You know, it’s really unfair for the game to give me a meat shield, only to find out that it’s 8 levels lower than me. That means that both of my allies are going to suck and die like I did back when I was level 1. Sigh. More grinding lies in my future, not that there’s any way to avoid it; the Labyrinth has Lufia 1 levels of random battles. I once took 5 steps and got a combat encounter for every single one.
After looking into them some more, Meat Shield Milo has healing spells while Hairshifter Pyra is more offense-oriented. Even if they start out terrible, though, it’ll be nice to be able to attack more than once per turn. Combat against 4-6 enemies is woefully tedious with only a single party member.
Apparently everything up to this point in the game has been some kind of Labyrinth kiddie pool. This is yet more evidence that the king is either comically inept or actively sabotaging the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance; if I wasn’t so sure she was eaten by a giant crab, I’d suspect Dark Souls of being an actor hired by the king to cover up the fact that he strangled her to save money or something. Anyway, everyone decides that it’s time that I should be allowed to look for her in the real Labyrinth, and this apparently involves going through a bunch of tests. I’m given the key to the first of these tests, the Dwarf’s Key, and told that it unlocks “the bronze door.” JERK definitely hasn’t come across a bronze door, so it’s trial and error time!
… Double nope, and by now both Milo and Pyra have died. Probably should have raised their levels before heading into bee territory. The last door I can check is on the other side of this floor, so I instead head back to have that crook of a town priest resurrect them. I’m not expecting him to be nice about the price.
Yeah, that’s about what I expected, and he asks for 60 gold for Pyra immediately after. That’s 100 gold to revive both of them when restoring everyone’s HP costs 30 gold at the tavern. This church is obviously devoted to prosperity theology.
This is the door that the Dwarf’s Key opens, and it’s not far from where you first enter the Labyrinth. I know bronze can turn greenish, but when someone says “bronze door,” isn’t brownish gold a natural expectation? Whatever. The door’s open now.
This place has a serious crab problem, and they always scuttle out from behind a wall. When people say that they like surprises, they’re not talking about crabs. Still, this fight goes smoothly now that I have three characters. Everyone’s health is a little lower than I’d like, but I quickly beat down the crustacean and find some stairs.
Finally, some new visuals! I wander around the Cave of Strength for awhile, but quickly realize two things. The first thing is that I’m not nearly strong enough to comfortably wander around this area. The second is that the rows of torches that used to signify that you’re moving ahead (which kept me oriented) now lie and send you into dead ends. This is going to be a problem. Before I deal with that, though, it’s probably a good idea to grind a bit to make things less annoying in general.
These crabs are great for experience. All you have to do is hang out one square away from the stairs down and spin in circles. Eventually one will scuttle out and challenge you. Pyra has a “Slow” spell that also reduces defense, so casting that and then attacking with everyone works to quickly grind out experience and gold.
Then it’s back to town to spend that gold on better equipment. Or to at least try to—certain characters can’t use certain equipment, and I haven’t really wrapped my brain around why that is yet. It takes some time going through all the menus, but I do end up finding something each character can use, and combined with all the levels (and subsequently, new spells and spell levels) that we gained doing crab extermination, we’re now overpowered enough to wander aimlessly without worries.