How to get past the beginning?

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xanadu

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I picked this up yesterday on whim but im having a really hard time with the beginning. I saw a thread sort of similar about this game but all I saw about the opening of the game was it gets easier once you get throgh it. I'm wondering what specifically I should be doing? Because right now I'm getting my ass handed to me on just the 2nd fight. I need to collect 3 demons to my party, got one, can't last more than 1 round in the next fight. Is there a place I can pre grind before this area? Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated. Digging the vibe of this game but I have no idea how to play it! For further reference I've never played a SMT. I've only played and beaten persona 3 and 4. Thanks duders!

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imhungry

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Yeah the difficulty curve right at the start is pretty unforgiving. There isn't any sort of area to 'pre-grind' like what you're asking for, Naraku is kind of all you have. The only tips I'd offer are probably stuff you already know since they're similar to the Persona games. Don't let the enemy ambush you, abuse weaknesses (especially in the opening) and always assume you can lose any fight you go into (OK, I guess that last one isn't like Persona at all). Don't be afraid to use items liberally! Healing items are ridiculously important in the beginning of the game.

Also, consider bumping down the difficulty to the easier mode if you haven't already done so. You can change difficulty at any time for no penalty, there's no difference in combat rewards or anything so it's really just a pride thing which, well who cares?

Anything specific about the fight you're having trouble with? Could offer more directed help possibly! Hope you enjoy the game duder, it's a real good one of these.

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forteexe21

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Its been a long time since i last played this game but i do remember dying a lot on the first level. Save often, dont be afraid to save scum. I also rested at the bedroom a lot to recover hp/sp. Always try to get the first hit and always try to figure out the enemy's weakness to get twice as many attacks. I think theres also a mission at the bar that gives recovery items.

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Pepsiman

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Yeah, Naraku is meant to be really tough by design so that when you get out of it, you'll have a really solid grasp of the combat mechanics that'll serve you well for the rest of the game. The difficulty curve evens out pretty quickly once you finish that area and the game, while still tough, will feel more consistently fair as you get deeper and deeper, at least along the main path. (Some side quests fights can still be pretty messed up and require fairly advanced mastery of the combat system's nuances.) Anyway, what the above posters have said are all really good to keep in mind, especially returning to town to heal up at your dormitory for free, but I'll add a few more things that'll hopefully help you along your way:

  • As you've probably noticed, one of the big differences between SMT4's and Persona 3/4's battle system is how it handles extra turns, namely that when you hit a weakness or land a critical hit in SMT4, it makes that move only cast half of a turn and then moves you over to your next party member, rather than letting the party member that just attacked strike again. This means you have to be somewhat more careful in terms of planning out your turns and considering ahead of who attacks when, how, and with what move. To that end...
  • This might not matter quite as much in the early stages of Naraku while you don't have a full party, but sometimes it's better to have a party member pass a turn, rather than spend it doing a particular action. Passing also only costs a half turn and can come in handy for setting up specific situations, like ensuring a party member gets to attack twice when you have fewer turns available. Consider the following scenario:

    Say you have a party with two characters, as you do now, the protagonist and your demon. This means you have two turns to make your move, or therefore potentially four half-turns depending on how you act. Your protagonist can't strike any weaknesses in the enemy lineup, but your demon can. In this scenario you have two options. You can choose to have your protagonist attack and use up one full turn. This will leave you with one full turn when your demon gets to attack. Your demon then strikes the weakness, spending only a half turn. This means you have one half turn left to act that your protagonist and only your protagonist can spend, as simply skipping will use up that remaining half turn and mean it's the enemy's turn to attack. This is an okay way to go, but isn't always the best approach depending on enemy lineups, so let's consider a more efficient use of your turns.

    Say you have the same two-member party and enemy lineup with the same weakness as before. Instead of starting off by making your protagonist fight, you can pass, spending only one half turn. Thus, when it's your demon's turn to fight, you have 1.5 turns' worth of actions remaining. You then have your demon attack the enemy weakness, which spends only another half turn. At this point, you know have two half-turn markers on screen, meaning that when it's time for your protagonist to attack again, both he and your demon can spend each remaining half-turn attacking. Knowing that, now that any action the protagonist takes will use up his half-turn anyway, you might as well have him attack to get some damage in. Then it shifts to your final half-turn with your demon, which you spend using another attack to strike the enemy weakness. This is good, efficient strategizing in SMT4 because it allows you to attack twice with your demon, therefore dealing double the amount of damage that you could achieve using the other strategy, plus a little extra from your protagonist's attack during that second wave of half-turns.

    Mastering the economics and unique aspects of SMT4's turn system in comparison to Persona's will take you very far, as it'll ideally mean you're minimizing the amount of times the enemy can attack back while you're dealing as much damage as possible. This basic strategy still extends to bigger party sizes, so the sooner you get comfortable planning ahead in consideration of how to achieve the most number of half-turns in each round, the better off you'll be.
  • If you don't already have her in your party, recruit Napaea, who I believe is a really common demon in that initial area of Naraku. She can heal you with Dia and also has Zan, a force element attack, meaning she can still attack and strike enemy weaknesses when she doesn't have to heal.
  • Running away is not guaranteed to be a safe option, especially this early in the game when your stat parameters aren't conducive to making it work, as enemies can still stop you and then attack you if you fail to escape. This means that sometimes early on, it can better to fight out and then spend MP/items healing later rather than wiping out and having to retrace your progress. HOWEVER, it's worth noting that there is a 100% success rate of automatically ending a fight unscathed by talking to an enemy demon that you've recruited in your party. (The identical demon doesn't have to be in your active battle formation for this to work.) Talk to these demons and they'll notice you've recruited their brethren, at which point they'll leave you alone and possibly give you a parting gift for your trouble. This is an especially usefully strategy for when you're trying to flee a dungeon and get caught up in a fight. With any luck, the enemy lineup will have someone familiar you can reason with and get out unscathed.
  • Unlike Persona 3 and 4 at their default difficulties, buff/debuff spells and status ailment spells can seriously impact your chances of survival in fights in most every SMT game, but especially in 4. Most importantly, buff/debuff spells work on boss characters, unlike other RPGs, something which the game expects you to take full advantage of in order to survive those encounters. As such, try to have demons readily on hand who can at least buff up as many different stats as possible. Early on in the game in Naraku, I personally think this means you should prioritize higher speed/evasion first (successfully dodging enemy attacks means that they lose extra turns), then higher defense, and then higher attack. Then, when it comes to debuffing bosses, ideally around the same time you're buffing your own party, I personally tend to prioritize lower defense and lower attack relatively equally and then lower speed if I can either spare the MP or if they're still hitting for so much damage that I need them to more consistently miss. There are, of course, valid reasons for having different types of buffs/debuffs prioritized, but I think those tiers will serve you well while you're still coming to grips with what makes an SMT game an SMT game versus Persona.

I think that's about all I can think of. If you really like the game's atmosphere that much, definitely stick with it, as it'll reward you in spades once you're done with Naraku. It's a tough uphill climb for sure early on, but SMT4, I believe, features the best iteration of modern SMT's combat system aside from its sequel, Apocalypse (which only then introduced minor tweaks that you'd only appreciate after playing a lot of 4), so if you can stay patient and really figure out what makes it tic, you'll hopefully find a really rewarding game awaiting you once you get past Naraku. I know it's one of my absolute favorites in the past five years for sure. Good luck!

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