Because Knights in the Nightmare is so radically different than any other game currently available for the PSP system, it tends to offer most gamers a slightly steeper than usual learning curve. In order to make acclimation to the game’s amazingly satisfying mix of strategy-RPG and bullet-hell action, here’s some tutorial-style stuff to get you started before Knights in the Nightmare hits stores and PSN on November 9th.
You are The Wisp. You awaken with no knowledge of where you are or why you’re there. Only one thing draws you: a battered, cursed castle. There, you sense, a terrible tragedy occurred. You find you have the power to awaken and control the spirits of victimized knights, and you find yourself compelled to use this power to uncover the story of this calamity and rid the castle of its curse.
You begin every chapter of the game with a story sequence. These cutscenes are one of the game’s biggest strengths—lovingly drawn and animated, they are heavy with emotion and stray far from your typically bright and happy clichés.
It should be no surprise that you’ll next find yourself on the battlefield. From this first tactical map, you’ll first need to determine who you’re taking into battle. Early on, you won’t really have a choice; you’ll have only the characters the game story provides you for the given scenario. But later, you’ll have one of three different character types in your party:
- Nameless Knights: Their sole purpose is to fill in and help out; they’ll be gone at the end of the battle.
- Recruited Knights: You pull them into your party by giving them an item (in battle) with which they have an emotional connection. Miss your one opportunity and you won’t be able to recruit them until the next playthrough!
- Your Main Character: There are three main characters in Knights, one of which, Princess Yggdra, is all new and exclusive to the upcoming PSP release!
You’ll probably deal the most with recruited Knights, as they’re the only ones whose souls can be fused or harvested in order to improve your overall options on the battlefield. That particular feature, however, is best left for the in-game tutorials. Yay, incentives to buy!
Teh Fighting Rules
Each chapter gives you a set number of turns (based on difficulty setting) to complete the battle. Let me give you an example scenario. You’re starting the first of six turns in particular chapter. You wipe out all the enemies, thus ending the first turn. From here, two things happen: you go to a slot machine of sorts (The “Encounter” Reels) from which YOU, based on your timing, choose which enemies you’ll fight in the next turn:
Tied to each enemy is a tile on the Enemy Matrix. Essentially, you want to fill up a row or column (or a diagonal line) of tiles. Meaning, each time you end a turn and get to the slot machine, you can affect how many turns it takes to complete the chapter. Want to try and recruit as many Knights as possible? Looking to gain as much experience as you can to level your knights up? Well then, try to take as long as possible to get a complete line on the Enemy Matrix. Or maybe you just want to get through the chapter as quickly as possible? Well, try and time your selections on to fill a line up on the Enemy Matrix as soon as possible (I’ve zoomed in on it below):
Teh Fighting Controls/Mechanics
There is one very important thing to know about fights in Knights in the Nightmare: You do not control the Knights. You are the Wisp. That is what moves when you move the nub/directional pad. So, as the Wisp, here’s what you can do. At the start of your fight, you set four weapons in the four slots around the screen (or maybe three weapons and one key item, so that you can hand it to a Knight and have them join your party). These weapons have two primary traits:
- Alignment (Law or Chaos): A balancing system for the game’s combat. In short, as you spam a weapon in one alignment (you actually toggle between the two), it becomes less effective and you receive less MP to use on special attacks from your enemies. Law weapons cannot be used when you are in Chaos mode, and vice versa.
- Class restriction: Weapons are all designed for one knight class (of which there are 9). You cannot use a Warrior’s axe with a Lance Knight and you only have four weapon slots and typically 2-3 characters in a fight at once. This means you’ll often have to be making tough choices: what items/characters you take into which fights and so forth. Rewarding strategy!
So you move around as the Wisp and drag weapons ONTO the characters you command. Your enemies attack you with floating, neon projectiles. It doesn’t matter if their attacks hit your Knights; they’ll just pass right through them, really. But they can hit you! A timer that starts at 60 seconds and only depletes when you charge an attack or when you get hit acts as your health. You need to avoid your enemies’ attacks, which can be varied in pattern and speed, deal out your own attacks, constantly cycle between Law and Chaos, collect fusion components from enemies when you hit them, and so forth.
Gosh, this might have been a bit much, too involved and detailed. But then again, we want you guys to be prepared when Knights in the Nightmare hits stores and PlayStation Network on November 9th for $29.99. And again, if you pre-order/get a copy at launch, you get a FREE digital copy of Yggdra Union (a $14.99 value!). Did we pique your interest? Or just bore the hell out of you? Because it’s the latter, I’m going to go be depressed for a week.