Part 16: Fighting: Staring Into The Abyss
Gameplay Notes: Staring Into The Abyss
So now you've stepped into the Abyss of Time. You've got your party of brave adventurers, and are ready to give the Shadows the old what for. Let's start on how all this actually works for those new to the game.
The Dungeon Map: Let's You And Me Fight
Much like Tartarus in the first game, the Abyss of Time is made up of numerous floors of random design. There are four types of objects we can find on a normal floor. Silver briefcases are chests, which can contain money, items, and equipment. Gold cubes are rare chests, which contain powerful equipment and rare items. The little green Access Points allow us to return to the lobby, and stairs take us to the next floor. That's not all we see in the Abyss, though.
The Shadows: The Red Wunz Go Fasta
On the dungeon map, Shadows all appear as shapeless masses of darkness. We can gather a lot about a group of Shadows just from how they appear on the map. The larger the Shadow is, the more are in the group. A black Shadow is of normal strength and tends to be sluggish until it sees the player. A glowing red Shadow is a substantially more powerful one and often moves more quickly an erratically. Gold Shadows are Rare enemies. They are fast and weak to some random physical type, and give us a valuable item we can sell if we can kill them. Unlike normal Shadow, they will run away if they see us.
Attacking: Robots Do It From Behind
There are two ways we can enter combat. Being contacted by a Shadow is the first, and least ideal. That usually leads to an Enemy Advantage situation, where the enemy gets a full round of attacks before we do. In The Answer this can easily be a Game Over, so don't let it happen. The second happens when we shoot them with Aigis' guns. If the enemy was aware of us, then combat starts with neither side having the edge. If they weren't, though, then it's a Player Advantage situation. We get the first attack and we often see some of the Shadows Panic (which makes us much more likely to inflict critical hits on them). We also have a 100% chance of running away if we have Advantage. In The Answer it's very important to try and attack from behind whenever possible. Just don't take too long...
Death: Don't Fear The Reaper
The Reaper is back in The Answer. If you linger too long on a level, The Reaper will appear. He's bad news. Don't let him touch you, and if he does, run away. He will wreck you.
Combat: What Do I Do Now?
So now we're fighting some Shadows. Our most basic option is Attack. This fires Aigis' current gun at the target, and costs nothing. We can also use our current Persona's Skills, which cost SP for magic and HP for physicals, switch Personas, use items, and run away. Just as in Persona 3, we don't have direct control over anyone but Aigis. We can give them general priorities, though. Heal/Support tells someone to use their healing and support skills unless there isn't one that's applicable, at which point they'll attack. Assign Target will cause them to put all of their attacks on one enemy until it dies. Knock Down will tell them to go for enemy weaknesses. It's just that simple.
One More: Glutton For Punishing
You know how I said last time that Weaknesses were important? Well now we'll talk about why. Whenever any character exploits a Weakness, the enemy is knocked down and they get another turn. The same thing happens when a physical attack scores a critical hit. Note that this applies to both sides equally, so when a Shadow gets a crit or hits a weakness it gets to go again too. Also note that this doesn't happen if we score a crit or hit a weakness with a multi-target attack or on someone that's already down. A character that's down stays down until either their next turn (which they lose) or they are hit by another attack.
All-Out Attacks: Adam West Would Be Proud
Knocking down enemies has more benefit than just stopping them from attacking us. If we can knock all the enemies down, we get the chance to perform an All-Out Attack. This does hefty Almighty damage to the enemy party, and is the best way to quickly defeat them. It's possible to cancel the All-Out Attack, but personally I prefer to just kill things.
Game Over: This Is A Bug Hunt Man!
Just like many Shin Megami Tensei games, it's game over if Aigis is killed in combat at any time. Your number one priority in combat is to keep her from dying, and you should plan accordingly.
Scanning: Sadly Their Heads Remain Intact
We are supported in combat by Fuuka. Her main role is doing Full Analysis on the enemy. We ask her to Analyze an enemy on our turn, and within a few actions she'll have scanned it. We can see all of its elemental properties and skills for a normal Shadow. We can't see all of this for bosses, but our computer allies actually can and will plan their attacks with it in mind. Scanning things is vitally important, always scan new enemies as you meet them.
Orgia Mode: Orgia Mode Is Go
Metis has a special tactic, Orgia Mode. In Orgia Mode Metis does about 1.5x normal damage but can't follow any Tactics. After a few turns, she'll overheat and become inactive for a while. While she's inactive she takes a lot more damage, too. Metis' Neo Orgia Mode has one key difference from Aigis' normal Orgia Mode from vanilla P3. Skills she uses in Orgia mode cost no HP/SP, which is pretty nice. Orgia mode is nice but it'll be a while before I really show it off. It should be noted that if Metis goes down while overheated she's better when you bring her back, which we'll take advantage of much later on.
Shuffle Time: Personas On The Grift
If we end the battle with an attack from Aigis or an All-Out Attack, we trigger Shuffle Time. A set of cards will appear, shuffle, and we choose one. The cards are either Persona cards or Minor Arcana. If we pick a Persona, we can add that Persona to our current roster. There are four types of Minor Arcana, and they rank from one to ten. Swords give us equipment, Coins money, Cups healing, and Wands bonus experience. The effect is greater the higher the rank of the card is. Making good use of Shuffle Time is key to leveling up quickly and getting enough money to keep our equipment current.
Malebolge Tips: What The Fuck Did That Lion Just Do?
Most of the Shadows in Malebolge are pretty weak and go down quickly without doing too terribly much that's threatening. Most of them. The one you need to watch out for is a black lion called I believe an Enslaved Beast. These are officially Bad News. They have a powerful physical attack called Kill Rush and can come in groups as large as four. Two general strategies to deal with them: A) They are weak to fire, so Orpheus wrecks them B) If you see four of them, just run away. Especially early on when you're very likely to get splattered by them you never want to be fighting that many of them at once. That's really a good sort of rule of thumb, always try to put yourself in a good position to run the hell away from a Shadow. If you just finished Persona 3, one thing to keep in mind is that almost every Shadow in this game is identical to one in that game and has the same weaknesses. Take advantage of this. Once you feel you're at a good level, just run away from all the Shadows in your way to keep your SP up before the boss.
Hopefully with these tips you can drive the Shadows before you and hear the lamentations of their, um, feminine Shadows.
Mythology Fun Facts:
Malebolge is the name of Hell's eighth layer in Dante's Inferno. It's a catch-all for a lot of sins.