Xenosaga Episode I Part 10: The Death of Fun (and Cherenkov)

Previously on Xenosaga: Junior exploded, explored, and extra-exploded a U-TIC battleship. Albedo started his part-time job as a full-time nutbar.

Now we’re back to the Elsa, just rolling into dock at a random space stop. Wawa OF THE FUTURE! (… Wawa is a regional convenience store where I have personally consumed a great number of hoagies [hoagie is a regional term for delicious]).

Always open a scene on your heroine!… looking around confused.

Shion is like a heat seeking missile when it comes to delivering food. The Elsa is going to have an eating disorder before this game is over.

Word is Cherenkov wandered off into the colony, and turns out that might not have been the best idea.

Bad idea.

Worst idea.

And here’s Cherenkov, like, three feet out of the ship, and some local gang is already eyeing him up. What’s that? Come out and play? I love to play!

Shion, 100 lb. research scientist, and chaos, hug distributor, will rescue the armed and highly trained soldier!

Oh thank God. Yes, please bring one of the two walking weapons you have on the ship. I assume Shion thought of bringing KOS-MOS, but she just put her down for her nap.

Allen can naturally sense when his usefulness is being disparaged. He can barely get through the day.

We’re about two steps into our rescue mission when Shion is pulled away by her email. Pretty much like real life.

Vaguely important gameplay feature: KOS-MOS only ever receives new Tech Attacks via email, while the rest of the cast gains Tech Attacks through leveling up. Note that this is surprisingly helpful if you pay attention, because your character levels should roughly equate to KOS-MOS’s plot dictated gains, so you can basically compare KOS-MOS’s techs to the rest of your party and determine if you’re over or under leveled.

… Or at least that’s how it would work if KOS-MOS wasn’t shunted out of your party for one of the larger dungeons, thus mucking up the whole thing. Oh well, at least you know that when you receive a new Tech Attack for KOS-MOS, you’re not seeing another one until after a giant dungeon. Spoilers.

MOMO is milling about in her room, and her Realian powers allow her to locate Ziggy pretty much anywhere on the ship. Shion, of course, compliments the robot on doing exactly what she was built to do.

Here’s Ziggy downstairs, working… on a chair? Yeah, alright, gotta have a hobby.

You and me, Ziggy, we got this whole thing figured out.

Three dialogue boxes establish exactly what Ziggy is all about. Ziggy doesn’t give a damn about Cherenkov, but Shion notes that she and chaos are going out there to find him regardless, so Ziggy relents and decides to join them, because Shion and chaos look about as threatening as mewling kittens, and Ziggy actually likes them, so, sure, I’ll be your bodyguard. This also might be reciprocating the favor of Shion and chaos helping with that whole U-TIC invasion Ziggy started, while, reminder, Cherenkov was off getting a beer… or something.

On the way out, Hammer is there to greet us… and only Hammer?

Apparently Allen is back at the mess hall, and didn’t want to join in the festivities. … We should investigate!

Can you figure out Allen’s secret message? Hint: it’s something Ziggy is good at.

Shion, chaos, and Ziggy are one search party, and Hammer is the B-Team. Does this sound like a terrible idea to anyone else?

Man, you ain’t kidding. Good news is that this place is a quiet little “town”, and it’s actually the first safe place in Xenosaga Episode 1 that doesn’t eventually become a battlefield. Bad news is that there is barely anything to do here, so it’s kind of a waste of time all around. Fun fact: on my first play through of the game, I got to the finale, decided to start searching the game for secrets, and realized I had completely forgotten this entire area ever existed. Whoops!

This woman is complaining about a missing -Fish Detector-, obviously an important item that you should be able to find… which is accurate, but you can’t find it until hours later on (effectively) a completely different planet, and in a place that seemingly has absolutely no relationship with here. This is a metaphor for how the plot of Xenosaga works…

Inside the local hospital is Luty, a little mute girl who survived the disappearance of Planet Ariadne, but is apparently traumatized and not talking. We’ll see if we can’t help her out before the game is finished.

The item shop is inexplicably named “Talk to Me!!”. This is actually the first “traditional” shop in the game (everybody else has been either a computer terminal or an unmarked dude standing around). You can buy armor, weapons, and AGWS parts here (along with potions, tents, and other consumable nonsense).

I haven’t really talked about equippable items much, but they’re not super essential to the game. Shion, Ziggy, and KOS-MOS basically don’t have “new” weapons, as they can just purchase items that modify specific unique attacks… but aren’t all that useful. MOMO, chaos, and Junior can all upgrade their weapons, but only Junior seems to really benefit from such, as MOMO and chaos are more focused on other things when damage really matters.

Armor should be upgraded at every opportunity, though, as it’s always a good idea to do anything that will keep your HP up… particularly in the upcoming area. And, yes, of course they stock armor specifically tailored to the one-of-a-kind super android that was activated two days ago. Why wouldn’t they?

Accessories that you can buy are mostly situational and generally not all that great. There are some amazing accessories in this game, though… except most of them can’t be purchased, and are generally completely one of a kind… though there is something of a way around that…

Here’s Tom! Tom is a fairly generic NPC kid that inexplicably must be spoken to to unlock the most powerful attack in the game. It’ll come up later. And there’s a missing pink doll? Chu don’t think…

Wander around a little bit, and the POV cuts to a downed Cherenkov beneath a circle of toughs.

And Shaggy found the g-g-g-ghost first.

You can just about see Hammer running off to get help while Cherenkov attempts to stand up.

Whu-oh. Cherenkov is getting angry, and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

La La la, still wandering around.

Hammer finds the Ziggy Stardust Crusaders, and desperately tries to relay the news through an impregnable fog of terror. If only Allen had joined him!

But when the actual heroes return to the scene, all they find are severely beaten gang members, and no Cherenkov.

Incidentally, this isn’t DBZ level censorship, these kids did/do survive.

“I’m tired of this place, let’s just go back to the ship.”

And so they do. Not shown: Ziggy carries the victims back to the hospital, Shion and chaos watch. Back on the Elsa, MOMO is patching up an injured Cherenkov. MOMO has turned off the part of her system that allows her to notice how many different types of blood his knuckles are soaked in.

The Realian Justice Warriors return, and Cherenkov provides the really unbelievable lie that everyone beat themselves into submission while he snuck away. I guess the final two punched each other unconscious simultaneously.

“And he’s getting blood all over the couch!”

Ziggy, once again, knows exactly how to manage an upset child, and redirects MOMO to Ziggy maintenance.

Always remember to properly maintain your various parts.

MOMO admits that she’s no doctor. Shion did build an entire person.

This is a sweet scene, and I’d capture more of it if this post wasn’t already going to be a thousand pictures long. Long story short, Ziggy admits that he’s embarrassed by being a complete freak, but he absolutely trusts MOMO and her “pure heart”. Another nice Ziggy/MOMO moment. ZigMOment.

MOMO appreciates it.

And Cherenkov ruins it. If you look back at his introductory scene on the Woglinde, you’ll notice that Cherenkov has a habit of doing this.

Then he just plays it off, and wanders away to bleed elsewhere. Thanks for stopping by, fartknocker!

He is clearly not, but not for the reasons you’re thinking.

He’s just roaming the halls, having brain problems.

He has a flashback to that guy that got turned to salt back on the Woglinde. Hey, Cherenkov? You weren’t there for that scene, how are you remembering this?

Okay, yeah, you were there the time a gnosis palmed your head. I’ll give you that one.

We’re all done at the dock colony, but you can still explore a little bit if you’d like. I ran back to the hospital to confirm that these kids weren’t shipped off to the morgue. They’re going to be okay! Maybe!

Alright! Next stop, Second Miltia! It’s been fun, guys, but that’s where we part ways.

Guess we have to do something on the way there, so let’s get our android on and watch Cherenkov having bad dreams.

He decides to get up and grab something out of the vending machine and… it doesn’t go well.

Oh, yeah, guess your hand is fading out of existence. Did you flirt with a teenage version of your mom back at the Dock Colony? No? I mean, that’s normally the reason for this kind of thing…

Cherenkov experiences a fleeting vision of the end of this update. STOP READING AHEAD, CHERENKOV!

Shion is sleeping/hearing voices of her own.

Hey, it’s Red. Been a while! Red, is this the first you’re actually talking? Well… talking and we can actually hear you? Wonder what changed…

Shion doesn’t understand. I, for one, am shocked.

Honey, we all love pronouns, but could you maybe graduate to using an actual name once in a while?

Shion is jostled awake. Of note: she could be in her posh quarters with MOMO, but she’s below deck sleeping within spitting distance of KOS-MOS. I’d say “sleeping with KOS-MOS”, but deviantart is already all over that.

For the second time this update, Shion hits the bridge confused by everything.

“Stuff is happening.”

Wait for it…

Yes, apparently they activate a glow-stick phenomena in bare skin…

That’s the stuff!

One Elsa, One Thousand Gnosis.

And at least one Gnosis that appears to be dwarfing a planet. Not a good day…

Shion is on top of things!

KOS-MOS activates a Hilbert Effect that affects pretty much all of space. It’ll be obvious why in a moment, but this quick thinking saves everyone’s lives.

MOMO has Hilbert Effect envy.

We’re going down!

And scene. Jonah… errr… Shion awakens… somewhere.

The… let’s face it… important party members are all here and groggy.

“Anyone know what we’re standing on? Or in?”

Now that cannot be good.

Thank you, KOS-MOS. Glad we weren’t, I don’t know, shrunk down and stuck inside a tiny gnosis.

KOS-MOS goes on to explain that the only giant gnosis on record has a name: Cathedral Ship. I really hate this name, because it confuses me every time. You may recall Ziggy’s trip through the U-TIC base, which was basically a giant ship containing a cathedral, so I always confuse those two Xenosaga Episode 1 dungeons. Oh, did I spoil that this was a dungeon? Were you under the impression that this was going to be the beach episode?

Oh yeah. Those guys.

Yeah, supporting cast. Hope for the best. Whatever.

Hey hey, looks like we could pick up that missing Zohar while we’re here. I mean, ya know, if we had a spaceship or something.

What a coincidence!

That’s a little over six miles. Hope everyone brought their hiking shoes!

Aw, somewhere Allen is experiencing a warm fuzzy feeling at Shion not saying, “I’m worried Tony and the others.”

Cherenkov is not experiencing anything at all like a fuzzy feeling somewhere else in this gnosis.

Cherenkov knows exactly what happened to Ariadne…

So why is that what he’s seeing all around him? I guess everybody interprets the inside of a gnosis differently (this isn’t true).

And Cherenkov has some lovely flashbacks.

Elsewhere! Junior, aboard the Durandal, has picked up a signal.

He’s on his way! Convenient!

Alright, we’ve got a dungeon on our hands, so hit that savepoint. You’re going to need it.

Remember this! We’re at the Gnosis Core (start), and we’re at the 8:43 mark.

Here’s one of the two main monsters of this dungeon, a pack of cerberus gnosis. They’re generally weak to ether attacks… or physical attacks… it’s one or the other. The other main monster is weak to the opposite. I’m almost certain these guys are weak to ether attacks.

The opening bits of this dungeon are primarily creepy, pulsating gnosis insides. Note that this is hard confirmation that gnosis don’t just saltify humans on contact no matter what, because we’re walking around on gnosis flesh just fine.

A little way’s in, we get a break to discuss what exactly is going on here.

Hm?

I guess Shion and the CyberAngels are illiterate or something, because they can’t see that that sign identifies this area as the Ariadne Central Shopping Mall. What does it mean!? Well, other than the fact that nobody on Ariadne could come up with a decent name for their shopping district. I do enjoy shopping at the Earth Central Shopping Mall on occasion.

Did… did we lose proper sign technology in the Xenosaga future?

Okay, so this is supposed to be a sign of humanity, but it’s just a billboard of fish with the word “Why?” above them. Advertising of the future got really existential.

Shion has a brief flash of Red coaxing her along.

“Is this going to keep happening? Should I see a doctor? Aren’t I a doctor?”

And we cut across town to Cherenkov’s life flashing before his eyes already in progress. Looks like a trial of some kind.

This looks like a lawyer for the defense, and she’s claiming that the defendant is a victim of the Life Recycling Law.

Oh ho, our defendant is Cherenkov, and he’s on trial for his life. I wonder if he lives!

Okay, so they’re not going to kill him, just reformat his brain…

… iron out the wrinkles, and he’ll be a whole new man. That should work out fine!

Alright, before you get any big ideas, that’s just the Hebrew numeral for “one”. It’s, I guess, a note the doctors left to remind themselves how often Cherenkov was reformatted. It has nothing to do with the Zohar Emulators, which are also denoted with Hebrew numerals. Just kind of a coincidence.

Anyway, random fastforward, and I guess Cherenkov is married to his attorney. And it’s not going well.

Marital problems OF THE FUTURE! Mrs. Cherenkov decided to have a kid via cloning herself as opposed to the old, fun way.

Mrs. C is… not very supportive of her husband.

Hello new favorite insult.

Not helping…

Really not helping…

And it’s about here that Cherenkov decides he’s going to kill his wife.

That was in no way a joke. Cherenkov is back in the slammer.

It didn’t work the first time, so let’s try again!

#8 makes Cherenkov officially military property. Guess we know how he got his rank!

Later, while just walking around his home of Ariadne, Cherenkov encounters the kiddy-clone of his murdered wife.

It’s unclear whether he imagines it or if this kid is a particular kind of jackass, but she calls him “garbage”. Or maybe she’s just talking about her favorite classical music.

Whatever the reason, it goes… poorly.

Back to jail for you, Mr. Murder.

No one is all that upset, though, as Cherenkov’s spongy brain makes him an excellent guinea pig.

This goes even worse than usual, as we then pick up again after Cherenkov has killed a whole hell of a lot of people.

Guess Cherenkov failed upwards into Margulis’s notice.

Cherenkov just can’t get enough of that good ol’ murderin’. (And note that he apparently killed all these guys with his bare hands.)

There’s that life recycling thing again. We’ll discuss the full ramifications of this and Cherenkov after he’s dead (soon, my child, soon).

Random U-TIC dude is like, man, you know this guy is, like, feral, right?

If you can’t tell from the appropriate backlighting, Margulis was a revelation for poor Cherenkov.

But who cares about that? Back to the dungeon. Here’s the other main mob, a bunch of fairies. Almost certain these guys need to be punched (and not ethered).

Oh, here’s another mob of the same exact monsters, but more of them, five in total.

So here’s the problem with this dungeon.

At this point in the game, your party doesn’t really have any decent multi-hit attacks. Forget decent, actually, unless you’ve diligently been grinding against old areas, you don’t have any multi-hit attacks. Yet, this dungeon is just lousy with enemies that aren’t really difficult, just numerous. So battles take for friggen ever, as your weaker members (chaos, Shion, MOMO) will never fell an enemy in one turn, and, depending on your level and Tech Attacks, even Ziggy and KOS-MOS might need at least two turns. This adds up to a number of battles where, even if you’re doing everything exactly right, it takes forever. This isn’t bad on its own, but combine it with the same stupid monsters over and over again, and yeesh, pain in the ass.

This is Xenosaga Episode 1’s first real, big boy dungeon, and it leaves the worst impression. A slog all around.

Oh, and those fairy gnosis have a sleep spell, and they can and will put your entire party to sleep if you’re not careful. Just sit around and be stunlocked, that’s always fun.

Look! Off in the distance! Various buildings or something! Yes, if you haven’t guessed, the Cathedral Ship is actually a gnosis-ified planet. Ariadne didn’t disappear, it just morphed. The opening areas of this dungeon are sorta subtle about it, but some places are pretty blatant.

Like here is a mangled, but manmade, walkway over some more gnosis-y paths below.

I got bored and angry, so I unlocked KOS-MOS’s “ultimate” ether attack, a multi-hit spell that summons a satellite to attack. As you can see, it does greater damage than a normal round, but it’s nowhere near, say, unlocking a Final Fantasy Ultima spell during an opening dungeon (well, in any Final Fantasy but FF2). And, extra fun, like a lot of “good” ether attacks, you’re only allowed to use it once per battle, regardless of EP remaining or any other factors. Ether attacks suck, but at least this one will clear out a few fairies.

Dum de dum, dungeon continues.

Here’s a unique enemy guarding a treasure chest. It’s a rarity for this game, but this guy and his two brothers are all deliberately elementally aligned. This one uses and absorbs fire attacks, so try to avoid using Shion and Ziggy’s multiple fire-based skills. chaos would come in handy in this battle, but I didn’t know that ahead of time. Learn from my mistakes!

Ah, finally, after a pile of battles and at least one unique, vaguely boss-y enemy, here’s a save point, and a “store” where you can restock on consumables.

Yep, you’re reading that right. The last save was at 8:43, and now we’re up to 9:51. Granted, maybe ten minutes of that time was cinema scenes and menu rejiggering, but, basically, between save points was a full hour of dungeon traveling and monster beating. Remember that Xenosaga Episode 1 is old school, so if your battle party of three wiped out at any point in that hour, you’d be back at that starting save point with absolutely nothing to show for it. Remember also that there’s an enemy mob that can basically knock your party into sleepy time forever. Remember there’s a sub-boss class monster that can absorb hits from 66% of your party.

Also remember why I cheated my way into avoiding accidental party death. I can safely say that, had I just randomly died and lost an hour’s worth of progress, the LP would have ended right then and there.

Alright, this dungeon shows improvement. After an hour of bland, Cronenberg hallways, we’ve got something I always like to see in a video game: a mundane location “damaged” into being a dungeon. This time it’s a mall (as it was literally named at the save point, go back and check) that has been partially gnosis-infected. It makes maneuverability a little more difficult than your average mall, but at least you’re not going to run into any joggers.

The only required battle from the elemental trio is the thunder-themed jerk. Did you know all of Shion’s most powerful techs at this point are lightning based? This is about where I found out.

Here’s Shion’s most powerful ether ability (which I unlocked because I was bored), Queen’s Kiss. The mechanics of this one are kind of neat: it’s an instant death spell, which, as we know, never works for the party in JRPGs. But! Whenever the spell fails to kill its target, it becomes a “steal” command, and you get a (n often rare) item with something close to 100% accuracy (I’ve never seen the steal fail). People who are into that kind of thing recommend grinding Shion in her first dungeon so she can earn this skill and then steal every rare item from every boss… but I don’t have OCD that badly. I mostly just forget it’s there until after the battle. Whoops.

Also, you’re welcome to parse out the details of why an attack that is basically weaponized Shion fanservice either kills or steals from an enemy.

Anyway, in the mall flower shop, you can find some plant-based gnosis, and then -Flower Seed-. This will come in handy for exactly one useless side quest.

Back outside, there’s the final elemental numbnuts, the ice variant. My party is all over this guy, as we’ve got fire abilities to spare.

Decoder #9 is our prize for defeating that gnosis, and it will be used shortly.

Finally! After way too many battles, Ziggy earns a multi-hit attack, Meteor Shot. Note that chaos and Shion won’t learn decent multi-hit attacks until at least the next dungeon, and MOMO’s attacks don’t count even under the best of circumstances.

Here it is, woo! It doesn’t do as much damage to a group as KOS-MOS’s Satellite ether, but you can use it every damn turn with no EP loss, which makes all the difference. And you can upgrade it, too!

After too God damn long, we’re at the center.

And a giant building that… kinda looks like a pulsating Zohar?

Oh, gee guys, you think?

KOS-MOS always seems to keep quiet, but come on, Shion, you know what you’re looking at here. You spent a good amount of time staring at the Zohar back on the Woglinde. I have pictures!

Enough conjecture, could we get back to the plot?

Bullocks.

Okay, we only have about 300 yards to travel… straight down.

There is absolutely no evidence to support this hope!

Been a little bit since we checked in with Captain Stupid.

Looks like we’re flashbacking to that Zohar experiment again. (Look familiar?)

Which Margulis is remotely viewing from a U-TIC vessel. Is this the same ship Junior raided last update? Who cares?

So I guess Vector or the Space Government or somebody was doing work on the Zohar, and Cherenkov snuck in and wired it to U-TIC. Or just sabotaged the whole kabang. Or both.

Margulis confirms that he just put Cherenkov on this path as some kind of loyalty test. Since this event happened, what, days before Xenosaga, this is a solid two years after Cherenkov was involved in that covert KOS-MOS incident. Remember that?

Margulis points out that this whole thing could put the people of Cherenkov’s home planet in danger, and Cherenkov provides the right answer when he likens his neighbors to vermin. Margulis proud.

Cherenkov flies off from Ariadne. A planet doomed, a job well done.

And he sees his (dead) wife and her (dead) clone down on the surface.

It freaks Cherenkov out in the past and in current reality. Wait, is that the fish billboard in the background? Oh man, Cherenkov, you are taking forever to catch up.

Anyway, even though we’re at the center of the Cathedral Ship, we’ve still got to find our way down, so there’s more dungeon to go. This area is more of an office building, and, like most office buildings, it’s filled with Triceratons.

The Triceratons are big into poison. Note that poison damage is 100% based on your maximum HP, so the higher that is, the more damage you’ll take. Additionally, this game isn’t shy about killing you via poison damage (no hovering at 1 HP for you), so it’s probably best to chug an antidote sooner than later.

Ah, finally, another save point.

This area is more dungeon, but dungeon with a goal. You’re to scale three floors and release the elevator locks at each level. It’s annoying, but at least it’s a dungeon with a clear goal and progress indicators, as opposed to everything leading up to this, which was “keep moving forward, hope you’re going in the right direction”.

Cube farm OF THE FUTURE!

Up on the top floor, you’ll find the door that corresponds to the key we grabbed from icy earlier. Inside is your second robot piece (the first we found on the Woglinde), so it’s well worth a trip.

Alright, elevator cleared, going down. Be sure to save at the nearby save point (same one pictured a few shots earlier). You’ll be glad you did.

MORE DUNGEON! We’ve got a big ring here, and, whether you choose left or right, you’re in for a few battles. There isn’t enough space to “dodge” on this catwalk.

I mentioned before that the majority of gnosis are approximations of mythological beasts, so let’s try not to be surprised at the unicorn here. MOMO isn’t part of my battle party because she seriously does not need to see Ziggy garrote a unicorn. She’s been through so much already…

Incidentally, because I haven’t noted it yet, gnosis do not provide cash upon death, but they do drop vendor trash you can sell for a couple of bucks. For most creatures it’s a tooth or nail or something, but unicorns drop their own horns. I’m only mentioning this because I want you picture KOS-MOS rolling up to that item shop from earlier with a bloody loot bag filled with unicorn horns, and then dumping the contents on the counter and demanding appropriate reimbursement.

At the center of the ring area is another elevator that leads down to…

Okay! Yes! If that isn’t a boss door, I don’t know what is. The most recent save point was still two elevators back, so, no matter what, if you suffer from a bad case of bossicide, you’ve got to do some walking and fighting to get back to the main event.

Once inside, naturally, it’s time for a cutscene.

And a Zohar! Once again, that’s just the number one there in the center, and it doesn’t technically have anything to do with Cherenkov’s skull tat.

KOS-MOS wanders up to the thing, and Shion is back in mom mode.

She’s saying this in a cute, parental way at the moment. She’ll change her tune soon.

KOS-MOS confirms that she’s found her quarry from back on the Woglinde.

Oh yeah, she’s calling it an emulator, which is not lost on Shion.

“Have you been talking to other androids on those message boards?”

Cherenkov has inexplicably caught up with the party. How did he do that? Just float through walls like… oh… right.

Shion, your usual brand of caring isn’t going to cut it this time. Probably.

Yeah, going to go ahead and say he is not all right.

So he starts ranting and raving.

Aw, Cherenkov’s last non sequitur. Nobody even suggested Cherenkov was at all responsible for this situation or the planet Ariadne, but thanks for volunteering that information to future generations.

Just gonna fill in some gaps in the plot here. As mentioned earlier, the Woglinde’s entire deal was picking up the Zohar that got left behind when Ariadne poofed out of reality, so Cherenkov kinda inadvertently kicked off the entire plot.

And then he started swatting at imaginary elves.

And claiming that “they” rejected him before, so why are they returning now. Yeah, alright, nutbar.

Weird purple lights start gravitating toward Cherenkov, and KOS-MOS confirms that what they’re seeing… they’re not really seeing.

Come on, Cherenkov, you did see this coming.

And he starts to morph into… something?

Oh, yes, a gnosis. He starts to morph into a gnosis.

This concerns Ziggy…

Who has a two second flashback to whatever it is we’re seeing here. It’s blurry, and it’s only on screen briefly, but an attentive player will be rewarded with surprisingly prescient information for remembering this silhouette.

“It’s the same… just like that day…” aaaaaaaand that’s all we’ll get about Ziggy’s past for this game. Thanks for playing!

Anyway, Cherenkov is a big ugly gnosis now. You know what that means.

Cherenkov is now Gargoyle, a goliath of a gnosis that is just a pure demon. You’d be a wise man to take your time and outfox this angel of the night. Xanatos.

You may have noticed in the previous shot, but Gargoyle has a pair of servants, one always heals Gargoyle for 600 HP…

And the other continually utilizes a party-wide attack that hits for about 100 HP. It’s probable you have a party-wide heal spell at this point, which is ideal, but it still hurts since it hits so often.

And if you decide to eliminate a servant, that literally only makes Gargoyle stronger. This may give the impression that you’re damned either way, but you’re not going to outpace that 600 HP heal, and you’re probably not going to survive too many multi-hit attacks, so it’s best to just take your lumps from a more powerful Gargoyle. At least he primarily attacks only one party member.

Takes a while, but he’ll eventually go down. Like Cathedral Ship is the first “real” dungeon in Xenosaga Episode 1, Gargoyle is the first “real” boss, and it’s entirely likely you’ll wipe and either have to utilize a little more strategy, or wander the ship grinding against unicorns. Either way, the message is clear: the kid gloves are off, and it’s time for the real game to begin.

Even my steroid-addled party took nearly ten minutes to shatter that gargoyle. I guess we were supposed to use our AGWS for that one? Really? I mean, if the party was Ziggy, KOS-MOS, and MOMO, we wouldn’t even have access to the dang things.

Gargoyle doesn’t just fade like every other defeated gnosis at the end of the battle, he’s still writhing and yelling as we return to reality and… what? Did he just enter Shion’s head? Or vice versa?

Cherenkov, I think your swiss cheese brain is misremembering The Lion King.

Oh, no, it’s just Margulis going on another rant about how humanity sucks and only U-TIC is the way and the light forever and ever.

Shion confirms that she is actively watching Cherenkov’s memories, and this isn’t just some narrative trick for the audience like every other flashback.

Margulis: not a cheerleader.

There’s some debate on whether or not Margulis is just telling Cherenkov (exactly) what he wants to hear, or if Margulis genuinely admires the fact that Cherenkov is still an unstoppable killing machine after all those reformats. There’s evidence for either interpretation, but you can guess what Cherenkov believes.

“Long ago, man was forced to leave behind his homeland… This was brought about by the masses who extinguished the very light that drove their will. So how about it, Cherenkov?”

“Are you coming onto me?”

Shion feels happy, wonders if she actually just felt happy, and realizes that she’s tele-experiencing Cherenkov’s happiness at that memory.

“Hey! Can you hear me! I’m in your head for some reason!”

And now Leena and Serge are at Opassa Beach.

Cherenkov is kind of in a nihilistic mood.

Cherenkov has a healthy case of PTSD.

Killed his wife. Killed his quasi-daughter. Totally loved his commanding officer.

And Cherenkov comes to a revelation: it wasn’t everybody else that was a dick; he was the big floppy dick all along.

But the beach is nice.

“I’m the only living thing that exists in this place. There’s nothing else. No anger, no sadness, no happiness, not even a future… The only thing that’s here…is me. And that’ll eventually fade away… It feels good…”

I refuse to believe that there’s a beach in this world or the next that is devoid of seagulls.

This is important.

Back to reality. You may remember that most defeated gnosis turn into blue/green/purple pyreflies… but Gargoyle peacefully transforms into golden lightning bugs. RIP.

Shion snaps back to reality… and she really wasn’t paying attention for that ten minute battle.

chaos comforts Shion, MOMO looks to Ziggy for guidance.

chaos states his motto.

KOS-MOS is firmly grounded in reality, and reality is about to get dicey.

Whatever counts for gravity around here starts to dissipate and the entire place fades from existence. Huh, guess Ariadne was just hanging in our reality until its last resident officially hopped aboard.

But the Elsa is back and ready to go! Yay!

Just hold your breath and float on back in!

Cathedral Ship may be gone, but the rest of the gnosis are still lingering. The Elsa is a former cruise ship, so it’s not exactly equipped for… let’s see here… five… ten… about a billion gnosis.

But Junior and the Durandal picked up the Zohar signal back when the dungeon started, so here comes all sorts of crazy lasers.

Big damn heroes.

The best way to deal with gnosis is light all of space on fire. Michael Bay, eat your heart out.

As our party boards the Elsa, it’s noted that, yeah, time to go.

It appears that even the Durandal is having issues with this many gnosis.

That’s not so great.

It’s just bad all over.

Hm? Seems KOS-MOS has hopped on the freight elevator.

Hm?

“She’s the only person on this ship not standing right here!”

Mom mode reactivated.

“I built you, and I can unbuilt you!”

“Shion… Will feeling pain…make me…complete?”

Wow, KOS-MOS got a sudden case of the emos. She probably just misses her old glasses.

Unfortunately, the air is kinda thin in space, so Shion can’t hear KOS-MOS’s completely uncharacteristic question.

Time to kill gnosis now.

Computers are freaking out back on the Durandal.

Huh, wonder what that’s about. Wait, what’s that on the far right of the display? Is someone tapping into the Durandal’s secret stash of Zohars?

Someone with a motherfucking death womb!? It might be a little hard to see, but KOS-MOS is not only vaporizing the entirety of the gnosis threat, but she’s also sucking up all their component particles into her abdomen. It’s super effective and unsettling!

Aaaaaand back to normal.

Not pictured: chaos casually returning everyone’s jaws from the floor.

That’s a good question, Shion!

Captain Matthews is a “holy crap we lived, just let them die” type.

There’s evidence that everyone just stood there gawking for five minutes.

Shion is now reprising her earlier comment in a more serious tone.

Yeah, it sucks to come into a project late.

“Could you have maybe left me a manual?”

Oh, there’s that Zohar that was on the Cathedral Ship. Yoink.

THIS UPDATE ISN’T ALLOWED TO END… Meanwhile, back at U-TIC.

Incoming report: that guy is dead.

Margulis is literally speechless. He also only has the one expression, so, once again, we’re forced to just infer if Margulis is upset, disappointed, angry, or even just gassy.

Pellegri doesn’t give a damn, though. Oh, you think the gnosis were there? Good guess, guys.

Want to say… No? Nothing? Okay.

And that’s pretty much it. There’s a tweak more movie before this segment ends, but that seems like it will be more appropriately placed with the next update, and then there’s a save prompt, and we’re at… 11:36?

Christ.

That whole dungeon sequence took nearly three hours!

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with the dungeon itself: it pretty much sucked. Honestly, this dungeon wouldn’t even be that bad if it were primarily the mall area on, but the opening bits are a complete slog, with generally nondescript pulsating hallways and primarily only two enemy varieties in different configurations (3 cerberus, 2 cerberus/1 fairy, 1 cerberus/3 fairy, 3 fairy, 5 fairy). This wouldn’t be the worst thing in an absolutely first dungeon, but eight hours and four or five dungeons in, I think we can handle a little diversity. The only benefit to the opening area is that it really does drive home that feeling of isolation and being “lost”, but it completely sacrifices all illusions of fun to get there. The secondary areas of the dungeon are pretty alright (mall, office building), and you can tell a lot of effort went into creating an interesting space to explore (there are a number of little flourishes that indicate the two areas were “lived in” and not just a dungeon from the ground up… and if this update wasn’t already huge I’d take a closer look), but it all comes after the tedium of the first area. By the time something remarkable is happening, you just want to go home, so the whole dungeon is like prefacing Star Wars with an hour of politicians performing trade negotiations.

This all groups with Cherenkov… poorly. Combined with the berserker KOS-MOS flashback and fun Woglinde events, you now have seen the entirety of Cherenkov’s life and times. Also, just to be clear, Cherenkov is 100% in the ground (air? space?) dead, and he ain’t coming back. Granted, there’s no reason to doubt this at this point in the game, as the army of the dead haven’t returned yet, so death does currently seem sticky in Xenosaga, but I just wanted to be clear that, in the midst of a couple of dudes that simply refuse to die, Cherenkov is gone forever. And you’re actually supposed to feel bad about that.

Cherenkov, seriously, was never any good, practically from the moment he’s introduced. He’s rude to subordinates, plays poorly with The Brews, and doesn’t even do us the courtesy of temporarily hitting the frontlines like Virgil. And then it doesn’t help that we eventually find that he killed his wife, a child, a bunch of random dudes, was partially responsible for KOS-MOS’s rampage (which killed Kevin and Vector staff), and basically destroyed an entire planet. Oh, and remember how he was trying to sell MOMO out from under everybody to save his own ass? Cherenkov: objectively not a good guy.

But the whole scenario for fartknocker seems to imply you’re supposed to feel bad for the guy. He’s a “victim” of the Life Recycling Act, which basically means he was born and bred to be a soldier, and was then cycled back into polite society, because I guess the future doesn’t have enough humans wandering around. The whole moral here is that when you train someone to kill, it’s not easy to turn that kind of thing “off”. Shades of forgotten veterans with PTSD all over the place, which, seriously, is a valid lesson to stick in a video game, as far too many games come off as murder simulators with absolutely no consequences to hours and hours of violence. It’s good to be reminded that, basically, a JRPG hero in “the real world” probably wouldn’t be able to go back to a job at the item shop. But they used Cherenkov to convey this moral, and Cherenkov was always a dick. Despite being part of the cast all the way back to the Woglinde, Cherenkov never does anything useful, and you could very easily make the argument that every other person on the Elsa is not only more sympathetic than Cherenkov, but dramatically so, to the point that most players don’t even notice Cherenkov does nothing during the U-TIC invasion, because when has that guy ever done anything useful?

Couple this with the preceding dungeon from hell, and then a boss fight against Gargoyle-Cherenkov that is the most difficult thing in the game to date, and the well of fucks has totally and truly dried up, so not a fuck can be given this day. Cherenkov had to die so that dungeon could end, and that’s only going to cause elation. Ding dong, Cherenkov is dead.

So, good try, Xenosaga Episode 1, but I’m not buying it. I’m not showing sympathy for this monster that became a literal monster, and I’m not certain who even would.

Well…

Except Shion, who cares for Cherenkov unconditionally, fights through that entire dungeon with the mantra that she will ease his pain, and then stays with his spirit at the end, granting him a memory of happiness that was so often missing from his life.

Don’t usually see that from a JRPG hero.

Maybe Shion isn’t actually destined for that beach…

Next time on Xenosaga: Shion goes to the beach! And, of course, more fan service! Stay tuned!

Special thanks to various Talking Time members for naming our party:
Ziggy Stardust Crusaders – mosfunkuspoison
The Realian Justice Warriors – A Turtle Does Bite
Shion and the CyberAngels – LancerECNM
The Brews – BEAT

3 Responses »

  1. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode I Part 14: Kukai Burning | Gogglebob.com

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  3. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode III Part 24: Final Character Roundup | Gogglebob.com

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