The next day, Roxas arrives at the World that Never Was, suddenly wielding two Keyblades, which he transform into the Oathkeeper and Oblivion. If you’re a new player, you might come into this sequence with shock, because it seems for a moment as though you’ve been given an answer for Roxas’ second Keyblade: it used to belong to Xion! Sure enough, another part of the scene seems to believe that this is the case as well! But believe it or not, later games would come up with a different explanation for Roxas’ second Keyblade, so I suspect that Nomura was being a bit too frugal with his secret notes.
After a brief cutscene involving Hayner, Pence and Olette, we regain control of Roxas, who has come to Twilight Town out of his typical stupidity. Ah yes, go exactly where they’ll look for you, you bright and shining moron. This game truly is Crisis Core’s daughter.
You have free reign of Twilight Town, with no enemies to impede you. It’s a mournful and nostalgic trip that feels almost like a death-march. When you finally arrive at Station Heights, the game throws a few prompts at you. It seems that Station Heights is going to serve as your new “Grey Area” from here on out. You can visit Holo-Missions and Challenges here (a pure game abstraction – naturally there’s no way the Organization is going to let you run around in their holo-programs and give you Challenge Sigils), and the Moogle has even followed you to the site, saying you’re his best customer. I like you, Moogle. Come back in one of the sequel games, would you? Here you can get ready for the end of the game, because once you go up the clock tower, there’s no going back.
The party headed off to Kalm, where they reunited at the inn and everyone decided to grill Cloud for information on Sephiroth, since he was clearly holding out on them up in the Shinra HQ. This began an extended flashback sequence (so long that it has a break in the middle!) of the time Cloud teamed up with Sephiroth and on a visit to a town called Nibelheim – Cloud and Tifa’s hometown. Crisis Core players will probably find this section a little familiar, but I’m going to describe it just as presented, without any Crisis Core commentary at least for the time being.
Trigger Warning: Suicide, and I’m afraid that warning is sticking with us to the end of the game.
Day 355 starts with Roxas moping in bed, recounting the plot for the benefit of anyone who’s fallen behind. He ultimately concludes that Axel probably knows even more about what’s going on than he’s already said. Roxas says: “If he knew, why did he wait so long to tell me?” I couldn’t tell you how infuriated I was at Axel, which I suppose is effective to a degree, though I still think Axel’s reaction was kludged, and furthermore I’m not happy with other people for less respectable reasons besides (and my dislike for Axel’s kludging was hardly respectable to begin with!). The Organization not telling Roxas basic information hurts them more than it helps, in fact I’m often not sure how it helps them at all! This arbitrary storytelling is just as bad as any other bad storytelling, and it runs up and down the game in every direction.
And it’s here, here at the point where the game lost me at last during my first playthrough, that the narrative tries to pretend that KH2 Roxas is fully-formed and ready to march out of the Organization via the Dark City.
Day 353 starts with a scene with Saïx, which even appears in the film! He confronts Axel about his actions, and reminds him that “We don’t need them both. Just one. And pretending won’t change it.” Axel just ignores him. The film then cuts away from another scene, which arguably isn’t as important, but probably could have been included in the film if it weren’t for the fact that, once again, Saïx is in it. Look, I don’t know why this would happen just one scene apart from another, I’m just calling them as I see them.
President Shinra had everyone brought to his office, save Aeris, who was once again taken away. He then explained to us that Aeris was, as previously mentioned, the last surviving Ancient, adding that the Ancients were properly called the “Cetra,” a name that meant something to Red XIII. The President explained (I’d question why he does this, but then I remember that he’s a cliché and cliché villains monologue for no reason) that his aim was to get Aeris to somehow reveal the location of the “Promised Land” that she would somehow/presumably know about and that the Promised Land would presumably contain a lot of mako. Two “somehows” and a two “presumablies.” Well, I’ll give Square this: President Shinra is at least internally consistent with his stupid plans that make no sense.
Day 352 starts with Xion having a flashback to Day 255, where we finally see the conversation with Riku that led to her fleeing the Organization. Firstly, she asks him about Kairi, since she keeps popping up in her memories. Riku says: “To Sora, she’s someone very special.” But that’s just a preamble to what she really wants to ask: why on earth does she have Sora’s memories to begin with?
At the start of Day 321, Roxas has a dream about Sora (he’s been mentioning these dreams in his journal for the past few days, but we never saw any). This dream covers the early events at Hollow Bastion in KH1, where Sora lost the Keyblade and was abandoned by his friends. As he sleeps, Roxas sheds a tear of sadness, something he should not be able to do as a being without emotion. In the game, he finds the tear and wonders if something got in his eye, which is in my opinion is how the scene should have gone and I have no complaints with it. In the film, he doesn’t seem to recognize what a tear is for at all, which is ridiculous. Not only does this go back to Roxas having command of language but lacking its basic context (i.e. Roxas should have picked up what a tear of sadness is somewhere in the past year), but the writers seem to have forgotten that there are also multiple kinds of tears! For someone who is constantly injured, and for that matter fights in desert sandstorms and Olympic sandlots, Roxas should know what a tear is. Goodness’ sake.
We pick up our adventure and third play session in the Sector 6 slums’ playground, now covered with shrapnel from the collapse of the Sector 7 plate. Although… not that much shrapnel! I’ll give Shinra this: they may be run by Raul Julia’s M. Bison, a man with one effective moment of drama in a web of wall-to-wall cackling and shouting, but they do tidy demolitions work!
It’s your first optional mission block since just after Xion ran away, and given how few days are left on the clock, bound to be one of the last few in the game! If you speak to Xion in the Grey Area, she’ll apologize for all she’s put you through and give you a Shining Crystal. I suppose the Shining Crystal does stand for group unity given how it can only be used to synthesize Curaga, but if you’re not playing multiplayer the gift won’t have much impact on you.
It bugs me that Roxas and Xion only talk about what happened in this one Grey Area text block. Roxas complains about this in his journal as well, so it’s not just me, but I wish the devs would explain why the two of them don’t talk, say, during the evenings after they come back from Twilight Town. Is Xion avoiding Roxas? Did Roxas just forget that evenings exist? We’ve seen plenty of signs that the writers seem to forget that evenings exist…