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Author Topic: Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga Impressions! (pg. 2)  (Read 10802 times)
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #40 on: April 06, 2005, 07:08:47 PM »

To my own annoyance I'm starting to feel the immediate call for this game after watching the GS video review.  With Jade Empire next week and recent purchases of the PSP, 3 PSP games, God of War, and Splinter Cell 3, I think my wife would shoot me if I bought another game.  

I'm going to try and hold off for a while but I'm axiously awaiting impressions.  If I'm swayed I'll likely push off Jade Empire for a little while.
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« Reply #41 on: April 06, 2005, 07:50:33 PM »

IN!
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« Reply #42 on: April 06, 2005, 07:52:39 PM »

(psst, I just watched dep play a little bit of it - looks great!)
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« Reply #43 on: April 06, 2005, 09:08:03 PM »

So far I've played a bit more than an hour - here are some early game impressions:

The game is full of style.  The first hour of experiencing this strange phenomenon, realizing what had happened, and learning about your new abilities is really told in a great style.  So far I'm loving it!

A couple of things - it plays a lot like Nocturne.  They are more cutscenes, yep.  And voice acting (really good!) as well.  Battle wise it's a lot like Nocturne in the whole press sytem kind of way.  That's been explained in reviews though, so I won't get into that   biggrin

The music is, actually, quite diverse so far.  You have your typical cool rock song for battles and nice tunes everywhere else.  For instance, a hauntingly cool song is played during the "shop" portion of the game as well as the config screen at the title screen.  And then you might get a more upbeat song at the Vanguard's base.  Diverse music selection!  I like it!

That being said, I've noticed (like Nocturne) that during the battle the music seems a little like . . . distant.  I'm sure some people who have played Noctune know what I'm talking about.  I'm thinking that this "coincidence" of having both games like that is the way it was intended to be.  So no problemo there.  The characters (and their demon forms) are really interesting to look at.  Great, great character design!

As far as packing is concerned, you get a neato deluxe box that holds both the first and the second game.  Pretty dang cool!  Soundtrack comes in a sleeve though, which is a bit poopy, but you can't get it ALL   biggrin

Graphics are great - the style carries over from Nocturne and really is unlike any other game.  The Junkyard is a pretty murky place, where it rains all the time and so forth.  So it's easy to use a lot of grey, white, that sort of thing.  But they really make it quite a beautiful looking place (from Washington so rain doesn't bother me   biggrin ).  This rain kind of setsup the mood of all of the tribes - they're pretty somber, not very exciting, and practically emotionless.  But, when the "event" happens and the tribes become demons, they also get instilled with emotion.  So it'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

So far the first hour has been awesome.  I'm really enjoying it!  Everything that I've personally wanted I've gotten so far.  But beware - it's a lot like Nocturne in many different ways.  Pretty high random battle frequency and you can't really button mash your way through battles, like Nocturne.  Some recycled monster models from Nocturne too, but I don't see that as a bad thing.  It's more of a, "I have a leg up on people because I already know the monsters' weaknesses" and such.  But the first hour has really told the story well and made me very intrigued as to what's happening in "the Junkyard."  Good stuff so far!  Exactly what I've been looking for!  I have to study for an exam tomorrow, and then my parents are visiting for the weekend, so I won't be able to play much except for today.  So hopefully I can chime in with some more impressions later   biggrin

**Edit**  Forgot to mention - adding a little map screen while in the exploring mode was a good idea.  Also, if the first "dungeon" is any indication, dungeons will be probably pretty big later on.

Also, about battles - yeah yeah you can kinda button mash your way through it right now.  But I can really tell (like Nocturne) that you'll have to concentrate in battles later on.
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« Reply #44 on: April 06, 2005, 09:14:09 PM »

I'm interested to hear about:

-Equipment.  Is there any?

-The Grid skill system.
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« Reply #45 on: April 06, 2005, 09:35:34 PM »

Can you comment on the "emotion" of the story- are the characters likeable, sympathetic, etc.  Do other NPCs have personality?
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« Reply #46 on: April 06, 2005, 10:35:47 PM »

Quote from: "-Lord Ebonstone-"
I'm interested to hear about:

-Equipment.  Is there any?

-The Grid skill system.

Like Nocturne, there is no quote-unquote equipment to be equipped.  It's all done by downloading mantras and learning new skills and setting them as your battle skills.

The grid system is like FFX, but I don't really see a WHOLE lot of customization.  It's a viable option, but at least in the beginning there is a set way of how they kind of "hand hold" what skills each character should basically learn.  You get points by defeating enemies which are accumulated until you master a certain Mantra, thus gaining 2-3 or so skills.  At any given time your characters can have 4 or 5 skills equipped and usable, though, I'm pretty sure that will expand to more in the future.  After mastering a Mantra you can then go to a Save Point and "download" another Mantra to learn skills from, which costs Macca (like Nocturne again, the currency).

**Forgot to mention - the skills are basically called the same from Nocturne, sans the new "hunting" abilities.  So agi would be a weak fire skill, with the -mar added in the beginning symbolizing a "fire all" effect.
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« Reply #47 on: April 06, 2005, 10:47:43 PM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
Can you comment on the "emotion" of the story- are the characters likeable, sympathetic, etc.  Do other NPCs have personality?

The characters all have different personalities.  In the beginning of the game it's pretty much shown that they don't have THAT much personality.  They all just go along and do their thing.  But ever since the "event", they all start to kind of branch off into different personalities.  Heat especially gets more angry, Argilla becomes more caring and affectionate, Gale becomes, well, the "mediator" of the group, saying how everyone has changed and so forth, and Cielo hasn't had too much involvement in the story.

Without spoiling anything, at least at the two hour mark you can start to see dinstictions between characters and the way that they act now opposed to the beginning of the game.  The mysterious marks that everyone has not only makes them have the need to devour others to stay strong and not die, but it also instills emotion apparently.  How much emotion is yet to really be seen.

As far as other NPCs, the other tribes haven't really been fleshed out yet.  Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but every other tribe seems to have the possibility of being quite different.  As for everyone else (regular NPCs around) - they're your stereotypical RPG NPCs that say something different related to the story everytime something happens storywise.

That being said, yet again, the protagonist is silent just like in Nocturne.  I've had the choice to make a decision by selecting an on-screen prompt a couple of times, but just about the only communication I've seen him do is a head nod.  I know this can be annoying for some, but it's not very annoying to me (at least not yet).
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« Reply #48 on: April 06, 2005, 10:53:21 PM »

Also, would just like to add - wait for some other impressions from other people about DDS.  Everyone knows that I've really been looking forward to this game, so that probably sways my idea and enjoyment of it so far.

Plus, if someone purchases it and decides that it isn't too great, I don't want to be SOLELY blamed    :lol:   Though, I must say, it's pretty similar to Nocturne, but its what I've always wanted from Nocturne as well - more story substance opposed to "demon collecting".
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« Reply #49 on: April 06, 2005, 11:23:43 PM »

Quote from: "Ascendent"
Quote
The reviews have been so-so, and I'm leaning towards waiting. I'll probably get DDS2 eventually, but not until a price drop or two.


With Atlus games this normally doesn't happen.

Ascendent


And sometimes Atlus games go out of print and leave those that already haven't bought a copy with a price RAISE.
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« Reply #50 on: April 07, 2005, 12:21:36 AM »

depward -

thanks for all the info. got my copy as well, & am listening to the soundtrack as i type - doesn't do a lot for me (uematsu fanboy that i am), a bit more laid back than nocturne's, but it's fine. but, beyond booting it up, i'll probably be trying to finish mga before digging in (just a one-game kinda guy smile )...

it does sound just about right - a kinder, gentler, 'persona'-fied smt - looking forward to it...
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« Reply #51 on: April 07, 2005, 12:27:24 AM »

You guys suck!  :wink:

For the most part, I HATE RPGs, but I love the other Atlus games.

The other day I saw that Nocturne was available used at Gamefly: Bought it.

Reading this thread at work I decide to make a little stop on the way home, actually hoping DDS wasn't there: Bought it.

Now for the big question: Which first?

Remember - I'm not an RPG wizard...

Thanks!
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« Reply #52 on: April 07, 2005, 12:46:28 AM »

I'd do Nocturne first, but either is fine. Just remember that there is a talk option in notcturne I fought the first boss without recruiting anyone before I found out about the talk option.

Ascendent
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« Reply #53 on: April 07, 2005, 12:50:35 AM »

I'd go with DDS first- everything I've read is that its more accessible than Nocturne (and shorter).  Then if you want more game with a similar vibe jump into Nocturne.
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« Reply #54 on: April 07, 2005, 01:00:09 AM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
I'd go with DDS first- everything I've read is that its more accessible than Nocturne (and shorter).  Then if you want more game with a similar vibe jump into Nocturne.

I would agree - Nocturne is a bit harder than DDS.  Although, this one is getting slightly tougher, there's just so much, so many variables with Nocturne it's a bit overwhelming.
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« Reply #55 on: April 07, 2005, 01:27:52 AM »

Last "impressions" thing from me for awhile - I'm sure some of you are sick of reading impressions just from me   biggrin

Four hours in and the game is still awesome.  Yes, you do get more slots to "equip" skills in, which is good.  The grid system is a bit deeper than I thought, now that I've mastered a couple of Mantras per character and things have been opening up a bit.  Everything is just plain awesome so far.

That being said, it is a combat heavy game.  There is a good amount of story in there that is presented with a great sense of style and pace, but it is very combat heavy.  And you have to be aware in combat as well.  You can't just plow through mashing that X button; you need to think strategically.

I would recommend it for any RPG fan!
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« Reply #56 on: April 07, 2005, 01:32:45 AM »

Thanks for the impressions, dep!

I never get sick of hearing you guys talk about this 'RPG' stuff.  I always get roped in because you make it sound so good! :wink:

So far it looks like I'm going to start with, the more simple, DDS.

Probably won't get to it until tomorrow night so there's still time to sway me!

Did any of you guys seen a guide at EB/Gamestop if you picked it up at the store? I'll be needing it and I didn't see one today.
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« Reply #57 on: April 07, 2005, 01:40:53 AM »

There is no guide book for DDS, there is one for Nocturne.

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« Reply #58 on: April 07, 2005, 02:46:23 AM »

No DDS book? Is there one coming? There are books for everything, not this?  :cry:

Got the one for Nocturne!  biggrin
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« Reply #59 on: April 07, 2005, 06:31:54 AM »

How 'rewarding' is combat?  You gain progress on the skill chart through combat, right?  Is that progress tied to character level or is it totally seperate?

Also, if I'm understanding Mantras right, are they basically like materia from FFVII, then you accumulate skill points from combat, (possibly from devouring in combat), which you use to buy skills from individual mantra you've bought or acquired, then the skills stay with your character permanently after unlocking them?
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« Reply #60 on: April 07, 2005, 06:46:27 AM »

Is the combat as "quick" as Nocturne?  One of the things I really enjoyed in Nocturne was how fast each attack was executed.
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« Reply #61 on: April 07, 2005, 07:11:08 AM »

Quote from: "-Lord Ebonstone-"
How 'rewarding' is combat?  You gain progress on the skill chart through combat, right?  Is that progress tied to character level or is it totally seperate?

Also, if I'm understanding Mantras right, are they basically like materia from FFVII, then you accumulate skill points from combat, (possibly from devouring in combat), which you use to buy skills from individual mantra you've bought or acquired, then the skills stay with your character permanently after unlocking them?

Yeah it's a bit confusing.  But I really understand it now that I've actually played and experienced it.  When you defeat an enemy you get both regular experience (which is called Karma) and Atma Points.  Karma Points and Atma Points are not directly tied together.  Say I'm fighting some enemies and I've earned enough Atma Points that I've mastered a Mantra.  I then gain those abilities (as in, they are ALWAYS selectable - but I can only select 6 abilities to be active at one time).  I then go to a Save Point and use Macca (the currency) to "download" another Mantra and earn Atma Points to earn THOSE skills.  And so forth and so on.  So yep - it is just like Materia from FFVII.

And yep - Serph (your main character) can do different devour skills to devour your enemies.  All this does is, if the enemy is scared, do a higher amount of damage and, if you hit the enemy enough to kill it, make you gain more Atma Points than usual.  So, it's nice to do this when possible, to help master skills more quickly.

And yep again - skills stay with you permamently.  No "throwing away" skills ala Nocture.

But basically your comparison to Materia is spot on   biggrin
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« Reply #62 on: April 07, 2005, 07:12:34 AM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
Is the combat as "quick" as Nocturne?  One of the things I really enjoyed in Nocturne was how fast each attack was executed.

Just as quick.  It's essentially the exact same as Nocturne - the Hama spell even uses the same "card" animation!  But this is pretty rare, because they've more often then not made different animations for different spells.

But the combat is still very quick, which I enjoyed from Nocturne as well
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« Reply #63 on: April 07, 2005, 07:47:46 AM »

Double Jump Books, who have done strategy guides for other Atlus games, passed on doing one for DDS, so it looks like there isn't going to be one.  There are a few FAQs at GameFAQs though.
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« Reply #64 on: April 07, 2005, 12:24:50 PM »

I may not have unerstood one word in LE's post OR dep's response! I'm in way over my head!  smile

Eddie - Thanks for the heads up. Sucks that nobody is going to publish anything. Seems strange.
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« Reply #65 on: April 07, 2005, 06:59:19 PM »

I played for about an hour last night, and I'm really enjoying it.  The opening cutscene is incredible, and the cool art style looks even better in motion than in screenshots.  The great dungeon automapping returns from Nocturne, and really helps in exploring the dungeon areas.  The voice acting is good, too, and thankfully, they appear to be unknown actors.  It looks like companies have finally realized there are other good voice actors in the world other than the usual suspects (Jennifer Hale, Cam Clarke, etc.)  They're very good at what they do, but it's distracting hearing the same voices in every game.
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« Reply #66 on: April 24, 2005, 05:16:01 AM »

Question:

I'm about two hours into it (and enjoying it) but I'm unclear on when and if I should be reverting from my demon form into human form?  What are the advantages/disadvantages?
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« Reply #67 on: April 24, 2005, 07:32:02 AM »

There's probably more to it, but some enemies are weak against gun attacks and there are combos involving them.
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« Reply #68 on: April 24, 2005, 09:18:09 AM »

As you probably know, basically all flying enemies are weak to the human form gunfire.  Usually, you can get a "weakness" half press turn everytime you fire against a flying enemy.

WHICH means they'll frighten easily.  WHICH means you can devour them easier if you revert someone to demon form   biggrin
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« Reply #69 on: April 24, 2005, 02:12:00 PM »

Still waiting for one of you guys to put out a guide!!! :wink:
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« Reply #70 on: April 24, 2005, 05:03:32 PM »

Thanks Eddie and depward.  I'll have to experiment a bit with that today.
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« Reply #71 on: July 11, 2005, 01:19:45 AM »

Live, long dead thread.  I command thee...LIVE!!  slywink

I put about 8 hours into SMT:  Nocturne, but didn't really like the whole demon recuiting game mechanic.  So I was hesitant to pick up DDS.  My Gamestop finally in a used copy of DDS on Friday, so I picked it up.  I've put in about 6 hours so far, and overall I really like it.  My one major gripe so far: could they possibly have set the encouter rate any f**king higher?!  Honestly, there are parts of the game where the encounter rate is simply ridiculous and starts to suck the fun out of what is otherwise a great game.  Fight a battle, take 3 steps, fight another battle, take 3 steps, rinse, repeat.  There are really no battles that you can just cruise through either (unless you're repeating previously cleared levels and far outlevel the enemies).  You have to stay on your toes or you'll find yourself quickly getting trounced by the horde of enemies.  I've also noticed that the save point system is really hit & miss.  The dungeons are huge, and sometimes you'll go ridiculously long stretches with no save or restore points.  Other times you'll have points right around the corner from each other.  It all seems very arbitrary.  They do a good job of letting you save before boss battles, but some of the dungeons are really tough to get through.

That being said, I really like the graphic style and the story (small bits that there are) is simply superb.  The characters are likeable and engaging, and the wide range of reactions to their situation makes things very interesting.  I'm glad to hear that DDS2 will be more story based, because that really is the strong point of this game.  I'd recommend it, but it certainly does take some patience to really get in to.
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« Reply #72 on: July 11, 2005, 05:38:56 AM »

Here is the thing.I have only played this for like 6 hours. I got it around JE time, and trying to play them both was too time consuming, and when I got busy I gave them both up. However, this was the lower priority by far. The game has many things: its beautiful, the music is good, the story is good, the dialogue is ok, the combat is clever and suprisingly difficult and complex.

The problem is the game is a dungeon crawl. Let me qualify that. It wouldnt be the problem if I wanted to play enough to see the cutscenes, to enjoy the story, to enjoy the combat, to play a good RPG. That would all be enough, but what makes me feel like I won't want to do that is the fucking insane combat rate. Listen, Skies of Arcadia was a genius game-and on TWO DIFFERENT CONSOLES, the spawn rate forced me to give up on it. Well, DDS is worse. Every three steps in every direction is a spawn-and you do significant backtracking. So yeah, I like the game, but I can't deal with that. I just don't have that patience any more.
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« Reply #73 on: July 11, 2005, 07:57:48 AM »

Wow I'm glad to see this thread was resurrected!  As seen through my many posts and comments in this thread, I really did enjoy DDS.  In fact, I enjoyed so much it's up there with my "all-time favorites" list.  It oozes with style, great graphics, a very interesting and intriguing story, and it was just plain fun to play the whole way through.

Everyone's comments are true from a subjective point of view.  It is a dungeon crawler.  Very much so a dungeon crawler.  But I particularily liked how the "dungeons" were set-up and executed, particularity Coordinate 136 (the fairytale dungeon).  My patience with the random encounter rate was justified by having played a good deal of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.  Plus, the battles were relatively stream-lined, so the action was paced well.  Actually, I quit playing Skies of Arcadia due to the random encounter rate . . . but this was before I played SMT Nocturne.  But anyways, the encounter rate is pretty dang high indeed.

The difficulty could get to some people.  It is a pretty hard game.  But that made me appreciate beating that much more (and how I tried defeating that last boss MANY times).

Yes, it's true - there wasn't as much "story content" as I hoped for in this first installment.  But what I got was excellent.  I love cut-scenes and how they're executed in RPGs (probably why I enjoyed Shadow Hearts Covenant so much) and the small doses of pure story cutscenes were just small appetizers to what to expect in the second installment.  I simply can't wait until DDS 2 is released, not just for the gameplay and graphical aspects but the story one as well.

So, to echo thoughts that were written a fairly good amount of time ago - Digital Devil Saga is a quality game.  It does have certain things that could bother gamers.  But hopefully, for me personally, it didn't hamper my enjoyment at all.

Glad to hear you picked up a used copy of it Gratch!
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« Reply #74 on: July 11, 2005, 12:17:21 PM »

I picked this one up used at my local gamestop* a couple of weeks ago, and I've been playing it the last week or so.

First off, the idea that you are no longer immune to the polar opposite of what your weak to is horrible.  Adding needless difficulty to the game was not a good design decision, imo.  Also, right out of the gate in this game every enemy has multiple ways to attack you.  Any battle is just a lucky chance away from you being slaughtered.  This game is currently on hiatus for me because I got too irritated at how tough they tried to make it.  Once I have patience again, I will try again.
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« Reply #75 on: July 11, 2005, 12:19:54 PM »

(forgot to add to the above post)

* The gamestop near me has had: used copy of disgaea, used copy of SMT:Nocturne, used copy of DDS.  Someone in the area sells back their Atlus and NIS games to them. I scout it once a week to see when Stella Deus and Atelier Iris will show up.
 biggrin
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Gratch
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« Reply #76 on: July 11, 2005, 03:46:34 PM »

Quote from: "Big Jake"
Any battle is just a lucky chance away from you being slaughtered.  


I think this is the main problem I have with the game so far. I played a couple more hours after I posted yesterday and damn near threw my controller through the screen.  I got transferred directly to the Solid’s citadel after the previous level, with no chance to heal, save, or visit a vendor.  The first 6 battles I encountered, I was ‘ambushed’, the enemy attacked first, and attacked by enemies that cast Poison Dart.  So not only did I barely escape the battle alive, I had to expend my meager supply of Dis-Poisons within the first 15 minutes in the dungeon.  Since status effects stay with you post-battle (another MAJOR gripe for me), and I didn’t have any spells that would get rid of poison, I was basically screwed.  I then slogged through the dungeon for nearly an hour (see my earlier post about save points) before finding any sort of save or restore point.  I’m fairly sure I’m hosed for the rest of the game, as I was forced to use almost all my items just to stay alive.

As much as I really want to like this game, it’s quickly becoming an exercise in frustration.  There are so many good aspects that are being overshadowed by the inconsistencies in the combat and encounter rate.  I have until Friday to return it, so I’ll play it through this week and see how it goes.  If it continues to be this frustrating, it’ll be back on the shelf Friday afternoon.  frown
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EddieA
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« Reply #77 on: July 11, 2005, 11:42:48 PM »

Not that this does you any good now, but, after getting taken to the Citadel, you could have left the area, gone back to your base, and healed up/shopped/etc.  I've only run into one area that I couldn't leave and go back to my base, and that was storyline-dictated.
The combat can be challenging, but there are several things that make it easier.  First, healing is cheap.  Dia only costs about 3 MP, and even at level 24, still heals a big chunk of my characters' HP.  Argilla should have a ton of MP, and MP restoring items are cheap.  Also, areas with HP restoring stations are great for levelling-up without risk.  If worse comes to worst, you can always use the large karma terminals to teleport back to the entrance, return to your base to shop/heal, and then come back.
 
At the point I am now, enemies are doing quite a bit of damage to my characters, and they occasionally die, but as long as I have plenty of MP restoring and Dis- items, I can pretty much heal to full strength after every battle if I have to.  Also, money is easy to get.  Enemies give quite a bit, and tracking down the Cells nets me several thousand for each one.  So, while individual battles remain challenging, as long as you can survive each one, you'll be fine.

A word of warning, though.  The last boss at the end of the Citadel can be very hard if you don't have the Void Expel spell.  There's a great cut-scene after the battle, though, so it's definitely worth it.  I hope you stick with it.
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« Reply #78 on: July 12, 2005, 01:52:46 PM »

Finally got through the Citadel (thanks for the Void Expel tip), and the story sequence was fantastic.  The small parts of the story that are revealed are almost balancing out the frustration so far.  We'll see how the next level goes.

One question:  Is there a stat or spell that will lessen the chances of my party getting "Ambushed - No time to transform"?  This happens on at lease 25 - 30% of my battles, and I have to waste a turn getting everybody to demon form.  When combined with an enemy that attacks first, it's pretty much an instant death.  Anything I can do to lessen the chances of it happening?
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angrycoder
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« Reply #79 on: July 12, 2005, 09:41:28 PM »

Just played it for about 2 hours, finished the first dungeon. The cut scenes and voice acting in this game are tits. Luckly I was able to find a used copy at EB, it looks the game is discontinued.

One question, it seems like my characters stopped again ATMA after Serph and Heat gained their new skills. When do I start being able to earn ATMA again? The chick in my party seems to be permenantly stuck never gaining ATMA and she hasn't learned her first set of new skills yet. Am I missing something?

Sera's introduction was awsome, I think I might be hooked on this game.
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