Time to finish the more popular version of the game up. Our party is using a secret route the Rainbow Sage told us about to sneak into the capital. We hop into the capital to find it...nearly totally deserted. Silas tells us that if people wander around outside too much, they get attacked by Nosferatu or thieves. People have little food and lead desperate lives. Ryouma promises that when he becomes king, he'll give Anya Kingdom food for free since Byakuya has so much. Speaking of thieves, a whole gang of them attack us, but we beat them down and it turns out that their leader (who we also recruited in the other route) has old ties to Byakuya, his old clan got wiped out and the remnants scattered to become thieves in Anya. He helps them sneak into a hidden underground city in exchange for Ryouma's promise to help rebuild his lost clan after the war is over. The hidden underground city is lively with civilians and merchants everywhere, and apparently the authorities don't know about it. Really? The whole capital is nearly deserted but there's a bustling underground city with what looks like hundreds or maybe even thousands of people, and it's a secret? A flower-girl calls out to us and tries to get us to buy, we're about to turn her down when...hey, it's Elise! What's she doing here? Turns out she comes here often because the rest of her family's gone wacko - Marx is cold, Leon is missing, Camilla has shut herself in her room, so Elise has been making new friends here. She offers to help guide Kamui to Garon and Marx because she thinks she can convince them to stop without fighting.
We also learn some stuff about when King Garon first started going crazy - seems it was around the time his second wife, Shenmei died. When his first wife died he swore he'd never marry again but somehow Shenmei convinced him, and he's been weird ever since she left. She's said to have had an amazing singing voice...all eyes go on Aqua and they think she's Shenmei's daughter, but Aqua's a little hesitant to confirm or deny it. We head off through some hidden passageways into the castle with Elise's guidance, but we run into Camilla on the way. Camilla has completely snapped - she says she'll slaughter everyone there except Kamui and Elise so that they can live together as a happy family again. We beat her and Kamui promises to end this so they can live as family again, and Camilla faints, carried off to get some rest by her retainers while our party marches on. We pop up right into the middle of the Anya Kingdom training grounds, with Ganz, the crazy axe-murderer guy who dropped Kamui and Gunter off a cliff at the beginning of the game, now acting as a general in the army. A fight breaks out and...once again, Lilith takes a fatal blow for Kamui, this time from Ganz's axe instead of a Nosferatu attack like in the Anya route. Pretty much the same scene otherwise, though. Poor Lilith, fated to die long after most players have forgotten she even exists outside their pocket-dimension castle in both routes.
Let's see, our remaining obstacles are Macbeth, Marx, and then Garon. Macbeth first - he takes control of Takumi and makes Takumi choke Aqua. Takumi is so obviously under control of the curse from earlier again, but Macbeth tries to make everyone think Takumi is betraying them of his own free will. Poor effort, everyone trusts Takumi by now and their trust weakens his control and buys enough time for Aqua to get loose and sing to undo the last remaining bit of his curse. We deliver a well-deserved beatdown to Macbeth, who once again pleads for his life, and since we can't stain Kamui's pure hands with even completely reasonable and necessary murder, Leon shows up again to kill him for us and wish us luck against Marx and daddy Garon. He also tells Elise that she should stay back for the next fight, things are going to get hairy. She doesn't listen, she's convinced she can convince Marx to stop fighting. We get to Marx and he demands a one-on-one duel with Kamui, which she accepts for some reason, and loses badly. Marx pulls back his sword hand to deliver the finishing blow, and...Elise jumps in front of it and takes a fatal slice. Low blow, game! It's one thing to kill off the older brothers or side-characters, but killing Elise (and in a well-animated cutscene no less) is over the line! She dies in a shocked Marx's arms begging him to stop fighting, but Marx is mad as hell now and it's time to fight. Similar to the fight against Ryouma in the Anya route, Kamui and Marx are locked in one area together, while Marx's retainers fight the rest of the party. Unlike the last route though, this time my Kamui is built to use a sword, so she just goes right over to Marx and bashes his face in within two turns to win the map. While Marx is dying, he gives us a nice line, telling Kamui "there's no point thinking about 'what if'. You can't change the path you've chosen", namedropping the game's title pretty hard. You totally can change it, Marx, you've just gotta fork out for the DLC!
Anyway, time to fight Garon. Not much to talk about here, it goes pretty much the same as it did in Anya route except with a different set of siblings delivering the encouragement as we beat him down, evolve our sword to its final form, have Kamui nearly die taking a near-fatal blow (this time meeting with Marx, Elise, Flora and Lilith in the afterlife instead) and then come back to life and kick Garon's ass after he turns into a huge dragon. Aqua once again uses the last of her power singing to weaken the final boss (dragon Garon, instead of possessed Takumi like last route), except this time we get to see her die after the battle's over, evaporating into the mist from using too much of her song. Ryouma inherits the throne with Leon and Camilla in attendance, and he promises to work together towards peace with Anya and coexist, sharing resources and food with them like he promised and all that good stuff. Leon's set to be the next King of Anya - Camilla is actually next in line for the throne, but she declined it, she doesn't want to be queen. I guess that means Anya is actually more progressive about rights of succession than Byakuya is - in the other route, Hinoka only became queen because both Ryouma and Takumi died. Even though Takumi was her younger brother, she mentioned that he was higher than her in the royal succession order. It presumably only goes to a daughter if there are no sons left in Byakuya, whereas Anya just gives it to the oldest living royal.
Overall thoughts about this route is that it was better than the Anya Kingdom route, but it still wasn't anything special. At least there were no completely retarded plans like last route, but there was still a bunch of really hamfisted forced drama near the middle and end. The two routes also recycle so many plot points, using them almost the same with just a swap of the characters involved. I guess maybe it's supposed to be artistic or symbolic, but it just feels lazy most of the time. My hope is that these two routes will actually just be the setting and background building blocks for the Invisible Kingdom route. Despite everything, I still have high hopes for that route. Also, I am really looking forward to trying my hand at Hard difficulty on the third route! Since it's the final path, I can take my time and raise my characters carefully. I'll start on Hard + Classic and see how long I can last, I hope I can make it to the end without budging from those settings, but we'll see.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.