Part 8: Scaling Issues
Right Lets try that again. Our objective now is to escape the Reaper. Of all the gameplay bits to bring back from the old games, did it really have to be escaping an instant death (okay it takes two hits to kill Aya on this difficulty but getting hit once is close to a death sentence) invincible monster down winding corridors with little direction?
Before we start though, I opened up the map and cobbled together the total ground we will be covering here. We are starting on that narrow bit on the very southern part. For reference to scale, that hallway is about as long as a school bus. Keep in mind, we are still in Club Sacrifice this entire mission. And you know how I said we were in the basement of the place? I mean it does look like that, right? Yeah I was mistaken. This is not the basement. Also, keep in mind we are traveling away from the entirety of where the first couple of chapters took place.
So the Reaper is completely invincible. Not even the far too tough to take on with our current weaponry tough. Aya could come back here with top end New Game Plus weaponry and the reaper would no-sell anything tossed at it. So instead, weve got to flee. The trouble is, the Reaper will erect barriers of blood in Ayas path. There is no way past these barriers. Buuuuut
Darnel Tievle here just so happens to run over to see what all the ruckus is about. Good timing, buddy! Leaping into the new body, Aya can bypass the barrier and continue her flight from the invincible Twisted.
Oh? You want to know what happened to poor Guillermo Lanier, who we left behind. Well, he got instantly grinded into a fine paste. Its an unstoppable beast that can kill our playable character in two hits. What did you think was going to happen to some expendable NPC left in its path? What a dumb question.
Eventually we reach an open area with another blood barrier where the Reaper shows off its ability to just plain teleport. It can only teleport short ranges and if it has been alerted to
Aya has no choice but to evade getting plastered for about thirty seconds and abuse her rolling i-frames to get away from the Reapers swipes.
The less than ultimate being can also fire off projectiles of blood spray which only take away about a third of Ayas health with each strike. Not as harsh as the 80% a tail swipe does.
Eventually, German Kaneko, the spawn of star-crossed lovers in the Axis powers of World War 2, wanders into the area to see whats crackin and he becomes Ayas new host to escape the Reaper Thunderdome. Sorry, Darnel. It was real.
Further into the lengthy corridor, Aya has the option of going straight, where a conga line of Slackers and waist-high barriers await. Or she can swing a left down a side corridor that only has slowly erecting blood barriers that she needs to roll past in time or else be forced to double back. Taking the left path is the only way to get the first Feat of escaping the Reaper swiftly. Not that the actual time matters. Its efficiency of the escape and thats the most efficient route.
Not that we have actually escaped the Reaper yet. It now has entered its third mode of transportation: search orb. Well discuss the orb mode later. Second Lieutenant Dennis Murray has the right idea. Sorry, German. To be fair, who names their fucking kid German? Their Japanese surnamed son at that
Finally, Aya properly escapes the Reaper by ducking out a staff only exit accessible only by climbing a ladder through an opening in the wall. Sure, why not?
Music: Insanity of the Enraged
Though, the claims of that being any sort of exit are greatly exaggerated, as Aya is just deposited in another non-descript hallway filled with Slackers lollygagging about and the occasional orb blocking the path and spawning Wads. Nothing much of note.
Here is the layout of the rest of ground Aya has to cover. Keep in mind we have at no point doubled back and have only dropped down a single floor still situated to the north of everything else weve seen in the area. Club Sacrifice has to occupy, at minimum, about two solid blocks of Manhattan real estate.
At the far northern end of the map, Aya finally reaches the exterior of the club. But things are a touch awry when we reach the outdoors.
So this is supposed to be a fire escape on the side of Club Sacrifice. This deck is twice the size of my porch patio. You could drive a full sized car up these stairs and have it perform a 3-point turn then drive back down these fire escape. Also, this whole time we were on the 5th-6th floors of the establishment.
Thats not all of the structural anomalies. Down at ground level, we find the return of the platform we saved back in the club dancefloor of Chapter 2. Its like that dog you rescue in the beginning of Resident Evil 4. Except its just sitting here in the middle of this area devoid of enemies for no clear reason. And doesnt aide us against a cave troll. And its really not like that at all. Ive lost my train of thought
Most strikingly will you look at this fucking fire exit. Take a good look at it. Aya Brea is supposed to be roughly 5 foot 2-3 inches. The bar to open this 14 foot door comes up to her neck. Never mind the fact that these doors are on the outside of the building.
Also, this area is completely enclosed by a sixty foot tall chain-link fence. It would be kind of neat if the Twisted were warping the world around them with their presence and this was intentionally really off to reflect that. But nah. Someone probably just completely screwed up the scale modeling for this particular map and nobody caught it. Or by the time someone did, nobody cared enough to correct the Anor Londo Alleyway. Really says a lot about the care to the craft of The 3rd Birthday.
Id like to reiterate that this is by far the best looking and most detailed mission of the game. Its mostly all downhill from here.
Underneath the fire escape overpass, Aya finds a relatively normal sized entrance to the first floor of Club Sacrifice. Hey, Club Sacrifice building manager you really shouldnt put an EXIT sign above an exterior back entrance into your building. Its highly inaccurate.
Now we are on the first floor of the monolith that is Club Sacrifice and this is pretty much the entirety of it. Past this is a safe room and then were back outside on the far end of the building. Yeah you figure that out.
So the Reaper is back or another one is here Im not sure. Regardless, its being a nuisance in its orb form. Not to be confused with Orbs the glowing weak points of the landscape. They really need better names for these dumb anomalies.
So, Reaper orbs. This is the Reapers search mode in which it slowly floats around an area, hoping to make contact with Aya or any other non-possessed soldier in the area. But mostly Aya, since shes the only one moving around much given the NPC mens crap AI. The Reaper orb will pretty much constantly move towards Aya and if it makes contact, the Reaper proper will spawn back into the area and attack.
The best way to avoid this is to Overdive into a body on the far side of the room when the Reaper ball draws close. The trouble is that said Reaper sphere can also just teleport to the other side of the room to continue its creeping up on Aya. It can teleport kind of at will. And get right in her way. And the camera doesnt spin around fast enough to do anything about it if it teleports in her blind spot. So really, its best just to let it touch Aya, spawn the Reaper, then jump to the far side of the room while the soldiers left behind keep it busy.
Of note for this tactic: Yeah you fail that Dont Get Damage by the Reaper! Feat. Getting touched by the Reaper orb counts as taking damage. Even though it does zero damage. Or possibly does so little damage that it is invisible on the lifebar on the HUD. Regardless, fuck you, says The 3rd Birthday.
There are a regular flow of Slackers and Wads popping into this room as a result of Orbs Aya must destroy to progress, on top of the Reaper sphere being a dick. Its best just to pop a stored Liberation and nuke all the orbs in quick succession just to be done with this dancing around the teleporting invincible mini-boss crap.
Once all the Orbs in the room are destroyed, the path to yet another Exit sign bearing door, that doesnt actually lead to a real exit, will reveal itself.
Music: Equinox of Insanity
While were in the neighborhood, we can have Aya jump into the body of civilian Danny Zabel here for an easy Feat completion. The other four men left there with the unstoppable death beast? Ehh. They knew what they were getting into when they signed up for duty.
Anyway, we have another safe room. Lets see what the troops have to say.
I can't stop shaking. What the hell are they?
Private Flanagan! Your new duty is cannon fodder. The rest of us will retreat.
My new what!? I don't wanna die!
I'm supposed to live. Guard me with your life and you'll be commended. I can't die here, Flanagan. The country will take care of your family.
Well, Edward Bates is kind of a dick. Dont worry Flanagan. You get to chill out in the safe room here. Aya is marching Bates heres body to the next battle. Chances of survival arent too hot.
Music: Unknown, Unknown
Hey, remember our pal the Helix Twisted from the opening of the mission? Turns out he figured out the whole portal transportation thing and dragged his full form out into this parking lot behind the club. Good thing this monstrosity didnt pour out of the concert hall, where there would be little room to evade getting pasted by it.
In any case, its now time for another boss battle against the Helix. This isnt actually the end of mission boss battle, like youd think when introducing a creature that escapes early on. Though it is probably the most difficult boss of the episode.
Our first order of business is slowing down the Helix, as of right now it is just going to stomp around and take massive swipes around the area at Aya and the troops as well as spam fireballs across the area. Really, its attacks havent changed much at all. Its just not fixed to a single position anymore (though it doesnt really move much regardless so...)
Way the hell ahead of you Cray. Theres only auto-lock on for all of Ayas weapons and it immediately targets the leg. This doesnt actually hurt Helix. Just stuns it for a time.
With the boss busy nursing its Charley horse for a bit, Aya now has time to take out an orb blocking access to a nearby roof which will give us access to Helixs flank.
So the Helix has a giant glowing weak point on its back. This is where we have to attack to do damage the creature. Annoyingly, theres actually a bit of lag before we can target the damn thing.
We have to wait for our support staff to mention that weve got a good position and ought to look for a weak point before Aya decides that is a good idea and is able to do that herself. Maybe Adam Goodman authorized the use of Weakpoint Targeting in the interval.
Helix will respond against Aya dumping on its weak back hump by twisting its head around and spamming some fireballs in Ayas direction. Given the lower angle of the shots, Aya can evade this by just backing up a couple feet and waiting it out for the few seconds until it ends.
After a while of taking abuse from its flank, Helix will get fed up with Ayas shit and climb up onto the roof to attack Ayas flesh puppet more directly. There is a convenient waist high barrier erected up on the roof here. But thats not going to hold out for long.
If Aya just hangs out on the roof for too long and does nothing to draw the creatures aggro away from the roof, Helix will just head-butt the entire rooftop, taking out the barrier and one-shotting the soldier Aya is possessing. It should be mentioned if Ayas Overdived body is killed by getting knocked straight to the ground, theres only about a second and a half to react and jump to a new body before Aya expires and triggers a Game Over. So thats something to watch out for in combat.
What we need to do instead of sticking to the defensive on the roof, is to jump down to a soldier back on ground level and have them start dumping bullets into the Helixs leg while it is awkwardly straddling the side of the building.
Stunning the leg here will cause the boss Twisted to topple onto its back like some kind of extra-dimensional idiot turtle, where it will flail about for a good thirty seconds. This also allows Aya to perform an Overdive kill to drain a good half of a health bar off the creature.
There is an annoying aspect to stunning Helix like this. After Aya performs the Overdive kill, the monster doesnt get un-stunned and resume its attack. You know like most every boss that you stun leaving an opening to deal some critical damage. It is just kind of stuck in this flailing animation for the entire 30 seconds regardless of when Aya does the Overdive attack. After that, were just left with attempting to target the creatures head as it flails back and forth. Sorry, no follow-up weak points on its tummy. Not a particularly great bit of design.
Helix only tries the building straddling the one time. After that it will just spam fireballs in Ayas direction for the rest of the battle. But, if Aya is careful, she can wear down the monster by giving it a mouth full of lead, just like the first battle against it.
This too stuns the monster for a time, letting Aya indiscriminately dump several magazines worth of M4 ammo into Helixs weak point and finish it off with one last Overdive kill.
And that is a wrap on the woeful tale of the first major boss of The 3rd Birthday. It lived as it died. Just kind of fading out unceremoniously when the scene is over. Good job, Aya!
Tune in next time for some anime ass bullshit and a bunch of Proper Nouns with no context or explanation as we conclude Episode 1 of The 3rd Birthday! It will be a thing.
Video: Reaper Chase and Helix Boss Battle
Helix The monsters are called Twisted, huh? Alright. Just make the boss a bunch of sharp spirals! I dunno.