For new players of Crystal Project, this guide will show you things I wish I knew when I started the game, let’s check it out.
Basically, this guide is a simple collection of thoughts I’ve had playing this game where I said “Huh, wish I knew this earlier.” I’m not talking about specific strategies or secret items, but simple mechanical components of the game that aren’t delved into too heavily or are covered a little later than I would have liked. It’s all very general and tries not to make decisions for you, as a player, or get hyper-specific on the “right” way to play the game.
Looking at this game, and reading brief reviews, I assumed that it would be like metroidvanias where unlocking different skills or items allowed backtracking to access more areas that are locked off in the beginning, and while that is true, my reliance on that concept caused me to miss out on things that I could have grabbed early on but were useless when I did finally get to them. Simply put, almost all of the items, chests, and areas you see are accessible when you see it. There are a couple of exceptions where large areas or very specific locations are locked behind needing something new, but the entirety of the beginning of the game and the first castle town can be accessed as soon as you get there, with specifically two exceptions for the castle town area. There were several times I got a new item that allowed better or higher jumping, went back to an earlier area, saw the items were waaaaaaaay past the expiration date of usefulness, then looked around and saw the way I was *supposed* to get there in the beginning.
This game kind of subverts your thinking about how to navigate areas, but once you get more used to it, you learn what to look out for. Anything in the area can be stood upon and used for leverage. Lights, fences, even people, are all merely stepping stones for you to reach that wall and walk around the area to that hidden chest. Sometimes, you can even have a jump where you feel like you’re just *this* short on being able to make it, and those are the most frustrating when you come back later and realized that you could have made that just all along, so keep trying until you feel like you’ve made the perfect jump before you give up. Also, unlike other games of this genre, water is your friend here. Making a collection of jumps around an area and making it close to the end sucks when you do it over land because then you have to make your way back and start all over, but if you fall into water (or lava or spikes), then all you do is respawn to right before that ill-fated jump, which is much easier to recover from and much less frustrating.
Also, the map is more helpful than at first glance. I learned to fill that thing in like I was playing Symphony of the Night. Almost every time I thought I discovered everything in an area, the map proved otherwise to me.
Party and Character Building
The game is generous with character building, and even if you decide to convert a character from one archetype to another, you can change a character’s leveling history to alter how it’s stats have grown and how powerful it will end up being in a roll, so nothing’s really locked out for you as a player by decisions you regret, except for the time used to change course. This is where some *very* basic pointers come in handy that I wish I had known when starting the game. They’ll be broken down into some basic character building thoughts, thoughts on the beginner classes (before you can see the actual stat growth of a class), useful early game abilities that were overlooked, and a pointer for what to do when changing classes later on.
Regarding the characters, a roll seems to usually fill in around a specific stat or small group of stats, which ends up being useful to build around when changing classes later on, keeping that roll in mind. Mostly, you have Str for brutish types, Dex and Agi for finesse types, Mind for aggro mage types, and Spirit for support mage types. Of course, considerations for HP, MP, defenses, and speed need to be made, but as far as the effectiveness of a character’s abilities are, those groupings of stats end up determining how big the numbers are when actions are used. Keeping the growth of classes consistent, as well as keeping the stats used for different skills the same, makes for a more cohesive character in the long run.
As far as the first six starting classes go, there are a couple of things I’d like to point out that I didn’t realize going in. First, the Monk is NOT a dex class like I thought it was. It’s slower than a fighter and focuses on HP and Str. I had my second character start as a monk, and I wish I had just stuck with Fighter/Rogue/Cleric/Wizard, as the levels in Monk ended up feeling somewhat wasted when I don’t use the skill set and the passives, Counter and HP up, are much better suited for a tank than a dodgy finesse character. Granted, you can respec and change the levels added later, so it’s not a loss overall, but the time investment hurt a bit when it ended up not being nearly as useful. Beyond that, Warlock easily suffers from Jack-of-all-trades syndrome, as it wants Spirit and Mind for its spells, can equip heavier gear and normal weapons/shields for a physical presence, and fills both a damage and support roll in the party, but you’ll find the stat growth lagging behind for ANY of those rolls. It also has trash growth for HP and MP, so it ends up not being nearly as tanky for a physical presence and quickly drains its mana pool over time.
There are a few early game abilities that are absolutely stellar that I overlooked in the early game, some of which I’m still using now. Part of it comes from how I built my party in the beginning and had to change things later on, but others come from just missing the skills when looking over them. I’ll start with one I didn’t overlook, though. Monk offense skills all require being unarmed or having a staff equipped, so most builds can’t use them, but the support skills are great and worth a skill slot on their own, and Chi Blast runs damage off of spirit, so a Monk/Cleric hybrid is somewhat viable, with the monk skills using AP and the Cleric using MP while both the weapons and some of the stat requirements line up. Even if not trying for that, though, First Aid and Meditate cost an absurdly low amount of AP that they might as well be free, and Chakra is great for self-sustain that can help take a load off of your healer in a pinch.
Rogue also has two skills I overlooked that ended up helping me out tremendously when either the difficulty spiked or I was trolling around in areas that were stronger than I should have. Sleep Bomb only costs 6AP, which you get every turn, and has a 100% success rate if someone’s not immune. It’s great at damage mitigation by taking one enemy out of the fight while you focus down another, and that pays dividends later on by requiring less MP from your casters for healing, reviving, or costly AoEs. It can also be abused by stacking DoTs on an enemy and then sleeping it, as the DoT damage won’t wake the enemy. I still use it when I see an enemy pop up an ability that I’m not prepared to deal with, so I sleep it until after its turn, buffing the party during the downtime.
While I talked trash about Warlock in the last section, I’ll talk about why it’s almost an essential class here. Warlock spells are interesting in that they have zero charge time. they’ll always cast instantly, and that can easily be the breaking point between eeking out a win or losing, both because of how it will fire off before an enemy gets a chance to act and because of how charge time on spells can build up over the course of battle and cause casters to lag a bit behind on the action with their turn timers. Beyond that, their lack of a deep spellbook has made some interesting hybrid spells be extremely viable. They have a spell that both heals and removes a debuff, and their attack spells attach either a buff, debuff, or DoT that all assist with damage. Their team buffs in Protect and Shell are cheap, fast, and effective, and they also have Regen and a spell that regenerats *MP*. Doublecast brings everything together so that a warlock, while weak in any individual area, can easily shore up multiple different areas at the same time. It’s like a boat with leaks. A warlock won’t be able to plug the cannon-sized hole in the ship, but it can plug several different smaller holes at the same time that might overwhelm the rest of the party. These spells are all extremely cheap on top of that, too. Beyond that, they have some of the best passives in one that self-buffs regen for an absurdly long time each battle, and the kicker is the one that buffs MP Regen for the same time. That sustain becomes essential as spell use becomes a requirement for every combat as you progress in the game.
As you progress and level in the game, there’s an option to change your levels over to other classes to alter your stat growths. The only downside is that it costs money. It starts out cheap, but it gets progressively more expensive as the number of levels in an individual class increases. However, once you have a level in that class, whether naturally or purchased, you can readjust to that number of levels in a class for free going forward. For example, say your tank has ten levels in fighter and ten levels in monk. You decide it’s too slow, so you lower five levels from each and buy ten levels in rogue. You won’t gain any rogue skills, but you will gain rogue growths, namely, more speed. Later on, you realize your tank is too squishy now, so you want to readjust things. you can lower five levels out of rogue and put them back into fighter for free, as you already have had a total of ten fighter levels beforehand. The caveat is that you can’t have more levels than your total character level, so you still have an upper limit there. I find that I like to kind of edit my growths as I change classes to tweak performance, and I usually swap classes when one is mastered to learn all the new skills in a new class, so I swap fairly regularly. Those early levels end up being really cheap, though, so I came to the conclusion that when you swap to a new class, for max future versatility, it’s a good idea to go ahead and buy as many levels in the new class as you can reasonably afford without putting you out. As you level in that class, the levels gained will be added to the levels already purchased, but you save since you already bought the cheaper levels. That way, as you tweak the character later on, you have a greater pool of levels to choose from. It’s not necessary, and it’s contrary to min-maxing, but it allows and facilitates a more organic, versatile, and dynamic ability to really tune your character as you play and see how its performance is.