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Here's the wip version of the import guide I'm setting up. It describes the game mechanics pretty in-depth, but I'll just give pointers for the actual dungeons because finding a way to deal with all the surprises thrown at you is half the fun of this game!
Brandish: Dark Revenant is a remake of the first entry in the Brandish series by our beloved Nihon Falcom. This guide is intended to help out importers that aren’t fluent in Japanese by describing important game mechanics and giving some general tips.
For more specific help, check out the excellent faq by Jax Aagar in the Gamefaqs SNES Brandish section. It even contains the SNES game script, which can give you a general idea of what’s going on in the story. There are some gameplay and event differences in the PSP version though, and I’ll list the ones that you’ve got to look out for.
Skip to a section by pressing Control + F and type ~ [section name]~.
Once you’re in control of Ares, the first thing you want to do is access the game menu by pressing start and turn the music volume up a notch or two (third tab, first sliding bar). You don’t want Falcom’s trademark low quality sound effects to drown out Falcom’s trademark excellent music tracks!
L/R buttons are used to turn around, which you should get used to doing a lot. The /\ button lets you interact with what’s one square ahead of you. Use it to open doors, open chests, read tablets, talk to characters, check walls etc. The O button launches a melee attack at an enemy right in front of you, or pulls up the shield when there isn’t an enemy in front of you. You can perform a jump with the X button which will let you go over the square you’re currently facing. Not only handy for jumping over pits/switches, but also for jumping over enemies to avoid getting cornered.
The select button puts you into sleep mode. You’ll recover your health and MP, but you’re completely defenseless. It’s a good way to heal without using items when in a safe spot.
The [ ] button calls up the real-time item and equipment menu. The game doesn’t freeze, so it’s not a good idea to fiddle around in it unless you’re in a safe spot. The top three slots are for your weapon, armor and shield. The three slots below that are used for shortcuts: you can instantly use an item placed there by pushing the analog nub [direction] + O button. The left slot is used by pushing analog left + O, the middle is used by pushing analog down + O, the right slot is used by pushing analog right + O. These shortcuts are extremely handy, be sure to assign them to items you use a lot.
Below the shortcuts there’s a 3x3 grid where you can store other items. You can only use these items by going into the real-time menu and pressing the O button. Later in the game you’ll find dimensional boxes that you can access by pressing the circle button while highlighting them in the [ ] menu. These give you another 3x3 item grid each, but items stored there are not active. For example, a revive ring won’t kick in once you die if it’s placed in the dimensional box.
It’s important to save item space by stacking items in your bag: most multi-use items that aren’t swords can be stacked. You can for instance stack a pile of 3 H-Potions onto a pile of 10 H-Potions, forming a stack of 13 H-Potions. You can’t stack 3 H-Potions onto a pile of 10 M-Potions, because they’re not the same item. Use the R Button to move items around and stack them. It’s important to keep your bag organized.
When equipped with a shield, Ares will automatically go into guard mode when there’s an enemy right in front of him. As long as you don’t move or attack, every attack will be guarded. If the enemy is not on the square right in front of you, Ares will not guard. So when faced with a spellcaster or archer that attacks you from a distance, press the O button to manually pull up your shield. Beware that Ares will start auto-guarding again when you’re right in front of the enemy, so pressing the O button at that time will make you attack.
Pressing the O button while the enemy is right in front of you will make Ares launch a melee attack. If you’re unarmed you’ll throw a single punch, when armed with a sword you perform a slash, which can be chained into a second and third slash. A normal punch has a relatively high recovery time compared to the first slash of a sword combo. Especially if you’re unlucky and perform the random ‘lunge punch’ which has such high recovery you’re almost guaranteed to eat a counter hit. Depending on the enemy you can usually perform two hits with the sword without having to worry about recovering in time to guard the enemy’s counter hit. Chaining up to the third hit with the sword is never safe, and should not be done carelessly on regular enemies.
While using a sword is more effective, there are enough reasons to not use them until you reach the Cave (third dungeon area).
-Your strength stat increases faster if you fight unarmed.
-You do not get any non-breakable weapons until the end of the Ruins. All breakable weapons should be sold so that you have enough money to buy new armor/shields, and the Warp Magic scroll on the 8th floor of the Tower.
-Enemies don’t have that much health or strength in the first two area’s, and you always have Fire Magic as a backup.
Apart from the first phase of the mid-boss on 5F Tower and the minions of the Tower Top Floor boss, the no-sword tactic works fine. You could really use the strength boost it gives you for the Cave and onwards, where you should use your strongest unbreakable sword to deal with the tougher enemies.
Like with swords, magic too comes in breakable and unbreakable variants. You’ve got magic rings that disappear after a set number of uses, and magic scrolls that use the MP bar. The rings should be sold, there’s not much use to them and they sell for some decent cash. Here’s a description of the magic available in the game, icon descriptions in parenthesis:
Fire: Shoot a ball of fire forward that travels a fair distance. You’ll find this one in the Ruins area, you’ll need it to solve a puzzle. It’s also the best offensive magic available because of its low cost and range. You can walk backwards while burning the enemy to crisps, take out enemies from a distance before they reach you or counter archers. Your all-purpose low-cost must-use spell.
Thunder: Call forth an burst of lighting that hits the tiles right around you. Cool in concept, but ultimately flawed. You’ll only be able to hit multiple enemies when they’re around you, but that means you’re surrounded. And being surrounded is really, really bad. You can find this scroll for free in one of the last three floors of the Cave. Sell it.
Ice: Shoot a wave of ice that travels the ground. Freezes the enemy for 1 second. I got no use out of this at all, the effect is too short, and the ice itself does no damage. It’s no help against monsters that have strong physical defense.
Barrier (standing figure): Increases physical defense for a short while. Too short to be of any real use, there’s never a situation where you’ve got no choice but to tank hits.
Warp (wings): Warps you to any place you’ve explored before on the current floor. Uses up the entire MP bar. It’s quite useful, a great help for getting 100% floor completion and a must-have in order to reach a chest or two. You’ll go through your M-Potions really fast when using it though, so make sure you’ve got a decent stock. The first time you could have enough money to buy this scroll is at the eight floor of the Tower. You can find it for free in the final area of the game, but you won’t get much use out of it by then.
Quake: Create a shockwave that damages all around you. Buyable in the first shop on the first floor of the final area, the Fortress. It has some decent uses, especially to kill those annoying fake chests when there’s no room to throw fireballs, and to do some nice damage to the ridiculously though crab enemies.
Timestop (clock): Freezes enemies for a decent amount of time. Buyable in the same shop as the above. Could’ve been useful if half of the enemies in the final area weren’t resistant to it.
Power (glowing sword): Increases your strength for a short while when used. You can buy one of these at the seventh floor of the Fortress. It’s handy to have for those final few bosses, because they’re resistant to magic and have short periods of vulnerability. Using it at the right time will make the few hits you can give them hurt all the more.
I suggest having a shortcut for the Fire Scroll at all times, it’s pretty much obligatory to get through the game. In my experience, the easiest way to trigger it is by using the analog nub down + O button shortcut.
When you perform an action that increases your stats, four bars will appear at the bottom-right of the screen. When you open the [ ] menu, you can see them too.
LEVEL increases by killing monsters and getting experience. An increase in level earns you more HP and MP.
STR increases by attacking enemies with physical attacks. The Strength stat directly influences the amount of physical damage dealt to enemies.
INT increases by attacking enemies with magic attacks. The Intelligence stat directly influences the amount of magical damage dealt to enemies.
MGR increases by getting hit by magic attacks. The Magic Resistance stat directly influences the amount of damage taken from magic attacks.
You can press start and access the first tab for some additional information. The first six stats are obvious.
The seventh stat is your Luck. Luck fluctuates with every action you take, like hitting an enemy, getting hit, using a potion, etc. At a high level of luck, your attacks do good damage and your defense is at its fullest. At low levels your attack power will fluctuate more and more, and you’ll take harder hits too. You can fix this by using the Amulet of Protection, found in the first half of the Ruins. Using this item will raise your luck to the max of 101, so it’s a good idea to have it with you at all times and use it when you notice a drop in your capabilities. The icon for the item looks a bit like a brown rugged carpet, the description starts with the Japanese symbol for ‘luck’, it’s the same as the seventh stat in the start menu, so check it with that.
The eight and ninth stats are ‘physical attack power’ and ‘physical defense power’. Note that your physical attack power is your arm strength added to the power of your weapon. Your physical defense power relies solely on your armor and shield, there’s no level-able stat connected to it. The only way to increase it is to get better armor.
In this section I’ll cover the function of the various items you’ll come across during your journey. Item icon description is in parenthesis when necessary. An item can be used by pressing the O button while highlighting it in the [ ] menu, or by using one of the three shortcut slots.
Hammer: Used to break crumbling walls. Essential item for the Ruins, Tower and Cave. Always keep it on a shortcut there and make sure you’ve got a decent stock. The Dark Zone and Fortress do not have breakable walls, so it’s not needed there anymore.
Steel Balls (bag of steel balls): Used to check the floor ahead for pits. Extremely useful, another item that should always be kept on a shortcut when exploring. Even though you can see when the floor has a pitfall if you look carefully, and even use the /\ button to check, throwing a steel ball will not only reveal the hole but also mark the pit on your map. It’s a big help when you marked the pits if you walk through an area again. An invaluable resource especially in the Dark Zone.
H. Potion (bottle with blue liquid): Restores HP completely. Put this on a shortcut when in a boss fight.
M. Potion (bottle with red liquid): Restores MP completely. Put this on a shortcut when in a boss fight.
H. Poison/M. Poison: Look completely identical to their Potion counterparts, but drain HP/MP instead. When stacked on potions in the menu, they decrease the total amount. Always read what’s on the bottle before using!
Invisibility potion (bottle with purple liquid): Become invisible for a while. Stack and sell.
Hardening potion (bottle with yellow liquid): Increases the amount of times the currently equipped breakable sword can be used. Use these on your strongest breakable sword, and then sell the sword for great profits.
Revive Ring: Brings you back to life if kept in the bag (not dimensional box). You start the game off with one, and you’ll find quite a few more scattered around the dungeons later. Don’t be afraid to sell a few if you run out of storage space, you probably won’t need them anyway.
Keys: Used to open certain doors/chests. You’ve got Master Keys, that usually come in a bunch as indicated by the number. There are also unique keys that can be used only once. You don’t have to worry about using the wrong key for the wrong door: there’s always only one key that fits a certain door, you can’t screw up game progress by using the wrong key or by using up your Master Keys.
Breadcrumbs: Using a breadcrumb will create a continue point. If you die on the same floor you’ll go back to this point instead of the beginning of the floor or the last save. It’s kind of useless because you can just save anywhere with the same result, but it’s a bit faster than going into the menu and creating a save.
Gold bars: These are to be sold, gold bars go for 1000 gold each. As opposed to most other items stacking them does not increase the value, 40 bars will still go for 1000 each.
Treasure Eye (gold casing with red diamond circle in the middle): Shows location of all chests on the map. I think there’s only one of these in the game, and you don’t need it anyway.
Wandering around the dungeons and finding your way out, hopefully completing the floor 100%, is what the game is all about. In the following sections I’ll give you the information you need to complete those few “unpossible without Japanese” puzzles and some other hints and tips.
It’s possible to mark your map from start menu, second tab. Pick the color with the analog stick and mark the square with the d-pad and O button. Handy function that makes it easier to remember certain points of interest.
You should always aim for 100% floor completion, don’t just rush through the floors. You can check completion with the map in the start menu. Every floor has a small grey pyramid that you can only break with the hammer once you’ve completed the floor 100%. The first one in Ruins F1 is right before the stairs leading to Ruins F2. They usually contain a rare/useful item for that point in the game, so it’s a good idea to mark these pyramids on the map. When the floor has been completed you can then easily find your way back to them and take the item inside.
There are a few corpses to be found of less fortunate predecessors. They’ll only drop an item after examining them multiple times.
Look out for the set of powerful “dark” equipment. They’re easily recognized because they’re much stronger than the equipment you currently have, and are all dark and ominous looking. Do NOT equip this gear unless you’re in the Dark Zone, because you’ll otherwise suffer all kinds of deadly status effects. But be sure to keep them with you until the Dark Zone, as you’ll probably need their power to deal with the vicious enemy assaults there. Sell the items once you’re out of there.
When you’re exploring, I recommend your shortcuts to be set up like:
[Steel balls] [Fire Magic] [Hammer]
When you’re in a bossfight, I recommended your shortcuts to be set up like:
[H. Potion] [Fire/Power Magic] [M.Potion]
F1: There is no longer a secret basement with a sound test and warp magic scroll.
F5: The boss battle against the Sorcerer has been moved from F10 to this floor.
TOP: After you defeat the boss and move on, you’ll end up at a closed gate. When examining it, choose the second option, or you’ll die. Talk to the gatekeeper, then go back to F9. Talk to the ghost-girl, pick up the item and head back to the gate on TOP. Using the item in front of the gate opens up the path to the Tower!
F2: There’s a monster here that offers you some information in exchange for 5000 gold. Pick the second option to decline. The information is that fake walls make their debut in the game from this point on: if a wall looks a bit lighter than normal you can walk right through it.
F6: One key, three doors. You can only pick one path, but fall through certain holes on F7 to explore the other two paths.
F8: At this point in the game you should have enough funds to be able to buy the Warp Magic for 150.000 gold at the magic shop. Do so, it’s a great spell to have.
F9: There are a few points of interest on this floor.
-You start out in an area with warps. There is one chest surrounded by warp points that can only be reached with Warp Magic, contains the Treasure Eye.
-After this area, you’ll end up in a room with a few fireball-throwing enemies. Kill all but one, and head to the exit that does not have a hole in front of it. This is a great spot to max out your Magic Resistance, I got to 99 within fifteen minutes! Stand in the enemy’s line of fire, go into sleep mode and take a few hits. You’ll take more damage in sleep mode, which means the stat will go up faster. When almost dead, go back through the door and hide around the corner, the monster won’t follow. Go in rest mode again to heal, and repeat the process.
-You’ll find wounded warrior at this floor, his location is easy to recognize on the map because of the two chests. He’ll tell you about the floor switch puzzle which he failed. Go to the puzzle room and kill the enemies. To solve it, stand with your back against the locked door. From this point of view, write the letter “S” on the left part and “E” on the right part. When the door opens head back to the wounded warrior to tell him about it, you’ll get his armor.
-Talk to him again to initiate a sidequest. He’ll give you his broken sword and request you to bring it to his armor shop owning girlfriend over at Tower F1. Lots of backtracking, but it’s not so bad with the Warp Magic. She’ll repair it for you, it ends up being an unbreakable sword with 6 strength! You can either steal the sword by never returning it, it’s the strongest unbreakable weapon available until you finish the Cave. Or you can be a good guy and return it to him in exchange for a worthless piece of paper. Will the murderer of Dela’s master go back to his old ways, or will he be born anew after witnessing the terror of this hellhole he ended up in? Epic character development is in your hands. (I returned it).
B6: The girl in the prison asks you to save her by getting the key from the Medusa’s. They’re in the top-left area of the map, in the maze where you automatically change the direction you’re facing when you step on certain tiles.
B2: Go to the right from the entrance, keep facing north. You’ll see a hole encased by walls, and a plaque. Jump into this hole to access the rest of B4 and B3.
F1: Make sure you completely explore this floor, the grey pyramid here contains 99 steel balls. You’ll REALLY need those for F2, I used about 150 steel balls there.
F2: Use the steel balls to mark the way on the map. There’s a casino hidden here, it’s behind the locked door at the stairs leading to the Fortress. You can open the door by standing on a switch at the beginning of F2, you need to end up on the tile that has the breadcrumbs on it and walk forward a bit.
-The grand prizes at the casino are mantles that increase the speed of your HP and MP recovery when resting. You could gamble to get them, but you could also just pay for the 10.000M required to buy them. It will only set you back 100.000 gold, which should not be a problem at this point in the game.
-You can buy Stop and Quake magic in the shop. I recommend at least getting the Quake magic.
-The final area of F1 is a large room with a few pillars and enemies. There are floor switches at every wall. When you step on any of them you’ll notice that a few corpses have fallen down. You need to examine the right one to reveal a warp circle, if you get the wrong one they’ll all disappear. When facing north, for me it’s always the skeleton facing downwards near the original warp circle.
F2: The enemies that appear here after you flip the switch eat up your map! Dispose of them quickly.
F3: Another floor switch puzzle here, the first thing to do is to fail it: just walk to the locked door and fall into the trapdoor. Here you’ll find the final area of F2, and a note on the dead body that tells you how to solve the puzzle. F means to move forward, L/R mean to TURN left or right, J mean Jump. Go back to the puzzle room, and stand on the rightmost square before the switches. Then follow the instructions on the note to complete the puzzle. You’ll be able to walk over the trapdoor if executed correctly.
-About halfway through this floor you’ll encounter a door and a switch in the wall. However, this switch does not correspond to the door, but to the warp circle a few steps further. You’ll be warped to a different place depending on the position of the switch.
-At the end of F7 you’ll find yourself before a magic circle that does not work. The plaque on the wall tells you to “Not move!”, and that’s exactly what you have to do. Stand still on the warp circle for a few seconds, and you’ll get warped to the end of the floor.
After you beat the game you can save clear data with the first option. Loading your clear data will start Dela Mode, where you’ll not only play as Dela, but do so in completely redesigned dungeons!
Going unarmed is not a good idea with Dela because she’ll take damage when guarding without a staff in her hand. Her melee startup speed is notably slower than Ares’, but her third hit comes out rather fast. She wears crowns/tiara’s as the third piece of armor.
F1: Even though it’s the innocent looking Ruins, be on guard! The difficulty starts out the same as Ares’ endgame, so be prepared. You start with a Fire Magic scroll.
-The locked door located right when facing the shop can’t be opened until you fall into a certain hole and take a warp in F2.
F2: No resting allowed on this floor.
-The room west from the mini-boss room has tons of pits. Fall into the right one to end up right before the warp in the basements, allowing you to grab the 3000 gold.
-In the area with the blue slugs shooting beams, you can find 20 gold bars in a chest. The catch is that you can only find this when all slugs are still alive, the chest will be empty otherwise. It’ s in the back of the rightmost path, so you’ll have to take at least two hits. Equip a H. Potion to make it out alive. You can find a mantle that increases your HP recovery behind a crumbled wall on the leftmost path of the same area, but this can be done after killing the slugs.
There seem to be a few formatting problems with my copy-paste, damn you Word!
Any suggestions/corrections would be appreciated, or mention of other puzzles that gave you enough problems to warrant a place in the faq.
just droping in to say thanks for the guide
realy well done and cleared up some stuff for me
just started this game yesterday. very good old school dungeon crawler imo.
also made a vid of the first ruins area for anyone that might wanna check out the gameplay :]
Hiiiiiiiiiiiii.... great great great!!! Most of Dela mode is pretty straight forward trial and error, and LOTS of backtracking and forwardtracking(0_0). Plus she gets the cutest head accessories! Anyways, she gets a lot of extra items like the HP/MP mantles too. The Winged boots reduce damage from pitfalls, and I think the Arm Brace, wrist band (whte gauntlet with a blue gem) increase def( I think). Theres more, but I cant seem to figure out what they do. Ruins EX 7, right before the exit to the next area theres a warp i cant get past!!! Let me know when you get there!