Stage 4 tonight we dine in hell
I lack... quality control. If anyone's actually reading this, I would appreciate any advice on what kinds of things to cut out. This is turning out to be much denser than I had imagined. I'm just sort of rambling, if you hadn't noticed. In the case that no one's actually reading this, hello me. I'm considering adding random line breaks into the longer paragraphs to improve readability.
tonight we dine in hell
Oh great, more gameplay exposition. Here we go again. I addition to everything else I've mentioned, there are also party formations, and you get new formations after every boss fight. They tend to give you stats bonuses like "front row attack up, back row magic up" but they seem to use idiosyncratic language compared to the rest of the stat page so I can't figure them out, nor are the translated on the wiki.
They also determine positioning for enemy AOE spells. The most important part though is that the character in the front slot will be attacked far more often than anyone else, so Alice goes there, replacing Reimu who honestly isn't that useful.
The party heads towards the underground to get to hell, but apparently the road is closed (Yuugi got drunk and went on a rampage or something). So we have to go through the back door, through the geothermonuclear power plant that the kappas built and conveniently Nitori knows about. And Sanae does not. There's a subtle "no one tells me anything" vibe to Sanae in this scene, and considering how she was introduced in the beginning of this game it wouldn't surprise me if she's on a Snipe Hunt
. It's noted that the mist doesn't extend underground, so the people down there probably don't know what's going on.
So we head on down to the fiery part of hell and proceed to work our way backwards to the Palace of the Earth Spirits. This dungeon is not particularly notable. It's a cave, and there's a bunch of fire, but it doesn't hurt you so it's closer to a wall than an obstacle. The enemy field sprites are now giant feet stomping around without a body.
Anyway, the enemies themselves are all fire elementals and demons, so I just do the same thing I did in the forest except with water instead of fire. Nothing really notable here, although they introduced a new "strong single enemy that doesn't come in packs" archetype which is kind of annoying for my AOE focused party.
The dungeon layout revolves around hitting switches to turn off purple flames that block paths so there's a lot of criss-crossing and backtracking as new paths open up. I was fairly paranoid at this point so I left the dungeon a lot, and sometimes went to go heal outside because I would run low on MP, but that just made the layout more familiar to me. Shortly enough, ominous heal point and teleporter to the entrance.
Pre-boss cutscene time! Our favorite nuclear hell raven Utsuho
is noting that, yes, the place is still on fire. Since keeping it on fire is her job, this means that all is well, which means she's bored. While lamenting her boredom and hunger, her good friend Orin
, the necromancer kasha, shows up and commiserates with Utsuho regarding her similar non-problems.
The party shows up and after some brief greetings (Utsuho doesn't remember who we are) and some question about what we're doing here, the party huddles to confirm that we probably won't get through if we tell them that we're here to kidnap Satori. Using some quick thinking Aya determines that, as housepets, if we give them food they'll love us forever. A flawless plan. Conveniently, Nitori is hanging on to some cucumbers.
Reimu hands Orin some cucumbers as a gift for safe passage and Orin start chowing down, prompting Utsuho to scold her for being so easily influenced. "Don't worry, I have some for you too". Nom Nom Nom. After a moment of this, they both realize that they're being bribed and that that is in fact more suspicious than anything. The cucumber still hanging from Utsuho's mouth. Reimu says "shut up, let's just fight them". And then they kill us.
There's actually a recurring theme in boss fights for this game: they always start with their best attack. Maybe it has something to do with cooldowns or something, but there are very very good odds of you dying on the first turn if you're unprepared. That didn't happen this time, but one survivor when I can't revive is pretty useless. So, back to the drawing board.
Relying on outgame resources of the wiki to explain how this fight works, it's pretty straightforward. Both of them do a lot of fire damage, so use water to weaken them. Utsuho attacks quickly, so use cover with Alice until you can get your defenses up. More interestingly, Orin apparently revives Utsuho, so you should kill her first (although I didn't see this myself). She can also revive your dead party members as zombies who will attack you. Well, not dying was a good strategy from the beginning.
The big problem is Utsuho. When she's below half health, she'll start every turn by casting Giga Flare, which will kill you. 300 damage to everyone, when we have about 80-120 HP. If she gets a turn below half health, you die. The entire fight revolves around addressing this problem.
There are several ways of dealing with this. Alice can cover people, taking multiple hits herself but she was gonna die anyway. This gives you an extra turn to finish her off. Sakuya can stop time and get multiple actions on the same turn, especially effective when combined with her Sakuya's World self-buff that makes her attacks much stronger. Aya can cast a spell that makes your entire party go first for that turn, getting a chance to act before Giga Flare. There are also some others, sometimes involving the secret characters that I didn't recruit (Mokou can self-rez).
Needless to say, I did all of them at the same time and it worked. It's more of a puzzle boss than something that's actually hard, but at least there's more than one solution. Post-battle, nothing much interesting happens, although Utsuho's defeat pose involves her lying in Orin's corpse cart. We promise not to hurt Satori (this is a lie) and head past.
No new characters, nothing of interest. The next stage is more hellish than hell.