(Sep.6 edit: For some reason, Google seems to be directing a lot of searches for LA:I to this page, which is a spoiler-full blog post. If you came here from Google, you're probably looking for my actual review of the game, here.)
Instead of just stopping by cities to beam up a couple new idols, this time we got of a break for some events around at base. It's nice to slow down a bit and get to know the characters we already have instead of just continuing to recruit new ones at breakneck speed.
Aqua ropes everyone in the party together to help her look for the family pet, a miniature fox named Konpei. Konpei has been acting strange lately and went missing - Rana eventually finds her thanks to her ability to talk to animals (some nearby rabbits told her where Konpei was burrowed up), but Aqua is too worried to leave Konpei on the ship for our next stop, so she brings her with us to our next destination. It's a settlement where the idol has been missing for 20 years, and the once vibrant mother tree that the area was built around has withered and died without the idol there to put on shows and gather energy for the crystal. Konpei jumps out of Aqua's hands and runs off again, this time into a ruin, and we follow after her. Ziorker is especially uneasy around here, she's acting suspicious and when we hit a dead end in the ruin, she somehow knows where a hidden switch is to proceed further.
We save Konpei from a guardian in the ruins and put her up on a special contraption set up in the ruins when she wants to get up, and...poof, Konpei collapses and in her place is this fox woman. She introduces herself as Violet, daughter of the first original witch over 800 years ago. Violet has been preserving her youth through her ability to soul-hop different bodies. Thanks to a young Ziorker breaking the lapis crystal down here (which is also when Ziorker got her demon curse), she's been having to jump bodies randomly to all sorts of unintelligent small creatures that she couldn't control for decades until she finally landed on Konpei. She stuck with Konpei since foxes are clever and intelligent enough that she could control the creature a bit, biding her time until she could come back here and reclaim her real body. I thought this was going to be the old 'family pet is actually a catgirl' (or foxgirl in this case), but she was just possessing Konpei, after a bit of healing Konpei the fox is fine too, much to Aqua's relief.
Violet gives Ziorker a piece of her mind for all the trouble she's caused, and makes her pretty depressed about it. She's already paid for her mistakes with the whole demon curse thing, but she still apologizes endlessly to Violet for everything. As the daughter of the original witch, Violet is a bit intimidating, in terms of social rank she's probably the only person who's above Empress Brigitta, the only person who Brigitta's fairy companion won't get pissy at for talking casually to her. It seems her 20 years living alongside Konpei as a fox have rubbed off on her personality a bit though, and she keeps a lot of those, er, foxy mannerisms. Is this 'almost 1000 year old remnant of the original witches' a recurring thing in Luminous Arc? Stella Glow had something similar, without getting into too many spoilers for that game. Ziorker also thinks it's her fault that this land is dead, but Violet tells her that part isn't actually her fault - there's a darkness sweeping over the land that we've heard about a few times earlier in the game, the Dark Desert, and it consumed this area's power. They try to tie all this in to the Amadeus activity lately but can't seem to figure out a connection quite yet.
Our next destination is Tao, a country currently undergoing a civil war. As we fly over, something hits our floating base and we have to make a crash landing - everyone almost dies (hey, maybe the bald murderer guy earlier was right about having all the idols being together being dangerous!), but we avoid hitting the mountain ranges just barely and crash land in an area populated by horned oni demihumans. The party is taken captive since Violet tells everyone to go along quietly, she's old friends with a village elder here, so we get everyone released and the situation explained. The oni here are split into two groups - one that wants to get along with humans and suppress their demonic urges, and another that embraces their demonic heritage and wants to kill humans. Thankfully we landed on the territory of the ones who like humans, an the idol here is also a member of that group. Her name is Feilang, and she's actually out right now on an attack on the forces of the other group led by her older brother.
We catch up in time to assist Feilang in a battle against her older brother, who can't forgive humans for what they did to their parents and leads a brigade of the oni who want to embrace their demon heritage. After rescuing her (unfortunately not being able to talk any sense into her brother quite yet), we take her back with us and she joins up with our party. Ziorker is a bit suspicious of letting her join (she's the last person who should talk considering Ziorker is actually cursed by a demon and goes into 'demon mode' sometimes, but that's part of what makes her uncomfortable around Feilang). Feilang tells us not to worry though, she's good at suppressing her demon instincts. You can tell how good or bad an oni is by the size of their horns - the horns grow whenever they do anything bad, and Feilang's are as small as they were when she was a baby, proof of how good she is at controlling herself.
After repairing the engine to our floating base, we can take off again. Feilang asks around wondering how she's even an idol anyway, since only people with witch's blood should be able to awaken as idols. Xird tells her that she probably had a human in her ancestry somewhere, which makes her happy since she thinks it proves that humans and oni can get along and did at some point in the past, even on a small scale. You can probably tell from her name, but she's got the whole china-girl motif going on, I like her accent and character design.
Aside from the main story, the main persistent sub-story going on so far has been a strange wandering bard who shows up throughout the game to tell the idols where the first part of a magical relic music score attuned to each of their elements is. After fighting the guardians, we pick up the first piece of it, apparently it's split into two and we need both scores for it to be complete. Violet seems to know who she is, but the bard convinces Violet not to tell the rest of the party her identity. We'll see what happens when we get both parts of one of the score sheets for an idol.
I guess one good thing about these shotgun-approach games is that even if the characters don't get much development at first, just by sheer numbers it's likely that you'll end up liking some of them. Despite Rana's silly joining event I've been enjoying her awkward interaction with the party a lot. Any sort of catgirl or foxgirl character strikes my personal weak point dead on center so I'm sure I'll be using Violet all game, too. Besides that, Palsh and Feilang seem like fun characters too. We've still got a few more idols to go before the party is full though, so things are just getting started.
I found out that the songs that play during the characters' special attacks do have full versions. First-print copies of this game came with an artbook and music CD, which I finally got around to listening to. Actually, I'm not sure if it's a first-print thing or a preorder thing, but I bought this game without a preorder 3 days after release day and I still got one, so it's all good. It has some audio skits, and the full versions of all the character special attack songs - none really stick out as good enough that I'd want to put them on my playlist or anything, but I guess Aqua's and Violet's are okay, and Palsh's is always amusing to listen to. Generous of them to give something like this out as a regular preorder/first-print bonus in the regular version though, games usually just get an artbook with in-game CGs, and if there's a music CD it usually doesn't have the full versions of all the songs. I wouldn't mind if the idols had some super-super channeled move in-game that turned the battlefield music to their full-length song for its duration, like in Stella Glow. I guess there's still time, maybe eventually they will learn something like that?
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.