Wednesday, 29 July 2015

#001: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) Part 12

FatePlaysGames #001 Xenoblade Chronicles Part 12 - Loss

Summary: The Mechon are driven back... at a cost. We also get a glimpse of the past and set our course for the future.

TWs: Death, Blood.


Location: Colony 9

The Faced-Mechon (he seriously needs a better name than that, they can't think of anything to call him?) advances mercilessly on us, but Fiora lets loose a volley from the Mobile Artillery to save us. She charges in like a badass, and as I'm whooping Shulk gets another vision. Neither Shulk nor I are clear in what we see beyond the Faced-Mechon's aggressive response but Shulk is crying out for Fiora to stop. And I cease whooping. No.

The music starts building to a crescendo. No. Fiora and Faced-Mechon continue trading blows as Shulk watches helplessly. No. The Artillery is rendered useless but Faced-Mechon, despite the hits (and cries) hasn't appeared to have taken much damage. A haunting vocal starts as Faced-Mechon advances on and makes wreckage of the Mobile Artillery. No.

Just... no. She can't. Not this early. Not like this. The game is screwing with me, right?

Faced-Mechon's claws, soaked in Fiora's blood.

And then my illegible notes stop altogether. Are you serious? Fiora dies within the first 5-10 hours of gameplay? [FFVII] Guvf vfa'g Nrevf qlvat ng gur raq bs qvfp bar naq orvat tebhaq-oernxvat. Guvf vf nf vs Nrevf qvrq whfg nf lbh yrsg Zvqtne sbe gur svefg gvzr naq vg jnf whfg nf vzcnpgshy. I don't swear often, but WHAT THE FUCK?! She's just injured, surely?

I shouldn't be (Fiora is awesome), but I'm genuinely surprised at how much I already care for Fiora. I get emotionally invested and cry for books, TV and film, but very rarely for games. V qvqa'g trg gbb rzbgvbany ng Nrevf' qrngu, ohg V jbhyq chg gung qbja gb ntr naq pvephzfgnaprf (tencuvpf, ab ibvpr npgvat). But she's just wounded, surely?

Shulk standing before the Faced-Mechon, shouting an anguished cry to the heavens: 'I'll kill you!'

Damn right we will!

Oh, I do need to Topple it. I had that thought in an off-hand way last time, thinking that nothing so mundane would be needed in addition to the Monado. It's... disappointing? It's apparently due to Mechon with a face taking no effect from the Monado... because reasons I'm not told and that I don't care about and that aren't presented in a satisfactory way. I just want to get to and save Fiora. She just can't be dead.

The music continues into the battle (I always love it when a game does this); or at least it does at first. Between the change to the normal boss/mechon battle theme and the oddly placed/designed tutorials, the game designers really missed a trick to keep the emotional tension high here. I don't even get to kill Metal Face (official name).

The Monado is wedged deeply into Metal Face's face, with smoke billowing from the exposed machinery.

Shulk charges along Metal Face's body, consumed with rage and hate, and thrusts the Monado through Metal Face's face. Shulk inflicts serious damage, Metal Face's eyes dim briefly and it cries out in pain. And you know what, even beyond my feelings about Fiora... I kinda sympathise with Metal Face a little right here? It's cries of pain seem so, frankly, alive.

Giving Dunban once last long stare, he transforms and takes off, with the rest of the Mechon forces retreating too. Colony 9 is saved, but at what cost? Is Fiora dead or just injured?

An orange glow suffuses the light over the empty Ether Light square.

An orange light falls over a silent and abandoned Colony 9. The music speaks of loss but also serenity, Shulk sits at Outlook Park and we see flashbacks to his interactions with Fiora and I have to finally accept it. Fiora really did die in the Mechon attack on Colony 9, and I am not okay.

Reyn joins Shulk, wondering if he has been to see Dunban yet. Reyn can't face him, but Shulk confides that Dunban, the man who lost his sister, the man who lost is friends in the war a year ago, was the one comforting Shulk. And he will not cry over it. He won't mourn the life of someone who gave their all to protect what was most dear to them, and he thinks Fiora would tell Shulk the same.

Shulk: Even without the Monado, he's the strongest person I know.

I am really not okay.

Shulk has a new focus, a new determination. He will hunt down Metal Face, and allow the vengeance in his heart to override his reason and compassion. And that prediction I made so long ago, that Shulk could lose himself in seeking revenge is starting to come true. Reyn will accompany Shulk, though is surprised Shulk was the one to suggest it. And Dunban looks on, recovering from his wounds and intending to follow them later. I hate to pick holes in this, but it's hard to tell how much time has passed, and the music and voice-acting/script seem don't seem to sell me the same emotional levels.

But it doesn't matter, 'cause I am not okay.


Location: Unknown

14 years ago? I wasn't expecting another flashback, nor one going so far back. We're seeing what I would guess to be a group of Homs trudging through snow covered mountainous ranges during a blizzard... with a child? A blond child at that. Was that a young Shulk? And was that his blond-haired father who looked back at him?

A thin beam of blue light extends upwards from a set of frozen towers.

And now there's a beam of light emanating from the building they entered, though I can't tell if it's a man-made structure or not. Oh, Dickson's arriving after the others? And the Homs are dead? Just what exactly is going on here?! THE MONADO?! Dickson only found it 14 years ago? I-I thought... I thought it had been passed down Hom societies for generations or something? Is the game about to explain why Shulk (who presumably survived) can use the Monado's true powers?

The young Shulk, dressed in furs for the cold weather, sleeps below a stand above which is suspended the Monado.

Young Shulk sleeps below the Monado's pedastal.

That's... creepy. What killed the adults that travelled with him? Or, as I can only suspect, brought him here? I can't think of another reason why they'd bring a young child. Was it the inherent power of the Monado or a defensive system of some sort? There's no decay or obvious signs of attack. Is Shulk different from other Homs? Was that light a warning beacon that lead to the wars with the Mechon? I have so many questions!

But naturally I won't get answers yet. Dickson takes Shulk from the structure (leaving the Monado for now I guess?), presumably to, among other things, give him a home. But was that out of the kindness of his heart, to satisfy his curiosity, or some combination of both? Was Dickson originally with that group or did he discover them later?

I am not okay and now I don't understand anything.


Next Time: Hunting down Metal Face and hopefully answering some of my many many questions.