The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow

Part 35: Your Dogma Crapped In My Karma

Aren’t I just so witty?

And now we enter the Dogma Rift Temple itself. This is the final dungeon of game 1. It’s a lot more impressive than game 2’s final dungeon, where Level-5 just threw up their hands and said “fuck it, let’s just get this over with.”

To Level-5’s credit this time around, the temple is more than just a standard hallway. It’s divided into several segments and is actually kind of a puzzle in terms of how to navigate and solve it to get to the final boss(es).

Of course, given the events of the last chapter, the temple is swarming with Magi soldiers of all types now.

You’ll be seeing in various screencaps this update that they went all out in the design of this place, saving their best stuff for last. This place is an absolute wreck but in the best and most aesthetically pleasing way.

The majority of enemies in the temple are cropped from previous areas of the game. There are a few exceptions, however. These guys are Iron Golems, the second-strongest Golem pallet swap in the base game.

A big part of navigating the temple is running into crap like this, ie: a path that appears accessible on the map that is actually a one-way drop that you can’t climb up and you need to find away around.

In a more creative-minded game, this would be a spot where the Knights could be useful in general gameplay.

You encounter an obstacle you can’t get around? Knight up and step over it.

But no, Level-5 just can’t be assed to push the -button.

Oh well. It just means we get to see more of what an interesting craphole the temple is.

Here’s a Wind Elemental, because I’m too lazy to go back and re-read the previous updates to see whether or not one’s appeared before or not.

And lo, here’s the final new non-boss enemy of game 1: the Primeval Guardian. Barring unique bounties and one boss in the Avatar quest, these things are the most powerful Golem pallet swaps out there.

The temple alternates largely between “open rooms where enemies gather” and “corridors connecting said rooms” but every now and then you get a piece of eye candy like this stretch where the wall is missing and you look out into the narrow strip of the Dogma Rift Level-5 decided to render for this area.

I suddenly want to foreswear LPing White Knight Chronicles II and just spend the summer replaying Final Fantasy X or something.

God, even for an early PS2 game, that game was beautiful.

More beauty shots. This game is like an abusive husband with the Dogma Rift Temple being its “please, baby, don’t leave I’ll change, I’ll do better, I swear,” moments before it hits you with White Knight Chronicles II.

Domestic violence is wrong and bad and I hate myself for using it as an analogy to convey my feelings about this game to you. I am sorry.

On that note, let’s have a cutscene!

CUTSCENE: The Promise of Answers

Leonard: Looks like we’ve reached the palace grounds.

Also more evidence that the Dogma Rift Temple is actually an Athwani temple: those two statues on either end of the far doorway are wearing helmets/hats just like the Athwani mages were shown to have worn in the Dogma Era exposition fresco from back in Chapter 17.

Eldore: All the answers we seek lie just ahead.

Caesar: Speaking of which… Isn’t it time you spilled the beans, old man?

Caesar: I think you owe us the truth.

Yulie: Yeah. That’s right. Before we go any further we need to know.
Orren: Just so we’re not, you know, walking into a trap that we could have avoided if you’d just said something ahead of time.

Leonard: Eldore?

Eldore: …Well, it is the end of the game, I suppose. And I’d kind of look like a huge ass if I said no now… So…

Eldore: Very well.

And then he took a 4 hour nap.

CUTSCENE: The History of the World (Part Three)

So in the midst of this time-sensitive mission, where we’re racing to try and prevent Grazel from unlocking and claiming for himself the most powerful Knight of them all—essentially the most powerful weapon on the entire planet, Eldore decides it’s time to sit everyone down and rush through 30 hours of deferred character development in the span of 5 minutes.

This is incredibly dumb, but it gets off on the technicality that Grazel is just standing around also doing nothing himself at this moment, as we’ll see soon enough, even though it really shouldn’t. I guess stupidity and incompetence are contagious because now even the once-on-point villains have caught it too.

I told you it was all downhill after Belcitane died.

Eldore: I come from ancient times, when the Dogma Wars were being waged. I was a soldier in the Athwani army, tasked with protecting the Queen.

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Sinca’s Children” (Disc 2, Track 15)

Eldore: When we managed to seal the Yshrenian Knights, the war between Athwan and Yshrenia finally came to a close.

Eldore: But there was a great price: in that last desperate struggle, we had lost many of our greatest and wisest men.

Eldore: Without their leadership, the Queen could not control a populace that had grown disillusioned with the war. The realm began to fall apart…

Eldore: And in the mayhem that followed, the Queen…

Eldore: I failed to protect her as was my duty.
Orren: Well, I’ll say this: you are a model of consistency, geezer.
Eldore: I lost everything at once: I had no home… no master…

Eldore: And worst of all, no purpose.

Eldore: And that was when I first head the prophecy: 10,000 years hence, Queen Mureas would be reborn. She and the Yshrenian Empror Madoras would determine the fate of their two civilizations by fighting a final and monumental battle, one too great to be contained by the laws of time.

I’ve seen the end of the second game. I know what kind of “battle” Mureas and Madoras fight.

The Athwani prophets were full of shit.

Caesar: A prophecy? And you believed that?

Eldore: Perhaps you find it difficult to imagine now, but in those days, the words of the prophets were never false. I believed the prophecy and used forbidden magic to travel to this time. I was determined to protect the Queen. This time I would not fail in my duty.
Orren: And then you let her get kidnapped. Four times. Maybe five if we fuck this one up too.

Caesar: So… there are spells that let you travel in time?

Eldore: Indeed there are. But to use the magic, I had to make a deal with the God of Death himself. I wanted to cheat time, so time was what I had to pay. That is why you see me now as an old man.

So Eldore is a time-displaced ronin seeking to make amends for his prior mistake and fulfill his duty properly and was so determined to do so he made a deal with DEATH ITSELF to cross millennia just for the CHANCE at trying to redeem himself knowing it was probably a fool’s errand even to try it and was going to irreparably damage his body one way or the other.

In any other game, a revelation like that would instantly turn Eldore into a certified badass worthy of giving Auron a brofist so powerful it could split atoms.

Here? He’s still just Eldore. An Auron copycat, only replace “became a zombie” with “became old” and “her dad” with “her past life.”

And while we’re at it:
Leonard = A stupider version of Tidus.
Caesar = A likeable version of Wakka.
Yulie = An intelligent version of Rikku.
Kara = Lulu.
The Avatar = Human Kimahri.

Leonard: And did you end up finding your Queen?
Orren: How can you still be this godsdamn dense?

Eldore: For nearly eighteen years I wandered the land and searched, until I did find her. But then those Magi appeared and took her away.

So Eldore was anywhere between 16 to 20 while he was in the Athwani Queensguard. Young Eldore apparently appears in Origins and that two-shot prequel manga thing Episode 0, but I haven’t managed to tack down any actual image of him. According to sources I’ve encountered online who have played the game, they say that Young Eldore at the very last was a youthful and handsome young man before he got turned into… well, this.

He’s chronologically only in his late 30's or early 40's, still awfully old for a JRPG main party member, at the very least. I have no idea how old Eldore is physically because he never really specifies how many years Death took from him in the exchange and he aged eighteen years in the intervening time between when he emerged from the time warp and now.

Either way, even with his entire backstory now out there, it still falls apart just like Kara’s does if you put any critical thought to it.

Oh Hino-san…

Caesar: Heh. What do you know. It’s a small world, isn’t it?

Because Level-5 can only be bothered to properly animate no more than 20 characters before they get overwhelmed and go running to Studio Ghibli to bail them out.

Leonard: Cisna?!

Take a shot.

Eldore: Yes. That’s right, lad. Your princess is the reincarnation of Mureas, Queen of the Athwani.

This revelation that everyone else figured out back in Frass Chasm at the very least breaks Leonard’s pea-sized brain and he falls flat back on his ass.

Leonard: Wow. I did not not see that one coming.
Yulie: Guess what else you didn’t see coming.
Leonard: What?
Yulie: [THWACK]
Leonard: OW!
Orren: So when this is all over, did you want to maybe—
Yulie: When this is done, I’m throwing myself off a cliff.
Orren: It’s a date then!

Leonard: My head hurts now.
Yulie & Orren: Go to hell.

CUTSCENE: Plans for a New Beginning
CUTSCENE MUSIC:Grazel’s Theme” (Disc 2, Track 16)

On that revelatory note, we then transition to… these assholes!

Oh hey, Kara’s actually wearing the Dragias armour this time. I guess she’s trying to recapture some fond memories of kinky spikey-armour sex with Caesar to brighten her mood now that her only companionship consists of this dour asshole, a retaining wall with an eyepatch, and a woman with phenomenal magic powers who thinks she killed her father and once swore she would murder her in revenge for it.

You sure you picked the right team there, Kara? I mean, I know 3/5th of Team Caesar are useless rubes, but at least only one of them is hazardous to your continued longevity as opposed to Visser Three, Snake Pisskin, and Princess Genocide here.

But I digress, now it’s time for Grazel to lay out his backstory and motivation, because, oh shit the game’s almost over and we know next to nothing about our main antagonist!

Kara: Just tell me, brother, why do you need the power of the Knights? What purpose does it serve?
Kara: Or at the very least, just tell the AUDIENCE.

Grazel: Kara, we’ve been through this. Don’t you want to see the Yshrenian Empire rebuilt?
Kara: Well, I was six months old the last time I was there and most of the time I was locked away inside Dinivas anyway, soooooo… I don’t give a shit…?

Grazel: Or should I take these questions of yours as a sign that you’ve lost faith?

You’ve brainwashed her multiple times SINCE THE GAME BEGAN, and you’ve got the balls to question whether or not she’s lost faith in an insane plan that only you, Shapur and Belcitane seem to have believed in anyway?

Grazel. Buddy. I don’t mean to be critical here, but… YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!

Jesus, and I thought Leonard was blackhole of self-interest?

Kara: But why you? I just don’t understand why it even matters to you.

Kara: Some long-dead civilization…

Grazel no-likey hearing this, so he goes in for the Bad Touch.

Kara: Urgh!

Grazel: Kara. No one will stand in my way, do you understand? I am going to rule this world.

Thankfully, before he goes the full Jaime Lannister on her, he tosses her aside like the utter unrepentant asswipe he is and always will be.

Kara: Ahgh!

Kara: Brother!

Grazel: What have the people of this era ever done for you, or for me?! Medius tried to kill me…

Grazel: Why?!

Grazel: He made me believe that he loved me.

Grazel: Don’t you see?

Grazel: I HAD to punish him!

So Grazel killed Medius because Medius once tried to kill Setti. The implication here is that Grazel was born in the instant Medius tried to off Setti as some sort of defense mechanism persona that killed Medius in self-defence because Setti couldn’t bring himself to kill his father, despite wanting to in the moment. Grazel then became corrupted and twisted because of he was the embodiment of Setti’s repressed aggression and persecution complex and eventually turned on Setti himself.

And that, as they say, is that. Because the game is not going to actually tell you that at any point, by the way. We’ll find out the cause of Grazel’s corruption and his rise to power in a moment, however.

Kara: It was… it was because of the special powers we had.

Grazel: That’s right!

Grazel: Because people are afraid of power. They fear it, abominate it and they despise us as a result!

Grazel: The people of this world will NEVER allow us to live in peace.

Kara: Says who? Your priest friend Ledom?

Wait, what? Isn’t one of the fundamental rules of screenwriting to not introduce new characters before the climax of the story? Well, at least we now know that even Grazel has a puppetmaster yanking on his strings.

Kara: Brother, why do you put any stock in that stranger’s words?

Grazel: Ledom is a messenger from ancient times. He was sent here to help, to guide me in rebuilding the glory that was the Yshrenian Empire.

Oh, I guess this time travel shit is a fairly common thing then. People do it all the time apparently!

Unless the game has the balls to pull the same twist twice and reveal Eldore to be Ledom…

Kara: So you really believe it, then? You actually think you have the blood of the Emperor in your veins?

Grazel: Yes. I know I do.

Kara: Brother…
Kara: (Gods, and I thought Leonard was an idiot…)

Oh hey, the retaining wall’s here. Are you actually going to say anything in this scene, patchy? I think the Avatar has had more dialog than you by this point, and all their dialog is combat walla.

Shapur: My Lord.

Shapur: The Ark bearers have reached the palace.

I love that Kara turns around in shock, like she’s still concerned for them somewhat.

Grazel: Good. Then we are ready.

Behold the face of a woman who has just realised that everyone around her is batshit insane and she’s stuck with them all now.

CUTSCENE: The Queen and the Emperor

Wherein the single-greatest threat to its continued existence the world has ever known has a conversation… with Grazel.

Enter Megatron and Soundwave.

Because Shapur’s not charismatic enough to be Starscream.

Grazel: It won’t be long now, “Princess.”

Grazel: Or… was it Your Grace, Queen Mureas?
Cisna: ‘Bout damn time someone recognized up in this bi—oh wait, you’re being sarcastic. Fuck it.

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Recollection” (Disc 1, Track 14)

Cisna: Grazel. Do you honestly believe that’s who I am?

By this point the track skips the cutey princess opening and just cuts in to the “serious shit is going down” part of the song that starts around the 1:25 mark in the track whenever it starts playing, no doubt symbolizing Cisna’s character development through the music itself.

Grazel: But of course.

Grazel: In mere moments, you were able to unseal the Knight’s power, an ability that only the Queen possessed.

Grazel: That’s why I took you, Highness.

Grazel: So I could bring all of the Knights’ chosen Pactmakers together.

Cisna: But wait… I though you wanted the Knights for yourself?

Grazel: That’s good.

Grazel: I needed your friends to believe they were acting on your behalf.

Grazel: It wouldn’t have done for them to know they were serving my interests.

Cisna: You son of a bitch! No one plays with my toys but ME! You hear me, Sephirnot?!
Cisna: Will you stop at NOTHING?!

Grazel: It’s funny you should ask that, Queen Mureas. Because if you stand in my way even one more time…

Grazel: You’re going to find out the answer.

Cisna: Bitch, I’m going to break your pitiful excuse for an empire over my knee by the time I’m done with you.

She actually does…

CUTSCENE: One Final Twist
CUTSCENE MUSIC:Recollection” (Disc 1, Track 14 – It’s actually still playing from the previous scene)

God, do we have to go back to these people? They’re like the video game equivalent to every non-Red Wedding Catelyn chapter in any given A Song of Ice and Fire book.

Caesar: So… What’s supposed to happen next?

Eldore: Now that Queen Mureas has revealed herself, she and the Yshrenian Emperor Madoras will fight their final battle, or so it goes.

Caesar: Which means, he’s been reborn too. This Emperor Madoras guy.

Eldore: No. The reincarnation of Madoras was not foretold.
Leonard: What do you mean?
Orren: Maybe the fucker’s actually DEAD dead and not coming back? Huh? Is that the twist?

Really? You’re banking on Level-5 being so damn lazy they’d find an excuse to skip out on their fight with not-Sauron just to save time and money?

Orren: A guy can dream…

Eldore: Er-HEM!
Orren: Ugh. Fine. Continue, Ser Ambien.

Eldore: He cannot be reborn when he never died.
Orren: Fuck.

Caesar: What?!

Eldore: Madoras unlocked the key to immortality and continues to live in the present day. Thus, the Dogma Wars never ended, in a way. Queen Mureas was reborn to end them—to defeat Madoras and keep the world safe.

Oh, so it literally is like a Sauron thing.

Caesar: Okay, then where is Madoras?

Eldore: I don’t know. He’s probably in hiding somewhere on this continent.

Eldore: Perhaps… living among the people, biding his time until the return of the Queen.

This is a pretty sweet idea, an immortal genocidal maniac who survived the destruction of his empire, the defeat of his super weapons and the collapse and rebuilding of global society just hiding out pretending to be a shop keeper or street bum somewhere until his rival is reincarnated so he can get revenge on her for blowing the damn world up in their tussle to try and conquer it for themselves.

Think about it, a villain with thousands of years of insight into how people and civilizations work who knows both heights of power and the depths of powerlessness and has learned how to effectively exploit both ends of the social spectrum. A humble, non-descript dark lord. A villainous man of the people, in a way. Like if Jesus were evil.

In fact, this is such an interesting and creative idea that’s been set up that… Level-5 doesn’t even bother to follow through with it.

What’s that? You were taken in for a moment by the promise of an actual interesting development in this story? Hang on, I’ve got a present for you from Akihiro Hino.

You ready for it?


Here it comes….

Fuck you.
– Love, Level-5 CEO & White Knight Chronicles writer/producer, Akihiro Hino

Leonard: It’s hard to believe…

You’re damn right it’s hard to believe anyone could screw up basic storytelling this much… Oh, you’re talking about Eldore’s story.

Eldore: Enough talk for now. There isn’t much more to say.

Eldore: We have to hurry.

And the Mousekteers nod approvingly and rise to their feet.

Orren: So then why the hell couldn’t you have told us this while we walked?!
Eldore: Because I love watching you get irrationally angry… Orren.
Orren: You dirty son of a whore!

Anyways, this is it here, the last section of actual gameplay before the final boss gauntlet at the end of the game.

This section is one giant semi-obtuse procedural puzzle akin to Greede’s Underbelly. You can’t see it in this screenshot, but this room up ahead is a giant + shape with three rooms at the right, left and top of it.

The top room is blocked off by a giant wall, as seen in front of us. The rooms on the left and right are accessible, and both have a teleportation pedestal in them, however at the moment only the one in the right room is working. What we need to do is find a way to get the one in the left room working.

And right now our only option is to take the right room teleporter and see where that flings us to.

Longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you thiiiiiiiink!

So we’re deposited in this self-contained area. Each one of those + shaped rooms is a teleporter, and each of those square rooms has a bunch of enemies in them. You can see the pattern emerging now, can’t you?

This one has a bunch of Magi soldiers, a Black Knave and an Iron Golem in it.

So after a few minutes of tediously killing the soldiers one-by-one and getting stomped around by the Knave…

I say screw it and whip out the White Knight.

And the Knight makes short work of everything in the room.

More delightfully unnerving Dogma Era architecture.

We take another teleporter…

And this one deposits us right back where we started.

See what I mean about he left teleporter being locked down?

More teleporting and running through more interesting patches of temple later and…

In the midst of another fight in a square room we discover the key to the puzzle. The Black Knaves are keeping the portal’s energy sealed, so we need to go around the various parts of the temple and kill all of them to get the left teleporter working.

I’m skipping as much of it as I can because it’s redundant, tedious and boring.

In this room full of Magi mooks and a Black Knave, I finally get to show off what I thought part of combat with the White Knight was going to be in general.

So you’ve got a whole swath of human-sized enemies on the ground, and a 20 foot tall giant suit of armour with a 10 foot magic sword standing among them.

You can already tell how this is going to end…

DAMN! Look at those bodies go flying.

And of course, the aftermath: corpses everywhere.

Leonard: I’m a hero!

So after we get all the Knaves dead, finally (30 minutes of gameplay time later) the left teleporter is unlocked.

It deposits us here, an area that has one final Logic Stone to save at, one final room full of bad guys, and two teleporters. The one on the right is the receiver platform, the one in the middle is the way out back to the regular temple, and the one on the left is the one that takes you to the final boss(es).

Again, the game gets interesting to look at in the final few minutes of exploratory gameplay you have left with it.

There, by the way, to the left of the waterfall is the place where the game’s climax plays out. We’ll be seeing that in the next chapter.

Suffice to say, it’s very Shadow of the Colossus Shrine of Worship-y.

In the room with the final teleporter, we also encounter the final three regular enemies of White Knight Chronicles, a Magi Axeman, a Magi Axemaster, and a Magi Commander.

And they go down like 1…



Again, an appropriate image to end the base game on given the general trajectory of things: bodies piled up at Leonard’s feet.

It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

Let’s go murder the shit out of Grazel.

You see that there, just on the horizon? Someone is getting their ass kicked so hard today they’re going to feel it back in the Dogma Era.

…I just hope it’s not us.

Gods I hope it’s not us.