Part 7: [Title Card]
Well finally! This prologue has been going on forever.
CUTSCENE: Beneath Balandor
CUTSCENE / AERA MUSIC: Infiltration! (Disc 1, Track 12)
We resume our round-circle trip through hell in the Balandor castle catacombs, a giant fortress underneath a fortress, apparently. Im starting to get Last Story vibes. I wonder if were going to run into Zael and Calista down here?
Cisna: Not this way!
Leonard: Hey, relax. Who knows their way around this castle better anyway, me or you?
Cisna: Do you want me to hit you or something?
Leonard: Sorry, we dont have a choice!
In his defence, hes kind of right. Mr. Sheffield essentially shunted us into a Final Fantasy XIII-style hallway level, and going backwards means turning around and saying hello to Pyredaemos, and I dont think anyones up for that.
GAMEPLAY VIDEO: Under Balandor Castle (with commentary this time!)
Once we gain control of Leonard again, Cisna is along with us as a guest character. Same rules apply, if she dies: game over. Just like Raus, shes absolutely useless. No skills, no weapon, no spells and her default battle AI is set to Stay Safe and Hang Back.
Also, enjoy this brief glimpse of non-boss battle gameplay, because Blind Sally and I unanimously decided fuck that to doing any more of these after how boring and samey this one went. Besides, what you see here is more-or-less 80% of what actual gameplay this game entails, the other 20% is coming up later in this update.
Leonard: Princess, are you alright?
Cisna: I-Ill make it.
This area is essentially a series of broad platforms connected by stairs. Like I said, its a hallway level the likes of which Final Fantasy XIII would be proud of.
Theres usually one or two enemies per platform. And its about repetitive as you can get.
Leonard: It's like a castle under the castle!
Cisna: Why is this all happening?
Cinsa spends much of her Live Talk meekly sobbing over her father and the attack... like any normal human being who just experienced seeing a whole swath of people she knew and cared for (one of whom was HER FATHER!) being senselessly and brutally murdered would be. Leonard, meanwhile, spends his Live Talk being impressed by the architecture of the place.
Leonard is dumb.
That said, I really like the aesthetics of this place with the waterfalls and everything. It looks awesome, but it doesnt make a lick of sense Like a lot of things in this game.
Finally we come to an enclosed hallway at the end of the platforms, which lead down to the vaults under the castle.
As we get closer to the big black doors, the sudden letterboxing once again alerts us to an incoming cutscene.
Cisna: Wait, this is where No, nevermind. Keep going!
Leonard: Huh? Oookay.
CUTSCENE: The Incorruptus
Leonard: Whats this?
Cisna: I think Its the treasure vault.
More chunks of the ceiling come falling down. I wonder
Yep. Its our old friend Pyredaemos.
Leonard: Uh-oh! Company!
I dont know why the giant door they ran through is suddenly closed. Or why it was suddenly open to allow them in to the vault to begin with when it was clearly closed in the previous shot too.
PLOT CONTRIVANCE! (Id work out a drinking game for this story, but Im certain I would inadvertently murder at least a handful of goons through alcohol poisoning if I did).
Ah, Pyredaemos I think you should maybe, you know
Watch out for all the falling rubble
Eh, fuck it. Nice job burying yourself there.
Leonard isnt actually unconscious at this point. Hes just taking a moment to desperately savour his first actual intimate contact with a female since he emerged from his mothers vagina and WHY DID I WRITE THAT SENTENCE?!
Cisna: Oh gods, REALLY?!
Nothing says young love like your female romantic lead pushing herself away from her alleged love interest in shock and disgust.
Also, I love how she got thrown forty feet across the room, slides across solid flagstone and not only managed to somehow land on Leonard despite being thrown in opposite directions, but also not manage to rip her dress or even get it slightly dirty.
You know what Im certain happened here? Cisna was legit knocked out and Leonard just crawled over and laid her out on top of him to make it look like he shielded her from the impact with his body or something because hes creepily obsessed with her now.
Okay, so theyre trapped in the vault now. But at least Pyredaemos is incapacitated.
And here it is at last, off in the distance, the titular White Knight.
Leonard looks somewhat impressed. Then again, Leonard is impressed by shoes.
Leonard: Whats that?
Cisna: We found this armour Seventeen years ago, after the Cataclysm.
Cisna: No one knows where it came from, but our scholars think it was made by the Ancients
Leonard: Those Ancients must have been pretty tall.
Well, in all fairness, I suppose that is a semi-cogent assumption to make, given how this thing apparently has zero context in Leonards world. Lets just call it an Anime and be done with it.
Mysterious Man: That is an Incorruptus.
Mysterious Man: A weapon of war, crafted by an ancient race. It is an awesome, cursed power
HOW THE FUCK DID YOU GET DOWN HERE MAXWELL?! You stayed behind to help Yulie and Orren escape the castle. Are they safe? Did you abandon them? Because theyre not here with you. The room is sealed off thanks to Pyredaemos bringing the door down around it. So, were you just waiting here for us then? Did you somehow sneak past Leonard and Cisna and get here before them? Did you teleport into the room?
Orren: I have literally no idea how he got in there. I asked him like eight times between then and now and I never got a straight answer. He did call me Niles more times than Id care to remember, though. Senile old coot.
Leonard: A weapon?
Mysterious Man: The castles raiders are after this. They seek a holy relic known as the Ark, the key to the Incorruptuss power.
Raiders of the Ark? Nah. Fuck you, White Knight Chronicles, how DARE you try to subtly invoke better crafted works of fiction.
Ooo, I wonder what that might be on the pedestal?
Leonard: Ark ?
Oh god, hes doing the Shion, AKA: repeating the key noun or phrase of whatever was just say as a question to imply puzzlement or confusion.
To see other examples of The Shion in action, check out SkurvyKips Xenosaga LP, just in case you need even more incentive to try and kill yourself after suffering through White Knight Chronicles.
Oh hey, Pyredaemos isnt dead.
I love how he just stands face-on into the explosion.
Leonard: Its back!
Cisna: It never left
Mysterious Man: Wonderful.
Leonard makes a run for the Ark
Much to Maxwells horror.
Mysterious Man: What are you doing?!
Leonard: Fighting! You said it was a weapon, right? Well, now seems like a damn good time to use it!
Suddenly, Cisnas batters run out. I mean, Cisna is overwhelmed by a strange magical force the moment Leonard states his intention to fight using the Incorruptus.
Again with the bloody dutch angles
Mysterious Man: Fool! Stay away from it if you want to live! Only the worthy are permitted to touch that!
Also notice the unhealthy blue glow thats enveloped our fair Princess. She appears to be emitting Cherenkov radiation. I hope that Incorruptus is made of lead.
Cisna, meanwhile, begins whispering in the background in ancient gibberish, clearly preforming some sort of spell.
Leonard: Maybe so
Leonard: But if I dont, were all dead anyway!
Mysterious Man: You mustnt!
Youre fighting a losing battle here, dude.
Cisna: Zabar, Kredge, Caldor, WALMART!
I seriously think the voice director just told Kari Walhgren to make up random gibberish for a few minutes here. Because Cisna says a lot of stuff during this brief interlude, but none of it is words.
Like a glove wait.
The look of a young mean realising hes made a huge mistake.
The Ark emits a blinding blue light.
And of course, the only thing Leonard is worthy of is a swift kick in the balls to ensure he never reproduces, so hes incinerated by the Ark in moments, Indiana Jones-style. Because ancient magic does not broker crippling stupidity
CUTSCENE: The Ghost in the Machine
FUCK. YOU. GAME!
Christ. Hes still with us. Okay, so Leonard awakens to find himself somewhere else.
Leonard: Where am I? What happened?
Phantom: O thee who wouldst wield my powr
Leonard: Wh-whos there?
Leonard: And why are you talking funny? What do you think this is, the Middle Ages?
Ask and you shall receive.
I just love the design of this thing, the way it looks like its made of like marble or something on one side with dark energy flowing underneath as all the chips and pieces constantly come flying off of it. Yeah, its over-the-top and anime as hell, but screw that, its cool looking.
Leonard is understandably freaked out to see this thing just floating there all baddass and shit.
Phantom: O thee who wouldst wield my powr Draw thy blade.
Phantom: Now is the time to prove thyself worthy.
Again, the game gets my hopes up. I should just throw this fight and die, but noooooooo you people want to see how this game ends for some reason.
BOSS FIGHT: The Phantom & Pyredaemos (with commentary by nine-gear crow and Blind Sally)
So Leonard gets to fight the Phantom alone in this weird pocket dimension.
Not to kill the tension or anything, but were not really in any danger here. Even in a vanilla new game, the Phantom is a one-note pushover if you're anywhere over Level 3 or 4 going into this fight. This fight isnt about confronting a serious boss, its about hyping you up for getting control of the White Knight for the first time.
Hell whip out this really cool ghost sword and whack you with it, but thats about it. He also gets some ominous in-battle dialog:
Phantom: I hear it! The voice of your SOUL!
Leonard: Hey! Just hold on!
Phantom: GRANT MY WISH!
Leonard: Who is this guy?
Thats actually a giant-ass game 2 endgame spoiler, if fan speculation is to be believed, and honestly, I dont know if its true or not, but the dangling implications are all there for it in this scene. I'll discuss my thoughts on it when we get to that point in the sequel, so you either need to be patient, or skip to the end of the game 2 portion of the LP and CTRL-F "Phantom" and see it for yourself.
Phantom: Couldst thou be the one?
Leonard: Hey! Worthy of what?!
So Leonard defeats a 10,000 year-old spirit using a cheap steel sword. For reasons.
Phantom: O thee who standeth and liveth before my blade.
Phantom: Thou art worthy of a pact. My master
Im pretty sure Leonard didnt so much as beat the Phantom, so much as the Phantom just said, fuck it, hell do, because it was tired of being chained to a damn wall in Cisnas basement.
Phantom: To thee, all my powr I bequeath.
Loan, you mean.
The Phantom breaks up into dark energy and begins to encircle Leonard.
And we cut back to pretty much the same moment we left on.
Blind Sally pointed out when we were just riffing on the cutscenes between commentary recordings that the scene becomes instantly funnier if you picture this all happening in real time. As in Cisna, Mr. Sheffield, and Pyredeamos just paused and waited as Leonard disappeared into an alternate dimension for like five minutes and then re-emerged instead of it taking less than a second as is implied in the cutscene.
Leonard: Wh-what happened?
Plot just happened, son, plot.
Mysterious Man: Hes alive?! I dont believe it.
Leonard: Yeah, can totally hear you, old man. Thanks for the vote of confidence, by the way.
Mysterious Man: Could he really be one of the worthy?
Purely for the purposes of moving things forward sure. Why not?
Oh yeah. This things still here.
Hey, dumbass. DO SOMETHING ALREADY!
Leonard: O Wizel, white warrior, wielder of the ancient sword
I dont know how he suddenly knows this incantation. I can only assume the Phantom just downloaded it into his brain The Matrix-style. Dont worry, it didnt overwrite anything important. There wasnt much in there to begin with.
Pyredaemos aint havin none of that.
Cisna: Watch out!
Oh I guess he died then. Yay.
Cisna: No !
Cisna: Shit. Um, hey, Gandalf, you want to give it shot then?
Like a cat with a pinned mouse, Pyredaemos lords over Leonards squished corpse.
It rears back
And rams it turret into the Incorruptus. Why it just didnt fire at it, I dont know, but then again I totally get the irrational urge to break things associated with this game, so have at it, buddy.
However, as the smoke clears, it appears the Incorruptus is undamaged.
But with a dead Pactmaker and the chains holding it up shattered, it collapses to the ground.
This game in a single image, ladies and gentlemen.
I stand corrected
All seems lost at this point.
Like they were gonna kill of the main character that easily. Besides, you cant kill stupid.
Cisna: Oh thank the gods. Kill this damn thing and swear fealty to me already! We are going to war with so many people tomorrow morning I need a goddamn list for them all!
Mysterious Man: Some things never change, I see
Cisna: By the way, hey, old man. You want to be my new Cyrus? Because Im gonna execute my old Cyrus for failing to do his job properly tonight, and Im taking resumes.
Leonard: grant me your power!
Oh god, are you STILL trying to get through that that incantation? Its not that difficult. Really, all you need to say is
CUTSCENE MUSIC: The White Knight (Disc 1, Track 13)
Both Leonard and the White Knight disappear in a flash of blue light.
Blind Sally suggested the Sailor Moon transformation theme should be playing at this point.
Id counter that by saying the transformation music from Digimon Frontier should be playing right now because, a) it would make this scene even more badass, and b) both it and WKC are essentially a pair of lousy franchise-killing henshin hero stories that ask the same question: How badly and consistently can your heroes cock up basic acts of heroism before they stop being heroes anymore?
But thats neither here nor there right now.
Although speaking of which I did make this, and and this for you all to watch.
With the transformation complete, the Incorruptus rises to its feet for the first time in ten thousand years.
Four LP chapters and 3 gameplay hours later and the White Knight Chronicle has begun in earnest. Leonard has just transformed into a walking fantasy tank. We have hit peak anime, people. Run for the lifeboats.
Blind Sallys note: How is the fur around the White Knights collar still in pristine condition after 10,000 years of sitting dormant?
Pyredaemos, meanwhile, isnt taking too kindly to suddenly being on even footing against an active Incorruptus.
The two titans size each other up while Cisna and Mr. Sheffield look on in awe. Also, the White Knight now has a blue cap. Because Level-5 just didn't want to bother rendering it up til this point.
Mysterious Man: This is unexpected indeed
You know what, Maxwell, I dont believe you.
Oh hey, Cyrus and Yulie are here too. Wheres Orren? Well, its the most blatant plot chapter weve had since the word go, so of course the Avatar is completely absent from it because that would involve making them an active part of the story and we cant have that.
Lets just say hes up in the castle rescuing frightened nobles and burying his axe into well-deserving Magi soldiers while this madness is unfurling down here.
Castleguardsman: Sir Cyrus, look!
Cyrus: It cant be! Impossible! W-why is it moving?!
Yulie: Is that you Leonard?!
How she knows hes become the White Knight after just arriving to an out-of-context scene and completely missing his transformation, I do not know. PLOT CONTRIVANCE!
The White Knight unveils its big giant sword
So we transition right into our first battle with the White Knight.
Incorruptus battles play nearly identically as on-foot battles, only the character youre controlling is nearly 30 feet tall. Yet they still act like they have the weight and centre of gravity of the 5 foot tall characters.
I will give the game some credit, during this battle, these pillars that you see around us are breakable. They will collapse if either Pyredaemos crashes through one of them or if it knocks the White Knight into one of them.
They cant be broken intentionally by you, however, nor do they do anything special if they are broken. Because Level-5 wanted to show that they cared a little, just not too much.
Leonard: Wheres this power coming from?
Anyway, because were on even footing with Pyredaemos now, we can attack any part of its body we want to now with the White Knight.
Much like trolls, Pyredaemos is vulnerable to stabbing attacks like Thrust.
Like I said, Incorrupti work on virtually the same principles as the regular characters do.
The only key difference is that outside of boss fights, while a character is transformed into an Incorruptus, their MP bar is slowly consumed. When the MP bar reaches 0, the character will revert to their human form. You can counter this by using MP supplementing items like Mana Potions or the Bow and Arrow skill Spirit Hymn to recoup some MP and keep your Incorruptus in the fight for a little while longer. If the Incorruptuss HP drops down to 0 the character will also revert to their human form. Whether they revert by choice or theyre forced to revert under any circumstance, the character in question will be left with 0 MP and will need to replenish it.
It takes a minimum of 7 AC to transform into an Incorruptus outside of boss battles.
Leonard: Youve caused enough damage!
So thrust and slash are old hats, but heres Sonic Blade. Its a slashing attack thats also a long distance skill for swords. Theres an on-foot variation of it as well further up the short sword skill line. It looks cool, but because Pyredaemos can only be criticaled by stabbing attacks, its kind of pointless to use it right now.
CUTSCENE: Fighting Pyredaemos
It is enough, however, to trigger the next cutscene.
Pyredaemos belches fire in anger at getting its ass handed to it, causing even more stuff to collapse around it.
The White Knight is fine
But these puny human-type creatures all around it certainly arent.
Cisna: GodsDAMMIT! Stop breaking my castle!
Leonard: Fightings too risky here. Change of plans!
He runs up to Pyredaemos, aaaaaand
Orren: No. Just shut up.
He swoops in underneath Pyredaemos and hoists it over his head.
Breaking the floor with their combined weight. Nice touch.
And he jumps straight up through the ceiling with it, Superman-style. Though when you stop and think about it, again this should be another classic Leonard No, Im totally helping guys! Really! fuck up, as he pretty much just caused the ceiling to collapse in on the vault by bursting through it with Pyredeamos, almost assuredly killing Cisna, Yulie, Cyrus, Mr. Sheffield and those poor Castleguard schmucks.
If someone was actually thinking things through and actions in this game had consequences. But alas, it doesnt happen for reasons.
Leonard is a shitty, thoughtless hero who literally does not understand the term collateral damage because collateral is one of those big fancy dictionary words that make the inside of his head hurt when he thinks about them.
Hes essentially Henry Cavills Superman minus Cavills dopey charm. (Note: I have not seen Man of Steel, but I have seen and heard enough about it to know it kind of turns Supes into a blithely accidental mass murderer).
Well, I hope there arent any nobles or stray soldiers somehow still milling about the Castle
Because this place just got even more fucked up.
Da. Da da da daaah.
Dah. Dah. Daaaah.
Da. Da da da daaaaaaah .
YOURE A TWAT!
Instead of trying kill Pyredaemos with his giant sword, Leonard instead tosses it into a pillar causing EVEN MORE COLLATERAL DAMAGE TO THE CASTLE!
Oh hey, Belcitane is just randomly there too. For what reason, I dont honestly know. Though I suspect that, given everything weve learned about him as a character these last few chapters, he probably just got done pissing on Valtoss corpse. Because why the fuck not?
Belcitane: Hmm? Is that?!
Belcitane: An EVA? No, seriously what the hell is that thing?
Its not in the commentary for this extended battle sequence, but we joked as we were recording the gameplay footage that it would be hilarious if Belcitane actually had no idea what he was attacking the castle to try and retrieve and he was legitimately shocked to see the White Knight come bursting up through the floor because he doesnt have a clue as to what it is.
Anyway, Belcy just disappears as randomly as he appears and its back to Leonard and Pyredaemos one-on-one.
Leonard: Now we can finish this. Time to die, beast!
Leonard: We can fight all we want here.
Leonard: Wait, where was the hole we just came up through? Eh, nevermid.
No seriously. I am distressed by the distinct lack of a chasm right here.
I mean, its nice that youve got this big open area to faff about in and try out your newly acquired Knight, but its not really needed because youre just going to be wailing on Pyredaemos the whole time.
Because its the only thing you can do in battle!
Honestly, it would be more interesting if there was a chasm here, because then it would show that even scripted actions in this game have consequences, and you could also use it to up the tension of the battle by essentially fighting Pyredaemos on the edge of a giant self-made cliff and you need to beat it quickly otherwise it might knock you off into the pit or the floor could collapse beneath you or something.
Shit, Level-5, they were doing this as far back as Final Fantasy X. Are you telling me no one on the WKC dev team had the gumption to try and rip a mechanic like that off, even for one battle?
Eh, fuck it. Same strategy as before: thrust your giant steel phallus into Pyredaemoss gaping vagina-dentada.
Repeat until cutscene.
I dont know why all the Knights in this game essentially wear high heels. Its not practical in any way, although it does explain why they can be knocked off balance if you fart in their general direction at times.
Heres the wind up
And the pitch!
FIST! Its whats for dinner.
Okay, fine, make your damn Captain Falcon joke, kid. You earned it.
Leonard: I dont even know what that is.
Looks like Team Rockets
Again with the doing more harm than good thing
Leonard: Woah! Did I just do that?
We point it out in our riff of the between-battle cutscenes, but this was a point both me and Sally tweaked on. Leonard has fought and defeated an ancient spirit in what I can only assume is some kind of neitherworld, transformed into a twenty foot-tall walking suit of armour, picked up a walking magical flame-shitting tank and powerbombed it through several hundred feet of rock and brick effortlessly, and now just punching it hard enough to send it flying through a doorway is what gets him to pause react in awe of what hes doing.
Leonard is dumb. Incredibly dumb.