A peculiar thing I've noticed about Ill Will, in most of my testing, is that the game is probably ideally played twice. That is, both the cutscenes and the gameplay come in two layers.
Cutscenes have a good bit of background activity going on (especially now), and there's a lot of information that seems to be fluff until you read it with proper context in the plot. That was one of the intended goals at the project outset—using dialogue branches to ratchet up replay value—but the nature of the plot eventually evolved into something that invites replaying naturally, if only to get the better handle on the setting and perspective on events that comes with knowing what happens next.
Gameplay-wise, Ill Will was always intended to have a slight New Game Plus feature, for the purpose of making that second playthrough a breeze and letting players pick up missed scenes, Traces, Skills, and other miscellania. The ability to bump up to a higher (or lower!) difficulty on a New Game Plus was a notable incentive, as well. With the realization that the player will take New Game Plus around half the time (for added plot incentive), I began to wonder if I should more fully embrace New Game Plus and litter it with some exclusive content.
If I did so, this would mean a light sprinkle of NGP-only scenes throughout the main narrative, that were originally excluded due to the potential they had to spoil a great deal of the plot. The second time through, a player would be privy to seeing story-critical acts being performed in chronological order, in addition to being told that something had happened or been done during the first playthrough. Of course, this also gives me leeway to add a smattering of superbosses, and everyone loves superbosses.
So, I invite feedback on New Game Plus content. On to the changelist:
- The Guard command has received a strong nerf, but only when it's used successively. The first use still reduces damage taken to 1/10. Subsequent uses in a row, however, now "only" reduce damage by 1/2, which isn't sufficient to buffer the sorts of charged blows Guard is used to buffer. This makes Guard timing a measurable skill, and allows players to abuse the mistimed guards of their foes.
- Most (as in 2/3) bosses have had their HP halved or more, but have had their moveset correspondingly widened. The main boss of Tier II is a particularly egregeous example. Generally, expect bosses to kill faster and die faster, although they (usually) don't do either too fast.
- Several menus have received updates that I never did before, for some reason. (Laziness?) For example, the Trace equipping scene displays the party's level.
- Lots of dialogue has been shorted or streamlined. Not that cutscenes are anywhere near as short as, say, Demon Tower (♥). Generally, the trimmed lines were simply one character restating what another had said, or lines that needed adjustment in order to sound like natural, spoken English.
- Exactly two songs have been excised, and four songs have been added.
Basically, I've gotten more done this night and morning than I have in months.