The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow

Part 26: Crispin Freeman Sends His Regards

CUTSCENE: The History of the World (Part 1)

Back in Balandor at Casa de Medius, Setti sits the party down around the kitchen table to discuss the history of the Dogma Era.

This should be good…

Setti: …You see, when my father Medius died, he told me all about the secret of the Knights.
Orren: Shouldn’t that be BEFORE he died? Gods, one sentence in and you’re already sounding suspicious.

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Scar” (Disc 2, Track 13)

Setti: As you know, the Knights are weapons of war, sprung from an ancient wisdom.

Setti: These Ancients, their technology truly defies modern understanding.

Setti: But as sophisticated as they are they were, the Ancients still needed a fuel for their Knights, something with which to power them.
Leonard: Fuel?
Orren: Gods, could you PLEASE just shut up and listen for once without parroting back keywords all the time?

Setti: A Knight is like a suit of armour; it cannot act on its own.

He shakes his head and looks downcast, like he’s burdened with a terrible weight all of the sudden.

Setti: To move, to fight, each Knight requires the power of a person’s soul.

Yulie: What?

Caesar: So wait, we’ve been lending out our souls so that they can fight?

Setti: Essentially, yes. A Pactmaker with the right qualities offers his soul, and the Knight is transformed into the mightiest of warriors.

Caesar: The right qualities… Hmm.

In Leonard’s case, stupidity; in Caesar’s case, badass.

But wait, there’s more…

Setti: Of course, the men who made these invincible weapons; they feared that the Pactmakers might turn on them. So they took an extra precaution:

Setti: They used the souls of newborn infants to power the Knights.

Yulie: Babies?!

No, more like:


Setti: Yes.

Setti: The armour itself learns from its battle experience, and can then fight on its own.

Setti: The soul is enough; it does not need a higher intelligence.

Or in Leonard’s case, any intelligence.

Setti: The creators saw that if they used an infant’s soul, still innocent…

Setti: They could maintain complete control of their weapons.

Caesar: So they turned babies into killing machines?

Caesar: That’s evil, man.
Orren: And infuriatingly stupid.

When I showed him this cutscene, Blind Sally said something to the effect of “Wow, that’s like Venture Bros.-level messed up.”

Leonard: What the hell? What kind of war was this?

World War Stupid, apparently.

Setti: A long time ago, during what’s known as the Dogma Age…

Setti: Two great forces struggled for control of the world.

Setti: They were called Yshrenia and Athwan.

Click here for a massive version of this screenshot.

Setti: Their fortunes waxed and waned, but neither could ever gain the upper hand. In a bid to finish the war once and for all, Yshrenia created the Knights. And just like that, the tides changed; before long Athwan stood on the brink of defeat.

Again, click here for the gigantic version of this tapestry.

The murals explain a lot more than what Setti’s saying. In the center of the drawing it shows whole groups of people apparently sacrificing their lives to give the Knights life and the pile of corpses resting at the base of the Knights construction slabs.

I don’t know about you, guys, but I think between this and the whole “powered by the souls of babies” thing, I think these Yshrenia fuckers might be slightly evil.

I’m not certain, let’s hear some more evidence before we make up our minds.

Setti: But the Athwani forces made one last, desperate counter-attack. At the price of many lives, they used sealing magic to entrap the Yshrenian Knights. Without their superweapons, the Yshrenians were overwhelmed by the Athwani spellcasters. Now it was their turn to be pushed to the edge of defeat.

Click here for a giant version of the Athwani counter-attack mural.

So what we have here is essentially the mythic history of Final Fantasy X. Two global superpowers, Yshrenia/Bevelle and Athwan/Zanarkand engaged in a destructive, world-shaping conflict with one another. One nation’s war machine was made up of advanced technological weaponry (Yshrenia/Bevelle). While the other’s was built on the backs of powerful mages (Athwan/Zanarkand). The war raged on with no clear victor in sight until the magical nation launched a desperate and costly counter-strike that ultimately fatally wounded both sides of the conflict (Yu Yevon summons Sin by turning all of Zanarkand into a collective Fayth, Queen Mureas seals away the Knights by sacrificing countless mages to sew up the sealing spell). And now, thousands of years later, the protagonists are still dealing with the repercussions of that war thanks to the stubborn remnants of the mechanical empire (the Church of Yevon/The Magi).

Speaking of, this game is in desperate need of some Jecth.

Goddammit, Akihiro Hino. If you want to make a Final Fantasy game, then just make a Final Fantasy already. Hell, it probably couldn’t be any worse than what Mamoru Toriyama and Testuya Nomura have put out (or in Nomura’s case, failed to put out) in the last 10 years.

But I digress; the stupid continues…

Setti: However, before the Athwani could finish off their foes, they turned against themselves and their empire collapsed into civil war.

Setti: Eventually, both civilizations, Yshrenia and Athwan alike, faded away.
Orren: Good riddance. The Dogma Age sounds like it was absolutely fucked.

Setti: For all their sacrifice, neither side ever gained ultimate victory.

Setti: In the end their bloody struggle was all in vain.

This game is like a Cohen Brothers movie, a long, depressing maze of meaningless failure and futility, but bereft the anchoring presence of a Jeff Bridges, Javier Bardem or George Clooney to guide you through it.

Setti looks across the room to Eldore, rather pointedly, I might add…

Eldore: Hmmm…

Oh, Charles Shaughnessy emotive grunts. How I never get tired of transcribing you. …Mostly because I would willingly transcribe anything Charles Shaughnessy mutters. The man’s a fucking Baron, lest we forget.

Also, that is one goddamn murderous glare. Holy fuck.

Setti: Uh—aah…

Setti: Interesting…

Leonard: And now the Knights are free again.
Orren: See. This IS all your fault.

Setti: So it seems.

Setti: The Dogma Age ended with no victor.

Setti: However, the oracles of the time prophesied that a final battle would be fought ten millennia later.
Orren: Oh, it gets even better then. Wonderful.

Setti: The souls of the Yshrenian Emperor, Madoras, and the Athwani Queen, Mureas, would both re-emerge, and settle their great conflict once and for all.

Everyone just stands there stone-faced at the revelation.

So that’s the backstory to White Knight Chronicles: two selfish assholes got in a pissing match over control of the planet and then got in an arms race that eventually wiped both them and their empires out of existence. Only they didn’t have the decency to die like normal people and are now coming back in the modern age to finish said pissing match.

This is the plot to every fantasy novel ever: something from the past really fucked shit up, it was buried and forgotten about, and now it’s back to fuck shit up again and only a select group of people can do anything about it.

In Dragonlance it’s dragons. In A Song of Ice and Fire it’s the Others. In The Wheel of Time it’s Rand Al-Thor himself. In The Lord of the Rings it’s the One Ring. In Final Fantasy VI it’s magic. In Mass Effect it’s the Reapers. In Dragon Age, it’s the Darkspawn. Et cetera, et cetera.

Leonard: And these prophecies… You think they’re coming true now?

Setti: I do. It’s what Father feared more than anything else.

Also, I love how this Standard Fantasy Setting world has black-and-white camera technology, apparently. Eh, it probably came from Greede, they’re at least an Industrial Revolution Knock-Off Fantasy Setting. That, or it’s very subtle confirmation that the Crystal Camera is an actual thing in this world and not just an unacknowledged gameplay oddity like the Arc Knight.

Caesar: So wait. Maybe… Is that why Medius put me in someone else’s care?

Setti: I’m sorry, but that answer will have to wait. Someone has been watching me these last few days.
Orren: You mean the last few days you’ve spent cooped up in a cave running and hiding from Trolls?
Setti: …Sure.

Setti: It’s not safe for you to be here. We need to leave, and the sooner the better.

Leonard: Leave and go where?

Setti: The place where this all began: Sinca Village.
Caesar: Sinca Village?

Oh god, Caesar, not you too now.

Setti: You’ll understand once you’re there. About the Knights, and more.
Orren: The amount of faith you’re putting in Leonard to understand… period… is suspect.

Eldore: Hmmm…
Eldore: This angers me for reasons I will not vocalize until it’s too late.

I think someone just subplanted someone else as the group’s go-to exposition machine. Eldore will not stand for this.

Setti: We must hurry. Our only defense against the crisis Father feared, is knowledge.

And the two 20-foot tall magic suits of armour we’ve got, right? I mean, those things are pretty good at defending against stuff… when Leonard’s not using them. Eh? Eh?

Oh yeah, I forgot, this is White Knight Chronicles; the Knights’ basic ontology is plot-conditional.

Setti: I have to prepare for the journey; meet me at the East Gate of Balandor. Please, go now.

Leonard: Right.
Orren: Wait. Shouldn’t one of us stay behind and keep watch on Setti? I mean, if he’s being followed, it’s a safe bet it’s by someone working for the Magi. You’re just gonna walk out the door and leave him all alone? Can’t we at least leave Caesar with him? Wouldn’t the sight of the guy who moped the floor with Belcitane be enough to deter any potential—
Leonard: Hey, don’t worry. The Black Knight will protect him.
Orren: The Black Knight is—
Kara: Erhem!
Orren: Eh, to hell with it. I’m going back to Rapacci’s place. Don’t follow me. Hey, Sauske, tell Grazel we said “hi” when he shows up and murders you because we were too dumb to protect you.
Eldore: Oh, quit over-reacting, Niles.

So the party files out without a touch of concern for Setti’s safety, because things have just gone absolutely swimmingly vis-à-vis people around them whose lives are in some kind of peril.

I mean, look at our track record: King Valtos, Archduke Dalam, Princess Cisna, Lena, the Dragon Matriarch, Count Drisdall—all of them are 100% not either dead or kidnapped right now thanks to our party’s inaction or incompetence. Right?

…I’m also pinning Drisdall’s death on Leonard because I’m pretty sure the emotional trauma he went through when Leonard showed up and outted Caesar’s fake Goddess of Lépanne statue accelerated his death and did him in prematurely.

What I’m saying is that Leonard is such a tactless, haplessly destructive, assbrained twit that even Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager would shake his head in disgust at him. And I actually liked Voyager as a series.

But that’s neither here nor there. We’ve got more prodding of the ramshackle collection of poorly thought-out lies in a ratty cape that is Eldore to do.

Setti: You haven’t revealed who you really are.

Eldore stops cold at that little jab.

Eldore: Hrumph.

Just what is up with you, Maxwell, anyway?

Setti: Well, it won’t stay secret for very long.

Eldore glances back over his shoulder at that not-at-all-threatening-sounding line before leaving the house to join the rest of the party.

AREA MUSIC:Balandor Castletown” (Disc 1, Track 4)

So while Setti is predictably murdered packs for the trek to Sinca Village near the Farian border in western Nadias, Team Caesar books it for the East Gate.

So it’s daylight when we go into the cutscene…

CUTSCENE: Yep, Saw That One Coming…

And suddenly it’s night time when the cutscene begins.

Team Caesar has just been standing there all afternoon and into the night, apparently, waiting to Setti to finally show up.

Leonard: Where is he?
Orren: Giving me time to work on my best fake-surprise face.

Yulie: Do you think he’s okay?

Caesar: That Setti guy…

Caesar: He’s kind of weird. That prophecy stuff… And my dragonsight doesn’t work on him either.

Once again it falls to Caesar to be the one character (in the game’s narrative at least) to start poking his finger through the various logic gaps that until now have gone unremarked upon by the Rube-sans-Goldberg Machine that is Leonard.

Also, that marks two characters who can actively block the dragonsight: Eldore and Setti.

Eldore: Did you try your dragonmouth? Dragonnose, perhaps?

Eldore’s becoming increasingly sketchier as the game continues, yet he still knows how to lay out a sick burn every now and then.

Suddenly, this guy comes running in, screaming and flailing like an utter moron.

Panicked Civilian: S-Someone Help!!!

Eldore: What is it?!

Leonard: What the—

Panicked Civilian: There’s been an explosion in the south district! A man was killed in the blast.

Oh, I’m sure it was just someone trying to invent the first gas stove and blowing up half the block. It’s almost definitely not anyone we know.

Also, this guy (who's name is Nathan, by the way ) ran all the way from Medius’s house near the South Gate of Balandor to the East Gate, clear across town and just now found someone interested in the fact that a fucking house just blew up for no good reason. Either this is another massive plot contrivance meant to bring the Plot back to our heroes nope, still can’t call them that, even with Caesar here; or no one in Balandor gives a crap about anything anymore.

Caesar: No… You don’t think…?

Team Caesar springs into action!

Quickly, Robin! To the Hindsightmobile!

CUTSCENE: The Man Himself

Orren: oh gods, this is so shocking. i did not see this coming at all. poor setti. Idiots.

Throw another one on the “People Who Died Because Leonard Showed Up Somewhere” pile.

Leonard: What happened? You think this was the Magi’s doing?
Yulie: But why would they?

Because Grazel is smart and competent, that’s why.

Kara: Nothing could have survived that.

Eldore: Hmmm…

Yulie suddenly spots something up the roof of the neighbouring house.

Yulie: Look!

Gasp! It’s a Plot Bird. A black Plot Bird. An EVIL Plot Bird!

Follow that bird!

Also, the Avatar disappears for the rest of this scene, because fuck the Avatar. I’d like to think, though, that Orren just watched a group of grown men and women go running off after a bloody bird and just shook his head and walked to the bar across the street to have a drink and watch Setti’s house burn down Richard Sheridan-style.

Cultural gloss: Richard Brinsley Sheridan was an 18th century English playwright, actor, theatre owner and MP. When the Drury Lane Theater, which Sheridan owned at the time, caught fire in 1809, Sheridan purportedly walked across the street to a bar, purchased a glass of wine, and calmly watched it burn to the ground.

Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen. They let some poor nerd die horribly in a fire then force their way past a group of innocent bystanders to chase a damn bird.

Fuck, can we just skip to the end of game 2 where Leonard’s a non-entity and Yulie, Caesar, Cisna and the Avatar all become badasses?



Caesar: End of the line, bird! Now, who do you work for?

Aw Caesar. Threatening a harmless bird is absolutely stupid, but I’ll allow it, only because it’s you.

But seriously, it’s a fucking bird. It’s not going answer you just because you—

Aw shit, not agaiiiiiiiiALLGLORYTOTHEHYPNOBIRD!

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Grazel’s Theme” (Disc 2, Track 16)

So the Evil Plot Bird spits out an image of a guy… sitting in a chair.

Jesus, this shows you how beneath his contempt Grazel finds the party. He doesn’t even bother to stand up to gloat at them, or do it in person, no less. He does it sitting in a chair, via hologram.

This is a man who has better things to do with his time than talk to Leonard, so he’s putting in the minimal amount of effort required. And for that, I salute you, good sir.

Now it’s time for the big reveal of Grazel’s face, the thing the game’s been keeping hidden from the audience this whole time.

You ready for it?

Can you handle this?

I don’t think you can handle this.

Here it comes…

Wow, it’s like if you made Sephiroth even more androgynous. Hell, the guy’s even wearing women’s earings.

Hologram Grazel: Greetings. My name is Grazel. So nice to speak with you. I am the leader of a little organization which you like to call the Magi.

Leonard: Rrragh!

Hologram Grazel: I imagine you must be very worried about your precious princess.

Hologram Grazel: I know I certainly would be.

Oh Grazel, you master troll.

Hologram Grazel: In light of that, I would like to propose a trade.

Hologram Grazel: We want the Knights. And we are willing to exchange Princess Cisna for the two Arks in your possession. I will be waiting by Thaumus Rock in Frass Chasm.

Hologram Grazel: You may come if you like… or not. It is up to you. But this will be your only chance to ever see the Princess alive.

Hologram Grazel: Thank you, and do have a good day.


Okay, so he’s not as mustache-twirlingly evil as Belcitane was, but he’s polite, classy, a bit of a troll and utterly contemptuous of Leonard as a human being. We might not be that hard done by for decent villains after all.

Ah, who am I kidding, Grazel is bland a shit.

Can we skip to game 2 when Ledom shows up?



[Exuent Evil Plot Bird]

Oh, I guess Orren was there after all. It’s just another case a character disappearing when their plot-relevance dips below critical levels. Like how nobody clued into Kara being the Black Knight on Flandar Trail because it got written off as Level-5 legitimately forgetting she existed for that scene.

Leonard: Bastard. I’d like to wring his neck.

Spoiler: Leonard never comes anywhere close to strangling Grazel.

CUTSCENE: Back on the Trail

So the party gathers at the East Gate in the morning, none of them the least bit bothered any more by Setti’s brutal murder.

Well, in their defence, they only knew the guy for like an hour tops, and they’ve kind of become accustomed to seeing people die around them because they’re unwilling or unable to help them.

Eldore: Frass Chasm is a steep-sided gorge further south, beyond the Bunker Lode Caverns.
Orren: Yeah, because that’s exactly where I want to go right now: Papitaur Central. Gods, I hope we get eaten by a Greaver. I really do..

Also, notice how Caesar is standing out in front of the party again in the leader’s position. He has taken right over as far as the rest of this game is concerned. All the big emotional and character developmental scenes are between him, Kara and Eldore. Leonard does one more thing of note between now and the end of the game, and that’s it. Sadly, Yulie’s time to shine doesn’t come until game 2, so she’s officially done for this game too.

Caesar: If we make out way back to Greede, we can take a gondola out of the station there. Yeah, that’s doable.

Leonard: Let’s go.

We don’t need your say-so to get underway, Captain Idiot. Though I suppose it’s just Leonard’s way of meekly trying to reassert his position of dominance in the group hierarchy… and failing, as usual.

So tell me, do you like the view? Because this is where we end up, one way or another. I can’t believe after all the crap I went through in this canyon that I’d actually end up settling down here.

Eh, the Papitaurs took my money and gave me the land, and they’ve had the good sense to stay the hell away from here ever since, so I don’t really mind.

Sucked about that Setti guy though… One of these days, I thought, one of these days we’ll go somewhere without someone dying thanks to Leonard.

Also, while I’m at it: fuck Emperor Madoras and Queen Mureas.