The foundation of the turn-based combat system is time. Each level has to be completed within a certain—often generous—timeframe, and each character can only move as much as their allotted Wait Time allows. A clock constantly ticks down the seconds, referred to in-game as Delay, between moves, and the turn-order bar displays a number below each character icon that indicates how many seconds it will be before they can move again. Movement costs a little time, while any sort of action, be it attacking an enemy or swigging a potion, takes all of the remaining time. Most other activities require Tactics Points. These include initiating combo attacks, looting bodies, switching out equipment, swapping out allies at Retreat Points, and allowing Giulio the chance to engage the once-per-battle Ragnarok, which summons a powerful War God who smites friend and foe alike. The overall amount of Tactics Points is increased by taking ‘bases’ (flags). A higher total also means an increased chance of permanently killing enemies (they then drop all of their items) rather than simply making them retreat (where they drop one item) because damage can be increased with more points, and how enemies are dispatched is determined by the strength of the attack whenever their health points reach zero. It is an interesting system that is easier to understand than it sounds, and the game continually flashing explanatory text, even hours into the adventure, is unnecessary.
But there’s a problem with this system, and that’s the way the game treats enemy moves and your moves. More succinctly: every single enemy character gets a turn while your entire party shares the same turn. As the enemy frequently has a two-to-one favor, the game snowballs into a series of brutal matches as your outnumbered forces face the full brunt of a game that richly rewards movement. What exactly do more units get the enemy? More chances to move, which means more Tactics Points, both in terms of a higher ceiling and actual stored points. The battle maps aren’t very large, either; this often results in your party being hemmed in by an initial wave, with additional waves only serving to further choke your ability to move as well as add to their seemingly never-ending supply of points. This is worsened if you actually follow the game’s advice of choosing the Advanced difficulty over Basic because of your experience with such games in the past; doing so means the enemies can take more pain and will have shorter Wait Times.