After you clear Terra’s third world, he gets a brief scene where he announces his new intentions. This takes place in the courtyard in Dwarf Woodlands – the intended third world – but there’s actually a variant of this scene in the Castle of Dreams if you happened to have gone there third. How KH1! The Castle of Dreams variant simply continues Terra’s “musing in the darkness” scene at the end of that world, and so takes place in darkness. This made it easy to create, not like all those nasty KH1 variant scenes with their viewer friendliness and accessibility, blech.
The two variants are identical in terms of content: Terra decides he needs to question Yen Sid to get more information about the origin of the Unversed. Note that this rolls a lot better off of the Castle of Dreams scene, wherein Terra questioned whether Vanitas had anything to do with Master Xehanort’s “disappearance,” which makes sense given that Castle of Dreams should have been third in the timeline, even though my jokes about the “walking in darkness” scene have already made it clear that, production-wise, the current order makes more sense. Hrm… I wonder which one it was?
Before we proceed, we see a brief scene without dialogue in an unfamiliar room, showing Master Xehanort (silently) speaking to Braig, the original self of Xigbar, whom we saw towards the end of Ven’s storyline.
Okay, last time took me 500 words to cover this piffling world, let’s see if I can beat that.
Terra arrives at the Tower and sees Mickey just now running off with the Star Shard. Mickey doesn’t see him and teleports away, so Terra heads in for exposition. He reports like a soldier to Yen Sid, who says he was expecting someone to show up at some point. Yen Sid asks him to stop calling him “Master,” because he apparently no longer plays the role of a Keyblade Master. When Terra brings up Mickey, he gets a brief introduction to the King, which was probably done for the player’s sake as Terra won’t actually encounter the good King at any point in the game! Not once! Yen Sid seems to know Mickey stole the Star Shard and seems to have let him do it (he was watching Mickey go through the window when you arrive), but that’s the end of that discussion.
Terra tells Yen Sid what he’s found, and says he doesn’t know how to connect the dots. Yen Sid, seems to suspect the truth of Master Xehanort’s relationship to the Unversed, implying to the player that Xehanort actually did something bad in the past as well, as we already know. He tries to hint that Terra should consider Master Xehanort, the Masked Boy and the Unversed to be related. He suggests Terra refocus his efforts on Xehanort instead of chasing every bird that rustled out of the bush, and Terra goes off to do just that.
That’s basically it for the Mysterious Tower (~220 words!), but after completing it, Terra hears Master Xehanort’s voice in the rift, calling him to another world…
The Badlands – Terra
This is all-cutscene, so we’d might as well get it over with. Terra arrives at the Badlands to find Xehanort waiting, and immediately confronts him about “All the things” he’s done. Wait, hold on Terra, I don’t mean to start this out by tripping you up, but that’s what you’ve given me. You only know about Xehanort talking to Maleficent. He didn’t appear on either of the other worlds, nor did he do anything else that you’re aware of while he was at the Enchanted Dominion! Is Terra bluffing? But I’m slowing down what’s already going to be a long scene, let’s just let it slide.
Actually, it might not be too hard to cover this conversation, despite its length, and that’s due to a really, really dubious decision on the part of the writers. You see, almost everything Xehanort shares here are spoilers – some of them endgame spoilers – for Ven’s campaign! Even though Master Xehanort obscures the truth in some regards, a lot of Ven’s biggest secrets are spoiled here, and this scene is one of the biggest reasons I chose to cover Ven’s story before Terra’s! On the flip side, you can see how this makes the scene easy to cover!
Xehanort opens the conversation by confessing to the creation of Vanitas, and admits to ripping him out of Ventus. He claims, however, that Ven fell to darkness first and that he did this to save him, not knowing what would happen to Ven’s heart. He then skips the part where he tried to leave Ven’s body on Destiny Islands and skips straight ahead to when he was entrusted to Eraqus instead. Terra believes this, and consoles Xehanort by saying that Ven’s recovery has been excellent.
We then flash back to a scene that’s genuinely new to us, showing when Master Xehanort first brought Ventus to the Land of Departure. This, by the way, is the scene the introduction music video was mimicking when Master Xehanort and Vanitas walked through a big door, with Vanitas in Ven’s place. Terra and Aqua are looking down on this scene from a balcony, and when Eraqus and Xehanort leave Ventus alone to talk, they decide to talk to Ven instead. The scene has a vague sense of “mischievous children” that helped me come up with my theory that Terra and Aqua might have originally met Ventus at a younger age, but I admit there’s nothing decisive about it, and even that other scenes feel more distinctly childish than the one that actually inspired the idea.
Ven – who you may notice, as in other flashback scenes, has no pupils – is mostly unresponsive to the two siblings when they arrive. He sleepily tells them his name and repeats theirs when he gets them, but when Terra starts asking rapid questions, Ven becomes overwhelmed and starts shouting. This draws the adults back, and Eraqus explains what Xehanort must have just said: that Ven has lost his memory.
Back in the present, Xehanort makes up a story about losing control of Vanitas, and even admits that the Unversed come from Vanitas. He says that Vanitas can’t be saved and urges Terra to join up with him to fight him. Xehanort “concludes” that since Vanitas wants to destroy the light, he’ll probably go to the City of Light: Las Vega—urm, I mean, Radiant Garden. Of course, if that logic were true, Vanitas would have gone to Radiant Garden right away, but Xehanort’s done enough to draw attention to himself that this little flub doesn’t really make him look any more suspicious than he already was. Armed with these instructions, Terra is off to his reunion with the other player characters.
Like Ven, Terra is locked out of the Badlands after he leaves.
Terra’s trip to Radiant Garden curiously begins with a shot of Ven, already running off to begin his trip to the same world. Terra arrives too late to see him, and is soon attacked by Unversed to open up the world. Besides serving as an introduction to Tank Topplers, this isn’t a particularly notable battle, so we’ll move on.
After the battle, Terra catches sight of Master Xehanort walking off towards Merlin’s house, and naturally he wonders why Master Xehanort showed up just moments after himself, especially since you probably came straight to Radiant Garden from The Badlands! Terra resolves to follow him, and somehow loses track of a man having a very slow stroll through town, starting not thirty feet away from him.
While you might explore at first, and find that Ven’s route to the Bastion is inaccessible for Terra, you’ll eventually head over to the Market and find Merlin teleporting in front of his house and right in front of you. As he does so, he absent-mindedly drops Pooh’s book on the ground, and Terra automatically returns it. During the return, Terra addresses Merlin by a curious localization choice, “Your Elderness.” Anyone familiar with Japanese-to-English localization will realize there’s an honorific problem going on here, but Kingdom Hearts doesn’t normally trip over itself with honorifics, so what gives? Long story short, the writers are going to lengths just so Merlin can complain about the honorific later in the scene, but had to pick a phrase that would make Terra look respectful to the point of annoyance, rather than disrespectful. I personally think I would have worked in some entirely new reason for him to get annoyed, but what do I know?
Terra learns about the book’s properties and asks if he can use it, getting permission only after Jeff Bennet bleeds all the character he can out of the cameo. Seriously, my compliments. One curious detail about this scene is that after it’s done, Merlin’s everyday NPC chatter mentions other visitors, even though Terra is the first one here! Perhaps this is a rare instance of the developers writing to account for Ven and Aqua’s storyline (perhaps because they show up later and all?) or maybe it was just laziness, copying and pasting the line Merlin uses in the other two scenarios?
Now that Terra has well and truly lost track of Xehanort (which may have been the secret purpose of the Merlin scene all along), we’re going to have to bait him with a new worm. As soon as he heads outside, he spots one section of the Trinity Armour – the torso – floating away to the next room, and he follows to the fountain room and then the aqueduct from Ven’s story.
By the way, the aqueduct room has a chest that seems to be positioned to guide the player’s eye to the vista below, which is, in fact, the upcoming Trinity Armour boss room! Using the chest as bait was a nice idea in theory, but in practice there are enemies around and if the player decides to open the chest while combat is ongoing, they’re not going to have time to gawk!
After the aqueduct, Terra suddenly finds himself in the boss room, where he reunites with Ven, Aqua and the Trinity Armour, having arrived from a high platform that Ven wasn’t allowed to use. We’ve already seen this scene and boss fight play out in Ven’s folder, and I don’t have anything new to say about the boss battle. As to the conversation, note Terra’s harsh reaction to Ven’s news about Vanitas (once again, this happens despite Ven’s claim that Vanitas is dead), which we can now properly contextualize. Naturally, Terra orders Ven to go home, instead of talking about it like a family, or telling Ven what the hell is going on like a trusting older brother instead of being like Eraqus’ stooge just lines before you take offence at Aqua being Eraqus’ stooge! Oh, and by the way: Aqua, make sure not to ask anything about the suspicious exchange that just took place in front of you, even for the sake of general information!
Speaking of Eraqus’ stooge, Aqua accuses Terra of doing evil things on the other worlds. Actually, let’s revisit this. She actually plays off of Terra chastising Ven about his “dangerous task” by saying: “What is this dangerous task, Terra? Because it doesn’t sound like what the Master told you to do.” Pardon me? Because what the Master told you to do is incredibly dangerous and I’ve basically already died several times in the form of Game Overs. While controlling you, too, Aqua! Was there no better transition in the writer’s toolbox?
Terra basically caves on the spot to doing something wrong even though she hasn’t explicitly accused him of anything yet, but I suppose he does have a guilty conscience. “It might be a different route, but I’m fighting the darkness.” By removing the light from anyone who might misuse it! You might think that’s a joke but no… no, that exact line of reasoning is going to come up as a plot point before Terra’s storyline is over! Aqua then accuses Terra of multiple acts of evil, even though from Terra’s perspective he’s only really done one, and also accidentally startled Snow White that one time. Actually, even from a film perspective, Terra only did Snow White so much wrong? Grimhilde was going to murder her one way or another! In the worst way possible, he arguably did her a favour! You have to wonder how Aqua even connected Terra’s inadvertant actions to anything evil at all, considering she goes to Dwarf Woodlands well after he left. Maybe we’ll see when we get to her playthrough?
At this point, Terra should probably have said something about Master Xehanort. Even if he wanted to cover for Xehanort being responsible for Vanitas, and obviously he wants to protect Ven from the reality of things with Vanitas and his connection to Xehanort, he should have said something here. After all: Aqua is also nominally on a mission to find Xehanort, and, “By the way, I found Master Xehanort, you can stop looking,” should have fallen somewhere between a courtesy to your sister and a way to cover for the man Terra has apparently chosen to defend. Of course, as I believe I’ve already alluded, only Terra actually ends up looking for Xehanort during his storyline, so the fault here lies with the writers forgetting that Aqua was ever on the job to begin with!
Aqua then accuses Terra of putting himself close to the darkness, which again: only Maleficent, and he was fooled into that. It’s a comparison often made, but in KH1, Riku was leagues past Terra in terms of being “evil.” But Terra inadvertantly fesses to this as though everything she’s been saying is true, just so he can accuse her of spying! Again, guilty conscience, but where do you and your guilty conscience get off that her spying is worse than your actions? I guess people do behave like this at times but yikes.
Long story short, Terra storms off, Aqua shouting that “the master has no reason to distrust you, really!” But I do, as I’ve made abundantly clear! We’re best friends!
Remember how defeating the Trinity Armour gave Ven his first Level 2 Command Style, Cyclone? Well, Terra does the same, but his first Level 2 is tailored to him: Rockbreaker. This is an upgrade of Critical Impact. Remember how Critical Impact upgraded Terra’s attacks into mild area attacks? Well, Rockbreaker outright summons spears of earth from the ground, turning Terra’s attacks into medium-sized area attacks, and that’s impressive from a basic combo! Rockbreaker demands Terra use “Edge” commands during his Level 1 Command Style, which is relatively easy to set up considering that Edge attacks are available in several elemental varieties, making them good for setting up both the Level 1 or Level 2. You can also use “Mine” spells to trigger Rockbreaker (these spells create glowing squares on the field that explode if enemies touch them), which is a little sillier because Aqua is the character who actually specializes in “Mine” spells, and she never gets a Command Style like this!