Part 46: Try Not To Die This Time
So now were going to try and save Archduke Dalam from Ya know, Im not really sure what he even died from the first time around. Though we do sort-of find out what gets him in this chapter.
AREA MUSIC: Infilftration (Disc 1, Track 12)
This is the underground waterway beneath Balandor Castle. Like I said in the previous chapter, its one of a scant few new dungeons in game 2, because about 75% of the content from game 1 is recycled for White Knight Chronicles II, including plot elements.
This is basically what the area consists of: parallel walkways on either side of a maze of canals, occasionally punctuated by large rooms with giant enemies in them.
This dungeon is an absolute nightmare for one infuriating this reason: these assholes.
These are Skeletons, yet another one of the new enemy types introduced in the second game. Apparently Balandor Castles catacombs are chock full of the unquiet dead. I dont know why theres all these skeletons shambling around the castle basement. Maybe Valtos was ALSO up to some questionable shit?
Like father, like daughter?
Anyway, Skeletons are terrible to deal with because they have incredibly high defense stats and the status effect Body-Guard on them permanently. Body-Guard raises whoever its cast ons defense stat to the point of practically nullifying physical attacks. Its denoted by the little tan bubble with the shield icon beside their HP crystal.
The status effect that makes you immune to magic attacks is called Magic-Guard and is denoted by a green bubble icon.
Skeletons are weak only to smashing attacks and fire-based spells and skills. All undead enemies in the game are weak to fire attacks, interestingly enough.
What you need to do is wail on them with smashing attacks enough times to break their barrier. When that happens they collapse into piles of bones and you can deal actual damage to them.
However, while theyre immobile and defenseless, they only remain so for a limited time, and their defense stats are so high that no matter what level you are you usually wont be able to kill them in one round of this, so you could spend up to five minutes trying to kill just one Skeleton.
And this dungeon is PACKED with them. Theres nearly 50 of them in this dungeon, I swear to god.
You can, however, knock them down instantly using either Holy Light or +Holy Light, the Divine Magic spell specially designed to hurt undead enemies. It also has a random chance of scoring a one-hit-kill on undead enemies too.
Just to be even more dickish, Skeletons can inflict two status ailments on you too which can linger long after theyre dead: Poison
And HP Leak. HP Leak is the anti-Regen status, any party member who has it slowly loses HP until they either die or it wears off.
Its denoted by the broken HP gem and arrow drifting downward.
There is no way to remove HP Leak, the only thing you can do is mitigate its effects with Healing Breeze, which gives you Regen status and slows the rate of loss down to a trickle.
You dont get to learn any skills that allow you to inflict HP Leak on enemies yourself, by the way. And as you can imagine, the MP afflicting version of this status effect is MP Leak, and is denoted by a broken MP gem icon.
The further into the game (and post-game) you go, the more often youll encounter enemies who inflict HP/MP Leak status. Its just another little way for the game to say fuck you.
So its around this point in the dungeon that I switch to the Avatar because Im playing an axe/hammer Avatar and axe/hammer skills are almost custom-made for ruining Skeletons shit in short order.
Halfway through the dungeon, we enter a large room with a Dire Waterspider in it. Weve encountered Direspiders and Dire Firespiders before, but this is our first Dire Waterspider. Its weak to slashing attacks and fire attacks.
Actually, everything in this dungeon is weak to fire-based attacks, what with this being a water level. Its populated by Remoras, Waterspider Sprogs, and Blue Scorpions, in addition to the fuckton of Skeletons.
To deal with the Dire Waterspider, I whip out the White Knight, however
Thanks to this games terrible combat camera and the room being too small to properly contain two giant beings at the same time, the camera crashes in close to the White Knight, so all you can really see is a close up shot of Wizels colossal metal ass while you fumble around relying on the sub-target menu and mashing the X button to take out the spider.
And with the giant enemy taken care of, Shit-for-Brains goes back to NPC status until I need him again.
We also encounter one of the most rarely seen enemies in White Knight Chronicles II down here: the Wraith.
For whatever reason, Wraiths only show up here in the waterway, and thank god because theyre ALSO nightmares to deal with. Just like Skeletons, they have Body-Guard status by default, but unlike Skeletons, it cant be broken by attacking it. You need to use either Holy Light or +Holy Light on them, and even then its only temporary. It will return after about two minutes or so.
Theyre also some of the strongest flat-out non-boss enemies you will encounter outside of Golems.
So lets put +Holy Light on Orrens command bar and see what we can do with it.
The power of Crystal Dragon Jesus COMPELLS YOU!
[NOT PICTURED: 5 minutes of this thing fucking me over, interrupting my casting of it several times, silencing me, and MP draining me.]
Theres another thing that makes Wraiths absolutely terrible. They will also summon smaller enemies called Succubi (singular Succubus) for backup. Succubi are also terrible because they have Body-Guard on by default and cant be harmed by physical attacks until you remove it with Holy Light.
Theyre also heavy hitters, and can cast various status ailments and elemental magic spells. They also have a disturbing element to their character models, in that their boobs have jiggle physics and flop around with every wild movement they make.
I should be counting myself lucky, however, because this is about as fanservice-y as the game gets, barring the occasional upskirt shot of Yulie (whos at least 19), and some of the armours which you can bind (which are held just out of reach from most players anyway, so the likelihood youll ever actually see any battle bikinis is very low). Besides, theres enough embarrassing stuff in this game already.
However, if theres one sure-fire cure for uncomfortable sexuality, its proudly showing off your big Japanese robot. So I pull out the White Knight here to lay into everything in the room after I debuff everything with +Holy Light.
Again, youre smushed in close to the back of the White Knight here, though you do get an interesting close up of its inner workings here.
One good +Divine Blade attack clears the room of everything but the Wraith and a lone Succubus.
Heres a better full-body shot of the Wraith.
And down it goes.
Orren: Im just going to blame this on Cisna and move on.
And heres that Blue Scorpion I mentioned.
We also encounter several gates in this dungeon. Most of them up till now have opened up without issue. This one, right near the entrance to the castle, however, is the sticking point. The path splits in two here. This path would let you bypass the five Skeletons stacked up along the other path.
But this is White Knight Chronicles II. And White Knight Chronicles II hates you. So you have no choice by to run the gauntlet through the horde of hard-to-kill Skeletons.
And finally, we make it to the castle basement access.
The way into the castle is there on the left, but I just want to point out this door up ahead.
You cant open the door right now, but if you come back here in the post-game, you find that this door leads to the Beneath Balandor section seen in Chapter IV of the first game, leading right down to the Incorruptus Vault.
So yeah, Lucius had the right of it in the previous chapter. This area was indeed used to haul the White Knight armour into the vault in the basement.
I know; youre all stunned right now. Holy shit! Something in White Knight Chronicles was logically consistent and made practical sense!
Treasure this feeling. It wont last long
Most of the Live Talk during this dungeon consists of the characters marvelling over how the place was constructed, but there is one plot-relevant conversation that happens when we get close to the objective marker.
Leonard: So this is like a chance to do things over?
Miu: If it is, then I have only one wish: to save Grandfather.
Eldore: We can walk through the past, but know that road beneath us may well be set in stone.
Yulie: I guess some things even magic cant change.
Again, Leonard is blindly optimistic that he can fix things this time around. Eldore and Yulie know better than to assume its even possible.
CUTSCENE: Assassination Averted
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Attack (Disc 1, Track 11)
As Team Fucking Up In Reverse enters the castle, we get some redone shots of the clash between the Balandor army and the Magi.
Again, its more examples of subtle touches of actual talent behind the game as the camera flies through the middle of the melee and focuses on an open door in the background.
A pair of Farian soldiers square off against two Magi goons.
This guy gets stabbed in the flank for his trouble and goes down.
Eeeeeh, shit Things aint looking good for Archduke Dalam Again.
Nice fucking job waiting for him to be in the most peril he will ever be in to mount your rescue, guys. Christ this party is so fucking incompetent.
If you listen to the voice acting, it sounds like hes just groaning in mild disinterest over one of his bodyguards dying in front of him.
Farian Soldier: Gah!
Belcitane: Well well well!
Belcitane: It looks like our metaphorical mouse trap has succeeded in catching the big cheese.
Belcitane: Archduke Dalam, if Im not mistaken.
So yeah, now we know what Belcitane was doing inside Balandor Castle the night of the attack. He was the one who killed Dalam in the original timeline; Cyrus merely happened upon the aftermath.
Also, I would normally be one to call out the mixed metaphor, but its Belcitane were talking about. It was probably intentional.
Belcitane: Prepare to meet you maker!
Belcitane: Dead and LOVING
Farian Soldier: No!
Belcitane: But before you die, Id just like to expre
Belcy gets cut off mid-sentence by his soldiers falling on top of him.
Magi Soldier: Uh?!
Oh look, our
To my knowledge, this is the only time in either game where the Avatar is depicted as a) holding an actual weapon and b) engaging in actual combat in-cutscene.
Because this (and one or two other things in the game) is Level-5s way of responding to the criticism by players of the first game that the Avatar was an infuriatingly useless feature in the single player story. So Level-5 proudly proclaimed that the Avatar actually played a larger role in White Knight Chronicles II. Ill let you judge the veracity of that claim when were all done with things.
Also, Im guessing Orren just randomly grabbed a sword off the floor or something for a second. Because Level-5 didnt want to bother animating the characters attacking with the weapons they have equipped because it meant animating up to six different animation styles for Eldore, Leonard and the Avatar depending on the weapon.
Yulie and Miu dont get to participate in the battle, by the way.
In the meanwhile, we get a Leonard Victim POV shot. Now you too can experience the pants-shitting terror of being one of Leonards many, many victims over the course of this story.
Leonard: IM HELPING!
Magi Soldier: Urgh
Were it only that the game ended here, but alas we have to continue.
Miu: Grandfather! Are you alright?!
Dalam: Miu! Why are you here?
Eldore: Father Yggdra sent us, sire.
Eldore: In a manner of speaking.
Dalam: I I see. Thank you.
I love how he just unquestioningly accepts this. Dalam is apparently the Archduke of not giving a single fuck, and for that, we thank him.
Farian Soldier: Take the Archduke. If you can make it out of town, you can find our troops Ugh encamped on Greydall Plain.
Farian Soldier: His Excellency will be safe there.
Leonard: You got it.
Farian Soldier: Uuh.
Miu: Grandfather, we must go!
Leonard is surprisingly shaken up by watching the Farian soldier die right in front of him.
Dont worry, it doesnt last long.
Belcitane: A perfectly good monologueRUINED!
Belcitane: Theyll pay for this.
This is a man who has his priorities straight.
Dalam: Yes, of course, thank you.
Leonard: Cmon! Before the Magi catch up.
Miu: Grandfather, are you alright?
Dalam: Yes, my dear. I only fear I have put you in danger.
Leonard: Nothing new there, sir.
Eldore: Well keep you safe, Your Excellency. This ordeal will be over soon.
Yulie: You be careful too, Miu.
So we have to go back through the waterways again to get out of the castle. This is run #2 of the three runs through this dungeon I mentioned last time.
The locked/unlocked gates throughout it have been reset between cutsenes, forcing you to take a completely different route out than you took in.
We also get Archduke Dalam as a guest party member for this part of the game, so the Enforced Escort mission continues. Same rules apply: if Dalam dies, its game over.
Dalam, however, is not as defenseless as you might imagine him to be. Hes actually rather powerful mage. He has only one spell, Flame Lance, but because all the enemies in this dungeon are weak against fire attack AND hes got unlimited MP AND he can actually use magic competently compared to every other character in the game, hes actually the most useful party member you can have for this section of the game.
Dalam is also an odd duck in terms of his combat style too. He is the only completely unarmed combatant in the game. Everyone else either fights with a weapon, or the unarmed guest character you encounter, like Cisna, dont engage enemies in combat.
You can actually copy Dalams playstyle for yourself if you want to. Magic doesnt need an equipped weapon to be used, so you could realistically invest all your SP into spells and run around unarmed and blowing things up with magic alone.
So because the gates leading to the exit are locked, we need an alternate route. Luckily, theres one in the dungeon, seen here on the eastern extreme of the map.
In this cell here is a tunnel that leads out into the waterway. Its not on the map, so your only hint that its there is the odd little passage to nowhere at the top of the open room directly above it on the map as seen a few images up.
No doubt this is also the cell that thief escaped out of, leading to Lucius quitting the Castleguard in disgrace.
And they never bothered to plug the hole in the wall he apparently blasted with the 20 sticks of dynamite he smuggled into the dungeon stuffed up his ass or something.
The hidden passage leads to a one-way drop into the large room on the map.
And of course, there are Skeletons in it. Because the game wants you be intimately familiar with these fuckers by the time you get out of this place.
[NOT PICTURED: 30 minutes of the same tedious bullshit you went through the first time around]
Miu: Grandfather! Are you alright?
Orren: Youve literally said that three times now.
Dalam: Y Yes
Leonard: The Farian camp cant be far. Lets press on.
AREA MUSIC: Greydall Plain (Disc 1, Track 19)
So for whatever reason, tonight its raining on Greydall Plain, despite it being a relatively clear night in the original timeline.
I guess its so the game can show off its rain effects engine. Everything does look sufficiently wet and shiny.
Theres pretty much nothing to say about the run to the Farian camp. The enemies arent any different outside of them being scaled to your level, so its still a slog to get through, and youre still under the gun of the enforced escort mission thanks to having Miu and Dalam with you.
The only thing of note on Greydall Plain this rainy night is that theres an Elite Troll King parked right in front of the bridge leading to the boss fight. This guy is here primarily to goad you into using the White Knight on it. If you take the bait and spend all your AC trying to defeat it then the boss fight up next is somewhat harder.
Right out of the gate, however, the King puts its shield up and automatically gains Body-Guard
And Magic-Guard status, making it nearly immune to physical and magical attacks. Not totally immune, mind you, but it nerfs your attacks down to like low double digit numbers, which against giant enemies at this level means youre going to be here a while.
This is where your characters stat boosting and breaking skills come in handy. Axe and sword players have skills that can lower enemy physical attack and defense stats, while longsword players have skills that can lower magical attack and defense stats. So through judicious character swapping between Leonard, Eldore and the Avatar I manage to break the Kings defense and offense stats, as well as nail it with Slow just to add insult to injury.
Theres also Divine Magic spells that inflict these status ailments to supplement characters who dont have these skills naturally in their available weapon skill lines.
Dalam also gets quite a few hits in in this fight. Is it sad that the combat-adverse monarch who was murdered by fucking Belcitane has been the most competent guest party member so far? You dont even really need to treat him all that delicately in combat either. With a lot of other guest characters you need to have some combination of a physical and magical barrier buff on them at nearly all times, but with Dalam, hes got enough HP and high enough stats to weather most things the game will throw at him if you have everyone set to Heal First tactics.
And before long, the King goes down. Theres only a few more enemies ahead of you at this point, but you can easily charge past them to trigger the cutscene, so this is the point where youd heal up and just make a run for it, which I did when I played through it. You can hear the tail end of the battle music from when I agrod a swarm of enemies and then ran in the cutscene itself.
Dalam: Perhaps it was a mistake to take so few guards.
So... FEW?! Um, Your Excellency, I dont mean to be rude or what not, but did you not see THE ENTIRE FUCKING ARMY you brought with you in the opening chapter of game 1? Emperor Palpatine doesnt bring this many elite soldiers with him when he shows up somewhere!
Regardless, however, our future awaits on the other side of the bridge.