Hello again! Today, I'll be heading through the first parts of Lacrima Castle (which is not filled with stuff related to games that have no business being in continuity with this one, mind you).
We start out a ways away from the castle proper, in stage 2-1: Wilheim Bluff. We warp in right next to a cliff, which really isn't the best place to put a teleporter when you think about it, but this is high fantasy, so I won't say anything more.
Anyway, Ein immediately starts worrying that it might be too dangerous here, proving that he hasn't played this game before. Lina and Fia shut him up quickly enough, though, and we're on our way.
With that, I'm given control, and can start examining things. There's only one thing to examine, though. Namely, a shrub that Fia identifies as a medicinal herb of some sort. I take some for later use, obtaining a Healing Herb with 15 charges (a Potion is promptly dropped to make room). Fia then states that she can make the herbs I just picked into Potions, prompting Lina to ask what a Potion is. Explaining would raise her affection, so Ein instead lies and says he doesn't know. Fia then explains it instead, prompting Ein to start angsting about his amnesia. Don't worry, this is just about the only time he does it.
As I exit Look mode, Lina notices something in the grass. Examining it reveals that there's a broken dagger buried there, and I'm given the option to either point out its damaged state or compliment Lina on her treasure hunting skills. It should be obvious enough that the former option lowers Lina's affection and the latter raises it, but if Ein says that the knife is broken I won't get it, so I choose to be extra nice to Lina this time, and I'm rewarded with a Chipped Dagger.
With that out of the way, I move onward to the next screen and am promptly attacked by a wandering shrubbery. I'm not one to back down from a fight, and it's right in my way anyway, so whatever. Fia and Lina tell Ein to stay back, and it segues into a clumsy explanation of the front and back rows. It works like pretty much any other JRPG, really: characters in the front are attacked more than characters in the back (though it depends on the enemy).
Anyway, this is the first fight where I can actually gain the proper item drops for my enemies. Basically, enemies normally drop one (invariably useless) item, but if S-ranked, they drop a different (often better) one. Also, the last enemy to fall is the one that drops an item. Anyway, my only real option for S-ranking this guy is the Naga Fang, so I bring that and use Lightning Call to finish the battle. Since I forgot to mention what it does, I'll talk about it here: It inflicts 3 Lightning-elemental magic attacks that can't be blocked upon the enemy farthest away from Ein. For S-ranking plant-type enemies you get whips, in this case a Rose Whip with five uses in it. Since I still have too many Potions, I toss another one.
After the fight, Fia and Lina talk about how Ein is seemingly a better fighter than them due to instinct, and how this implies that he's fought before. They then elect to make him the leader, the practical upshot of which is that I can choose the party's formation from now on (I can also change it mid-battle, but that has exactly one incredibly situational use that probably won't even come up). I also examine some grass and find a Rock. I keep it, because you never know when you might need to throw a rock at something.
Also, I should explain my new party members now that they've seen battle:
: Lina is the party speedster, boasting a whopping 25 base Agility and the only Over Skill in the game (to my knowledge) that boosts Agility when learned. Sadly, there's not much else good about her. Her stats are generally lackluster, her preferred weapon type (bows) isn't that good, and a distressingly large number of her Over Skills are percentage-based and thus can't kill anything. Quite a few of them also destroy the item they use, so they aren't even spammable. Still, she has her uses, and the last bow has one unique property that absolutely nothing else in the game can replicate. Lina highly resists Lightning and is quite vulnerable to Fire.
: Fia is, in essence, a standard Cleric-type character. She has higher Magic than Strength, but can still do quite a bit of physical damage when called upon. Unfortunately, her healing will never see any use due to healing being generally a waste of a turn, but her other skills are very good. She specializes in rapiers, which are the best weapon type in the game because they hit three times. She also has one of exactly two level 3 Over Skills that aren't
obtained from their users' weapons of choice. She slightly resists the three main elements, and is weak to Dark attacks.
Anyway, moving on, Fia explains that demons used to live in Lacrima Castle, but the Arcs took it over at some point. This screen is really nothing to write home about, honestly. There's some shrubs to examine, but they'd just inflict temporary damage on my party, and this happens to be the one point in the game where that actually matters. So instead, I move on to stage 2-2: Shadow Bridge.
Ein starts to worry about the castle and the potentially lethal horrors within, but Lina and Fia both want to continue. I'm then given two options that lower affection for both of them, and one that raises it. One of the lowering options involves Ein getting a bad feeling about it, so I choose that one. Immediately after doing this (and subsequently getting affection loss from both of them), I'm given the option to insist
that it's too dangerous, which further lowers their affection and makes Lina cry (making me sad by proxy). They then guilt-trip Ein into going with them
, and Lina critically fails her attempt to keep Ein from finding out that her crying was just a ruse. *sigh* The things I'll do for affection drops...
Anyway, there's nothing else of interest here, so I move on. Ein comments on the statues on the bridge, and Fia says that they're the work of the Arcs, who made them to resemble the demons. She also says that Lina once suggested that they look like Arcs, giving Ein entirely
the wrong idea. Fia then clarifies that the only thing about the statues that resembles the Arcs is their wings. At any rate, there's two things to examine here: a trapped treasure chest that could contain a Rapier or Longbow with fewer uses than ours could possibly have right now, and a gargoyle statue. Examining the statue causes Lina to talk about how she hoped there would be something to it, and I promptly have Ein agree (Ein: "Me, too.") This causes Lina to examine the statue more closely, triggering a trap. One command minigame later, I've dodged it and earned 3500 points.
Anyway, next screen. Lina and Fia talk about how the castle must be full of demons based on the number we've encountered, despite the fact that we've only seen one
demon so far (and I'm not entirely sure that it was a demon). This prompts two guards to approach and...stare at the party incredulously while they discuss how to determine the party formation. The enemies are an Evil Mage (generic magic user) and a Gladiator (generic fighter-type). The only complication here is that the Gladiator can randomly block attacks with his shield, which is irritating to say the least. It screwed me out of my S-rank for this battle (I was trying to get the mage's special drop, but the Gladiator blocked Lina's arrow with five HP left
), and Ein ended up faceplanting as a result. I still got an A rank, though, and the mage dropped a Cape (which replaced the last Potion in my inventory).
Next time: The castle!