Shining in the Darkness: Progress Log #11

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

This game is seriously starting to wear on me. I find myself taking more and more time away from it, and it’s surprisingly fatiguing to play despite making fairly steady progress. Even that supposed progress is suspect; the trials were separated enough to always provide a sense of forward progression, whereas the Labyrinth’s upper levels are a mess of repeating sections and far too many annoying random battles.

Complaining aside, I return to town and decide to craft some more stuff. I still have a Dark Block, and while I admittedly cheated a little by looking up what these can be crafted into (all of which is apparently cursed, hence me favoring Mithril Ore up to this point), this allows me to craft a new whip for Pyra. Whips attack entire groups of enemies, which is handy. Of course, the curse means that I need to visit the greedy town priest to remove it, and also that Pyra occasionally gets caught in the whip and loses a turn after attacking, but it’s powerful enough to offset those negatives.

I decide to check in on the king expecting more of the same and it turns out that new stuff happens occasionally despite me not making enough progress to reach any obvious trigger. This is admittedly pretty well designed, though now I find myself wondering just how much content I’ve missed/probably will miss. Anyway, this Xern guy shows up and confirms my suspicion from earlier about the little wizard boy secretly being Dark Souls. He also gives me the Medallion item and tells me that it can be used as a shortcut in the Labyrinth. Took you long enough.

Before heading back into the Labyrinth, I realize that I haven’t rested yet and go back to the tavern. Inside, Dark Souls is waiting for me. He tries to get me to defect and join him on his evil crusade, but no matter how hard I yell at my screen, no prompt for becoming his evil second-in-command ever shows up. JERK rejects his proposal outright. In his defense, this is definitely a jerk way to behave toward Dark Souls, but I personally believe that the grandiose jerkedness of subjugating the entire realm would ultimately be the bigger statement. Like, sometimes you have to bite your tongue and be nice to people so that you can eventually spit in their face even harder. Still, I respect JERK’s dedication, even if I find it horribly myopic.

Dark Souls tells me that he wasn’t even there in the first place, then taunts me and tells me to come find him in the Labyrinth before disappearing. It sounds like he’s trying to supplant me as the game’s jerk, and for this he must die.

The way the Medallion was explained to work is that one half is thrown into a fountain, and then the other half can be used in my inventory to teleport back to wherever I put the first half. That means that if I’m pushing forward, I have to first pick up the half from the fountain. This kind of reminds me of Dragon’s Dogma’s weird fast travel system. Putting that aside, though, I was racking my brain trying to think of a single fountain I’ve seen, and I was coming up empty. It was only when I started using the Medallion on everything that I realized that the stupid stone things that look like chests are actually weirdly deformed fountains. The art here really isn’t doing the game any favors, and I suddenly have an irrational hatred of fountains.

Pushing ahead beyond the fountain (which required using the rope on a hole in the ceiling hidden past a bunch of surprise crab recolors), I find stairs leading up and the enemies become even tougher. Thankfully, I was able to Egress warp my way back to town after using the Medallion on the fountain and heal up without losing any progress, so it’s nothing I can’t handle. Save states help, too, and become necessary when I stumble on some treasure chests and a bunch of them turn out to be monsters. These things can cast a spell that tries to instantly kill all three party members, and as you can see, it succeeded at getting two of them.

I could have used good ol’ Meat Shield’s magic to resurrect both JERK and Pyra, but he’s the party’s primary healer and I’m trying to push forward. Burning the MP just isn’t worth it. You don’t even get anything special for beating any of these treasure chest enemies littered throughout in the game. Screw that noise.

The trial and error of random chest monsters chest is totally worth it, though, because one of them is holding the Light Blade. Now JERK has both the Lighthelm and Light Blade. Didn’t someone say something about the power of light being used to fight the Darkness with a capital D? I vaguely remember something like that, though the brain cells holding the specifics appear to have been fried by all of the mindless grinding. Still, this thing is an immensely powerful upgrade.

I wander around a bit more and stumble on the princess, who is apparently still alive and not, in fact, digested by a surprise crab. Huh. She’s happy to see me, but explains that JERK’s dad has been possessed by Dark Souls’ evil or something. You know what that means—it’s time for some good old-fashioned patricide!

We don’t have to go far to find him, because it turns out that he’s wandering around just a few steps away from the princess. He doesn’t recognize JERK and is acting all evil and possessed as expected, so we fight him. This fight is long. Basically, Pyra buffs JERK’s attack and Milo heals the huge amounts of damage everyone takes each turn, and we slowly grind out a win this way. Finally defeated, the curse is magically broken and he thanks us for killing him. Anytime, pops!

He also tells us that the key to the princess’ cell is nearby, and he’s not joking. I think the level designer had better things to do on whatever day they came up with this place and phoned the entire area in, not that I’m complaining about things suddenly being easier to find. The compact area design here is actually pretty great. The whole game should learn from this. Somehow, I doubt it will.

Now armed with the cell key, I rescue the princess and she joins my group (without asking yet again, though this is to be expected of anything spawned from that entitled cheapskate king). I could use Egress and bring her back, but the previous two temporary companions both occasionally joined in on battle, and I’m too curious to pass up the opportunity to watch the princess try to kill something. My curiosity is rewarded, as each time she attacks, she yells out “Hai!” like some kind of deranged stalker who has a fetish for polite greetings. Love it. Love everything about it.

[Click here to go to Shining in the Darkness log #10]
[Click here to go to Shining in the Darkness log #12]

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