The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

by The Dark Id

Part 95: Episode LXXXIX: Otherworldly Encounters

Episode LXXXIX: Otherworldly Encounters

Music: Hardcore to the Brain ~ Mid Boss in Japan

Our new chum Kurando has seen it fit to display his latent Harmonixer powers and fuse into Tsukiyomi -- a 3600 HP enemy retaining Kurando's Light Element. Considering how limited Kurando's damage output options were, this version of him is a contender. I mean like a maybe a say... Don Flamenco versus Lt. Colonel Terada's comparative Glass Joe.

We'll get to his moveset in a minute. Let's hit some lore first! Tsukiyomi is short for Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto the Shinto god of the moon.

Wikipedia on Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto posted:

Click here for more!

Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto or Tsukuyomi, is the moon god in Shinto and Japanese mythology. The name "Tsukuyomi" is a compound of the Old Japanese words tsuku ("moon, month", becoming modern Japanese tsuki) and yomi ("reading, counting"). The Nihon Shoki mentions this name spelled as Tsukuyumi ("moon bow"), but this yumi is likely a variation in pronunciation of yomi. An alternative interpretation is that his name is a combination of tsukiyo ("moonlit night") and mi ("looking, watching").

There is little known about Tsukuyomi that even sex is unknown. However, in Man'yōshū, where Tsukuyomi's name is sometimes rendered as Tsukuyomi Otoko ("moon reading man")

Tsukuyomi was the second of the "three noble children" (Mihashira-no-uzunomiko) born when Izanagi-no-Mikoto, the god who created the first land of Onogoroshima, was cleansing himself of his sins while bathing after escaping the underworld and the clutches of his enraged dead wife, Izanami-no-Mikoto. Tsukuyomi was born when he washed out of Izanagi's right eye. However, in an alternative story, Tsukuyomi was born from a mirror made of white copper in Izanagi's right hand.

It goes on from there but this is the sibling of Amaterasu and Susan-O. You know, the main character of Okami and Yosuke Hanamura's ultimate Persona, naturally. :v:

I'm going to start glossing over the opening round gambit of buffs and shields unless something really egregious crops up. Shadow Hearts: Covenant's combat is basically solved at this point beyond gimmick bosses and... this ain't one. We want Arc-Gale to speed things up, Arc-Rage, and/or Arc-Surge to buff our damage output and Arc-Barrier and/or Arc-Shield depending on either physical or magical attacks are their affinity. And then Combo for days for increased damage output while stopping to heal accordingly. That's as sound a strat as you're going to get.

Tsukiyomi is pretty damn strong with both physical and magical attacks so both Barrier and Shield aren't a bad idea.

The one thing that will likely change more often than not (well, maybe a little...) is Yuri's Fusion of choice. We're going to go with Somnion for this excursion. Sure, it'll take a bit more damage than other choices but it will make up for it with its extra innate damage output against the Light element and Yuri is sturdy enough to survive to the healing phase of a battle if he takes a good bump.

Tsukiyomi is kind of a beast with its physical damage. It can easily take a targeted character down to critical levels of health in a single attack string. It also possesses a somewhat less damaging Evasion Rate decreasing version of its physical attack. Which... yeah, I think I can count the number of times characters has actually evaded jack shit in this entire playthrough on two hands so not feeling that too hard.

The transformed Kurando's only other attack is Hell's Light -- a Light elemental attack (I know, shocking) which is probably the weakest of his attacks at around the 150 damage range (unless it hits Yuri and then he's in for a 200+ HP damage hurting) but it does have the annoying trait of being a line of fire attack and when you're trying to pop off Combos for maximum damage output in a game where you cannot reposition characters, that can occasionally run into issues.

Beyond that, stay the course and stay healthy. I almost made a practice social distancing joke but I've already had a discussion with multiple people how much this plague and the fallout from it if we get past it, is going to poison the comedy well for years to come and naw. Don't go there! Stop yourself early! Don't go down that shitty low hanging fruit pit! Slap your friends doing it. Nip that in the bud, before it's too late!

Music: Result ~ Victory

Defeating Tsukiyomi nets us the usual post-boss fight bounty and another Magic Crest. Valak comes with Barrier and Bright Banish (a high-end Light magic spell we saw a while back.) Nothing too special. Now, Kurando. You have some 'splaining to do!

Music: ENDS

Kurando!! Wake up!!
Oh, Lady Anastasia.
You okay? What happened, anyway?
Since when can you use Fusion?! You KNOW that is my deal! I'll let this slide but I swear if I see you start punching people...
Well, you see, I came to the graveyard, then suddenly I felt dizzy and everything went black.
<looks around frantically> Wha?! Master! Princess! Where are they?!

Get ahold of yourself. We're inside some kind of boundary. One false move could get us killed.
A boundary?!
That's right. We've all been sealed inside this strange otherworld!
I hope this isn't one of those punishing your past sins sorts. I have some things I did back in the mid-70s that I am not proud of...
If that's the case I should be OK. Hmm... Unless all those sketchy people I lured to that island to feed to Carla's cat count against me.
That ABSOLUTELY counts against you!
Well, shucks.

Kurando, they used you as bait to finish us off.
...I think this is more about getting after my master than you.
Oh. Right. Him... Yeah, that makes sense. Sorry, I'm just so used to everyone being after me and my friends.

How do we get out of here?

Yuri stands up.

I say we find the one who sent us here and do a little friendly persuading.

Kurando has now unlocked a skill beyond slicing things with his sword. He still cannot use Crest Magic since I guess it's just Harmonixers are barred from that in general and it's not just that Yuri is a dumbass about magic.

The thing is, unlike Yuri who gets a massive variety of versatile Fusions for any situation, Kurando... only gets the one. And a second fairly late game one. Which still leaves Kurando as by far the least versatile character of the party. To be honest, we're probably only going to use Kurando in the main party for this dungeon just to give his new ability a proper shake and then he's destined to join the bench for the most part.

Tsukiyomi can be powered up just like Yuri's Fusions using Soul Energy. At the base level, the Fusion powers up Kurando with:

Which isn't a decent spread of stats. We're going to go ahead and power up Tsukiyomi to Level 8 to unlock all its abilities so Kurando gets more than physical attacks and that Hell's Light spell. Which bumps his stats up to:
Not too shabby.

Now that Kurando's innate ability has been revealed, his character profile page has also updated. Look at that! He finally gets a name and not just "Mysterious Swordsman."

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

OK. It's time to explore a mystery foggy otherworld named err... well, Otherworld. I have to confess that reading the word "Otherworld" makes my mind immediately turn to the buttrock track of the same name from when Sin attacks in the opening of Final Fantasy X. My brain is POISONED! Anyhow, there seems to be a save point ahead and... wait, no... That can't be right...

How are you two setting up shop in another dimension?!
...Oh, how did we end up wandering into this mess when we were headed for the city?! Oh well, not to worry.
Were you planning to set up shop in the middle of the graveyard?
Wherever there are customers... Now, then, what will it be?

The increasingly unlikely located merchants aren't selling anything new from when we were back in Yokohama, so we'll just move on. Past the brothers' shop, we find two shrine gates. One with a blue star and one with a red star. If we head through the one with a red star above it...

We are teleported back to the start of the dungeon. Going to be one of those kinds of dungeons, huh? Not to worry. After Battleship Mikasa, this place is a totally decent, easy breezy affair. Going under either of those gates triggers random battles. So let's get the obligatory brief overview of that business taken care of, eh?

Music: Deep in Coma ~ Battle in Japan

Naturally, if we're in some strange Japanese flavored shadow realm we're going to need to face some Japanese folklore flavored baddies. Gaki a rather weak Fire elemental enemy with a mere 125 HP. They enjoy smacking people around and firing off the Red Cradle AOE magic. They're complete pushovers but usually come in groups of 2-3 to make up for it.

Gaki, more commonly in other regions known as Preta in other regions, are a common type of ghost found all over in East Asia countries' folklore.

Wikipedia on Preta posted:

Click here for more!

Preta, also known as hungry ghost, is the Sanskrit name for a type of supernatural being described in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion as undergoing suffering greater than that of humans, particularly an extreme level of hunger and thirst. They have their origins in Indian religions and have been adopted into East Asian religions via the spread of Buddhism. Preta is often translated into English as "hungry ghost" from the Chinese and Vietnamese adaptations. In early sources such as the Petavatthu, they are much more varied. The descriptions below apply mainly in this narrower context. The development of the concept of the preta started with just thinking that it was the soul and ghost of a person once they died, but later the concept developed into a transient state between death and obtaining karmic reincarnation in accordance with the person's fate. In order to pass into the cycle of karmic reincarnation, the deceased's family must engage in a variety of rituals and offerings to guide the suffering spirit into its next life. If the family does not engage in these funerary rites, which last for one year, the soul could remain suffering as a preta for the rest of eternity.

Pretas are believed to have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life. As a result of their karma, they are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular substance or object. Traditionally, this is something repugnant or humiliating, such as cadavers or feces, though in more recent stories, it can be anything, however bizarre.[5] In addition to having insatiable hunger for an aversive item, pretas are said to have disturbing visions. Pretas and human beings occupy the same physical space and while humans looking at a river would see clear water, pretas see the same river flowing with an aversive substance, common examples of such visions include pus and filth.
Yeah, checks out. Seems on brand.

Next up we have Noh Masks which come packing the Dark element and a slightly higher HP than the Gaki with 150 health. These dirty sheets covered with spooky masks like to spam magical attacks such as Arc-Mirage and Evil Summoning. They can also go in for a physical attack that has a chance to inflict the Panic status effect. Again, with their extremely low HP, they're not much of a threat.

If you have an even cursory knowledge of Japanese culture you've probably seen a Noh mask before. They're usually not actively attacking people on their own, to my knowledge. Now someone WEARING a Noh mask and doing some dirt? That's another story.

Last and definitely least, we have a Pera-pera which is just a Japanese flavored reskin of those Fortune Stick enemies from back on Manmariana Island but with 118 HP and a Water elemental affinity. These just sort of bounce over and whack people in the face. It allegedly has the Hail Crash magic spell but I never saw it use that once. The most troubling thing about these is that if they LOVE setting up Combos and will do so as soon as they get a turn and anyone other enemies are still remaining.

"Pera-pera" is a Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of flipping paper.

While none of the random battle enemies are remotely dangerous on their own, this dungeon tends to just toss way more baddies than usual in every fight. Like at bare minimum there will be six to eight each time we throw down. As such, Tsukiyomi can mop up using Hell's Light and its directional AOE as every battle has at least half the crowd clustered up in a bunch. After having to slog through having to do at least three turns per battle due to all the beefy mechs back on the battleship, I'll take a bunch of random battles where most fights are done in a single turn and are a minute long tops.

Music: In Darkness of a Labyrinth ~ Dungeon

Back to it! If we go down the blue star path then we are allowed to proceed further until we get to another cross-section with a similar dilemma. Only this time, there's a creepy little kid... ghost... dude hanging out. Once again, the red star path will teleport us to the beginning of the dungeon, so let's go blue.

Magic charm. Got it. Now, where could we possibly use that?

If you guessed that first blocked path, you would be correct!

This leads to another split path (pay no attention to all the looted chests they're entirely just common junk.) The path to left just makes a huge clockwise loop back to the right gate. There's an item of little consequence if we take the long way around but ehh. It's much quicker just head right, which leads to...

[Child Guardian Twin, Sakichi] Round and round and round... Still lost, are you? If you don't want to get lost, all you need to do is pick one of us twins! He he he...

The right path connects to the big circle I mentioned, so let's take the left path into offshoot going toward the center of the circle where we find a second charm to dispel warping dungeon gimmicks. Terrific!

Now it's just a matter of the classic Shadow Hearts 2 dungeon backtrack to dispel that second red star gate and proceed to the end of the dungeon. See? That wasn't bad at all.

Music: Serious Mood ~ Unrest

<looks around>
Ha ha ha! Hee hee hee!

I am Garan, oracle, and guardian of the great Empire of Nippon!
Huh? What?
You would do harm to my country! You and Kawashima's little dog, Kurando! I'll send you all to hell!

What's the matter? Are you so afraid you cannot speak? Hee hee hee!

Music: ENDS

We did need to fill the void Lenny left behind of jobber villain that no one ever takes seriously and Garan is sliding into that role nice. Tune in next time as we discover... he's actually pretty damn strong but I mean, just look at him... It's like Chiaotz from Dragon Ball's wrinkly gross grandpa. We need a better class of villain in Nippon.

Video: Episode 89 Highlight Reel
(You should watch this.)

Tsukiyomi Concept Art - In the name of the moon, I shall punish you!

Noh Mask Concept Art - What delightful boys.

Otherworld Concept Art - At least it didn't try to punish Yuri for the sins of his past. I mean, he's already got the Graveyard for that.