The Tower of Dogrock

I finished the two floor demo with a Shaman/Fortune Cat combination on Hardcore. All rooms cleared, King's Trials completed, second floor boss completed. Thoughts, in no particular order:

I learned Rejuvenation and Mind Drinker at the end of the first floor, and from then I pretty much stacked +Int and rolled the game with those two skills alone. He did workable physical damage, his active healing was okay in a pinch and his starting thunder spell was great for when things really needed to die, but regeneration outpaced enemy damage quite quickly and he could restore his MP faster than he used it.

Mindstrike was theoretically useful for its ability to proc Mind Drinker, but despite his high intelligence, I had no interest in his purchasable elemental spells -- his thunder spell fulfilled most of my burst damage needs and any turn where he wasn't using Rejuvenation or attacking was a turn he wasn't restoring MP to fuel the perpetual motion machine. Even if they were free to purchase, I probably wouldn't have used them much.

Elenya's Shadowpriest class was pretty cool. Mortify's instant-cast ability makes her an incredible damage dealer even before her other spells are considered. Two problems: 1) I don't think I ever saw her "chance to refresh duration" ability actually activate on Mortify. 2) She had great burst damage, but she had no way to refill her MP. That meant that she spent most random battles as an accessory, tapping enemies with her wand while the Shaman did all the actual work. Sure, she was great for boss battles, but giving her something to do in randoms would be nice.

Two of her skills should be replaced, though. Mind over Matter is actively detrimental and should be replaced. Consuming Dream is a bad idea. If MP is easy to restore, it's overpowered; if it's difficult to restore, then it's useless. There's no in-between, and that's a bad sign. I'd replace it with a damage spell that restores MP when it kills -- that makes her much more useful for random battles. The other four are great.

I don't think I ever found any parts very difficult. The first King battle was slightly problematic, largely because I went into it without knowing the plants had Bad Breath, but I had a stockpile of items. If the third battle was any indication, then knowing that would have made it pretty easy. (If I'd checked their Shift description, for example.)

I didn't use Rhox much. I didn't realize the trigger for recruiting him was stopping right in front of the boss, so I beat the King's Trials and cleared the floor without recruiting him. He got no skills and no additional equipment, but he seemed okay. I managed to kill the boss without ever figuring out chain skills. If his 100 gold Conviction skill is "if TP is below 50 after battle, then TP=50," then he's much more useful.

From a purely theory-crafting perspective, Fortune Cat beats the pants off of the other two items. Money is incredibly important in this game, especially early on; getting more money means more skills, better equipment, and more items. The first two compound the third advantage, since greater combat strength means better resource efficiency.

From a story-telling perspective, you should probably be more subtle about Elenya's thing for Rava. Or, alternatively, go the complete opposite direction and have Elenya and Rava address her interest more openly. The problem is that Elenya is a controllable ally, has a much larger screen presence than Sarah, and is in a more sympathetic position. I don't know about anyone else, but it sort of immediately deinvests me in actually rescuing Sarah. I'd rather the character I know and who produces big damage numbers be happy over a character I haven't really seen.

You should probably look into whether you can make the game autosave when you close the window, or at least pop up a warning window before it lets you. I opened the completed save file to check some things, closed it when I wasn't paying attention, and lost the data. I was trapped inside a room anyway, so it doesn't make much difference, but that'd be painful if I was further into a more complete version.

I'll probably try the game with the other class and see what the game is like when you're not invincible. However that turns out, I've already subscribed and I look forward to more! If you want someone to bounce ideas off of, I'd be happy to do so; I've played enough dungeon crawlers and RPGs that I think I'm pretty decent at breaking games.

Star Stealing Prince

Ah, okay, I was missing one of the skeletons. Problem fixed!

Star Stealing Prince

How am I supposed to get the Brown Cat Doll in Chapter 6? I missed it at the start of the game, and I've talked to everyone in town now with no luck. I'm pretty sure I can't progress without it.

Vacant Sky Vol. 1: Contention

have a question during the kagrin park festival whats the right order of gifts

so far i've figured out its...
Vel - teddy bear
Ray - cologne

but everyone else i'm a bit stumped any ideas??

Vel: Teddy Bear
Ray: Cologne
Zaqris: Watch
Seri: Journal
Blaise: Tie
Vanquish: strategy game set (I forget the name; it's in the Orkan shop)
Mia: Music Box
Rien: Orkan Wine (look for her after talking to Mia)

Ill Will

So, any progress on that releasing that bugfix?

Ill Will

I can hear the background music playing and dog if I press Enter but that's it .... Please let me know if there's a fix for it in the works.

Oh, duh. Yeah that's a spectacularly easy fix. I didn't know what anyone meant.

Why didn't you ask for more details, then? The bug takes three minutes to check if you already have a save, after all. This makes questions very easy to answer. Help us help you!

Another bug to report:

Dragon and Titan somehow taught the wrong level 69 skills. Although the descriptions put at level 69: Dragon is Muspelheim and Titan is Raikanishu, but when I press Alt, it shows Fire Shield and Earthshaker respectively. And this is proven when neither Ethan nor France learns Muspelheim and Raikanishu even when they are already at level 72...

I can second this bug. Thunder Battle and Atlantis are learnable and usable, but I never picked up Muspelheim or Raikanishu on either of the characters that could learn the skills, despite leaving the relevant Traces on whenever the characters weren't in the party. Thanks for mentioning it, eplipswich; I forgot about it.

Ill Will

I seem to have run into a bug on New Game+: I can't start it. I loaded a saved clear data file and tried both the Normal and Strong New Game+. Both times, after the first screen, Will walks up to the street with Aaron and the dog, Loki walks behind him and stops when he does, and the dialogue choice box never appears. Nothing else happens, just barking. Barking forever. (I left it while I went to go get lunch and when I came back, ten minutes later, it was still stuck there. I don't think waiting more would help.)

I guess Loki was in on the NG+ and went for a preemptive strike. Cheating bastard.

Aside from that, the menu that starts NG+ is kind of badly designed. If you pick Normal GCD first, you can't pick Strong GCD afterward, because Normal GCD resets your stats. Picking Strong GCD second causes it to ask how you want to reassign 0 points. Normal GCD is on the top, too.

You asked for story impressions, so here's my review on that aspect.

I don't know who's speaking the opening narration. It presumably isn't a human, because humans don't typically feel the need to indicate that "people" means "human." It can't be Will, because he didn't meet the others recently. It can't be Raymond, because we definitely didn't help him come back to life. I can't think of anyone else, really. Is it completely unrelated?

I don't know what story you wanted to tell. Was it about escaping and returning to the world? If that's the case, then mission accomplished. The drama there is fairly well-done, and the inter-group tension doesn't feel fake or artificial. It's solid.

If it was about the drama between Will and Ray, then that was bungled. We don't see enough of their relationship to really care. We don't know how they typically interact, we don't see Ray often enough to become invested in him, and while there are a couple of subtle hints that Will doesn't like him (Will ignoring him in the initial cutscene, the fact that only Jo knows Ray even exists, the fact that Will refused to let Jo ever see him), we don't know how Ray feels about Will until long after it becomes relevant. When we do see Ray more, the fact he threw Will into hell pretty much kills any sense of sympathy.

Even if the story is primarily about the escape, the Will and Ray plot grafted on weakens it as a whole. Without any investment or spotlight on Ray, his actions seem comedic and disproportionate. "Our parents loved you more, so I turned into Satan and threw you into hell." It's a goofy non sequitur.

(The deliveryman turning into Loki and laughing in the initial cutscene was really well done, though. The dialogue choices grab your attention and keep you from noticing, even though it's happening in plain sight. Kudos.)

Some things never really go anywhere. Why did Loki tell Aaron not to tell them? All it did was spread confusion and discontent, increasing the chance that the party would fall apart and die before they accomplished their goal. It's dickish, which fits with Loki, but it's pointless. What was the point of the characters gradually recalling that night? It doesn't help them remember how they got there, it doesn't provide any clues to the real cause, and the solution to the problem ends up completely unrelated. Similarly, though the past relationship between Jo and Will is mentioned, it never goes anywhere. We never get details, they never reconcile, it's just there.

One thing that stood out to me is that they obviously know Traces exist, thanks to the cutscene after you get the last Physical and Magical Traces and Loki's mention that he taught them to use Traces. The main character's ability to do everything is never mentioned anywhere, though. That's kind of strange.

The story seemed like an afterthought, honestly.

Ill Will

Finished a run of Normal! I was level 92 when I finished. I used the main download button on August 5th, so if I was supposed to get any other patches, I missed them. Thoughts in the tags below:

(The fact that the preview button doesn't seem to work with hide tags makes me nervous...)

With Will, I dumped Strength, neglected Endurance, and went even on the other three stats. He spent most of the game as my primary offensive caster and healer against mobs and a debuffer/healer against bosses.

Debuffing is very, very strong. Wil and Aaron could debuff a boss down to uselessness very quickly together, even before they got Cripple. It takes quite a while before bosses actually start to undo debuffs. Similarly, they don't really undo buffs either.

The Cunning situation is weird. I don't think you can really play the game without increasing Cunning on Will; you need *someone* who isn't going to get hit by every single status effect. But it doesn't make them a better healer, just a better healee, and it makes party buffs miss, too. At 32 Cunning, I never saw a buff hit Will again. Since Will gets Anti-Ailment eventually, you get into a situation where you want Cunning, but not too much Cunning, because you get penalized for it.

(When characters maxed their main stats, I noticed that I sometimes got a pop-up window after level-up that said: "(character name) (end of window.) And then they got a point in Cunning. I'm guessing that's a bug of some sort?)

This game flips the SMT physical-magical progression. Physical starts with the equivalent of a second tier spell in Strike and gets Crit Up and Venom Claw very, very quickly, while magic is just kind of generally bad. Then physical just kind of stops developing. France gets Dragon Claw, which is good, but the progression cut-off is kind of abrupt. Meanwhile, magic gets the Conduct spells, Stage spells, Mana Flare, has more use for the group buff, and continues to get group damage attacks. I used France for most of the game, but I eventually had to drop her for Jo; she just wasn't performing any more.

Vile Zephyr is another big part of why I constantly used Aaron. Holy crap, Vile Zephyr. Does more damage than third tier spells if there's one target, inflicts two good status ailments, the statuses work on a lot of bosses, and it's on a character you want for bosses anyway. If it doesn't work, use Conduct and make it work. Vile Zephyr MVP.

Apart from Vile Zephyr, I didn't really use statuses. Either there weren't many enemies, and I should use Vile Zephyr for consistency, or there were many enemies, in which case I could use Vile Zephyr and be pretty sure I'd hit most of them. And it did damage. Vile Zephyr MVP. This only got more ridiculous once I got Mana Cycle.

I'm guessing Mana Cycle wasn't meant to halve SP costs and give you 20% max SP restoration after battle. Mana Cycle + Focus + Blood Mana gives you 9 MP a turn, and the second tier group healing spell is 20 MP before Mana Cycle. This also makes Mana Flare third tier spells basically free. My end-game boss strategy eventually shifted to, "abuse Endure, debuffs, and nearly free healing to return party to full HP every single turn." I knew it wouldn't take me 200 turns to kill a boss, and if it did, I had +SP motes and group healing motes that could take over for a turn to let him regen SP. Random battles, meanwhile, shifted to "Jo spams Mana Flare spells, Will spams Vile Zephyr, Aaron does whatever."

Endure is probably overpowered. Endure makes the lower durability of Aaron and Jo nearly irrelevant, and it lets you build Will the same way. If it can't kill you from full, Endure makes it not matter. If it can kill you, Endure means that enemies need to hit you twice, so you're probably fine anyway. On the other hand, it's probably the only way to get around having a dedicated tank, and Aaron would be unusable levels of fragile without it.

Were Supercharge and Cripple supposed to be free? The last three bosses refuse to let you keep their stats lowered, so devoting Aaron's turn to Cripple means they lose a turn every round. This is particularly destructive against Loki. He has three turns and has to hit twice to kill through Endure, and by this point you have the free healing combo on Will. And when he goes to his Magic-elemental pattern, he goes charge -> spell -> spell, which turns into "charge -> waste charge undoing debuff -> spell." (I'd feel bad about spamming Cripple on the last boss, but I was too busy laughing. I am a bad person.)

I never used Ethan. This is not hyperbole; he was literally never in my party. Will makes for a better support unit, France is a better melee, and while melee is really good early on, you don't need two of them. He's bad at earth casting, too. A tank might be useful, but he didn't get Endure, so my strategy seemed to make me more durable than that one.

To synthesize all of that:

Will > Aaron = end-game Jo > early or mid-game France > late-game France = early-game Jo > Ethan

Will can do everything, so he's naturally the best.

Aaron has Endure, debuffs (especially Cripple), Vile Zephyr, and enough speed to revive anyone that needs it. His magic focus synergizes well with using group magic buffs, and he can devote slots to Thunder Battle and Conduct to let you abuse Vile Zephyr on two characters. He's good from the moment he gets his first debuffs to the moment the credits roll.

End-game Jo has the combination of Mana Flare, Mana Cycle, Focus, and Blood Mana. Mana Flare, Third-tier spells and Atlantis let her do the most damage in the game, and her ability to attack and remove buffs would be incredible if enemies used them more. She's also the best at randoms bar none, thanks to Mana Cycle, and she rounds out the Endure team. She'd be above Aaron if he wasn't so good throughout the whole game.

Early and mid-game melee is very, very good. Regen is very, very nice, removing one of the main downsides of physical. Unfortunately, France is outshone the moment you get Mana Cycle and obsolete the moment Jo gets Mana Flare. She doesn't do as much damage, she doesn't have Endure, and she doesn't get attacks of equivalent power to high-level magic. Just not good enough.

Early game magic is really, really bad, especially before Jo gets a genuine second element. (The Thief spells don't really count.)

Endure makes Ethan unnecessary, especially since he doesn't get the MP perpetual motion machine that Will does. You don't need a tank, at least not on Normal.

I'll probably go through the New Game+ stuff on Normal, wait a while, and then try Hard. I enjoyed the game! I was watching and waiting for the release for a while, so I'm glad I got to play it.

Obelisk: Devilkiller

I did beat Septimus shortly after posting that, so I didn't actually see those posts until after I'd beaten the game. Oops. I was more griping than asking for help, but I appreciate the input regardless!

One of my main problems was that I was reluctant to use Darren; if I had to guess, I'd say the set_skill crash bug is tied to specific party combinations. With the group I had, using Darren caused it to crash on occasion, but it was stable with Sirius out. I gave that up pretty quickly, though. (The best example of this: The starting party is stable, but replacing Carmilla with Bardoc seems to result in occasional crashes. I was fighting randoms in the ice area when I discovered this, if it matters.)

My specific problems with the fight were the unpredictability and the Sleep status on his group attack. Some variability is fine, but the boss going anywhere from one to seven attacks is kind of absurd, and the lack of revival really stings when one character is simultaneously the only one capable of curing sleep and doing real damage to the boss.

More general thoughts under the tags:

The battle system is wonderful. Balancing cooldowns, SP, and Burst leads to some really interesting decisions, and it feels great when you get a good party flow going. Please add cooldown somewhere to the skill descriptions, though. It's kind of annoying to trial-and-error your first time playing.

A listing of the specific effects of statuses somewhere in-game would be nice. I talked to all of the NPCs, but despite playing through the game and beating all of the bosses, I still haven't figured out the specific effects of Curse, Solar/Lunar Up/Down, Speed Up/Down, etc. Some are easy to suss out, but even if you know that Armor Up increases defense, how much does it add? Does it affect physical close, physical ranged, AND magical, or some subset of those? That kind of thing.

It seems odd to me that ranged is straight-up superior to melee. Melee has to deal with extra evasion from flying enemies and resistance from armored enemies, but ranged is effective against the first and neutral to the second. True, there's a few Essences that counter ranged, but enemies don't have access to those. Are melee attacks supposed to be inherently better to compensate for this?

Character thoughts:

Felix: I really like Potshot's lack of a turn cost. Other than that, he's very solid. Probably the second-best Blitzer.

Princess: The way Fiery Promise can make you seesaw dementedly from 'ahh I'm dying!' to 'look at that damage!' to 'ahh I'm dying!' again is a great mix of hilarious and effective, especially since it also has no turn cost. The fact she makes your damage potential so lop-sidedly Solar is kind of strange, though; no one else really ever comes close to her damage potential, so Solar resistance becomes disproportionately powerful and other Solar attacks become correspondingly less useful. If it's taking good damage from Solar, Princess should be killing it instead.

Darren: Solid. Still don't know what lowering speed does or what counts as 'hexes,' though. Curse and Exhaust, I think?

Titania: The fact SP carries over from battle to battle makes Fae Release very interesting to use, since it encourages hoarding SP during random battles so that she can build Burst and SP for the rest of your party in boss fights. I'm not sure how I feel about her healing, though. Even with her in the party, boss fights feel very much like time limits, because you start at full HP and she more slows the enemy's damage output than actually heals it away. She just can't really heal enough. I'm assuming that was intended.

Carmilla: She feels badly balanced, especially for a starting party member. At the start, your Burst and SP gain abilities are weak, and her long cooldown on Swashbuckle means that she can only really contribute every three turns. She's better later, especially if you run into randoms with a lot of enemies, but she's actively painful to use early. Even once she hits 70 SP and you can build Burst quickly, she feels weak; sure, she can build a lot of Burst at the start of a fight and get most of her SP back, but if you're unlucky with Sleep, she's useless, and you only seem to get the SP from her Role if they don't already have the status. Bosses are even worse.

Bardoc: Synergizes very well with Illinois. Without him, he seems dicier. SMT has made missing cause me physical pain, so I didn't get too much use out of him. I might try those two together in my main party if I play through again.

Illinois: Seems questionable outside of use with Bardoc. Does okay damage, but Princess does about as much to resistant enemies as he does on a weakness. He does it to groups, but group damage isn't actually that useful; you want to eliminate targets one-by-one, after all. Freezing seems okay, but most enemies aren't that evasive anyway.

Xiang: Holy crap. Xiang practically gets her own tier in terms of usefulness. Synergizes very well with Felix, since you should be using Sniper's Mark first turn all the time anyway. You can Shadow Slice every turn, Dark Guidance makes it incredibly easy for her to build SP, and Sakura Moon means she can turn her SP into incredible amounts of Burst for an every-round action and then get most of that SP right back. She does pretty good damage too, and Sakura Moon means she doesn't care about fliers. She only ever left my party against Septimus, and that's only because he was armored.

Sirius: Darren outclasses him; Darren can build Burst, do damage, and guard. Sirius has better Solar resistance, but that's pretty much it. Sirius's SP gimmick is okay, but most characters just aren't that SP-hungry, and the healing never gets better than okay. 'Okay' is a pretty good word for Sirius.

Hana'an: This character is in the wrong game. She'd be good if healing was good and you could play defensively. As it is, she doesn't do very mcuh damage, and her self-sufficient long-lasting style just really doesn't work here.

Apnis: Pretty good. Her healing is really good by this game's standards, and Judgment is very good for randoms. The Firefly status doesn't seem very strong, though; I didn't notice much of an increase in enemy aggro. It's possible I was just unlucky, though.

Kristoph: Would be useless if it wasn't for the Bell trick and the ability to switch characters at the start of turn. Still doesn't seem that useful. Defense just isn't very strong in this game, and his role is awful when he has nothing natively to draw attention to him.

I'm looking forward to the games that'll use this battle system.

Obelisk: Devilkiller

I've beaten most of this, and I'm planning to do a fuller write-up later, but I just hit Lord Septimus. Pardon my language, but what the eff? Is there some arcane secret to him, or is he just supposed to be a ridiculous series of coin flips? He takes anywhere from one to six actions with no pattern that I've been able to discern. When one of those possible attacks does 500 damage and can inflict full party sleep, this makes the battle losable at basically any moment. You can rotate your roster, sure, but none of that really matters when I've only found one character capable of curing sleep, and they're weak to Lunar. If the tank goes down, he can and will OHKO them.

I'm pretty sure I can beat him, but it's going to require 1) that he takes no more than four actions a round, or at least misses most of them and 2) that he keeps the sleep spam to a minimum and it NEVER hits Princess. I don't think that counts as 'fun' under anyone's dictionary.
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