The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

by The Dark Id

Part 57: Episode LIII: Solomon's Trials

Episode LIII: Solomon's Trial

Music: Old Smudged Map ~ Europe

Our next destination is the Goreme Valley of Turkey in the Ottoman Empire which is a good 1300 miles/2092 km away from Petrograd. But, that's not really an absurd travel factor anymore now that we have access to a VTOL jet. Before we head off, it's been a while since we've checked in on the Score stats. Let's take a gander...

Oh man... Wormgaur Rank? Really? We've got to change that.

I'm glad the Battle Data screen still maintains slightly off anime hip-hop lyrics. It's important to maintain this when you're a mild-mannered demon sergeant making the grade to hit pro.

I'm going to bring Lucia and Gepetto into a fight and just tank their Ring Data scores one day.

I'd like to say Blanca's lead is insurmountable due to the Wolf Bouts but Karin and Yuri might pull into competitive range again someday.

That's enough farting around on the map screen. Let's jump into a new location see what the talk of the town is in Turkey.

Music: Flame of Strain to Blaze ~ Tension

A number of NPCs mention what beautiful sunsets are in the Goreme Valley but I don't we ever actually see the sun and instead only ever get this sickly orange skybox with a few smudges for clouds. You'll just to take the locals' word on that one.

While the rest of the gang just obliviously trots into the valley, Blanca is once again the only one paying attention and is alerted to something ahead.

And that something is walking right into a pincer ambush of armed locals. Unless the two dumpy armed dads behind the party repelled down the valley walls, Yuri and the others literally walked right past them without noticing. Good job, guys.

Yuri tries to start some shit, because it's Yuri and of course he would, but Roger stops him and puts his hands up. It's probably unwise to slaughter a bunch of villagers as soon as we step into town if we want the exiled holy man to be cooperative.

Really...? We're just giving up? I can take a bullet. I took like thirty the first time we met.
Just put your hands up already!
Tch... fine.

Music: ENDS

The local militia, consisting of two sets of triplets with very similar fashion senses, is stopped by a man who apparently used Instant Transmission like Goku to spontaneously appear between the groups and have them stand down.

<runs forward> It's Lawrence!

Well, it's been a long time!
Yes, well. Everyone seems to think that you've come here to kill him.
Bishop Jovis. He's their priest, you see. Well... you might even call him their god.
Why would you think we're here to kill him?
Have you seen the... colorful folks at the head of Sapientes Gladio? No offense, but most of you lot look the type for their ranks.
I keep telling them they all stick out but nobody listens to me.
Lad, I was including you in that tally of misfits.
Hey! I dress perfectly normal!
<cocks eyebrow> Hmm... as you say...

Thomas motions to the rest of the militia and they disperse to resume their normal activities of wandering around aimlessly and reciting a single prepared line to passing strangers that happen to speak to them. Such is the life of an NPC.

Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God

Yeah! Just who exactly are you?
And Lucia, how do you know him? You weren't there when we met this guy in Wales.
I was the most popular fortuneteller in all of Italy. I've met a LOT of people, OK?
OK. Why did you call him Lawrence...?
Oh, that...

You're a spy?!
Well... I suppose you could say that.
Why did you call yourself Thomas before?
Well... I didn't lie. It's my name. Thomas Edward Lawrence. T.E. for short.
Yeah, I'm not calling you that. Sounds forced. Like you're trying to make it a thing.
If you say so... Lawrence of Arabia is another moniker I've earned.
<shakes head> Nope. Not happening. Lawrence it is.

Look, I wasn't trying to deceive anyone. It's just business...
But what are you doing here?
<steps forward> I can explain that.

The British Secret Service sent a communication to track down Bishop Jovis. He went missing in Istanbul.
Where the heck is Istanbul? I thought we were in Turkey.
It's a city in Turkey, Yuri. You really need to learn some geography. This is getting embarrassing.
Bite me.

Right after that, I had to return to Russia to get you all, and Mr. Lawrence went on ahead to Goreme.
I see. So you've been running around all over the place then, huh! And you too, Mr. Lawrence!
It was a bit of a hassle trying to evade the Turkish government, but here I am! I'd say you've had a tougher journey than me though, right?!
You can say that again! We got into trouble with Rasputin!
We also sort of accidentally kidnapped the princess of the royal family.
Wow... a real spy!
...I see.

Hmm. Well, anyway. The first thing is to have a meeting with Bishop Jovis. I'm sure the rest will fall into place.
So this Jovis guy's here in the valley?
Yes. He spends his time praying at a chapel deep inside the cave where he lives.
Do we need directions? Is there any special hidden path to take to reach him?
Oh no. Just walk forward down the one path until you reach the end. You can't miss it.

I'm going on ahead. You guys follow later.

We're now free to explore Gerome Valley. We may as well chat up the locals now that they're not aiming rifles at our heads.

And I made it in a cave!
...You live your best life.

Of course the Magimel Brothers have made it to Turkey ahead of a jet. I want to see them drive that rickety shop truck to the next location and it's just like Nico's van from Devil May Cry 5. Anyway, we'll talk to them in a minute. That chest looks tempting...

The Marax Crest with Cure Plus is added to our collection. At this point in the game, Cure is still as much healing as we need for most situations. Oh and for the record, I did check out the Solomon's Key in-between chapters and we've yet to gather quite enough Crests for the appropriate region to complete another segment. We're one away from one of 'em but no dice.

This? It's a Piroshki. I brought it back from Russia...
It might be a little bit squished since it was in my pack when I got knocked around by a sorcerer. But it's still probably fine.
It looks good! I'm drooling just looking at it! Oh, yeah! Please! You've gotta let me have it!
> You can have it! Calm down!
Ah! Food! At last! It's so tasty!
You ever think about not living in a cave in the middle of nowhere if you're this famished all the time?
I don't know what you're getting at...

Oh, yeah! Thank you! Here, have this! You can't eat it, so I don't need it!

So that seemed like the next stage of the Trading Side Quest. And you would be correct, it is. But...

This is a trap! Remember how back in Cannes there two options to trade the Underground Film? But both of them led back to the same next step in obtaining the Super Piroshki just via different folk in Petrograd? That is no longer the case. From here on out there are straight up dead end trades that will result in much worse rewards (and lock us out of one of the ultimate weapons in the game.) Trading with Starving Coquile here is the first such trap trade. Obtaining the Burning Candle will let us trade with exactly one more person in Disc 2 which nets us... one bottle of Getitup! for Joachim.

That's not actually the worst trap, either. If we held onto the Daruma Doll all the way until the Winter Palace dungeon (by failing to notice a new NPC spawned in an area we'd already early explored) then Edgar the Clockmaker would have traded us the doll for a Holy Easter Egg. Which we could trade with a guy up the street on this very screen for... a Pure Root. One Pure Root. That's not great.

Oh, come on! I'm starving here! You want me to die?!
I want you to diet.

So we're going to turn down this offer and hold onto this until a more lucrative trade appears later in the game. The final steps of the Trading Quest in Disc 1 are already open right now were we to backtrack to earlier towns. But we'll wait until we sort out the events here first. Anyway, let's do some shopping...

Call that a welcome?! Wherever you go, we make sure we get ahead so we're there when you arrive!
Is it really profitable just following us around everywhere? Those travel costs have got to be adding up.
We wouldn't be very good merchants if it wasn't, now would we?

So, you going to buy?
Now, what should I buy...?

No new weapons are present in the Magimel Twins' shop but a new tier of armor has appeared and that's always useful. We're only going to buy one piece of armor, the Plastron, and equip it on Yuri. In the process we managed to level up our Point Card to Rank C and unlock 30% Discount on our next purchase. Spiffy!

This armor is only able to be equipped by Yuri, Blanca, Karin and Joachim for whatever reason. It provides +56 Physical and +52 Special Defense.

Don't be so cold! We were just following our best customers, that's all! So... do you want a dress made?
I'm not in the mood today.

It's been a while since we've gotten a Stud Card, eh? In theory, we could actually get one in this very area. But in practice... nah, we're going to let that one wait. You'll see what I mean shortly.

This jerk would have ended the Trading Quest with the crappiest possible reward if we had fallen victim to Edgar's grift in a different timeline. Speaking of sidequests, there is yet another, very involved, one that is triggered by approaching the only new NPC in this area that doesn't look like they came off a generic middle-aged guy assembly line.

Huh? What are you talking about?! You can't just launch into a bunch of weird stuff without saying what you mean!
Really...? You, of all people, are going to tell someone that?
I can see them... I can see them now... All those demons encircling you...
What?! A-are you talking about ghosts?! Look, I don't like ghosts, okay! So cut it out!

I don't morph into any ghosts! They're fusion monsters, get it? Fusion!
Look, the last time I had to deal with a ghost it cursed my girlfriend and killed an old lady that told really long winded stories. Or the one time a ghost hired me to go to a haunted house and I had to fight a ball of dead ghost babies and then it stiffed me on pay. I'm not a fan, alright?
But I thought, "you can't just launch into a bunch of weird stuff without saying what you mean!" What do you call that?

<enters fighting stance toward Sarah> Look! Who are you, anyway?! Coming along, and spooking me out... Are you looking for a fight?

C'mon! I'll punch a ghost! You're not gonna haunt me!
<relaxes stance> ......
I am Sarah... Maid to the great King Solomon!
King Solomon?! Never heard of him! What country is he the king of?
Does it really matter? You're not going to know where it is anyway.
If it's the source of frikkin' GHOSTS I want to know about it!

Solomon... He was an ancient king of Israel, I think. But that kingdom collapsed over 3000 years ago...
<jumps back startled> So this chick's 3000 years old?! Aaaghh! She is a ghost!
Calm down! Are you a man, or aren't you?! You're making a scene!
I'm sure she's not a ghost... Let's just say... she's just a little "unusual," okay? We'll leave it at that.
It is my duty to test those who want to inherit Kind Solomon's power... I will not force you, but if you truly wish to be the successor of King Solomon's power, you must...
I'll do it! Anything you say! Tests, battles, anything! Then the ghosts will go away, right?!
I'll even learn geography. I don't care. Just get rid of the ghosts!


Sorry, give me a little longer.

OK. I suppose we can do the first stage of the Solomon's Trials. First, we're going to outfit Yuri with protection against Ring Abnormalities and Petrification. Those two things could be show stoppers for what is to come.

Okay, then! Choose which trial you want to attempt...

So Solomon's Trails are literally just Shadow Hearts: Covenant's version of Pit Fights. Yay... My very favorite very dull grind of a questline from the first Shadow Hearts is back. Joy. There's a lot more to them in Shadow Hearts 2 as each trial now has varying objectives instead of it being universally "Grind each character out to suitable levels so it can survive a ten-round fight gauntlet solo." Unfortunately, it's still a huge time sink and one that has multiple quest line completions, Magic Crests, ultimate equipment and a super boss tied to it.

Right now we only have the Beginners class of challenges. Which are:
I reckon it's also an improvement that this version of Pit Fights is performed by a follower of a respected cult bishop and not promoting the devil summoning arts and necromancy of a nine year old orphan in the middle of a crowded city.

And if you had any doubts these are just Pit Fights reborn, it literally just says Pit Fight when selecting a character to participate. We're going to do the Beginner, Level 1 challenge today and naturally Yuri will be up to bat as our heaviest hitter and most versatile party member. But honestly, probably anyone could handle this one. Even Gepetto.

I'm not putting Gepetto in.

Music: Vicious 1915 ~ Battle in Europe

Sarah transports us to a giant floating Judgment Ring sigil floating in a pocket dimension void. It's reminiscent of where we fought Meta-God. Just sans the low-resolution JPEG of the Earth below. I guess this is a touch more elaborate than the back room of a rundown bar or a condemned building basement where orphans are squatting.

For the Level 1 trial we need to fight five sets of enemies. The order of the enemy sets is randomized but they're all jerks we've already faced in past dungeons and are grouped accordingly.

The first set is the Rhondda Mines crew of Barghest, Propolis and Tammuz.

To be honest, our Fusion doesn't particularly matter for this trial. Hell, we could probably do the whole thing with untransformed Yuri. Personally, I went with Orexis because it's a decent mix of speed and strength. Also, it's at the bottom of the Fusion list so I could select it quickly in the menu. :v:

Why I say the Fusion really doesn't matter is, much like the first Shadow Hearts, level scaling is a non-existent thing and anything with even a 5+ Level difference is basically rendered a non-threat. Nevermind, enemies from six or seven dungeons ago. All these creatures can literally do no more than 1 HP of damage per attack.

Meanwhile, Yuri will utterly annihilate them in one to two hits. It's frankly cruel to send trash mobs into this kind of unwinnable grinder.

It is worth noting that each round of a trial counts as its own separate battle. So any buffs/debuffs applied will evaporate as soon as the next fight starts. Likewise, Yuri will have to transform into his Fusion of choice once again each and every round. It's a little obnoxious but what are you going to do?

Round two is just one poor Stray Wolf that lost its way from St Marguerite Island and found its way to the business end of Yuri's fist and an early grave. RIP.

Round three is the Neam Ruin representatives Ofnir and Otheon. This is the only fight that managed to deal double digit damage as Ofnir immediately cast Rage on its big stone golem comrade and that bruiser could dish out 50-60 HP of damage per turn. I actually had to take a safety heal. At least one of these mobs put up an OK effort.

Round four went to the proper St Marguerite Island natives with Gatorback, Kheperer and a Paladin. The party has only gotten maybe three levels since back then but that's still enough to make this a stomp match.

The finale in the fifth round was the most obnoxious of all with the Sapientes Gladio Italian HQ roster of a Gremlin, Langsuir and three Clawed Commanders.

The reason this one is tedious is solely because of the Clawed Commanders. Normally, I'd just nuke an entire group of them huddle together at the beginning with some AOE magic and it would be a complete none issue. But Yuri's Fusion don't get AOE attacks until we pump more Soul Power than I have invested in any one class yet. Thus I could only take them out one at a time and they would spend the rest of the time setting up 3-5 person combos to juggle Yuri for twenty seconds. Granted, every hit still only did one HP of damage. But when the enemy wastes 30 seconds of your time doing nothing, it's *kinda* irritating.

But, much like the actual Clawed Commanders... it didn't go well for them by the end and the first of the many... many... many (seriously, there is eighteen total trials across the game plus a bonus boss fight) of Solomon's Trials are completed. We could easily do the second trial right now as it is do a huge Combo to Godhand Lenny like... we already did in the real fight against him. But, you know, I'm good for now.

Oh yeah, by the way these trial fights? Yeah, they don't grant experience or Soul Power. Just the prize at the end of the trial is all we get. They're not even courteously enough to heal the participating characters once they're completed.

Music: Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God

It's another Magic Crest. Arc Shield actually sounds like something that could be quite useful so I guess it was worth it. But, meh... Still not a fan of RPG arena quests.

I-I don't care about that! J-just tell me the ghosts are gone now! They're gone, aren't they?!
Oh, no! To control the demons, you must complete all the trials. Every level... It takes great endurance...
...And proper plot progression.
What?! S-so... I'm gonna be possessed unless I do them all?!
First I'm cursed and now I'm haunted and gonna get possessed by ghosts? Can those two things override each other? How does that even work?!
...That is not... really my... area of expertise... But you should REALLY do all these trials! I insist!

Maybe some other day. For now, let's head into the caves and onward toward startling revelations that definitely will not border on questionable retcons as Shadow Hearts: Covenant continues!

Video: Episode 53 Highlight Reel

Sarah Concept Art - Is there a Middle Eastern equivalent term for a weeb?