PREVIOUSLY ON XENOSAGA EPISODE 1: Shion and KOS-MOS went on an exciting (?) adventure through a virtual world, and Shion made a new friend. Allen cried himself to sleep while standing up.

Alright, here we are back in the lab. For the first time, we have complete control over Shion in a “safe” environment, and we can chat with all the little green arrows on the minimap that you’ll see in screenshots occasionally. We are not going to talk to everybody for this LP, because it’s going to be long enough as is, but we will note a handful of important conversation topics. Here’s John Bell, and this capture exists purely to remind you that Vector R&D staff members, like Shion, treat KOS-MOS like a person who has desires (like to be happy).

And here’s Satan. Satan would like to remind you that you can venture back into the virtual world any time you’d like, and retrieve items (treasure). Satan is not to be trusted, and is encouraging Shion to give into the twin sins of gluttony and wasting all of our time.

Here’s our first real-world save point. Like, say, Chrono Cross, save points in the Xenosaga universe kind of have a “real world” component, and aren’t just twinkly gameplay conceits. If you squint, you can see the initials UMN on there, as every save point is an UMN terminal. What this means is that, basically, every time you save, Shion is updating her blog. Just almost died in a digital world, saw a ginger, lol, gtg.

Janice wants to remind you there is a box in the virtual world…

And you should go back in there and get it. I’m not doing that.

Shion leaves R&D for the fabulous hallways of the Woglinde, the enormous spaceship we’re sailing on right now. As a reminder of what happened last time, all Shion has to do is deliver some data, by hand for some reason, to the Captain. This is somehow going to take an hour.

Allen is in charge in Shion’s absence, and… yeah, that’s going to go well.

Here’s a map of the ship. If memory serves, the toastiest of frogs made a joke some time ago about “Shion’s Quarters” being a giant landmark on the map, and what that means for our intrepid heroine’s social status. Since I’m completely against recycling others’ material from a decade ago, I’ll just no-prize this one, and claim that maps of the future “know” who is looking at the display, and load directions appropriately. Anyway, as you can see here, there isn’t that much ground to cover, so… wait… didn’t I just say this would take an hour?

Have to admire that they stuck a “talk to everybody” guy at the top of the game’s first town, and made his info as opaque as possible. Xenosaga, everybody!

Shion got an email! I already loathe this message!

Yes, Shion has a space-PDA or something, and she will randomly receive emails throughout the game. Good news: they rarely, if ever, come along during a dungeon and/or dangerous, tense area. On the other side of the coin, they seem to happen every five seconds in some places (like here), and, like real life, you are punished if you don’t check your email and reply to everyone immediately. I’ll get in to more details on this specific thing soon, but for now, it’s just a reminder that email exists, really.

Oh, and Shion has a little hoppy bunny AI that manages her cell phone. Shion really likes bunnies.

Here’s a distinct reference to the UMN, so let’s address that a little more. Basically, the UMN is the space-internet, and it serves the incredibly important purposes of shooting information all over the galaxy, and directing (space) ships throughout the cosmos. It’s treated like a basic, everyday part of space life for Shion and pals, but nothing would be possible without it. Like the real internet, no one really considers how it works, though, which will be important in like a billion hours.

Shion, top Vector scientist, and Bunnie AI, a bunny AI, have a brief conversation about exactly what I just said. I’m starting to see how Vector has fallen behind schedule.

And then they discuss how email works. Effectively, there’s two kinds of email in this game: basic “fill in the plot blanks” emails that are practically just NPC statements, and emails that require a reply, which wind up working out like choose-your-own adventure stories. This would be kind of neat, if it weren’t for the fact that those reply emails eventually lead to “prizes” for your choices, and, in some cases, the prizes are make-or-break the game affairs. This game was released after 2000 AD, so there’s really no reason to ever reply to an email without checking Gamefaqs first to guarantee you’re on the right track. Additionally, the reply emails do tell their own story, and in a game this… intense with story beats, it’s a big distraction for a little payoff. TLDR: Email is lame.

This little UMN/Email tutorial lasts so long, it ends with a reminder of what you’re actually supposed to be doing.

You’ve got a UMN button right there in the menu, so if you want to read your email at any time, you may. The UMN will have some more features later, though, so it may eventually come in handy.

This guy gets it.

Like five steps later, a cutscene cuts back to R&D, where the staff is already preying on Allen’s myriad insecurities.

Allen is a great boss. He immediately starts taking out his romantic frustrations on the staff.

And the staff respects him for it.

While the veterans are putting together a pool on when Allen experiences his next stroke, one of the new hires has a brief conversation about not knowing the full history of the KOS-MOS project.

KOS-MOS’s initial, disastrous activation is referenced for the second time without any specific details.

Uh-oh! Someone left their gear on their computer console. You can tell it’s actually Shion’s because there’s that bunny motif again.

Allen resumes weenie mode when confronted with Shion’s stuff. Occasionally, the staff gets Allen to bark like a dog at the scent of Shion’s deodorant.

Everyone is anxious to get their boss to go play delivery boy and get out of their hair.

There has got to be an employee handbook that discourages simply everything that happens in this department.


Tantrum intensifies

And simply no one cares.

Back to Shion, here she is just casually strolling past a giant golden space monument.

Here’s this guy. Despite having a purple X painted on his face, he’s such an unremarkable nobody that even the Xenosaga Wiki doesn’t remember this dude’s name. He’s clearly a reference to a similarly decorated fellow from Xenogears, but I forgot his name, too. Let’s just call him General Strickland. General Strickland thinks his soldiers are a bunch of slackers.

Does he, like, go to a salon for that? Or paint himself every morning? So many questions.

Shion just watches human suffering like it ain’t no thang. This may explain why she keeps Allen around.

Reminder: Shion and crew are like months behind on their one and only project.

Aaaaand flashback time! Remember that time Shion was working in a lab… or… something?

Oh, a different lab, on a planet. You can tell it’s on a for-real planet, because it’s raining outside. A rare example of Xenosaga subtlety.

And who’s this fellow? Why, it’s Kevin, of course.

Kevin Winnicot was Shion’s boss when the KOS-MOS project started, back when Shion was filling Allen’s “junior chief” position. Shion was also emulating a future Allen by having a thing for her boss. Unlike Allen, though, Shion was actually successful at interacting with another human being, and Kevin and Shion were engaged. In both a Biblical and digital sense, this basically makes Kevin and Shion KOS-MOS’s parents. D’aww.

Less adorable, though, is the fact that Kevin is a raging misanthrope, and, to everyone in the universe, save Shion (and his mom… it’s complicated), he’s kind of a gigantic dick. When I say “gigantic dick”, by the by, I don’t mean “only tips 5%”, I mean “wants to kill the universe and everyone in it”. This won’t really come up for another two games (seriously), but I wanted to bring it up because there is a gigantic gulf between how Shion sees Kevin (oh my dear lost love), and how everyone else sees Kevin (homicidal asshole). Shion made a blue-haired savior-bot in heels, Kevin added a gatling gun and boob lasers.

And, oh yeah, Kevin is dead as of the start of Xenosaga. Died right in front of Shion a good two years ago, in fact. Despite this tremendous handicap, he still might be the NPC with the greatest impact on the entire franchise, and has weird connections to all of Xenosaga’s various villainous masterminds.

Kevin’s favorite color is red.

Anyway, back in the past, we learn that Shion cared about deadlines, once upon a time.

Kevin, meanwhile, is a friendly, caring boss that brings coffee to his busy little worker bee/fiancé. Not shown: Kevin stole that coffee from an orphan.

Kevin is not sleeping well. I’m naturally distrustful of Kevin, so I assume this is some kind of come on thing. “I’m sleeping terribly, if only someone would give me a handjob.”

Alright, a brief aside for any budding video game designers reading this. Since, literally, the age of Shakespeare, man has recognized that two people standing around having a conversation is boring as hell, so various tricks and techniques were pioneered to generate the illusion of, basically, stuff happening. We, as humans, have gotten pretty good at it, so you can watch any given episode of Law and Order and, despite the fact that all you’re watching is a series of boring people having boring conversations, you’ll find that it’s “interesting” because the detectives are walking forward and knocking on doors and whatever to trick your brain into thinking things are happening at a much more rapid pace. I believe it’s called “staging”.

Despite hundreds of years of drama performances, a lot of video games forget staging exists. We’re suddenly back in the stone age, and the reason so many people zone out during, say, Persona 4’s million year long opening is that two heads hurling text back and forth at each is about as interesting as mowing the lawn with hedge clippers. Progress is being made, but it seems so damn boring when it’s just head voice acting at other head, and the last thing any video game should be is boring.

So, anyway, Xenosaga Episode 1, for all its faults, is very good at staging a scene, and even something like this, just Shion and Kevin talking about an inanimate robot, is enhanced by some actual movement and staging and humans acting like humans, as opposed to particularly chatty trees. It goes a long way toward making cutscene after cutscene more palatable.

Reminder, we’re about an hour into the game, and Shion has taken like twenty steps through the real world.

Back to the actual scene in question, turns out Kevin is nervous about activating KOS-MOS tomorrow. Spoilers, it’s going to be a killer launch.

“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” …. Actually, he probably was considering that…

Going to just go ahead and reiterate this: Shion considered KOS-MOS a person before she was even turned on. Wait… I should probably phrase that differently…

Kevin agrees with the sentiment, but that’s only because he imagines the whole of humanity to be stupid baby robots.

Literally the last sleep he’ll ever have. Erm. Spoilers.

You just brought her coffee! Wait, no, this is the sex stuff, right?

There’s probably some good, important blocking going on here with Shion standing next to KOS-MOS (‘s space coffin) while Kevin exits the frame, but it just occurred to me that Kevin was 26 to Shion’s 20 at the time of this flashback, and that seems extra creepy on top of the whole boss/employee thing. Like, they technically started dating when she was a teenager, right?

Bah, no time to dwell on that, back to reality, and Shion considering how her project is technically two years behind schedule.

Actually, screw reality, turns out if you stare at our favorite monolith too long, the universe kinda breaks down.

Oh no. Shion, I need you to do something for me: if anyone asks you to sit in a chair and start narrating everything, you need to resist. I just… I can’t go through that again.

Oh, wait, it’s just our red-headed little buddy again.

She’s Xenosaga’s most transparent character.

Shion is a tad spooked.

And she winds up in a monochromatic world. Uh, emphasis on “world” here, as you don’t usually see that much foliage on a spaceship.

Red is saying something here, but someone hit the mute key, and the subtitles forgot to show up. I can’t read anime lips, so let’s just assume she’s reciting a recipe for lamb chops.

This creepy world has its own monolith, and our eagle-eyed readers may note that it’s slightly different from the monolith back in reality. What does it all mean?

Red just kind of fades into the monolith.

And Shion thinks that would be a lovely place to visit.

Touch-a touch-a touch me.

The world gets a little more rippley.

Wait, what?

I would have nothing but respect for a video game that spends an hour establishing its main character and then kills her with a practically inanimate object.

I love this line, because General Strickland has underlings literally vanishing from this plane of existence, and he’s more annoyed by it than anything.

And then he calls Shion a bimbo. Normally I’m not a big fan of that insult, but the shoe seems to fit this space cadet.

Shion skulks off, likely wondering why she ever leaves the lab.

Strickland has a hands-on managing style.

On the way out, we meet a friendly fellow that just wants to share information. Oh boy!

And it turns out he wants to stick us on some spam delivery list. Oh well, Shion agrees, because giving her email address to strangers is something she does.

Chief Bimbo is still contemplating that whole reality warping incident when Allen finally catches up. Reminder: she’s traveled like, maybe, a hundred yards at this point.

Shion can apparently demoralize Allen by simply stating his name.

Could have just emailed Shion, but, no, you had to walk all the way over here…

Shion is still shaken, and is barely paying Allen any attention. Not that she would on a good day anyway, but it’s the principle.

Allen at least senses that something is off about the chief, but she brushes him off, because additional Allen conversation is not something she wants to deal with.

Probably because ghost gingers are creeping on her.

Shion does at least thank Allen for defending her adamant “let’s never activate the fruit of our labors” stance.

As it keeps being alluded to, I’ll just go ahead and confirm that the last time KOS-MOS got activated, people died. A lot of people died. Kevin, previously the leader of these dorks, died. These people are “a little uneasy” about sticking their hands in a live blender.

I’m a generous sort, the game is still going to dance around this information for a couple hours.

Nobody likes to be reminded that their killing machine has actually killed.

Oh, wait, got a phone call. Sorry, Allen, have to take this.

So it turns out that Shion is helping out with the realian maintenance on the ship, too. I’ll explain what this means when we get over there, but for now it just means Shion has an excuse to get the hell away from Allen.

She runs off, and Allen laments his own allenosity.

Before we play Meet the Realians, Shion has to swing by her room.

We can explore the ship a little more than we were allowed previously, and we can meet this dedicated fellow.

What’s this switch do?

Hehe, closing doors is fun!

After using that button again to reopen the doors, we find that some people aren’t so much into confined spaces.

Here’s Shion’s room! Two desks, a savepoint, and a bed in the back. Pretty spartan, but it is just temporary lodging while zooming around space.

A glimmering data pad (or something) is the macguffin we need to advance the plot right now.

Miyuki emails us on the way out the door. This is like the second email in the game, and it’s already interrupting advancing the plot.

Miyuki is basically just bragging about building Shion’s arm-thingy, and prattles on about how using the weapon is an effective workout routine. I lost 15 lbs. with one simple trick. The internet hasn’t changed in centuries.

Route’s closed due to headaches.

On the way to the Realian Lab, Shion confides in a NPC that she enjoys talking to realians. In a moment, this will be reinforced ad nauseam, but Xenosaga does like redundancy.

Alright, we’re at the lab.

The doctor is in!

And here’s the dork in charge of the realians, Lieutenant Caspase, apparently. This guy is so bad at his job, he has to recruit Shion for help. Constantly. Who would admit that?

Shion, empathy incarnate, acknowledges that she only does this to spread sunshine and make the world a better place.

She taps out some data on a nearby console, and finds that the problem is that all the malfunctioning realians require hugs. Shion is just the person for the job!

In a weird bit of “gameplay” Shion/you now have to run around the room and speak to each realian and listen to its problems. Let’s take this time to elaborate on what is a realian. A realian is a robot, but different. There ya go.

For instance, realians need, like, counseling, because they have mental problems and junk. KOS-MOS doesn’t need counseling. She has a laser sword.

Shion mentions her mentor here, and, just to be clear, it ain’t Kevin. But don’t worry, like Kevin, her mentor is very much dead, and will show up randomly to help out.

Shion makes mention of the fact that she kinda hates her job, and would rather just counsel realians all day. Caspase points out that that is just crazy stupid.

I’d love to just make another glib remark about how Shion is so woefully unqualified for her position that even her family knows this is all insane, but I’m going to mention something else, knowing the full ramifications of Shion going into this. Everyone Shion loves dies. Her parents, her nanny, he fiancée: they’re all dead. In fact, I think they were all killed in front of her, too, on separate occasions. Her only living relative is her brother, and, as we’ll find out before this update is out, she respects him about as much as Allen. Long story short: this is a really weird statement, as the only way it works translates to, basically, “My idiot brother thinks I’m the idiot.” Unless she considers her underlings to be family, in which case, this is even weirder.

Oh ho, nevermind, Lieutenant Virgil is here.

Virgil gets a big whiff of realian.

This is how you introduce a character: crank the creep dial up to eleven, and never look back.

Lt. Luis Virgil is another in a long line of absolutely horrible people introduced in the opening hours of Xenosaga. Technically, he’s on the side of the angels, and he will be our first male party member, but he’s also absolutely ghastly to everyone and everything in his immediate area. On the way into this scene, he kicked over a fern, and now he’s manhandling an entire room of realians in what is essentially their doctor’s office. Of all the people about to die on this ship, I’ll miss Virgil the least.

Oh, and for all you onomasticians out there, yes, obviously Virgil is named for the mythological Virgil, an unusually large chicken that guided Mighty Max, the cap-bearer, through Skullmaster’s underworld.

Luis Virgil’s favorite color is blue.

“It reeks. I can’t get their rotten odor out of my system. Can’t you smell it? It makes me sick to my stomach.”

“That’s enough! You got your orders from the Lieutenant Commander, didn’t you? One of the goals of this operation is to enhance combat support between the A.G.W.S. and the new-model Realians! And yet you’re…”

“Support? Ha! In a battle against them, the last thing I want to worry about is supporting a bunch of untested Weapons-Grade Realians!”

Virgil is not a fan of realians.

Shion interjects.

If you’ve somehow missed it, a major theme of Xenosaga is the treatment of sentient creatures/AI, and should we treat creatures that are different from us like people. There’s a surprising amount of nuance on this topic throughout the game (if you’re looking for it), and, almost universally, our heroes treat all life, whether it be realian or human, as equals, while the bad guys, to different degrees, segregate and discriminate. You can probably guess where Virgil falls on that spectrum when he refers to all realians as equipment.

And to elaborate on my earlier description of realians, yes, they’re robots, but they’re partially biological, and 100% emotional and think like “real” humans. The practical distinction here is that they’re mass produced in labs, and all speak kinda like Data. Huh, some of the males even sorta look like him.

Good news: there are literal laws guaranteeing the rights of realians. Bad news: Xenosaga is taking place during the year 4767, so that’s only been a law for four years, and nobody ever makes that kind of law just for giggles. Worse news: Apparently I should have been capitalizing “Realians” this whole time. On one hand, I object, as realians are basically a species like humans or lions, but on the other hand, they are official products of Vector Industries, so they’re probably space copyrighted, like Windows.

Virgil accuses Shion of being a white knight.

If someone were to draw up some fanart of Virgil in a fedora, I’d be most appreciative. He’s so much more logical than Shion.

Virgil has done his research, though, and knows that while Realians have free will, they also have a super secret control override, and its mere mention freaks Shion the heck out.

Hey, a Realian has decided to come over and not just let the humans talk about his people.

“It is as you say, Sir. We are manufactured as merchandise, and raised accordingly. However, I take great pride in what I do now. And this pride was not forced upon me. It is of my own free will.”

I have the free will to burn at will, sir.

This literally makes Virgil sick.

Virgil kinda look hungry to anybody else?

Shion focuses on Virgil’s weird facial deformity, and contemplates that he may be a DME addict. We have no idea what that means at this point.

A brief cutscene respite, and a helpful NPC points out that Virgil is, as suspected, a jerk.

I hate that I have to look up this guy’s name every time… Caspase mentions that he used to be buds with Virgil.

And notes that Miltia changed the man in a tone that denotes Miltia was not a fun time.

Because Shion is a misery magnet, of course she’s from Miltia.

And it ain’t because of overcrowding.

I’d make some kind of “this is like talking to a New Yorker that was there for September 11th” type of comment…

But the parallels are more than a little obvious. No, I’m not claiming that a game released in Japan in early 2002 was already using a 9/11 allegory, but it does make for an simple tragedy comparison. The fact that Shion is so… chipper about the event gives us yet another level of insight into the pulsating wad of repression that is the Chief of Vector R&D.

Reminded of Miltia, Shion contemplates her own necklace. Or maybe her cleavage? It’s probably the necklace.


We’re missing the chili cook-off!

We finally regain some semblance of control… and I turn right around and aim Shion back into that lab for some reason.

Oh, look, we got an email.

I remember someone was complaining about this ruining their run-through, but if you don’t double back and go somewhere you have absolutely no reason to go, you’ll miss this all important email, and if you don’t reply to this email immediately and play a guessing game correctly every time, then you’ll miss out on some monster pot of cash later in the game. It’s absolute JRPG bullshit, and it’s about as interesting as a bag of creamed corn, so we’ll be mostly ignoring the quest, but, assuming you’re playing the game “straight”, it’s practically essential.

Plot to care about: the whole gist of this email exchange is that some unscrupulous hacker is using AI for nefarious means, and it’s up to you to catch him. As an optional, usually missed side quest, this has no impact on the plot, but it does give us some redundant insight into Shion’s beliefs. Did you know Shion cares about all AI? It’s true!

Bun-Bun is happy to have a master that cares about AI. Or he’s just programmed to say that.

Anyway, remember to reply to this email that you’re helping, or you’ll miss out on the Zodiac Spear.

Ugh, fudge, this update never ends. Here’s a drilling mini game featuring a guy who is all about the real Mr. Driller… well, real as Pac-Man, anyway.

It’s basically a crane game. If you win this game, you get a Drill Pass that allows you to play anytime, and then you can, eventually, win a swimsuit. Oh boy.

Assuming you don’t participate, and miss this Drill Pass, then it’s gone forever, and you’ll never get to play this super fun mini-game ever again. This is not really a loss.

Oh, Shion got another email, and it’s announcing the fact that the Xenosaga Wikipedia is now available through the UMN. Now anytime someone uses a term that’s completely baffling, you can look it up, and find out what the hell is going on.

Here it is: a happy little database. Aw, it’s represented by a set of books, like anyone would understand that iconography thousands of years from now.

Here’s the entry on that previously mentioned DME addiction that seemed to be affecting Virgil. Oh, turns out you get it from… eating… Realians. Errm… who let Virgil in the Realian Lab?

Here’s a NPC that is sucking up to his video game designing creators. Bad news, buddy, it ain’t gonna save you.

To his right, you can enter a random dude’s quarters and use his savepoint. Shion does her best to maintain eye contact while doing her business.

This guy lost the key to his quarters. Look, I’ll level with you, as I’ve been constantly alluding to, everyone on this ship is going to die within about an hour or so, and this whole portion of the game is just the game doing its best to get you to care about all these “real people” before they get absolutely wrecked by a perfect storm of death. As such, the NPCs are all babbling about either general gnosis concern (because that’s what’s gonna kill ‘em), mundane nonsense (because they’re just normal folk like your or I), or some specific gobbledygook about whatever landmark happens to be closest (because JRPG). I’m withholding shots of the like ninety NPCs that are all talking about how they’re three days from retirement. Anyway, we’ll see Forgetful here again when he’s a literal bloody pulp, and we’ll all feel very sad. Look forward to it!

Like the disappearing dudes inconveniencing Strickland, this dude is just nothing but bothered by entire planets vanishing. You’d think this would be more of a concern.

Woof, another email from Miyuki. Girl needs to get a blog. I think this email starts off a chain of emails that can eventually score you a pretty good weapon for KOS-MOS, but, ugh, these emails are so boring.

Speaking of sidequests, here’s this guy.

Sergeant Swain is all about these red doors we’ve been seeing around (well, actually, he’s just into doors in general… gotta have a hobby), and explains what you may have already suspected: there are corresponding keys to all these doors, and why don’t you go catch ‘em all. Amusingly, the game goes out of its way to explain that these doors exist because the nanobots that build everything in the future are bored, and, rather than start a robot uprising or something, they’re just building extraneous doors into all structures to pass the time. In all honesty, I love this, and I pray Hedonism Bot is hiding behind one of these doors.

Anyway, now we’ve got a UMN plug-in that logs what doors are where, what keys we’ve collected, and which doors have been unlocked. It’s a pretty good setup.

Some confirmation here that the average person doesn’t even know if the gnosis are real. Reminder: KOS-MOS’s prime function is to eliminate gnosis, and that function is also part of the name of the AGWS. This guy could look at a rice cooker and wonder if side dishes are a global conspiracy.

Remember when we gave that guy our email? Well, now that that happened, we receive promotional emails from Namco. Anybody remember Ninja Assault for the PS2? It used the Guncon 2, but wasn’t Time Crisis, so I’m guessing the answer is no.

Did you know? You could email, in real life, around the time of Xenosaga’s release, and you’d win a real, tangible keychain shipped free to your door. It was a pretty cool little collectible. I know this because of course I participated, and I don’t think I ever received any snail mail spam as a result of the promotion, either. Good on you, Namco.

Me too, Shion. Me too.

And here’s some crappy video gamin’.

These guys are here, and they’re a kind of soft tutorial on how to avoid enemy encounters once that starts being important.

For one thing, this entire minigame is redundant, because you already went through a full tutorial dungeon to get here. Secondly, these guys are much harder to avoid than any enemy you’ll actually face on this ship. And third, and most importantly, this whole stupid minigame is appalling, because, like Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, every time you fail, you have to jump through the same stupid loading and dialogue hoops just to get back to the minigame, and then you can fail the minigame in, no exaggeration, a second. Never design a minigame that takes longer to access than it does to play.

I gave it about three tries before abandoning the whole experience. Screw you guys. I won’t be sad when you’re dead.

Tucked away in some corner, we find our first shop. It’s got a collection of potions, ethers, tents, phoenix downs, and the consumable Run command. There’s also a collection of useless accessories. I kid you not, in Japan, the biosphere is called “space tent”.

Even the random pop idols of the Xenosaga universe have vaguely religious names. Note that in Japan, they’re the Spice Sisters, because they are likely to tell you what they want, what they really really want.


I love that Shion is ten minutes late. She phased into another dimension while staring down a monolith, forgot her homework, had to swing by her quarters, fixed a room full of Realians, debated the nature of artificial intelligence, played Mr. Driller, learned a lesson about doors, did some shopping, played tag, read a dozen emails, and surfed Wikipedia for a little while. She’s ten minutes late.

The bridge crew reviews the KOS-MOS data. Despite the implied confidentiality of the project, they’re projecting this data for everybody in the immediate area. PowerPoint OF THE FUTURE.

Shion confides that KOS-MOS isn’t ready to go. ("It" is the data, by the way)

This jerk-off doesn’t take it well.

This is kind of important: he points out that, basically, the whole big ship here really only has KOS-MOS as a means of gnosis defense. This is poor planning on everyone’s part, but as far as Shion’s responsibility goes, it means that she’s in charge of the levies, and if there’s a flood, everyone’s death is on her head. Sure, it’s not even raining yet, but come on, “wake up your robot or everybody could die” seems like a pretty straightforward choice.

We are all going to die, Shion.

Oh, but hey, Cherenkov refers to KOS-MOS as a thing. That does not end well for people.

Captain Gonnadie intercedes, and encourages Cherenkov to go kick puppies somewhere else.

Captain Gonnadie is a nice guy, but he also refers to KOS-MOS as a thing… just in a nicer manner. There’s something here about bigotry and casually using hurtful terms that further perpetuate stereotypes, but this update is long enough as is, and I’m starting to forget my own name.

Cherenkov would love to berate everyone in the immediate area some more, but his pager is vibrating, and he’s gotta run.

The Cap’n is also tired of this nonsense, and isn’t as concerned about the lives of every man, woman, and child on this ship.

He knows that genius takes time, and recommends Shion just go to bed. Gladly!

Miyuki sends us yet another email, and this one officially starts that email chain that can earn you a KOS-MOS weapon. Miyuki is quickly reaching Allen-levels of aggravating, and we haven’t even seen her yet.

Though she does send along Shion’s arm thingy (the one we used already in the game was just a virtual simulation) just in case any battles happen to show up in real life. Boy, I sure hope that doesn’t happen!

After gaining the MWS, Shion notes that she’s exhausted from all this interacting with humans nonsense, and needs some sleep. You can either explore this “town” for the last time, or nap your way to the Woglinde’s destruction. I’m opting for sleepy time.

Not like the game just shortcuts you back to the room, mind you, you’ve got to walk the whole way. Oh well, at least it gives you a better understanding of the layout of the ship, ya know, just in case you ever need to know that in an emergency situation.

And we’ve got a cut to a mysterious dark room where Cherenkov is being reprimanded for his incompetence. I am all for this.

“…That was a grave mistake, Cherenkov. I believe I already warned you about the dangers of the Zohar. You should have been more careful while retrieving it.”

“Yes, Sir. I’m afraid there’s no excuse for the fatalities that occurred during the recovery. However, we can…”

Mysterious other voice is stone cold. Also, I’m starting to get the impression that no one puts a high value on life in this universe.

Doesn’t this guy just look friendly? Oh, and I guess we got a name for our giant, golden monolith. It’s a Zohar. I’m sure you all already knew that, but I think this is the first we get a name in-game.

Cherenkov gets the news that Shadowy Dude has a fleet incoming to rendezvous. This is bad news, because the only reason he’d even bother to do such a thing would be to intercept the… bum bum buuuuum… gnosis.

And Cherenkov also gets the order to protect the Zohar at all costs. All. Costs.

We don’t know which branch of the shadow conspiracy these dorks belong to, but they’re not the government, and they’re not Vector. A third column. Great.

“It” in this case is KOS-MOS, and our shadowed schemer implies that Cherenkov should know how powerful “it” is. So I guess we know this guy is a bad dude, then, and that Cherenkov is hiding more than just ulterior motives.

Oh, and that dude’s name is Commander Margulis. We’ll look at him more when he’s kidnapping little girls and fighting cyborgs.

And back to Shion’s room, where she’s making an excuse to the television about not going home.

Oh, wait, she’s skyping with her brother. Jin Uzuki is super duper important to Xenosaga, but not Xenosaga Episode 1, where this is his only appearance. So remind me in 2021 when Episode 2 starts, and we’ll look at him in more detail.

Shion is pissed off at Jin, basically, trying to honor their deceased parents. On one hand, come on Shion, stop being a jerk about your brother grieving. On the other hand, Jin is alluding to the fact that he’s a practicing Buddhist, which is cool in our world, but I can understand why Shion would be pissed off, as she’s already paling around with people that knew Jesus. Like, literally, they used to hang out. Shion kind of has the inside track on which religion is confirmed “true” in her universe, so I can understand being a little short with nonbelievers. Well, either that or she just has no time for her weird brother.

Okay, yeah, maybe she just thinks Jin is weird.

And she turns Jin off. See you next game, Jin!

Shion, you just called him stupid for honoring your deceased parents. Maybe try to meet him halfway next time?

Alright, last chance before you kiss peace good-bye. You want to play that drilling minigame again? No?

Shion checks out her pendant again as she gets ready for bed. Wait… you sleep in those clothes? Gross.

Night night, Shion.

As Shion slumbers, let’s discuss what we’ve seen here. This whole area is one of the main reasons I decided to do a screenshot LP, because if this were video, you’d be experiencing about an hour of me simply shouting into a mic, “EXPOSITION IS HAPPENING!” because that’s basically every cutscene. We took some time to establish the Xenosaga universe, how it works, its unique creatures (like Realians), and how people interact in this strange, far-flung future. On the other hand, a lot of time with NPCs (and you only see about 10% of that in this LP) is spent reaffirming that future humans are just humans, all bummed out about missing dates, playing with heavy machinery, and worried about space hurricanes (gnosis attacks).

Additionally, this is a Xeno game, and Xeno games love themselves some destroying the first town clichés, so hopefully this tour of the Woglinde generated some kind of attachment to the place and its people, because this spot is about to turn into a flaming bloodbath. You should care about that.

All in all, I can certainly see what they were going for, but it takes way too long to get there, and, while your mileage may vary, the Woglinde feels nowhere near as “homey” as the opening towns of Xenogears or Xenoblade Chronicles. A pile of sterile hallways will do that.

Anyway, Shion is off to dreamland, so next time we’ll…

Oh, Christ, can you go for like ten minutes without having a prophetic dream? Is the Woglinde passing over Twin Peaks?

Yes, yes, creepy little redhead. Don’t you have somewhere to be?

Ohhh a mysterious figure in the shadows! Who could it be? And does he wear tiny little useless shorts?

This is vaguely new: turns out Red is watching Shion sleep, so she’s kinda sorta in the real world? Like, at least this is the first time we’re seeing her not through Shion’s awareness (or assumed awareness, like when she was sneaking up on her earlier).

And Red pensively peers out at the vastness of space. Does she know what’s coming? Is this omen for good or ill? Who can say for sure?

NEXT TIME ON XENOSAGA: Everybody dies.

5 thoughts on “Xenosaga Episode I Part 03: The Woglinde and You”

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