Full disclosure: I'm going to put the content of this blog elsewhere as well, because I think it's helpful. It is not Patreon exclusive.
So we're playing Shadow Tower for BSC! Yay! But it's an old From game so it's obtuse as fuck! Boo! But I beat it! Yay! Here's what I wish I had known before jumping in.
LEVELS Shadow Tower works on sort of a bastardized version of the Oblivion/Morrowind school of player empowerment, but with a twist. Rather than swinging a sword making you better at swinging a sword, different monsters have different associated stats. As far as I can tell, killing those monsters by ANY METHOD will raise that stat.
Because of this, you're encouraged to kill everything you run across. Shadow Tower has a lot of survival horror elements but this is not one of them. If you see something, make it stop breathing. The game is balanced for this and if you don't do it, you're going to run into problems in the the first quarter to first half of the game. This isn't easy because...
Durability! AHHHHH Yup. The way that Shadow Tower is a survival horror game is in the way it plays with the interplay of resource scarcity versus player health versus player growth versus monster density. Here are those elements so you can get an idea of how they work together:
Equipment is plentiful but degrades at a VERY rapid pace. Items to repair equipment only have a mild effect and are hard to find. Repair shops exist but are pretty rare.
Your health is a fragile thing. Enemies hit hard and multiple status effects drain health. Further, when you find a repair shop, health is the resource you use to pay for repairs. Health potions are relatively common and they are the only thing you can trade equipment for. Unused or outdated equipment (see above) can be traded for health potions. So you can consider health potions to be a currency for repair, by a layer of remove.
The player needs to kill monsters to advance. All the monsters. Monsters do big chunks of damage in the early game. You can level up through an item (A Soul Pod) but they're sort of rare and they're often behind monsters.
There are monsters between you and all of these elements. So, to get to a repair shop, you often have to fight.
So, how do these work together? Surprisingly well once you get used to it. When you're playing Shadow Tower correctly, you're a Roomba. You're switching weapons frequently, growing stronger. Every time you make it to a repair shop (the real "bonfires" of this game), you're filling up a greater pool of HP so you have more repair power. You also have more things to repair but you probably have some outdated equipment to get rid of. This gives you health potions which fuel further exploration.
This is super hard in the early game, when weapons are relatively rare and you don't understand how these systems work. The game tries to signal this by having the 3rd enemy (enemies are randomly allocated, more on that in a bit), drop a weapon that is not appreciably better than your current weapon. It's saying: these are fragile but they make up for that in volume.
So what are some tips to navigate this? Don't let anything break! When you get the little picture of the shield with the X, it means you have roughly 2-3 uses of an item left. Switch it out or unequip it. It costs a lot more to fix a broken object than just to recharge it.
COMBAT Combat should feel sort of familiar to Souls veterans, even though it's so slow paced as to be almost turn based. Though you can raise your shield, I found that more useful in defending against projectiles and AOE magic. The animations are too slow to make block/attack/block an option. Also, no shields protect 100% physical.
Instead, treat every enemy like a Taurus demon except you can't roll. Find their blind side, their weaponless side, or get behind them. If they turn towards you, strafe or back up. If there are multiple enemies, try to draw one into a corridor or a corner. The enemies here aren't smart.
The bosses tend to have a rudimentary idea behind them. Here are the basic strats for the first three bosses. I'll let you figure out the rest, though they tend to be variations on these:
Apollos: Kill his minion(s) and then try to stay to his sides, hitting him when you can. Don't let him "line up" with you and DON'T get hit by his Resident Evil tyrant arm stretchy thing. If he paralyzes you, use an anti-paralytic if you have one. If not, hope it wears off.
Ebony Knight: This guy is the worst. I just spammed heal and hit him with water magic. It's sort of a DPS race given that he has that AOE he spams. This is the worst boss in the game.
Magi Magus: You have to use long distance combat, more or less. Maneuver him around his throne and hit him with your bow or spells. Don't get close due to AOE spell nonsense. Goes down sort of quick.
Remember earlier when I said the number of enemies are random? As far as I can tell, when you enter an area, you get a random load out of enemies. When you reenter, you get another loadout until they're all used up and there are no more. This means that any given area can vary WIDELY in terms of difficulty. It also means, if you want to grind, you need to revisit areas.
Save all the time but remember, repair shops are your bonfires, not save points, and they're rare. If you save, enter a room and use too many potions or break a good piece of equipment, consider reloading.
Navigation is really rough. You're always moving down in Shadow Tower and revisiting upper areas is done using warp stones. I don't think there's any shame in using a map, honestly. The game should have came with one, one hundred percent.
Cunes are your only currency. There's something worth buying (A Monster World Key) at 10 cunes but it's up to you what else you spend money on. I'd recommend not buying equipment and instead buying Soul Pods and Health Potions. I cleared the shops out of health potions, actually. I must have bought 50-60 in my time with the game.
When it comes to stats, they mean the following:
STR - Governs how hard you hit AND your HP. AND your equipburden. SPEED - Stanima recharge and swing speed DEF - Physical defense BAL - is Poise Slash, Smash and Pierce are boosts for specific damage types. Focus - Magic point total Harmony - Magic bar refill Purity - recovery from status effect Spirit - Magic defense Par, Sol, Mel - damage dealt with specific types of magic.
I more or less just put points into STR, SPEED and DEF and did fine.
A cool tip for repairs: Repair your highest STR equipment first. Then, before using a potion to refill it, equip EVERYTHING that raises STR. This will raise your HP and thus your repair budget. Potions heal ALL your health ALL the time, so you can then repair a lot of your stuff at once.
Don't be afraid to use single use items. They're rare but not so rare that you need to conserve them terribly.
Finally, don't get over equiped. It literally drains your health!
I hope this is useful! I want more people to get into these old From games so I have people to chat about them with.
Love you stuppupps. -Gary-