“Good doesn’t always mean valuable.”
If you remember a conversation Celia and Michelle had in Celia Episode1, Celia asked why Michelle didn’t stay and take over her grandfather’s clinic. Michelle responded by the place wasn’t what it was supposed to be. That response gets highlighted in this entire episode. Why was the clinic not what it was supposed to be?
I actually enjoyed this episode a lot. It’s currently my second favorite with August’s being first. The reason why I enjoyed it so much is because of how different Michelle’s story plays out compared to August. August’s first episode has him already seeking revenge against the man who destroyed his village and killed his family. Michelle’s episode has her experience a moment where she could go seeking revenge, but she forgives the woman who killed Ollie. It kind of shows that two people that have experienced similar losses chose different paths.
Michelle’s attitude towards Leo in Celia Episode 1 makes it understandable. Michelle, while sweet and kind, gets dealt harsh reality and she couldn’t do anything to protect or save Ollie. The experience causes her to believe that being good means weak and hearing those words makes her guarded because she feels as if she’s weak if she’s told that.
While the episode starts a bit light-hearted with Michelle helping out the small, quaint village of Banzine as assistant doctor to her grandfather, the village does end up with beast trouble which sort of taints the peaceful, wholesome vibe. The story gets darker when Michelle traverses into a lair of beasts on her own and meets a Federation soldier named Grace who is looking for something. Ultimately, the darkness comes into effect when you realize this is a zombie outbreak story. The main focus of the episode is Michelle learning that there are treatments that cannot be cured no matter what. She learns that the hard way when her desire to make the right choices bites her in the ass when she learns she cannot save her beloved grandfather Ollie who gets infected by a newly discovered infectious disease called therionosis.
Therionosis is a mysterious disease that causes mana to go haywire if infected and the host slowly turns into a grotesque monster in its final stage before dying. The first stage causes the host to have a strange mark that kind of looks like the Embleo marking. The second stage causes the host’s skin to become a darker tone and they become a zombie-like state. Although it becomes a plot point in the latter half of the episode, there’s a lot of mysteries behind it. It’s never explained where it came from.
In fact, other than therionosis, there are a lot of unanswered questions in this episode and I find that one of the flaws of this episode. Another unanswered question is the identity of Michelle’s parents. Throughout the episode, her parents are mentioned a few times. Michelle has no idea who they are meaning they abandoned her as a baby and that one of them had artes, which is passed down to her. In these types of stories, these kinds of parents are either dead or alive, missing in action and evil. I theorize the latter. Too bad the identity of her parents won’t ever get revealed due to the EOS.
Moving onto the gameplay, I think Michelle’s gameplay is easy for me to grasp. I’ve been into playing as mages recently, so Michelle is no exception. While she isn’t my favorite to play (that honor still goes to Falk), she’s far easier to handle than August who has awful gameplay despite being similar mages. I really like spamming the wolves.
Also, props to Michelle for being the only character to not have a companion for the entirety of this episode. While Maxime spent a majority of his episode alone, Lucien had accompanied him for a small portion of the episode. Michelle, on the other hand, was solo. Grace sort of stepped in to help her in Chapter 2, but that was for only the monster rush. Michelle also gets the distinct honor of being the first to battle alongside an NPC. While August did have Clay accompany him, Clay did not fight.
There are two gripes that I have with her gameplay. The first is that the third mana creature, the demon ghost is not really needed. Like, it’s unlocked for the story, but I rarely used that one because one usage and it already depletes three-fourths of Michelle’s MP. Speaking of MP, my second gripe with her gameplay is that Michelle has to stay still when replenishing. What if the enemy attacks me while I am idle? How do the devs expect me to use her properly when mobility is key in this game?
Overall, Michelle Episode 1 is a terrifically unique episode. I don’t think a zombie outbreak of sorts was used in a Tales game story ever. I loved how creative it was. While it is unfortunate that Luminaria has to come to an end, I am glad that I got to befriend a lot of new people and learn about these wonderful characters and potential plot points.