My party finally ran into the new character, and it seems that he has absolutely no ties to the comic. I guess red masks with horns are just in style? Whatever the case, I imagine this guy will end up joining before too long. It’s just a shame that I don’t really have room for him; Gully and Calibretto are non-negotiable parts of my party (Calibretto has gained several helpful healing perks and abilities, so he fulfills the role of healer much better than he did at first), and Red Monika’s ability to inflict status effects on enemies is awesome. Having her attack normally, only to stun an enemy right before their turn is nothing short of magical. What sucks is that only the party members you use gain experience, so anyone I’m not using is falling behind to the point of becoming unusable without doing tons of grinding. I’m happy enough with my current party that this doesn’t bother me too much, but it’s disappointing.
Third-tier burst abilities have to be unlocked
Whereas I didn’t need to do anything special beyond leveling up to unlock the second-tier bursts for everyone, the third-tier burst abilities require each character to fulfill a certain condition before it can be unlocked by the hub town’s beastmaster.
For Monika, that meant killing a bunch of lycelots (werewolf-looking things, basically), which was perfect since the next dungeon was crawling with them. As soon as I was done, I ran back to the beastmaster and Monika finally had her third-tier burst ability. It causes a ton of status afflictions on enemies. Speaking of status effects, you can inflict the same status effect on an enemy multiple times to stack it. For example, you can stick 2 poisoning effects on an enemy and they’ll take twice as much poison damage each turn. That’s a really unique way of handling debuffs.
So far, Gully and Monika have their third-tier burst abilities, though Gully’s isn’t quite as powerful as you might expect. It does ~700-800 points of damage, sure, but at the cost of wiping out the entire burst bar, and Monika can do a comparable amount of damage by becoming invisible and using her Ambush ability. That having been said, I like how all three burst abilities are always different from each other. It avoids those earlier abilities becoming outdated or useless by newer stuff. Instead, everything is useful, and you’re not gaining more powerful moves so much as being given more options in combat. The whole thing is balanced remarkably well.
I’m really liking the understated puzzles
Puzzles can easily become overwhelming and tedious or a total afterthought, and while the puzzles here have thus far been on the easier side, their inclusion (and lack of instructions; you sometimes have to figure out what to do intuitively based on environmental clues) always serves to better the dungeons and keep things fresh.
Take this puzzle, where you light up small mazes by standing on a switch and have to memorize the path forward if you want to get there without stepping over spikes in the dark and losing HP. It’s not hugely challenging, but becomes an incredibly welcome break from clearing out rooms full of enemies nonetheless.
The first time I went through this dungeon, I blew through this rune puzzle without an issue. Basically, you see runes nearby and have to interact with them in the order you saw them to open a door, at which point you fight some enemies and find another rune that opens the last door. When I went through this dungeon again to record, though, I was convinced that the cloud rune was the fire one because I saw it at a weird angle. But hey, at least now it’s obvious what happens when you choose the wrong rune again and again and again. And again. Hurray for learning!
Some miscellaneous things of note
Speaking of things I’ve learned, one of the coolest is that the cost of the inn is flexible. Yeah, the cost goes up as your party levels up, but if you don’t have enough gold, it only costs what you have. If you have nothing, you can stay there for free. That’s yet another really cool approach to the jRPG genre that I appreciated.
Another thing to be aware of is that the blimps flying around aren’t decorations. They’re moving enemy encounters. Not only that: they appear to scale to your level, and they have an uncanny ability to find you right after a long dungeon when everyone’s health and mana is already a bit depleted. Not sure if they’re designed that way or if that’s just the way things happened to turn out in my case.