Xenosaga Episode I Part 04: Everybody Hurts

PREVIOUSLY ON XENOSAGA EPISODE 1: Shion took a break from her exciting life of never finishing building a robot to tour the Woglinde, a happy little ship full of happy little people all living their happy little lives. Today, we’ll watch them all die.

So, I guess even though it’s space, and there’s no day/night cycle when you don’t even have a sun (or have too many suns), there’s, like, nap time on the ship, and all the lights are off, and the people are snug in their beds, dreaming of sugar plum fairies.

Even Vector R & D is working on sleepy time lighting.

Allen is surprised to see his fellow employees working. He’s probably one of those nerds that assumes everyone has an exciting social life while he’s back in his room playing Pac-Man 4000 and quietly weeping.

Allen is, as ever, working late because he feels he owes some kind of debt to that woman he’s trying to seduce. Is there a subcategory of “nice guy” that’s related to being an underling?

But anyway, no one cares about Allen, what’s important is that KOS-MOS’s space coffin has lit up. Good thing the lighting is so poor that we can see it easily!


Back on the bridge, these poor doomed losers are working the nightshift.

Oh no! Things are finally happening!

The immediate reaction is that something terrible is happening outside, but… no… the call is coming from inside the house!

Hey, everybody, guess where Vector R&D’s lab is located. I’ll give you three guesses.

Ship is seriously freaking out about this, though. Sirens blaring, pop ups all over the place: it’s just a mess for anybody that has to close those giant, floating windows.

Back to R&D, Allen has identified the problem… mainly because it’s flashing back at him from a monitor.

True to form, Allen has no idea what’s happening, or what to do.

The KOS-MOS system (thus the “it”) is booting up. If you’re worried about the pseudo-science of what’s happening here, basically KOS-MOS needs a jump start, and the system that performs that is getting ready to go.

Allen: still confused.

And Shion, still asleep.

A cacophony of sirens raises our heroine. This is a weird kind of plot-fate thing. If KOS-MOS wasn’t having a freakout, Shion would not have been awakened, and she likely would have just died in her sleep in the next scene. This could be the first sign that KOS-MOS has an almost precognitive operating system. Or it’s just lazy writing.

Yes, Shion has, like, future glasses. Rather than the stupid, analog glasses of the past, her glasses have to be charged, and are vulnerable to electrical disturbances. The future!

Shion attempts to contact the lab via the local phone system, but, since the ship is in emergency insanity mode, the comm system is overloaded and not working. The future!

Sorry, Shion, looks like someone, somewhere has a higher authority code than the chief of Vector R&D. You have a boss, or… somebody? Show me an org chart.

Shion attempts to dash down to R&D, but the blast doors close on her (emergency protocol), so, sorry, you’re going to have to take the long way around. Oh well, more of a walk, but that shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Shion is very worried, so naturally…

She has a poorly lit, very quick flashback to the last time KOS-MOS activated. Hard to see, but that’s Shion cradling a very dead, very just-been-shot Kevin.

And Proto KOS-MOS is giving everyone a bad case of the blues.

Back to reality, Shion (along with the rest of the ship) suffers from a few extra bumps. What is it now, indeed.

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. When it rains, it pours…

… something? Something completely unknown is interacting with the UMN, which, reminder, controls all space travel in the universe.

Every third thing in this game defies the laws of physics, but, sure, this is worse than the other stuff.

There’s the magic word!

Yes, popping out of the nothing of space: it’s the one and only gnosis!

Friendly looking guys, aren’t they?

Alright, here’s the skinny on The Gnosis. First of all, the Xenosaga universe is meant to be “our” future, just a few millennia from now, and a side-effect of the “reality” of that is the idea that we’re alone in the ‘verse, so no aliens. Sorry, anybody hoping for a whacky little pink mascot creature is out of luck. That said, these guys look pretty damn alien, right? Their true nature is a big important secret of the series, so I’m not going to get into all that at the moment, but these guys are not so much meant to be “alien” as “magical”. I suppose I can divulge that it will be eventually revealed that these guys, in ancient times, were likely faeries, kappas, unicorns, or whatever crazy mythological creatures people have claimed to see over the years.

Anyway, the important thing for “real” people in the Xenosaga Universe is that these guys weren’t really anywhere before the Miltian Conflict, an event that happened during Shion’s childhood, and now these suckers are everywhere. Well, at least everywhere enough to necessitate an entire cottage industry dedicated to destroying these space fish, but still generally mythical to the average man on the street.

Some fun gnosis facts: gnosis do not actually work together, they’re just generally together in the same place seeking the same thing. Also, gnosis are all “attacking” in self defense; they’re not trying to be malicious, they just have incredible offensive capabilities, and use them at the slightest provocation. And, while they’re not actively seeking conflict, they will instinctively chase/stalk their targets.

Gnosis are basically cats.

Space cats.

Somebody got sent out to space to shoot at gnosis from an AGWS, and… yeah… good luck with that. I mean, at least someone is trying to repel the invasion.

It’s going poorly, though, and the big gnosis shoots some glowy bolts that penetrate the ship. These shots are more gnosis, now ready to hop around inside the Woglinde. Joy.

So back inside the ship, Virgil and his crew are getting ready to combat the gnosis that have crawled on in. Let’s hope they’re more effective than the guy outside!

The Combat Realians (remember them? From Shion’s ethics debate?) all join the melee “naked”, that is, unlike the humans, they don’t hop into giant mechs. Virgil is impressed with their bravery.

Gotta admit, this does kind of make the Realians look stupid. Though, I suppose this is what they were designed for. Err… to combat the gnosis, not look stupid.

They’re heeeeeeere.

Oh, here’s something I forgot to mention: the gnosis are only kinda sorta in our dimension. They’re transparent because they’re not all here, and thus are really hard to hit. Guess that’s why the dude shooting that machine gun out on the ship wasn’t getting anywhere. But don’t worry, they’re material enough to grab and/or smash your average human.

Additional gnosis fact: physical contact with a gnosis is a really bad idea. I mean, it’s not like they’re pure poison or something, you could theoretically punch a gnosis and not suffer any side effects, but being… handled by one of these guys will lead to being turned to salt. Yes, salt. You may recall a certain event from the Bible when Mrs. Lot decided to watch some hardcore pornography, and got transformed into a condiment for her curiosity. This is basically the same thing, though likely involving more writhing in agony.

And speaking of that guy out on the ship, no, he’s not doing any better. Turns out fighting an enemy you can’t even touch is rather difficult.

So we’re back in control of Shion, and the only way out is straight through these partially materialized monstrosities.

Enter battle! Go! Win Shion!… or… don’t do any damage, because why would Shion be so special?

Shion effectively notes that she can’t do a thing, 9999 HP be damned.

Brave Sir Shion did run away…

And made a beeline for the nearest glowing button…

Dropping a pile of conveniently located explosive barrels on the approaching gnosis. Score.

There’s no real reason these gnosis cant breach this fire, but gnosis are a lazy, capricious sort, and they just don’t want to be bothered (meow).

In the next room, Shion sees a crew member who didn’t have the good fortune to be standing next to a deus ex machine, and notes that she will have to avoid all other gnosis from this point on.

So, this is kind of neat.

Let’s talk about random monsters in JRPGs for a minute. I’m assuming anyone that would be reading this has already played Final Fantasy 4, so let’s use that as an example. Look at the top of that game: Cecil, former general of the greatest air force in that world’s history and a black knight that has trained with the blade since childhood, sets out on a quest with Kain, an equally skilled dragoon who has also trained for his combat-heavy position since childhood. They encounter monsters that are not necessarily difficult, but could wear down our adventurers if fought in great numbers. The message is clear: this world is hard, and the monsters that are everywhere keep “normal” people bunched together in small communities.

And then you proceed a little further into the game, and Kain is replaced by a five year old girl. And that five year old girl? She has the same general offensive output as the dragoon that has years of experience. You’re then joined by an old man and, later still, a bard that can barely crush a dixie cup, but can effectively battle monsters.

And you reach a certain point where you realize, if you’re thinking about it, why the hell are there monsters in this world? Like, get a party of seven dudes that are stronger than a five year old, an old man, and a bard, and we should have all these goblins exterminated by lunch time. Yeah, you’re supposed to be legendary, mystical heroes or whatever, but why does anyone else put up with this nonsense? Don’t tell me some organization is petitioning for Marlboro rights; just raid the weapons shop, get out there, and make the fields safe for Titan-slinging children.

Xenosaga, meanwhile, goes out of its way to establish why its heroes are the only ones for the job. This portion of the game is just Shion, average human and Vector scientist, and, despite having her arm thingy primed and ready to go, if she encounters even just one of these gnosis, she’s toast. Seriously, tap one of these guys wandering the halls, and you’ll be just as much of a red stain as that guy. Obviously, this won’t last, because this isn’t Metal Xenogears Solid, but it does provide a reasonable explanation for why the gnosis are a universal scourge, and why KOS-MOS, an anti-gnosis weapon, is so important to people outside of Shion’s monkeysphere. Remember, KOS-MOS is serial number 00-00-00-00-1. There are supposed to be more of her, and that’s exclusively to stop stuff like this from happening.

Anyway, point is, living in actual fear of “monsters” is something that you rarely see in a JRPG (or most video games in general), and I really appreciate its inclusion here. The only other game that immediately springs to mind that did such a thing is, appropriately enough, Xenoblade Chronicles, which, at the introduction of the mechonis race, makes them not invincible, but at least a complete pain in the ass to defeat. You can understand why Dunban got so many accolades.

Back to the game, our first gnosis threat will chase Shion, but hustling over to the door button will save your bacon.

Sorry, members only. Slam.

Hey, this guy has survived so far. Good on you, random NPC that will probably die five seconds after I leave.

Meep, don’t want to get obliterated by that goober… maybe there’s a switch around here…

Yes, this gnosis can be distracted by activating a hologram, and leaving the idiot to attack those virtual singers while Shion sneaks past. Huh, wonder if the ultimate anti-gnosis weapon is a simple laser pointer…

Ducking into a random doorway, Shion finds this coward. Don’t worry, chicken, I’m sure your girlfriend is just fine.

Whoops, trying to check on this dude’s beau is a little dangerous. Let’s slide back into that room.

Yes, we can now safely view that gnosis and some girl’s corpse from the safety of this room. Good news, guy, guess you’re going to spend your final moments single!

Shion reminds herself that she should be a little more focused as she heads back out.

Back at R&D, Allen is freaking out slightly more than usual.

Oh my gosh, we better find Shion!

And calling her emergency comm just reminds us that she left all her crap here earlier, and Allen only returned one random piece of it to her, because… he’s building a Shion shrine? It’s the most likely explanation.

And the lights go out, because horror lighting is the only thing that could make this situation better.

Or all auxiliary power is being redirected to getting KOS-MOS past the snooze alarm. In her defense, she has been asleep for years.

Ya ever notice how it’s always “Frankenstein’s Monster” and not, say, “Frankenstein’s Very Good Try”?

Note that Team Vector is literally shaking with fear at KOS-MOS’s awakening. Remember a few hours ago, when they were all jocularly japing about waking up the princess? Well, also remember a few years back, when KOS-MOS got up and half the people in the immediate area died.

KOS-MOS doesn’t really give a damn, and pulls up her own private map of the area. It’s a really cool map, and it would just be, ya know, nice if the player got a similarly convenient map. Not that I’m bitter or anything. For those of you who don’t now have a photographic memory of the Woglinde, she’s zooming in on Shion’s room, and confirming that nobody’s home.

But she does locate Shion in that room we left her a few seconds ago. KOS-MOS is also preloaded with Shion’s wiki picture. KOS-MOS then confirms the position of the Zohar, and now she’s ret-2-go.

Had to throw off her helmet first, though. The first official unmasking of KOS-MOS would have a lot more impact if she wasn’t helmetless in her profile picture that appeared every time you opened the menu or won a battle during the game’s opening.

Back to Shion, who is considering the raw survivability of her staff in the face of adversity. She probably wrote off Allen before she left her room.

There’s a gnosis wandering the halls, but we can open an airlock and suck the creature out into the vacuum of space. This is likely just an inconvenience to this particular gnosis, but it does provide time to slide by.

Here’s some junk, and gnosis on the other end of it. In a moment, we’ll have the power to blast that junk, and if we do, thus breaking down the barrier between the gnosis and Shion, we’re dead. That one treasure chest ain’t worth it.

Hey, that jackass we played tag with is suffering for having inflicted such a crappy mini-game upon the player. Karma! He advises we run back into that other room and pick up the ability to blow stuff up.

And now we have that demolition ability we had back in the simulator. With this, we can destroy random objects throughout the universe, and are generally rewarded with cheap items. Just be careful of situations like I described two pictures ago.

Having returned with the explodey thingy, tag guy has expired. He’s playing tag in Hell now.

Your sacrifice will not be forgotten, unnamed soldier! This explosion is for you!

A pair of gnosis appear right where the tag duo used to hang out. They warned me this would happen!

Except avoiding these two gnosis is a million times easier than avoiding the tag idiots. You died in vain, numnuts!

Aw, door guy eats it, too. I liked you, door guy.

As a parting gift, Sgt. Swaine gives Shion the key to the door right next to his grave.

Inside is a solitary chest containing… a robot part? That’s… odd.

The game pulls an amusing trick by sticking some friendly green dots on your map, but… not so much friendly. Back away slowly, Shion.

Meanwhile, Virgil and the Realians are fortifying this one hallway against the inevitable onslaught. Not really sure why they’re protecting this particular hallway, but I guess you gotta set up somewhere.

Something’s coming this way! And it’s running around like an idiot! What could it be?

Shion is 100% corporeal, and she’s completely unharmed. Maybe the gnosis aren’t really invincible, and everyone here is just a phenomenally lousy shot.

Shion is nonplussed.

Shion has been having a rough day.

I’m sorry, I realize a lot of the game portrays Shion as kind of… mousy? Like remember the “bimbo” scene from the last update? But she has some serious lady balls on her when she wants to get something done and there’s a crisis (assuming no one she knows is dying). Shion just casually pushing aside Virgil’s rifle is awesome.

Shion further shions: We’ve got an entire ship of the dead and the dying, and she’s worried about the robot. She mentions KOS-MOS over, ya know, her entire staff.

Virgil is one of the like six guys on this ship who is still alive but doesn’t know about KOS-MOS.

Oh, assuming this isn’t yet another regular human we’re going to casually fire upon, the actual gnosis are on their way.

AGWS supposedly stands for Anti-Gnosis Weapon System, but I ask you, does this look like an “Anti Gnosis Weapon” in action? AGPB: A Gnosis Punching Bag.

I realize this shot is a little hard to parse, but that white line is a bullet just sailing right through a gnosis, and the gnosis doesn’t give a damn. Again, AGPB.

I take it back, Shion freezes up under gnosis pressure and doesn’t even notice the gnosis sneaking up on her.

But she’s saved by a Realian. Just as a reminder, Shion has been working part time as a counselor for these guys, so everyone is on a first name basis.

Another dumb subtle thing I like, despite the clear emergency situation, this helpful Realian provides complete, GPS-esque instructions for Shion to escape, and doesn’t just shout, “Go!” like in every action movie ever. Realians are so cool.

Shion objects. Sure, she’s walked past a Titanic of dead guys on the way here, but she’s fond of these Realians, and doesn’t want to see them slaughtered on her account.

Shion, what exactly do you think you’ll add to this situation? Will your corpse cushion the fall of that other corpse?

Another rarely-seen gnosis skill is the ability to “possess” and pilot machinery. Just in case you were worried about gnosis not having long range attacks.

Gnosis kill people.

As the slaughter continues, Virgil chastises the friendly Realian for helping out Shion. Virgil: not an affable guy.

Oh, remember that fellow who couldn’t find his keys? Well, he’s dead now, and his keys were in his back pocket. Womp womp womp.

And his quarters contained a singular AGWS part. It does us exactly no good at the moment.

Let’s check back in on the bridge and see how Captain Gonnadie is faring.

Great news!

They shoot some laser beam at one of the giant gnosis (that kinda looks like a space whale), and the damn thing just absorbs it…

… and shoots it right back. Dammit!

Captain Gonnadie identifies that the gnosis are converging on the Zohar. Man, dude is going to bite it not even knowing the name of the thing that caused his death.

Oh, and Cherenkov, chief asshat, has gone missing.

Dude grabbed his finest space suit and booked it out of there a while ago.

Guess what this means.

Captain Gonnadie fulfills the duty of all transparent, friendly authority figures in the Xeno universe and explodes into the afterlife with the rest of the bridge crew. If only Cherenkov had been there! Because then he’d be dead, too.

But, no, dickcheese has made his way to General Strickland and the Zohar. Strickland notes that, despite the bridge exploding, they’ll be able to operate the ship from here.

If you’ll recall, Cherenkov is on strict orders from his shadowy superior to protect the Zohar at all costs. He’s going to try to steer what’s left of the ship into safe waters… somewhere… but Strickland doubts it’ll work.

Cherenkov is a single-minded kind of guy.

This pretty much reveals that Strickland is on the shadow conspiracy payroll, but his help is denied, because I think Cherenkov can’t even remember this weirdo’s name. Does it start with an X? Is that what the face tattoo is all about? Christ, he’s not one of those Organization XIII doofs, right?

Cherenkov claims the gnosis are nothing compared to… it. Let’s just assume he’s talking about a murderous clown.

Oh, this one is weird. Cherenkov gives the flunkies an escape plan by explaining that they can take some Romeo & Juliet-esque poison to fake their own deaths and get clear while the gnosis think they’re already looking at corpses. This would make sense if we hadn’t seen A. gnosis repeatedly attacking bodies that were already very much dead, and B. gnosis attacking holograms of people that clearly didn’t have heartbeats or other life signs. I’m pretty sure Cherenkov is just giving these guys some lip service to get them out of his hair.

They buy it, salute, and make their way into never being seen again. I’m pretty sure we don’t get confirmed kills for these guys, and they just never come up again. Toodles. … Might see Strickland again, though.

Back to Custer’s Last Hallway, Virgil is noting that the gnosis are harder to kill than… other gnosis? Maybe this explains why the AGWS, built to destroy the gnosis, are so ineffective. Hey, Virg, where have you fought gnosis before?

One of the more bug looking gnosis prepares some kind of ether beam.

It’s a real blast.

And most of the team is down. The Realians are on their backs, the other AGWS are done, and only Shion and Virgil can be even partially vertical.

Virgil surveys the battlefield from his AGWS, and things are looking grim.

Lester’s survival is… unlikely.

This is kind of important. Virgil is a dick, but he’s also scared out of his mind and just watched his friends die. This… informs what he does next.

First, he grabs a device off Shion…

And starts tapping away on it, noting that he’s familiar with these model Realians (reminder, designed by Shion’s parent company, Vector)…

Virgil hasn’t been the same since the Miltian Conflict.

He… disassembled many a Realian.

Shion asks and Virgil confirms it: Virgil was eating Realians. We don’t really know anything about the Miltian Conflict at this point in the story other than that it was a tragedy that has now left the planet deserted, but it looks like at least someone got some recipe tips out of the place.

And that recipe is for destruction. Virgil is basically hacking the Realians’ brains now.

It does not look like a pleasant experience for the Realians that, as we established earlier, think and feel exactly like humans.

“You think I don’t know the Miltian Charter? Miltian Charter, Article Four, Paragraph 13… ‘Weapons-Grade Realians are required to be equipped with a remotely accessible behavioral limit and self-destruct system in case of emergency or malfunction.’ ‘Use of these functions will be determined by the senior officer in charge of the situation.’ …am I right?”

AGWS are pretty crappy for gnosis-destruction, but they’re great for holding the high ground and delivering speeches.

So Virgil directs the Realians to grab onto the gnosis…

And explode. Shion objects before Virgil can press the button (and, of course, she’s been objecting this whole time).

Virgil: literally mad with power.

“Since you care about them so much, all it would take is a little tweak, and they’d be free as birds… And yet you don’t. Why not?”

“Because…company protocol dictate…”

“Exactly! It’s protocol! In other words, you’re just like me, bound by that protocol. We’re the ones that give them a reason to live. Am I wrong?!”

“But I…”

“That’s the difference between us and them! Am I wrong?! So, why not give it to them? A meaning to their pitiful existence!”

Seriously, Virgil is like an Internet Bad Argument given flesh.

And a detonator.

It works, at least. The bridge is exploded with the gnosis on it, and the gnosis tumble down to… lower on the ship? Not sure about the vertical geography of this place.

Oh, wait, right, gnosis can navigate space, so of course they can just float around whenever they want. Welp, Virgil just sacrificed a bunch of lives for absolutely nothing.

And this is why you stay in your mech when karma is gunning for you.

Shion has run out of running room, and is finally captured by a gnosis.

Game over.

Hey hey, it’s you again. I knew there was some other transparent life form running around this ship.

Shion actually tries to warn the little girl away from this dangerous situation, and doesn’t give too much thought to where Red came from. Shion literally cannot speak at this point, so she laments her lack of ability to save the little girl. Shion is Shion even past her last breath.

Last known photo before Shion becomes a spice girl. … Wait, no, that blue beam loosens the gnosis grip, and Shion is freed by…

KOS-MOS! The day is saved!

Done. You ghostly nitwits are just done.

Allen follows closely behind KOS-MOS. He explains that he heard KOS-MOS utter Shion’s name, so he followed her like a damn dog.

The rest of Vector R&D shot off into space about five minutes after her activation.

And KOS-MOS powers up for the Hilbert Effect.

The Hilbert Effect, aside from just plain looking cool, drags all the neither-here-nor-there gnosis into our reality, so now we can hit ‘em but good. We’ll find other devices and people (“people”) capable of generating a Hilbert Effect throughout the series, but KOS-MOS is unique, as her ability allows her to do it over a much greater range than anyone else. Considering it affects the whole ship, and this would have raised Shion’s chances for survival no matter where she was, you have to wonder why KOS-MOS waited until now to use the damn thing, but, hey, maybe she’s just a dramatic robot.

For any math nerds out there, yes, the Hilbert Effect is named for David Hilbert, a mathematician from the 19th century who pioneered the fields of quantum physics and amazing hat wearing. He’s basically a straight line to Heisenberg, but no fictional drug dealers ever stole his name, so you don’t hear about the guy much anymore. For more information, please check your local library.

Now the gnosis are all solid and vulnerable, and KOS-MOS can wail on them at will. Anyone could get in on this action, but the whole crew decides to sit back and let the robot work. For science?

FOR SCIENCE!

The girl with the biggest guns gives the orders around here: time to leave, everybody.

“We will now proceed to hangar one. There is a 99.998% probability that the Gnosis’ target is the object stored in that hangar. My assigned duties are to verify and preserve the integrity of that object and to protect the Vector staff members.”

“Uh, but…I…”

Shion is a little… concerned at KOS-MOS’s autonomy… but there’s no time for that now!

Our old buddy that possessed that AGWS is back, and I guess this crazy hybrid is more of a threat than the other gnosis KOS-MOS has been one-shotting.

And our first real battle since the virtual world a couple updates back begins. You’ll note that our party is Shion, KOS-MOS, and… Virgil? Yeah, we didn’t see anything of this dude since he detonated the Realians, so it’s a little weird when he just pops up as a party member without any fanfare. But, hey, any port in a storm, and we can always use another machine gun.

Virgil has pretty basic attacks, and that machine gun for anything long range. As you may expect, KOS-MOS is the main damage dealer for this battle (and most battles, she is a damn war machine).

The main threat of Cyclops (that’s the name of this thing) is its Spread Beam, an ether attack that hits everyone. If you want, you can play this battle completely safe, and stick everyone but KOS-MOS in the back row. Virgil and Shion can heal KOS-MOS, and the multi-hit attack will only hit our blue-haired bot, but she can take it. Or you can say screw it and take a few lumps.

Either way, it goes down. I didn’t heal Virgil at all, and he’s “only” at a third of his HP, so not a big deal of a boss battle. Not that you’d expect a high difficulty for your first battle in, like, hours.

Yeah, three minutes long, nothing to it. Virgil, career soldier, is apparently a level ahead of the battle robot that woke up a half hour ago and the scientist equipped with a weapon she just started using yesterday.

KOS-MOS has the rest of the group hurry ahead while she clears the room of any stragglers.

Allen confides that he might not be cut out for the battle party. You just know he’d be a bard class anyway.

Allen hands over the ability to call AGWS during battle again. As I mentioned earlier, I pretty much never use AGWS, but we’ll see if I change my mind.

So now that the Hilbert Effect has worked its magic, the ship has become pretty much just a dungeon. Of note, you can now return to previously explored areas and find any treasures or avenge yourself upon any errant gnosis. KOS-MOS is here now, so you’re equipped for battle.

There are plenty of battles between here and the next event, but that’s not really what this LP is for, so we’ll skip past the majority of this fodder. The important thing is that this dungeon is a series of hallways, because, duh, it’s just the hallways of a spaceship.

Now just because you have KOS-MOS doesn’t mean you’re invincible. These gremlins are dining on an AGWS (and, presumably, its pilot), but if you engage, you’ll find a battle where you’re limited to only long range attacks (as these gnosis fly), and they’ll counter every move with a multi-hit acid rain attack that also heals all the gnosis. Leave these monsters to their meal, and move along.

But you can open all blast doors and make your way back to Shion’s room for free saving/healing.

It’s nice that KOS-MOS has pretty much the same abilities in cutscenes and actual battles.

And don’t forget, you now have that destructor plug-in, so feel free to explode whatever parts of the ship haven’t already exploded. You’ll find all sorts of treasure littered amongst the dead.

After a goodly number of battles, we make it to Cherenkov, who is still trying to get the Zohar to come along quietly.

Shion is surprised to see him. Well, probably not him, exactly, at this point she would likely be surprised to see any other living thing on this doomed ship.

It goes both ways.

Cherenkov takes one look at KOS-MOS and makes this ominous comment.

Virgil seems to actually be enjoying the gnosis slaughter.

Shion is pitching in, but she’s not happy about it. Reminder: as we learned earlier, pretty much all the gnosis are converging on this location.

But Shion maybe isn’t the most equipped for combat.

Virgil is doing his best to keep a lid on all of it…

But he’s in the way of KOS-MOS’s shot.

And KOS-MOS decides to expedite matters by just shooting through him. A lot.

Virgil is not going to make it.

And the last thing on his mind is… some… woman… in a church? Her name is Feb? Alright, thanks for that, Virg.

Wish I could say it was nice knowing you, but, well, ya know.

Shion reacts to this whole situation poorly.

KOS-MOS is, as ever, stone cold.

Shion is almost completely in denial, and decides to turn the whole thing into a teachable moment.

“My assigned duty is to protect Vector employees. Protection of military personnel is not part of my prime directive.”

Shion doesn’t accept that answer.

In an update just lousy with revelations and reveals, this might be the most important thing that Shion says. Shion built KOS-MOS, who, as we’ve now seen in action, is an absolute war machine. We also know that Shion is a ludicrously empathetic woman, and has already flatly admitted to the fact that she’d rather be, basically, a psychologist, and provides that service completely for free to Realians in her spare time. So why did she design the weapon to end all weapons? The simple answer is that she wanted to create someone with so much power, no one would have to die. Yes, it’s wildly naïve, but that’s in character with (the barely out of her teens) Shion, and here’s where it all comes crashing down. Shion is on her knees not because of Virgil’s death (let’s face it, she just did not care for Virgil), but because of what it represents: Shion made someone with gatling gun arms, and that’s going to lead to a few cracked eggs/heads, no matter how much time you spent bonding in the Encephalon.

KOS-MOS killed Kevin, and, sorry Shion, even though you put so much effort into making KOS-MOS ready for the world, you’ve still got a murder-bot on your hands.

Murder. Bot.

WHO RAISED YOU!?

“Shion. You forget, I am not human. I am merely a weapon. You of all people should be well aware of that fact. What is your decision? Will you board the escape pod? OR will you not board the escape pod? If you wish to express remorse for his death, it is best that you survive. Otherwise, you will render his death meaningless.”

I swear this shot is emulating a shot from Xenogears of child Fei covered in massacre-blood, but it might be a coincidence. It could also just be the universal pose for loss of innocence and not being happy about it.

Cherenkov is actually so frightened of KOS-MOS for another reason, but given what just went down, no one thinks anything of it. Probably a pretty normal reaction for anyone but Vector staff after that speech.

And a big scary gnosis makes the scene.

NOW YOU FACE THE MINOTAUR.

This is another limp boss battle. This time, there’s the big boss and two independent bits, and, of course, Virgil won’t be joining us, as he’s still bleeding out on the floor, but there’s not much to this one. The boss gives you a warning when it’s about to use its super attack, so attack and guard properly, and you could sleepwalk through this one. Shion probably is, actually.

After the battle, there’s still a number of weaker gnosis floating around, so KOS-MOS does her best to exterminate.

But one of those things opens a massive portal, and sucks the Zohar, rings and all, up and out.

Sorry, Cherenkov, it was all for naught. Oh, guess this also means that, had the Woglinde ejected the Zohar at the first sign of gnosis, we’d have the exact same result, except 90% of the crew would still be alive.

And the last of the Woglinde blows to pieces as our heroes escape.

The escape pod seats two, so Cherenkov has to wear his spacesuit and hang on for dear life. KOS-MOS can’t do anything but look cool all the time, so she stands on the pod like she’s meant to be there.

And one of the space whale gnosis sucks up the Zohar.

KOS-MOS will remember this.

KOS-MOS is talking here, but she’s in the vacuum of space, so we can’t hear anything until the game decides to zoom in a little. Also, her space coffin pulls up alongside the escape pod like a loyal puppy.

Whomever KOS-MOS is talking to seems to be pretty well informed on how Zohars work. This particular Zohar, KOS-MOS confirms, was not “the Original”…

But an emulator. I will call you… Nesticle.

One thing about KOS-MOS, she’s pretty straightforward.

Oh man, please tell me she’s materializing a rockin’ electric guitar for a rad, vacuum of space solo.

Nope, just a space sniper gun.

“Plop,” the tracker is attached to the space whale as it makes its escape.

And KOS-MOS detects another ship in the area. She might make it look cool, but surfing an escape pod is no way to live.

Aw, a save point. Thanks, game! Let’s take this opportunity to save and take a little break. For anyone that’s curious, the art shown here is exactly what’s on the cover of the game, so yet another reason KOS-MOS ceremoniously removing her helmet for the first time has absolutely no impact.

And the timer says we’re 3:14 into the game, but we shaved off about 15 minutes with that save file switch in the beginning, so, really, we’re about three and a half hours into the game. If I were playing the original Mega Man series from game to game in sequence, I’d be just rounding out Mega Man 3 at this point. In Xenosaga? I just finished the prologue.

Yeah, okay, maybe Xenosaga Episode 1 takes its sweet time getting anywhere, but you do have to consider that the people making this game assumed they’d have at least three games to get to the good stuff, so a slow opening that meticulously constructs the universe for our protagonists might not have seemed like a bad idea at the time. And, honestly, there’s a lot to like here, even if it doesn’t always work. I love the opening “dodge the gnosis” concept, but it’s actual implementation can be horrible if you’re not good at the challenge, as every time you’re “caught”, it’s a hard game over, and back to a save point. It’s stressful because it’s kind of BS, but on the other hand, it’s supposed to be a life or death, stressful situation, so… mission accomplished?

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of this as time moves on, but for now, we’ll take a break as the last survivors of the Woglinde drift aimlessly through space. Will they be rescued? And by whom? Find out next time.

NEXT TIME ON XENOSAGA: The proudest alcoholic in space.

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  1. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode I Part 19: Let’s Review Episode I | Gogglebob.com

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