Well, I just got my expectations blown away and now I'm excited and a bit scared to play a second time, but for now, I beat the game. Let's go over how that went down first.
I went all-out raising Ruche, spending the hundred or so dungeon tokens I had saved up to load her up with experience. No expense was spared as I chugged all the stamina healing potions I had saved up too so that she could keep taking the all-stat-raising training from Uriel in between watching her events. Ruche and Zerbolos talk a lot about her dad, Astaroth, and we learn some things about him and about the way the underworld works. Ruche develops a crush on uncle Zerbolos, but he's classy enough to humor her while also letting her down gently, I was proud of him for not jumping his niece. You never know in these games, it is Compile Heart we're talking about.
Of course, we are sending her to her possible death like we did with his other niece Perpell earlier, but there's a chance she can win now. Besides, Ruche actually really does want to become the next Great Demon Lord and avenge her sister and dad. After her heaping abuse on Zerbolos the entire game it was too cute to see her finally warm up and show a different side. I was determined not to let her die and kept up with my plan forged from Ashmedia's death, turning Ruche into a physical attacking glass cannon who specializes in normal attacks. I grabbed an ability that multiplies attack power by 1.2x in exchange for halving the demon lord's HP, I didn't plan on getting hit anyway.
Fegor showed up to help train and after winning a duel against her, Ruche learned a skill that makes her normal attack hit twice - basically doubling her firepower in my 'normal attacks only' plan. Actually, I don't think I would have made it without that skill, so thanks big sis Fegor. Once again I'm abusing immovable purpose, the skill that keeps stacking attack power up to 200% bonus if you don't ever move normally, and I also threw on some skills that raise attack power with each minion killed in the same battle, since Trillion does spawn some servants. The only downside is that a single hit is fatal, I put nothing into DEF/RES, but with 505 speed it was difficult but doable to just dodge every attack.
When we went to fight Trillion, the remaining living denizens of the underworld's castle held hands as they watched on the TV to see if yet another of their family and friends was going to die. Poor Ruche had to kill the messenger with her dad's soul in it first - Astaroth got some of his sanity back before he died, and his spirit made its way back to the castle and into Faust's grimoire to get some final rest after Ruche put him down. Then it was time for the actual fight - Trillion got close to breaking through (which I think would have been fatal, since the tutorial said that you can only try once against her final form), so I was gritting my teeth near the end, but a good opportunity to move in to attack showed up and Ruche finished Trillion off, all 0.32 trillion HP gone. Trillion went up in a grand explosion and Ruche was transported back to the castle, Faust's ring breaking now that its task was complete.
Everyone congratulates Ruche and is relieved that she's not going to die too, and Zerbolos crowns her new Great Demon Lord. Then it's time to break the news about his deal with Faust - Ruche is having none of it, she asks Faust what her objective in taking Zerbolos' soul is. Faust finally answers that it's probably a silly reason to them, but that it's to resurrect her father who died while protecting her when Trillion invaded her world. Ruche can sympathize and she asks for an extension - give them 3 years to find another way to save her dad, and if they can't find anything then she can go ahead with the original plan. Faust accepts, the three of them set out on a journey, and the credits roll. I'll go over the credits in a bit - but after the credits, we learn that they safely found another way to save Faust's dad. Ruche has grown quite a bit in the meantime, and she reveals that she's still not given up on old uncle Zerbolos, that this was all part of her plan to get rid of obstacles in their way. It sounds like Zerbolos is going to have his hands full trying to avoid angering his brother's ghost from now on. Cut to an ending screen and the option to save my data for New Game+.
Okay, so I have to talk about the ending credits that rolled before Ruche's ending epilogue above. While the credits are rolling, various game CGs appear for each character in the order they're the candidate, including the various Demon Lords' dying attacks. So I watched Levia's, Perpell's, Mammon's, and Ashmedia's, and then it also showed me what Ruche's would have looked like if I let her die. "Whew, good thing I kept her alive!", I thought, same when it showed me some Fegor's dying attack CG after that. But it wasn't over. Suddenly it started showing me CGs I'd never seen before of Zerbolos' sickly younger sister Elma - you're kidding me? But it was, CGs of Elma doing her best and then dying to Trilion. And then a CG of Cerberus' dying attack, and then...no way, Faust's dying attack?
My jaw hit the ground pretty hard - the game doesn't end if you lose all six demon lords? Elma is the seventh candidate if all the Demon Lords die? That is just too sad, the poor girl can barely stand on her own and she's got an I.V. drip attached to her staff, how desperate do they have to be to send her out? Then 8th is Cerberus, which is kind of funny and kind of sad I guess, but then 9th - Faust actually agrees to be sent out? And she can lose and die to Trillion? Wow. I put the game down and went to go check some wikis out - I mentioned that I didn't use any wikis for this run and now I'm glad that I didn't, because what I read was pretty crazy. There are ten chances in this game, not just six. If all the Demon Lords die, Chapter 7 is Elma. If she dies, Chapter 8 is Cerberus. If he dies, Chapter 9 is Faust. If she dies, Chapter 10 is Zerbolos again.
I beat this game so hard that I won before the halfway mark. I absolutely dominated Trillion - I was happy about saving Ruche and figured that the normal end-limit was Fegor, but I guess I broke the game harder than I thought with that stacking immovable purpose skill on Mammon and Ruche. This story should have been much more tragic. I need to replay it - not only to see all the character events I missed, but to see the other characters that I now know will have a turn, and to get the True End. The requirements for the True End are still marked as tenative on the wikis I checked (they're not 100% sure yet what they are exactly), but it seems to be a combination of getting everyone's affection to 100%, seeing all or most of their events, and then finishing Trillion off with Zerbolos' dying attack in Chapter 10. It seems a portion of my stats from this playthrough will be carried over to the next one, so I can safely focus on raising affection instead of grinding stats.
So, next up, my New Game+ playthrough objective will be the True End - so my objective will also be to keep losing until the very last fight. Which means everyone will die. Oh man, I don't think my heart can take seeing Elma become the candidate and dying to Trillion.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.