Xenosaga Episode III Part 07: Sex, Violence, and Archaeology

Previously on Xenosaga: Great! Now we’re all inside the time/space sphere with the Elsa, and we have to explore some freaky temple on foot because the ESes decided to crap out. Today is not going well.

Here’s Shion (representing the entire party in proper JRPG fashion) at the temple entrance. Fun fact, as we’ll discover, this place is 6,000 years old (or thereabouts). It’s held up well for being flung into space.

There’s a secret waiting for the person that can stick the proper thingy in this pedestal. In fact, there’s an entire extra dungeon available here, but we won’t be able to access it this update.

This is one of those ancient temples that is equipped with mysteriously efficient freestanding elevators.

On the way up, we get a preview of that bonus dungeon I mentioned a moment ago. Don’t worry, we’re not missing much.

Here we are, top(ish) floor, home of the gnosis. This is actually the first we’re seeing random gnosis in the game (the previous creatures were either bosses or in cutscenes), and we’ve got our old buddy Goblin hulking around.

Whether it’s deliberate or a happy accident, the gnosis of this area are up-ressed XS1 baddies, so the first monster gnosis of the game are from the first Xenosaga game. Symmetry!

Kill a few gnosis, grab an elevator.

And here’s where the dungeon gets… if not fun… at least interesting.

The gimmick of this temple involves pressing a series of switches to make bridges out of free floating Tetris blocks.

The general idea is to create bridges that take you where you want to go, like to these giant crystals that can be blasted for treasure, or the elevator to the next section.

You have to use a little foresight and press the switches in the proper order to access all the treasure, but nothing (valuable) is permanently missable.

At worst, you’ll have to backtrack along these platforms and deactivate a switch, but it’s okay, because the monsters don’t respawn. You should probably kill the wandering gnosis at least once, though.

Gnosis are back to dropping random gnosis items, incidentally. All this salt should really spice up that prosciutto.

See? Here’s one of those deals where you have to go in the right order to get the treasure. In general, you can tell where paths will be if you look at the glowy orb things that apparently hold up the blocks. They’re like buttresses or something? I don’t know, I’m not a magical architect.

Tired of this floor, let’s move on.

The next area involves our first “trick” with the moving blocks. If you activate this switch willy-nilly, it will shoot a block across the room that will inadvertently release a group of gnosis. Each one of those gremlins is an individual battle… but there’s also a lot of treasure that way, so it works out. Just a warning not to be careless with these switches, I guess.

You may recall the gremlins from XS1 (the blue sucker on the left) had a nasty acid rain counterattack that healed itself and damaged the party. That’s gone now. Hooray! Pretty much all the gnosis in this area are early game weak.

Hey, an update file. Considering these are completely unique items that “require” 100% for a sidequest, you’re definitely going to want to “accidentally” release/fight those gnosis.

Speaking of unique items, you have to press a switch on the second floor and then return to the first to obtain this decoder. Again, the enemies don’t respawn, so it’s just a matter of walking once you realize you’ve hit the right switch.

There’s an item in that crystal in the back there, but if you press that switch, it’ll shatter and fall into nothingness. It’s just a consumable, so no big deal, but it’s still a good idea to be cautious.

Okay, we’re done with that nonsense now. The next floor is just a hallway with some gnosis.

Lotta stairs.

Oh yes, there’s a status effect that is unique to gnosis that is called crystallization. Remember how gnosis turn people to salt? Well, that is simulated with a “gnosis touch” that basically works like the gradual stone status effect in Final Fantasy 4. If you don’t cure an afflicted party member (and the cure is a consumable item [Anti-Crystal] you can find all over this dungeon), you’ll have a pillar of salt on your hands in about three turns. I’m moderately sure the gnosis bosses up to this point did not have this ability, but you see it a lot in this tomb.

Note that you can use a G Vaccine to vaccinate your party against the crystallization. In a fun bit of story/gameplay synergy, chaos naturally has permanent 100% immunity. He can handle gnosis just fine, remember?

This is basically where the dungeon ends. We’ve still got a lot to do this update, but the whole “explore/random monsters” bit is over. Two floors of hallways, two floors of weak puzzles… this place isn’t bad, honestly. At least it’s more interesting to look at than most XS dungeons.

Blast through a crack in the wall from the last image and you’ll find a way up and out. Why does this room give me Skyward Sword vibes?

Did anyone catch if there was a sun in the area? And if light could get through that sphere we had to puncture? Oh, who cares? This place is vaguely sunny for some reason.

Shion has a sudden flash of recognition.

I love how much Xenosaga expects you to have instant recall of the whole of the, what, are we at fifty hours yet? Even if you played these games continuously (which I can safely say I did not for my first run through), you probably won’t remember one two minute dream Shion had back on the Woglinde.

But it did happen. Twice, actually, though most people probably remember ol’ Purple Cross Face Strickland more than the dream he interrupts.

And XS3 does throw the tiniest of bones to try to jog your memory.

Aaaaaand headache. I tried tallying these things, but then I got a headache.

“IT’S NOTHING SHUT-UP LET’S GO FOLLOW THAT GHOST!”

And, finally, the entire landmass that was identified as Rennes-le-Chateau now gets the traditional area subtitle. I guess this crypt is specifically RLC? Is chaos providing these area markers?

6,000 year old piece of humanity’s history… let’s blow up random gravestones for potential items.

Pay dirt! Beneath one of the markers is a staircase.

It leads to a treasure chest that, unfortunately, does not provide the Magic Cape. The rest of the area you see here is that optional dungeon, again, but it’s still inaccessible.

Back up into the open air that somehow exists here. Blast some rocks and you’ll find the way forward.

Down some stairs, and… this place looks familiar.

Phht, never seen a tomb before, Jin? Come on, you visit your parents’ grave like every ten minutes.

Some of the crypt is damaged. Wonder what happened here?

Hey! That’s the name of one of our giant robots!

OH MY GOD WE’RE PILOTING GIANT CORPSES!!! … No, wait, that can’t be right.

You’re given a moment to explore this area on your own, but, disappointingly, you can’t “click” on the tombs and read all the ES names. Kingdom Hearts 2 did this area so much better.

And at the back is that stone cross and coffin from KOS-MOS’s subconscious from XS1 and the intro to XS3 (and a little bit of the end of last update).

I just said that!

Remember back when it seemed like KOS-MOS knew things? I want to say it was around XS1…

You can investigate the coffin… But maybe it’s better if you didn’t?

But please do blow up the wall behind the cross.

Alright! We got… something… from this hidden coffin.

Oh, what a convenient item description. This is what is required to access the bonus dungeon at the start of this dungeon. If you miss this item, you’re unlikely to ever find it (because there isn’t much of a reason to return to this distinct area), but if you do pick it up, the next time you feel like hitting the UMN, you may return and play with the bonus dungeon. We’ll be doing that in the customary side quest update.

We can’t do it now, because the minute you leave the KOS-COFFIN…

A cinema scene attacks! KOS-MOS! Dance!

T-elos! I should have known! … Wait, what?

Well, she’s an anti-gnosis weapon, right? Maybe she wanted to help out?

Oh, of course, the Thirteenth Key. Lemme just check my inventory… Nope, nothing here. Guess you can go home now.

Fun fact: Shion and Allen (who is back on the Elsa) are the only characters that ever saw T-elos. Everybody else is like, “who dis?”

Junior notes that the designers of Xenosaga were super lazy just making a KOS-MOS palette swap.

And chaos is concerned for some reason. Geez, when was the last time that kid was surprised?

T-elos retracts the helmet for the first time, and…

You know what that means!

Booooooss battle!

T-elos has the unique “machine-human” designation. This is convenient, as it allows you to use both “works on machines” and “works on humans” attacks against her. She’s also weak to electricity (stupid bot), and strong against beam (not coincidentally KOS-MOS’s specialty).

She’s got a decently sized break gauge, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try for a break. Ziggy’s choke is great for inflicting BL damage, and we’ll see that get used a lot more when we’re facing soldiers. In the meanwhile, though T-elos has a pretty resilient neck.

Like Virgil last update, T-elos interrupts the battle to taunt the party when she’s getting ready to unleash a super attack.

The battle is pretty chill up to this point, but here is where she can start abusing her rapidly filling boost gauge and use her super attack, T-SKYLLA. You really want to make sure your break gauge is healed before suffering that attack, else you might be low on HP and stunned for a round.

KOS-MOS finishes the battle with her special gatling gun. This is amusing because…

Post battle, the “canon” end of the fight is… KOS-MOS using her gatling gun. In the LP biz, we call this “looking like you know what you’re doing”.

Number of storyline boss fights in Xenosaga that have been solved by the actual fight: zero.

Junior is proud of that battle in which he had no involvement.

Hey! It was only three times back during her introduction!

At this point, the rest of the party is still looking at a smoking crater, so what gives, KOS-MOS?

Right.

T-elos joins the ranks of Margulis, Albedo, Pellegri, and Pope Jackhole for the “battle is over, not a scratch on her” club.

So a frankly amazing fight scene begins. If you’re wondering where the XS3 budget went, it was all to animate two super robots blowing up a cave. I suppose that is better than Allen/Miyuki hijinks.

Seriously, find whoever put these scenes together and get ‘em on a DBZ movie.

Of course, the whole battle has a number of deliberate allusions to “gee, these two characters are pretty similar… but different!”

“Hey, remember when we were all fighting T-elos a minute ago?”
“Yeah?”
“Well, why aren’t we doing that now?”
“Ham break.”
“Oh.”

And here to explain why T-elos is winning is our good buddy Roth.

“Seriously! We had to puncture space and time and go through two dungeons to get here!”

Shion also makes reference to the only time this will ever come up: “that task” that was mentioned for like six seconds back in the dump was apparently some Roth-brand malware meant to analyze KOS-MOS’s battle patterns. Guess that explains why KOS-MOS can’t beat T-elos when Kossy has a year’s worth of experience on her.

Guess Roth is big into the whole prophecy thing.

He just told you!

Oh snap, Roth Mantel was Red Testament this whole time. Yes, as
Talking Time’s Yama pointed out, “Roth” is an old German/Jewish nickname for a redhead (from the Middle High German “rot” for “red”), and “Mantel” is just “mantle”, which also means cloak. It’s simultaneously clever, ancient, and really obvious.

Incidentally, I wonder if this whole “Roth” thing was just to give Red Testament another potential identity. I want to say everyone figured out Red was secretly Kevin in XS1, so, four years later, “Roth” was introduced so there’s at least a little tension before Red/Roth finally reveals himself as Kevin in a few hours. Bonus personality to throw people off the scent, or an easy excuse to have a new jerkass creeping on Shion? Either explanation works.

Shion seems unnaturally shocked, but, then again, the last time she saw Red Testament, he did vaporize the Space Pope.

And apparently Red sees this as something like a Pokémon battle…

Speaking of which.

KOS-MOS loses her robot tiara to a properly placed slash.

Woof… uh… Write your own caption for this one. Try not to use the phrase “glowing poop”.

KOS-MOS admits that this battle is not going in her direction.

“Does the rest of the party get a vote?”
“No.”

And T-elos is swinging our heroine around like a ragdoll. Just keep watching, guys!

Every time KOS-MOS appears to be down, T-elos focuses on Shion, and KOS-MOS gets a second (third… fourth…) wind.

“Please do not attack my creator. I do not wish to spend another six months with Allen.”

Incidentally, this 6,000 year old tomb is getting wrecked.

Hey, Junior decides to lend his bullets to KOS-MOS’s gatling gun. Let’s see here… he probably gets off one shot for every 12,000 KOS-MOS fires. Actually, maybe I understand why the rest of the party isn’t trying at this point…


“Hey, bottles are empty vessels, and they helped save Hyrule!”

“How pathetic. You’ll never be able to accomplish anything. Return to dust, so that I may truly… awaken!”

Welp, at least T-elos knows what she wants.

And now her boob window is generating its own Spirit Bomb.

Remember how KOS-MOS needed all that extra kit to fire a phase transfer cannon last update? And then she lost it? Well T-elos can fire a phase transfer cannon with her tits. You do not want to know what she can do with dat ass.

One simple trick to destroy ancient history. Archeologists hate these guys!

Shion’s necklace decides to start glowing. Is the magical sun hitting it or something?

KOS-MOS is going to palm this phase transfer blast. Remember that a phase transfer cannon is capable of puncturing space and time, so her hand probably isn’t going to cut it.

But, hey, maybe I’m wrong.

Nope. Always right. Can you make out Ziggy just blasting off the edge there?

Hard to see in the still, but KOS-MOS taking a cannon to the face is not good for her maintenance.

But the rest of the party is kind of okay. Shion’s necklace is still strobing, so I guess it wasn’t just an errant beam.

K.O.!

Here’s the Shion eye witness camera.

And Shion briefly imagines T-elos as some random woman in the desert. I think this is what happens after all those “headaches”.

“KOS-MOS! No! Please stop!”

Honey, I think she’s plenty stopped.

No, “cosmos” means order. “Telos” means “ultimate purpose”. Please update your database.

If Shion activates her own phase transfer cannon, I’ll be so happy.

You’re still here?

Hey! Been a while, but KOS-MOS goes back into blue eyes mode. Haven’t seen that since Episode 1.

Nobody asks about when chaos lights up like a menorah…

This is either an amazingly mystical moment, or Virgil left his cell phone in that coffin just for kicks.

Who’s that Pokémon?

Red Testament makes a request as the mysterious light extends to envelop the entire floating landmass.

Mary and Shelley… just chilling, hanging outside the orb. Everyone else on the Durandal is probably wondering when they’re finally going to leave this boring sector of empty space.

And the Space-Time Sphere explodes and contracts and… something? Whatever, just don’t look directly at it.

We are a third of the way through the third game in the series, don’t you dare say nonsense like this, Wilhelm!

Yes, deeply ancient mystical piece of Earth. It’s important! We get it!

Really, guys? Pinup of the bot that just nearly vaporized our entire party?

And we end Chapter 3 at the six hour mark. This is the end of the first third of XS3, so let’s talk about that.

Xenosaga Episode 3 follows a pretty rigid three act structure. This is traditional in a lot of stories, but you’d be forgiven for not expecting it here, as Xenosaga Episode 1 and 2 do not follow that same guideline (XS1 was basically all Act 1 [particularly if you consider Albedo’s actions less “plot” and more “this is establishing his character”] and XS2 was… just a mess… but more or less two completely separate stories). XS3 has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and… that’s mostly a good thing.

In case it’s been a while since you took Freshman English, the three act structure that XS3 so slavishly follows is:

Act 1: Establish characters, what they want, and how they might obtain it.
Act 2: Let those characters “enter the fray” and journey into some mystery/unusual circumstances.
Act 3: Hastily tie up 60 hours of dangling plot threads.

We just wrapped up Act 1, so let’s look at where our characters stand.

  • Shion: Has more daddy issues than Parenting Monthly, is experiencing a mysterious illness, wants to reconnect with other humans.
  • KOS-MOS: Is probably not dead.
  • Allen: Wants to see Shion happy.
  • chaos: Wants to see a universe where people can change the world.
  • Jin: N/A
  • Ziggy: N/A
  • MOMO: N/A
  • Junior: Maybe his brother is alive?

Aaaand that’s all we got. Taking Episode 3 as its own entity, we currently know more about T-elos than Ziggy, and that seems wrong.

It might not be all bad, though. There’s nothing wrong with Xenosaga taking a more focused approach to its characters. Shion and KOS-MOS (and chaos on the periphery) have been important characters from moment one (well, maybe a few moments after the Zohar was introduced), so if we’re hanging the finale on those two, well, we could do worse.

But…

Xenosaga Episode 3 is here to wrap up everyone’s story. Ziggy, for instance, had the “mystery” of “just like that day” from Episode 1, a rival that was introduced in Episode 2, and an entire spinoff game. All of that is supposed to pay off here in the final chapter… but the dude has had like three lines of dialogue all game so far. We will inevitably get that payoff at the end of his story, but, at this point, he’s almost a complete nonentity. If you’re playing XS3 divorced from its auxiliary materials (or haven’t played some of the contributing games for years) though, well, it might get a little confusing when Ziggy suddenly has pathos because a dude in a black cloak shows up.

Just something to keep in mind as we move forward. This is the Shion show, and not everyone following this plot had the convenience of a clickable table of contents.

Anyway, seems like kind of a downer to end the update with the party potentially space dust, so let’s move forward a little bit to see Shion’s sex hair.

What we have here is an obvious flashback to Shion and Kevin back in happier, mostly naked times. Incidentally, I really appreciate the outfits they chose here. These things are always subjective, but post-sex “she’s wearing an oversized shirt, he just grabbed some pants” seems very real to me… for… no particular reason.

Also, there’s probably some deliberate visual motif between Shion’s white shirt/underwear combo and KOS-MOS’s usual "outfit".

Anyway, as no doubt would happen with two scientists that are building an anti-gnosis weapon, the pillow talk turns to discussing hulking space monsters. “4000 years of no aliens, and now we’ve got mutant ghosts trying to kill us.”

Again with the surprisingly clever dialogue. Here’s everything you need to know about Shion and Kevin: Shion believes everything, even the gnosis, has a purpose. Kevin thinks the only thing the gnosis want is wanton destruction.

Symmetry! Act 2 starts with a character talking about what happened at the start of Act 1.

“Sometimes, I don’t know if what I’m doing is to atone for not being able to do anything, or to take revenge against those who took everything from me.”

Oh yeah, talk vengeance to me, baby.

“But I can say that even if the universe desires otherwise, she is our hope.”

Laying it on a little thick with the “Kevin and Shion are KOS-MOS’s mom and dad” thing.

Aw, we all hate the gnosis. Let’s fuck.

“Why am I here? What should I be doing? Where am I going? It’s as if everything is hidden in a deep fog on a distant shore. But right now, if that’s where hope lies, I want to grant your wish.”

Ah, to be a teenager and screwing your boss/saving the universe.

And it turns out this whole flashback was the secret origin of Shion’s necklace.

“Yeah, right before she turned into a gnosis and I was rocketed away from my dying planet. It was an eventful day.”

“The path I’m walking may be a mistake. I don’t know for sure. Will you walk… down this path with me?”

You… want her to be your new mom?

Oh, engagement, right. That’s apparently Shion’s “yes” face. I mean yes to the marriage thing, get your mind out of the gutter…

And get ready for hot makeouts!

I would buy an HD remaster of the Xenosaga Trilogy if the only change involved Kevin’s pants falling down to a slide whistle at the end of this scene.

And it turns out U-DO was just combing through Shion’s memories. Voyeur.

And it was just getting good!

This is a very important bit of dialogue. Unfortunately, it’s kind of soiled by the fact that it looks like Shion and U-DO got caught in some kind of infinite loop. Maybe this was originally supposed to be the Xenosaga musical number?

Yes?

Good question! Shion is passed out in a field, and we’ll find out why next update!

Next time on Xenosaga: Tell me, Professor, where are we going this time?

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