Navigating difficulty, progression, and the learning curve is crucial to balancing challenge in SRPGs, and to this end, we’re pleased to offer some tangible insight on how Gales of Nayeli approaches difficulty modes.
The game has two main difficulty modes: Normal and Veteran. However, Veteran has two derivative modes: Madman Mode and Cursed Mode.
There are no story events or extra rewards locked behind higher difficulties.
Normal Mode is intended to be in line with the standards of difficulty commonly associated with SRPGs. Regular enemies have easily manageable stat spreads, appear in groups, and have abilities and skills intended to emphasize their strengths or compensate for their weaknesses, while bosses or other unique foes are appropriately kitted-out so that they can still pose a challenge.
However, when some units join you in Normal Mode, they are equipped with extra held items. This is intended to smooth out some of the challenge in the early game when quality gear is rarer and resources are scarcer. This is the baseline difficulty recommended for first-time SRPG players or those looking for a less intense experience.
Veteran Mode adds a number of elements to elevate the difficulty above Normal Mode. The first, and most basic, is that most enemies will have more optimally-distributed stats, increasing the need for players to find clever use of the tools at their disposal. In addition, chapters and battles will have higher enemy counts at key locations as well as more enemy reinforcements. For example, a comparatively safe route on Normal Mode may be blocked off on Veteran Mode by an enemy able to conjure a magic wall, forcing you to plan around defeating them.
Veteran Mode is recommended for those more familiar with SRPGs, as well as anyone who desires a more intense challenge.
Madman Mode and Cursed Mode are considered mutually exclusive modifiers to Veteran Mode that can be enabled to spice up subsequent playthroughs.
In Madman Mode, when playable units level up, they gain no stat points: thus, your units will have to go through the entire game with their starting stats. This means that a great deal more planning is required to achieve victory!
Keep in mind, however, that units will still gain skills and combat arts tied to leveling up, and they will gain stat and skill bonuses tied to classes and promotions. Stat-boosting consumables are still usable, making these already-valuable items even more crucial. Any growth-modifying items will be altered to directly increase stats instead.
This modifier is only recommended to those who have experience completing “challenge runs” in SRPGs, or otherwise want the most brutally difficult experience possible.
In Cursed Mode, all non-mandatory droppable items are replaced by Cursed items. Cursed items often have powerful abilities, and can easily be the cornerstone of a particular unit’s build and progression. However, they also have very obvious downsides that push players to use them in creative ways, but clever character builds can work around and sometimes even benefit from these downsides.
Let’s take a look at two Cursed items:
Peculiar Bulwark: Halves damage taken, but also halves damage dealt.
This might be useful on a unit who intends to spend most of their time tanking or healing, or who plans on being useful indirectly through their abilities, items or debuffs.
Full Assault Badge: Increases damage dealt by 50% of Speed, but Speed counts as 0 in battle.
This could give a unit a very serious boost to their damage…but since Speed is tied to a unit’s ability to make or prevent follow-up attacks, as well as their Avoidance, having functionally zero Speed could be a very risky ordeal, albeit one with big payoffs!
These are just two of the Cursed items that you might find: we’re planning on having well over thirty Cursed items in the final build, which should provide you ample opportunity for experimentation! On non-Cursed Mode playthroughs, you can still acquire Cursed items through Cursed shops, so Cursed items are not locked to Cursed Mode.
Cursed Mode adds a large level of randomness and spontaneity, and is meant to spice things up for repeat playthroughs by forcing you to adjust the playstyles of your units according to the Cursed items you acquire.
See you tomorrow with more daily updates leading up to the Kickstarter Campaign!