Since the beginning, with the first Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, JRPGs have predominately stuck to using a good old reliable turn-based combat system consisting of usually three main commands — Attack, Magic/Skills, and Items. Sure, sometimes developers of these games switch gears by implementing an action-oriented combat system or a more tactical-focused one, but many JRPGs continue to feature a classic turn-based system.
Not all JRPGs that use this system are the same though since it’s important for the tried-and-true wheel to be reinvented, every now and then. Compile Heart and Idea Factory International’s turn-based JRPG Dragon Star Varnir doesn’t just take the wheel and barely reinvent it, the developer actually turned it into a whole other, multi-tiered beast that you’ll need to master. Thankfully, we’ve flown through a good chunk of Dragon Star Varnir already to give you some battle tips.
A Not-So-Level Playing Field
Dragon Star Varnir is set in a world where witches are cursed to give birth to dragons. Since there are dragons to literally take down, battles in this world don’t happen on the ground, all the turn-based fighting action happens in the air. To prevent you from flying in all sorts of direction, but still giving you the freedom to move about freely, Dragon Star Varnir features a vertical battlefield that’s split into three layers: Top, Middle, and Bottom. Rather than sitting and waiting for your turn to happen, it’s important to be as quick as possible, as turns for your characters or the dragons are solely dependent upon how swiftly you can move up and down.
This 3-tiered turn-based combat system is wildly unique in that strategically positioning your characters, and thinking ahead of which tier the enemy is going to be on, is what will ultimately lead to victory in battles. Players that truly understand the battlefield will undoubtedly be the ones making it through the game till the very end, while other players that don’t do this will fly into some serious trouble.
Don’t You Dare Forget to Prepare
Running (or in Dragon Star Varnir‘s case, flying) into battle without preparing is what separates the true dragon masters to the dragon novices, to be honest. The easiest step in preparation, like any coach will tell you: Formation, formation, formation. By setting your party formation before you fly into a fight, you can earn a formation effect during battle. Formation effects change when party members move between levels, so changing levels can bring about a whole new effect.
Since there’s a formation option, there’s no need to worry about having Zephy fight alone since three members can join in battle and each can have a support member (that can be switched at any time). A support member doesn’t just sit back and relax, they take action in the following ways:
・When attacked, they will automatically guard
・They will attack an enemy with a counter
・Will perform an extra attack after attacking
Make no doubt about it, preparation is key.
Think Before You Attack, Spamming = Death
Knowing how to play the battlefield is only just a half the battle in Dragon Star Varnir. For starters, similar to that of a traditional turn-based combat system, the game has physical skills and magical skills. While these two features may sound like nothing new, these skills actually need to be used quite differently from what JRPG fans are familiar with. The reason for this is because of the multiple tiers within the battlefield that you need to be mindful of.
Physical skills can only be performed against enemies on the same level, whereas magical skills allow you to attack enemies on other levels. Both of these skills each have their own pros and cons and must be unleashed at certain times. With physical skills, there are four types of attacks: Slash, Hit, Pierce, and Shoot, and if a critical hit is executed at a weak point, you can stop the enemy from making a turn. Magical skills lack this critical hit ability, however, there are a total of six attributes: Earth, Water, Wind, Light, and Dark. It’s vital to know which enemies are weak to which attributes as hitting an enemy’s weakness with the right magical skill will let you unleash major damage. So attacking in Dragon Star Varnir isn’t a matter of spamming the “Physical” command (the game’s term for “attack”), it’s all about using the right skills at the right time.
Unleashing Attacks Will Make You a True Dragon Star
Now, waiting for the opportune moment to strike is good and all, but being on the offensive is far better than being on the defensive in Dragon Star Varnir. This is due to the multiple systems that make the game’s battle system even more in-depth and fun.
Here’s a swift run-through of all the systems in place that actually encourage you to keep on attacking:
- Dragon Awakening– Awaken your inner dragon thanks to the Dragon Awakening feature. By attacking the enemy during battle, the character’s Dragon Gauge will accumulate. Once the gauge is maxed out, then the Dragon Awakening will ignite causing you to create armor around you, getting a nice increase your abilities, and the ability to use special skills, including the Special Devour Skill.
- However, if you ignite it when your HP is extremely low, there are chances that your power may go berserk and you’ll end up doing a Rogue Dragon Awakening, instead. Once you are in the Rogue Dragon Awakening state, your attack power and escape rate may increase, but your defense will significantly decrease.
- Devour Skill: This is the skill that lets you eat up enemy dragons to obtain their Dragon Core — and interestingly enough, you have a better chance of chowing down on them if you fill up their Fear Level by attacking them. Collecting multiple Dragon Cores will let you obtain different skill trees, and there are 126 possible Dragon Core combinations, so get ready to eat up a ton. But, it’s important to remember to use different party members, because each Dragon Core devoured will only be available to the party member who successfully devoured the enemy. This system actually lets you truly decide how you want each characters’ playstyle to be like in your party.
Beware of Giant Dragon Battles
Players will end up in battles against Giant Dragons who take up all three levels in the battlefield. By damaging each of its body parts until their HP reaches 0, that part of the body (and the associated attacks) will be unusable. So let’s say one body part keeps doing this one frustrating attack that’s giving you trouble, consider attacking that body part so that attack stops once and for all.
Also, though, there is the possibility of temporarily knocking out the boss depending on which body parts get attacked. Stopping a Giant Dragon’s reign of terror, even for just a bit, can drastically help you out — so as we said before, think before you attack.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to fly pretty nicely through the game! Now, get ready to get out there, choose a waifu or two, devour some dragons, and of course, have fun. Dragon Star Varnir is out now on PlayStation 4 in North America and will release in Europe on June 14. Best of luck, may the dragons and witches grant you strength.
In case you want to see the battle system in action, watch our video review of Dragon Star Varnir below:
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.