All right, I said in the last progress log that I’d try to figure what caused each character’s limited number of dungeon abilities to be replenished, and it definitely seems to be resting. Leveling up in the middle of a dungeon doesn’t give you more charges, nor does leaving and entering again. I also finally figured out what Gully’s special ability could be used for: apparently she can stun enemies leading into combat. Gully, Calibretto, and Garrison have all gained new special abilities, too. That gives each of them two things they can do in dungeons. They also gained new burst abilities. I didn’t talk about burst abilities in the last progress log (though it was covered by the game’s tutorial prompts in the boss video I uploaded), but a bar slowly fills as you end turns in combat and special burst abilities can be used by one of the characters once full. Each character has their own unique burst ablity, but using one of them drains the bar for everyone, so you really have to think about when to use them and whose ability best suits your current situation.
Oh hey, there’s crafting here
You can craft weapons and armor in addition to potions. To be honest, I’m a bit overwhelmed by this part of the game right now. There are books you can read to learn how to craft new things, but the craftable stuff has been inferior to what I’ve been finding in dungeons thus far, so I’m not really sure what the point is. But hey, crafting healing potions is helpful, and it even has a percentage chance to succeed. When I had all of the required components, it had a 100% chance to successfully craft a healing potion. When I only had 2 of the 3 required components, it was a 33% chance. I’m a little fuzzy on the math there, but you can apparently craft potions when you’re missing all of the ingredients through brute force. Doing so probably isn’t a very good idea, but it’s nice to have the option, I guess. Personally, I don’t really get into crafting in games all that much. It usually requires so much micromanagement that the fun is quickly sucked out of the whole experience.
Dungeons are kind of procedurally generated
Exploration areas that could be considered “dungeons” have different difficulties that can be selected from, with the higher difficulties providing better loot, so I went back to do the first one again on a higher difficulty to get some extra items and experience. The basic aesthetics of the dungeon were the same, but the layout had changed quite a bit. Turns out that dungeons are procedurally generated from a number of pieces, with various teleporting pod things set up inside to make backtracking easier. Procedural generation and I have never gotten along because randomized design will never stack up to something hand-designed with purpose (and it really doesn’t add all that much replay value since most games that use it aren’t worth playing through once, much less a hundred times), but it’s handled decently enough here. Mostly because the world map and story appear to be linear, and the dungeons are about the same length no matter how they’re arranged. Sometimes you’ll stumble across something interesting inside of them:
And sometimes you won’t. Dungeons tend to be filled with lootable boxes and barrels either way, so I’d consider Battle Chasers one of the better examples of procedural generation because of how little actually relies on it.
Fishing gets harder
Okay, I really like fishing in this game. It’s simple, but that only adds to its charm. There’s one thing that really bugs me about it, though: if a fish doesn’t bite in a certain amount of time, your character automatically pulls the line back in to try again. Sometimes it looks like a fish is just about to bite when time runs out and you have to cast again, by which time the fish has likely sunk down deeper into the water. It appears that the rod and bait can be improved at some point to make fishing for difficult fish easier (right now some of them don’t get pulled in very quickly, increasing the likelihood that the line snaps before you reel them all the way in), but I’m not sure where improved fishing gear can be bought or found.
There are perks
As characters level up, they gain points that they can invest in perks. These mostly give you passive bonuses to things like defense or attack, though Garrison has a perk that heals him a little after each fight. That one’s been really helpful. The really cool thing is that you’re not locked in to perks; you can deactivate a perk and have those points freed up to activate another one. That’s a cool way of handling things.
One thing to be aware of is that there are actually two perk menus for each character, and you have to press the Y button (not sure what the keyboard equivalent is) to get to the second one. It took awhile until I noticed that mentioned on one of the loading screens, which sucks because Calibretto has some great healing perks on his second page that would have been helpful to have earlier.
Map enemies who give no experience
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the early map enemies who used to give small chunks of experience now provide none. To make up for that, however, the game now allows my party to run past them. You can choose to engage them anyway if you’re so inclined, but you won’t receive any experience afterward. It’s an interesting way to handle things that I can’t recall having seen in another game (Earthbound’s automatically resolved fights are the closest thing that comes to mind, but that’s different enough to be considered an entirely different thing).
I actually died!
What happened was that I tore through the second dungeon without much of a problem, ran through the first one on the hardest difficulty, and then felt indestructible. That’s when a sidequest showed up that involved taking on some slimes under the inn. Sounds easy, right? Well, it was until it turned out that the slimes had a boss. It did ridiculous amounts of damage to my characters, and they eventually all fell. Turns out that if you die, you return to the inn and lose some money. I also remember seeing a warning that playing through a dungeon on the hardest difficulty and dying would cause the dungeon to reset, though I don’t know if that’s suggesting that death in dungeons is handled differently. Sadly, I can’t go back to check the specific wording because my screenshot software didn’t save any.
All in all, I’m having quite a bit of fun with the game right now. The music is surprisingly good, the art style is pure Battle Chasers, and the pacing has been pretty good. I’m looking forward to finding some other characters to use, though.