Stage 13 the other other afterlifeStage 13
the other other afterlife
That's two stages, so new weapons, right? I guess not. It's not really that important, but I really have no idea what the pattern is, if any. So I just check after every stage, just in case. Feeling like I have a surplus of materials nowadays since I'm so frugal with them, I just sort of go all out and buy weapons for Patchouli and Nitori. I also switch Nitori into my party, just because. And the next area is lightning themed and Nitori is one of 3 characters who can do earth attacks.
There's actually a gap in my memory here. I know I switched Nitori in
, but I have no idea who I switched out
. My standard party has recently been Youmu, Sakuya, Sanae, Marisa, and Patchouli. Sanae and Patchouli can both do earth attacks, Youmu is my acting tank, and Sakuya and Marisa are mainstays who have cheap and powerful attacks. so I can't really imagine myself having a party without either of them. So... where does Nitori fit in? I have no idea. Does Sakuya take over as tank instead of Youmu? Do I drop Marisa for the lack of earth attacks? It's probably one of those two, and I dropped Marisa for the screenshots I took, but maybe it was Youmu... Anyway, Nitori, now with gun.
Last time I said the next stop was Heaven, and it is, but how exactly does one get to heaven? Hell was a big hole in the ground, but it's not like there's an sky elevator or anything. The short answer is that you go to this cloud looking things on the map◊
. I circled it in yellow using my awesome MS Paint powers. The red circle is the Youkai Mountain, and since they're so close I think maybe it's supposed to be implied that you're hopping onto the clouds from the top of the mountain.
However we get there, the next dungeon is
the Mysterious Sea of Clouds. The Japanese wiki combines this with the next dungeon collectively as Heaven (or rather 有頂天 which means "ecstasy" or "rapture"), but entering the area causes the name to appear and it's definitely the Sea of Clouds.
It looks kind of like a cave for some reason. I suppose we're surrounded by dark stormclouds or something, but I really can't see it as anything but a cave. Dimly lit, enclosed, irregularly shaped floor and walls... As they say, if it quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it's a cave. So it's the skycave.
Enemy field sprites are giant feet again, which as you may recall was also the case in Hell. While I always appreciate themes, reusing the sprites makes me sad. After I shed a single tear lamenting the lack of sky eels or something, I suppose I should describe the enemies. As I mentioned earlier, this is a lightning themed area, so most of the enemies are lightning elementals, Thunderbirds, electricity lizards and the like. Accompanying them are three different colors of UFO, some bugs and computer chips, and greater demons. Ah, I really miss the Godslayer.
Of these, the most annoying other than the demonic minibosses are the Thunderbirds. Being Thunder
birds, they are immune to lightning. Being Thunderbirds
, they are immune to earth. Cause they're flying and all, which somehow protects you from earth elemental bullets. So while switching in characters with earth elemental attacks seemed like a good idea, ultimately it was kind of pointless for most battles. Nitori takes an extra turn to load her elemental bullets, and unlike Youmu's stances the pay-off is not immediately worth it.
Back to the Thunderbirds, they also spam an all targeting "lightning breath" or something on the party. This quickly kills me. After several instances of this, I begin to notice something: some of my characters take massive damage from this while others are taking single digit damage and can ignore it. While of course the survivors are quickly focused down by the other enemies, being resistant to lightning seems like an awfully good idea. So I check my party's resistances on the status page, now having a vague idea how to interpret it.
Turns out half my party is vulnerable to lightning, while the other half is resistant to it. Remember when I said that I threw random accessories onto everyone, just because? Well, it turns out that there's a class of elemental resistance accessory that make you weak against its opposite. Ah, the perils of accessories, I knew I should have left them alone. Now guided by a vague understanding of these things, I sift my accessory list for things that increase lightning resist and manage to get everyone up to at least neutral, which as you might imagine helps a lot in this place.
The dungeon design here is once again actually interesting, for the first time since the Sunflower field 5 stages ago. In addition to its fundamental cave-ness, this dungeon is also lightning themed, and this manifests as large electric walls blocking paths. There are switches that turn these on and off, and much like stage 7, most of the switches turn another one on
at the same time. Unlike stage 7 though, it actually gets somewhat complicated this time because doors don't necessarily take you to where you might expect. I guess it's either randomly twisty like a cloud or there are two levels with no indication that you're going up or down stairs.
So, lots of switches, kind of confusing. Adding to this is that you can often see other paths or treasure across gaps with no clear way to reach them, and indeed many switches control lightning walls across these gaps. It's a place where you progress by trial and error, but it's not really that big. Shortly enough I open up a path somewhat near the entrance that leads to an ominous teleporter. Having seen an unreachable treasure box earlier, I check the Japanese wiki's map to see if I was suppose to have gotten that yet. Nope, it's part of the next stage. Leaving on that sinister note, I advance forward to the cutscene.
Unsurprisingly, the boss is Iku
, the lightning using Oarfish who swims in the clouds. Sadly, I really didn't get much out of this conversation but it's clear we're going to fight her. Everyone gets into their battles stances and—
Wait, is that a drill? Iku's battle stance involves spinning her shawl around her arm like a drill, which fascinates Nitori. She pulls out her own drill, and I can only assume that she says "You call that a drill? This
is a drill." in an Australian accent
. They start comparing... drills for a while, but Reimu interrupts what is surely an uproariously hilarious scene with a good old fashioned "shut up, let's just fight her." And she kills me.
As you might expect, Iku◊
uses a lot of lightning attacks. One of these, done on the first turn and every few turns thereafter, will strike 2-3 members of you party with lightning and then at the end of the turn they die. Maybe it's because of its two-pronged nature, but death resistance or resistance in general doesn't seem to help much. I guess getting hit by lightning doesn't trigger a resist check, and after you're hit by lightning the follow-up death attack is irresistible. That's the first annoying part about Iku, your members will be constantly dying.
The second part is that she spams lots and lots of lightning attacks, and pushes the land meter in that direction very fast. The land meter increases the power of her lightning attacks, making it almost a race against time. Furthermore, when the land meter's lightning goes over a certain threshold, she regenerates 666 HP per turn. It's not that I can't do more damage than that per turn, but it certainly slows things down, especially when half my party is randomly dead. Note that the previous boss' damage numbers in the multiple thousands are not
indicative of how much damage I normally do. While Patchouli's elemental field effect can nullify the damage bonus to lightning, that does nothing about the regeneration.
The good news is that she's weak against earth attacks, so by casting earth magic I can both push the meter away from lightning and do extra damage. The bad news is that only Patchouli has the free time to cast earth magic because Sanae is busy reviving and healing while Nitori's earth elemental bullets don't actually count as casting spells. The worse news is that Patchouli field effect spell doesn't actually count as earth either, so refreshing it to weaken Iku's attacks just gets her one step closer to regeneration. Heaven forbid Pathouli dies
So it's sort of a race against time + constant death. Kind of fun really, if a bit simplistic. Around this time I noticed that Youmu's Asura stance only has three moves and I've only been using two of them. She has a cheap area of effect attack, and an expensive bomb attack. The third ability she has causes her next attack to have a 100% crit rate, but until now I figured I'd rather attack twice than waste a turn. But... cooldowns. I dunno why I didn't think about this, but if you use the free crit ability on the turn before the spellcard's cooldown runs out your big hits will always be bigger. So Youmu has an ability rotation now, which helps on the damage front.
Ultimately this is a matter of persistence rather than crazy set-ups, so as long as I keep Sanae covered from instant death by Alice and Mokou has bombs to revive me from the back row, it's gonna be fine. Probably. And it was, after a few attempts. Iku, you were a good boss. You've earned my respect as a dance partner.
After defeat, Iku says something along the lines of "Tenshi's through that door over, make sure to take a right" before collapsing with an exaggerated "gaku" which I assume is something like "ghk". I say collapsing, but it really looks like she's just reclining on the floor with her head resting on her arm. I get the feeling she wants us to beat up Tenshi.
Next stop, here. Again. Picture time!
is the entrance. The music is Sky Sanctuary, a remix of Wonderful Heaven
is some more dungeon, plus giant feet. I guess I can see the cloud-ness, but it's also so cavey. Here's◊
a lightning wall. You could see a deactivated on in the previous screenshot.
are some of the enemies. The UFOs are obviously borrowed from UFO, so I guess that's the second influence, the first being Byakuren. I actually got a chance to use Patchouli's Last Word◊
is a demon, ooh scary. This◊
is Nitori shooting said demon with one of her attacks that hits up to 8 times. Note that she's not actually holding the gun, it's just sort of on a stick.
is Nitori's elemental bullet selection menu. I've mentioned these a few times, but there's a category of spell that only takes one ability slot but lets you choose exactly what it does when you cast it. Both Nitori and Byakuren's elemental imbues, Alice's elemental protection, Reimu's status ailment guards, etc.
Because I failed to get Nitori's Last Word even though it procced, here's◊
Nitori's mildly amusing victory animation. She looks upset because something just exploded in her backpack. This◊
is her casting animation, which is rummaging around in her backpack. I think she only has one actual spell though.
is Iku taking a nap on the floor.