Part 80: (Not) Thinking With Portals
Well, holy shit, look at that. Orren actually made it into a chapter title image. Its about bloody time too. Damn near every other principle character besides Orren has been featured prominently in these titles, but that changes today, boy howdy!
Orren: woo. and i'm just over the fucking moon about it
EPISODE SIX Darkness Calls
Well, with a title like that, you just know that Fuck, you know whats happening in this chapter. NOTHING! Abso-fucking-lutely nothing because Akihiro Hino has a little something we in the industry like to call abysmal pacing problems.
The massive facefull of Japanese informs us pretty much of everything we already know from the conclusion of the last chapter. Framboise broke the space-time continuum again by fucking around with the red Ark Core, only this time she did it even WORSE than she did when she fucked around with the blue Ark Core that eventually became the Ark of Orrens Knight. Because the Ark of the Arc Knight just sounds really dumb and/or inconsistent.
Now shes essentially triggered a portal storm across Nadias, with the most powerful and concentrated collection of rifts opening throughout Frass Chasm. Shes gone to the canyon to investigate the occurrence in the hopes of rectifying it, and by that of course I mean throw Orren at it and hope he fixes it for her.
Because Orren is like every character Jason Statham has played in his career; he didnt ask to get all caught up in your bullshit, but he will gladly settle it for you in the most brutal and message-sending way possible.
Dont believe me? Just ask Emperor Madoras. That Ziggy Stardust-looking motherfuckers still trying to pop the dent out of his skull from Orrens hammer.
AREA MUSIC: "Frass Chasm" (Disc 2, Track 10)
But anywayoh hey, look at that, Caesar and Kara are back in the active party for the first time since Redhorn Isle. They dont say anything or appear in any cutscenes, but whatever, I just feel better knowing theyre here.
I scooped them both out of the reserve section because I wanted to shake things up a little for the next two chapters and I thought it was only appropriate for the in-LP-universe narrative that theyd be here with Orren as hes scouring Frass Chasm to mitigate Framboises incompetence because were right in Greedes backyard, so its not like Mr. & Mrs. Drisdall are going that far out of their way to lend their (alleged) friend a hand, now are they?
So, on that note
Orren: Hey, while I got you here, I just wanted to ask Who was Lena supposed to be again?
Kara: We are not having this conversation.
Orren: You know what? Fuck it. I dont want to know anymore.
Caesar: I know I wasnt there for it, but between you and me, bud My moneys on robot.
Eldore: Alternate universe shenanigans.
Framboise: Time travel.
Yulie: Seconding robot.
Kara: You people are all idiots.
Leonard: I got sand in my mouth that day.
Everyone: SHUT UP, DUMBASS!
Chapter 6 is a little more on-point with the whole showing you where your objectives are like a real video game does thing than Chapter 5 was. Who knows? Maybe Hino dipped into his kids college fund to finance objective markers for this mission. Because this games budget has GOT to be running on fumes by this point, right?
At the edge of this stretch of the canyon we run into Framboise and everyones favourite (purely by default) Papitaur: Osmund. Do I got any more Bane jokes left in me for this LP? Lets find out!
Osmund: Identify yourself to the world.
Framboise: Dr. Framboise, nuclear physicist among other things.
Osmund: And what... what is this?
Framboise: It's a... fully primed neutron bomb, with a blast radius of six miles. Cisna still said make it bigger.
Osmund: And who is capable of disarming such a device?
Framboise: Only me.
Osmund: Only you. Thank you, doctor.
And thus ends Framboises role in the plot. Thank you, Osmund.
Framboise: Ahoy, Orren! Heeeey! Over here!
Orren: Yeah, because I would have just completely missed you otherwise.
Orren: Maybe Ill fall into a black hole and end up in a universe where people are competent. Or just die. Thatd be a nice change of pace.
Osmund: Hohoo! Its been a while, hasnt it, Orren?
And then Orren spent the next ten minutes staring at them in awe that they actually used his name.
Framboise: Well, this is going to be a teensy bit hard to explain, Osmund, buuut
Osmund: Ah, certainly. But I know the rifts you speak of, and as it happens weve had reports of a nincompoop in strange armour coming and going through them recently.
Framboise: Really?! Do you know where was he headed?
Osmund: Weeeeell... Thats the thing Since he showed up in Frass Chasm, the monsters here have turned violent. Theyre attacking people, hunting them down, like theyve all gone mad. Theyre even preventing our pilots from tracking him down. Id wager that vile alien nincompoop is behind all of this!
Orren: Hmm. Shem, or Shem cosplayer? Either way, someones getting their opaque face smashed in today.
Framboise: So then, this person
Osmund: We havent seen him since.
Framboise: I see
Osmund: Mmm Thats not our concern right now, though. We will find him later. For now, we need to search the area and seal off those rifts that have opened up.
Framboise: Well then, lets spread out and investigate the area. Dont worry, Osmund, well take care of your little monster problem!
Orren: And by that she means that Ill take care of it. Besides, this shit is hitting a little too close to home for me recently.
So theres our mission for this chapter, it would seem.
But lets pause here and examine Caesar and Karas post-game equipment before we continue, because I did this for Yulie, Eldore, and Orren at the start of Vellgander and its only fair that I do the same for the remaining two non-Leonard party members.
Lets start with Caesar.
Post-game Caesar is wielding the Gae-Bolg spear and the Shogun shield. The Shogun shield is beefed up version of the Greede shield Caesar had been wielding throughout the storyline part of the game. Its actually part of the Shogun armour set, which, interestingly enough, was actually modeled for us by our old friend Ban Nanazel near the start of the second game.
The Gae-Bolg is a spear near the end of the spear binding line. Its pretty powerful and looks really cool too. Its also the second Táin Bó Cúailnge reference in this LP, though this one comes from the game itself this time. The Gae-Bolg was the spear wielded by the Hercules of Celtic mythology, Cú Chulainn. It was their version of Excalibur, only a spear instead of a sword. Its name often appears in JRPGs along with other famous names from the grab bag of cool-sound stuff that is Celtic mythos, including Cu Chulainn himself, Morrigan, Nuada Argetlam, Baelor, Sith, the Fianna, Lia Fail, and Queen Medb.
The Gae-Bolgs moment to shine in the story of the Táin (pronounced Toy-n Boh Coon-yah, for those of you playing the home version) is when Cú Chulainn kills his best friend/foster brother/rival/lover Fer Diad at the end of a brutal one-on-one clash in the middle of a river byI shit you not, go read the fucking the thing for yourself if you want to because its actually a pretty cool storyramming the spear up through Fer Diads ass and out his stomach.
Theres a reason certain translators call it the gay bulge. Care to guess why?
Beyond that I just get a kick out of the Táin Bó Cúailnge because its pretty much Bronze Age Irelands answer to an early-run Power Rangers season. Its got a rare strong, competent female antagonist whos both hilarious inept AND goddamn deadly without either quality contradicting the other AND she actually wins in the end in roundabout manner, but the point remains. In fact, Id say that Medb is one of my favourite mythological villains just because she blatantly does not give a fuck about anyone around her (friends, foes, and family alike), will let nothing stand in the way of what she wants, and will burn you entire country to the ground to prove it.
LP-Cisna channels Medb at her ballsiest, to say the least.
I dont have a long and interesting tangent to launch into about Karas post-game weapon.
Kara wields the rapier Dark Baron, a weapon thats actually only halfway up the short sword binding line. Yet I picked it because its a visually appropriate weapon for her given her characterization, and it can be upgraded to be a formidably weapon regardless of its base stats. That and the higher up the short sword branch you go, the weapons just get weirder and weirder looking until you end up with either things like Ledoms Dimension Ripper or Fake Cisnas True King Sword.
The only other piece of minutia I have for the Dark Baron is that its the weapon briefly brandished by Grazel at Madoras at the end of the game before Madoras soul crushes him to death. Its not, however, the same sword he stabs Cisna with at the end of the first game. Thats the Knightlord Sword. Then again, we never fight Grazel on foot, so its all moot anyway as to what kind of sword he brandishes in cutscenes. For all I know he probably sucked at wielding a sword, just like he kind of sucked at doing everything else even tangentially related to villainy.
Oh yeah, the Dark Baron also has an upgraded pallet swap whose name eludes me as of the writing of this update. Its a golden sword and looks absolutely stupid.
But enough about that, lets talk to Osmund again.
Osmund: What? Youre still hanging around here?
Orren: Why the hell does everyone say that to me when I try to talk to them?
Osmund: That Framboise, she reminds me of my daughter sometimes. Always a step ahead of me. You should have heard her hollering while riding one of giant dandelions.
Orren: Wait, Osmund, youve got kids?
Osmund: Have you worked out where you all are meeting up after youre finished your investigation?
Orren: I got a feeling shes just going to parachute down right on top of my head when she feels Im done.
Osmund: Well, if you find those gates, be sure to secure the area from any monsters first. When youre all finished just give us the signal, and my Windwalkers will swoop in and drop off one of Framboises research teams. Best of luck now!
Theres also a couple of Windwalkers stationed around the cliffside that you can talk to who will fill you in on details pertaining to the sub-mission for this chapter.
Windwalker Mechanic: Pitiful. Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful. These blasted monsters are shooting down all of our gliders. We need to find a way to boost the gliders speeds so they cant catch up. Theres four areas of the canyon that we cant go near right now thanks to those monsters. Maybe if we did something about those rifts theyre all guarding
And theres this guy.
Windwalker: Rocco went out ahead to search another stretch of the canyon, but he hasnt come back yet.
Orren: Bethca he falls off a cliff this time.
Windwalker: Him and Capn Osmund, theyre like brothers, you know? Capn feels a lot of responsibility for him.
Well, thats touching. I guess that means weve got to rescue his accident-prone ass from another Greaver, dont we?
Whatever. Shit Your Pants Airlines is officially cleared for take-off, with direct flights to either the other side of the canyon, or the canyon floor, depending on equipment integrity.
Kara: WHY THE HELL IS THIS STILL A THING WERE DOING?!
Basically, youre going to be doing a lot of hopping across different stretches of the canyon on giant dandelions.
Level-5 actually did something for this stage thats actually smart, so I feel the need to point it out, because Smart Level-5 moments in this game are so few and far between. But basically, you might recall that the gimmick with these dandelions is that the direction the wind is blowing through the canyon (north or south) will send you on two different paths. Normally, each direction has about a 90 second to two minute cycle, which can leave you sitting around doing jack all if you dont time it right.
In this chapter of the Avatar Story (and in all online quests that take place in Frass Chasm, actually), the north/south wind cycle is shortened to about ten seconds for each direction. Because Level-5 realised you were on a time limit and didnt want to have you sitting around wasting precious time doing absolutely nothing like you do in Vellgander if the RNG assreams you because they tied a mission-critical item set to a random drop ratio string.
Fuck you, Level-5.
Anyways, heres some screenshots of Kara pulling off some sick moves with the Dark Baron. Because we actually havent seen all that much of Kara fighting in the LP now that I think about it.
Its sort of Level-5s fault for this thanks to them letting plot trump gameplay in all the wrong ways.
Karas hit with the double whammy of being out of the party for about 25% of the first game and 75% of the second one (I count Scardigne as being his own separate character even though he was really Kara the whole time). So that right there takes a large bite out of her potential usage time...
And the second part of that double whammy is that shes a Leonard clone with slightly better stats. And given the choice between them, I and many other players swallowed the stat disparity and the indignity of having fucking Leonard marring the party with his suckitude just to have access to the White Knight.
Because Kara cant use her own Incorruptus at any point in-game.
Because life for Kara is an unending stream of hot, moist, off-yellow diarrhea constantly flowing directly onto the crown of her head from Gods gaping anus.
Or rather it was, at least. I mean, hey, she gets to spend the rest of her life with Caesar. I can think of worse fates.
Now that were a little deeper into the central canyon, opening up the map screen shows us where our primary objectives for this chapter lie. Each of these stars denotes a rift thats popped open in the canyon that we need to deal with.
As we enter the first clearing, were halted and given a brief message by the game:
A rift lies in the center of the clearing. Before you can call in the investigation team, you need to secure the area first.
And then we did.
So like Osmund and the disembodied narration said, we need to kill all the monsters inhabiting the clearing before we can move on to the next area.
Theres a bunch or standard Frass Chasm enemies scattered around the arena and one or two unique bounty enemies. In this case, theres a pair of bounty pallet swap scorpions mixed in with all the normal baddies:
Akuto, a Killer Scorpion pallet swap.
And Iulo, a generic Scorpion pallet swap.
Eventually, they all go down and thats the end of things.
When you clear the area, the scene fades to black and then fades back into this scene. The enemies are all gone, the portal has been closed, and now theres a bunch of Papitaurs gathered around the area just milling about.
Windwalker: Im looking for something that might contribute to the investigation in any way. Unfortunately, it appears that nothing of worth was left behind when the rift closed.
Well, lets see if the guy or girl, I cant really tell sometimes with Papitaurs, in charge has anything more meaningful to say on the matter.
Royal Scholar: Thank you kindly for your help. Its a pleasure to meet you finally. Framboise has told us so much about you.
Orren: You mean shared data on us with you, right?
Royal Scholar: She has an entire department specifically called Arc Knight Weapons R&D, Id be a little more respectful to her if I were you.
Orren: She broke reality. Twice.
Royal Scholar: It appears the dimensional rift that was here dissipated once you slew the monsters that were guarding it.
Orren: No shit, really?
Royal Scholar: Were still detecting more rifts in the area. Youd better hurry and deal with the rest of them.
Orren: Hurry up and fix this shit for me. Story of my bloody life.
Windwalker: Hey there! You havent seen Rocco anywhere in your travels through the canyon, have you?
Windwalker: He was supposed to meet me here after he finished his patrol. I wonder if one of the rift monsters got him? I can see that happening.
Orren: So can I
Windwalker: Its been so strange lately. Flying through the canyon has become more difficult than usual thanks to these rifts. Theyre even agitating the Greavers to attack more often now. Well, Id love to stay and chat, but Ive got to report back to Captain Osmund soon. See you.
Windwalker: Id say this investigations hexed, what about you? With all these monsters and demons crawling around all over the place, innocent people are getting hurt. And were stuck ferrying a bunch of scientists around all over the place now too! Its too dangerous to even be patrolling here! Whats more, there s weve spotted several exotic types of Greavers and Wyverns lurking about, stuff wed normally call the Adventurers Guild to take care of.
Orren: The Guild should really be paying me for this. Hell, Im just doing EVERYONEs job for them today.
So the game just cant help but give the player the middle finger yet another time here in this next segment.
So the same message about clearing out the area of enemies pops up, but you can see in the background there that Remora is charging up a magic attack.
Were stuck in place until the message is finished displaying, as theres no way to cancel it or skip through it.
While the Remora is free to get an attack off because its close enough to have gone into battle mode while we cant do a damn thing against it and have to eat the attack.
Just revel in it. Solid game design at its finest.
Well, the one who speaks up first gets picked on first, so
Thanks for playing, jackass.
And then I took out all the enemies because there wasnt (to my knowledge) a unique bounty enemy guarding this portal to show off.
This guy just reiterates a lot of useless information that we already know about the situation.
So fuck him.
So on the top of the central mesa in the canyon is our third dark portal. This is technically our final portal if you just want to end the mission, but the fourth portal the dude back at the Windwalker basecamp mentioned is only there for the sake of extra useless numbers.
So theres a Greaver and a bunch of smaller enemies on the plateau here that we need to take out to seal the portal here, just like the last couple of times.
I dont know what the fuck is happening here, but you can also see Framboise just standing there on the opposite side. Im guessing she got trapped there or something by the Greaver and now we need to rescue her because Framboise, like 99% of everyone in this game is a complete moron.
Then again, maybe not, because the second you start fighting her model just blinks away. So Im just going to chalk it up to more of Level-5s masterful programming talent until proven otherwise.
And then there were none.
After the fade to black, Framboise and a group of Windwalkers are suddenly on the plateau.
The map screen shows two objectives: Framboise on the left and a Windwalker pilot on the right. Talking to Framboise takes you to the boss for the chapter without any means of coming back here. Talking to the Windwalker will allow you to go sew up the sub-mission for this chapter.
So lets engage in some padding, shall we?
Windwalker: Heeey! That was pretty sweet what you just did there.
Orren: Killing Greavers is practically my day job these days. Or Er I dunno, is mayoring an actual word?
Windwalker: Weve just gotten word in from Rocco that more gates have been spotted opening up in the eastern portion of the canyon! My gliders all set to if you want to head out and give Rocco a hand. Shall we go?
Orren: Little rascals probably gonna die without me, so eh. Why not?
On that note, were instantly whisked off to the area near the entrance to Baccea, where the majority of the plot developments from our original trek into the canyon way back in Game 1. Remember that? Fuck, its been a while hasnt it?
The map for this area shows two active gates giving us a total of five, so I think I might have mistranslated that one Windwalkers bit of dialog back at the start of this chapter, but it was coming out as tangentially related gibberish anyway, so I dont give a fuck.
Either Im bad at translating, or someone at Level-5 is bad at math. Take your pick. I wont be offended if you choose the former.
This penultimate gate is guarded by a group of magic fishes and a High Treant.
I thought this guy was a bounty enemy, but no, hes just an upper tier Treant-type enemy that shows up very rarely in-game.
Orren: Maybe Im supposed to feel guilty about this. I dunno.
Just like the last few times, when the portal closes, the Papitaurs show up to claim all the credit.
Windwalker: I could have sworn I saw Rocco heading off across the land bridge near Baccea Or was it just my imagination?
On the road agaaaaaaaain
So we head up and over the bridge heading towards Baccea.
In the shadowed area directly across the bridge lies our final rift for the stage.
Its guarded by a Dire Windspider and a bunch of Windspider Sprogs.
So lets kill us some spiders.
Easier than doing it in IRL.
Windwalker: These rifts have just been appearing and disappearing all over the place. Whats going on here? Is anybody safe?!
Orren: Probably not.
Aaaaaand, its miniboss time!
So we find Rocco on the same little plateau, interestingly enough, where we met him for the first time mid way through the first game. He was being menaced by a Greaver when we found him. The Avatar Story cranks this up to fucking Eleven by having him in the exact same spot and menaced by not just two Greavers, but two bounty Greavers.
This is also the last time Rocco appears in the duology, period, so theres a nice symmetry to it. Its like poetry, it rhymes.
Save Roccos accident-prone ass one final time?
- Sigh indignantly
- Turn off the PS3 and go to Law School or something
Kara: Well, this seems familiar.
Orren: Yeah, just remember, you dont have your Knight to save anyones ass with if anyone pulls a Leonard this time.
Kara: Normally I dont understand half the things you say I understand that one perfectly.
Caesar: Youd still jump down after me though, right?
Kara: If that happens again, Im just letting you fall.
Caesar: Oooo, harsh.
Well, heres an interesting development over the last time we did this dance: weve got Rocco as a guest party member for this fight.
I dunno, maybe spending the better part of a year and a half with the party inspired him to be a little more badass than he was when we first met him. I mean, hell, this is the guy who piloted the Shaghna through Redhorn Isles entire anti-air defense grid without getting so much as a scratch on her, so theres that.
Then Osmund pilots it for two seconds and crashes the fucking thing, but whatever.
Roccos probably more of a liability in this fight than he is an asset. Hes got a lower HP threshold than your party does, lower stats, and only has a basic knife for a weapon. He also has Osmunds inborn tendency to rush blindly at whatevers attacking him.
And if he dies, its mission failed. Try again, fucker!
So basically your strategy is kill these two Dune rejects before they kill Rocco. Normally this would be a fight youd want to use the Arc Knight for, but Im saving my AC for the boss battle that comes immediately after this.
This is where playing in an online party of six-or-so people would come in handy. One person would transform into their Knight for this battle and do as much damage to the minibosses as they could, then someone who conserved their AC would be free to transform during the boss battle.
See? This game almost has an element of intelligent strategy to it. Or it did before Sony murdered GeoNet.
Now it just sucks even more than it already did.
These two dildos from hell, by the way are Zuthor (brown) and Odr (green), a pair of mid-level bounties you can hunt here in Frass Chasm because thats literally the only place Greavers of any stripe appear in-game.
As usual, the key to beating these guys is stabbing attacks all the way down.
Rocco: Did we win?
Orren: Gimme a sec. Gotta double tap it.
Orren: Because Im not Leonard.
Rocco: Point taken.
Caesar: Well that went smoother than I thought it would.
Kara: Duh. Guess whos not there to fuck it all up for us?
Caesar: Where is Leonard, anyway?
[20 MINUTES EARLIER]
Leonard: Wow, this place is really deeoh poop, foot slipingWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
[HERE AND NOW]
Orren: At least we can take comfort in the fact that wherever he landed, he probably killed someone accidentally.
Kara: Thats not comforting.
After the fight ends, the plateau is empty and a Windwalker glider has swooped in and is waiting to take us back to Framboise at the central mesa to complete the mission proper.
All we need to do now is have a little chat with Rocco and weve sewn up this sub-mission as well.
Rocco: Whew! That was quite the close shave!
Orren: Seems to be our specialty these days.
Rocco: I just wanted you to know that Ive learned so very very much from watching you all fight. And Im proud to fight alongside you too Even if you have to keep rescuing me
Orren: Dont mention it
Rocco: Huh. But even if thats the case, I dont mind it. Being rescued by you guys isnt so bad.
Orren: Being rescued by Leonard on the other hand.
Rocco: I still remember the screaming. [SHUDDERS]
Rocco: One day, when I take over the Windwalkers from Osmund, Im going to make sure everyone helps out one another just as much as you guys do!
Orren: Thats actually quite admirable of you, Rocco.
Rocco: If you ever need a hand with anything, never hesitate to ask! Ill gladly help out anyone in need Even if Im the one in need. Ha hah!
Wow. Even Rocco has more of a complete character arc in this game than Leonard does. Fuck me.
Windwalker: I can look after Rocco from here. Would you like me to take you back to the west side of the canyon now?
And now were back at the main staging area. The only thing we have left to do now is talk to Framboise and get this boss battle over with.
Kara: Why do you keep doing menial crap for this woman, anyway?
Orren: Honestly, Im worried that she injected me with something while I wasnt paying attention and shell make me explode if I dont
Caesar: Yep. Cant beat good ol fashion blackmail.
Orren: Whose side are you on anyway?
Framboise: Ah, there you are! It looks like you got here at just the right time. I finished my analysis of the data the research teams brought back, and and and Wait till you hear this! By triangulating the locations of the smaller gates that you helped close up, I was able to deduce a pattern. Theyre not forming randomly, but are opening up in the vicinity of a much larger gate.
Orren: Like the one me and Cyrus found in the Nordia Tunnels.
Framboise: Ive plotted its location within the canyon. Come on, we need to get there and close it up to make sure the damage to the space-time stuff er what not doesnt spread any further! I went on ahead and confirmed the location, but I didnt go near it because I wanted to make sure youd be there to help me close it.
Orren: You mean, do my job for me.
Framboise: Science isnt about who gets the credit for doing what now. Just as long as my names on the equation, anyway.
Framboise: Well? Shall we?
Orren: Gods. If I have to
So the main portal Framboise mentioned is up here at Thaumus Rock apparently.
Orren: Man, this has got to be hella awkward for you two coming back here.
Kara: You know whats even more awkward? You pointing it out unnecessarily.
Orren: Well, you DID kind of fuck us over something harsh here.
Kara: I was a different person back then, and possibly brainwashed, I dont really know.
Orren: Yeah, Grazel did have kind of a mind-rapey thing about him, didnt he? Im glad hes dead.
Caesar & Kara: [ANGRY GLARE]
Orren: I am.
Framboise: The main rift is just up ahead. Cmon! What are ya, scared? We aint got no time for that! Lets go!
Orren: Id solve a whole fuckton of problems if I just pushed you over the edge right now
Seriously, would anyone blame him if he did?