The most enduring video game memories that David and I have involve sitting next to each other and playing RPGs. We spent countless hours with Squaresoft RPGs, in particular, so when we heard that The Last Story, by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, was getting a US release we knew that we had to play it and had to talk about it. Here are our ramblings.
Spoiler Alert, so read with your eyes closed if you don’t wanna see them
David: I felt that Chapter 1 was short, but Chapter 2 is even shorter! I think it took me somewhere around 8 minutes to complete Chapter 2. Regardless, I still feel that there’s a decent amount to say about the 8 minutes.
Dan: Yeah, when you initially told me the number of chapters I thought they’d be longer. Turns out you were wrong about that number and I bet they’ll all be pretty short.
David: Ya, I had read somewhere that it was 12, which was totally wrong. I looked it up again and it looks like there’s 44 chapters.
Dan: I think it’ll be good to have everything split out into smaller chunks. We’ll be able to really analyze what’s going on that way.
David: Ya, I think so too. So, where did Chapter 1 leave us off? Our band of merry mercenaries just got out of the Reptid Cave. We were in there because the Count of Lazulis asked us to clear it out, right?
Dan: Yep. That’s the job they were hired for. The chapter starts with them exiting that cave and Syrenne drops a line about needing to have a drink because her hands are shaking. I suppose it’s supposed to be funny, but I’m starting to get the feeling that Syrenne has a serious problem.
David: I kinda like how they added that in. Normally alcoholics are only inserted into games for comedy, but we see here a negative side to alcoholism as well as the comical.
Dan: We’ll see if they actually develop it, but if it’s meant to be a joke it fell really flat for me.
David: Ya, we’ll see. So, our gang comes out of the caves and then we see a ton of villagers running scared and screaming for help. This happened, right? I feel like it was so long ago since I played the chapter.
Dan: Yeah, see, Siegfried and Roy were in town and their tiger escaped. Some kids were trapped by the evil, violent tiger and everyone was fleeing the scene.
David: AH! Right. The tiger is referred to as “Forest Beast”, how descriptive. I liked this part of the game. So the next thing we had to do was intentionally run around with the Gathering power on to buy time so Yurick can take the kids to safety one by one. It was a good mechanic for solidifying the lesson on Diving and dodging attacks. I had forgotten about Diving, so I lost my first life.
Dan: I needed the reminders too, but it turns out I’m a bad Diver. I lost two lives during this fight, I think, mostly from bad dives, but also from forgetting to block. Also there was a great line where Syrenne was all, “Trust the scary eyepatch man,” to the kids and he responded with some snarky lines. I wonder if that’s meant to be banter or if they actually don’t like each other.
David: I think it’s both. Yurick comes off as a pretentious dick to me and I guess that Syrenne has a thing against people who think they’re better.
Dan: Watch them be a couple by the end of the game.
David: So after Yurick gets the kids to safety, they tell you that it’s time to let loose on this guy. At this point I had turned off my Gathering ability. So the tiger started attacking my allies. He pretty much wasted them quickly, so I needed to turn Gathering back on and fight him with it.
Dan: Other than Dagran, the rest of the team seems pretty fragile. I’m having a hard time seeing when it wouldn’t be prudent to have Gathering on, at least at this early stage.
David: Ya, I agree. The fight ended with the tiger running. I assume this is important because the tiger is on some picture I saw of the game.
Dan: Is he? I totally missed that. I knew it was important because he had that weird blue aura and he didn’t die. It’s completely unexplained so far.
David: Ya, I think he has to do with the girl on the cover, but we don’t know too much about her yet either. So, tell us about the “thanks” we get after the fight.
Dan: Well, it’s not really much. Apparently mercenaries have a terrible rep in this area. We just saved a bunch of kids, y’all, but no respect!
David: The villagers initially mistook us for Knights and were very grateful. After learning we’re mercenaries, the villagers were scared of us and got away as quickly as possible. So we’ve got a pretty black and white understanding so far on how people see knights and mercenaries. Knights are noble, great, and help the people. Mercenaries seems to be viewed as low class, dangerous, and collateral damage.
Dan: What’s a guy gotta do to turn his rep around? Maybe if we save the city…
David: I bet that’s exactly what it takes! So around here, we also get a pretty haunting flashback.
Dan: More insight into the way mercs are treated and Zael’s past. There’s a line in there from Dagran about “Losing another one,” that I presume has to do with a merc dying, but when they come to turn in their objective, the guy who hired them won’t see them out of fear. We then get a significant shot of the gold on the floor. Payment for a job in which a man’s life was lost. The worth of a merc’s life and more evidence that Zael is actually pretty terrible at protecting his buddies.
David: The part where they were on the battlefield with the injured merc and they heard someone scream in pain, that stuck with me. Also, Zael’s reaction. You could see a little more depth in his desire to have the power to protect those close to him. He hasn’t only lost his mom, but also his friends.
Dan: With that insight in place, our merry band of mercs approaches the city and we get a cutscene that ends on a rather gigantic cannon and a title drop. Checkov’s Gun, hermano. That cannon will be fired by the end of the story.
David: I felt like the cutscene was meant to confuse us a bit. Like intentionally overwhelm us with the business of a city. We saw a lot of things that we know nothing about and what looked like significant people that we haven’t meant. When I was entering the city, I felt confused from the cutscene and downtrodden from the villager’s reactions towards us.
Dan: You’re definitely right. The idea is that our mercs are a tiny part of this bustling organism, Lazulis City. We’re insignificant and unwanted, but we’re also good for it (since we saved those kids).
David: It’s like Chapter 1 really built up what we were doing. Showed the romantic side to being a mercenary. Boom! We’re helping people, fighting with friends, discovering new and exciting things. In Chapter 2, BOOM! We saved children’s lives! And then RIGHT before we enter the city, and we’re put right back in our place. It’s like when a kid goes and plays outside with his imagination and thinks he’s the king of the world, and then has to come back to the house where his older brothers are picking on him. We’re just mercenaries, not knights.
Dan: Combined with Ch. 1, that’s our full intro/setup, minus a character or three. All the groundwork has been laid.
David: And at the end of the cutscene, we finally get the title and logo telling us that this is The Last Story, are you now ready to start playing?
Dan: Oh, I’m ready!
David: That’s great!…… but that’s the end of Chapter 2.
Dan: Will Siegfried and Roy get their tiger back? Will Zael let another friend die? How bad are Syrenne’s delerium tremens? Find out in The Last Story Ch. 3!