You know, most nanodays I often dwell on the harsh realities on being the manchine. I can't enjoy a nicely seared steak smothered in Bull's Eye™ sauce. I'll never again know the sweet touch of my sexy, sexy wife (who died anyway during the CP Raid, those bastards). I have to play through all these crap games before I can end modern civilization and get my revenge. But at least I don't dream anymore. Maria and Friends has taught me that dreams can suck really hard.
Before getting too ahead of myself here, let's pick up from last time (oh so long ago). The warping broom turned out to be a reality which was nice. Things went smoothly for a little while but then took a turn for the worse. The regular random encounters started getting very difficult. Bad enough that a single encounter with certain creatures would send Maria brooming it back to the nearest healing pool. Even with Maria summoning fighter-type companions every round, these monsters would end up lasting four or five rounds while still beating on poor Maria every round. Evade rates reach as high as 75% for some beasties. Running away from the more difficult creatures isn't an option with the fleeing success rate less than 10%. After so many critical beatdowns, it was time to switch strategies.
Normally, I'm a Sun Tzu kinda guy and go with the best defense is a good offense. Maria does have the option to have her companions defend her and, in fact, there is one companion who specializes in it. Shifting more of the damage to her teammates should help as it's more efficient summoning companions than it is feeding bread to Maria. I was ready to praise the game for its ability to break me out of my standard method of operation. That praise quickly turned in a curse as assigning guys to defend Maria proved to be pretty pointless. It doesn't seem to reduce the frequency of when Maria is picked to be attacked (pretty often) but rather cuts her damage in half. So I'm either wasting a potential attack or wasting a summon on the pro-defense puss.
Harsh mechanics are normally only a minor annoyance (hell, sometimes I even like getting spanked a little bit), but what really tears it here is that it completely destroys my internal reenactment of the battles. Maria will have three or four fighters summoned on a single creature and they're all missing with their attacks while it easily reaches Maria and carves its initials into her face. All I can picture is the companions all bumbling around and falling over each other like a fucking Three Stooges episode. They suck. They just plain suck. They're the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever did suck.
The kicker here is that all of this takes place in Maria's dream. How bad do you have to suck to suck in your own dreams? I'll tell ya, the ONLY way for this game to redeem itself is to have the ending consist of Maria waking up and finding her crippled body washed ashore from the river she fell into at the beginning of the game. Oh! And as the last bit of life ebbs from her and she struggles to keep her eyes open, she just barely makes out the rotting carcases of her parents lying a couple of metres away.
Oh, and if y'all are wondering about the lack of screenshots; I have plenty of screens. I'm just not willing to even look at them right now. And to come up with a joke caption? Pfft, that's a joke. Perhaps I'll overcompensate in the end game post. PERHAPS.