Act 3 is where Radiant Dawn kicks into high gear and things start to get crazy. We’ll play most chapters as Ike and his mercenaries, but there will also be a few occasions where we’ll jump back to Micaiah’s army and have to fend off the same characters we were using in the previous chapter. The story will also begin to develop in interesting ways as the characters and situations built up over earlier chapters and acts intersect, hence Act 3 being called “Intersecting Vows.”
There are actually two bits of narration in this chapter, with a little dialogue separating them. This first bit is just a reminder that Elincia’s group avoided a civil war, and that she told Ike about the Black Knight still being alive at the end of all that. Then Ike and his group of mercenaries return to their old Crimean base.
Shortly after they arrive, laguz bro Ranulf shows up. Ike mentions that while he was in the capital, he saw Leanne (the entire reason she was there in the first place was that she was looking for him) and she begged him to save her brothers, but he didn’t understand what she meant. Ranulf explains that after Tormod and Nailah accompanied Rafiel to Gallia to see his siblings, he brought news that the heron massacre and the subsequent destruction of the Serenes Forest was the work of Begnion’s senators rather than Ashnard’s plotting as previously thought. In response, Gallia, Phoenicis, and Kilvas all joined together to wage war on Begnion.
This coalition of laguz forces is called the Laguz Alliance, and in their defense, they didn’t jump immediately to war. They actually sent messengers demanding that the senators explain themselves, but they not only refused to respond or investigate, but also murdered one of the messengers in an act of defiance. It’s only then that war is declared, and recognizing that it’s bound to be a difficult struggle, Ranulf enlists the aid of Ike and his mercenaries. They certainly have recent experience to draw from.
Act 3 is filled with lots and lots of big battles that include NPC units who fight alongside your units, and success often comes down to keeping them safe. Not because they’re important or especially useful, but because they make great distractions. Act 2’s endgame chapter is a great example of what to expect as far as NPC units are concerned, though we’ll occasionally be saddled with green allied units who can’t be directed in specific ways. This is the first of many such chapters.
This is the first prologue chapter where we’re given access to the base menu, though the “shop” option is grayed out and won’t become available until a little later. And like the last act change, we don’t have access to any of the bonus experience other armies acquired, so there’s not much that you can do here other than read through the base conversations and check character stats.
This chapter introduced a new character named Skrimir who’s Simba’s nephew and likely to be the next king of Gallia. Since laguz kings are determined by strength rather than bloodlines, that means that he’s incredibly powerful. We’ll see an example of that in the upcoming chapter when he leads a bunch of allied units against groups of enemies. He’s also hotheaded to the point of being careless, and this is proving to be frustrating for Ranulf. Ranulf also apologizes to Ike for pulling him into laguz affairs and eating up time he could be using hunting down the Black Knight, but Ike has grown up quite a bit and doesn’t worry about such things. There’ll be plenty of time to avenge his dead family after he rights all wrongs everywhere.
That last screenshot was the first base conversation, and it offered up new information. This second base conversation between Ike and Mist, on the other hand, is merely her reiterating her desire to stay close to Ike so that he doesn’t run off and suddenly get killed by an nigh-invincible knight in black armor like some dads she knows. Nothing new here that wasn’t already covered in Path of Radiance.
The third base conversation is with Skrimir. Apparently Simba told him to learn from Ike, which is a pretty big compliment. Also, he talks a little about how he wanted to fight Ashnard, but Simba told him that he was too inexperienced and didn’t allow it. It’s also stated that lions are the strongest of the beast tribes, which I feel was covered at some point in the last game, but I don’t remember bringing it up. Anyway, Skrimir is a pretty decent guy, though overconfident and definitely hotheaded.
The fourth and final base conversation is equally fluff, with Lethe and Mordecai praising Oscar’s cooking skills. I guess it’s nice that he’s actually good at something.
Ike is pretty great in this game in general, but capping some of his skills in Path of Radiance means starting off basically godlike. Skill is already maxed out, strength is close to maxing out, and his speed and defense aren’t too far off from reaching that point. I think he gets one class change in this game, but it might be worth using some bonus experience on him before that point if he caps enough stats that doing so funnels points into the remaining ones that have less natural growth. Mia and Soren’s stats are similarly great, too, though Mia is several levels behind Ike and will require a few more level-ups before her godliness becomes apparent. One last note: Ike stopped using Ragnell again. It’s no wonder that he has to work so much given the fact that he insists on using breakable swords instead of relying on his ultra-powerful and unbreakable sword that was blessed by the goddess.
This might be the easiest stage in the entire game, honestly. Ike’s group starts out really powerful, and there’s a wave of laguz who tear through enemies on the right side of the stage, ensuring that you only need to deal with the small groups of enemies on the left side. This is another of those stages with fog of war, but that’s not much of a hassle when your characters aren’t ever at any real risk. Still, I like to play along with Ranulf’s battle plan despite how unnecessary it is, which means moving up and taking out the ballistae operators. Then Rolf and Shinon each man one of them and snipe the fire mages while the other units continue moving up and around to try to reach the boss. The goal of the stage is for Skrimir to reach the glowing spot, and he’s likely to finish off the boss before you can get there (especially since his laguz allies will congest the area and make it impossible to reach that point). This stage effectively finishes itself. Still, I try to keep Ike and Mia fairly close to build up their eventual support bond, which will be important later on.
The supposed boss (and some other soldiers, apparently) fled during this stage, which isn’t particularly notable except for the fact that enemies will be aware that we’re marching on their position in the next chapter and fortify their defenses.
After the battle, the topic of Lehran’s Medallion comes up. As a refresher, three heroes from the days when the goddess walked the land fought to imprison a dark god within the medallion, and there are two ways for it to escape/awaken: having someone descended from the hero and Begnion founder Altina (an apostle, basically) sing the song of release, or a large, chaotic war that spans the continent.
Titania is (rightfully) worried that three laguz nations uniting to wage war against the largest country on the continent could easily spiral out of control to such a point that the latter requirement is met and the dark god is awakened.
Ranulf reassures her that the herons have the medallion now (Mist gave it back to Reyson and Leanne at the end of Path of Radiance) and can calm it down with their songs even if it should escape, making this less of an issue. Soren elaborates that Lehran, one of the heroes who imprisoned the dark god in the first place, was a heron and therefore passed down magical songs to subdue it. Still, there’s an underlying sense that the faster they can all resolve this war, the better.