Xenosaga Episode II Part 10: Up to the Precipice

Previously on Xenosaga: The Brews visited Old Miltia. Then Old Miltia exploded. These two events are only marginally related.

Cecily and Cathe are dead, and their sacrifice meant very little. Got it.

We now resume our story at Galactic Federation HQ, home of the government that has accomplished nothing for two consecutive games.

You may recall this weasely fellow as the U-TIC mole within the Galactic Federation. He’s the reason Allen has a criminal record.

And then he gets shot (the weasel, not Allen).

Weasel was talking to Pellegri, who is a touch concerned.

And our killer is…

Me? No… I mean… uh… stop looking at me like that.

Oh ho, someone has taken control of the Federation and… How is that going to affect anything? Did he bring a bunch of Skill Upgrades for the entire Galactic Armed Forces?

Dr. Mizrahi? Feb? …. Shion’s parents?

Oh, Yuriev. So I guess Villain #5 decided to make his move while everyone else was out of town.

So Yuriev is against U-TIC and the Immigrant Fleet/Ormus? Does that make him our buddy? We could use an army right about now.

Speaking of which, here’s The Patriarch chilling in the Omega System.

He’s pretty damn confident that he’ll destroy the Federation Fleet. Of course, he’s only confident because every single thing that has happened during this story has destroyed the Federation Fleet.

“Hey, U-TIC Guy, do your job!”

But Margulis sounds… unreceptive.

“Hey, if you’re so smart, why don’t you do my job?!”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure Margulis is not the kind of guy you can sway with “I’m your master.”


Seemingly out of nowhere, Margulis quits, and leaves The Patriarch to his own devices. If you’ve been paying attention, there have been repeated clues that Margulis owed his allegiance to someone else. The Patriarch, unfortunately, hasn’t been paying enough attention.

Okay, he might have been paying a little attention. The scene closes as Padre identifies the man that is his undoing. Damn you, Heinlein!

And now it’s time for an Uzuki family chat.

What? Did you think she was going to cheer herself up with Professor and Assistant Scott?

She’s no Talking Tim.

Presumably she’s referring to the death of her parents. Unless she watched some other Realian die during the fall of Old Miltia. Nah, that would be a crazy coincidence.

Nevermind!

Well, technically, this time you literally ordered their deaths, so you did do something. Uh… not helping? Sorry.

Oh, so watching your fiancée die in your arms doesn’t count now? Actually, I’m starting to see why Shion’s best friend is a robot…

Jin, how do you understand what Feb wanted? Could you see her ghost, too?

… Virgil? What, no. Why did I think of him just now?

Oh, Shion, right. This is a loose definition of “save” here.

“I would like to help you get over my death by killing my sisters. … That made more sense in my head.”

“Me? I run a bookstore.”

It is nice that Jin reminds Shion that she’s somehow amassed an eclectic support group over the last two episodes. I bet MOMO would be down for eating ice cream and watching a Pretty Cure marathon.

Shion, in her own “never admit my sibling is right about anything” way, appreciates it.

A planet just exploded. Now, more than ever, The Brews need the immaculate leadership of Shion.

So Shion gets up and heads off to randomly tagalong on another suicide mission.


Break her?

I dunno, you could fight Margulis again. That sounds like fun.

Let’s talk about Jin for a second. Was Jin supposed to be in the party all this time? This is more random conjecture on my part, but consider Jin’s clunky as hell “I’m leaving now” and his triumphant “surprise” entrance all of ten minutes later. And consider this scene, which would be the first time Shion and Jin are actually canon interacting after fighting together through two dungeons. I really want to say that the original intention for Jin was to have him be a badass member of the prologue party, reintroduce him as “a retired man of peace” (recall the scene of Helmer convincing Jin to join the mission), and then have the previous update’s Margulis battle as his “oh my gosh he’s still got it!” reintroduction to the battle party (and make it a “surprise” when he’s suddenly part of your party for the boss battle itself).

Of course, that would have been terrible from a gameplay perspective, because then he’d only be active for one boss battle and one (final) dungeon. It’s bad enough that he spends all of present disc one on the bench, we don’t need a Gogo situation where there’s a lot of catching up to do.

But I feel like the script for this section of the story was still written around the idea that Jin wouldn’t be active until the destruction of Old Miltia. Here, finally, the siblings talk for the first time since Second Miltia, even though, potentially, they just fought together through approximately a billion random skirmishes. Seems like they might have a little more to talk about than just Feb fallout…

Again, this is all random conjecture… it just feels really weird, particularly for such a talky series.

And now we switch over to the bridge of the Durandal, where Junior is receiving an important message from…

Daddy dearest. Yes, I guess it’s time the actual protagonists found out Yuriev is up and running around.

She didn’t recognize the Space Pope, but she’s right on top of a guy that died fifteen years… oh, wait, the whole party met this guy in MOMO’s brain. Right.

Yuriev… has had a lot to catch up on. Somebody tell him about that whole Proto Merkabah thing. I want to see his face.

“Why, Papa, why?”

This is a touching father/son reunion.

He… has a point. And Old Miltia wound up getting lost and then destroyed anyway…

Shion remarks that she’s not a fan of the idea, though. There’s a shocker.

Welp, he could be talking about practically any section of this Gordian knot of a story…

Have you been hanging out with a creepy little ginger? Use some names, Yuriev!

What?

I guess Albedo is alive again? And Junior is adamant that he won’t kill him? Um, Junior, you nearly tore reality a new space hole just looking at the guy like two days ago.

“I’ll be right here, quietly taking over the universe.”

And we can’t even hunt Clone Daddy down. Lame.

But Yuriev might be closer to Junior than he thinks! Bum bum buuuuum!

“Jr… Don’t trust… my… words.”

Well, at least Gaignun isn’t gone forever. Good luck sharing a body, guys, we’ve got a planet buster to destroy! See ya next game!

We regain control back on the bridge of the Durandal. Your options are complete every available sidequest in the universe, or fly off to the final dungeon. Considering half the sidequests don’t unlock until you have a completed save file…

No! No time for NPCs!

Yes, back to the Elsa, where even the most tertiary of characters have identified Allen as useless.

And you can see why.

Alright, time to fly into the face of danger and boop Death right in the nose. Obviously, Proto Omega, the giant mech we saw in the Zohar room last update, is our main goal, but “The Omega System”, a gigantic structure that just happened to form around the thing, will be our dungeon du jour.

Like the previous two dungeons, we’ll start this one in our ESes.

Like the Ormus Stronghold, this is one big dungeon, and… it’s pretty shiny. Nice.

14:47 at the start, and I won’t be providing a final count for a while…

If you tithe a portion of your paycheck to the Immigrant Fleet, bad news, they’ve been blowing your offerings on a solid gold Death Star.

After the pomp wears off, the first real area is a series of elevator stops. You can scoot right to the base of the elevator, but why miss all the fun combat on each floor?

Our last generic AMWS enemies are nothing to write home about. If you told me these were the exact same random mooks we fought back on the Ormus Stronghold, I’d believe you.

Still some Red Segment Doors to find, though.

The base of the elevator is our goal. Oh, a save point, how useful.

There’s a small bridge here that we cannot access. Why we can’t just climb out of the ESes here is anybody’s guess.

We’ve got a big door barring our progress, and what appears to be a switch above.

Yeah, sure, here we can exit the ES.

Hey, Ormus Inquisitors. I was not expecting that.

These Ormus Knights are the strongest “soldier” type enemy in the game. Amusingly enough, their in-battle dialogue seems to imply they’re all brainwashed: their attack quotes are stuff like, “Die heretic!” and when they perish, they query, “What am I doing?” Just wouldn’t be an evil religion without mind control.

Our first pit stop isn’t all that interesting.

We can hop onto a catwalk that appears to be above the next ES area, though. Oh boy, looks like we’ll be fighting more generic AMWS.

We can actually unlock “Door #2” before “Door #1”. I guess we’ve gotten good at multitasking.

And there’s treasure! This unlocks the Curse status effect, which, like pretty much all status effects in PS2 RPGs, is really a pain when you’re afflicted, but absolutely never works on a boss. Lame.

A little more walking, and we’ve unlocked that door. Back to the ESes!

Progress!

See, now we’re destroying barracks and taking out AMWS. It must suck to be an anonymous toady attempting to repel a JRPG party.

Now let’s see where Door #2 goes.

More pointless battles! Who would have guessed?

Our next ES stop appears to be on some kind of elevator. Either that, or the giant X is a trap, and Albedo is about to drop an anvil on the party.

Nope, elevator.

So we’ve got to climb down this completely empty series of stairs to power up a giant elevator.

Why would they put the elevator power switch all the way at the bottom of the stairs!?

Now we have to go all the way back up to hit that switch to run the damn thing!

You might think that operating an elevator isn’t the most annoying mandatory “minigame” in Xenosaga Episode 2, and you’d be wrong.

There are two elevator gates along the way down, and you have to press the release switches with perfect timing to grant your ESes safe passage downward. If you’re too slow to a switch, or press it too quickly, the elevator will bump, and then go aaaaaall the way back up, and you’ll have to start again. It’s not the hardest thing in the world, you just have to have great timing, else you’re stuck literally waiting for an elevator. Old Miltia exploding was sad; playing a game based on waiting for an elevator is a tragedy.

Eventually, everyone’s favorite mechs make it to the bottom.

Time to save. Trust me.

Boarding the ESes in a giant, nondescript, square room. Want to take a guess what’s going to happen?

Yep, time to fight some enormous Gallsaberry monster.

Inversion is the last mandatory boss you’ll fight in ES mode, and it’s a doozy. This thing will literally watch and gauge your attacks to put up defenses against them. It will also cast Quick (Haste) when it starts losing HP, and is not shy about boosting. In short, this thing will destroy your party if you let it.

See? This stupid thing hates me. Note that, even though this thing resembles what you might expect from a gnosis, it is technically a mech.

The best way to counter this is stick Ziggy in the copilot seat of your most offensive ES, and then constantly boost to use his special attacks. Inversion is very weak against fire attacks, so it will be toast in no time.

Boss fight complete. Moving on.

Next room is vaguely puzzleish. You may only destroy these blocks from a particular angle, and I suppose the challenge lies in wandering around the parameter of the room and blasting stuff before you’d just walk up to it like normal.

This would be more challenging in a game where you have true random encounters, or are otherwise punished for “wasting” your steps. As it is, I’m pretty sure you could sleepwalk through this area.

Now here’s a puzzle.

The idea is to reduce this stack of blocks to a two-block high bridge. The trick is that if a block is directly touching another block of the same color, all those blocks will be destroyed simultaneously. The solution is to plan about sixty steps ahead at all times.

Or do what you see here.

This puzzle is, technically, optional. If you solve the puzzle, you can access a unique treasure (not this one), and leave your ESes behind for the remainder of the dungeon. If you don’t solve the puzzle, you can at least get a breather and gain this Skill Upgrade.

Just because this is the “bonus” route doesn’t mean there aren’t enemies.

This is that unique treasure. This key unlocks ST Double, which doubles the length of status up skills. This is great for any battle where you’re using the elemental sword abilities, or any sort of strength/defense/ether up skills. So… every battle.

The other side of this door will bar entry if you’re not good at colored block puzzles.

The absolute last area features a bunch of weird crystals that may contain treasure…

Or completely unique monsters that could qualify as mini-bosses.

We’ve got this knightly looking fellow.

And some kind of angelish dude.

And an Iron Giant. All of these creatures are pretty tough, and, if you don’t do enough damage in a couple of rounds, they’ll restore all lost health. Not easy fights.

And just to make things fun, the Iron Giant looking fellows will explode after sustaining enough damage. Ouch.

If you stay in your ES and don’t solve the block puzzle, you’ll venture thought a couple more boring hallways and fight a few more boring AMWS. You can imagine why I didn’t capture that thrilling adventure. Both routes will eventually culminate at this… thing.

Blow it to Hell and we have the final Xenosaga Episode 2 save point. Feel free to heal up and double back to show those miniboss creatures a good time.

This certainly looks ominous.

Lot of blue neon going on here. Hope we don’t have to fight the Master Control Program next.

This does not look like fun.

A… church? Those are never fun!

Yep, in what is easily the most literal metaphor to ever happen in a JRPG, the final sub boss of XS2 is just a cathedral. We are fighting a church.

Cathedral, like most churches, is kinda sexist. It starts out with pretty basic attacks, but it will eventually switch into a different mode. What determines this mode is the gender of the character with the last attack: Cry of the Rapture is triggered by a woman, and it has strong ether attacks, while Call to Arms is triggered by a man, and it has strong physical attacks. You know your own defenses, so try to steer the church into whatever you’re comfortable with. Note that XS2 allows for parties that are completely female (Shion, MOMO, KOS-MOS) or male (Junior, Ziggy, chaos, Jin).

However it goes, Cathedral isn’t all that tough, and it will go down pretty quickly. It’s just a palette cleanser before the real battle ahead.

Aaaaaand we’re gonna say no.

This is the last stop before the final battle, and I’m going to save that for another update. As you might expect, the ending of Xenosaga Episode 2 is pretty verbose, so we’ll pick up that thread a little later.

In the meanwhile, we’re going to skip around a little bit. I’d like the “last” XS2 update to be the actual ending of XS2, but there is a whole lot of content in XS2 that isn’t accessible until after clearing the game. However, none of that content relies on the player actually knowing what happens during the ending, it’s just a simple flag condition. So, with that said, the next two updates will be the “extra” Xenosaga Episode 2 missions, and then we’ll circle back to the ending proper. See? Simple.

Let’s get a little taste, though. After completing Xenosgaga Episode 2, you can access the final dungeon through an Encephalon Dive. Why would you do that?

Well, because you can access Omega System sans ES. Can you see lil’ tiny Shion on that giant elevator?

Now we can use that bridge that was previously inaccessible. And, look, the save point shrank to match our teeny tiny size.

Eventually, this path leads to a treasure room with those “only destructible from one side” blocks.

This puzzle is a little more complicated, and, obviously, you’ll want to clear a path that allows access to the treasure chests around the room.

The treasures here are a wealth of Skill and Class Upgrades that will really help the party on its quest to conquer all the bonus content in this game.

And the secret key to unlock Focus 2, an ability that allows you to restore EP every time you stock. Useful!

And that’s everything you’d ever need to see in the Omega System. Let’s see what the rest of the universe has to offer!

Next time on Xenosaga: The long awaited “every sidequest ever” post! Will I go insane? Almost certainly!

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