Combat is an integral part of the game that is often required to progress the story. Combat can occur as either a random encounter when navigating through the field or as a scripted event (such as boss battles). Combat takes place in its own environment separate from the field and the world map. The player's combat party can contain up to five characters. Victory is usually achieved by knocking out every member of the enemy party. There are some exceptions where victory is more objective-based, such as keeping a certain participant from being knocked out. Defeat (and consequently Game Over) occurs whenever the entire allied party's HP is at 0 at the same time or when an objective is not accomplished. In some cases, the party is scripted to lose, and although defeated, the story will progress.
Victory often yields Experience Points, Skill Points, Gold, and Items. Experience Points are necessary to increase the overall level and stats of the characters. Skill Points apply to immortals only and allow them to permanently learn abilities. Many fields in the game contain an experience cap, which when exceeded, results in enemies providing no experience for a victorious battle although Skill Points, Gold, and Items continue to be awarded.
Combat is turn-based and divided into a series of rounds that continues until winning or losing conditions are met. At the start of each round, every participant selects an action and a target on which to perform that action. The order in which each unit has the opportunity to perform its action is determined either by their Attack Speed stat or the sum of their Casting Speed stat and the Casting Time of the particular spell they selected to cast. The turn order is displayed at the bottom left corner of the battle screen when everyone has selected an action.
Although Command skills have no execution speed stat associated with them, they always require more time to execute than a regular attack. Most high-level magic spells require more than one turn to execute. The number of turns the caster must wait is indicated by a number on its portrait in the turn order. Whenever this occurs, the player must be careful to avoid choosing "Quit" when it comes time to select the caster's action because doing so will cancel the cast; there is no way to undo this mistake. The execution of magic spells can be delayed by striking the caster with regular attacks. This is called "casting interference". Enemy casters in the back row are impervious to casting interference if the Guard Condition is high enough. Command skills are not susceptible to interference.
The battle screen is comprised of two main elements: the environment and the heads-up display (HUD).
The environment entails the allied formation, the enemy formation(s), and the area that the battle takes place in, which is usually an isolated replica of the field that the character was navigating prior to the battle. Formations will take up a spot on either side of the screen and never move unless they are attacking the other formation(s).
The HUD is made up of many components. The allied characters' names, HP, MP, and any status ailments that they are suffering from are displayed in the lower right corner. The battle menu is displayed in the lower left corner whenever commands must be issued, and it is replaced with the turn order whenever actions are being executed. The upper left corner and the upper right corner contain the enemy and allied Guard Conditions respectively. Whenever the player is choosing a target, an information box will be displayed on screen somewhere near the target. When a character equipped with a ring initates a regular attack, many circles appear on screen to surround the target and a white number appears at the top center of the screen. Whenever a unit receives damage or is healed, a number appears above the unit denoting how much HP or MP was lost or gained.
The battle menu is comprised of two menus: the main menu and the submenu.
The main menu is automatically displayed when the player is supposed to input commands and is hidden whenever the actions of the turn commence. It has five items:
- Attack - Used to execute normal physical attacks that can be boosted with use of the Aim Ring System
- Skill - Contains all of the Command skills that the character has learned (mortals) or has been assigned (mortals and immortals)
- Spell - Further broken into "White", "Black", "Spirit", and "Composite", it contains all of the magic spells that the character has learned (mortals) or has been assigned (mortals and immortals)
- Item - Any character can use any of the items that the player has acquired
- Defend - The character will receive reduced damage from most attacks throughout the course of the round
The submenu is displayed when the player presses left on the directional pad or tilts the left thumb stick to the left whenever the main menu is displayed. It has three items:
- Flee - Usually ends the battle immediately but sometimes fails. The player will not earn any rewards even if they defeated enemies before using the Flee command. It cannot be used in event battles.
- Equip - Used to change the Weapon, Accessory(ies), and Ring the character has equipped. It does not use up the character's action for the turn.
- Formation - Used to change the positions of the characters in the party. Sidelined characters cannot be swapped with characters that are participating in the battle.
Aim Ring SystemEdit
The Aim Ring System is the system implemented to provide bonuses (increased damage or critical hit rates, elemental damage, status ailments, etcetera) to regular physical attacks.
When an allied character equipped with a ring executes a regular attack, the target is surrounded by a hollow circle with a grey perimeter and silver secondary layer. The number 99 also appears at the top of the screen and quickly drops to 0. As the character charges forward to attack, the player must pull and hold the right trigger. This causes another much larger circle to collapse toward the target. The player must then release the trigger to stop the collapsing circle as close as possible to the silver circle surrounding the target. The player's performance is graded with one of three results: Bad, Good, or Perfect. A Bad rating is achieved if the player has not collapsed the large circle into at least the grey perimeter before the timer at the top reaches 0 or if the player holds the trigger too long and "overshoots" the target. Bad ratings do not apply the effect(s) of the equipped ring to the attack. A Good rating is achieved if the player stops the collapsing circle in the grey perimeter and is rewarded with a slight application of the ring's effect(s) to the attack. A Perfect rating is achieved by releasing the trigger when the collapsing circle is directly inside the tiny silver region. Perfect ratings yield great application of the ring's effect(s) to the attack.
Because the game often limits how strong the battle party can become, equipping effective rings is often the key to winning.
Formations and Guard ConditionEdit
A formation is comprised of two rows: the front row and the back row. Both allied and enemy formations may contain one or both. Formations that contain only one row are generally regarded as a formation with a front row but no back row; therefore, the benefits of a back row cannot be exploited.
Guard Condition only applies to formations that contain both a front row and a back row. The Guard Condition is the sum of the HP of the characters in the front row. It has four levels, which are divided into quarters of the maximum value. For example, a Level 3 Guard Condition means that the meter is half to three-fourths full, Level 4 means that the meter is completely full, and so on.
While the Guard Condition has no effect on the characters that provide it, it offers protection for the characters in the back row. The higher the Guard Condition is, the less damage that characters in the back row will take. The damage sustained appears to be inversely proportional to the level of the Guard Condition, although a full Guard Condition still will not completely negate the damage. When the Guard Condition is completely empty, the characters in the back row will take full damage.
As characters in the front row take damage, the Guard Condition will deplete by the same amount of the HP the character lost unless the attacker used an ability that increases the damage on the Guard Condition. The Guard Condition and the Hit Points that determine it are independent values nevertheless. Even when a character in the front row replenishes HP, the Guard Condition remains the same. There are skills available that replenish the status of the Guard Condition.
The Guard Condition can be at maximum even if the characters whose HP determine its maximum are not. For example, if Kaim is the sole member of the front row with 1000 HP and has been taking damage while using Wall, then the Guard Condition can be at 1000 points even if Kaim is HP critical. However, if a character in the front row is knocked out, then the Guard Condition's current value is depleted by the maximum HP of the character, and the Guard Condition can only cap at the sum of the remaining characters' HP even if it means that the Guard Condition is not full. For example, if Kaim (1000 HP) and Seth (700 HP) are the in the front row, and Seth is knocked out, then the Guard Condition cannot be filled beyond 1000 points out of a possible 1700. Furthermore, if Kaim had full HP (of 1000) and Seth had 200 out of 700 HP with a Guard Condition that is at 1700 points through the use of skills like "Wall", and Seth is hit with an attack that deals 201 HP, then the Guard Condition will drop to 1000 because Seth cannot contribute to the current Guard Condition while she is knocked out.
Mortals and immortals learn skills differently.
Mortals will learn skills automatically as they level up. Once they have learned a skill, they will retain it forever. They learn certain skills at certain levels and cannot be forced by the player to learn specific skills. Their customization is very limited.
One way that immortals learn skills is through the Skill Link system. The skill of any mortal can be linked to an immortal from the "Skills" menu, and that immortal will start to learn the skill. Each skill has a unique amount of Skill Points that must be earned in order for the immortal to permanently learn that skill. Furthermore, both the immortal and the mortal to which he or is she linked must participate in the battle in order for Skill Points to count toward the linked skill. Once the skill has been learned, the link may be broken, and the skill will be retained by the immortal forever. However, the skill will only apply when it is set to an immortal's slot in the "Skills" menu.
The other way that immortals can learn skills is by equipping accessories. Like the Skill Link system, accessories have a set number of Skill Points that the immortal must acquire to permanently learn the skill. Once that number has been reached, the accessory can be safely unequipped and the immortal will still have access to the skill, but the associated skill must then be assigned to a slot in the "Skills" menu.
Both mortals and immortals will benefit from the associated skill as long as an accessory equipped. Therefore, in the case of immortals, it is not necessary to assign a skill that the equipped accessory already grants. Mortals, unlike immortals, cannot permanently learn the skill associated with the accessory.
Effects of Mortality and ImmortalityEdit
Mortals and immortals do not perform any differently from each other as far as basic battle commands are concerned.
Regardless of whether a character is mortal or immortal, when their HP is reduced to 0, they become unable to input any commands, and characters in the front row will cease to contribute to the Guard Condition.
Mortals will remain knocked out for an unlimited number of turns until they are revived either with a spell or an item. Immortals will automatically replenish HP and rejoin the battle after a few turns, although they can still be revived sooner with spells or items.
- Many in-game tutorials take place on the battle screen
- Some mini-games, such as Cube Music take place on the battle screen even though no actual battle is taking place
- Some battles contain more than two parties wherein either of the two enemy parties may attack the player party or the other enemy party