When it comes to fighting off monsters in Stella Glow, players will find themselves in familiar territory. Much of what they’ll experience is quite similar to other strategic RPGs, especially Luminous Arc, the previous imageepoch series. A group of typically six people from a larger cast are picked to participate in a battle. They move along a grid, attacking opponents when within range. Ordinary humans have special skills to use, while witches can employ skills, magic, and song magic. Buffs and debuffs are available, positioning is important, and certain types of terrain offer defensive benefits.
One of the things that sets characters and Stella Glow apart is that allies learn new passive abilities and support effects as they level up or socialize with Alto during Free Time. As an example, at the point I’ve reached in-game, Alto has Counter, Parry, and Conductor’s Insight abilities. Counter allows him to counter any attack performed to his front or sides when an enemy is within range. Occasionally, Parry will trigger at the same time. It negates physical damage. Conductor’s Insight strengthens any witches next to Alto, which means up to four witches can be by his side and benefit from the ability. His support effect increases the odds of allies next to him doing critical damage, and as I write this that offers a 8% boost. As another example, my Lisette has acquired the Heal Boost that powers up healing spells, a Water Veil that lessens damage dealt to her, and Reduce SP Cost abilities. She also offers an 8% increase in dodging abilities as a passive support effect to friends nearby.
These combine well with improvements and added effects offered by orbs. Characters’ equipment can offer orb slots, where people can equip items that may add abilities or benefits to attacks. For example, there are orbs that may provide a chance of debuffing or afflicting a status effect on an opponent. Others could drain opponents’ health, improve odds of landing a critical hit, increase earned experience, steal, or add an element to attacks. I particularly recommend adding a status ailment orb and status ailment chance increasing chase orb to Nonoka, who eventually learns Status Ailments+ and Control Condition, two passive abilities that increase odds of infecting opponents.
The power of song is another thing that makes Stella Glow unique. Filling the Song Stone Gauge is one of the most important elements in battle, and it happens quite naturally as a person plays. Every attack causes the gauge to fill. Each witch has a one and two bar song she can use on her own to deal magical damage to enemies or provide a buff to allies. To use one of her more enduring song spells, the Song Stone Gauge has to have passed at least four and Alto must be adjacent to her and use the Conduct command on his turn. Long lasting song spells are critical during boss battles and helpful during others, so it’s best to have Alto use the Allegro skill at the start of every turn after he learns it. While in effect, the Song Stone Gauge will increase at 1.25 times the normal rate until Alto finishes four turns.
It’s also especially important because song spells are one of the few abilities that hit multiple enemies. It’s very rare to defeat an opponent in Stella Glow with one skilled attack or spell, let alone a normal attack. Ones that target multiple opponents are advised. Some of the earliest available are Alto’s Arc Slash, which hits three enemies horizontally in front of him, Rusty’s Knife Throw, which hits seven opponents horizontally and vertically in front of him, and Popo’s Song of Wind, which attacks three rows of enemies in front of her. Whittling down the health of a group makes it easier to send in weaker characters in need of experience to finish them off.
I’d advise against spending too much time chasing after experience, though. Stella Glow sometimes feels as though it discourages level grinding in additional maps. If a character’s level is too far removed from the level of his or her opponent, she won’t receive as many experience points from an attack. As an example, if my level 10 Popo were to defeat a level 11 or 12 opponent, she’d probably get around 50 experience points. Send her against an enemy that’s level 9 or 10, and she’d receive around ten or less. Such a feature keeps a person from spending too much time unnecessarily grinding, since battles on the world map tend to keep enemies at specific levels, but it also means it takes more time for people who like to over-prepare to be ready.
This also means that people may want to be cautious when spending Play Coins on some battles. Each of these matches has an advised level. If your party is above the suggestion, you won’t get enough experience from the match for it to be worth the expenditure.
Nintendo 3DS owners will be able to pick up Stella Glow from stores and the Nintendo eShop on November 17.