We’ve finally made it to Act 2’s final chapter, which is a doozy. At least, that’s usually the case. A seemingly endless number of enemies swarm during this one, so the strategy is usually to defend for 15 turns and win that way. Since Elincia and Nephenee capped a bunch of stats in Path of Radiance and are better than usual, however, it’s possible to tackle the stage in a much more offensive way and end the stage by fulfilling an arguably more difficult win condition, that being defeating Ludveck himself. Not that he’s particularly challenging or anything. It’s just that flying units like Elincia and Haar have the best shot of reaching him because of the swarms of enemies blocking off the foot routes, and he’s surrounded by bow-users and lightning magic-users (which Elincia and Haar are weak to, respectively).
The recaps are kind of funny and unnecessary during Act 2 because it’s short enough that there’s not really a need for reminders of what’s happening, but I still find them entertaining. Especially since “Geoffrey” and “Leanne” are pronounced way different than I thought. I should probably mention that the past 3 or 4 times I’ve played through this (which was over five years ago), I was familiar enough with everything that I started skipping through the story bits and cutscenes. Because of that, playing through this again feels a lot like experiencing it for the first time.
Having been instructed to fly to Fort Alpea and warn the queen if Lucia doesn’t return, Haar does exactly that. He mentions that a man’s body was found in the safehouse she was meeting her informant in, and that they also found some of Lucia’s hair there that Ludveck left in order to make it clear that he’s captured her.
Elincia decides to personally command the royal guards in the coming battle, and she’s determined to find a way to save Lucia. Whereas she used a Slim Sword in the prologue chapter, she now brings out Amiti, her unbreakable royal sword that hits twice like a Brave Sword. Using this, she can hit a slow enemy like Ludveck four times in a single turn, and this will make her a big factor in the upcoming stage.
Leanne is incredibly stubborn and insists on helping Elincia fight, and that means that Nealuchi is also coming along for this stage to help protect her.
The first base conversation is with Calill, who shows up suddenly to help in the coming battle. She explains that Lucia told the workers at Fort Alpea to contact her if they ever thought that Elincia needed her help, and what’s great about Calill is that she shows up with long-range fire magic in her inventory. Unlike the long-range magic in the last game, we’ll be using this stuff immediately.
In the second base conversation, Haar compliments the soldiers handpicked by Lucia, and Elincia remarks that she doesn’t deserve retainers like Lucia and Bastian. To this, Haar responds that loyalty is easier when it’s to a good person like her and brings up Jill’s dad Shiharam as an example of someone who made it easy to serve (compared to a selfish old commander—possibly the boss of the prologue—and a lunatic like Ashnard). Then he gives her a physic staff for some long-range healing. Using it will set the staff as her counterattack rather than Amiti, though, so it’s usually a better idea to have characters heal with items and keep the sword equipped.
Everyone needs healing items. Nephenee gets a Killer Lance. Haar gets a Killer Axe. Basically, I spend all of the group’s money here making sure everyone can not just survive the chapter, but thrive against a large number of enemies.
See? Long-range fire magic. Saving one or two charges would help in an Act 3 chapter that forces you to use Geoffrey’s platoon of awfulness, but there’s no way to avoid that chapter being painful, so it really doesn’t matter that much.
A rebel sympathizer opens the rear gate for them and enemies swarm the fort.
You can kind of see where he’s coming from; in Path of Radiance, Daein was the enemy. No shades of gray. Just a few years later, Elincia recognizes the son of the man who brutally invaded and killed a whole bunch of people. It’s the right thing to do in the pursuit of stability and peace, but the wounds haven’t healed for everyone.
The stage starts with Marcia showing up on the left, having rushed back on her pegasus (which obviously makes her better at avoiding traps and getting to places quickly than Geoffrey’s horse-mounted units). The rest of Geoffrey’s awful group will show up later in the stage from the right and serve almost no purpose. Marcia can kind of play a role early in the stage, but there are enemies with longbows and bowguns (the latter of which can attack from one square away and indirectly), so using her too much is a pretty big risk. The strategy here is clearing the enemies below the starting point early and then blocking enemies off from the sides. Haar blocks the left side early until Brom can get there because lightning magic-users are on that side, while Nephenee blocks off the right side and distracts some bow-users.
Eventually Elincia moves down near where the boss is, though while taking pains to remain out of his range and the range of nearby units using bows and bowguns. She can clear out a bunch of enemies like that and help clear the way for her and Haar to attack Ludveck. I lost track of a bow-user around this point, though, and Elincia was in serious danger. Thankfully, she dodged his attack, but it was still pretty sloppy. Also, I was trying to rescue and drop Heather in that same area so that she could reach an enemy near the boss and steal a stat-boosting item from him, but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth and I abandoned the idea.
After the battle, Ludveck is captured and held prisoner, but he still has one last card to play. His soldiers tie a noose around Lucia’s neck and demand his release. If Elincia refuses to oblige, they’ll force her to watch Lucia be hanged.
Elincia visits Ludveck in the dungeon and he tells her that a ruler needs to be able to make callous decisions for the good of the country and that he’s succeeded in proving that she’s a weak ruler, assuming that she’s come to release him to save Lucia. Instead, she tells him that he’s hiding his petty desire to rule behind a meaningless “good of the people” facade and that she has no intention of giving him what he wants. He’s lost, then, but wonders if she has it in her to watch Lucia die.
She returns to the rebels and tells them that Ludveck will stand trial and that she has no intention of negotiating with those sowing the seeds of chaos. Lucia is happy (maybe even a little impressed) that the queen has put the good of the country above all else, or at least as happy as one can be with a noose around their neck, and the rebels have no choice but to proceed with the public execution.
Of course, Ike and the rest of the mercenaries from (early parts of) Path of Radiance show up to save her. This is one of the better prerendered scenes, though it also has the dubious honor of sporting the worst voice acting in the entire game.
After the cutscene, Elincia collapses in relief. Condemning Lucia to death was obviously the hardest decision she’s had to make as queen, but it’s one that’s helped her mature as a leader and learn to face difficult decisions head-on.
Ike showing up at the last second isn’t a game-y contrivance or miraculously lucky break—it turns out that Bastian had volunteered to go as an envoy to Daein in order to trick the rebels into acting, and he hired Ike’s group to keep a watch on things and act if necessary. Ike asks if she wants to hire his people to hunt down the escaped rebels, but she tells him that the royal knights should do it, and though many people will be upset with them over it, those people will just have to learn to deal with it.
When Ike is preparing to leave, Elincia finds him and mentions to him that Bastian had suspicions about Daein, with Pelleas’ ascension being almost a mirror image of Elincia’s. It’s suspicious, almost like someone was pulling the strings behind the scenes in order to manipulate Daein, and that this was a factor in him going there.
She also tells him that the Black Knight was spotted in Nevassa when the Daein Liberation Army fought there, and that Bastian had the ruins of Nados Castle (which is where Ike beat the Black Knight in Path of Radiance) searched the day after Ike supposedly killed him. Apparently nothing was found. She tells him that the Black Knight might pose a threat to Crimea, and Ike thanks her for the information.
The game up to this point is great, but when I fondly remember Radiant Dawn and talk about how much I love it, Act 3 and 4 are what I’m talking about. Micaiah’s army is going to end up clashing with Ike’s army (by the way, Ike is going to get an army), and every level-up a character gets will bite us as we end up potentially having to fend off that stronger character during the next clash. There are also some really interesting and brutally difficult chapters, and the whole thing is amazing.