I'm not planning on doing a full review blog for Knights in the Nightmare, as might be obvious considering I am around 20 hours into it already and haven't posted anything. I figured I might as well try to actually explain the game though, to people interested around here. There's going to be a little overlap from my recent impression
, but I'm going to go more in-depth to show people how it works.
Knights in the Nightmare's gameplay consists of dozens of stages, with interludes between each that tell the game's story. A stage will be either a boss battle or a monster battle. To win a boss battle, the player defeats the boss. To win a monster battle, the player must kill the monsters on each level in a particular manner within a certain amount of turns (more on turns later). Each monster corresponds to a slot on a grid at the bottom of the screen. The grid varies in size depending on the level, say 4x4 or 5x5 or 6x6 slots, etc. Before each turn on a stage, each monster's slot cycles through multiple spaces on the grid and players must tap the touch screen for each individual monster to set its spot on the grid for that turn. So, if there are four monsters on a stage, and a grid is 4x4, four out of the 16 spaces can be filled that turn if all of those monsters are killed. When a monster is killed, "KILL" appears in the slot and it remains that way until the end of the stage. When "KILL" spaces fill up an entire row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, the player wins the stage.
Battles are one screen large and take place on grids of varying sizes and shapes, usually pretty small but it works for the game. The player controls a wisp with the touch screen that hovers over the field on the upper screen. Enemies have a limited movement range and constantly move within it. Players must attack these monsters when they move into range by charging their units' attacks, most units do not move around the field. The player places his/her units at the beginning of each battle in predetermined places. Each of these units has a unique class: Knight, Hermit, Duelist, Wizard, Priestess, Warrior, or Archer. Classes determine which way the unit can face (most classes can only face two ways, which works into the strategy), the size of the unit's attack (diamond shape, V shape, etc), and the weapon it can equip. Some classes also can perform special actions, such as the Hermit that inflicts status effects with each attack. Only the Duelist and the Knight can move, and only the Knight in all four directions. To attack, players tap a unit and keep the stylus touching the screen, but can move it around to determine the attack direction and avoid attacks (more on enemy attacks later). The game's real attacks require dragging a weapon to a unit and charging up a skill attack (which requires MP, more on MP later). Regular attacks may do 150 damage, while a skill attack can do 4000, for an idea of scale. Four weapons can be equipped per turn, and they can be changed between each turn. Bringing a weapon into a turn (not attacking with it) lowers its durability by 1, when this hits 0 the weapon is destroyed. Charging a unit's attack lowers his/her VIT. When VIT hits 0, the unit is lost forever.
Phases are very important for me to mention. Battle has two states, Law and Chaos, referred to as phases. A small icon on the screen indicates what phase the battle is in and players can switch between it at any time with a flick of the stylus. Phases determine what type of attack your units perform - Knights will attack in a straight line in the Law phase, but will attack in a 2x3 grid in the Chaos phase. Phases also determine skills somewhat. Knights and Duelists only move when charging their attacks in the Chaos phase. Players start each stage with a little bit of MP, and must replenish it by managing attacks between the two phases. Attacking an enemy will release crystals that the wisp can collect to increase MP. This is the main purpose of regular attacks, considering that they don't do much damage. However, players cannot attack endlessly in one phase and collect unlimited MP, the MP that releases from the enemies will decrease as attacks are used in one phase. Switiching to the other phase and attacking will increase the MP that is released in the other phase, so players should bounce between both. Most weapons can be used in only one phase, but some can be used in both.
Each stage must be completed within a certain amount of turns. A turn ends when a 60 second timer reaches zero. This does NOT mean that each turn is 60 seconds long. Time ONLY goes down when players charge their units' attacks, or when their wisp is hit by an enemy attack. Enemies generally only attack the wisp with many different types of colorful bullets that can flood the screen at times. Giant boulders, whirlwinds, snakes, exploding eggs, water droplets, orbs that explode into many arrows ... there are a ton of different attacks that enemies will use. Different enemies use different attacks, so different combinations can end up being quite challenging to avoid. Bosses have their own very creative and completely unique attacks to avoid, and they tend to hit for a lot more, plus players generally have less turns to kill a boss than to complete a normal level. May sound crazy, but it's actually really fun to avoid all of these attacks while trying to charge your own attacks and such. Though enemies do not attack player units, some enemies have special attacks that can harm them. Without giving it away, there is going to be a boss encounter that you will probably lose when this first occurs. As an example, some enemies can drain a unit's VIT if it sees a unit charging an attack.
Every unit, weapon, and enemy (except for bosses) has an element (one of six). This element system is fairly standard, attack with the opposite for double damage and all that. When Hermits attack, the element attacked with determines the status effect inflicted. The element a unit is associated with can strengthen an attack used by it with a weapon of the same element. Enemy elements can be changed at times when their "element gear" pops up after attacking it.
Weapons are collected by killing monsters and destroying objects in a stage. Killing one monster or object releases one weapon. Objects regenerate after being completely destroyed. Only Warriors can completely destroy an object, while everyone else brings it to 100% damage to release a weapon. Destroying an object releases materials to be collected for upgrading weapons. Attacking enemies also releases some of these materials. Each element and weapon has a material associated with it (lighting material, axe material, fire material, spear material, etc). Upgrading weapons can strengthen them, with a risk of a loss of durability if the strengthening fails. Weapons of the same name can be fused to combine their durabilities. There are a crapload of weapons in the game.
Destroying objects in a stage will often first yield a Key Item, however. Key Items are used to recruit new knights. On each new stage, a few new knights (usually related to the game's story) are already deployed that can be recruited if the proper Key Item was collected in a previous stage. You cannot go back and collect Key Items after finishing a level.
Knights can be upgraded in their own way with the Transoul system. If you're not using a knight, you can convert it to a soul and fuse it with another knight to increase his/her max level, some VIT, and other stats. Knights also have a Chaos Index (strenghens Chaos phase attacks), Law Index (same), Race, and Loyalty %. All of these are taken into account when using the Transoul system. Knights can be leveled up by using the EXP that is collected when defeating monsters or bosses. Leveling a unit up will increase VIT by a small amount, and enable it to use stronger weapons (weapons have level requirements).
Just play the game to see the story. If I think of anything else I missed I'll post an update.
Oh, there are also High Skill attacks. High skill attacks do even more damage than a skill attack, take more time to charge, and make a weapon unusable again for that turn. Great against bosses. Only some weapons are capable of HS attacks.
I forgot to mention something important.
It's really fun and becomes very intuitive once you get the hang of it.