The Let's Play Archive

Shining in the Darkness

by vilkacis

Part 2: Part 02

You know what this thread needs? More updates.

Last time, we were given permission to enter the Labyrinth. This is good because it allows us to continue the game, and bad because we're going to die,

the reason for which will become apparent in just a moment.

So here's why. Sue is pretty pathetic for the second finest knight in the realm. (Quite possibly he's just a squire and they're cheering him on because he's expendable.) It's no wonder Dark Sol feels he can hop in there as if he owns the place. It is a wonder he decided to do it in such a roundabout way when he could have slaughtered the entire kingdom's army simply by giving them a menacing look, or possibly coughing.

Our first order of business, naturally, is to make sure Sue stops sucking.

About four steps into the labyrinth, we encounter our first enemies. In proud JRPG tradition, they're slimes, although the game calls them "slimy oozes", which is... probably not an improvement.

Like I said before, combat is very traditional stuff. You have your usual attack...


...items and...


Sue doesn't have any magic, and he never will. He was born in an era where protagonists didn't have to be the best at everything, and is a traditional "fighter" - healthy, very good at hitting things until they stop bothering him, and capable of wielding the biggest swords and wearing the heaviest armour. He will eventually have a few other options, but we'll get to that when we get them, which is not for quite some time yet.

Enemies appear in groups and can not be individually targeted, much like the early Phantasy Star games. It's a kind of "fuck you" type of difficulty, but it's not so bad now that we have a sword that one-shots these guys. Had we kept the knife, we would have needed six rounds to get rid of all of them, and if we had been really unlucky, we wouldn't have actually killed one until the fourth round. Worse yet, at first level, we'll always go after the enemy, which is a huge pain.

These are the weakest enemies in here; they have around 6-8 hit points, which is just out of range for a first-level character with a knife. They hit for 1-2 points, meaning we're not in any great danger, but it does add up, and we'd be in pretty bad shape after six rounds.

Fortunately, we don't have to put up with that. Three swings of our shiny new sword, and Sue has won his first battle!

The first of many, many battles.

(Not pictured: we obtain 3 experience points and 6 gold.)

He manages to kill another group of ooze, but it leaves him looking rather worn out, and I'd rather not risk dying to slimes. It wouldn't actually matter much at this point - death only kicks you back to town with half your gold - but it would be horribly embarrassing.

Rather than just fading to white, leaving the labyrinth gets you a view of the door opening, revealing the landscape outside. (Then it fades to white.) It's a nice touch.

Our next destination is the tavern.

Video - Ägain nothing special, but you do get to hear their "voices".

Just a sec.
SUE! Some friends of yours were here looking for you a while ago.
If you're smart, you'll avoid those two. They're nothing but trouble.

He's talking about the ones the old man in the intro told us about, Milo and Pyra.

Old Vic may not have a high opinion of your mates, but don't listen to him - this isn't one of those new-fangled games where party members keep stabbing each other in the back or leaving the group with all your best gear. Pyra and Milo are your bestest of buds and we're much, much worse off for not being able to find them right now.

Sorry to hear about your father, I hope he's alright.
There are some who speak ill of your father, but don't let it bother you.
Just keep in mind that we're behind you all the way!
Should you need lodgings, just ring the bell on the counter.

We'll be ringing that bell in a little bit, but since the plot has progressed a bit since the last time we were here, some of the patrons have new lines.

Unfortunately, his ambition has resulted in the deaths of many men.

Vyrun isn't going to stab us in the back either; he's just going to complain and mope around because we're young and pretty and more competent than the lot of his men put together.

Buzz off!
Mrs. VIK: Don't mind him. I've never heard a pleasant word pass his lips.

The sky is blue. Bears shit in the woods. Gatt is grumpy.

I'm not sure what Gnorn was doing IN the labyrinth. We barely made it out of there in one piece after two run-ins with the weakest creatures in there.

It scared me so bad, I almost soiled my trousers.

If this were any other game, we'd have to find that hill and kill whatever spooked the man, but here we never have to leave our nice, cozy, familiar labyrinth.

It pains me to see Dyan worry so much about her brother.


Dai is gone, but we'll see him again eventually.

Finally, we'll ring the bell and get a room.

It costs ten bucks per person, which is just below what a first-level character is going to be able to make on a single trip to the labyrinth without taking too many risks.

We fade to black for the usual brief little sleepy tune, and some birdsong when we wake up. It seems Gnorn was still sober enough to leave last night, because there's no one here but the staff and Sue.

There are two stores right of the inn, which we skipped the last time we were here.

I visit the armourer to get rid of the knife Sue started with. SitD is very generous with the re-sale prices - you get 75% of the item's value, which is of course very welcome. The bronze knife costs 100 GP, so we get 75 when we sell it.

This store has four types of items, and three of them do exactly what they say.

The "weapons" are the odd ones out - these two, and no others, are mechanically shields that raise your attack power when worn. That thing on the right for 2500 bucks is the Madu, and I want it.

Cancelling out when the merchant has "more to show you" lets you view the second page. It's all too expensive for now.

The Alkemist (with that exact spelling) sells basic consumables.

We're short on dough and not in need of anything right now, but we'll be back.

There are no deals at the moment, but we'll be back for this as well.

All the icons are animated. All of them.

The last building is the shrine, which does all the things churches usually do in early RPGs.

For should they be wanting, my services are theirs for the asking.
You seem to be fine in both body and spirit.

If we're ever not fine in body or spirit, he'll lift curses and cure poison - for a fee, naturally.

More importantly, he'll tell us how much XP we need, as well as save our game.

Do you wish to continue your adventure?
Stop by whenever you need my help.

But since we're talking about saving,

this is the full menu once you've made a save.

(The second and third options were "delete" and "copy", which do exactly what they say.)

Well, then, SUE, let's send you back to the Kingdom of Thornwood.

Now we finally get a title screen - possibly the most boring one of all time, but we do get one. There's not much point in showing this off, but hey, it's not my bandwidth.

All right, I've stalled long enough; back to the grind. Cave slugs are slightly more threatening than the oozes, having one or two more hit points and slightly higher defence, but they still die in one hit from the short sword unless you get very unlucky.

...which is exactly what happened here.

Prepare to see this screen a lot.

(Side note, there is no need to use the exit; you can leave the village at any time by pressing B.)

Sue gains his first level!

The first of many, many levels.

Hit Point(s) gained: 7
IQ Point(s) gained: 4
Speed Point(s) gained: 2
Luck Point(s) gained: 2
Attack Point(s) gained: 3
Defense Point(s) gained: 1

I won't be keeping track of the stats for every level-up, but this one is special since it's our very first. It's actually a big boost for a level 1 Sue.

...but not big enough. We're still stuck grinding ooze and slugs for a bit longer.

Level 3!

All right, that should be enough. Now, we're strong enough to start exploring this place for real.

Just right of the entrance, there's a big door we can't get through. Fortunately, neither can the monsters on the other side, which would murder us horribly if they got half a chance. Don't expect it to remain closed forever - it's just a matter of finding the right key.

Torches don't do anything, but they're useful as landmarks.

These puddles on the floor... not so much.

This one is harmless, but you will learn to hate these things. Oh, so much hate.

We turn a corner, and encounter a new enemy!

The Pitworm has more HP than the oozes and slugs, but has less defence, so it still dies in one hit. They drop three gold instead of the oozes' two, so killing them is slightly more rewarding, but the most interesting thing about this fight is the thing we can barely see in the distance behind the enemies...

...or so I thought! This encounter would have been pretty unremarkable if it hadn't been for this. Every enemy in the game has some kind of item they'll drop, but the chance that you'll actually get one is extremely low. We won't equip this, but the 75 bucks it sells for is a big boost to our meagre funds.

Oh, for-

And here's baby's first treasure chest! They contain everything from the best gear in the game to... well, we'll see when we get to that. The ones in here are entirely harmless, and don't contain anything particularly valuable, but free stuff is free stuff and we're happy for every little scrap we can get.

Chests open with the Search command. Search has a very silly icon.

Yay, I suppose.

Herbs are your basic HP restorative. This early on, they're sufficient.

There's a lot of chests close to the entrance. They won't always be this common, more's the pity.

Sometimes, enemies will take you by surprise. This colours them black and allows them first strike, although they won't necessarily all get a hit in. Only one of these actually attacked me.

They're still cave slugs, so it's over pretty quickly.

This MAN-APE is the meanest critter we've seen so far, and it gets the drop on us to boot. Five points is a lot for a third-level character.

It's stronger and tougher than previous enemies, but at level three and with the short sword, it still goes down in one hit.

It did quite a number on us though, and one encounter later, we're in pretty bad shape.

That presents me with a good opportunity to show off this icon!

Sue chews down that herb he found and feels much better.

...I'm lost.

But it all turns out well in the end. Replacement herb!

If you've never had to run across one of these things on a higher floor when you were five or ten years old, you can never understand my pain.

But as I keep reminding myself: they're harmless.

For now.

Sue gains another level...

...and then yet another! Beware, slimy creatures of the deep, for your doom is at hand!

That's pretty good, and we're about two thirds of the way to where we need to be. For now, since we're nearly out of health, we'll go back to town to heal and spend all that loot.

I was going to pick up the Gauntlet, the weakest "shield", but it turned out I had more money after selling all the stuff than I had expected. Say hello to the leathershield!

It's a significant upgrade over "bare hand".

Also, now that I have some money, I'm buying this, which allows me to instantly leave the labyrinth at any time. 24 gold isn't much now that we're strong enough to fight enemies that drop more than two GP apiece, and it helps cut down on the walking and the slog through pointless weak enemies. (It's also a great panic button, but I'm hoping not to need that.)

It's getting late, so...

...the old man is turning in, and we should do the same. But first! The results of Sue's first day in the Labyrinth.

Equipment: Short sword (Weapon Factor: 10), Woven robe (Armour Factor: 8), Leathershield (Armour Factor: 12), (nothing)

And here's the area we've explored today. It may not seem like we got very far, but that path is so littered with corpses we were walking uphill on the way out. Not bad for a day's work!

Next: deeper.

Bonus video: Battles. Also shows off the "surprised" effect and contains an enemy we haven't officially encountered yet! Suspense!