(Sorry for the missed day, I didn’t have access to my computer. To compensate, this is an extra-long update.)
You get to choose the guild name, but the default is “Six Stars”. I don’t actually like that name very much, since we will eventually get more than six party members, making it a misnomer.
Oh, wait! I know what I can use! Unsounded fans will recognize this one.
With that, the characters are ready to sign up.
Every time someone joins the guild, you get something like this. You’ll also get a little blurb about both their character and their battle roles.
A polite, peaceful young Shra, he tries to fit in with the people of Wadassia. A gate guard for the city’s defense army. A-well balanced
Hm. Looks like that dash got misplaced.
fighter with no outstanding strengths or weaknesses, he arrived in Wadassia one day 10 years ago.
Zargos is a “trudge knight”. A former soldier and ambassador to neighboring areas, Zargos and his wife want to travel abroad for their own enjoyment. Strong-bodied, and proficient at boosting ally morale through Rushing in battle, he is a retired member of the Trudge Knights.
Qualstio: “Hey, uh, is that nauseatingly cheerful music gonna play every time someone joins?”
Ahaha. I think this is actually pretty funny. It doesn’t make sense in a text reposting, unfortunately. The joke is that, every time someone joins the guild, there’s this short little fanfare tune that plays. Apparently, it’s actually something that happens in-universe, if Qualstio’s complaint is any indication.
Next up is Santes. Her class is “Blessed Corps”. A well-trained battle priest and gifted healer of the fallen, Santes is highly inquisitive and can converse for days. Adept at curing the body and the soul, and a wielder of wrathful Divine type magic. Veteran of the Blessed Corps association. So once again, our one female party member is a healer. However, she is a pretty powerful spellcaster as well.
Fero is a “hunstman”. A friendly but shy Fih’jik hunter of wild game, he seeks to prowl upon the most dangerous creatures in the wilds of the world. Excels at ranged attacks, as well as inflicting Poison status. His supply of hand-crafted arrows never runs dry.
Poison is a debuff that reduces body regeneration rate, and can actually cause damage over time if the resulting regen value is negative. Mind and soul have similar debuffs. Unfortunately, they’re far more useful for the enemies than they are for you, because they reduce regen rates by a static amount instead of inflicting damage based on health percentage (as in most games). Enemies have far more health than you, so trying to bleed them out with damage over time effects is pretty useless.
Tehgonan is a “specrumancer”. A brash, smarmy young man from a well-to-do family, he is nonetheless incredibly gifted in certain magical arts.
He’s “gifted”, huh. The game is not really clear on how much magic power is innate and how much is learned, but it looks like a mixture of both. I guess this is why he’s battle-capable even though he’s blowing off his studies? Still seems like he should be a loose cannon.
Proficient at elemental manipulation, and enchanting or dispelling squares in battle. Presently skipping out on school.
Time to explain another mechanic. I explained the rush mechanic earlier – however, that is exclusively the purview of fighter-type characters. Casters can’t rush. The command they get in its place is “enchant”, which infuses a column of squares in front of them with their innate element. If an ability is used on an enchanted square, it gets a bonus to its damage if it’s the same element as the square (and vice-versa if it’s the opposite element). Certain skills have special interactions with enchanted squares, also.
I practically never bother with this, though, because enchanted squares revert to normal once they’re triggered, so they’re only good for one shot. (They don’t even work well as a “sacrifice your turn now for more damage later” mechanic, because I’m pretty sure the damage multiplier is x1.5, not x2. So it’s not even a fair exchange.) It also isn’t tied to the enemies themselves, so if they move in a way you didn’t predict, the enchantment becomes useless because it’s no longer targeting anything.
Tehgonan has a number of spells that revolve around this mechanic, but because the mechanic is virtually useless, he is as well and I will be dumping him the moment we get a new party member. Although, I suppose it is surprisingly realistic that the plucky kid character is useless and gimmicky.
Tehgonan: “Woooo! I’m in a real guild! Wait’ll my brother hears about THIS!”
…Huh, he has a brother. I forgot about that. I’m pretty sure this is the only time he’s mentioned. I wonder what he’s like now. Maybe he’s a delinquent like Tehgonan, or maybe they’re different as night and day… And suddenly I remember what happens later and I’m going to stop thinking about this now before I get depressed.
Finally, it’s Qualstio’s turn
Poor Dehl is looking pretty boxed-in, there.
Cynical and confident, Qualstio seeks to prove his abilities against he most powerful threats that inhabit the world.
Yeah I’m really starting to think that Qualstio’s character arc underwent some major revision at some point. That or the game doesn’t want to give away his real personality and motivations this early, but it was fine doing that with Dehl so probably not.
Proficient in a variety of kinds of elemental damage, particularly of the Heat variety. Intentionally displaced from Fortifel.
The registrar flatters him with “A Fortian, sir? Your talents are always welcome in Wadassia.”
Yes, Fortians are highly respected. So, at any point, Qualstio could have chimed in and averted the whole fiasco by saying “he’s with me” or something. But he didn’t, even though he’s supposed to be a good person who actually cares about Dehl arghleblarghle what are you trying to do, game.
The registrar tells them they’re going to be assigned a manager now, who will handle paperwork and ensure that your guild is a clean representation of Wadassian Law HAHAHAHA
How do they think this guild will survive past five minutes of inspection? It just formed, and already they have a kidnapping and someone who was “intentionally displaced” from his country of origin.
The registrar starts shouting for a guy named “Ques”. A fih’jik at a nearby desk looks around in confusion.
He walks over to the group and gives a standardized spiel about overseeing records/travel/etc. He also mentions being a historian, which translates to there being a menu option explaining all the setting details. I’ll go over this in more detail next update.
He then tells Fero not to talk about his views on the status of Kir’Ssha. Fero says he’s a neutral party. This is more namedropping of fantasy terms, but this time, it’s just left like this with no explanation.
Qualstio notes he can tell that Ques is from Fortifel due to his eyepiece. Fortians do this weird thing where everyone has an eyepiece that denotes rank based on color. Fortians are weird. Ques recognizes Qualstio, who immediately quips Ohhh, so you’ve heard of me! I guess I won’t have to tell you to stay outta my way so you would be well within your rights to assume he went on a murder spree or something. I wonder if we’re supposed to be creeped out by him or if we’re just supposed to laugh it off as wacky over the top nonsense at this point. Probably closer to the latter, honestly, since it feels like the game wants us to like him.
Qualstio sarcastically talks about revisiting Fortifel some time, then breaks his aloof demeanor to spit curses about Fortians being “no-good” and “ungrateful”. Aw, maybe he just proposed a radical new scientific theory that they just couldn’t see the brilliance of! THEY CALLED HIM MAD okay not really but that might have been kind of clever as a critique of academia. Honestly, since Fortifel is a deconstruction of technocracy that might have been more fitting for Qualstio’s backstory than what we actually got.
Dehl wishes them luck and begins to leave, saying he has to return to his post in the guard; apparently, he planned for his only contribution to be funding. Qualstio tells him he can’t because he’s the leader and Can’t you just blow it off for a day? because law enforcement is so forgiving about that. Dehl isn’t concerned with the possibility of being fired, though: he sees it as his duty to give back to the community for the care I’ve received since… since I arrived. Wow there is just foreshadowing everywhere in this scene. Though, really, that awkward stutter could mean anything at this point.
Qualstio: “You mean you’d rather stand beside a gate for ten hours a day than come fight things?”
Dehl: “Yes. …Yes, I would.”
Oh, Dehl. <3
Zargos and Santes flatter and guilt him into coming with them. He agrees to stay as long as there isn’t active alerts or danger befalling the city.
Qualstio: “That’s the spirit! You’ll thank me later. I’m sure they won’t notice you’re missing.”
Oh screw you. Is he trying to get Dehl fired?
…Actually, I think he is. He probably thinks it’s for his own good and other patronizing crap. He’s technically right, I suppose – Dehl is doing this for all the wrong reasons and Qualstio probably realizes that – but he sure is being dickish about it.
Dehl: “And what, pray tell, do you mean by that?”
And Dehl is surprisingly on the ball for this one.
Ques interrupts to say that they should follow him outside and get to work.
Qualstio: “Sheesh, what a grouch. His work better be worth having to put up with him for it.”
Said the pot to the kettle.
The next scene is on the streets of Wadassia.
It’s really a shame the developer never uploaded the original tracks he composed for The Reconstruction. The one for the world map is absolutely amazing.
I believe this is the only picture we ever get of the full map zoomed out like this, which is also kind of a pity. It’d helpful to know where everything is in relation to everything else, something I only got the hang of toward the very end of the game.
Qualstio: “It’s a map, all right. I guess. Kind of crude. And what’s all this weird scribbling?”
Okay now he’s just being a dick. He may not understand the fih’jik language, but he can definitely recognize the script. Fortunately, Ques is skilled at snark-to-snark combat and pays him in kind with t’is not my fault if you are uneducated in such writings.
He explains they won’t be leaving Wadassia just yet, though; they have to gain “favor” in the city first. This is accomplished by helping people (doing quests), and will increase the guild’s ranking. Higher ranks mean more people will ask the guild for help (unlocking new quests), and the cycle continues.
Fero: “Is there some place where we may go to hunt and hone our skills without being tasked?”
Hello, shoehorned exposition. It does make sense that Fero is the one who brings this up, though.
Reading over this, I just realized that this is the only thing Fero asks during this entire scene. I find that pretty amusing. Someone has a one-track mind.
Ques: “Yes, just speak to me and I can show you some prime hunting grounds close by.”
…I just pictured him saying that like Mr. Burns. Fero is so subtly (and delightfully) creepy.
That’s the end of the cutscene. I’m finally given control and can explore the city at my leisure, but I’d like to talk to Ques some more. He gives me mock congratulations for locating him before letting me see the menu:
Ques acts sort of like a menu button. These are the services he offers, all of which branch into another submenu. Under “manage roster”, I decide to view the active party (which just leads to the normal status menu).
Only current party members are displayed. It can get a bit unwieldy when you start acquiring lots of people but can only see detailed information for six, but there’s not a lot that can be done about that. Listing everyone like in I Miss the Sunrise might have been neat, though.
A “gentle, compassionate knight” who hits stuff with a greatsword. Oh, RPG logic.
I should probably start explaining what all of this stuff means. I’ve explained the body/mind/soul system already – there is one species that specializes in each, plus humans, who are more varied. (Shra specialize in body stats, as you can see here with Dehl.) However, there are also those “agility” and “charisma” stats in the passive traits section. These are kind of miscellaneous stats. Agility determines turn order – every turn, a counter is added to every character that’s based on their agility stat. Whoever has the highest counter goes next, at which point it’s reset to zero. The “stun” status effect delays peoples’ turns by reducing this counter.
Unfortunately, this system is a bit broken – the way it works, agility becomes the most important stat in the game. Higher agility doesn’t just mean you’ll go first, it also means you’ll get more turns overall. This makes slow characters effectively unusable, and fast characters godlike. Still, I think I do prefer this to systems where the speed stat only determines turn order. Here, every point of agility matters, just like with any other stat. If it only determines turn order, then the numerical value doesn’t matter as long as it’s higher than your opponent’s, making it an oddball in comparison to stats with linear numerical benefits.
Charisma is a bit less straightforward. It influences how effective the “rush” command is (somehow; the effect seems to be pretty negligible). To avoid making it useless for casters, it also allows characters to fight together even when they’re in separate groups – if one group gets into a battle and there is another group a number of steps away equal to the first group’s charisma stat, they’ll join the battle as well. I almost never use separate groups, so this doesn’t matter to me.
Like with so many RPGs, The Reconstruction has elemental matchups, “helpfully” displayed on the right of the screen in confusing shorthand. The top box displays the weapon/armor matchups. Light armor is weak to slashing damage but strong against piercing (for some reason), medium armor is weak to piercing but strong against crushing, and heavy armor is weak to crushing but strong against slashing, bringing things full circle. Despite being a hardy shra with tough scales, Dehl here is displayed has having light armor, because he wears a robe. Just…go with it, I guess.
The second box is about magical elements. TR uses an “opposing dualities” system, which isn’t really my favorite. I think they’re a bit too simplistic, and can end up pigeonholing things into nonsensical roles. I tend to prefer Pokemon-esque matchup webs, but that’s just me.
As for the elements here: The first two are heat and cold, the second two are “physical” (think natural disaster stuff, like storms and rocks) and “mental” (psychic powers), and the last set is divine (purity) and noxious (corruption). They’re slightly original I guess – I’ll give the developer points for not doing the generic “wind and earth oppose” thing, instead lumping them both into the same element and pitting them against psychic powers (even though it doesn’t make perfect sense why natural forces and psychic power would oppose). Even the “light” and “dark” elements have explicit definitions of what they physically do, rather than tying them to vague morality stuff like in so many other games. Every character and enemy has an innate element, though enemies’ are usually randomized.
Every character has five “active” skills that they use in battle, plus two “passive” skills that give passive bonuses. No one ever learns new skills, but you can improve the skills as time goes on. You’ll notice that there’s a Roman numeral I next to every one of Dehl’s skills – that’s their “rank”. I usually think these kinds of “start with all skills at the beginning” systems are a bit dull, since it feels like the game has laid all its cards on the table up front, with no new mysterious powers to look forward to. I liked it here, though – there is something to be said for learning to use the same powers in new situations rather than getting new ones thrown at you all the time, and the skill improvements do sometimes lead to interesting new mechanics.
Dehl himself is a pretty solid fighter. As his recruitment blurb said, he’s pretty well-rounded (though he does have a slight weakness in mind stats, and can’t inflict mind damage himself). His main claim to fame, I believe, is “Martyrdom”, which has a unique effect: it removes a status ailment from a party member and transfers it to Dehl. I don’t use it very much, because there are generally better and easier ways to cure status effects. It is the only thing that can remove disable, but that only lasts for a single turn anyway so eh.
I generally keep Dehl around with me the entire game – you can remove him from your party despite him being the main character, but he’s useful enough that I rarely feel the need to.
Zargos is good for one thing and one thing only, and that is dealing body damage. Unfortunately, he can’t do anything else. Almost every other character can inflict at least two types of damage, but if he’s up against something with a strong body, tough luck for him. His strength is useful at the beginning, but due to that crippling inflexibility, he’s not a long runner.
Santes, on the other hand, is godly. She has both an area-of-effect attack in Sanctify and a powerful single-target damage spell in Judgment. Both of them only get better when you level them up. On top of that, she has two healing spells, and her “Fervent Cry” skill advances the rush meter, making her one of two casters in the game who can do so. She may be irritating in the story, but you’d have to be crazy to take her out of your party.
Interesting last name he’s got there.
Tehgonan suffers from the same problem as Zargos: he can only inflict one type of damage (mind, in this case). Unlike Zargos, he can be knocked over by a stiff breeze. His health and defenses are terrible across the board, and to make matters worse, all of his spells are incredibly costly. It doesn’t help that most of those spells are gimmicky enchantment spells. “Chaos” enchants all squares that enemies are currently standing on, with a chance to make them the opposite element of the enemy…which sounds nice, except the last part almost never triggers, and it’s only one square, so enemies can just move right out of it. “Negation” is the reverse – it dispels squares allies are standing on if they’re of the opposite element, but this time, it has a chance of not doing anything at all. This is similarly useless to Chaos, for the same reason – if you’re on a bad square, you can almost always just step off it.
Quake just pushes all enemies back a few squares and stuns them at higher levels. I think it also has a chance of failure, too. Meh.
Prism is his only offensive skill, and, like his other spells, it’s connected to enchantments. It’s non-elemental by default, but if cast while standing on an enchanted square, it’ll take the element of the square and get a damage boost. It can be powerful if you set it up just right, but it’s rather limited by the fact that Tehgonan can only enchant with one element (and there’s no way I’m giving up another caster’s turn to make it a different one).
He’s a good way of introducing you to the enchant mechanic, I guess? But only in how useless it is. Like father, like son, I suppose. He’s going to sit on the sidelines the moment I find someone to replace him.
Also, wow, he’s only 11? That’s a bit young for him to be displaying his kind of behavior. It’s obvious that he’s supposed to be the “rebellious teenager” archetype, but…11 isn’t a teenager. His personality might start to go down that route, but running away from home to join a bunch of strangers in killing dangerous monsters without a second thought seems a bit extreme at his age. He’s really written like he was supposed to be older, I think.
Fero has the highest agility stat in the game, and as I said earlier, that means he’s pretty awesome. To compensate for it, he is a bit weaker than the other characters, but he’s still useful up until the late-game. Arrowstorm is a pretty powerful area-of-effect attack, though he can’t use skills for a while afterward. Bloodburn Shot is a good single-target attack, though it’s a bit counter-intuitive – it causes mind damage, but inflicts poision, which is a body debuff. At higher levels, it can also inflict wither, which is…a soul debuff. Not terribly useful if you’re trying to actually kill something through mind damage.
Qualstio, like Dehl, is pretty well-rounded (though his weakness is in soul stats). He’s more offense-oriented, with three damage spells, all of which are different elements. Ignite Firmament is pretty useless though. Contrary to its name, it burns the ground, enchanting it with heat squares. How many squares it produces is completely random – you’re usually better off just having Qualstio use his enchant command.
Like Dehl, I usually don’t have a reason to drop him. He’s useful in just about every situation, and only gets more useful as you level his skills up.
So, as you can see, we have a bit of a hodge-podge here. About half the characters are pretty powerful and remain useful throughout the game, with the others being pretty lackluster. The game in general has an awful lot of balance issues like this.
Through “manage roster”, I can also train characters, which, uh…
…leads to more cluttered menu screens. I love the body/mind/soul system, but having duplicates of every stat does mean space is at a premium.
Character levels are too bland and ordinary, so the developer chose to do something wild and original. I can’t fault this, as it’s good to innovate, and normal character levels in eastern RPGs really are kind of a dull system. How this works is that, after defeating an enemy, you gain three types of “essence”, one for each health meter. You can improve any stat by one point by paying the “improvement cost” listed in the top-right corner – however, this will increase future improvement costs by the stated amount. This confused me for a little while, because usually, if something is worth more, you pay more for it right then and there, instead of increasing your costs for everything else. It’s necessary to increase costs in order to maintain something akin to an experience curve, though, and I can’t really think of a better solution myself.
Skills are improved in a different way. Whenever you take an action in battle, you gain skill points and mana points. You can pay these points to improve a skill by one rank. There are occasionally special events in quests that will grant you large amounts of these points at once, but the best way to get them is generally by using skills (since they grant more points than regular attacks, and the amount they give increases with their rank). As such, there is practically never any reason to use a normal attack, since the health costs are generally low enough to not be a problem, especially if they kill things fast enough. Plus, regular attacks are just kind of boring. (The developer wisely decided to omit them entirely in the prequel.)
In the “travel/hunting” menu, there’s a travel option, but…
Yeah, there’s not anything we can do with this right now. We can’t even look around, even though Ques said we could! This confused me on my first playthrough – I wanted a closer look at that full map we saw before, since the closeup of Wadassia and the brief flash of other areas to the north don’t really give a good sense of location. I think it might have been interesting if players were actually allowed to hover over other areas that would be visited later on. That might ruin the surprise for some of the locations, but still, there should at least be an option to look at the full map.
As Fero pointed out, we can also go hunting. This takes you to a walkaround area similar to quests, but without any particular goal. You’re free to just smack monsters around for essence. However, they aren’t randomly-generated – they’re actual areas that tend to have a lot of neat stuff in them. I’ll be exploring Wadassia’s hunting grounds in a few updates.
Finally, under “records and achievements”, there’s a “glossary” option. This triggers a short conversation wherein Ques expresses actual emotion in his enthusiasm for Dehl to provide information about the Sikohlon. FINALLY –
(Entry graciously offered by Squire Dehl Sikohlon of Wadassia.)
A peaceful Shra clan bound by ideals (rather than blood) that once spread to many locations throughout the world. Though mostly fragmented in the present world, they adhere to a strict doctrine of peace and neutrality, and maintain good relations with the members of other races around them. They consider themselves a different people from the Shra, but in a positive way, unlike the Si’Shra, and see the quelling of violence and strife in the world as the reason for their existence. They are uniformly civil, and typically wear distinguishable white clothing and speak the Human language with surprising articulation.
– we can learn nothing we didn’t already know except for vague and minor details. I suppose it confirms they really are pacifists and the ensign didn’t just get it wrong, but Dehl seems to have written the whole thing, so unreliable narration is still a possibility. Especially since this is an awfully flattering entry… That “different from other shra, but in a good way unlike those si’shra” bit is particularly questionable.
…Oh man, wouldn’t it have been so awesome if the Sikohlon were actually fatalistic pro-slavery appeasers and the si’shra were actual liberators and that’s why they’re opposed and we could have had more moral greyness and more issues for Dehl and aaaaaaaa
…And hm. That last point. Some shra “hiss” their S’s (like this), but the none of the Sikohlon do. I don’t believe there’s ever a real reason given for this (their tongues should have the same problems as other shra), which honestly makes it look pretty sueish.
But now, the glossary itself. This is TR’s method of explaining all the details of its fictional world without painfully forced exposition scenes. Players of Final Fantasy XIII may be having flashbacks right now, but it is nowhere near that level of awfulness. Everything in the glossary is completely optional, and mostly just setting fluff. Anything that’s directly relevant to the plot will be discussed when it comes up. As such, I won’t be reposting much from it, but a text dump has been uploaded here if you feel like looking at anything.
There is one entry, I want to talk about, though, because I don’t believe it’s explained anywhere else and is a useful setting detail to know:
HN (Human Normalized) Age is the method of comparing ages of races with varying lifespans to one another. It is implemented with a simple comparison to a human’s lifespan, about 100 years, to determine the relative age of the person presented. For example, a Shra can live for up to 500 years, so if one claims to be 200 years old, its HN Age is 40 years old, well into maturity. The use of the HN Age system came about from the Human domination of trade and agricultural industries, and the need to determine when a worker from a non-Human race had become too old to be put to manual labor. Some non-Human people hold the age system with disdain, but most learn to accept it, lest they forfeit their Human-funded retirement programs.
So we’re doing the typical fantasy races have varying lifespans thing, and holy crap shra live for a long time. How does that intersect with slavery, I wonder? Do humans get to own the same shra slave for generations? And if they do the children are automatic slaves thing on top of that…yeesh, that really sucks. Although, if shra can so easily outlive their captors, then surely some would find a way to escape during the transition period where the dead aristocrat’s stupid heir has no idea how to handle them.
This also raises the question of how long slavery has been around. Are shra thralls a relatively recent development, or has the practice been around long enough to outlive the first enslaved shra? It’s entirely possible that the practice could be ancient from a human’s perspective, but still fresh in the memories of older shra, which could be…interesting.
The other interesting thing here is that humans’ maximum lifespan is listed as 100. That’s close to what we have in the modern day, so they must have pretty advanced medicine if that’s their benchmark. Maybe healing magic helps? (I’m probably overthinking this and the developer just wanted to standardize things to 100.)
…And huh, if humans are imposing this age system, then it looks like we’re going the typical “humans are the important ones doing everything and the other races are just kind of there” route. They seem to have the upper hand in industry at least, and probably government too if they can impose a worldwide system like this. I’m not terribly fond of this trope – I like fantasy stories because they’re fantasy. I don’t want to read about how ordinary humans are still the only ones doing stuff and the other, more interesting sapients are just window dressing.
Sorry that most of the update was technical gameplay stuff and minor setting details! Next time I’ll explore the city and actually do stuff.