D2 is an obscure and really peculiar game released only in Japan and US. Sequel of the mysterious adventure D, developed by the eccentric Japanese developer Kenji Eno, D2 tried to combine survival horror and JRPG, creating one of the most bizarre game ever. The main combat used a first point perspective, like a modern FPS, with the freedom to move the weapon and actively target different body parts of the enemies, while the main character was standing still. The plot is really twisted, bizarre and complex, mixing together a deadly virus, mutants, clones, eldritch abominations and robots. The game was anyway really mature and disturbing, with some scenes censored in the western release. Here I will talk about the peculiar final boss battle, so there will be light SPOILERS regarding the plot of D2.
The final boss is a mysterious and ancient entity called the Shadow. The creature probably came to the Earth inside meteor, maybe the same that destroyed the dinosaurs. The Shadow wants to annihilate every form of life, acting as an opposite force to Mother Nature. To avoid more unnecessary spoilers, I will just say that the fight with the Shadow is not only the key point in D2 plot, but a very different battle.
The Shadow is an incoherent mass of purple flesh and eyes. The weird abomination is not really intimidating, but more bizarre. The eyes are constantly moving, watching in different directions. The creature has strange glyph and structures, like an angelic halo surrounding its body, highlighting its divine role of purifier of planet Earth. To add strangeness to the battle, the background during the fight is an amalgam of flashing colors, like if everyone is under LSD. This creates a more alien and uncomprehending atmosphere, since the player is now fighting a being out of the ordinary logic.
To be a battle against an ancient and twisted God, the fight with the Shadow is, at least at the beginning, really simple and anticlimactic. The boss can be damaged by shooting at any part of its body, but will receive more damage by shooting to the eyes. The creature is also motionless and will do nothing to avoid the bullets. After many fights with quick and unpredictable bosses, very difficult to track and damage, the final boss is just a motionless lump of flesh? The Shadow has only very few attacks, usually throwing a lighting bolt at the player. The animation during the attack is quiet bizarre, with the creature shaking and twisting its body, surrounded by lightnings, before shooting. The psychedelic background is also not helping to make the fight more comprehensible.
The fight is easy and predictable. Surely interesting, at least for the trippy scenario, not quiet common as battlefield. The fight will suddenly evolve when the Shadow will start to switch off the senses of the player, one by one. This will not affect the main character as a negative effect or negative buffs, very common in JRPG, but will directly affect the player. The first sense to be affected will be the sight. The screen will fade to complete black, except for bullets and health meter. This is quiet different from the common “Blind” status in many RPGs, which is usually associated with a higher chance to miss the attacks. In this case, it is the player that is completely blind and this will be reflected directly in the gameplay. The player can still use the hearing to understand if he is hitting the Shadow or not, but the fight will get more complicated. Here you can have an idea of how fighting a boss while blinded would look like.
After the sight, the Shadow will destroy your hearing. After that, not only the screen is completely black, but also without any sound to guide the bullets. You can’t see and hear nothing, something quiet disturbing since the Shadow will continue to strike you with electrical bolts. At least there is still a way to hurt it and fight back, while healing. After the hearing, the Shadow will take away your ability to move. Now things are even more challenging, because you have no way to fight it back. You are simply there, blind and deaf, without any way to harm the boss. Also the health points will drop down to 1. The only way to survive is by healing really quickly, while using the items to stay alive. Blind, deaf and paralyzed, there is no more way to fight it back.
A voice in your head will change the dark fate of the battle against the Shadow. A new item can be used from the inventory, revealing a Flower. The power of Nature will help to fight back the negative energies of the Shadow, regenerating all the senses. The player can now fight again at full power. With all the senses back, the last part of the fight is easy and straightforward, as at the beginning.
The final boss of D2 is really weird and anticlimactic. An easy battle, static and boring at the beginning, but with an unexpected twist affecting directly the senses of the player. This is more a puzzle than a proper battle, but the confusion during the fight when the screen fades to black for the first time is still really unreachable, altering the concept of “negative effect” that is usually quiet static in JRPGs. The psychedelic background, full of lights and colours contribute to create a unique setting for a really bizarre and peculiar boss.