Chapter 1: Spoiler warning/why is an LP being posted here?
Because breaking the fourth wall in the name of spoiler warnings is always in good taste.
Horror games always typically leave a big impact on me, even ones I'm not super invested in. It's because typically horror works thanks to a sense of empathy for those in a bad situation, and a relative sense of helplessness that we, as either viewers or players, cannot guarantee their safety. Plenty of horror games end with the player character getting royally screwed over, something that simultaneously makes you feel awful but at the same time, it leaves an impact, which is the most important part of art.
Now for those of you unfamiliar, Super Robot Wars has been a long-running tactics RPG franchise in Japan crossing over mecha from various different series like Gundam, Evangelion, and Gurren Lagann (along with many, many others). Plenty of mecha series also have bittersweet elements to them and characters who we want to have survive but don't. But in many cases, Super Robot Wars raises the issue of "but what if?", often giving ways out for various characters to survive past their destined deaths, and sometimes even with the help of those outside their source material.
"So what if we applied that theory to horror games as well?" That was the question that gave rise to Survival Horror Wars, a hypothetical crossover strategy RPG bringing together various indie horror titles and offering the various heroes and heroines a chance at something better than they originally got. Tragically I'm no computer programmer or even a graphic designer, so I instead turn to the written word in the form of a fake LP to bring this idea to life.
However, a lot of the games represented here contain various plot-twists somewhere along the way; big ones that could ruin the story if known beforehand. Since Survival Horror Wars is meant to be “post-finale” for each canon featured, those spoilers are going to be fair game for the story.
Thus, I would advise not continuing if you have any interest in going in cold for any of the following titles:
The Witch’s House
Angels of Death
Amnesia: The Dark Descent/Justine/A Machine for Pigs
Outlast (original game and Whistleblower)
The Crooked Man
Doki Doki Literature Club
If you’ve experienced all these titles or just don’t care about being spoiled about the ones you haven’t played yet, then feel free to proceed!
Chapter 2: Prologue: The Witch's House
The LP begins! And at the end of another story entirely no less!
So I gotta say SHW certainly took me by surprise. Like yeah there's been like three Super Robot Wars-style Touhou games and then one with Nasu-'verse characters, but other than that there hasn't been much in the way of crossover games like this. So when I heard some tiny indie studio announced something like... well this, I was totally thrown for a loop.
Weird that they don't have any super high-profile things like Resident Evil, but that's probably licensing issues. At any rate, let's get right into it! From what I've heard there's no original lead character so I'm actually curious where we're going to pick up from or how all this is going to fit together.
[Cue TITLE CARD: "Nothing exists in the dark that is not still there in the light, yet humans are drawn to that light all the same. It is a primal drive, because humans have grown and evolved in it.
Nothing exists in the dark that is not still there in the light, yet humans are most capable of overcoming their adversaries in that light.]
Sounds like an artsier way about what I heard that in Left 4 Dead's beta-testing that the QA players would typically move towards illuminated areas thinking they were the way forward, so Valve fine-tuned the level design with that idea in mind.
[Cut to ANTIQUATED MANSION. There is a loud crash and the screen shakes as there is more rumbling before a YELLOW-HAIRED GIRL comes running down a set of stairs.]
Girl: "She's still coming, she's persistent even now...!"
Okay there's actually a couple of blonde-haired girls on the box art but I'm not sure which one this is even when I'm looking at it in my hand. I'll try to see her name when I can bring her up on the status screen.
For the moment though I guess we're just doing tutorial stuff. If it's like any of the other games-
MESSAGE : To move a unit, select it first and then select which tile you wish it to move to.
-Yeah, we're starting from the ground up here. So I guess this is sorta a chase sequence? Pretty easy since it's now put through the filter of a turn-based tactics rpg though.
[STAT SCREEN opens up for the girl:]
[From: The Witch's House]
[Level 1, HP: 10]
[Attack: S, Defense: S, Evasion: S, Mobility: S]
Okay that’s… actually weird for a couple of reasons. If the game uses ranking systems the way it seems like, then “S” is probably the highest level of stat. Even if it isn’t that’s still crazy that the first character we get is that good across the board. It’s even weirder still that for someone so good at attacking, they don’t have any attacks yet. Still, guess this is just the tutorial and when we’re allowed to attack, the game’ll let us.
[The first few turns go by as VIOLA is moved across the environment, but on the fourth turn, a VIOLET-HAIRED GIRL spawns from the same staircase Viola did.]
Violet-haired Girl: “Ghg… gha!”
[It’s difficult to see on the game map, but her character portrait shows bleeding sockets where her eyes should be, and as she moves across the map a trail of blood follows her.]
Holy fuck is she… is she missing the lower half of her body? Hard to tell from the sprites but… if Viola’s from "The Witch’s House", guessing that this is the witch in question!
[From: The Witch’s House]
[Level 1, HP: 2]
[Attack: S, Defense: F, Evasion: F, Mobility: S]
Okay this is even more weird since I guess that witch’s body being a mess isn’t just for show. Unfortunately without any form of attack turning and fight’s right out of the question. Though holy fuck she’s doing something crazy to be able to match Viola’s speed.
So instead… we run! Guess it wouldn’t be a Survival Horror-style game if you didn’t do plenty of that!
[ELLEN chases Viola through several rooms of the mansion, an exit tile lit up for each room to show where to go next. The chases proceeds through the dining room, a study, even through the main hall-]
Okay, wait. Isn’t that the way out?
[-And into a side room and a dresser which Viola reaches.]
MESSAGE : Got Ellen’s knife.
AWESOME! A WEAPON! AND ELLEN’S TOO!
… Why are we still just running away though?
[Doubling back, Viola finally exits the house to enter a FOREST. The path out is straightforward, and Ellen does not continue her pursuit. However, a startling huge PATCH OF ROSES still blocks Viola’s exit.]
Viola: “Still here. But not a problem any more.”
[Viola pours a SMALL BOTTLE on the roses, causing them to dissolve away, opening up the pat away from the house. However, as she does, a RAINSTORM begins and Ellen appears again, slowly trying to crawl after Viola.]
Ellen: “Ghg... ...gha ...hh... ...hh ...hh.."
Okay, she’s still at it! But Viola’s not running away this time! So do we get to attack finally?
[She begins crawling faster and faster, closing in on Viola as THUNDER booms. But Viola does not move.]
Viola: “Boy, you’re stubborn.”
MESSAGE : To attack, select the option from the menu and then select your attack. Some attacks have special properties, while others cannot be used unless a character’s Morale is high enough.
Right, I remember that SRW did that too. Characters wouldn’t just be able to open up with their best attacks right away, you’d have to build up morale by beating enemies or using abilities to raise it. And some of the titles would even have characters gain morale in different ways too, like some would gain it if they were hit by enemies, and others would lose it. It’s a really neat way to reflect on a character’s personality.
BUT TIME TO ATTACK!
[Viola’s attack menu opens up, showing a single option: Knife .]
YEAH! EAT IT ELLEN!
[The attack’s selected, and then Ellen is selected as the target. The camera switches to a sidelong view, with Viola running forward with the knife in hand, stabbing Ellen with it before jumping away. Ellen’s health drops to 0, her portrait now showing a stream of blood gushing from one of her sockets before returning to the main map.]
Viola: “How long are you going to keep chasing me? You know that body won’t last long.”
Ellen: "...gra... ...uuh... ... ... uff..."
Viola: “Hm? 'Give it back?' No way. This body hurts much less."
Viola?: "You gave it to me in the first place. Why should I give it back? Right? ... Viola?"
[Viola’s name now changes to Ellen.]
OH SHIT! OH FUCKING SHIT! The first thing this game does is play the player? That's cold but... honestly par for the course now that I think about it!
Ellen: "You felt so sorry for me. I couldn't even move from my bed. That's why I used my magic to trade bodies with you. Just for a day? ... Heehee. I guess I did say that. I was surprised you could trap me with my own power... ... but, to no avail."
Ellen: "After all, it's my house, yes? It wouldn't be killing me anytime soon. I was guided by that house all the way. So I was ensured to escape."
[At this, power surges through Viola-in-Ellen’s body, her health rising back up to max.]
Ellen: "... Still not dead? I applaud your tenacity. Ah, could it be? You're worried about your father? Oh, I know. You and your father, Viola. A close family of two."
Ellen: "Those memories stayed in your body. He's a kind man. A hunter, isn't he? And he sent you that letter. What a good father. So then, I suppose you're worried about what'll happen when you're gone?"
Ellen: "It'll be just fine. I'll give him Viola's share of love. And I'll take her share of love too."
… This is how the game is starting? Seriously?
That’s just like…
What the hell man...
??? (offscreen): “Viola?”
[The camera pans down to show VIOLA’S FATHER, a large, stocky man carrying a hunting rifle. Ellen runs to him as he runs to her.]
Viola’s Father: “Viola! Are you safe? Are you hurt anywhere?”
[Ellen nods, and runs to his side, exposing Viola behind her.]
Viola’s father: "Wh-what?! Why..."
[Viola slowly crawls towards her father and Ellen.]
Viola: "Fh... fha... aaa... th… ... dh ... dha... di..."
Oh god no. I think I know where this is going.
[Viola’s father moves forward, and there is the CLICK of his rifle being primed for shooting.]
Viola’s Father: “S-STAY AWAY, MONSTER!”
[The camera changes to the battlescape again, this time showing Viola’s father taking aim with his rifle and firing. The first shot blasts a hole in Viola’s head as the screen turns red, depicting only silhouettes. Viola’s father adjusts his aim and fires again, blowing away her right arm this time instead. Viola’s health again hits 0.]
[On the main map, Viola’s even-more-ruined body lies in a pool of its own blood, lifeless. Her father walks away, Ellen following afterwards, laughing quietly to herself briefly before they both leave the camera’s view.]
[A title card appears]
PROLOGUE : The Witch’s House
… Yeah... yeah I guess if the whole draw of the game is to "save" characters from their unhappy endings, you actually need a couple of those to start with.
Guess that means we’re hitting the ground running here, folks!
Weird that we’re still dwelling on what’s left of Viola. Hopefully it means that there’s still something more for her after this because, well, you also need a couple of people SURVIVING those bad endings if you want to fix them!
??? (offscreen): “Oh Viola, poor, poor Viola. You tried your best, but all your hope and determination only rewarded you with death at your father’s hand.”
Yeah, just rub it in… whoever’s there.
[Numerous black hands emerge from the ground, surrounding Viola as a BLACK CAT strolls onto the screen.]
Black Cat: “Your determination was nearly unheard of, my dear. It’d almost be wasteful to simply devour your soul like all the rest. At least right now.”
[The hands bend down, completely enveloping her body before slowly sinking into the ground. Before long, both they and her are gone.]
Black Cat: “Besides, a good friend of mine continues to suffer repeated setbacks from a girl who, just like you, doesn’t know when to quit. Neither of us paid her any mind at first, but things have been stalled for too long, now.”
Black Cat: “We have an appointment with the end of the world, one we both intend to keep. And the power I gave to Ellen may be just the thing to break the stalemate.”
[The a black mist leaves the cat, and it falls down dead. The screen cuts to black.]
Well at least I know the game’s already given us two scumbags to look forward to beating.
Here's hoping the first actual stage doesn't end so bleak!
Chapter 3: Stage 1: The Lost and Damned
Viola's cruel end is not yet the end of her, as she finds herself alive in some form of Hell where death itself is impossible. It's crossover time, as she meets with a girl named Sakuri Kunikai.
[Text appears as SCRIBBLING is heard.]
“I’m sorry for yelling at you yesterday. There’s an old legend that says a witch lives in the forest, and kidnaps children who get lost there.
“Your friend’s house is very near the forest, so… I was worried about you. Your friend’s name was Ellen, right? I don’t mind if you go to her house, but just stay away from the forest. Hope to see you home soon.
[There is the sound of a GUNSHOT, and then-]
Viola (offscreen): "Father don't-!"
[Cut to RED CAVERNS. A MULTI-POINTED STAR stretches across the ground, with Viola, still in Ellen's body, lying in the center. However, her eyes and legs are restored.]
Viola! You’re miraculously okay and in one piece! Or probably more a case of someone playing Humpty Dumpty with you and putting back all those pieces.
[She rises back up to her feet.]
Viola: "... Was that a dream or? No... I'm still in this body. And Father... Father killed me...
Viola: "How long have I been here? Where is this place… a-and how did I get there?”
[She turns, seeing someone offscreen and taking a step back.]
Viola: “W-who’s there?!?”
???: "Please, stay calm. I want to help you.”
[A small CLOAKED & RED EYED FIGURE moves into view.]
???: "In fact, I'm sure of it. You must be another human, aren't you?"
Viola: "'Another'... but... that means you aren't?!"
Viola, he’s got red eyes and his character sprite’s like, the size of your head.
OF COURSE HE’S NOT HUMAN!
[She begins moving away from the figure.]
???: "Please, don't do that. This seal we are both in? It's the only thing protecting us from the real monsters out there."
Viola: "... Monsters like what?"
???: "The worst of the worst. This place.... it's Hell. Or at least, that's what everyone who ends up here regards it as. It's meant to punish the wicked."
Viola: "All of that but... but I never did anything wrong! I just... I just wanted to help someone..."
???: "And yet I can sense magic power from you, the kind that demands damning actions to obtain, and yet... yet it does not seem to truly be yours."
Viola: "That... that was Ellen. This is her body, and... and she was in so much pain from it. I offered to swtich bodies just for a day with her and she... she..."
[Viola slumps down.]
Viola: "She stole my life and made my own father kill me."
???: "Magic unfortunately seems to bring out the worst in people. Or it gives them the means to act on it. I am sorry your fate has been so cruel. Though perhaps our meeting here was not by mere chance."
Viola: "What do you mean?"
???: "This may be some form of Hell, but there is still a way out. Many who've been tricked here like you have tried to reach it but... it was hard before. And now it's become nearly impossible. I've been trying to reach it myself but... but thanks to her, there's no point in trying."
Viola: "Someone's stopping people from getting out of here? Why? Who would want to keep people stuck here?"
Viola, there’re some massive sick jerkasses out there. Heck, you’re in this situation in the first place because of one!
???: "The worst kind of person. I imagine if you were to compare her to your Ellen, then the witch who sent you here would look like the greatest of saints."
???: "She came here by selfish accident and her own shortsightedness, yes, but it was in pursuit of unleashing the nightmares of Hell on the living world, in revenge for the petty wrongs done to her by her peers. They had only mocked her, and she wished to murder them and destroy the world for letting them exist in the first place."
Viola: "That’s… that’s horrible!"
That’s putting it lightly! That’s edgelord material!
???: "Thanks to a fortunate mistake, she was instead brought here rather than bringing Hell to Earth. But she's since made it her mission to stop each and every other escape attempt, to ensure that in some way her revenge is realized. It may not be the world that suffers because of her now, but she is more than happy to settle on any suffering she can."
???: "Even compared to the denizens of this labyrinth, there's no greater monster. No greater Demon. Those who survive their first encounter with her prefer their chances with the natives of this place than face her again."
[Viola stands up.]
Viola: "But if someone were to defeat her, would the passage to the real world be open? Even for someone like me?"
???: "It would but... but you can't possibly intend to face her alone! Even with your magic she'd be too much!"
Alright, now hold on here a minute. Let’s pretent what Mystery Floating Entity here is saying is true about this other person who decided going Carrie on her school bullies wasn’t good enough, no she needed to unleash the forces of Some Kind of Hell on everyone.
You’ve got Viola here still determined to get back to her father and the first thing you do is act like there’s some big threat and make her seem as bad as a billion Ellens and THEN you tell Viola not to bother fighting her? This is textbook manipulation!
And that’s BEFORE we remember from like two seconds ago that Viola was brought here by that black cat because they wanted her to deal with a problem involving another super-determined girl!
Viola: "I won't know until I try. Do you know where she is?"
???: "This is... a bad idea. But if you think you can stop her... follow the path. You will find her soon enough."
[Viola nods, running off. The figure watches her leave.]
Black Cat (offscreen): "She learned nothing from trusting Ellen too much, didn't she, Rias?"
BAM! That’s EXACTLY what’s going on!
[The Black Cat Demon walks onscreen from the opposite direction.]
Rias: "How could she? It all happened just minutes ago for her. If she'd had more time to think it over, maybe she wouldn't have fallen for it so easily."
Black Cat: "Maybe, but maybe not. Her resolve to take back her life is strong. Even when Ellen's body was broken and blinded, her determination was nearly unheard of. A Witch's life is connected to her willpower, and the only reason her willpower faltered was her father calling her a 'monster'. Had he not done that... she may have been a serious thorn in my side.”
Rias: “All the better to point her determination in the direction of someone else
Black Cat: "But here, all that determination and power will only work to our advantage. Your Immovable Object will face my Unstoppable Force-"
Rias: "And when they fall, so can the rest of the world."
[Scene fades to black.]
STAGE 1: The Lost and Damned
[The scene opens once more in the labyrinth, with a teenage BROWN-HAIRED GIRL in a uniform walking down the path. She stops.]
??? (girl): “It’s been quiet for too long. This isn’t right.”
So I’m guessing this is Rias’s so-called “person worse than any demon.” Already pretty hogwash considering Viola as she is now and this girl are front and center on the box. Guessing overall they’re considered the main characters, since we’re being introduced to them first.
[After another moment, the PAIRED RED HAIRCLIPS she has in her hair suddenly begin to glow.]
Girl: “E-eh? My hairclips are reacting to-
[A large TOY SOLIDER appears next to her, raising its gun and pointing it at her. In the battle viewer, gunfire is loosed with a deafening BANG, but the girl ducks under it.]
Girl: “Too close! Too close too close too close!!!”
Girl: “But what’s even happening? This place’s monsters aren’t like this and the way my hairclips feeling… there’s some kind of other magic happening here?”
Right, so the hairclips are apparently magic. And I’ve got a pretty good sense who’s to blame for this sudden attack.
[And at that, Viola enters the screen.]
Girl: “Who are-”
[More Soldiers appear between the girl and Viola, all of them pointing their guns at the girl.]
Viola: <”You’re the one I was warned about, weren’t you? The one that doesn’t let anyone else escape? Don’t bother trying to say you aren’t… I… I can feel the power you have!”>
Viola: <”And he’s right! I might only be a novice but whatever power you have, wherever you’ve gotten it… you’re worse than a demon!”>
Girl: “What even… are you trying to do some kind of incantation?”
Viola: <”And if I have to use the power of a witch and fight you to get back to Father then I will!”>
[The girl’s hairclips shine once more.]
Girl: “This isn’t good… this is really not good! This isn’t like this place’s usual tricks, this feels worse. Way worse!”
[The girl tries to step back, only for even more soldiers to materialize behind her.]
Viola: <”You won’t get to run away! How many people here tried before you killed them with your power? How many even knew why you did what you did when you’re talking funny like that?”>
… Oh wow. Oh WOW.
So we got a language barrier problem going on, don’t we? The kind of thing that almost never actually gets explored in scenarios when it should be a massive problem!
Seriously, don’t you just find it hilarious when you’ve got a story with aliens or people going to a different country and everyone still speaks English or at least “English”?
But then you get something like the movie Arrival which was great and hammered home just how hard communication can be if your languages don’t have anything alike.
At any rate, it looks like we’re playing the role of the new girl here, which sucks because that might mean for two stages in a row we’re going to be fighting the real Viola. Even in this “let’s make things better!” game she still gets the short straw!
But first let’s see who we’re playing as now
[STAT SCREEN opens up for the new girl:]
[Name: Sakuri Kunikai]
[Level 1, HP: 15, IP: 10, MP: 0]
[Attack: E, Defense: E, Evasion: D, Mobility: E]
[Attacks: Knife, Salamander & Undine, Hairclips]
[Special Abilities: Parry (Light)]
Not only that, Sakuri herself happens to have a knife too, which is her short-ranged attack. For long-range, there’s Salamander & Undine, not sure how that looks but it has a morale requirement for usage and costs 1 IP each time it’s used. IP’s probably like this game’s equivalent to “Energy”, so it’s gonna be used to fuel certain attacks and abilities like barriers.
It’s also a hilarious “Intellectual Property” joke but whatevs.
But then there’s also an MP gauge which seems weird because we have something like that when the character doesn’t have any points for it, but looks like it has something to do with these much-talked-about hairclips.
Lastly, looks like Sakuri knows how to parry attacks, presumably only with her knife. Some SRWs also let units with certain weapons be able to deflect attacks with those weapons, but it was frankly kinda broken. Looks like SHW tries to balance it by taking into account the overall strength of the character and what they’re parrying with.
As for Viola’s new stats…
[Name: Viola Reborn]
[From: The Witch’s House]
[Level 1, HP: 5]
[Attack: F, Defense: F, Evasion: F, Mobility: F]
[Special Abilities: Echoes of The House]
Viola you were stronger when you were blind and bleeding out from your stump legs! But then again she’s got a small army of toy soldiers all with guns aimed at our new girl Sakuri so I guess she can afford to be.
Also fun fact! Started playing a bit of the Witch’s House myself recently and the toy soldier shooting you is one of the earliest possible deaths in the game, so it’d make sense we’d start off with Viola using an early murder method to try to beat Sakuri. Of course, the question is what Sakuri’s real deal is.
At any rate, it’s time to start taking down these things. And the first order of business is getting some breathing room so we’re not entirely surrounded!
[Sakuri is selected and moves to the flank of the rear group of soldiers, with her knife attack selected and the nearest soldier designated as the target.]
Sakuri: “Whatever these things are, whatever you are… and whatever you want…”
[She lunges at the soldier, grasping a golden knife in both hands before awkwardly thrusting it into the soldier and pulling back-]
Sakuri: “I’ve handled worse!”
[-Before put weight into another, deeper stab. The soldier’s health drops to 0, and it falls apart on the ground.]
Alright, so even if Sakuri’s options appear limited right now, she can at least deal with these toy soldiers on a 1v1 matchup. Unfortunately that isn’t what we have going on here right now.
[It’s now the hostile enemies’ turn, Viola being selected.]
Viola: <”There’s more where that came from!”>
[And another soldier appears next to her as well.]
Okay, so Viola’s just churning out mooks since she can’t fight us very well on her own. Guess that’s what the Echoes of the House ability is.
At any rate then it’s Viola’s turn to try to sic her soldiers on us, which is fine by me because since I can only kill one per turn that’d mean we’d be stuck here forever if she didn’t have them happily fall on Sakuri’s knife. Fortunately Sakuri’s pretty good at dodging them, and more importantly…
[Another soldier attacks Sakuri, marching to her with a mechanical rhythm to every step before striking with the bayonet at the end of its rifle. But the attack is blocked as Sakuri swings her knife into the course of the attack.]
Sakuri: “I can stop something like that!”
Sakuri’s got her blade parry. It doesn’t proc all the time and nor should it because that’d be super OP, but it does give her a fighting chance. Obviously I’m not gonna show EVERY kill people get, but I will still try to showcase everyone’s attacks at least once.
At any rate by the time it’s my turn again, Sakuri’s morale is high enough to allow her to use Salamander & Undine. Which is good since not only am I far away from Viola, but also because you can’t simply “go around” enemies because of a “Zone of Cancellation”.
To put it simply, tiles that surround enemies inhibit a character’s movement range and are darkened. If you have too many enemies around someone, like what’s going on with Sakuri right now, her mobility is significantly limited. And this makes a lot of sense since in a lot of survival horror games you can’t simply go around the big scary monsters that want to eat your character’s face.
Which would be a problem for us if we didn’t have some way of attacking from range! But we do soooooo…
Sorry Viola… hoping this all works out in the end between us! It’s not personal, I just need to beat you to advance the stage!
[Viola is selected as a target, and rather than charge at her, Sakuri instead crosses her arms in front of her as a blue rune appears on her right hand, with a red one forming on her right.]
Sakuri: “You can’t just hide behind your toys! Whatever your problem is… huaaaaaa!”
Sakuri: “Salamander! Undine!”
[Streams of fire and ice erupt from her hands, blasting Viola repeatedly from left and right before she crashes onto the ground again, having lost most of her health.]
Viola: <“Agh! That… that won’t-”>
[But she stumbles and falls to one knee, her toy soldiers vanishing. But she rises back up, fists clenched.]
Viola: <”I’m not losing my chance to be with Father again… I-I won’t!”>
[-Only for a much larger force to form in a circle around her and Sakuri!]
I know I”m fighting against you right now Viola, but you tell her!
Sakuri: “So many… but you’ve left yourself open!”
[She moves next to Viola on the main screen.]
Viola: <”Ellen’s living with father, pretending to be me, living my life when I had just wanted to help her!”>
[Tears are welling up in her eyes, as seen in her character portrait.]
Viola: <”It’s not fair it’s not fair it’s not fair it’s not fair!”>
Sakuri: “... You’re… that’s…”
Sakuri: “... I don’t know what you’re saying but…”
[Sakuri offers her a handshake.]
Sakuri: “Whatever you’re feeling right now, I’ve felt something like it too. A lot of times, even.”
Tears! A constant throughout all languages! Or at least human ones.
Sakuri: “Whatever’s going on, whatever reason you think there is for trying to fight me, we can try to figure that out. And maybe even help each other?”
[She gives a smile.]
Viola: <”The knife’s not even in your hand… I could have you shot right now and you’re not even trying to dodge and… and…”>
[After a moment, Viola takes her hand, trying her best to smile through the tears.]
Viola: <”Maybe that little spirit was wrong about-”>
[The soldiers all fire together as one, hitting both Sakuri and Viola. They fall to their knees, then flat on the ground with blood seeping out, yet still holding each others’ hands.]
Dammit Viola! Make underlings with less itchy trigger fingers!
Viola: <”W-what happened?!? Why did-”>
Black Cat Demon (offscreen): “Ah… you still didn’t learn anything from your time trying to stop Ellen, didn’t you, Viola?”
Sakuri: “Who’s… is that Rias…?”
[The Black Cat Demon walks back into view again as the soldiers vanish. Behind him comes a group of creatures: skinless, half-bodied CRAWLERS pulling themselves across the ground while similarly-fleshy SUCKERS flap their wings to stay airborne.]
Viola: <“Y-you… you’re… the cat…”>
Okay, so… hazarding a guess here that both Sakuri AND Viola can understand the Black Cat Demon.
Black Cat Demon: “Some of the time. Host bodies on Earth come and go, but cats have an appeal, and here it’s just a matter of wanting consistency.”
Black Cat Demon: “But bravo, Viola. Bravo indeed. You must have forgotten what Ellen had said to you before, didn’t you? You’re not the true master of the Witch’s House; it won’t obey you any more than it feels it has to.”
Black Cat Demon: “And it certainly won’t just let you form a friendship that could cause problems for us in the long run. But in pursuit of returning to your father you forgot all about that… though you still ”
Sakuri: “.. You… you used her?”
[Sakuri tries to rise, but fails. All that happens is the pool of blood under her grows as the Black Cat Demon strolls over to her.]
Black Cat Demon: “Oh that wasn’t me that fed her lies, that was your good friend Rias. You’ve apparently been a tremendous problem for him, haven’t you? Most people who become trapped down here go insane, and their bodies rot away but you…”
Black Cat Demon: “You grew. You’re not the same scared girl who was terrified of every new horror she discovered here. And just look at all the tools you amassed. Like these damnable hairclips.”
[But the demon jumps on top of her, pawing at her head until the hairclips fall off.]
Black Cat Demon: “And of course, keeping hold of a knife and your magic runes longer than you had any right to.”
[More pawing. The knife falls away from her too, and blue and red lights shoot away from Sakuri.]
Aaaand the obligatory power-down sequence. Well RIP your glorious arsenal, Sakuri! I can only hope we get it back sooner rather than later!
… There’s also probably a Metroid joke I could’ve made there but I’m kinda struggling at that.
Viola: <“S-stop it!”>
Black Cat Demon: “Oh you just wait your turn, Viola. These demons are here for you, after all. It’s rare they get a meal like failed Witch. I, however, am curious about Sakuri here.
[The demon hops off of Sakuri to instead look at her face.]
Black Cat Demon: “Rias has told me that even without his intervention, your body has mended itself whenever it’s sustained injuries that should be fatal. I must admit it is rather curious.”
Black Cat Demon: “I wonder if you’ll be able to recover from me devouring not just your body, but your soul as well.”
Viola: <”You can’t!”>
Black Cat Demon: “Oh but I will. And if she can recover, so much the better! Rias and I’ll have you both not just out of the way, but as entertainment. Because you see, my dear, Death does not exist here. It wouldn’t be Hell if there was an end to suffering, would it hmmm?”
Black Cat Demon: “So assuming Miss Kunikai here somehow recovers from complete and utter erasure from existence, then Rias fully intends to restore your body like he did before, and we will simply erase your memories of this entire interaction.”
Black Cat Demon: “You’ll fight each other again and again. Forever. With your magic, Viola, ensuring that even if the two of you set aside your differences, you’ll still both end up here again. Helpless and at our mercy.”
Who said this game was supposed to give characters “happier” endings? THIS IS PROBABLY WAY FUCKING WORSE!
[The monsters begin advancing, with the Black Cat Demon transforming into an immense BLACK SHADOW that looms over Sakuri, two red eyes peering out from the darkness.]
Black Shadow: “Goodbye to both of you. I will look forward to the next cycle… if there is to be one.”
[The other Labyrinth Demons advance.]
Viola: <”Not again… it can’t be-”>
Sakuri: “L-leave her alone! Please!”
Black Shadow: “Sakuri, you should know little begging for mercy gets-”
[But the demons stop moving. And the Black Shadow hangs there in the air otherwise motionless. It is then that a BALD, RED-EYED MAN steps into view.]
???: “I have to admit, even for those two… that certainly was a dirty trick. But you can relax, for now.”
Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Ogre from Mad Father!
Sakuri: "You froze them? But- argh!"
Viola: <"Red eyes... y-you're a-a-a demon too?">
???: "Not quite, but if it makes it easier for you to comprehend, then you're free to consider me as such. Just as you're free to call me 'Onigawara'. And speaking of comprehension-"
Nooooo, you’re Ogre from Mad Father! Don’t try to pull that weaboo crap on us!
[Onigawara waves a hand.]
Viola: "What did you just do?"
Sakuri: "I don't know but- ah!"
Viola: "I can understand you!"
Onigawara: "Indeed. Sakuri, this is Viola. Viola, this is Sakuri. Now you can know what the other is saying, which is all necessary because... you need to make a choice, all in the name of ensuring this playing field is properly leveled."
[Onigawara walks to them, placing a small red fruit next to their still-joined hands.]
Onigawara: "Sakuri, I'm sure you recognize this from your time here, but Viola, this is a special kind of fruit. If one were to eat it, they would be fully healed of all injuries. It would even be enough to save your life."
Or will it?
Honestly I have no idea here. Ogre McNamechange here was kinda a shady figure in Mad Father, but the secret extended ending made him express interest and maybe even appreciation for “righteous” people.
But then again, Viola’s already been burned twice in one day by assholes who pretended to be her friends or at least be concerned for her wellbeing only to turn out to be using her. So this might be the case here!
Viola: "But there's only one!"
Onigawara: "And I said you could think of me as a sort of demon. And what kind of demon would outright help two girls trapped in Hell? You're free to decide among yourselves which of you should get to eat it. You can even fight over it, if neither of you is willing to give it-"
Sakuri: "Viola, take it."
Onigawara: "Hmm, so fast to decide?"
Sakuri: "The cat demon already took away my weapons so if it were me, I'd be defenseless anyways. And I could always just come back anyways. If it would've been that simple for Rias to get rid of me, he would've done that already."
Sakuri: "... And I probably deserve another death here more than you do."
Viola: "You'd actually give this up?"
[She lets go of Sakuri's hand to weakly grasp the fruit with her own.]
Viola: "... But I can't."
Onigawara: "You're going to turn down survival? An odd choice but if you are that insistent you're free to throw it away."
Viola: "Not that but, but I still can't trust my magic. And I don't have any understanding of this place, and you do Sakuri. And even if that... that Rias never tried killing you by destroying your soul, that doesn't mean it can't work."
Viola: "So... so can we split it? Please?"
Well that’s the “ethical” option here. And here I was expecting you’d have to pick who would live and who would die and that’d be our main character for the duration.
[Onigawara pauses and turns away, hiding the smirk he now has on his face.]
Onigawara: "I suppose that is likewise an option, though of course neither of you will be at full strength afterwards. But so long as you and Sakuri are willing to share... who am I to stop you?
Onigawara: "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lecture I need to give to a pair who thought they could be sneaky and get away with breaking some very important rules."
[Onigawara reaches over, grasping the Black Shadow in one hand as if it were nothing, and begins moving away. Just as he is about to go offscreen though, he stops.]
Onigawara: "And Viola, one last thing."
Onigawara: "Ellen and the Cat were correct; the magic of the Witch's House will not obey you. It has a spirit all to itself, giving it a will and mind of its own; the Witch before Ellen herself, in fact."
Onigawara: "But if you try... perhaps you'll be able to draw power from less sentient sources."
Viola: "But what other kind of source? There's nothing like... I didn't even know anything about magic until earlier today!"
Onigwara: "You're determined girls. I'm sure you'll figure it out. Now best of luck and take care; I'll be rooting for you!"
[Onigawara leaves with the Black Shadow in tow.]
Admittedly a lot of times when people show up to give token support like this it’s kinda a bum deal. But since we’re apparently getting a second shot here and he’s taking away what’s supposed to be the boss of the stage would otherwise be, not gonna complain too much.
Except the fact that his name is OGRE.
Viola: “This will really heal us, right? It’s not another trick?”
Sakuri: “I don’t think so. It doesn’t mean it can’t but… I don’t want to give up like this. I’ll go first.”
Viola: “N-no, please. You don’t have to… we can do it together.”
Sakuri: “Right. Together.”
[Both eat their parts of the fruit, and their health shoots back up to the 50% mark. Just in time for time itself to kick back in.]
Viola: “It worked… but they’re still coming!”
Sakuri: “I know, but these are just small fries. And I think if it’s both of us we can take them!”
Girls versus freaky meatbag demons: the Revengining!
Viola: “But they’re… they’re-”
Sakuri: “Slow and weak. The ones on the ground can’t get you if you move fast near them, and the ones in the air can’t get you if you just crouch down and crawl.”
Sakuri: “Trust me on this… I’ve had to deal with them more than anyone deserves to, just like everything else here.”
[She steps forward, and Viola joins her after a moment, the two of them sharing the same tile.]
So… two characters, one unit?
[Name: Sakuri Kunikai/Viola]
[From: Demonophobia/The Witch’s House]
[Level 1, HP: 20, IP: 20]
[Attack: D, Defense: E, Evasion: D, Mobility: D]
[Attacks: Joint Melee(c)]
Yeeep, two characters, one unit. Probably to account for the fact Viola’s only fighting experience so far was getting her body mutilated and then stabbed and shot some more before keeling over. And since Sakuri’d lost all her previous attacks, she probably needs Viola here as much as Viola needs her. Their collective health also got added together too.
Of note is also the fact that their joint attack has a “c” after it, meaning it’s a “chain attack”. This means so long as enemies are all lined up in a row, like some of these freaky things are, a unit’s attack can hit some or in other cases all the enemies in that grouping. Definitely gonna help here, and it helps balance out the whole Zone of Cancellation thing.
So, at the risk of having this end horribly for our heroines, let’s give this a try!
[Sakuri and Viola are selected, and move to attack the lead crawler in a column of them.]
Viola: “It’s even worse seeing it up close!”
Viola: “But this is for Father! This is for getting back to Father!”
[The battle animation begins, Sakuri and Viola standing side by side.]
Viola: “How tough were they for you when you were alone?”
Sakuri: “I don’t know. I’ve never tried this before!”
[She takes off running.]
[Viola… follows suit in spite of that, the camera shifting to show the two girls running straight at the camera.]
Sakuri: “But, you make a fist… and swing up!”
[Sakuri and Viola both do that, knocking the Crawler up to chest level.]
Sakuri: “And one more for you!”
[Sakuri and Viola punch somewhat awkwardly again, sending the Crawler flying away and its health reduced to 0. But the attack continues, cutting to the second Crawler already airborne.]
Viola: “We did it! But there’s still more!”
[Sakuri and Viola punch this one together, and then the next and the last in the line. Only the first one is defeated, its body crumpling on the floor.]
Right, so to balance that you get diminishing returns on targets as you hit them in the line. Otherwise it’d be freakishly OP.
And in a way it still sorta is! Like maybe five seconds ago because of the timestop, Viola and Sakuri were bleeding out on the floor and now they just killed a demon with just some rank-amateur punches! Little girls OP man, they don’t even need psychic powers any more!
Viola: “It’s actually… we beat one!”
Sakuri: “That… almost felt too easy, almost…”
Sakuri: “I’m not saying that’s a bad thing though! But if it’s for real then we can keep going! We can win! We can definitely win!”
Even more OP than they themselves thought! Then again that’s what happens when you make unofficial continuations to a bunch of horror games in the form of a turn-based tactical RPG. Maybe there’s an in-universe justification for it, maybe not.
Regardless, it’s the start of Payback Time!
[The enemy phase begins, the remaining demons quickly surrounding them in short order and retaliating.]
Granted, we’re still outnumbered here, but that said, we pretty much got this in the can based on the previous exchange. And even when they’re only lining up by twos or threes, that still is a big boost to our overall damage output for every exchange.
Neither the Crawlers or Suckers are really anything to write home about animation-wise either. The Crawlers just grab at the girl’s legs and they grunt and get knocked off, and the Sucks just peck at their faces. And that’s only when they hit, which they’re not really good at being able to do.
So within about three rounds of killing a demon -though actually just horrifically maiming it if it’s true that “death” doesn’t exist here- and then countering all of the reprisals, Sakuri and Viola are completely in the clear! Whoo! Lesson here, folks, is you don’t need fancy magical artifacts or the arcane powers of a witch who you swapped bodies with. All you need is a friend and the power of confidence!
Viola: “... It’s over. We actually were able to win.”
[She falls to her knees, starting to cry again but with a broad smile on her face.]
Viola: “Now we just have to get out and… and I can get my body back!”
Sakuri: “From Ellen, right?”
Viola: “She was my friend but… but she tricked me! She didn’t give my body back and now I’m here and… and now we have to escape!”
… Visible silence. Sakuri, what are you telling us by you not telling us?
Sakuri: “... You’re right.”
Sakuri: “And you know, before, I thought trying to fight demons here without anything was just impossible. It never worked before. But with you here I guess we just did the impossible.”
[She helps Viola back up to her feet.]
Sakuri: “And I won’t be like Ellen either. I’ve really needed a friend for a long time so… so it’s nice to finally have one. Now let’s find that exit!”
[Sakuri and Viola continue walking down the path. The scene cuts to black.]
Well there you have it then folks! We ended the last stage with a father unwittingly murdering his only child, but here we begin the adventures of Doomgirl and Sorta-Failed Witch!
Hopefully they get out into the real world soon though, considering I’m wondering how many more characters could actually show up in Hell. At any rate though, see you for the next stage!
There were a lot of things that had been crystallized in my mind regarding Survival Horror Wars (the game/story) since I first thought it up years ago. Barring a few exceptions, most of the canons featured were ones I decided on almost immediately. But the most important thing for me was the beginning. Survival Horror Wars's foundation was characters trying to continue on past their stories' bleak endings and get something better, and the two characters with the cruelest fates were obvious: Viola and Sakuri. Demonophobia itself is a hot, disgusting mess of a ryona title, but goddamn if my experience with it didn't leave me with a sense of pity and sadness for Sakuri... so at least on one artistic level that horrible, offensive game succeeded.
But the story had to start with Sakuri and Viola; the two characters with the steepest hill to climb. Because if they could find happiness and take back their lives, then there'd be a chance for anyone.
And yes, there is an IC explanation for their inexplicable power boost, which'll be revealed/explained next chapter.
Chapter 4: Stage 2: Gaze Upon My Works, Ye Survivors
The stage shifts from Sakuri and Viola to other key players in the growing conflict. The Murkoff Corporation is on the verge of beginning their next grand project, but the results won't be quite what they were expecting...
[The scene opens showing at first only a empty, black background. And yet, after a moment, there is a bright flash of light, leaving behind a glowing FIGURE OF LIGHT, featureless, standing in the darkness..]
???: “What-what is this? Where am I? M-my sons, I-”
???: “Whoever’s there, whoever’s brought me back… show yourself! If I’m to be a puppet then let me see who’s to be the master!”
[RED EYES appear in the darkness.]
??? 2: “So you can imagine strangling them with your strings, perhaps?”
[Physical form appears around the red eyes; it’s Onigawara once more. The figure of light steps back in shock and caution.]
Hey, it’s The Artist Formerly Know as Ogre.
More importantly this seems to fuel the idea that the Labyrinth isn’t really the proper, Biblical “people who are bad go here” Hell. ‘Cuz if this guy got “brought back” from dying, this place doesn’t look anything like where Sakuri and Viola are currently, hopefully still punching demons willy-nilly.
Onigawara: “Though I must confess I’m not the one responsible for you being drawn back to the world. Rather, I’m merely taking an opportunity in the moments between your soul’s reawakening and your body’s resurrection to share a few words.”
???: “And these words you’d have with me? Mockery? If you know who I am then I can scarce think of anything else.”
Onigawara: “Oh far from it, I’m here to give honest encouragement. Whatever else you take from them, well, that is your own choice.”
Onigawara: “Terrible knowledge comes at a terrible price. Compassion, sanity, one’s body or goals… all too often one by one they all slip away. Each loss fuels the next and in turn prove right the old saying that Ignorance is Bliss.”
Onigawara: “But with you… unlike so many, it was different. When chance let you see beyond the mundanity of life on Earth… it was ultimately a twisted love that motivated everything you did.”
???: “The deeds and misery I wrought… don’t speak of them in such Romantic terms! You said mockery was not your goal, but to me it rings all the same of it!”
Onigawara: “But that’s only because you’re being too hard on yourself.”
???: “Please… no more! If you can’t lay me to rest again then don’t cast any more of a light on my crimes than is already there!”
[The figure of light attempts to run, Onigawara being left behind offscreen. The figure keeps running, but the red-eyed man appears once more in front of him.]
Onigawara: “Perhaps I was prefacing too much. You’ll have to forgive me with that. And please don’t do that again, our time here is still quite limited and running out fast.”
???: “Then out with it! But it will not change the man I was in my final days, nor the deaths I caused with the emptiest of reasons!”
Onigawara: “You would be right about that. But my point is… you were a rare sort. The sort who realized even in your madness that your actions were not the solution you’d thought they were. Inside of you was a kindness; a light that not even something far beyond your understanding or power could extinguish.”
Onigawara: “That light is precious. Irreplaceable. For never losing it, you are either the most holy of sinners or the most damned of saints. But at the end of the day what’s the difference between those two?”
Onigawara: “For that matter, as horrific as that knowledge was for you, I’d say that it, along with all the lovely facts that spirits seem to soak up by osmosis on this side of reality, mean you’ll be more than equipped, knowledge-wise, for what’s waiting for you back on Earth.”
Onigawara: “And I’d say more but that would overstep the boundaries of ‘encouragement’.”
???: “... I’m really going back, aren’t I? To the world I once saw? The world I tried to stop…”
[The figure of light shoots up into the sky as a beam. Onigawara is left alone.]
Onigawara: “I’m afraid so. And I wish you the very best of luck… Oswald Mandus.”
[The scene ends.]
Hooooo shit! Mandus coming back from the dead?
But the catch here is that Ogre’s not doing it. So is he gonna show up to help bail out Sakuri and Viola?
[The scene opens again, this time on Earth at the base of a RESEARCH LAB. A number of VANs pull up together, stopping and then proceeding through the security booth. As this is happening though, the camera pans up across the side of the building, revealing a logo reading MURKOFF CORPORATION. The panning continues, as sounds of a HELICOPTER begin to grow louder and louder, until the camera finally stops at the rooftop, where the aforementioned helicopter can be seen in the process of landing. After a moment, a DARK-HAIRED WOMAN gets out.
[She looks around for a moment.]
???: "Months preparation for this moment, to say nothing of the decades of research donated to these half-wits, and they can't even spare token effort for a welcome party? Or perhaps they're all simply afraid of a little rain."
???: "Yes, yes that may be the case. I should test for that, shouldn't I? After all, a little dip in the water's only as dangerous as what's in the water, isn't it?"
[She laughs at her own little inside joke before heading on inside. The scene fades to black.]
Murkoff President (offscreen): "Doctor Florbelle, you're-"
Florbelle: "'Early'? Or do you mean ‘Alone”? My associate couldn’t make it tonight, unfortunately. Other projects well underway. But I did send word to you about all of this, did I not?"
Murkoff President: "Well, you did send something but... it was by the telegraph-"
Florbelle: "That I donated to you fools, yes. I swear, you own companies that own companies that own companies that own companies and yet every time I have any expectation of your intelligence or intuition, you always find some way to disappoint.
Florbelle: "The telegraph wasn't just what you would call a 'gag gift', whyever would you think that? It was a lesson and reminder, after all, this whole plan revolves around another machine of that era. What better way to bring in the new era than with it? "
Murkoff President: "I... see your points, doctor."
Florbelle: "Well of course now you do, after I had to ruin it all by explaining everything. But now it's time for you to stop disappointing me. Is it ready? No, wait, don’t tell me that just yet. More importantly, how do I look?"
Murkoff President: "Fine.”
Florbelle: “Just ‘fine’? I really do wonder if the disappointments from you will ever cease.”
Murkoff President: “Looks aren’t what matters now, doctor. The completion of this project is, and in spite of the fact we may sometimes fail to meet your... extraordinary standards, we were hardly caught with our pants down with you arriving so soon. The machine was ready two hours ago, though the last of our packages have only just arrived."
[Lights suddenly come on, revealing an IMMENSE MACHINE, dwarfing Doctor Florbelle and the various Murkoff executives and scientists present. After a moment, it begins to RUMBLE .]
Florbelle: "Oh it's even more wonderful to see the whole thing now, excavated and hear in all its glory. But what I would do for a little thunder and lightning though. You wouldn't happen to have a weather machine lying around here, would you?"
Murkoff President: "... No. No we would not. Murkoff's resources have been committed to more... viable pursuits than that."
Florbelle: "Yes, yes. Your little toys and engines and towers. Tell me though, how long has it been since you had hide, tail, or even scent of your precious Walrider? Or that troublemaker Simon Peacock? Or the whistleblower?"
Murkoff President: "If you are referring to Waylon Park-"
[As the camera continues panning down through rooms, it stops at one. Numerous MURKOFF SECURITY forces are present. Some with truncheons, some with pliars or other instruments for torture, and many more still with guns, all pointed at a WOUNDED MAN in in the center of the room, a bright light glaring at him and highlighting the numerous cuts and bruises across his body.]
Oh crap, Waylon what've they done to you!?!
So much for going into hiding!
Murkoff President (offscreen): "-He has been accounted for. At a great cost, but one that hopefully our latest breakthrough will be able to account for.”
Florbelle (offscreen): “Oh very likely, I’m sure. Will we be seeing him tonight, I hope?”
Murkoff President (offscreen): “Briefly. It was our intent that he be the first one to experience our latest work. Karma, if you will… assuming you find it acceptable?”
Florbelle (offscreen): “Well it certainly makes no difference to me; of all the Morphogenic Engine experiments he’s by far the most expendable. And from what I’ve gathered his little act of corporate defiance has caused you no small amount of trouble has it? I can’t say the same for myself but I’m well aware that for some the police can be… problematic.”
Murkoff President (offscreen): “Those problems are soon going to be a thing of the past. Our mistake before was feeding Park to a machine that wasn’t designed to kill him. This one will.”
[One of the Murkoff guards punches Waylon in the face. He’s knocked out of his chair.]
Murkoff President (offscreen): “Assuming he’s not worked over too much beforehand.”
[The guard kicks at Waylon.]
Murkoff Guard: “Still with us, Park? Come on… after getting through Mount Massive, you can’t be slipping one foot in the grave already. We all still have a loooooootta things to pay you back for after your little broadcast. The Feds’re breathing down our necks and some of the cynical pricks here even have a pool going for when it all comes tumbling down. And the upper brass’re all busy kissing the ass of some bitch who acts like she runs the place.”
[Another guard turns to the first.]
Murkoff Guard 2: “Yeah, and all we get is him, so don’t make him keel over just because you have to kick him one more time than he can handle.”
Murkoff Guard 1: “Oh piss off. Why do you think they put us in here? To play babysitter? Like they’re even going to care!”
Murkoff Guard 3: “How about BOTH of you just shut up? It’s almost time. And yeah, Park’s shit but don’t be such a bastard about this. We ALL want him to suffer.”
Murkoff Guard 1: “And this doesn’t count?”
Murkoff Guard 3: “Not for the rest of us it doesn’t. Have you heard him beg for mercy or even cry out even once? I sure haven’t. The bastard’s gone numb to all of this. If you wanna make him feel something, we’re gonna have to feed him to the machine.”
[And suddenly a radio beeps.]
Murkoff Guard 3: “And that’s our cue to get on with it. Alright everyone, showtime!”
[Two guards take hold of Waylon’s arms, others still going to open the door while the remainder bring up the rear of the escort. Waylon himself is dragged out and then down a long white hallway, The upper walls sport numerous windows, allowing other Murkoff employees to watch as the procession moves on.]
Florbelle (offscreen): “Well here he finally is! The great whistleblower himself, Waylon Park! Some of you may know him as the man with too much of a conscience and tragically too small of a brain. But for everyone else… all he’s going to be here is the start of a beautiful new era for Murkoff.”
Okay. So Waylon's stuck in enemy territory, the shit already kicked out of him pretty extensively, and under the watchful eyes and abusive hands of the usual Murkoff asshats.
... I know he's gonna get out of these, I'm just wondering how .
Florbelle (offscreen): “This machine you’ve all reconstructed after months upon months of secretive excavations underneath London? It’s going to change all of your lives. It’s going to change everyone’s lives, even! Especially Waylon’s here, of course. He gets to make amends for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the trouble he caused us with that little video he posted online and ring in the new era for Murkoff and the world as a whole!”
[A sudden, sarcastic round of APPLAUSE breaks out, Waylon weakly raising his head as it finally comes into view: a massive, towering segment of the immense machine. A hatch is front and center, gaping wide as if a hungry mouth.]
[But then, there is a CHIMING .]
???: “Waylon Park.”
Murkoff Guard 1: “Oh shut-!”
[The guard raises his rifle to slam the butt of it into the side of Waylon’s face, but the world grows dark, motion ceasing as the figure of light appears in front of Waylon, mere inches from the machine.]
???: “I should consider both of us lucky. If you weren’t in such a horrid state as you are, then I wouldn’t be able to reach out to you.”
Waylon: “Wa... What… are you?”
???: “I apologize but introductions will have to come later. I won’t leave you waiting long, but time was short. The man from before had minutes, but I mere moments.”
???: “Waylon, I am about to provide a diversion. Use it. Fight. Flee. You must not let yourself die here! If you do then-”
[But the flow of time resumes, the figure of light vanishing.]
Murkoff Guard 1: “-up!”
[The guard swings his rifle at Waylon, but as he does so, there is a loud CLANG as a metal plate on the machine falls away, and a SKELETON falls from the opening, crashing onto the guard.]
Murkoff Guard 1: “-What the fu-?!?”
[And so follows the ROAR OF AUTOMATIC FIRE . The nearby guard holding Waylon’s arm is shot in the head with a splatter of blood spraying everywhere. Others scramble and fall back in the confusion, giving Waylon the opportunity to free himself and-]
Awright! We’ve got control! It’s Waylon Park vs the Murkoff Corporation, round 2!
[Name: Waylon Park]
[From: Outlast: Whistleblower]
[Level 1, HP: 5/35, IP: 30]
[Attack: D, Defense: D, Evasion: B, Mobility: A]
[Special Abilities: Sprinter]
Aaaand we’re already starting off on a lousy footing. Waylon’s all kinds of messed up, hence his health being what it is, but true to the Outlast games, here he’s got excellent skill in dodging enemies and is even better at putting distance between him and them.
He’s also got the “Sprinter” skill, which halves the effect of Zones of Cancellation. And that is enough for us to get him past the guards and try to make a run for it!
[Waylon is moved past the guards towards the exit, as alarms begin BLARING . But the Murkoff security troops begin moving after him, and one moves in range to attack with its rifle.]
Murkoff Guard !: “You’re not getting away, Park! Not that easily! Screw the machine!”
Right, they still have guns. Well… here’s hoping Waylon can dodge or something kicks in to bail us out? Like maybe a convenient heart failure or twenty?
[The guard takes aim, firing off several rounds in a burst. But as the battle viewer switches to Waylon, a LOCKER inexplicably materializes next to him.]
Waylon: “What? This wasn’t… here before…”
[But Waylon slips inside regardless. The bullets ricochet off the metal frame, doing 0 damage, and afterwards the locker disappears again. As it does, Waylon inexplicably has a VIDEO CAMERA in his hand.]
Or he can just warp reality! That's always a reliable solution to problems!
Waylon: “That’s… I have to be going insane. The locker and… and why do I have a camera and… and-
Murkoff Guard 2: “The hell just happened?!? Actually aim next time!”
Murkoff Guard 1: “I did! You wanna give it a try yourself?”
[The other guard moves forward to do so, but Waylon’s camera begins to glow brightly. There is another CHIMING. Time slows to a crawl as the guards begin raising their guns again.]
???: “Now Waylon! Your device; use it now! Just like you did before! Like before! Like during your time at Mount Massive!”
???: “It is your weapon, your Illumination!”
[Battle begins, Waylon turning the camera on, pointing it at one of the Murkoff soldiers.]
Waylon: “‘Like at Mount Massive’? But it’s just a camera. What’s a camera going to- WOAH!”
[A beam fires out from its viewpiece, piercing through the guard in one shot and depleting his health. The guard collapses on the ground, dead.]
So a camera just beat a bunch of guns.
And you know what? Who cares! It worked in Fatal Frame against ghosts, no reason it can’t work for us here against the living! Survival Horror Wars, where lockers are bulletproof and cameras shoot deathrays!
Waylon: “That… worked. I… I really, really have to be going crazy.”
[The remaining guards look incredulously at Waylon and then the fallen guard. In that moment, Waylon makes good on running away. The scene then cuts back to Florbelle and the Murkoff executives.]
Florbelle: “Well, that was not quite the spectacle I came here for, but it certainly was still entertaining… although it throws our operations into question, doesn’t it? Tell me… you didn’t happen to subject the good Waylon Park to any sort of experiment before I arrived, did you?”
Murkoff President: “N-no and… and just what was that? First he survived being shot and then, and then-”
Florbelle: “You saw him pose as if he were holding up something to his face and then a guard fell down dead. Is that what the rest of you saw?”
[The various other Murkoff employees nod in one way or another. After a moment, Florbelle steps away from the others.]
Florbelle: “Well, that is a shame. That really is a terrible shame… for all of you, of course, because you all lost your worth to me. Well, what amount you had left… if you knew how to comment on a woman’s true beauty this might be harder for me to do...”
Florbelle: “But ah well, at the very least, this all was an absolutely wonderful experiment overall. Handing you all practically unlimited power and getting to see just what you’d do with it all. And what I got from it was… monsters creating monsters. There was such exquisite symmetry to it. I could only do so many tests myself so it was good to see how others would fair in a… similar situation.”
Florbelle: “And oh, I was so excited to see what you would’ve done when the machine was fully operational. You never disappointed before, but the circumstances have changed. It makes no difference to me in the slightest, but I’m afraid this is where we’re going to have to say… goodbye.”
Murkoff President: “You’re breaking this off with us? All because of Waylon Park’s becoming another freakshow like Miles Upshur did? Whatever the trick he pulled is, he won’t be getting out of here alive. Security is already moving to intercept him, and this time they won’t stop to question why the first few bullets don’t hit.”
Florbelle: “Aah, you may be right that Park’s time is running out, but that’s because I intend to address our problem with him myself. But like I said, circumstances have changed.”
[And at that, Florbelle pulls out a small, star-shaped pendant. The machine’s RUMBLING intensifies, the pendant glowing with a soft blue]
Florbelle: “This machine comes with a small drawback: the man who first made it. And apparently he is not too keen on what I intended to do with it. It really is a pity… there’d been a time when he was more anxious to bring about the end of the world than anyone.”
Murkoff President: “The end of the-... you…”
[The president pulls out a gun, pointing it at Florbelle.]
Murkoff President: “Dammit, that’s not what you said this machine would do!”
And now the all-powerful corporation that does the manipulating suddenly finds itself the manipulatee...
Tough titties, assholes.
Florbelle: “It probably isn’t, no. To be honest I can’t even remember anymore what I told you it would do, but you all believed me. Every single one of you thought you were just lambs being led along by a good shepherd whose research into psychology and the human brain are the only reasons this company ever became anything at all. You never doubted me or this request… you all just blindly went along because I’d never failed you in the past. It was actually quite hilarious to see not even one of you ever question why you were doing this!”
Murkoff President: “Well you can consider these lambs wisened up now, you bitch! The last contribution you’ll provide to Murkoff is your goddamn brain!”
[The pistol fires, but Florbelle is unharmed as a blue-ish barrier flickers around her. The RUMBLING becomes nearly deafening.]
Florbelle: “Oh please. Didn’t Waylon’s performance down there show you anything? People like you aren’t in control anymore. You’re at best going to just be collateral. You might even be thinking of ‘lambs for the slaughter’... but your choice of words would be terribly, terribly wrong.”
[There ground begins to rumble for a moment, leaving the Murkoff employees struggling to stand.]
Florbelle: “You’re not lambs at all.”
Florbelle: “You’re pigs.”
[A jagged metal pipe shoots up through the floor, piercing through the head of the Murkoff president. His body goes limp, held up only by the pole sticking out of the top of his head. The other Murkoff employees try to scramble away, but sheets of metal erupt from below and barbed hooks swing out from overhead, quickly turning the scene into a massacre.]
Florbelle: “And this is a machine for pigs. Meant only for the slaughtering of pigs.”
[The scene cuts to another room, Murkoff security forces firing into their very surroundings in vain as the wall behind them opens up, to release a blast of fire to incinerate them.]
Florbelle (offscreen): “And there’s no pig as fattened and ready for slaughter as Murkoff, now is there?”
[The scene cuts again to the passageway Waylon had escaped from, a large conveyor belt now covering most of the floor. Bodies are dumped onto it from overhead and subsequently carried one by one into the gaping maw of an entrance from before. The skeleton that fell out of the machine is curiously missing, though.]
Florbelle (offscreen): “It was splendid while it lasted, but that doesn’t do anything to change the fact that I’d planned for this long before I ever stepped in to guide this company to wear it is today. The power of this machine will end the world, and all of you can just…”
Florbelle (offscreen): “Well actually, that’s the point of it all. What are you all going to do?”
[The scene fades on the sound of GUNFIRE , SCREAMS, and RIPPING .]
... Alright, I know the Murkoff Corporation’s a whole bunch of scumbags. They’re your standard-issue giant evil mega corporation like Weyland-Yutani, OCP, the Umbrella Corporation, or Electronic Artists.
This STILL doesn’t feel like an improvement in the slightest.
Also now we’ve got two presumably separate villainous factions talking about the end of the world. They might even all be buddy-buddy here. We’ve already got demons from two separate canons teamed up, what’s to stop this seemingly OC villainess and the Machine for Pigs to be with them too?
Of course, on the opposite side of the spectrum here, we’ve got Waylon and Mandus. Since the Machine’s come back to life, maybe that means Mandus has too, since their lives are linked and at an end of Amnesia: AMfP, Mandus had to sacrifice himself to kill it.
[The screen fades back in, showing Waylon Park standing next to an emergency first-aid terminal, finishing up wrapping bandages over his body and face.]
Bandages! The visual shorthand for someone having gotten at least token medical attention!
Here’s hoping he won’t have just 5 HP now.
Waylon: (Lisa, the odds of you finding me, or what I wrote while trying to get out of Mount Massive… I knew they were slim. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. I guess that hasn’t changed.)
I see old habits die hard, with Waylon still writing notes. Well, mental notes. A shame he and Miles get so little characterization, but eh, those are the breaks.
Waylon: (That or I’ve just gone crazy. For real this time. Maybe it’s the Morphogenic Engine, maybe some drug they shot me up with… maybe something else even. But I don’t know how to explain it. I mean, this all happened even before I shot myself up with every painkiller I could find and… and…)
Waylon: “... And the camera’s still here, in my hand. Feeling as real as the first one… as real as everything from before. As real as the locker and… and…”
??? (offscreen): “Ghuuuriiiii… ghuuuriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”
[Waylon turns to look down a hallway and immediately steps back. And then again as misshapen MANPIGS stumble into view, some on four legs, some on two.]
Waylon: “What the hell…”
???2 (offscreen): “And yes, you killed a man with it. Bravo, Waylon Park. The horrors that rained down before were not enough for you. Or rather, that corporation that you helped bring to its knees did not understand how to properly deal with a threat like you.”
[Waylon attempts to look around, in search of the source of this new voice, but instead more doors are smashed down, more Wretches joining those already present as they surround Waylon.]
???2: “If you are looking for the source of this voice, you have been looking at me this entire time! The building, Waylon, the building!”
[Speakers emerge from the corners of the walls.]
The Machine: “After over a century my bones and heart and mind have been restored, this building here the cocoon for my resurrection!”
[A cable suddenly bursts free of the medbay Waylon had just been using, lashing around his neck. Waylong’s camera falls as he struggles with it, being slammed into the wall.]
… Forget you had that locker, Waylon?
Or is the power of cutscenes just that strong?
The Machine: “And it was all due to this Corporation’s absolute arrogance, their foolishness! The Murkoff Corporation never lost track of their bottom line. Profit! Always profit! To higher peaks their greed drove them, deluding themselves into thinking it would change how the story of their world, their civilization, any civilization would end! Even how they intended to deal with you, such grand ‘ceremony’ behind it all…”
The Machine: “They did not understand that in the face of a Survivor… the proper way to deal with one is to kill without delay! So tear him apart, my piggies! Gorge on him like the finest truffles so you can track down and slaughter the rest!"
“The rest” of what, I ask? Sakuri and Viola are stuck in not-Hell right now, so I’m assuming other characters but like… all Waylon’s got right now is maybe the possible chance of Mandus bailing him out or something and-
[A SPOTLIGHT shines through from down a hall, catching the Wretches closest to Waylon. Most of them scatter, but a few of them are too late.]
???3: “Not a life more, machine. Not now when I can finally act again.”
Mandus! Hopefully, I mean!
[A battle animation plays out, showing a BEARDED, MIDDLE-AGED MAN in an antiquated formal suit.]
Mandus: “Waylon Park! This isn’t your battle alone anymore!”
[A MASSIVE SEARCHLIGHT appears next to Mandus, which he turns in the direction of a Wretch. It dodges out of the way, but the screen pans to show a vat of some strange, greenish chemical, and as the light strikes it, sparks fly from it, spreading across the ground and frying the manpig regardless.]
[The manpig falls down, health depleted.]
FUCK YEAH MANDUS! Machine for Pigs might’ve had some serious problems, especially in the lategame, but he still racked up a couple of kills in it, one of them pretty much just like that!
So I’m guessing this is how we’re gonna be getting a lot of our “attacks” then; recreating various special moments from the different games.
[The other manpigs fall back as Waylon breaks free from the cable, falling to his knees. Mandus quickly runs to him.]
Mandus: “Park, I apologize for not arriving sooner. Can you stand?”
[Waylon does so, grabbing up his camera.]
Waylon: “I… I’ll manage. But Christ this is all just… You… you were the voice from before weren’t you? And that skeleton too?”
Mandus: “The same. Brought back due to the reactivation of this damned machine; my greatest and most terrible work.”
[Waylon stumbles away from Mandus, only realizing afterwards that he’s moving closer to the manpigs.]
Waylon: “You BUILT this thing?!?”
The Machine: “Indeed he did, more than a century ago. All to wash away the rotten future that awaited humanity in the 20th century. And look at where we are now in the 21st, as war and disease and greed and the death of hundreds of thousands continue on as the hallmark of this generation and those that followed!”
The Machine: “This is the world you died for, Oswald Mandus! This is the world you brought into being by refusing to finish the work we both began!”
Alright, as shitty as the Machine’s being here, at least he’s made it clear to Waylon that they’re not on the same team anymore. Thank God that large hams aren’t the best manipulators.
Waylon: “... And some of us have things in this world we want to protect.”
The Machine: “From what, a sickness? A mugger? A company, a nation, a world? Time itself? The inevitable end of all things? Protecting anything is pointless! Continuing this rotten life is-”
Waylon/Mandus: “SHUT UP ALREADY!”
[A loudspeaker is blown away by beams from both Mandus’s lantern and Waylon’s camera.]
Hivemind! The clearest sign of a budding bromance!
Waylon: “I’ll… I’ll deal with you making this thing later. But if you made this thing… or… made the original version of this thing… you can get me out of here?”
Mandus: “That is very much my intent… and please, believe me when I say…”
Mandus: “I am not the man who built this infernal machine. I do not choose to be, and even if I may yet have to suffer for his crimes...I will do everything to deny the Machine the lives or destruction it lives for!”
Stage 2 : Gaze Upon My Works, Ye Survivors
Mandus: “And first off… the layout of the Machine may have changed, and its body given new strength… but its structure still carries with it specific rules.”
[Several tiles on the map begin to light up.]
Mandus: “Once before I was able to inflict damage on this unholy creation and open the route to escape; and the same will hold true now. And before I could only run from these pigs… now though, it’s different.”
Waylon: “Those lights of yours… and Christ my camera too… how does that even…”
Right so, it’s Mandus and Waylon versus a bunch of Wretch-type Manpigs. I’m assuming that later on in the game we’ll have to start dealing with the Engineer and Tesla-types, but for now, it’s just these losers. The Machine’s also gonna probably start doing all those bullshit surprise attacks soon too, just like in all those movies and games where the supervillain kills a bunch of people instantly with crazy powers they never use to that extent for the remainder of the story.
At any rate, let’s look at those stats!
[Name: Waylon Park]
[From: Outlast: Whistleblower]
[Level 1, HP: 17/35, IP: 30]
[Attack: D, Defense: D, Evasion: B, Mobility: A]
[Special Abilities: Sprinter, Emergency Locker, Support Defense, Beam Parry(light)]
[Name: Oswald Mandus]
[From: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs]
[Level 5, HP: 50, IP: 35]
[Attack: B, Defense: B, Evasion: D, Mobility: C]
[Attacks: Steam Pressure Impact, Lantern Burn, Spotlight]
[Special Abilities: Support Attack, Saboteur, Beam Parry (medium)]
Okay so, Waylon’s back up to half-health now, but more importantly he’s got an attack and some very useful abilities. Emergency Locker is that whole “Locker Field” thing from before. It kicks in so long as he doesn’t drop below his starting morale but gets stronger as his morale goes up, and effectively negates all damage he’d otherwise sustain provided it’s below a certain threshold. Really useful, but he naturally has low defense so I’m gonna bet it’s super risky to rely on it against strong bosses and whatnot. But if someone attacks Waylon, I can have him defend rather than counterattack or try to evade, which’ll reduce the damage he’ll take from it which should work WONDERS in tandem with the locker.
This goes along great though with having Support Defense, meaning he can protect another character who’s next to him when they get attacked. So he gets to share the greatness of his locker with others!
He’s also got a light-grade Beam Parry, probably from his camera. Not super strong though, understandably, but along with Sprinter this adds up to a character who’s only actual weakness is a poor offense. He’s fast, he’s hard to hit, it’s hard to scratch him even when you DO hit him… just hope he does get more attacks later on. At least the camera’s got decent-ish range.
And then we got Mandus. And damn does Mandus bring the muscle to back up Waylon. Steam Pressure Impact, whater that is, uses ammo rather than IP, and not quite sure what that's going to entail but it's ranked as his basic, bread-and-butter attack. Which is understandable because we saw what the Spotlight did to a Manpig earlier (that was in a cutscene but shhhhhhh) whereas Lantern is a middle-ground attack that's for up-close. Lantern and Spotlight cost a lot of energy though, but I guess that's part of Mandus's balance.
But befitting a dude who kills a couple of Manpigs over the course of his game and can survive at least one hit from every monster his game has to offer, Mandus has pretty solid attack and defense. Decent mobility for running away from monsters (though not the best), and meh evasion since AMfP didn't really feature a lot of cat-and-mouse play with the manpigs.
Skills-wise, Mandus has Support Attack which sorta serves as Support Defend's counterpart: if someone next to him attacks someone, he'll pitch in too for some extra damage. He also has a stronger beam parry, along with "Saboteur". I'm guessing this is where that "some attacks do more damage to certain enemies" thing comes into play; with "Saboteur" letting Mandus get a damage boost against targets with a mechanical component. That won’t help with the pigs, but it WILL with the Machine, or however much of it we’ll be fighting here and in the future.
At any rate, let’s fry some pork!
[Mandus is selected, and moved in the general direction of one of the designated weak points of the Machine. But because he isn’t in range for it just yet, instead a Wretch is targeted for an attack.]
Mandus: “I have no love lost for Murkoff, but I still wonder… just how many parts from different sources went into making you? How many in the others?”
Mandus: “The answer, whatever it may be, is too many! I’m coming for you, Machine, no matter how many monsters you put in between us!”
[Mandus grabs a piece of pipe off the ground, hurling it at the Manpig. It does little damage, but does knock it backwards into a glass plate with steam spraying constantly underneath, breaking it and spraying the steam everywhere.]
Mandus: “God have mercy on you when you finally meet him.”
Okay, that wasn’t enough to kill a manpig, but as a support attack it’d probably be enough to finish a weakened one off. And I’m figuring that’s an “action-ized” version of when Mandus messed up the steam system of the machine so he could escape! At any rate, time to finish the piggy off with Waylon.
[Waylon moves next to Mandus, targeting the previously wounded Manpig.]
Waylon: “I’m really… really going to be killing a monster with a camera. A pig person made by a talking machine I’m fighting with someone who looks like they belong in a black and white photograph and-”
Mandus: “That is exactly what is happening now, Waylon. Reality itself is beginning to fray due to those responsible for all of this… and there is little most people can do. But there are those, like you and I… that can overcome even this. That what it means to be a Survivor, being able to overcome what should be impossible for you!”
Waylon: (There it is again. “Survivor”, said the same kind of way that the Machine used. With the same kind of weight. Half of me's wondering how far down this rabbit hole goes. The other half is telling the first half to shut up and just keep praying it spits me out next to you and our kids again.)
[The manpig falls to a well-aimed camera beam.]
The pigs are nothing to write home about though. They're bigger and tougher than the demons that Sakuri and Viola punched the sacrilege out of, but they aren't exactly a serious threat to either of my guys. All they do is run up and flail at you with their messed up arms and maybe a headbutt gets thrown in there once or twice. Waylon's got his locker and can easily kite these losers thanks to his mobility and Sprinter ability, while Mandus is, at least for these guys, built like a brick shithouse that shoots deathrays.
And frankly, considering Mandus's arsenal compared to the Sakuri/Viola team and Waylon, I'm figuring he's our designated earlygame crutch character. Certainly hope he stays capable of kicking ass thoughout. However, the pigs aren't all we have to worry about.
[A highlighted section of the floor is selected, moving closer to Mandus before initiating an attack.]
Those weak points of the Machine we gotta trash aren't gonna just lie around and score more kills than the Machine did already, hell no! Or at least it's gonna try~
The Machine: "..."
[And just like before with the Murkoff employees, a sheet of metal shoots up fromt he ground to try to cut Mandus in half. However-]
Waylon: "Watch out!"
[Waylon swiftly moves to take his place, Locker materializing around him just before the sharp edge makes contact. The Locker's sent flying, but no damage.]
-Because like I said before, Waylon's locker combined with support defense is a hell of a combo! Too bad we can only do it one time per turn, but methinks we still got this covered.
[Mandus begins his counterattack, pulling free his lantern. The shaft of light emanating from it falls upon the plate, flickering wildly for a moment.]
Mandus: “It is time to start putting you back in the grave, one bolt at a time!”
[But only a moment as the lantern’s light redoubles itself into a searing beam, melting the plate away warped, bubbling patch of scrap that spontaneously explodes.]
Alright! One down! This shouldn’t take too long when they come to try taking a swing at Mandus and Waylon!
Mandus: “....... It’s not saying anything.”
Waylon: “What’re you talking about? We blew up that speaker.”
Mandus: “But the Machine could just produce more. Nothing should be stopping it.from doing that… unless it were distracted.”
Waylon: “... The good distracted or the bad?”
Mandus: “That, I don’t have an answer for yet. We can’t delay here!”
Considering in the span of three stages we’ve gotten a taste of Demonophobia, The Witch’s House, Outlast, and an Amnesia title, the sky’s the limit as to who this could be. Well, it’s limited to the roster but whatever.
The manpigs are still pretty much just a speedbump for us as Waylon and Mandus trash some workings of The Machine, but in spite of that the Machine just keeps dead silent through it all. Not that I’m complaining much.
At any rate, once the final designated target area is destroyed… the show finally gets on the road again!
[The ground shakes as a shrill metallic SCREETCHING rings out, like some important piece of machinery splitting in two. The remaining Wretches scatter in fear for their lives as Waylon and Mandus are nearly knocked off their feet… but then a tear suddenly opens up in the wall. And beyond it: a PARKING GARAGE lined with Murkoff-issued vehicles.]
Waylon: “You’re kidding me… the exit was that close this whole time? I wasted so much time trying to patch myself up-”
[Waylon and Mandus both slip through into the garage.]
Mandus: “There’s no assurance it was there until just a moment ago. The layout of this place, the Machine, it… warps it. You saw for yourself, the way bulkheads and chains and hooks could move like an arm or leg. Murkoff’s work on the Machine truly is something else.”
Mandus: “I must confess though… I had knowledge of what automobiles have become, but not the experience of using one. Are you well enough to drive?”
Waylon: “I think I can manage… it’s not the first time I’ve had to do this. But let’s… let’s just get out of here.”
???: “Oh, and leave so soon? And not even with a proper parting gift?”
Mandus: “Waylon, get back!”
[In the shadows of the garage, a FIGURE forms before stepping out into the light. It’s Florbelle.]
Florbelle: “Bienvenue, gentlemen. That was a spectacle I hadn’t been planning on… but oh, I can still appreciate the show you were able to put on. And to think you pulled it off when one of you was only freshly out of the grave while the other had one foot in it!”
Waylon: “You’re that woman from before…! The one that-”
Florbelle: “The woman behind Murkoff? Oui. I’m touched you could remember in your bloody haze, Waylon Park! Dare I ask… how is your leg feeling? All healed up from your time at Mount Massive?”
[The lights surrounding Florbelle begin to flicker, some of them breaking entirely.]
Mandus: “... So it’s just you here, isn’t it? Nobody else?”
Florbelle: “Changing the subject and trying to scope out the competition, Mandus? Oh you could at least try to be more subtle about it. Where’s the tact that netted you thousands dead at the end of the 19th century?”
Florbelle: “But yes, it is just me here. Everyone else on the Murkoff payroll’s already been processed; you both got to see some of the leftover products! But if you were asking about your machine, Mandus, it’s just a little preoccupied. Your hunch is quite right: an uninvited guest decided to drop on by! Oh but don’t you worry… he’s uninvited, but he’s certainly not unwanted.”
[Florbelle raises a hand, holding an older OIL LANTERN. It is unlit, the darkness inside of it even more pronounced than that around her.]
Florbelle: “The same cannot be said for either of you though. You were able to show me just how much of an inconvenience two Survivors alone could be and it was all quite educational… but alas, the charm has run its course.”
Mandus: “Waylon! Run!”
[A battle cutscene begins, Florbelle grinning as she raises her own lantern. The darkness in it swirls and writhes… before the glass coverings of the lantern cracks.]
Florbelle: “Ah, Mandus, Mandus, Mandus. Trying to play the hero here when it’s far, far too late.”
Florbelle: “It’s time to finally see just how strong a man can be when he divorces himself from his Orb!”
[The glass of the lantern shatters, waves of darkness sweeping out at Mandus.]
Mandus: “Waylon, don’t look back! She can’t afford to kill me!!”
[Mandus responds with his own Lantern, light streaming out at the darkness, trying to hold it at bay-]
BEAM PARRY FAILED
[-Before being overwhelmed in an instant and giving the darkness free reign to wash over Mandus.]
Florbelle: “Know just what it feels like, Mandus, to experience a true dark descent.”
[When the darkness finally recedes, Mandus’s health has been reduced to a single hit point and he collapses on the ground.]
Mandus: “... Damn it… damn you… Justine Florbelle…”
Wait FUCK THAT’S RIGHT!
IN AMNESIA JUSTINE, HER LAST NAME’S FLORBELLE! And she gets a lantern right away in that game but it never actually gets any oil! So while Mandus and presumably also Daniel’s can shoot beams of light, hers would shoot darkness!
Justine: “I see you’re still here, Park. Isn’t that unfortunate, Mandus? All of that bravado and making a last stand for nothing. Of course you are right, killing you would be at least a touch problematic right this very moment. You should never leave things to chance if you can help it, after all.”
Justine: “Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to you, Waylon. After all, I came all this way here to watch you die and even if Murkoff was too incompetent to do the deed themselves… I’m no stranger to ruining lives for my own enjoyment~”
[Waylon takes a step back.]
Waylon: (It’s like at every chance the world’s trying to find ways to one-up just how messed up it’s gotten. Dear God Lisa, why did I have to think I’d be able to get out of here alive?)
Waylon: (Wait… was there something in the shadows behind her?)
Justine: “Curious to see what else that camera can do in your final moments? It’s the same as before, you know. Sure you could use it to try to attack but you saw what happened to Mandus-”
Waylon: “... I’m not trying to see if I can attack you. I’m not even going to attack you at all.”
Justine: “... Why Mr. Park, submissiveness will get you nowhere!”
Waylon: “It’s not about that.”
Justine: “Then what is it about? And do keep in mind these will be your last words, so if you have anything special to say in defiance, it’d be best to use them now.”
Waylon: (She’s strong. I can feel it even from the way she’s standing there… and the way she was able to overpower Mandus seemingly effortlessly. But right now she seems to love running her mouth more than she needs to… and I’m praying to God, Lisa, that it’s enough. By God am I praying.)
Waylon: “I was just curious about something, so I turned on my camera’s night vision.”
Justine: “-The night vision? If it’s to better see me, Park, I’m absolutely flattered but-”
[A SILVER FIGURE suddenly lunges out of the shadows at Justine. There is a flash of blue as her barrier forms again, but her attention is drawn away from Mandus and Waylon as THE WALRIDER begins attacking her. A SWARM OF NANOMACHINES collides with the barrier, sending Justine skidding away off into the distance, juking to the side as another surging beam of darkness ]
Waylon: “I guess your uninvited guest got board dealing with just the Machine! Whoever you are… have fun with it!”
[Waylon lunges towards Mandus and the screen fades to black, followed by the ENGINE ROAR of a car starting up and the SCREECH of tires spinning.]
[When the scene opens again, Waylon is driving a MURKOFF CAR, Mandus weakly lying in the passenger seat. The Murkoff facility is far off behind them.]
Waylon: “... That makes twice now that thing’s saved my life while I was trying to get out of a Murkoff facility.”
Six more and you’ll win a free Dairy Queen Blizzard!
Waylon: “Are you hanging in there though Mandus? She said she couldn’t just kill you...”
[Waylon stops the car, turning to Mandus.]
[Waylon hits the gas pedal again, the car speeding towards a city off in the distance...]
Waylon: “Mandus, stay with me! Please! Hang in there!”
Yes! Please! There are still things you need to infodump for us! LIke what the deal is with “Survivors” and “Illumination”! And how you know about Justine and she knows about you and WAIT A SECOND JUSTINE SHOULD’VE DIED FROM OLD AGE OR BEEN SOME SUPER-DECREPIT HAG RIGHT NOW, SHOULDN”T SHE?
So hang on at least until we find out that pleaaaase!
… Of course, now we have to see who we’ll continue with beyond this point; Sakuri and Viola or Mandus and Waylon. Who’ll join them? Who’s gonna be the main villain at this point in the plot? When are they gonna meet up?
I have no clue but we’re definitely hitting the ground running!
The question of who should be the main antagonist of SHW was also one of those things that I decided on almost immediately. "Justine reactivates the Machine for Pigs, and with all those Spheres and soapstones and whatever active at once it can cause all the time/reality wonkery necessary to justify the crossover." Granted the hows, whys, and context of that reactivation were not decided on later, but whatever. Even if her body count for innocent people is far lower than Mandus or even Daniel's, there are few horror game leads as horrible as Justine, so it felt like a natural choice.
One thing I didn't decide on until literally partway through writing this though was Waylon's "notes". As a silent protagonist in-game and fairly mundane overall, he makes a decent enough gateway character to the craziness that is going to unfold, but I needed some way to still give him character of his own. Fortunately Outlast itself gave me the suggestion on how to go about that.
Would've loved to publish this either New Year's Eve or Day what with A Machine for Pigs being set December 31st, 1899, but eh, holiday season was busy and I was sick. Hopefully next chapter (where we return to Sakuri and Viola) will get published sooner!
Chapter 5: Prologue to Stage 3
The scene returns to Sakuri and Viola, as more dangers of the Labyrinth make themselves known. But with that comes unexpected but crucial help who alerts them to the greater crisis at hand.
Viola: "...And then that's when I woke up here and met Rias. And he told me about you and... well, you were there for the rest."
[The scene opens on Sakuri and Viola, still in the labyrinth, walking down a corridor.]
Awright, so we’re back with these two! And you’re both looking in as good a shape as you had been! I can’t help but imagine this is because Ogre’s got the Black Cat and Rias in a classroom somewhere, making them write “I will not be a total dick” on a chalkboard. Or something like that.
Sakuri: "And all just because you wanted to make a friend..."
Sakuri: "... Magic really does do nothing but ruin peoples' lives. It never did me any good..."
Viola: "So does that mean it’s true then? I mean, what Rias said? That you're here because you tried to summon him just because you were bullied?"
Sakuri: "That's not exactly the full story but- ah! Hold on!"
[She grabs Viola by the shoulder, holding her back.]
Sakuri: "We can't go any further down this path. There’s a deathtrap."
[The screen pans down the corridor. It is completely identical to the segment that Sakuri and Viola just went down.]
Sakuri: "Please just trust me on this. I've been here long enough to know how this place works, what's safe, what probably isn't..."
[Sakuri turns away from Viola and crouches down, feeling parts of the ground until she finds a small rock. She throws it down the cavern. Mid-flight it is shredded by a square-shaped lattice of energy beams.]
Sakuri: "...and what's guaranteed to kill you. Come on, we can go another way."
You know, I would love an ability like that. It would make rage games like I Wanna Be The Guy so much easier if you can just KNOW what’s certain to kill you even before it does.
[Sakuri begins to leave, but Viola continues to look down the empty corridor.]
Sakuri: "Viola? Viola, we need to keep moving."
Viola: "How... how long did it take you to be able to predict things like that? How long have you been here?"
Viola: “Sakuri, please. How long have you been here?”
Sakuri: “A… long time. A really long time.”
Viola: “That could mean anything. Please… please ! How long have you been here? Weeks? Months? O-or-”
Sakuri: "I’ve been here... longer than I would've liked, and long enough that it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. Because if it did I would’ve gone crazy."
Viola: "But that's still not answering me! How long? I didn't try to hide anything from you so... please... I need to know! How long have you been stuck here, trying to get out?!?"
Sakuri: "... it's more like decades."
Sakuri: "Or... maybe even centuries. After a point time starts to blur here when nothing special is happening. I'm sorry for trying to hide that from you but-"
[Viola falls to her knees.]
Viola: “Sakuri, please… please don’t lie to me like that!”
Sakuri: “I’m not lying! This place it… Rias told me once before that time moves at a crawl here. Like.. that a near-infinite number of years here is just a split second in the real world. And I know that sounds horrible-”
[Sakuri kneels down in front of Viola, grabbing at her shoulders.]
Sakuri: “And it is horrible, and this PLACE is horrible… it’s the worst place that could ever exist… and it always is trying to do everything it can to break someone… but it has rules. And that makes it predictable.”
Sakuri: “And that means so long as you keep yourself in one piece, we have all the time we could ever want or need to figure a way out!”
I’m guessing this is that resolve that the Black Cat had been talking about before. Which is kinda crazy when you think about it… but when you REALLY REALLY think about it, Sakuri’s essentially been like a Dark Souls character. Unlimited tries to figure out anything and everything this place has to throw at her.
Viola: “So… so right now Ellen and Father would’ve… hardly even moved from where I died?”
Sakuri: “They wouldn’t have even finished taking a step.”
Viola: “And you… you really know that this is how this place works?”
Sakuri: “Well… nothing you said made it sound like you were from the future, right? No space ships or aliens or robots?”
Sakuri does have a point, unless secretly they included Alien: Isolation or bullshitted a way to include Jason X by way of Friday the 13th: The Game. We never did see anything more of the setting of The Witch’s House.
Sakuri: “Like I said, this place has rules. That was something else Rias talked about before, and that other man who saved us before talked about rules too. And one of the most basic rules here that there are safe places too where the demons aren’t allowed to go. My plan right now is to get you to one of them.”
Viola: “And after that?”
Sakuri: “After that we’ll… we’ll figure out our next steps. And I get you up to speed on everything else. I promise.”
[But as Sakuri says this, the air behind her begins to flicker red.]
Viola: "You'll tell me everything?"
Sakuri: "Yes. Every-"
[And the flickering is replaced by a massive, humanoid RED DEMON, skinless and with a featureless face. It swings its hands up.]
[She dives to the side, pulling Sakuri with her. The demon's fists smash into the ground, accompanied by a CRACK as the impact leaves a crater where once had been even terrain.]
Sakuri: "... Oh god... it's..."
Hello boss monster!
Sakuri: "It's one of them. They're back... because you came came into the labyrinth, Rias gets another chance at escape-"
Viola: "Sakuri you're not making any sense. What... WHAT IS THAT?!?"
[The red demon, SATAN OF WRATH stands up again, turning to them both. Energy begins to build up near his exposed midsection.]
Sakuri: "It's one of worst of the worst here... I'll explain more but you HAVE to run! If this thing's here then there has to be a safe zone nearby! I'll tell you more when I find you but RUN!"
[A beam of energy nearly the size of Satan is fired from its abdomen, Sakuri barely having enough time to push Viola out of the way before it reaches her.]
Okay, between lack of knowledge about Demonophobia (and little interest in experiencing it in its original, gore-fetishist flavoring) and knowledge of the influence giant mecha anime have on this game, I’m not quite sure whether this is true to the source material or not.
And not like it makes any difference in the issue of HOW THE FUCK do we beat that?!?
[But as the attack ends, Sakuri is unharmed, having crouched just under it.]
… Of course there’s always turning its height against it.
Sakuri: "I've survived against this thing before, and it was one of the first I ran into!"
[Satan teleports again, appearing behind Sakuri and lunging, but Sakuri jukes out of the way.]
Sakuri: "Find the safe area! It's a large spot with a rune on the ground! This isn't something we can fight like the other demons, but I can keep this thing busy, so JUST RUN!"
[Viola begins to step back and then take off running down a side tunnel, but as she does, Satan turns to her and builds up energy once more. After a moment though, the red demon kneels down.]
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand so much for that little safe zone close to the ground .
Sakuri: "No, no you're not doing that!"
[Sakuri moves between Satan and Viola-]
Sakuri: "Viola, don't look back! Don't even worry about me! There's nothing this thing can do to me I can't come back from!"
Viola: "W-wait, Sakuri?!?"
[-And she turns around just in time to watch as Sakuri charges full-speed at Satan and ram into its upper body just as the beam fires.]
[Sakuri’s body is obliterated instantly.]
[But more importantly, the impact tipped Satan backwards enough for the beam to miss the tunnel entirely and instead take out a section of ceiling. Rubble falls fast and hard, sealing off the tunnel between Viola and the demon. For her part, Viola can only stand there.]
Viola: "... You can come back. You said you could... and the black cat said you could to..."
Viola: "That doesn't make what happened any less horrible!"
[She turns and begins walking down the tunnel again.]
Viola: "Don't just come back. Please... please come back soon."
Alright, now this is actually raises another interesting point. I'm going to just assume that Sakuri's ressurective immortality isn't something everyone and the cat collectively derped on and that it's real. And she'll even get a new body like Kenny from South Park and be 100% good as new.
Time's a blur here. There aren't any clocks or a day-night cycle to gauge things. Things probably aren't even happening simultaneously as what's happening on Earth with Justine. Sakuri probably has NO IDEA how long the process of coming back from the dead actually takes. That's worth keeping in mind since in stage 1, Sakuri's immortality wasn't translated into an ability, unlike what they did with lockers for Waylon which was way more of a stretch.
Anywhoo, with Viola and Sakuri's current predicaments I imagine we'll be cutting away from them and check in with some other group and-
Viola's Father (offscreen): "Viola? Viola, are you there?"
Viola's Father (offscreen): "Viola, are you there? I'm here! I'm here for you!"
Okay, Viola, lemmee just stop you for one second. You're in not-hell, filled with all kinds of horrific demons. And you're in the body and have the knowledge of a psycho-ass witch.
At least ACKNOWLEDGE that this is probably a trap!
Viola: "That... that couldn't be him..."
[Viola glances back one more time at the caved-in tunnel.]
Viola: "... But it's not like I have any other choices, do I?"
[Viola continues walking again. Slowly. Cautiously. And not looking behind herself again, oblivious as above her, thin HUMANOID SHADOWS with misshapen heads manifest, following after her before winking out of existence one by one.]
Viola: “Safe area… like the rune on the ground I saw before…”
Viola: “That was a warding sigil, wasn’t it? It’s the first I ever saw it but… I still have Ellen’s knowledge of magic and… I almost want to say- Ah! There’s something on the ground!”
[The passageway slowly begins to open up into a much larger chamber, with a LARGE RED PENTAGRAM spread across the floor. Viola stops.]
Viola: “That’s a rune but… that’s not the kind that I was in when I came here...”
Viola’s Father (offscreen): “Viola? ViOOOOOla?”
Viola: “... no… that’s...”
Viola: “What… what are you?!?”
Viola’s Father? (offscreen): “ViOOOOOla? Iiiiiii fOUNd FOoD.”
[The screen pans down, revealing a twisted, white-skinned parody of Viola’s father. The face of the GLUTTONY AVATAR is devoid of features save for triangular red eyes dotting it randomly, and in its hands, a mockery of a hunting rifle made of flesh.]
Viola’s Father?: “ViOOOla? ViOOOla WHerE aRe yoU?”
Viola: “That can’t be… you… you CAN’T be-”
Viola’s Father?: “QuiET, FOoD!”
Well look on the bright side, Viola! This freak’s not calling you a monster… probably because it sets the bar so high itself!
Also at the rate things are going I have to wonder if this is going to be The Stage Of Too Many Bosses.
Viola’s Father?: “ViOOOla? Iiiiiiiiiiiit’s ALmosT tIMe! COOOOOMe oUt! COOOOOOOOOMe oUt ViOOOla!”
[The Avatar points its gun at Viola.]
[Battle begins, the Avatar assuming a firing position-]
Viola’s Father?: “StAAAAAAndddddd StILl FOoD!”
[-And shooting twice at Viola. But rather than slugs or a spread of pellets, misshapen, barbed tendrils burst from the gun with a wet, sloppy SQUELCH .]
Fiola’s Father: “FOoD! FOoD! FOoD! FoodfoodfOOdFooDFOODFOODFOODFOODFOOD!”
Viola: “Stop it-!”
[The attack misses Viola as she dodges out of the way.]
Viola: “Stop… stop being like that! Don’t mock Father like that!”
Hey, look at that Viola! This time you didn’t have your body blown apart! Progress!
[Back on the battlefield screen, there is a CRASH as the Avatar's attacks leave deep cuts in the wall behind where Viola had been. Viola jumps back even further as she sees the damage wrought.]
Viola: "If that'd hit me then-"
Viola’s Father?: “StAAAAAAndddddd StILl! FoR EATing! FOoD iiiiiiis foR EATing! LiiiikEEE tHIs!"
Viola: "N-no! I'm not... not going to! You're just... going to have to starve!"
If this were most any other kind of story I'd imagine this is the point where Viola would get a big power boost and start fighting back. But this is Survival Horror Wars! Where normal people...
... Actually get to shoot deathrays from cameras and manifest other unconventional but very effective means of fighting eldritch and mundane horrors.
Well last time she tried to draw on her own powers, Viola nearly got her and someone else killed. Survival Horror Wars! Where normal people are better equipped to fight nightmarish abominations than those with magic powers!
[Viola begins running across the room again, with the Gluttony Avatar in pursuit.]
Viola: "Safe space... I need to find... find one of those runes on the ground like from when I was brought here! I need-"
[As she nears the center of the rune on the ground, a PILLAR OF LIGHT shoots down from the sky in the center of it.]
[Viola nearly falls backwards, the Gluttony Avatar having nearly caught her, but she catches herself, running past the beam just as it fades to reveal a young, DARK-HAIRED MAN.]
???: “I-it worked! I'm actually-"
Awright! Time for some backup!
???: "W-what in God's name is-"
[But the man stumbles back himself as the Gluttony Avatar reaches him.]
Viola’s Father?: "MoOOoorE FOoD! biiiiG FOoD! biiiiG and TASTY!"
Viola: "No! Watch out!"
Dammit man! Whoever you are, you were acting for a split-second like you were coming here by CHOICE, not by happenstance or the evil machinations of a demonic cat or a furby-sized Nazgul!
You can't go pissing your pants at the first sign of something that was CLEARLY designed to traumatize someone else! Especially when that someone else is both a CHILD and holding together better than you!
[Viola suddenly changes directions and runs to help the mystery man as the Gluttony Avatar moves to attack again.]
Viola: "H-hang on!"
[Battle begins once more, the Gluttony Avatar raising its shotun.]
Viola's Father?: "ViOOOla... mOrE FOoD! A FOoD foR BOTH! FOODFOODFOOD!"
[The weapon fires at the newcomer, tendrils lashing out again... but Viola support defends him, taking his place as the target, the faint glimmer of a PROTECTIVE SIGIL briefly appearing in front of her as she’s struck!]
Viola: "Hurry! Get awa-uaaaagh!”
[Viola is smacked into the air before being smashed into the ground afterwards… having only taken minimal damage. But the battle sequence doesn’t end just yet, instead panning back to the man.]
???: “She actually- d-dammit…! Not again! NOT AGAIN!”
???: “So… so fight back, Daniel! This isn’t the same as Brennenburg! Too much is at stake to just cower back!”
[Gritting his teeth, DANIEL pulls out an OIL LANTERN similar to the one Justine had used.]
Aw snap, I know who we got now! Last stage gave us two of the Amnesia protagonists, and now we got the guy who started it all: Daniel! No last name given, unlike the other two. And also the only one with a sanity mechanic, meaning in-game he’d panic and the screen would go all shitty if he so much as looked at a monster for more than like two seconds. So yeah, getting a sudden faceful of WHATEVER THE HELL that freak is would make Daniel seize up for at least a little bit.
… Good job with the save though Viola! Like… hopefully? You took a way worse beating than this in the ending of your own game so you’re gonna be able to laugh that off, right?
[But where Justine’s lantern was filled with absolute darkness, Daniel’s burns with a blazing light that rivals that of Mandus’s own electrical lantern.]
Daniel: “And this isn’t the same as it was either!”
[A beam of searing heat fires out, shredding through the Gluttony Avatar and obliterating it in one go. The smouldering remains of its lower body collapse onto the ground.]
Daniel: “No… this… this is my Illumination.”
[The battle sequence ends, leaving just Viola and Daniel on the game map. And with the Gluttony Avatar disposed, Daniel immediately crouches down to check on Viola… but she’s already standing up.]
Viola: “I-I’m alright. Compared to some other things, that was nothing.”
AND THANK GOD (or probably just Ogre) FOR COMMUNICATION NOT BEING SCREWED OVER THIS TIME!
And don’t think you can fool me, game! I saw that little barrier that Viola generated! Congrats, Viola, this is the first time you’ve manifested some form of magic (albeit probably subconsciously this time) and it HASN’T somehow tried to screw you over!
[Daniel stands up, and turns to the side to get a clear view of the deep cuts into the cavern walls the Avatar left with its first, failed attack. Then he looks back at Viola.]
Daniel: “... I see.”
Daniel: “At any rate, I can see you’re still hurt, but God willing, our time here’ll be short. I came to try to get help that we’re all in dire need of… and this place is my first, last, and best hope.”
Viola: “Y-You can get us out of here?!?”
Daniel: “I’d certainly like to think the people who sent me here are able to do that. But… what did you mean by ‘us’? Are you here with someone else? The odds of that happening with the time dilation here is-”
[But suddenly Sakuri reappears next to Viola.]
Daniel: “-Clearly still possible.”
Viola: “Sakuri, you’re back!”
[Sakuri, however, just looks around in confusion.]
Sakuri: “... I... am. That’s… that’s not how this usually happens. If I die I end up in the last safe area I rested at.”
Sakuri’s sounding even more like a Dark Souls character!
[And then she turns and sees the remains of the Gluttony Avatar, before turning back to Viola.]
Sakuri: "-And you got attacked! And you're hurt!
Viola: "It's okay. It's not bad... and Daniel here was able to stop the monster too. And Sakuri-"
[She takes Sakuri's hands.]
Viola: "He's from the outside! And he said he can even get us out of here!"
Sakrui: "... You can get us out of here? You actually… you actually can get us out of here?!?"
Daniel: "I intend to, yes... even though I was only coming here to ask for help. I wasn't expecting to have people to rescue... or something to fight. But Weyer was right... I crossed the threshold into being a 'Survivor'. And considering how you’re holding up here… I’d almost say you might be too."
Sakuri: "’Survivor’? You’re saying that like it’s something special."
INDEED HE DID, SAKURI! Too bad you can't see capitalization, but we can and all three Amnesia leads have brought it up. And fair enough, Daniel's been slumming it with a self-made god, Mandus got tons of eldritch knowledge dumped in his mind and has spent over a hundred years game-time on the "other side" so that's even MORE knowledge, and Justine... well she's lived for around 200 years now, played fiddle with a Megacorp and hasn't aged a day; reading the script's nothing compared to that.
But Daniel… you are addressing two girls, both of whom have died recently and one of whom has died presumably MANY MANY MANY times. They are the OPPOSITE of "Survivors".
Though God willing this time we'll get some exposition regarding "Survivors" and "Illumination", since now he's namedropped both.
Daniel: "Weyer can explain it better when we're out of here but as I remember, he explained it to me as 'those who become strong because they survive when it shouldn't be possible' rather than 'those who will likely survive because they are strong'. And how often they owe their survival to something other than a weapon. Weyer referred to it as their 'Illumination', since it often involves something that produces light."
Viola: "Like your lantern? But you were able to kill that demon with it."
Daniel: "Well needless to say it was originally just a normal lantern, but these are by far not normal times. Reality itself is in danger, and the effects it is having are already easy enough to see."
Sakuri: "... Like how Viola and I were able to beat some weaker demons with just our bare hands."
Sounds to me like this is the in-universe justification for experience points and leveling up!
Also it makes a certain amount of narrative sense. In a lot of Survival Horror games you spend most if not all of the game without a proper weapon but you keep surviving everything thrown your way, sometimes when guys with guns and tactical gear get torn apart like a meatgrinder. And in stories in general, once you get through any kind of nightmarish situation you automatically become a badass whose survival is usually guaranteed in sequels.
Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, Dead Space, Clock Tower... heck, even movies like Alien, Terminator, and Evil Dead/Army of Darkness pulled that. And yeah you then get stuff like Final Destination and slasher franchises where they love killing off the survivors of the previous film to up the stakes and tension... but you could always just argue that the Survivors didn't level up enough for these new threats or it was the villains who were the real "Survivors" in those stories.
And sure, the obvious real-life explanation is people like some sense of continuation with characters they already know and love, and it also makes sense that if you want to make a good continuation of those characters' stories you shouldn't just repeat what you did before. Hence the so-called "Actionized Sequel."
Daniel: "Just like that, yes. And my hosts are finally showing themselves."
Sakuri: "Hosts? Don't tell you mean-"
[The air on the outer edges of the seal ripple, with the humanoid shadows fading into existence one at a time around the edge of the seal on the ground.]
Sakuri: "... Them."
Daniel: "Th-they're the Watchers alright...!"
Dammit Daniel, don't piss away your Cool Points just because you're a nyctophobe! Sakuri's presumably a demonophobe and she's got no trouble body-checking giant skinless monsters with stomach deathrays, so don't lose your shit to things just floating ominously in the air!
Viola: "What are the?!? Are they like the Black Cat or Rias?!"
Sakuri: "No, they're... about the friendliest thing in here. I've seen them occasionally but they don't do anything. They just watch... and Rias even blamed them for when he found out I had my hairclips."
Daniel: "Why would they give hair-"
[But Daniel shakes his head.]
Daniel: "No, their logic is all their own. But they're what I'm here for."
[And with that, Daniel steps to the center of the seal.]
Daniel: "I must thank you all for coming out to greet me. It saves me the effort of trying to find you, and I had no desire to explore this nightmarish prison you made any more than I had to."
Daniel: "And I hope you all are here because you understand the threat that's being posed to everything that exists... even all of you if you don't move to stop it quickly! There is a woman on Earth, intent to bring an end to all there is using an infernal machine powered by your own works!"
I think I know where this is going, and I'm starting to smell the canon welding that's about to be established.
Watcher 1: "..."
Watcher 2: "..."
[One of the Watchers turns away and winks out of existence.]
Daniel: "You don't care? You DON'T CARE?!?"
Watcher 3: “...”
[Another turns away.]
Daniel: "Do I have to spell it out to you? It's the Orbs! The blasted Orbs! Her machine is powered by one, and she has at least another and possibly even more!"
[More turn away.]
Daniel: "Are you all going to do nothing? I still remember what one of your own did when I found an Orb in Algeria. I remember the Shadow that pursued after me to reclaim it... filling my mind with nightmares as I slept and killing any I tried to turn to for any kind of help or information!"
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, figuring they just established invisbile, shadowy "Guardian" from Dark Descent is apparently one of the Watchers here. Which is a reasonable enough connection, since in the bad end of DD, Daniel's stuck in some absolutely dark location for all of eternity, rather than being killed outright.
And come to think of it, Daniel can't canonically "die" in DD either. That's why when the main villain, Alexander, takes direct action against Daniel near the end of the game he only throws him in a prison rather than trying to kill him, since he knows Daniel'll bounce back from it in like 2 seconds.
Daniel: "Those innocent, well-intentioned men were considered fair-game, but a psychopath poised to destroy existence even here on the Other Side isn't? Time and space are going to collapse! Our timeline, the past, every possible future… EVERYTHING is going to be done away with!”
Daniel: “As alien as you are, even you have to see that! Johann and Agrippa can't oppose her alone... and if you're truly the guardians of the Orbs then you HAVE to-"
[But then a ROAR is unleashed. The ground quakes, and Daniel falls backwards in shock and terror. Sakuri and Viola hold hands and try to stay standing, but they fall not long after.]
Aaaaaaaaand that was the roar the Shadow has from Dark Descent. For those of you unfamiliar with it, look it up. Now imagine it coming from some invisible monstrosity that'll kill you instantly if it catches you and leaves globs of freaky flesh everywhere it goes like it couldn't be bothered to wash its hands.
And THAT's why Daniel's got darkness/monster-related PTSD! Well the biggest reason.
Daniel: "It's... you can't..."
Daniel: "Everyone's going to die if you don't..."
[But the Watchers don't care. They vanish one after another, leaving just the Survivors in the room.]
So this chapter had a lot of things that I felt needed to be established no later than now, such as demonstrate that Sakuri's immortality was a real thing and could bring her back from even complete disintegration, what the heck Survivors/Illuminations are, the scope of threat that Justine embodies, and also tease at some of the enemies that Sakuri and Viola are going to have to worry about quite soon.
The problem was though that before I knew it, I had 16 pages of dialogue and "cutscenes" with no proper gameplay, and considering what I had planned, this chapter would've run on for quite a long while if I'd had it all as just one piece. I didn't want to go any longer without updating the story too, and I felt that what I have here still feels like it has a solid enough beginning, middle, and end. Unless there is a massive outcry against it I will probably consider it for later chapters if they're going to be super long too.
At any rate, I hope this kept your interest; the actual fight for this chapter will hopefully be out before the end of the month!
Chapter 6: Stage 3: The Cost of Escape
Abandoned by the best hope of stopping Justine's apocalypse, Daniel, Sakuri, and Viola are beset not just by more demons of the labyrinth, but by the harsh rules of the labyrinth and its greatest guardians: the Seven Sins.
Daniel: “... They have to know they’re going to die too… but… they’re not doing anything about it...”
[After a moment, Sakuri gets back to her feet and helps Viola up too.]
Sakuri: "Maybe it's better for us that they don't."
Daniel: "What are you talking about? The Watchers were the ones who made the Orbs... if anyone can stop someone weaponizing them, they'd be the ones! You yourself even said that they helped you once by giving you... hairclips of all things."
Sakuri: "I know, and they weren’t really normal hairclups either… but that was before I heard what you said. One of them killed people on Earth just because... you talked to them after finding an orb?"
Daniel: "I don't know why it did but... yes. It did."
[After a moment, Daniel gets back up to his feet too.]
Daniel: "And then it did nothing to stop Alexander of Brennanburg when he used my Orb for his own monstrous goals..."
Said monstrous goals entailing torturing and either killing or horrifically mutating hundreds of people, both criminal and innocent, to farm them for alchemy ingredients meant to try to return to his otherworldly home. And he got Daniel in on it too with the promise of saving him from the Shadow, up until Daniel murdered an innocent teenage girl and realized he'd become a murderous hypocrite.
Amnesia! Where everyone you play was a scumbag in the past!
Daniel: "But all of that aside, the Watchers were the only lead that Weyer and Agrippa had that we could turn to, the only ones that would've been strong enough and could've had enough incentive to get involved. They were Weyer's only lead."
Viola: "But what about Onigawara?"
Daniel: "... Who?”
Sakuri: “He's... honestly we know almost nothing about him ourselves. That probably isn't even his real name. But he did save Viola and me when we first met."
Viola: "And he did that by stopping time! And he's the reason I can understand Sakuri and she can understand me!"
Daniel: "So freezing time and letting you two to communicate... and a name that he might have just given you and then forgot about."
Daniel: "That's not much, but God willing it's enough of a lead that Weyer can find him and that this Onigawara's enough to make a difference."
Daniel: "... But we can worry about that later. It's past time I get you two out of here and someplace safer, so you can tell Weyer and Agrippa everything you know about this person that saved you."
Sakuri: "... I hope..."
Sakuri, seriously: what's got you less-than-pumped to be done with this place after more than a lifetime of evading horrific monstrosities that want to do terrible, presumably-toned-down-for-the-sake-of-this-crossover things to you?
Are you gonna age hundreds of years when you get out of here or something? Because Daniel's looking as spry as Justine so if anyone's in a position to help you out, it's probably Johann Weyer.
[Daniel steps back into the center of the seal on the ground and looks up at the ceiling.]
Daniel: "Johann? Agrippa? Thing didn't go as well as we hoped... but we still might have options! And there're two girls I found that are sane and in one piece; I promised we'd be able to get them out, and they have knowledge that may lead us to the next best thing other than the Watchers!”
[But there's no response.]
Daniel: "Johann? Johann! I'm right here, please answer me!"
Viola: "They can't hear you? Why... why can't they hear you?!?"
[A shadow falls across Sakuri's face.]
Daniel: "I don't understand. I know they're still there but... but they're not doing anything! It's like they're turning a deaf ear!"
Sakuri: "... It's not that they can't hear. Or... that's not the real problem."
Viola: "What? Sakuri, you're not making any sense"
Rias (offscreen): "She would be, if she had explained the most important detail of her time spent here."
[From overhead, Rias descends down into view.]
Daniel: "That's Rias? From what Johann had told me about this place, I thought he’d be bigger."
Rias: "So you knew of me and this place, and yet you still came. I'm not sure who's more of a fool: you, whoever sent you, or Sakuri herself."
Daniel: "Whatever she's done to end up here... it is surely nothing compared to lives I've taken. Now leave... I know enough of this place to know it's meant to serve as prison for you, not others. I'm getting them out of here!"
[Daniel raises his lantern once more.]
Rias: "First you forget what just happened when you tried to leave, and now you're threatening me. That makes you an even bigger idiot than all the rest.”
Rias: “Sakuri lost her hairclips, meaning the only thing keeping me from turning you three into bloody smears this instant is a rather… RATHER- "
[For a brief moment, Rias's cloak flashes red.]
Rias: “-Thorough reminder of my limitations here.”
Ogre’s school of hard knocks: making bitches of (presumably) endgame bosses since whoever knows when! At least since before Mad Father!
Viola: "But if you can’t fight us then… just find that black cat and go away! I’m not going to fall for anything you lie about anymore!"
Rias: "I’ll leave when I feel like it, or I must. Whichever comes first, but not before. And you seem to think I can’t offer genuine advice and help? That’s what I came here for. After all, you seem to be at a loss as to why your friends can't get you out of here.”
Rias: “Sakuri, would you like to tell them or would you rather that I explain it to them?"
Sakuri: "... Not now..."
Viola: "Sakuri... what's he... talking about?"
Rias: "It's quite simple. What I told you before was true: Sakuri ended up here because she tried to summon me to get revenge on her bullies, not caring that the death and destruction I’d cause would go far beyond what she intended."
Sakuri: "I didn't actually think it would work-!"
Rias: "And yet she still went through each and every step of the ritual, simple and few as they were. She wasn't the first to try. Desperate generals facing certain defeat, ambitious nobles hungry to claim a throne, or even just idiots thinking my ritual was another urban legend like 'Bloody Mary'... I'd guess your Johann Weyer first learned of me and this place while researching the Orbs and their shadows."
Rias: "But those who called to me were all brought here for the second half of the ritual, to free me by facing and overcoming the Seven Sins. And Sakuri was the only person ever able to accomplish that."
Which certainly paints everyone else who wound up here to be MASSIVE losers if past!Sakuri, who Rias also described as a massive loser, was able to do what they couldn't.
Sakuri: "And you blocked my memory so I didn't even remember how I got here or what you really were! And you lied to me about how to escape!"
Rias: "I did no such thing. I told you that means of escaping would be possible when all the great demons were defeated-"
Sakuri: "You never told me it was just escape for you and that escape for anyone else was impossible!"
Is the rest of the game just going to alternate between Mandus and co. saving the world and cutting back to these three twiddling their thumbs or introducing competitive rock-paper-scissors to the demons here? I did not sign up for that, game!
Viola: "Getting out of here... is impossible?!?"
Viola: "...That… that...”
Viola: “... That can't be right! Sakuri, you have to be lying-!"
Rias: "This Johann Weyer told you correctly: this place is a prison for me. But prisons can be escaped from. For humans... it’s more apt to say you’re the cogs in an elaborate door to let me leave, and cogs stay in place. They don't get to leave. At least… not when the door’s in service."
Rias: “It’s Sakuri who said leaving here was impossible; I didn’t. In fact, when she learned the same thing you just did, cracking from the shock of it all, I even tried to console her.”
Sakuri: “Don’t tell her-! Even for you this is going too far!”
Rias: “Nonsense. I don’t see the Watchers or even that damn interloper passing off as a human trying to stop me, do you?”
Well at least that bit seems to paint Ogre as cut from a different cloth from what we know about all these demons so far… for better or for worse. Hopefully better though because FUCK. And the Bad Revelation Train’s just chugging along still!
Rias: “I’ll say as much as I want. Consider this me paying you back for keeping me trapped here, and not even having the good grace to let your mind fall apart even if your body can’t.”
Rias: “There is indeed a stable, secure connection between this place and Earth. And it might even be possible for escape to be possible for humans trapped here… but only when this prison loses its purpose. A machine without purpose is, of course, destroyed, and a lucky cog or wheel might even be knocked free when that happens.”
Viola: “Then we’ll-”
Rias: “-There’s nothing for you to do or even try to do. The moment that may let you out of here will never come if reality truly is on the verge of ending. And even if it did…”
Rias: “It would require the deaths of every viable summoner for me.”
Sakuri: “SHUT UP RIAS!”
[Sakuri hurls a rock at the demon, only to break apart on impact with a barrier)
If Rias’s schtick is how it sounds, wouldn’t that mean the human race? Also, props to you for at least trying to attack the bastard.
Rias: “Every single human. Your Father would of course be included in that.”
Sakuri: “Viola you can’t-”
[Viola slowly sinks to her knees… and beyond that collapses forward onto her hands.]
Viola: “Can’t get out. Can’t do anything at all…”
Viola: “The world’s going to end, but everything else is too so there’s no way out and… and… and-!”
[A long, sad WAIL is let out. More than just tears, Viola resigns herself to outright sobbing.]
Viola: “AND YOU LIED!”
Sakuri: “This just wasn't how I was going to-”
Sakuri: “... Oh no.”
Daniel: “Another one?!?”
SQUISH SQUISH SQUISH
Rias: “Oh worse than just one more of Beelzebub’s avatars. The demon itself’s come for the new product..”
So what, are we gonna fight like… a giant fly or something? That’s what Beelzebub’s supposed to be, right?
Have to admit that would be pretty lame compared to what this place has thrown at us so far.
[From the assorted entrances into the room, a BRIGHT YELLOW SEMISOLID SUBSTANCE spreads almost instantaneously, spiderwebbing through the the entirety of the chamber on the floor and walls. The threads of yellow have inconsistent sizes, with some thin and narrow while others bulge with bulbs of various size… but the collective presence of BEELZEBUB OF GLUTTONY is constantly pulsating.]
I’M FIGHTING A PISS-BLOB DEMON?!?
Daniel: “What… what the-”
???: “Sa-ku-ri… Din-ner’s rea-dy-”
Daniel: “That’s… coming from that thing....”
??? 2: “Violai…? Dinner’s ready-”
??? 3 : “Sakuri? Dinner’s ready-”
Sakuri: “Daniel, we need to go, now! This is-”
??? 4 : “VIOLA? DINNER’S READY-”
Sakuri: “We can’t die here! Viola can’t die here, more than any other place here!”
[And suddenly many of the pods are punctured from inside… some by tendrils accompanied by loud BOOMS , others instead by kitchen knives. Fully-formed Gluttony Avatars, males with shotguns along with FEMALE GLUTTONY AVATARS brandishing knives tear themselves free of the pods, pulling out even from ones too small to rightfully hold a grown human.]
Sakuri's Mother?: “Sakuriiiiiiiiiiii!”
Viola’s Father?: “ViOOOla!”
Sakuri’s Mother/VIola’s Father?: “DINNERSREADY!!!!!”
STAGE 3 : The Cost of Escape
WELL THAT'S NOT AN INSPIRING STAGE NAME! And neither was everything I just learned and saw unfold in front of our eyes! Goddammit game, like 24 hours ago Viola was just a normal girl intending to visit her friend Ellen in the woods and just… you can only go through the ringer so many times!
And neither is what we're up against from the get-go. Gluttony Avatars come in two flavors as you might expect, and they're definitely the toughest mooks we've run into to date... which is understandable since Sakuri and Viola have previously cut their teeth mashing the small fry of this place into puny bits, and Daniel's probably on roughly the same level as Mandus.
The ones based on Viola's dad are long-to-midrange, with their shot/tentacle guns being able to be used from that distance but not from point blank-range. For those unfamiliar with tactical games like Super Robot Wars and SHW, in some cases really strong or long-ranged attacks can't be used against enemies close by or after the unit moves to a different tile. Just part of the game balance and so everything has its own niche. I fully expect though that any subsequent shots that land will do way more than when Viola defended Daniel, both because of CUTSCENE POWER and also Viola manifesting a barrier.
Then there are the ones based on presumably Sakuri's mom. Their knives aren't for show and they're focused on attacking from up-close, though they do have a weaker mid-range move. We'll see that soon enough.
But we have one more enemy on the scene right now, and he's unique so…
[Name: Rias the Blue]
[Level: 66, HP: 161, IP: 66]
[Attack: F, Defense: S, Evasion: A, Mobility: A]
[Special Abilities: Absolute Guard, Tenacity, Reconstitution, Form Change]
Alright game, we get it! Rias is Satanic and a demon and super-bad! At least in terms of lore and stats. But it's like everyone's said: he's not allowed to actively, directly take action against humans in the labyrinth, so he has no attacks. But his abilities are pretty ominous for when he does start fighting.
In addition to his astronomic health and defense, Rias has Absolute Guard which further reduces all damage done to him to 1/5th of what it should be. Tenacity makes it so that if he has more than 1 HP, any attack that hits hard enough to kill him even with all his other defense will only drop him to 1 HP, though it has a two turn cooldown on usage. Reconstitution lets him heal a set amount of damage to one allied unit per turn (including potentially himself), and then there's Form Change. With a name like that, the brief flash when his cloak turned red, and the fact he's supposed to be REALLY strong, I'm praying REALLY hard we won't have to fight "Rias the Red" anytime soon. Because all of these components added up spell out that there's no way Sakuri, Viola, and Daniel are gonna drop him right now, especially not with mooks to worry about. And considering how OP this "passive" version of Rias is... how bullshit is Justine gonna be when we have to take a swing at her?
That's Rias, but we also have a new character to use too!
[From: Amnesia: The Dark Descent]
[Level: 4, HP: 40, IP: 35]
[Attack: B, Defense: B, Evasion: C, Mobility: C]
[Attacks: Ransack Impact, Ceremonial Knife(c), Lantern Fire]
[Special Abilities: Support Attack, Nyctophobe, Beam Parry (medium)]
[Special Equipment: Laudenum Kit]
And bam, right there. Daniel's so much of a nyctophobe it's an entire freaking SKILL for him. However, it's actually not that crippling, and situationally can be REALLY good. Similar to Mandus's Saboteur skill, it makes his light-based attacks like his lantern do double damage against "dark" enemies or those using "dark" attacks, presumably like Justine's Lantern Darkness ... but at the cost of consuming double the resources it normally does. Dude does not like the dark. Can't blame him. Hopefully it's more asset than liability when it comes time for him to help Mandus fight Justine.
It’s worth noting too that Daniel’s evasion is better than Mandus’s by a bit, which is fair enough when the original Amnesia has a much bigger emphasis on hiding from monsters and gave you more options to do that.
Daniel also gets a "thrown object" attack like Mandus, though his does a bit less damage, but then again Daniel never smashed open a glass pane covering a steam shaft. His lantern is identical to Mandus's in terms of range, damage, and Illumination Point cost. Currently though that's the strongest move Daniel has, with no equivalent to the Spotlight. What Daniel DOES have access to is a cost-free melee option with his ceremonial knife that can chain together attacks on enemies standing in a line. No parry ability though, but then again his only experience with it was carving up helpless prisoners. This ultimately gives Daniel a feel that at least for the moment, Mandus would be better for taking on bigger, stronger, tougher enemies but Daniel's more apt for crowd control and killing a bunch of weaker enemies in quick succession.
One last trick in Danel's bag though: an actual bag! Full of drugs! Shame on you, Daniel, for wanting to push opium (because that's what Laudenum is) on kids! Except the laudenum takes after how it worked in Amnesia as a way to heal up when you take damage. So on top of everything else, Daniel can heal! I'm assuming though since this is due to being "special equipment", it can be re-assigned to other characters though, and presumably there are better candidates for being the group healers.
This stage is also giving us a turn limit to try to reach one of the exits; a scant four turns. It’s gonna be tricky with so many enemies slowing us down, but if we hoof it, it should be doable.
So now we just select Sakuri and Viola and-
Sakuri: "Viola, we need to move. If we don’t that thing… one part of it or another’s going to eat us!"
Viola: "Why did you lie?"
Sakuri: "I didn’t-"
Viola: "You lied! YOU lied!"
... Oh shit.
Viola: "You acted like I could get my life... my body... my FATHER back! But... but you said there's no way out! So what's the point?!? You've run around here for maybe thousands of years, but you always come back when you die! Daniel and I can't!"
Daniel: "Now's not the time for this!"
Sakuri: "The longer we stay here the worst it is so please-"
Viola: "But when is it going to be a good time? We're stuck here! And we’re all going to die one way or another! Except you! You’ll be fine and… and-!!"
Sakuri: "... You think I didn’t react the same way when I first found out?”
[And she suddenly pulls Viola up, pulling her into a tight hug.]
Sakuri: “And you’re right, I don’t stay dead so… so I had all the time I needed to come to terms with everything here. And you don’t have that… especially not like this.”
Sakuri: “That's why I wanted to try to find someplace safe... somewhere that we'd be able to work through all of it. I know what you're going through; I went through it too! But I didn't want you to struggle to get past it for as long as I did!"
Viola: "But… what’s the point? If everything’s going to die-”
Sakuri: “There wasn’t much of a point of to keep going when Rias told me I couldn’t get out of here either. But I still did.”
Sakuri: “And if all of that’s what I had to go through… just to help you or anyone else stuck here?”
Sakuri: “... It was worth it. Every death.”
And Daniel being a scumbag and helping Alexander of Brennanburg torture a SHITTON of people was able to lead to Daniel being here in the first place!
Kinda falls apart though if we were to apply it to Mandus since the Machine for Pigs is the reason the universe is gonna be obliterated though.
Rias: “Touching, but all it’s going to amount to is feeling slightly better about yourselves while you’re torn apart, gorged, and dissolved.”
Daniel: “Don’t be too confident. This wouldn’t be the first… thing like this I’ve had to get away from. And these two are leaving with me!”
Also, seriously thank god that this is a turn-based strategy game. Heartfelt exchanges like this would end after the first few lines if this were happening in real-time. It’s one of the advantages for our heroes here, with one of the disadvantages of course being villains being able to inexplicably escape even after they’ve been beaten.
But you take the rough with the smooth, just like Sakuri’s trying to say here. And those words seem to have had a positive effect on Viola besides just being a pep talk, as seen here!
And lastly: fuck yeah Daniel. You lost sanity if you looked at the freaky monsters in Dark Descent, but not the meat moss that wound up growing all over everything!
[Daniel is selected, and moves into range to attack one of the female Gluttony Avatars. Battle begins, with a chair appearing next to Daniel that he immediately picks up in one hand.]
Daniel: "The trail to Onigawara won't die here! I intend to see to that!"
[With a mighty heave, the chair is hurled into the Gluttony Avatar, doing significant damage.]
Gotta hand it to the Amnesia leads: not everyone has the upper body strength to throw big heavy objects with one hand while you're holding a lantern up with the other. And unlike the freaks in those games, these monsters have the decency to take damage!
[But the Avatar isn't defeated just yet.]
Sakuri's Mother?: "Timetoeaaaaaaaaaaaat!!"
[And moreover, Daniel is within range for a counterattack. The Gluttony Avatar reaches out with its open hand, the limb extending and splitting into a number of tentacles. They lash around Daniel, pulling him in close enough for the Avatar to take a swing at him with her knife. Blood is drawn, but the attack only shaves a few HP off Daniel's health.]
Daniel: “You’re barely scratching me with that thing!”
Okay, if we're gonna be trading damage like that, Daniel should be able to hold his own so long as things are done strategically.
So we're going to have Sakuri and Viola bring up the rear and let Daniel play the role of tank here. And from that it’s just a matter of letting the enemy take their turn-
[The lead Gluttony Avatar moves forward into melee range.]
-And rather than counterattack this time, we're just gonna defend!
Sakuri's Mother?: "Sakuriiiiii! Dinneeeeers reaaaaaaaaaaddddyyyy!"
[And rather than pull Daniel over to her, the Gluttony Avatar instead charges at Daniel.]
Sakuri's Mother?: "Hurryupsakuriiiii! Aaaaah, can'twaitCan'tWaitCAN'TWAITCAN'TWAITCAN'TWAIT!"
[The knife comes plunging down with a thorough SQUELCH , the screen turning red save for the black silhouettes of Daniel and the Avatar.]
Sakuri's Mother?: "Redandtasty!"
[The Avatar steps back and pulls free her knife, letting loose a shower of blood as she spreads her arms and basks in it pouring down on her.]
Sakuri's Mother?: "SO REDANDTASTY!"
[But when the Avatar springs away and proper color returns, Daniel only takes damage similar to what he did before.]
Daniel: "Come back with a blade for an arm and maybe that'll be something I have to run from!"
And this, dear friends, is one of the most unintentionally hilarious parts of Super Robot Wars. You can have the coolest looking attack animation or something that would rightfully be a one-hit kill in a story's source material... but a balance of special abilities, excellent defense, terrain advantages, and similar factors, you can end up with moves that are shown to blow up planets but only do scratch damage. And fortunately Daniel's no stranger getting chopped up by huge-ass arm-cleavers in his source material that can smash through iron grates and destroy reinforced doors in seconds (and even survive those hits if he's at full health!) so he's still going strong.
[The other Gluttony Avatars move in the direction of Sakuri, VIola, and Daniel, but none save for the previous one were able to get into range to attack… though a great many of them clump up behind the one that just did.]
And more importantly, the various other Gluttony Avatars nearby are forming a nice, comfy cue. And both our characters here have chain attacks, don’t they?
As a side note though, Rias apparently is considered part of a “third” faction as far as the game’s system tracks it. Which makes a certain amount of sense too; Rias is a prisoner here and he’s called the other demons here “wardens”. And since he’s not allowed to fight us and his current form is all-defense anyways...
[The turn shifts back to the player’s control, but as it does, even more pustules across Beelzebub’s body bursting open in the center of the room, all crowding around… with a considerable blob beginning to swell.]
Viola: “It’s getting bigger-!”
Sakuri: “That’s what it does! It just grows and grows and… imitates things close to you to try to break you! And the longer it stays the worse things are going to be!”
Daniel: “We’ll be out of here before it gets us.”
Quite right, Daniel! We got this bit of a speedbump to get past but afterwards it should be smooth sailing!
… Which actually makes me a bit worried but saying is even more worrisome since again, properly dying here’s impossible. Meaning Viola and Daniel’ll get to experience an eternity of being digested by The Blob here or its freaky spawn or whatever you want to call them.
Plus Rias is being pretty quiet, but then again that’s the smart way to have a villain leave you guessing.
[Daniel is selected, and targets the Gluttony Avatar that attacked him before, along with those positioned behind it, for a chain attack.]
Daniel: “Just like before, Daniel. You know how this goes.”
[... And with that, he draws a crooked knife, before taking off in a sprint at the lead Gluttony Avatar.]
Daniel: “Paint the man-!”
[And the blade slashes through the demon in a single blow, reducing its health to zero.]
Daniel: “Cut the lines-!”
[Another run-by. This Avatar predictably survives, but cannot counter because Daniel’s already moved past it to the next.]
Daniel: “Cut the flesh-!”
[And then again.]
Daniel: “Watch the blood spill-!”
Daniel: “-Now, let it come!”
[And one last time. The camera continues to track Daniel until he stops and turns his head to look at the Avatars he attacked, all of them spontaneously snapping back together in shock and pain with the weakened lead Avatar bursting apart in a shower of yellow.]
And that’s why we didn’t counter and kill that one Avatar when it attacked us before! So we could have THAT kickass assault!
Nice to see Daniel using his experience with carving people up for good now too .
We also just softened up a whole bunch of the other Avatars though sooooo…
[Cut to Sakuri and Viola charging through their ranks and managing to punch them all into oblivion.]
Sakuri/Viola: “One more-.! HA!!”
… Matricide/patricide’s never been so acceptable! Sure we didn’t make much progress this turn, but the path to escape’s been cleared up! And it’s a damn good thing too because one of that big blob at the center of the stage isn’t just for show.
[Name: Beelzebub of Gluttony]
[Level: 15, HP: 100 IP: 50]
[Attack: A, Defense: A, Evasion: F, Mobility: E]
[Attacks: Hunger Shower, Smash and Dissolve, Stampede, Devour]
[Special Abilities: Defensive Consumption, Endless Growth, Hope’s Folly]
Beelzebub’s at least FEELS like he’s going to be an easier threat to deal with than Rias, if I have to deal with him… but I’d rather not. Beelzebub moves extremely slowly in spite of how quickly it showed up here, with its movement ranged fixed by Endless Growth (which admittedly does increase its size), and with an F rank in Evasion, it is impossible for it to dodge attacks.
However… accompanying its high attack and defense is the Defensive Consumption skill, which is pretty much an manifestation of why you never try to fight a blob monster with a stick or punches. Any melee, physical attack has its damage done reduced by half and Beelzebub gets a 100% hit rate on the counters. So essentially it wants to drag the fight into just a brawl where what matters most is being able to dish out better than you take… but between my two units, only Daniel’s lantern is a non-physical attack. And that’ll burn through his IP very quickly.
Lastly, there’s “Hope’s Folly”, an ability that apparently seems mostly fluff-based in that Beelzebub can have extensions of itself be based on any fond memory, person, or thing that it’s going after… hence the Avatars that look like Sakuri and Viola’s parents.
But God willing we won’t have to even take a swing at it! Our path of escape is clear!
[The enemy takes its turn, the new Gluttony Avatars, along with the initial ones, advance once more, nearly closing the distance between them and the Survivors. Beelzebub grows even larger.]
Sakuri: “We don’t have long now…”
Viola: “But getting away from it’ll work?”
Daniel: “It always worked for me.”
Sakuri: “And that’s how I ‘defeated’ it last time… it could only spread so far!”
Escape time! Gogogogogogogogogo!
[Sakuri and Viola are moved to one of the exit points.]
Sakuri: “We made it! Daniel hur-!”
[But there’s a sudden flickering of red behind him, just before Satan of Wrath reappears, quickly pulling Daniel into a bearhug.]
FUCK FUCK FUCK!
THAT OTHER DEMON DUDE COULD TELEPORT! THE WAY THAT MEANS WALLS MEAN JACK SHIT TO HIM!
Daniel: “Just run! I-uaaaack!”
Daniel: “I-I can manage!”
[Hands stuck at either side, Daniel still tries stabbing his knife into Satan’s side, not that the monster shows any signs of injury from it.]
Daniel: “Gre… raaaaaaaaAAAAH!”
Sakuri: “This is only going to get worse before it gets better. Viola-"
Viola: "I'm not leaving you alone here!"
[Viola's RED HAIR RIBBON flickers once briefly.]
Viola: "Not after what happened the last time... not just to me but to you! I- ah!"
[The hair ribbon begins flickering again, energy being given off from it. Viola drops to one knee, reaching to hold onto it in confusion.]
Viola: "What's wrong with my ribbon?!?"
Sakuri: "Hair ribbon? What are you talking about?"
Sakuri: "When did you start wearing a hair ribbon-"
Rias: "... It can't be. They did it again... they actually-"
What's all this hubub about? Viola's ALWAYS had a hair ribbon... or rather Ellen's body always had a hair ribbon. It's prominent enough it's distiguishable on her battlefield map model!
Danial: "UAAAAAAAAAAG-HA... Haaaa... haaaaa...!"
-And whatever it is don't get hung up on it when your hopeful ticket out of this place is getting crushed like that!
[She grabs Viola's hand, running straight at Satan, a new battle animation starting up all on its own.]
Sakuri: "I’m sorry Viola but-!"
[She reaches over, pulling Viola's ribbon out of her hair.]
Viola: "What are you-"
Sakuri: "I’ll explain when I can but…
Sakuri: “-This… ribbon… it's like I thought-!"
[And with Viola's ribbon wrapped around her hand, Sakuri takes off into a sprint at Satan, still trying to crush Daniel.]
Sakuri: "Maybe the Watchers didn't want to help more because they already DID help."
Sakuri: “Viola… focus on wanting that thing dead! I was wrong; now’s not the time to run… it’s to stand and fight! So hold onto that feeling! Don’t let go of it!”
Sakuri: " And Daniel, please hang on a little longer, because this ribbon…!"
[She jumps up, reaching face level with Satan… the screen briefly cutting away to a close-up of Viola, closing her eyes and clenching her fists, an aura beginning to build around her. In an instant it launches itself forward-]
Sakuri: "It's the same as my hairclips!"
[And the camera cuts to Satan’s POV, as Sakuri reaches eye level, Viola’s aura washing over her ribbon-wrapped hand before Sakuri thrusts out with it. The screen is entirely filled with the red of the hair ribbon, but within that redness, a darker red begins to burn into view: a ringed pentacle, accompanied by a deep RUMBLING .]
Sakuri: “It’s a power even THESE THINGS can’t beat!”
[A massive blast is released, the view switching back to what it was before as Satan is blown backwards by the attack, losing its hold on Daniel, struggling to remain standing as half its health is depleted. He’s knocked back several spaces on the game map.]
FUCK YEAH! CHEKHOV'S GUN JUST FIRED, YOU FREAKS! All that talk of "hairclips" this and "hairclips" that finally paid off... and sure the damn freak's still alive but huzzah for new attack!
Sakuri: “Daniel, are you-”
Daniel: “I-I’ll manage. Things like this are why I brought laudenum.”
[He rises back up.]
Daniel: “But that was-”
Rias: “-A nightmare I thought had come to an end. And proof enough that I’ve outstayed my welcome here. Enjoy fighting these two though… even if you win that will just be removing two seals on my escape.”
[And with that Rias vanishes.]
Viola: “He just left?”
Sakuri: “... Behind all that power and confidence he still doesn’t want to risk another fight. Not when we have something just as good as my hairclips.”
Viola: “But that’s my- I mean… that’s just Ellen’s hair ribbon! It was never special before… Ellen would have let me keep it if it was!”
Daniel: “Who’s this Ellen?”
Sakuri: “The girl to blame for Viola being stuck here, who stole her body and her life. But it’s thanks to her hair ribbon we can win here… if we just stay careful.”
Sakuri: “When I first woke up in this place, for some reason I was wearing hairclips. I never thought anything of them, but they stayed with me every time I died. And when I fought Rias, he was confused because he’d never seen my hairclips before… like there was something that had been blocking them from sight.”
Viola: “Like how you hadn’t seen my hair ribbon!”
Sakuri: “And my hairclips were able to turn the tide against him. I don’t know exactly how they can work but… it was like they would respond to my determination and draw on surrounding energy, amplify it, and let me us it as a weapon. I turned Rias’s own power against him… and they were the key to me surviving as well as I did until I met Viola.”
And considering Viola got to be present for Daniel showing up and then his audience with the Watchers AND Rias showing up AND Satan’s teleporting around, to say nothing of resolving to stand and fight… yeah, I can believe they had enough of a charge for a nice “fuck you” attack like that.
This is probably what Ogre meant by Viola turning to “other sources” of magic. Sure her own spells are hardwired to turn against her BUT drawing on leftover energy from what everyone else does is still fair game!
And if it’s going to stay OP as it sounds, I can sorta understand why the Watchers just up and left when Daniel tried asking for help… because if you’ve got something like that at your fingertips and you CAN’T win then you have something clearly wrong with you.
Daniel: “So that means we can beat these things? If that’s the case, it’s the best new I’ve heard since I got here...”
Sakuri: “At least the red one. If it takes a shot at us when we’re in a tunnel then there’s no way we’ll be able to dodge. And it can always just keep teleporting after us; it’s being way more aggressive hunting Viola than it was with me!”
Viola: (It can teleport even through the labyrinth… and this place is only a prison for Rias, not other demons like it and the Black Cat… So… does that mean…)
Viola: “I’m with Sakuri. We need to at least beat the red one!”
Viola: (Saying anything more might give them false hopes until I’m sure, but… if that rune on the ground was for summoning, then maybe beating that red one might even be our ticket out of this place!)
So right now our objectives have switched to defeating Satan, and we get a few more turns to do it in.
Viola’s got a plan. Leave it to the magical prodigy to have at least a hunch now that she’s out of her funk… and when we take a new look at Sakuri and Viola, we see that with this new attack comes a bit of a stat buff!
[Name: Sakuri Kunikai/Viola]
[From: Demonophobia/The Witch’s House]
[Level: 4, HP: 30, IP: 20, MP: 0]
[Attack: D, Defense: D, Evasion: D, Mobility: C]
[Attacks: Joint Melee(c), Ribbon]
[Special Abilities: Twin Tenacities, Mana Recycler]
We got a bit more health, a new attack, AND really nifty skills. SHW does stats a bit differently than most other turn-based games in that your level is pretty much everything, and now that we’re taking a look at Sakuri and Viola after they’ve both leveled up AND also had what looks to be a plotline buff, I think I have a good grasp of it.
Essentially, the ratings for Attack, Defense, Evasion, and Mobility, are all fixed. Mobility determines how far a unit can move and that looks like that doesn’t changed based on levels. However, Attack, Defense, and Evasion scale with what your level is, so a character might still have an attack rating of D or whatever for one stat at level 99 (or however high this game’ll go) but they will still do more damage with their attacks than they did before. HP grows slowly as you level up while IP stays fixed.
HOWEVER, plotline upgrades look like they’re gonna be boosting our stats up, and considering Sakuri and Viola are our leading ladies, I imagine they’re gonna turn into quite the beasts by the end.
Heck, the damage reading for the Ribbon attack outstrips everything else we’ve seen BY FAR, way more than even Mandus’s Searchlight. It does come with a snag though, requiring MP/mana for its use. I’d imagine hypothetically Sakuri could’ve used it before during her confrontation with Viola if there’d been enough mana released around them, but I guess easily killed toy soldiers didn’t qualify.
At any rate, IP regenerates on its own but MP doesn’t. Rather, it goes up when Sakuri and Viola are in the vicinity of enemies or allies using certain attacks like hardcore magic spells or arcane forms of energy or other things like that, or alternatively are targeted by one even if they’re far away. This is the Mana Recycler ability, but it comes at the snag that you can only get back 1 MP per full turn. Right now it’s fine because there’s so few enemies on the field, but God I hope that there’s an improved Recycler ability down the road. And fortunately the Ribbon only costs 1 MP to use.
And then there’s Twin Tenacities, which is like Rias’s only better. Which makes sense because rather than one person who doesn’t know how to die properly, we got TWO. It admittedly has a mild morale requirement, but that’s just so it can’t be abused immediately.
But essentially like Rias’s Tenacity, Twin Tenacities lets Viola survive any attack that would normally kill them with instead keeping 1 HP. I only say Viola because Sakuri takes the brunt of the attack and dies. However, after two turns, Sakuri respawns and then she and Viola recover half the health they lost from the attack in the first place. Viola can’t attack on her own and there’s an additional 1 turn cooldown afterwards, but overall it’s gonna be a GODSEND if we ever end up against a single, really strong enemy and the only way to beat them is just slowly chip away at their health. Or alternatively, Sakuri can just let herself be blown to pieces so Viola can get a charge to her hair ribbon.
They also got a modest speed boost to let them keep up the pace with Daniel. Kinda unnecessary at the moment since our plan is to stand and fight. And our current target is-
[Name: Satan of Wrath]
[Level: 7, HP: 50/100, IP: 75]
[Attack: A, Defense: D, Evasion: D, Mobility: A]
[Attacks: Bearhug, Choke, Standing Energy Cannon (m), Kneeling Energy Cannon (m), Punishment]
[Special Abilities: Teleporter]
Satan himself! Well probably not literally since we also got something named Beelzebub on the map too, and when we compare the two it’s easy to see who’s the bigger threat. Satan’s also already taken a beating courtesy of Sakuri using Viola’s hair ribbon, and going by his stats he’s a bit of a glass cannon. He can hit hard, has a number of attacks, and his mobility and Teleporter skill means that he can freely move to any tile in his movement range and barricades mean nothing to him. But on the other hand, he’s got defense on the same tier as Sakuri and Viola, and he’s coming at me at half power. Guess all those exposed guts aren’t just for show.
There is one thing to worry about though: his Energy Cannons also come in a “map” variant. “Map” attacks are similar to chain attacks in that they let you attack multiple targets at once, but they don’t have to be lined up and adjacent to each other. Some are omni-directional, some only go in one direction, and some can even hit allied units, but they’re the kind of thing you don’t want to get hit by. Satan’s can’t be used after moving, fortunately, and only goes in a straight row or column, so as long as our Survivors don’t stand in a line they’ll be fine.
… But considering we have 50 HP to try to wear down one way or another, it might help to coax him to do it so we can charge up Viola’s hair ribbon. And with Beelzebub still growing and with mooks on the field and soon to get into attack range, time is going to be of the essence.
But since Daniel’s taken so many bad hits, let’s instead take advantage of this moment to heal him up!
[Daniel is selected, and moves closer to Satan before the Laudenum option selected in order to heal himself. His health refills completely, and the player’s turn ends.]
Okay, and with that, everyone’s at full health. Now let’s see how bad things get when my turn ends . Satan’s not that much stronger, level-wise, so hopefully if he takes a swing at us we’ll be be able to have Daniel the Opium Pusher patch up the injuries. And hopefully he’ll go after Daniel since he’s closer… and if he sticks in one place-
[The remaining Gluttony Avatars advance, converging on Satan’s position and surrounding him.]
-Right, okay I think we got this in the bag now! Satan actually getting all of that backup works to my advantage, as you’ll soon see~
[Rather than teleport and attack Daniel again up close, the demon instead opts to use its energy cannon, dropping to one knee as something seems to wriggle forward from its exposed guts. The energy beam sweeps towards Daniel, but-]
Daniel: “You lost your chance of using that on me!”
[Daniel’s lantern releases a surging plume of flame, meeting the demon’s attack head on with equal force. The two attacks struggle against each other with neither one being overpower the either… before Satan’s attack finally peters out, leaving Daniel unharmed.]
Too bad Daniel’s attack couldn’t then power on through and hit the big red bastard afterwards, but that might be a bit too OP. But who knows? Maybe we just needed to be in range for the lantern (it’s a short-ranged attack, mind you) or the strongest Beam Parry for that. Either way, it’s finally time for our counterattack!
[Beelzebub grows even further still, but remains safely away from its Avatars, Satan, and the Survivors, with Daniel moving to attack the flank of one side of the group with his knife again.]
These Avatar dudes are officially our new best friends. They’re a hell of a lot weaker than Satan, but thanks to chain attacks, we can attack Satan indirectly since he’s smack in the middle of them! Probably not going to finish him this turn but-
[Daniel conducts another slashy runby, wounding many of the the Avatars and costing Satan 15 of his remaining hit points. In retaliation, the male Gluttony Avatar that he initially attacked counters with a tentacle-y shotgun blast, doing modest damage.]
Yeah… Viola honestly it was cool of you to get in Daniel’s graces before by taking one of those hits, but the man could take it. But you know what CAN’T take another bad hit? A bunch of Gluttony Avatars we just cut up like turkeys!
[Another chain attack, this time Sakuri and Viola attacking from the opposite side and smacking down another assortment of Gluttony Avatars, and costing Satan another 7 HP.]
And there we go! Now have Sakuri and Viola in close range, so another energy cannon shot’ll give us some MP and then it should be a cakewalk to finish the bastard off!
[-But instead the demon opts for a physical assault, teleporting behind Sakuri and Viola.]
Alright, Clifford the Big Red Demon’s going for another attack. And you know what? Who cares, let’s swap some blows! It’s not like he’s gonna be able to one-shot the two of them in one hit!
Satan: “Ruiiiii… RuuuuuuiiiIIIIIIII…!”
[Rather than running, Satan’s attack begins with him teleporting wildly across the screen to Sakuri and Viola’s models-]
[Its hand lunges out, grabbing both girls by their hair and lifting them to face level-]
… Well fuck.
That’ll teach me not to run my mouth.
Satan: “UIIIIIII IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAGH!!!! ”
[Only to swing its other fist around to deliver a vicious hook, slamming the two girls into the ground.]
Satan: “RUIIII!!!!! RUIIIIIIIIGH!!!!”
[But the attack doesn’t end there as the camera shifts for a close up view of Satan as it brings down one fist, and then the other, and then the first again-]
Satan: “RUIIIII! RUIIIIII!!! RUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGH!!!!!!!”
[Each blow is punctuated with a monstrous cry… but before long the demon grows tired of the attack, turning and walking away, the camera finally moving to show Sakuri and Viola lying in the bottom of a crater, their health decimated by the attack.]
Viola: “That… he’s-!”
Sakuri: “He’s... the person we have to beat! Even you said that! So… keep with me, please! Don’t give up!”
Viola: “I’m wont… I wont!”
[Still with HP, the two rise back up to deliver their far less impressive punch counterattack.]
Yes! Keep it together! You still get your counterattack which is what I was hoping for! By my calculations the bastard’s health is just low enough now that a dose of Lantern Fire should be able to finish Satan off… and honestly we don’t have much time left as Beelzebub gets bigger AGAIN!
So let’s finally do this… Daniel, bail us out!
[Daniel is moved into range, targeting Satan.”
Daniel: “I’ve seen you can deal pain and injury plenty… but you seem to not be able to bear it very well yourself.”
Daniel: “SO BURN!”
[The searing heat of this lantern blasts out at Satan, the demon unable to do little more than try to hold up a hand in an attempt at stopping the flames. A futile attempt, in fact, as the fire engulfs it completely and utterly and its health plummets to 0.]
Satan: “ RUUUUUUUU UUUUIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiii....”
[The red demon is charred black as the flames subside, collapsing down to the ground with the three Survivors looking at it.]
Daniel: “... Is it down?!”
Well on one hand its health hit zero but then again in this kind of game that’s kinda never a guarantee.
Sakuri: “I think so… and now I think we need to get going!”
[Indeed, Beelzebub has begun growing and spreading again… this time much more rapidly.]
Viola: “Actually… if I had another few moments… I... “
Viola: “I think I might be able to get us out of here!”
[She kneels down next to Satan, taking off her ribbon again.]
Sakuri: “Get us out of here? Viola I’m sure there’s a way but now-”
Viola: “Now’s the best chance we have! If the ribbon works the way I think it does then- ah!”
[Her ribbon begins glowing once more.]
Daniel: “It’s gathering in power again, and I’ll admit whatever strange power it has is good in a fight… but what good will it do for us to get out of here!”
Viola: “Because of the demon we just killed could teleport!”
Ooooh snap I think I know where we’re going with this. And if you’re right Viola, then holy hell clearly Ellen chose the absolute worst person to throw in her body!
Viola: “It could teleport because of its own energies, and my ribbon, like you said, Sakuri… could absorb that energy! And if that Black Cat could come and go from here, then what’s to stop other demons?”
Sakuri: “... And we’re on a summoning rune for sending and receiving people from this place…”
[She clasps her hair ribbon tightly, the red fabric now glowing practically white with the power building up.]
Viola: “And if reality IS starting to break down, then if there was any way to… to muddle the waters and maybe let humans leave from here… then the energies of a teleporting demon would be our best chance!”
Viola: “It’s the best chance I could think of for us getting out of here so… please, Daniel! Ask if Johann Weyer could transport us now!”
[Daniel gives a nod.]
Daniel: “I’ll give a try… even though we’re fast running out of room.”
[He looks up into the air again.]
Daniel: “Johann? Agrippa? If you’re still there, then-”
[But the energy building up from the hair ribbon grows even more, with a CRACKLING beginning to ring clear as Satan begins to try to rise again!]
.. BECAUSE OF COURSE SOMETHING THAT BIG DOESN”T KNOW HOW TO STAY DOWN WHEN YOU KICK ITS SHIT IN.
[The now-black demon’s legs break apart as so much ash… but it nevertheless tries to arch itself back to point its stomach at the three Survivors.]
Sakuri: “Daniel, don’t stop! And you too Viola!”
[One last battle animation begins to play, Sakuri stepping away from Viola and closing her eyes.]
Sakuri: “... Illumination… the power of survival…”
Sakuri: “Daniel was able to make chairs appear from nothing so… maybe it’s possible- to do this?!”
[Sakuri’s eyes snap open in resolution. She holds up her right hand, looking at it as her forearm shifts gray… turning entirely to stone before beginning to drop. It takes her entire other arm to support the now half-petrified limb.]
Sakuri: “It’s heavy, but there’s nothing wrong that that!”
Guessing here that this is some spin on something that happened to Sakuri in her source material. Wouldn’t know precisely what; don’t have any interest in touching Demonophobia itself with a 50-foot pole.
But whatever it is, go SHW-version of Sakuri! Go and save the day! Fist that demon good and hard!
… That came out wrong.
Sakuri: “No more running from you. No more getting punched by you. No more dying because of you! It’s time you actually take hard knocks yourself!”
[Sakuri takes off at a modest sprint at Satan, turning her body back before swinging forward with her stone fist.]
Sakuri: “This… is for EVERYTHING you put me through!”
[The stone hand swings forward, shredding through Satan’s body like tissue paper. The energy charging from its stomach fizzles out as Sakuri pulls her hand free.]
Sakuri: “And this… is... for EVERYTHING you did to Daniel and Viola! ”
[And she lets loose another rough punch, her weight behind it as her fist smashes through the demon’s head in one go. This time, Satan’s health drops to -∞.]
WELL YOU CAN’T GET MORE KILLED THAN THAT!
Let this be a lesson: an attack fueled by a smorgasbord of horrific eldritch energy? Yeah that’ll bloody the shit out of a powerful demon’s nose.
An attack fueled by the pain and suffering you and others felt? It’ll let you kill something in a domain where death’s not supposed to be possible, or at least put it so damn under it ain’t gonna wanna poke its head above the surface again!
Sakuri: “... And you deserve a million more punches like that. But we don’t have time for that.”
[She turns back to Viola and Daniel.]
Sakuri: “We… can go now, right?”
[A smile. And even tears beginning to well up in her eyes.]
Daniel: “I think- ah! They pulled through!”
[And a blue beam similar to the one that brought Daniel to the labyrinth shoots down out of the sky, enveloping the three of them.]
Viola: “We’re… we’re going to be able to get out of here!”
[She reaches over, taking Sakuri’s hand.”
Viola: “Sakuri we’re going to be able to go back home!”
Daniel: “It’ll be out of the frying pan and into the fire, I’m afraid. From one fight to another.”
Sakuri: “You say that but…”
Sakuri: “I spent… lifetimes stuck here. Too dumb to ever figure a way out. And then when I meet the two of you, I’m out just like that...”
[The tears of joy begin to flow without end.]
Sakuri: “I’ll do everything I can to help! Everything! I’m not going to escape one hell just to let Earth turn into one too!”
[The Survivors vanish in the light, leaving Beelzebub behind with the pulverized remains of Satan.]
Brave words from the girl who doesn’t die! Not necessarily wise though… but we’ll see… we’ll see hopefully soon!
So there you have it. I found myself writing and rewriting sequences of this many times over; like originally Viola was going to have hairclips similar to Sakuri, and they in fact would not be revealed until the very end of the story. Funny how they in turn are obtained practically from the start... but on the other hand Sakuri and Viola need a few breaks, eh? The exact process of them escaping was also revised numerous times for the sake of keeping it streamlined, after many thoughts and drafts ranging from Viola witnessing various "inert" realities that couldn't properly exist anymore due to conditions not being right for them, or even a cameo by an adult Fran Brow explaining the concept of the "Ultrareality". But that all felt too complicated for a "stage" which is collectively longer than most/possibly all of the papers I ever wrote in college, and the empowered hair ribbon let me tie the MP reference from the first stage, the encounter with Satan in the prologue, and escape all together.
I'm not sure if this length is going to be the norm from here on out, simply because there was a lot of information that was discussed over the course of these past two chapters. If it's a problem please let me know; I'll try to find places to trim down on wherever I can. And I'll try to shoot for at least two chapters a month... though two jobs can make that difficult.
Anywhoo, Sakuri and co. are finally out of the labyrinth, and we'll be returning to them in stage 5, but right next up we'll be returning to the present, with Mandus, Daneil, and a whole host of characters are all about to meet!