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Crossing the bridge between dreams and reality - Let's Play Eternal Sonata!

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
Verse IX-III: Chapter 3 Redux

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time we went through Chapter 2 of Encore Mode, which had two very tough bosses (who, coincidentally, both happened to be Tuba). Today we’re going through Chapter 3; here’s the compilation video if you want to watch the cutscenes and such.



We start with one half of the party, which consists of Allegretto, Viola, and the three members of Andantino; they’ve been trudging through Adagio Swamp the past few days on their way back to the rebels’ hideout at Andante, and with any luck should reach a nearby inn soon.



Of course, that means they have to walk through more gross swamp water, much to Claves’s chagrin.



♪♪~ Silence and Life

Adagio Swamp is only two screens long, so we’ll be out of here in no time – after tussling with the local wildlife, of course.





♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The Rare Metal Picker has a lot of nasty attacks (including the requisite poison move inherent to all scorpions), and its defenses are beefy enough in Encore Mode that most of our party’s basic attacks won’t damage them at all. Jazz and Viola can manage just fine (and Viola can mark them with Hawk Eye, which is very helpful), but everyone else is better off spamming specials, especially if Allegretto can knock one into the light to transform it.





Of course, the Blue Gil won’t make that easy for you; they can keep you at bay with a couple long-distance attacks and inflict Darkness Body on you if you aren’t careful. Strangely they never used Great Revolution (the fishes’ spin attack) on me, but I won’t complain too much.

You’ll notice that I’m not using Claves here, and that’s because there’s no real reason to in Encore Mode, at least in Chapter 3. In the first playthrough it was fine, but in Encore Mode enemies are just too tough – and Claves starts out weak enough – that she just isn’t very effective in battle. We can fix that in Mysterious Unison, but that’s a long ways off.





Anyway, we pass through Adagio Swamp safely…



♪♪~ Relaxing Place

And reach Cantabile Inn, where the party decides to turn in for the night.



♪♪~ Strategy

Back at Forte Castle, Waltz is upset at the news that the guardian of Agogo Forest is apparently dead, but decides not to dwell on it, instead redoubling his efforts to find glowing agogos.



That night, Viola and Allegretto discuss the possibility of there being a spy within Andantino, which upsets Jazz greatly.



The next day, we help a traveler catch his pet rat with the Fruit Basket, and he repays us with the Winder.





♪♪~ Wonderland of Wanderer

Trading quest item in hand, we’re ready to head off to Woodblock Groves.



This place will be important later, but for now we’re just passing through on our way to Andante.





The first area mainly has you fighting these Mushroom Ups, which are now huge blobs of HP; Harmony Chains are the way to go here. In addition to the moves shown here, they can also use Poison Scatter, which doesn’t do anything to affect the perma-poison you already have in this area but is still a fairly strong AoE move. The Emerald Bracelet we got from Thief Slur back in Chapter 2 will keep one character free of poison while you’re traveling through the groves, which is nice; I tend to put it on Viola so she can snipe enemies without wasting any time at the start of her turns.



On your first playthrough you can play Score Piece 1 with Hungry Drum here for the Brilliant Brooch, and Score Piece 4 for a Poison Whitecap. With our new stash of Score Pieces we can get one more item from him:

“If the session doesn’t go well this time, there are some mushrooms growing over there you could eat!”





“Woo hoo! My cup of joy runneth over, baby! If this session were a drink, I’d be getting refills!”

Playing Score Piece 8 gets us an A-rank and the Gold Necklace, which increases the wearer’s DEF by 5.





Moving right along…



You really want to take out the Leaf Eggs before they get a chance to transform in the light; even in Encore Mode they’re pushovers.





The Bloody Onions are even tankier than Rare Metal Pickers, to the point that even Viola’s arrows won’t do much if she’s shooting them at a close enough range (but that’s what Hawk Eye is for, natch).



Further into the groves, Jazz hands everyone a Neutralizing Stone, which doesn’t prevent poison but does render its already minor damage negligible.





Soon afterwards we find a Bloody Onion that seems to be very tired until we give it the Winder, and it runs off, leaving this Empty Vase behind.



Time to backtrack!
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)




♪♪~ Silence and Life

Back in Adagio Swamp, we fill the vase with water and dump it on this Blue Gil, who float-swims away, leaving behind the Power Ring.





We then return to Woodblock and reach the end, where the Neutralizing Stone breaks just in time for the boss.



Speaking of, it’s time to fight the deadliest smoothie-ghost this side of Forte.





♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Trick or Treat has some strong AoE’s in melee range, and a long-distance teleporter move that it strangely never bothered using during recording, which I’m okay with. It also has two Red Caps along for the ride - which are even bigger blobs of HP than the Mushroom Ups were - and it can resurrect them with Heaven’s Assist if they’re defeated.



Luckily for me, the enemies all decided to bum-rush Viola, which grouped them all together for some nice, easy Echo-building.



Needless to say, the Red Caps didn’t last long, and with the party surrounding Trick or Treat it didn’t have anywhere to run.







A few more Harmony Chains later, Falsetto finishes off the boss with her basic combos. That could have been tougher, but thanks to taking advantage of the enemies’ positioning the fight is little more than a speed bump.



Afterwards, the three members of Andantino explain that Andante is actually underground, with the cave entrance being nearby. Jazz and Claves head for the hideout at Lake Reverb to discuss some things, leaving Falsetto to give Allegretto and Viola the tour.



♪♪~ Relaxing Place

But first we need to see this man about some sessions. In the first playthrough we could only use Score Piece 1 or 3 to receive a Shadow Tail, but on this second pass we can get a couple more items:

“Well? What is your impression, having looked within yourself? No, you need not say a word. Your music will speak for you.”



“Ooh! So this is a session. This is the feeling of truly sharing another’s company.”

Playing Score Piece 20 with Lonely Pitch results in an A-rank and the EZI Photo, a battle item that costs 20 points and deals exactly 2,000 damage to an enemy. Let’s do one more session:

“I’ve learned that music made with others can be beautiful, too. Would you play a session with me?”





“So, this sound is your response? Let me tell you what you lack. Loneliness is not a bad thing. Only through understanding loneliness can true compassion for others be born.”

Playing Score Piece 23 gives us an S-rank, some dialogue that’s clearly meant to be read before the A-rank session, and the Onyx Bracelet, a fantastic accessory that renders the wearer immune to Stop. This will be very useful indeed later on.



♪♪~ Endure and Resist

With that taken care of, we can take a look around Andante for a bit.



Remember this dude? He’s way too enthusiastic about being in Andantino.



In a nearby storage room, we can play some more sessions. In the first playthrough you can play Score Piece 1 or 13 with Sullen Melody for a free Peach Cookie, and she has a couple more goodies for us in Encore Mode:

“This is getting annoying. Hurry up and get out your score piece.”



“W-what the heck was that?! That was surprising!”

Playing Score Piece 10 or 12 nets us an S-rank and a free Floral Powder. There’s one more item we can get from Sullen Melody, but it requires a Score Piece we don’t have yet, so we’ll need to come back later.



That done, I stop by the shop, upgrading what equipment I can and stocking up on items.



Next door, these idiots are scheming to make an attack on Forte Castle, and plan on roping Etude into it. This isn’t part of a sidequest, but we can actually get some resolution to this tiny subplot later on.



In a nearby home, this little girl is upset that her Simile flower is wilting; however, in order to save it, it needs special water from Simile Spring in the nearby cemetery, as ordinary water will kill it outright for some reason.



The girl’s brother runs off to the cemetery by himself, and the party heads after him.





♪♪~ No No I Don’t Die Noooo!

They soon find him in Lento Cemetery, where he explains the area’s central puzzle: collect colored flames to light like-colored torches and eventually reach the back of the cemetery, where Simile Spring is.

(Side note: I much prefer the in-game translation of this track, “Who Wants to Die”. It’s much less awkward.)





So we set out to do just that.
 
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Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)




♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Of course, we do have to fight some monsters while we run around the place. The Light Antiques are the bigger concern out of the two enemies here, because they can inflict Stop with Soul Circle; the Onyx Bracelet we just got comes in handy for that if you’re having trouble blocking the attack.





Scourgers aren’t too tough; even in Encore Mode they don’t have a lot of HP, so they shouldn’t last very long.







Eventually we reach the back of the cemetery (being sure to pick up the Hellstriker along the way, which gives Allegretto permanent Burst)…



And it’s time to fight the spring’s guardian.





♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Death Crow is an annoying fight in Encore Mode; it can resurrect its Light Antique friends with Warder’s Call, and all of its attacks do a stupid amount of damage. Curdle in particular is dangerous because it can inflict Stop on multiple targets (although it didn’t use this move when I recorded the footage for this chapter, strangely).

You might think it’d be a good idea to have someone wear the Onyx Bracelet for this fight, but I’d actually advise against it; if you put in on a character now, you won’t see it again until Chapter 5, and there's at least one very good reason to let the Chapter 4 party use it instead.



Thanks to some smart positioning, I’m able to take out both Light Antiques with a single Night Fist.



I picked up the Power Stroke for Falsetto in Andante, and with it managed to actually inflict Slow on the boss, which severely limits its mobility.



From there I stick Hawk Eye on it; this plus Burst will let us chew through Death Crow’s HP near-effortlessly.









It gets a few good hits on us, but the boss can’t handle Hawk Eye + Burst + Harmony Chains for long, and soon enough Falsetto finishes it off with her basic combos, for the second time in a row this chapter.



After the fight, Allegretto and Viola briefly muse on whether or not it was okay to just barge in and defeat the Death Crow, but Falsetto reassures them that it’s a spirit and will come back eventually. They then collect the Simile water and leave the cemetery.



Meanwhile at the hideout in Lake Reverb, Jazz confides in Claves about the spy situation, and suspects that it might be Falsetto…



But Claves disagrees, making a strong case against it. Reassured, Jazz leaves to go get the others…



♪♪~ Strategy

Just in time for Rondo to appear, revealing Claves to be the true spy and fatally wounding her for failing to implicate Falsetto. She then makes her exit, leaving Claves to die.



♪♪~ When We Are Together

Claves ruminates on her actions, regretting the path her life has taken.



♪♪~ Your Circumstances

With the last of her strength, she writes a message to Prince Crescendo of Baroque, and sends a messenger dove his way.



She dies, expressing her love for Jazz with her last words...



♪♪~ Fantaisie-Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth. 66

And we close out the chapter with the next Chopin history lesson.

I think, on reflection, that Chapter 3 is my least favorite in the game. I like Claves’s character arc less and less every time I replay Eternal Sonata, because there simply isn’t enough time given to flesh it out in any meaningful way. We meet her in Chapter 2 and then she dies in Chapter 3, in a poorly-written scene with too many unnecessary flashbacks that feels very unearned. I love this game, but the developers did Claves dirty, y’all.

On a more positive note, Chapter 4 is one of my favorites, and we’ll be picking up lots of items from Score Piece sessions. See you then!

Next time: Encore Mode Chapter 4!
 
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Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
I see what you did there.

Ha! That actually wasn't intentional, but I'll take it.

Anyway, I've got some stuff going on irl - nothing dire, but it requires my attention - so the next update probably won't happen for at least another week, unless I can find the time to spend on it. Additionally, much to my annoyance, some of the soundtrack links in the OP are dead now, because the youtube account associated with them got deleted. I'll see about getting replacement links when I can.

In the meantime, I've got some more art to post. Let's start with Beat:



This is the pose he's in on the original NA box art.



Some details on his hammer gun...



And a closeup of the medal on his outfit, which is also the icon for Encore Mode.



A simple turnaround of Falsetto. There's not a lot of concept art of her floating around that I can find, unfortunately.



A look at an earlier rendition of Jazz's final design; he has messier hair here, and he's wearing a full-on cloak over his battle sweater.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
Verse IX-IV: Chapter 4 Redux

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time we went through Encore Mode Chapter 3, and today we’ll keep going and play through Chapter 4; as always, here is the compilation video if you want to watch it.



We start off the chapter with Beat and Polka at Baroque Castle sometime after the destruction of Cabasa Bridge; Frederic and Salsa are also at the castle, albeit somewhere else than where this scene takes place.



Polka thinks back to when they were rescued by a passing ship from Baroque…



Which triggers an extended flashback to said ship; Crescendo here is the captain, and he insists that the party just take it easy after their ordeal.



Salsa does not need any encouragement on that front, but Polka is too worried about the rest of the party to get much sleep, and decides to take a walk on the deck of the ship.



♪♪~ A Buffer for Quiet

While I do, I upgrade everyone’s equipment and buy a whole bunch of items. It’s especially important to do so here on the ship, because once you finish the pirate ship dungeon you won’t get another chance until after Lament.



Polka finds Frederic on the ship, and the two strike up a conversation.



In it, Frederic muses about how his perspective on life has changed ever since he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.



This in turn makes him think of his younger sister Emilia, who was the same age as Polka when she died from tuberculosis. He grows angry, cursing God for letting someone die so young.



♪♪~ Walk of the Heart

But Polka points out that, in a way, Emilia lives on in Frederic’s memory, and in the music that he composes and performs. He thanks her for the reassurance and leaves.



♪♪~ A Faint Light Grasped in the Hand

Polka, in turn, muses on how she’s changed since meeting Frederic.



However, her musing is interrupted by a massive rumble…



♪♪~ Seize the Artifact for Tallness

That turns out to have been caused by a pirate ship!



Salsa, of course, is delighted, and immediately jumps on the ship, leaving the rest of the party to hurry after her.



Now it’s up to the party to stop the pirates from boarding the Baroque ship while Crescendo does his best to keep the two ships separated.





If you’ll recall from the last time we were here, the Pirate Ship Dolce has four decks and a bunch of side cabins, all of which are crawling with pirates.





♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Speaking of pirates, they aren’t that much tougher in Encore Mode. Raider Pirates and Warrior Pirates both have the same moveset, including the attacks you see above, as well as the ability to put themselves into Burst with Rising Power. The Warrior Pirates have higher defenses, but you don’t need to save up for a Harmony Chain to defeat them, especially with Salsa’s Shadow Silhouette.



While making their way through the ship, Polka trips and falls, dropping a weird stone that Salsa subsequently picks up and asks about.



Polka explains that she’s had the stone for as long as she can remember, and that it was apparently given to her by someone she loved, although what exactly this means is unclear.



On the third deck, we run into Captive Conga, who was kidnapped by the pirates at some unknown time in the past. Our first time through the game we played Score Piece 3 with him for the Dark Brooch and Score Piece 4 for the EZI Scarf; now in Encore Mode we can get one more item from him:

“It’s crawling with pirates out there. I’m gonna sit tight here a little longer.”





“How was that?! Are you gonna help me out?”

Playing Score Piece 17 with Conga results in a B-rank and a Twilight Feather, which heals Shining Body. Not exactly the greatest reward, but we’ll take it.



After a lot of wandering around and beating up pirates, we eventually find this key to the captain’s quarters…



And meet Dolce herself. Beat and Salsa immediately get into an argument about pirate stereotypes as soon as they walk into the room, and Dolce has to yell at them to get the party’s attention. And now it’s time to fight her!
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)


♪♪~ A Flicker Which Divides Light and Darkness

Dolce’s attacks do way more damage in Encore Mode, so it’s very important to get the guard timing for each of them down so as not to leave yourself open. In addition to Dead Man’s Tale, she also has Burning Spindle (two-hit combo on one target at melee range) and Tempest Swirl (single hit at a slight distance, but it leaves her open to attacks and she uses it less often in Encore Mode).



Guitar and Bass are powered-up versions of the pirates you’ve been fighting up to this point, with the same general moveset. However, they can revive each other with Guts, so it’s best to take them out at or near the same time to prevent this.



Our first time through the game I split the party up to attack targets individually, but for Encore Mode I’m having everybody gang up on Guitar here; this will lure Dolce and Bass over to attack the party, which should leave them grouped up for easy Echo-building.



Unfortunately, because I’m very smart and attacked from the front, I completely whiff the first Harmony Chain.





It’s not until Polka can hit the whole group with a Shadow Silhouette-powered Nether Wave that Bass actually goes down; Guitar follows soon after thanks to Frederic.





Dolce is more likely to attack you from behind in Encore Mode (and she was already pretty likely to do it to begin with!), so you’d better make good use of all the space you get for items from Party Level 6.







My recording of this fight went a little sloppy (which will be something of a theme for the bosses of this chapter), but eventually Salsa deals the final blow with Shadow Silhouette.



After the battle, the party discusses whether or not it’s okay to take the pirates’ treasure, but eventually reason that since it was all stolen in the first place it’s probably fine.



Salsa, for her part, nabs the greatest treasure of all for herself.



Back in the present, Beat is excited for the concert that’s happening soon…



♪♪~ Grande Valse Brillante in E Flat Major, Op. 18

And we get the next Chopin history lesson.



Turns out Frederic was actually performing that piece in-universe, but Polka was too distracted by the dancing to notice that it was him.



Salsa suddenly runs in to tell them that Crescendo – who it turns out is the prince of Baroque – wants to have a meeting with the party, but she’s only concerned they’ll eat all the food that she’s convinced has been prepared for them.



♪♪~ An Inspection Which Values Harmony

Before we go see Crescendo, we can perform some sessions with a couple people. In the original playthrough we could play Score Piece 2 or 9 with Impatient Pizzicato for a Peach Cookie, and Score Piece 3 for an Angel Trumpet. Now that we have a bunch more Score Pieces thanks to Encore Mode, we can get one more item from her:

“Ah, you want to try again? That’s the spirit! Now, hurry up and get out your score piece!”





“Okay! Good job! I guess you aren’t half bad!”

Playing Score Piece 22 with Pizzicato gives us an A-rank and the Ruby Bracelet, an accessory which makes the wearer immune to Passive.



Up on the second floor, we can play Score Piece 1 with Celebrity Marcato for the EZI String Phone, and Score Piece 7 or 9 for a Club Clover; no new items, but we’ll take these anyway.



With that business taken care of, we can go see Crescendo; he’s worried that Count Waltz will invade Baroque once he’s used the mineral powder to make an army of magic soldiers.



It turns out that Baroque has also secretly been backing Andantino, but Crescendo and Serenade have decided to stop assisting them directly.



♪♪~ Journey to the Projective Mind

Frederic calls them out on this, pointing out that Andantino will be in a very precarious position without their main source of support.



♪♪~ A Faint Light Grasped in the Hand

Crescendo then explains why he decided to help Andantino in the first place – he and Jazz, its leader, are childhood friends, and Crescendo felt he owed it to them because of this. But if Forte were to find out about Crescendo’s support of the rebels, it would almost certainly lead to a war anyways, which Crescendo and Serenade are trying to avoid. (Complicating matters is the fact that Serenade also has ulterior motives for not wanting a war with Forte, but we’ll get to that later.)



Newly convinced, the party agrees to pass on the message to Jazz and leaves to head off for Ritardando, where they reason the rest of the group would head to meet up, but Salsa runs into this mirror right outside Crescendo’s room.



It’s an old family heirloom called “Lament”, and Crescendo wanted it moved up to his room.



Unfortunately it falls on Serenade’s dog Minuet…



But she seems to have disappeared? Crescendo, sensing that something is amiss, touches the mirror…



And the group is engulfed in a blinding flash of light.



When it clears, Polka suddenly finds herself in a very different place.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)


♪♪~ The Royal Mirror

We have to play through the first section of Lament with just Polka in the party, but the enemies here aren’t that big a deal.



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Having said that, the Petite Fatties can still catch you off guard if you aren’t careful, because their attacks all have very weird guard timing. On the other hand, they don’t have much HP, and I’m pretty sure they’re completely unable to block attacks even from the front, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble, especially since Party Level 6 lets you carry over Echoes between battles.



After some wandering, Polka reaches a mirror within the mirror and passes through it…



Finding Crescendo on the other side. He’s studying a portrait of someone that’s fixed to the gate that’s barring the exit to this room.



The person in the portrait, much like Crescendo, is worried about a possible invasion from Forte.



The gate opens after the portrait’s musing is finished, and Crescendo reveals that they’re actually inside of Lament, relaying an old legend about the mirror’s “hiding” people who stand in front of it.



The two of them press onward to the next area, where they spot Minuet running off into the distance.





The two pursue her, hopping across platforms and fighting weird swan knights along the way.



The L’Opera Workers can deal out some decent damage with their attacks, but they’re pretty easy to guard against. They’re also annoyingly sturdy, but you don’t quite need to use a Harmony Chain against them.





Eventually, Crescendo and Polka find Serenade, and the two royals speculate that the people inside the portraits are the thoughts and feelings of the rulers of Forte and Baroque from generations past, and that the Baroque ruler is Crescendo’s grandfather.



King Baroque is utterly opposed to fighting a war with Forte, stating that the cost in civilian lives would be too great.



But Lord Forte, it seems, is all for some needless bloodshed.



In the next area, Minuet passes through another mirror, and the party once again chases after her…





This time through a maze of one-way mirrors. They pass through it uneventfully…



And reunite with Beat in the next room.



In the portrait, King Baroque laments the fact that war seems inevitable, but Lord Forte proposes a deal: give him the royal mirror (and surrender to him), and he won’t invade.



In the next area, the party is in fact upside down.



This reverses left and right on your controller, but not up and down, which makes it annoying to navigate and almost impossible to ambush or avoid enemies.



Speaking of which, the Queen Scissors has some strong long-distance attacks and is tanky enough to warrant using Harmony Chains, but for whatever reason I found them very easy to counter and didn’t have much trouble with them at all.





Anyway, soon afterwards the party is properly oriented, and finds the exit-mirror…



Where they reunite with Frederic and Salsa.



Inside the portrait, the minister of Baroque is outraged at Lord Forte’s demands for the mirror, and insists on going to war over this insult.

Now that we have the party together, I’m promptly benching Crescendo and Serenade; they’re good characters, but they don’t have enough specials to initiate a Harmony Chain, and they’re behind in levels compared to everyone else. They’ll be mostly brought up to speed when they join the party for good in Chapter 7, and since you can’t backtrack to previous areas in Lament – and thus can’t level-grind – the main group needs all the exp they can get. (You could get around this by clearing out a given area, saving, reloading, and repeating the process, but that’s boring, so eh.)



We got this set of armor after defeating Dolce; it’s exclusive to Salsa and is the best armor she can get for quite a while, but wearing it puts her under permanent Stop status. In the first run through the game, that effectively meant that we couldn’t use this armor at all…



But now, thanks to the Onyx Bracelet, Salsa has just become the second-tankiest character in the party (only out-shined by Crescendo, who we’re not using at the moment anyway). Hooray!



Serenade spots Minuet in the next area, and the party once more chases after her.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)






It takes a hot minute, but eventually the party reaches the exit mirror…



As well as the final portrait.



King Baroque gives the mirror, and himself, an ultimatum: surrender the mirror to Forte, or march to war.



♪♪~ Rapid Fire

Suddenly, a large monster appears!



♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Svetovit in Encore Mode is one of the most difficult fights in the entire game; it’s quite fast, and all of its attacks hit like a speeding truck, as seen here. They’re also tricky to guard against, so be prepared to eat a lot of cookies if you can’t get the timing down.







Man Splitter is by far Svetovit’s deadliest attack since it can hit the whole party, and it uses it more often than anything else in its moveset; I only saw Boom and Bolt and Man Fillet the one time pictured above. Compared to other bosses it almost never uses its physical combos, preferring instead to spam its specials at you. This is extremely dangerous!





I think I should have brought Salsa along with the Dark Brooch, instead of Beat; that way she could power the party up with Shadow Silhouette for incredibly damaging Harmony Chains to decimate Svetovit’s HP, which isn’t a lot compared to most bosses. I thought I’d use Beat to build Echoes at a distance and then move him in close for Harmony Chains, but what ended up happening was I just used him to toss items around, for the most part.





Eventually I wear the boss down enough to where it’s almost defeated, and forego saving up for Harmony Chains in favor of ending the fight in as few turns as possible.





And thanks to Polka, this works! My performance of this fight in the compilation video is pretty poor, feel free to watch that if you want to see me get my butt kicked and still win somehow.



After the battle, the party finally finds Minuet, and are engulfed in another flash of light…



Which brings them back outside of the mirror. Beat and Salsa immediately start arguing, of course…



While Crescendo muses about the nature of choice.



♪♪~ Little Dog Waltz (Waltz in D Flat Major, Op. 64 No. 1

We then get another Chopin history lesson.



♪♪~ White Mirror

Later, outside the castle, the party prepares to cross the Sharp Mountains on their way back to Ritardando. But before we do that, we have a few errands to run here in town.



Over to the right of the fountain square is Lonesome Loco; we can play Score Piece 15 with him for the Sky Blue Brooch, and Score Piece 22 for a Fallen Feather. There’s one more item we can get from him, but it requires a Score Piece we don’t have yet.



I believe I mentioned when we explored Baroque during the first playthrough that you could play either Score Piece 5 or 6 with Contrary Marimba for a Glowing Tail. Turns out I was misremembering, and that’s not entirely accurate; Score Piece 5 does get you the Glowing Tail…





“So, you’ve finally brought the ultimate score piece. It sure took you long enough.”

But Score Piece 6 actually gets you the Smiling EZI, an accessory that inflicts permanent Poison on the wearer. Uh, hooray??



Anyway, thanks to all the fighting we’ve been doing and selling off some excellent photos, we can afford to upgrade everyone’s equipment and buy a lot of healing items, including a whole bunch of Snowpuff Cookies.



At the inn, we listen to Grandma’s creepy poem; it is very important that you do this now in Chapter 4, because if you don’t, she’ll be asleep once we return to Baroque later and we’ll miss out on some items.



The couple next door will be part of a sidequest later on, but for now we’ll just pick up this accessory.



♪♪~ The Posture You Do Not Despise

With our errands in town complete, we can start climbing the Sharp Mountains. This area will be important much later, but at the moment we’re just passing through on our way back to Ritardando.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)


♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

Ice Coffins aren’t too terribly challenging to fight; they’re bulky enough to require Harmony Chains to take down swiftly, but they’re pretty slow, and all their attacks are rather easy to guard against.





However, the Swordfish is a different matter. It has less HP than the Ice Coffin but higher defense, and its attacks seriously hurt if it catches you unawares. Don’t let it hang around too long if you can help it.





The party make their way up the mountain and run into Killer Bell Lyre along the way; you can play Score Piece 3 or 7 with them for a Star Cookie, and Score Piece 14 for the EZI Egg. No new items here, so we’ll be on our way.



Further up the mountain, the party finds a cozy little lodge, and decide to rest there.



As they do, Beat spots a dove flying towards Baroque…



♪♪~ Strategy

Back in Forte, Count Waltz is unperturbed by the news of Claves’s death, and orders Rondo to go check on Fugue, who is still fruitlessly searching for glowing agogos in Agogo Forest.



Inside the lodge, Polka is reminded of home, and this suddenly triggers a long-forgotten memory…



♪♪~ From Tomorrow On...

In this flashback, Polka’s mother tells her about astras, a special jewel that everyone has inside their heart; depending on the person, their astra may shine very brightly, or not at all.



♪♪~ Journey to the Projective Mind

She also laments that Polka’s astra is so bright that it’s leading her to a very dark place, and wishes there was someone who could take her place.



Polka is left to wonder about what it all means...



But for now we have to keep going to reach Ritardando.



♪♪~ Rock and Burn You

The party are now inside Wah Lava Cave, which is the complete opposite environment to the one they were just in.



The most common enemy in here is the Fire Antique, which is a little sturdier in Encore Mode but is otherwise not much of a problem.



Next are the Coelacanths, who you’ll probably barely fight at all, because they’ll spend most of the time gunning for the nearest light source to transform.



In the light, Haken Büchses are much bulkier, necessitating Harmony Chains for a swift victory, but otherwise are about as hard to fight as the Ice Coffins back on the mountain.





We travel (and fight) our way through the cave, jumping across and down various platforms and trying not to get lost.



You might recall that investigating this spot will initiate a rematch with Dolce and her two lieutenants. In the original playthrough, you have to do this rematch before you finish Chapter 4, otherwise you can’t do it later and the sidequest just stops. But in Encore Mode, you can initiate these rematches whenever you choose, so I’ll hold off on fighting Dolce for now. This does mean that I won’t have access to the very useful Werewolf Choker accessory for a while, but I’ll make do.



We reach the end of the cave soon afterwards, and it’s time to make preparations for the fight against Fugue. Polka loads up on defensive accessories; she’ll be unavailable for the first half of Chapter 5, and I want to make sure the Mandolin Church party has access to the best stuff. Salsa has to keep the Onyx Bracelet so she can wear the Skull and Bones armor without being hampered with Stop, and she also gets the Lace Veil for some extra HP. Finally, Frederic gets the Power Ring and Recovery Gloves, to boost his offense and survivability.



The party exits the cave and finds themselves in Agogo Village.



Salsa reunites with March and starts telling her about the party’s adventures, but March interrupts her…



To point out that this is happening.



♪♪~ Pressure

Fugue picks this exact moment to show up and start threatening the party, and soon enough it’s time to fight him again.



♪♪~ I Bet My Belief

Unfortunately for me, for some reason I have a really hard time blocking Fugue’s attacks during this recording session, and eat a whole bunch of damage for it. Most of his move are single-target, but they inflict stupid amounts of damage, and it’s highly likely that characters with lower HP will just drop on the spot if they take the full force of an attack.



Fugue is also more likely to attack you from behind in Encore Mode, and to make things worse, if you fail to block his standard combo he can sometimes immediately initiate another one without giving you a chance to block it, guaranteeing that you’ll eat a lot of hits.







♪♪~ Two Ends of My Doze

Fugue makes quick work of me on my first attempt at the fight, much to my chagrin. Let’s try that again, shall we?
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)


You know, I’m not sure how effective Very Odd Chocolates actually are; they definitely help against standard attacks, but I’m unsure if they do anything to mitigate the damage from specials, which are the big cause of concern. In future battles I might just reserve the space for more healing items instead; I’ll have to think about it.





Anyway, not helping my guarding troubles is the fact that sometimes bosses get their own little cutaways before a special, which can fake you out into guarding early. It wasn’t the end of the world in the original playthrough, but here in Encore Mode it can be the difference between whether or not the targeted character actually survives an attack.





I spend a lot of time in this battle scrambling to recover and trying very hard not to wipe.





But I do get in a couple good hits every now and then. Pictured: the only successful full Harmony Chain I pull off in the entire fight.





I manage to sneak in a Shadow Silhouette to power up Salsa and Frederic, and fire off a boosted Grand Slam with Salsa, which brings Fugue to critical status.



This is good, because Fugue immediately knocks out Salsa afterwards, and I’m completely out of revival items at this point. I really should have brought a few more, especially after my first attempt at this fight.





Thankfully I manage to eke out a win, probably my hardest-fought victory in this entire thread so far. Thank goodness that’s over with!



Afterwards, the party gives Fugue some sass, and Fugue runs off.



♪♪~ Strategy

Unbeknownst to the group, Rondo has been watching the whole time, and seems to have put together the secret of the glowing agogos. She then leaves to report this news to Waltz.



The party wonders what could be causing the agogos to glow, and March tells them about a legend she came across while researching the subject. Polka ventures a guess that this legend could be referring to astras, and March agrees.



Frederic points out that, if that’s the case, then it seems to be Polka’s astra in particular that’s causing the agogos to glow.



Salsa feels like the situation is getting a little dangerous, so she decides to stay in Agogo Forest with March for a while. Polka decides to head back to Tenuto Village to spend some time with her mother, and Beat and Frederic head to Ritardando to hopefully meet up with Jazz and the others.



♪♪~ Someone’s Evening, Someone’s Daybreak (but only the first few seconds of it)

Back in Baroque, Crescendo receives a message from a dove; it’s the message that Claves wrote before her death, revealing Serenade to be another spy for Forte. And with that, we close out the chapter.

This update ran a little longer than I thought it would, but the Chapter 5 redux will definitely be shorter, and we’ll get to fill out some prerequisites for one of the big sidequests in Encore Mode. See you then!

Next time: Encore Mode Chapter 5.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
During the recording sessions for this update, I completely forgot to look at some optional dialogue. Were it only a sentence or two I wouldn’t be bringing this up, but it’s actually pretty substantial, so I loaded an earlier save and backtracked to Baroque Castle to give it a look.



Turns out you can visit the magic research laboratory after you finish Lament.







You get different flavor text if you examine the various objects in the room as Polka, versus doing so as Allegretto later on. But, more importantly…



Polka: “W-wait, please! That’s not why we’re here.”
Frederic: “You’re studying magic, aren’t you? We’ve come here to ask you about your research.”
Magic Researcher: “My research? It’s rare to find people who are actually interested in magic. Are you serious?”
Polka: “Yes. Well, it’s not exactly that we’re interested in magic. You see… I can use magic.”
Magic Researcher: “What?! You can?!”
Polka: “Oh, Frederic can as well.”



Magic Researcher: “Ah, excuse me for getting so excited. I don’t have the opportunity to meet magic users very often. People who can use magic are not really that rare, but few will come forward and talk about it. Of course, that’s to be expected, since admitting you can use magic is the same as saying you’re sick.”
*awkward pause*
Magic Researcher: “Ah… um, I mean… I’m sorry.”
Polka: “It’s okay. I’m used to it.”
Magic Researcher: “My apologies. But I want you to know, that rumor about it being contagious is completely false. The illness that magic users suffer from-- Oh, actually, that’s kind of backwards. Because they’re able to use magic because of the illness. Though just catching a cold or having a stomach ache doesn’t make you able to use magic.”



Magic Researcher: “But I’ve probably said too much already. Do you want to hear more? It may not be pleasant for you.”
*Polka nods.*
Polka: “Please continue. I want to know more about myself.”
Magic Researcher: “I don’t yet know what causes the illness to occur. But those who suffer from it will eventually die. However, it cannot be transmitted to others, in spite of what people might say. That rumor is a product of the human tendency to judge based on appearances instead of investigating the truth.”
Polka: “...”
Frederic: “Besides the illness, have you discovered anything about the magic itself?”



Magic Researcher: “I’m not positive there’s only one. And I don’t know whether all those who contract the disease can use magic, or if it varies from person to person. It’s possible that the illness has nothing to do with it. It could be a completely separate factor is at work.”



Magic Researcher: “I’m lacking in both materials and time to uncover the details. But I still intend to try. To understand the workings of magic will mean understanding the nature of the mineral powder Forte is producing. We might be able to neutralize that terrible drug. In so doing, we may be able to avoid war. That’s how I’d like to repay the Prince for granting me this research opportunity.”



And that’s that! This scene doesn’t affect any sidequests or anything, it’s just an optional thing you can see.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
Next update is coming later today! In the meantime here is some more art from the JP strategy guide:



Some closeup details of Frederic's extremely fancy baton and pocket watch.



A rare look at his hair, without the top-hat.



And some details of his tuxedo.



A Viola turnaround, with Arco off to the side.



And a closer look at her longbow.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
Verse IX-V: Chapter 5 Redux

Hello and welcome back to Eternal Sonata! Last time we went through Chapter 4 of Encore Mode (and I got the crap kicked out of me by all the bosses in the process), and today we’ll continue onwards with Chapter 5. Here is the compilation video if you’d like to watch along.



We begin the chapter, uh, somewhere, with Falsetto wandering in a haze after Claves’s death. She’s, not doing so well right now.



Meanwhile in Ritardando, Beat and Frederic meet up with Allegretto in the hideout. Allegretto fills them in on what happened with Claves, and tells them where Jazz and Viola went – Jazz went off to Baroque on his own to meet with Crescendo, and Viola went to set her goats free and head to Salsa’s house.



Beat tells him about the whole pirates thing and explains the plan for everyone to meet in Ritardando after they take care of their respective business, but Allegretto pretty obviously wants to blow them off to go hang out with Polka.



Beat teases him about this, and it annoys Allegretto enough to where he stays and offers to give Frederic a tour of the town.



♪♪~ The Mediocrity Sought Out by Everyone

Just making a quick stop before we head to Mandolin Church to do a couple sessions with Worrywart Horn here; you can play Score Piece 1 or 23 for a Snowpuff Cookie, and Score Piece 3 for the Cherry EZI. No new items, so we’ll move on.



The party notice a gathering of folks at Mandolin Church and go to investigate; it seems that there are strange noises (voices?) coming from somewhere in the basement, and nobody really wants to check it out.



♪♪~ DANTOTSU!

Just then, the owner of the bakery notices Allegretto and Beat, and gets the crowd to pressure them into investigating the noises.



Soon after the three of them enter the church, Salsa, March, and Viola show up. Beat explains the situation to them…



And Allegretto seizes on the opportunity and ditches them, leaving the rest of the party to do the dirty work while he saunters off to Tenuto.



On his way there, he picks up a weird rock and pockets it for later…



Back in the church, March volunteers her services, and the party sets off for the church basement.



Before we do anymore plot stuff, we have a couple errands to run in town. To start with, Lib here is sick with a fever, and none of the other kids know what to do. Beat promises to go find some medicine for her.



We eventually get some cold medicine from this woman in exchange for the Power Ring.



We then give the medicine to Lib, who recovers, and as thanks the kids give us this Spell Book. That’s the trading quest nearly complete once again.



Beat: “Darn, they all ran away and I couldn’t take a picture of them.”

I missed this flavor text our first time through the game, but more importantly, there’s something in the cave to Tenuto we need to look at.



♪♪~ A Step

Specifically, we need to talk to this man.

Beat: “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to surprise you. I was wondering what you were up to, so I thought I’d come over and say hello.”
“I haven’t done anything! I don’t know anything! Just leave me alone!”
Beat: “You don’t look so good.”
“I haven’t slept in quite some time.”
Beat: “You don’t sleep at night?”



Beat: “Appears?”
“Ah! It doesn’t matter anymore. I just want to be at peace! I just want to be free.”
*pause*



Beat: “A developer of mineral powder?!”
Former Developer: “I was following Count Waltz’s orders to make a drug that could produce the perfect soldier. When the ordinary citizens who’ve been taking mineral powder find out the truth, they’ll despise me. They’re sure to come looking for the unforgivable fool who made this devil drug. That’s why I was so scared. I was terrified! So terrified, I had no choice. I had to get out of that place as fast as I could. And driven by that compulsion, I fled Forte.”



Former Developer: “I worry so much that someone’s going to get me, I can’t even close my eyes! And when I do sleep, he always appears.”
Beat: “Who appears?”



Beat: “Chord? So, it’s a man named Chord, right? But what could he possibly….”
Former Developer: “Chord is the name of the man who first took mineral powder as our test subject! Please don’t ask me anything more. If you want to know more about Chord, go to Baroque. There is a woman who took care of Chord during the experiments who later fled to Baroque.”

Well that’s interesting. This is the start of a pretty lengthy sidequest, and you can only activate it by talking to the Former Developer with Beat before finishing the events at Mandolin Church; if you try talking to him with Allegretto, or come back later before speaking to him, then he won’t divulge anything and the sidequest won’t proceed. That’s a pretty tight window of opportunity, so don’t miss it! (This sidequest is also limited to Encore Mode, in case you were wondering.)

Like the man said, the next step is to talk to a woman in Baroque, but we have to finish our business here in Ritardando first.



♪♪~ Underground for Underhand

So it’s off to the Mandolin Church Catacombs for us!



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

For the first section of the catacombs we’re fighting Ruby Eyes (in the dark) and Orange Floats (in the light). They both have the same moveset (including Overrun, their most dangerous attack, pictured here), and the same HP, but Orange Floats are faster and have higher attack and defense, making them by far the more dangerous of the two. You’re best off sniping them with Viola, or powering up with Shadow Silhouette to take them out asap.





We make our way through the basement, and eventually reach the catacombs themselves.



♪♪~ Strategy

Meanwhile, back at Forte, Rondo has just finished explaining what the deal is with glowing agogos to Count Waltz, and Waltz in turn then orders her to find Polka.



We’ll be coming back through this area a couple times – once to read the messages on a group of pillars as part of the Dolce sidequest, and once to grab an item we can only get after backtracking here. In the meantime, we’ll just pass on through to the end.



The catacombs have a new enemy, the Viege. It can inflict Passive with Blow Vortex, and can power up its next attack with Power Blaze, but really the most dangerous thing about it is its basic attack, since it comes out so fast.





Anyway, we pass through the catacombs uneventfully…



♪♪~ Rapid Fire

And reach the very end, where the “ghost” reveals itself. First showdown… begin!
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)


♪♪~ Opposition Resignation

Root Lurker was an annoying fight the first time through the game because it had a tendency to zoom around the battlefield, making it potentially difficult for melee characters (aka most of the party) to keep up. In Encore Mode it’s more likely to stay in melee range, but its attacks all do more damage – par for the course in Encore Mode – and it likes using Bo-Peep a lot more; this inflicts Passive, making counters unreliable unless you bring along status-healing items.







Its other attacks aren’t to be taken lightly either. Deep Bite hits a single target three times and is now extremely dangerous; Roar hits everybody in range but is pretty easy to deal with; and Trip to Pain lets Root Lurker close in on anybody from anywhere very quickly. It’s easy to block, but the boss likes following it up by immediately attacking you from behind – often with Deep Bite – so be sure to have an item ready if you need it (and you probably will).





My strategy for this fight is mostly the same as last time, only I’ve swapped in Salsa instead of March, who just has too little HP right now to survive most of Root Lurker’s attacks if I mess up guarding against them. Viola’s going to pelt the boss with arrows and top off the party’s HP with Heal Arrow during Harmony Chains, while Beat and Salsa fight it up close to build up Echoes.







It works marvelously, and Salsa finishes off Root Lurker with an especially sweet-looking Solar Flare.



We then immediately cut to later that night as Allegretto arrives in Tenuto.



♪♪~ Reflect the Sky, Bloom the Life

He runs into Polka’s mother, and the two of them strike up a conversation. The subject of Polka’s illness eventually comes up, and Solfège says that it’s due to Polka’s astra, which will eventually lead her to a tragic fate.



Allegretto doesn’t buy it. Solfège thanks him and tells him where to find Polka – she’s at the flower field.



He finds her, and the two start talking.



They talk about their differing perspectives on the view of Ritardando…



♪♪~ From Tomorrow On...

And, once again, Polka’s illness comes up. Polka tries to look at it in a positive light, speculating that, without it, she might not have been driven to leave her village, and consequently wouldn’t have met the rest of the party.



After more talking, and a brief scare where Allegretto thinks Polka is about to jump off the cliff, Polka decides to throw her special stone to the sea, as a symbolic replacement for her.



Allegretto then gives her the rock he found on the shore earlier that day, and heads back to Ritardando for the night.



♪♪~ A Faint Light Grasped in the Hand

Polka is more than a little surprised; somehow, she can tell that the stone Allegretto just gave her is the exact same rock she just threw away. She’s left to ponder on what this might mean…



♪♪~ Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2

And we get the next Chopin history lesson.



The next day, the party sails back to Baroque to meet up with Jazz and plan their next move.



As they do, Frederic can only speculate how his dream is going to end.



Cut to a few days later, where the party is staying at Baroque Castle. Viola is playing cards with Beat and Salsa, and is somehow being taken to the cleaners by two children; annoyed, she leaves to go take a walk in the side garden.



Meanwhile, Jazz and Crescendo are trying to hash things out, but can’t come to an agreement on what to do about the whole “possible war with Forte” situation.



Crescendo refuses to budge, and won’t entertain the possibility of taking the fight to Forte. Jazz tries to convince him by talking about there being a possible spy in his inner circle, referring to the Claves situation as an example…



♪♪~ Repeated Tide

But of course Crescendo already knows. He asks Jazz to leave to give him some time to think about the matter.



Once Jazz is gone, Crescendo has a monologue to himself about Serenade’s motives; he believes that, despite her being a spy for Forte, she also fully believes in there being a peaceful solution to the conflict (and this will later be proven correct). It also turns out that Serenade has been listening in the entire time; we’re not shown the ramifications of this, but based on future events we can reasonably deduce that they reconcile.



Outside in the side garden, Viola shows Polka a good luck charm, and jokingly suggests trying it out on Allegretto. Embarrassed, Polka runs off as Jazz enters.



It’s going to take a while for Crescendo to come to a decision, so Jazz suggests they explore Baroque the next day.



♪♪~ When We Are Together

There’s an attempt at an underwritten love triangle subplot…



And Viola goes back to play cards, having determined that it’s totally fine to be single at 26.



The next day, the party decides to have a look around Baroque.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)


♪♪~ White Mirror

Before we do anything else, we need to talk to this woman to initiate the next stage of the sidequest we started in Ritardando.



“Y-yes, that’s correct.”
Polka: “And didn’t you once do work related to the mineral powder?”
“H-how did you know that?! N-no! I don’t know anything! I have nothing to do with mineral powder!”
Polka: “I’m sorry, it’s okay. Don’t worry. We don’t want to question you about the mineral powder. We just want to know about the first person who took mineral powder. The very first victim.”
Allegretto: “I believe his name is Chord.”
“Chord?! I never thought I’d hear that name again. Maybe he would want this….”



Former Servant: “It was my job to take care of Chord. As you know, Chord was an unfortunate child who became a victim of the mineral powder. He was originally a servant at Forte Castle, like myself. He volunteered to be a test subject in the top secret experiments.”
Allegretto: “He volunteered to test the mineral powder?!”
Polka: “W-why?!”
Former Servant: “I asked him that myself. He told me: ‘The notice said I’d be able to use magic.’”
Polka: “Magic?”



Allegretto: “...”
Former Servant: “He was just a kind boy who cared about his mother. He always had a pendant from his mother with him. But as he was given the mineral powder test samples, it affected his body very quickly. He became unable to use his arms, legs, and mouth, and drifted in and out of consciousness. But he never let go of that pendant. It was painful to watch.”
Polka: “Oh, Chord….”
Former Servant: “Finally, Chord gained the magic he sought. The instant he obtained that power, he broke through the walls containing him and went berserk. It was a terrifying sight. I prayed that God would stop him.”



Allegretto: “A Forte official?”
Former Servant: “Yes. Someone with tremendous power.”
Polka: “W-what happened to Chord?!”
Former Servant: “Chord stopped moving. I thought he was dead. But the Forte official said, ‘He cannot be killed. Seal him away.’”
Allegretto: “He was locked up somewhere?!”
Polka: “Where?!”



Allegretto: “Fort Fermata!”
Polka: “Is Chord still alive?”
Former Servant: “I don’t know. I hope he is, but….”
Polka: “Does Chord’s mother know about this? Is she still ill?”



Former Servant: “A message arrived at the castle, but they told me it would interfere with the experiments and forbade me to speak of it. I was never able to give the message to Chord.”
Allegretto: “What?! But he did all that for his mother!”
Former Servant: “Looking back now, maybe when Chord gained the ability to use magic and went berserk, he was trying to get to his mother and cure her illness.”
Polka: “What happened to his mother’s pendant?”
Former Servant: “Oh, the heart pendant? What did happen to it? After Chord went out of control and was struck down, was it still in his hand?”



Former Servant: “Sorry, I don’t remember.”
Polka: “I’d at least like to find the pendant.”

Poor Chord… The game actually drops a hint at this subplot way back in Chapter 2, when you reach Forte City for the first time; scroll down to the dialogue box that reads “I wonder what happened to the people who used to live in that house” for more on that. It looks like we have two leads to follow up on when we get the chance: keeping an eye out for a heart pendant, and heading back to Fort Fermata to take another look around when we get the chance. Readers with a good long-term memory (or the patience to go back and read older updates) may already know where we can follow up on both of these leads…



But for now we’ll stock up at the item shop, taking special care to pick up this weapon for Frederic; it’ll be an important part of my strategy for the boss at the end of this chapter.



As the party gets closer to the entrance to Baroque, they encounter a priest delivering a sermon, and stop to listen.



The priest thanks them for doing so, and advises that the party might want to look around in Aria Temple if they want to learn more about astras. Having nothing better to do, they decide to do just that.



♪♪~ The Boundary Between Snow and Ice

Unfortunately, a merchant in Celesta Forest tells them that the entrance to the temple is locked, and they’ll have to get a key from the magic researcher in Baroque Castle. Time to backtrack!



♪♪~ An Inspection Which Values Harmony

On our way to the magic research lab, we stop in a guestroom on the second floor to play a couple sessions with Shallow Sweet; we can play Score Piece 3 for a Poison Whitecap, and Score Piece 12 for the EZI Pajamas. No new items this time, so we’ll be on our way.



In the lab, the Magic Researcher is extremely reluctant to give us the key. After some back-and-forth, he finally agrees to do so, on the condition that we find and give him a Spell Book in exchange.



We hand it over, and that’s the trading quest complete for the second time! Now we can keep the Spell Book that’s in Celesta Forest, and it’ll save us some backtracking.



Speaking of which, it’s time to head back there and pass through it to Aria Temple.



♪♪~ Leap the Precipice

The Flamea has much the same moveset as its weaker cousin in the Mandolin Church Catacombs, and can be fought accordingly… as long as it’s in the light.



In the dark, they transform into White Pearls, which have slightly less HP but are otherwise much more dangerous. Use Harmony Chains against these things so they don’t stick around for long.



Finally, Anathemas are generally not a big deal, especially since you have so many options on how to fight them now.





We pass through the forest uneventfully, and reach the entrance of the temple.



Polka sees someone enter the temple, but no one else does…



And the door is already unlocked when they try to enter the place for themselves. Curious…





♪♪~ Grim Purpose

In any case, we have to make our way through Aria Temple in much the same fashion as our first time through the game, with the various chests being teleported around based on what order we fight enemies.



And speaking of, the monsters in the temple are challenging but not insurmountable. The Sorbie pictured above is the toughest thing here, being fast and prone to smacking you with their tails. You don’t quite need to save up a Harmony Chain to take them out, though it does speed up the process.



In the dark they transform into Ice Melodies, which are much easier to defeat. You’ll hardly fight them though, since they spend most of their time gunning for the nearest light source to transform.



Last but not least, Icicle Eaters aren’t really a problem, beyond being surprisingly sturdy.





We make our way through the temple, being sure to clear out all the monsters on the second floor so we can grab this weapon for Viola.
 

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)




Soon afterwards we reach the top, and it’s time to prepare for the fight against Rondo; I’ll be taking Frederic and Viola along, and the third slot doesn’t matter since they’ll be replaced by Falsetto. Frederic’s Gold Baton will give him Burst, and to offset this I equip him with the Recovery Orb and Brisingamen; Viola’s new bow also gives her Burst, and I put the Recovery Gloves and Power Ring on her, to help her deal even more damage and give her some survivability.



The party looks around the room, but doesn’t see anyone, to Polka’s confusion.



♪♪~ Pressure

Just then, Rondo appears and threatens the party to hand over Polka...



♪♪~ Pyroxene of the Heart

But Falsetto arrives soon after. She explains how distraught Claves’s death made her, but is newly determined and vows to defeat Rondo.



Undeterred, Rondo actually has the audacity to offer Falsetto to take Claves’s place as a spy, which, points for confidence I guess.



♪♪~ I Bet My Belief

But Falsetto isn’t listening, and now it’s time to fight!







I kind of get off to a rough start at the beginning of the fight, partially because I panic when Rondo hits Frederic with Hell Eruption, and I forget I brought along some Time Feathers to cure the Stop status it inflicts. Her attacks have all been powered up considerably, and their accompanying status effects are a bigger deal now than before since they can lock you down trying to deal with them. Aside from the aforementioned Hell Eruption, there’s Grand Venom, which hurts a lot more now, inflicts Slow if it connects, and is more likely to be used several times in a row; and Fer-de-Lance, a two-hit stab with a strong chance of knockdown.







My plan for this fight – after I stop panicking – is to use Frederic and Viola’s Burst to burn through Rondo’s HP as quickly as I can, while Frederic and Falsetto build Echoes for Harmony Chains. Falsetto’s damage output is lagging behind a little, but only because she isn’t under Burst, and she’s still the best Echo-builder in this party. Strangely, Rondo doesn’t really go for her in this recording, unless she’s incidentally caught in an attack; Rondo instead spends most of her time trying to repeatedly murder Frederic.







Unfortunately for me, I slip up and take the full force of Bombardment, which is now Rondo’s deadliest attack, and Frederic and Falsetto go from mostly fully-healed to KO’d in seconds. This is bad!





She very nearly takes out Viola the next turn, but I guard properly this time and save myself from a wipe.



Thankfully I manage to get everyone back on their feet soon afterwards. Since Rondo’s almost defeated by this point, I decide to keep Viola in melee range, reasoning that it won’t be too much longer of a fight.



I reason correctly, because after one more Harmony Chain Rondo goes down to Viola’s melee combos. Things got pretty hairy for a minute, but I managed to pull out a win in the end.



♪♪~ Well Done

We get a bunch of exp for our troubles, as well as a Heart Pendant...



♪♪~ Repeated Tide

Jazz and Falsetto reconcile after the battle…



And the party reads the legend of Aria Temple – or try to, anyway, but it’s written in some ancient language. Luckily, March researches ancient languages for fun, and translates the legend for the rest of the group; you can read it here if you want a refresher.

And that’s Chapter 5! Next time we can actually get started with some of the big Encore Mode-exclusive sidequests, after we do some plot stuff at the start of the chapter. See you then!

Next time: The start of Encore Mode Chapter 6, and getting into some sidequests!
 
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