Gladio's fucking accountant here took me twice as many turns to beat since he has decent resistance to physical attacks and isn't slow as molasses like Lenny was and it's a little bit offputting. Lenny deserves better.
Anyway, our first order of business is to just annihilate that Pendulum in the opening turns. Otherwise, it will buff Victor's magic attack output and try to perform combos that are mildly devastating if left unattended.
We'll also go ahead and fuse Yuri with Mahrae to get that extra Water class damage output. We have to rely a bit more on raw damage output here and not setting up sick nasty combos since Victor again is surprisingly speedy and getting a whole party combo is just not in the cards this go around.
Victor on his own is not that problematic. He has a pretty decently damaging two string physical attacks that can cause Seal and that's a problem since it basically means someone needs to waste a turn to heal up whoever got all their abilities sealed. Blanca got that new Wolf Bout ability that could negate that but this dick kept targeting my good dog and that was irritating. He also seemed to like targeting Anastasia who is weak to his element and has the smallest pool of HP at the moment and that could be a problem.
This guy just sucks!
His only other ability is using Magma which has a pretty wide ass area of effect range. Which is another thing that makes Combos against him a problem since it tends to leave everyone in the range of Magma and that's a future turn wasted on an Arc Cure.
Beyond that, the guy just takes forever to beat up. He's not a threat at all. It's still four vs. one and we can negate any damage he does the next round. I liked Lenny. He was a good crappy mid-boss character. This character portrait-less loser immediately overshadowing him is crap.
Ironically, the ability Anastasia stole from his Pendulum familiar is by far the most damaging technique we can use against him. Nice work, idiot. You played yourself!
Music: Result ~ Victory
SIX turns against Victor, Who Hates Mondays the random NPC that was considered a capital B boss fight in this game. C'mon!
He does drop a new Crest which just has an ability we've seen in the past. I REALLY need to double-check Solomon's Key when we're done with this chapter. We have to have something else unlocked. But we're not going to worry about that now because that was actually the last main quest fight of this rather long chapter.
We also get another of Lucia's Oils if we were to ever use her again. Maybe one day. Maybe. This unlocks some new Aromatherapy concoctions. Mixes include:
- Night Oil + Ocean Oil = Small amount of MP restored for one turn. 25 MP.
- Night Oil + Grass Oil = Small amount of MP restored when used. 20 MP.
- Night Oil + Misty Oil = Small amount of MP restored for two turns. 30 MP.
- Ocean Oil + Night Oil = Medium amount of HP restored for one turn. 30 MP.
- Grass Oil + Night Oil = Small SP-DEF boost for three turns. 20 MP.
- Misty Oil + Night Oil = Protection against Status Abnormalities for three turns. 30 MP.
Goddammit, I'm going to have to do an increasingly longer list every time I get one of these stupid oils, huh? Why did I ever pivot to also being informative with these LP things? Mistakes were made a decade ago.
Anyhow, everyone but the poor, abandoned this chapter Joachim had a Level Up drop. Sorry, buddy. You're still cool. We'll tag you back into the ring in the future. We actually need you to be in decent shape for end game sidequests and hell, current game side quests. Great Gama is still out there in the squared-circle.
Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon
Yeah, shoot. He got away!
Naw... it's another bad guy dickhead that can teleport.
That's the part you are concerned about?
Look. I've had bad experiences with teleporting villains, alright...?
After Victor unceremoniously appeared and just as unceremoniously disappeared he left a glowing shiny key object in his wake. And what do we have here...?
Why, it's the key to the Lion Shrine, of course. Just what we needed! I'm not sure why they didn't throw that our way after the boss battle directly. But hey, we got there...
Tune in next time for our confrontation with Rasputin! Surely it will be the final one. A dropkick WILL literally go down in the next scene. Stay tuned...
Video: Episode 50 Highlight Reel
Assassin Victor Concept Art - This dweeb got concept art and a proper character portrait they just never used?