"Would you stake your life on a world that cannot be saved?"
The Reconstruction is a very atypical RPG from Tilde-One Games. The author describes that his intention in making this game was to defy convention at every turn — both in Eastern RPG gameplay and Heroic Fantasy writing.The story is set in a seemingly-peaceful world that is full of turmoil under the surface. Three species live in a rough and unhappy coexistence in the world along with humans: fih'jik, cat-like humanoids who are very religious and devoted to the Supreme One, despite her apparently turning her back on them in a catastrophe known as "the Blackening"; fortians, similar to humans in appearance, but extremely stoic and scientifically-minded, with exceptional magical talent; and shra, Lizard Folk who cannot use magic, and are reviled and enslaved because of it.The story focuses on Dehl Sikohlon, a shra of the peaceful Sikohlon clan. He's devoted his life to repaying the kindness the city of Wadassia has shown him with civil service as a city guard. To further this goal, he comes up with the idea to make a guild — a band of heroes — who go around doing tasks that ordinary people cannot, such as slaying monsters. Dehl's guild eventually traverses the entire world, exposing and mitigating the problems that each species face, with varying results. Further compounding problems is the existence of a mysterious woman known as Fell, who claims to receive messages from a divine being she calls "The Voice Himself". She seems to have even greater plans in store for Dehl and his guild, dispersing cryptic clues throughout his journey. But can she be trusted, and does she really know as much as she claims?It can be downloaded here. A prequel, I Miss the Sunrise, can be found here. A semi-sequel, The Drop, can be found here.For those interested, the creator has posted a load of trivia about the game on his blog. Beware of spoilers, obviously.Has a wikihere.Is not related to the 6th season in the web series Red vs. Blue.
Provides Examples Of:
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Accidental Murder: Dehl killing his father. After Father Sikohlon went insane and tried Offing the Offspring, Dehl's pseudo-magic powers manifested for the first time, and he spirit-crushed Father Sikohlon right before he would have been killed himself.
An Aesop: It's not explicitly stated, but it's definitely an important part of the ending and Dehl's Character Arc. A single person cannot save the entire world, and even if they could, the psychological stress would break them first. So, instead of shooting for over-ambitious goals or lamenting the fact that we can't accomplish them, we should focus on what we can do to make the world a better place.
All There in the Manual: Sort of. There's an in-game glossary that has background information and history on tons of things, some of which are part of the plot that the game itself only half-explains to you.
Bad Powers, Bad People: Discussed — the "Noxious" element is directly opposed to the "Holy" one, and it's generally perceived as purely destructive, so the character who specializes in it tends to worry about whether it will corrupt him. He's one of the nicer folks around, though, and eventually he decides that Dark Is Not Evil.
Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. After the world is destroyed in chapter 6 and the Big Bad kills or enslaves everyone, Dehl's guild is the people's only hope...but they aren't able to come until it's far too late.
Central Theme: Scope; the necessity to understand all sides of the story and the full truth before one can make the correct decision, and the danger of jumping to conclusions. However, you must acquire the necessary knowledge without also losing sight of what is truly important.
"How far back must we stand before we can see everything ahead? And...does that mean we must lose sight of what was closest to begin with?"
To a lesser extent, Hiu in chapter 1. He is visible in quest mode as the "human researcher" and can even be examined, but he looks like window dressing until it's revealed that he's the client for the final quest. He doesn't even speak if you examine him, cleverly avoiding the Nominal Importance problem by hiding his Character Portrait.
Cryptic Conversation: As explained in The Quiet One below, Tezkhra almost never speaks audibly, but does hold internal monologues often. They usually take the form of this, however.
Dark and Troubled Past: An impressive portion of the cast: Dehl, Moke, Rehm, Sirush, Ques, Qualstio, Skint, and Tezkhra.
Darkest Hour: Chapter 6. The Watchers are dead, the world is in ruins, and an all-powerful "Lord-God" is sweeping up what little remains.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: Most of the characters are perfectly okay with slavery, and even those who don't treat the shra like dirt are prone to using racial slurs or calling them out on their smell.
Diabolus ex Machina: Chapter 3's climactic reveal that Metzino is in a blood feud with Pazzato, leading to them dueling and him getting killed. There is absolutely zero Foreshadowing or build-up towards it, and seems to exist only so that chapter 3 can have a more dramatic conclusion.
The End of the Beginning: Subverted. By the end of the story, the world is almost completely annihilated and has to be rebuilt practically from scratch — it is definitely the beginning of a new era. However, it's never actually said anywhere that it's a new beginning — even the phrase "reconstruction" is never mentioned.
Fake-Out Opening: Rehm isn't the main character, and the prologue happened 50 years prior to the actual story. This is fairly obvious, though.
Calm and level-headed Zargos to the hot-headed and eccentric Santes.
Qualstio to Dehl. Opposite elements, and pretty different personalities too. This even extends to their attire: Dehl wears a simple white robe while Qualstio wears a black leather coat. They both share similar goals and ideals, however.
Dehl and Skint, once you realize Skint was the third Sikohlon father. At heart, Skint is almost exactly like Dehl — a lawful, orderly man devoted to defending those in need. However, unlike Dehl, he was betrayed by a friend and was cursed as the "scourgelord", warping him into the bitter, jaded man we see. Or...maybe they'renotsodifferent after all?
Shra have very high rates of bodily regeneration. This is deconstructed with Skint who got stabbed in the back with a large sword...and his body healed the wound, with the sword still in. To make things worse, the sword was lodged through his heart, making it impossible to take out without killing him. It also means he can never take off his armour, which must make sleeping pretty difficult, too.
Qualstio's final passive skill, Physidrawing, gives him high regeneration rates as well (in gameplay terms); it is not as strong as the bodily regeneration of the shra, but regenerates all hisgauges quickly. Plus, being intrinsic regeneration, it's still stackable with regeneration buffs.
Similarly, Dehl's father dies by falling into a sword he left lying on a table.
Home Sweet Home: In the epilogue, Santes and Zargos settle down in Wadassia. The four Nalians in the party also return home. Averted with the fih'jik members of the party, not only because they don't want to go back, but because they don't really have a home to return to. Also averted with Dehl and Qualstio, who continue to wander and help the world.
How to Stop the Deus ex Machina: Rulian is stripped of his necromancy powers by Tezkhra accidentally. If not, he probably could have simply resurrected the millions who were killed during the rise of the Lord-God, making the ending much less of a downer and allowing an easy reconstruction.
Idiot Ball: After the Watchers are killed and the party decides to wait for someone to show up and tell them what to do, the only attempt Tezkhra (if you have him in your party) makes to stop them from trancing out is saying that they should tell him if they "feel anything unusual". Even though he knows that emitter radiation, which they're currently being exposed to, causes trancing if people sit around and do nothing, which is exactly what they said they would do. He should at least have done something to keep himself from trancing... But despite all this, he just goes along with them and sits there like an idiot. See also the Fridge page.
And later, there's Dehl's father, who, unlike the Cryomancer, is graphically impaled in an aversion of Bloodless Carnage. Also a case of Hoist by His Own Petard, as he's impaled by falling into a sword he left lying around.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall / Left the Background Music On: Whenever a character joins the guild's roster, there's a little fanfare that plays. When the starting cast joins in the beginning, Qualstio says "Is that nauseatingly cheerful music gonna play every time someone joins?" at one point. Kulkumatzalso asks "What was that sound?" when he joins.
Loads and Loads of Characters: The game borders on this, with eighteen playable characters and quite a few important NPCs as well. However, almost all of the main cast have genuinely unique and interesting personalities and good Character Development, sidestepping some of the negative traits of this.
The Man Behind the Man: Havan behind Skint. Subverted by the man in front of the man turning out to not have been a villain in the first place. The real Big Bad also has much shallower motives than the fake one, which may qualify as an additional subversion.
Man in White: All Sikohlon. They dress this way to show their ascent from savagery.
Mood Whiplash: In chapter 6, interlude 3, and interlude 4, done well.
Motive Rant: Havan, right before you fight them, explains exactly why they snapped and killed the Watchers.
Neglectful Precursors: The Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who terraformed and populated the planet are somewhere between neglectful and outright abusive; they periodically annihilate all life on the planet to prevent it from getting too advanced, and don't seem to view the populace of the planet as actual people, just subjects in their experiment.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dehl leaves Havan behind at the end of chapter 5, who then proceeds to slaughter the Watchers and take over the world. Dehl also allowed Havan to get the Chekhov's Gun that drove him to do that in the first place.
Dehl broke it before the game even started; he brought the Blue Plague to the mainland via Moke, though it did abruptly end the revolt, saving some lives...which were probably then taken by the Plague anyway.
And Father Sikohlon broke it even before that by creating the Plague in the first place.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Funnily enough, in spite of everything that happened in the last chapter, if Havan had not interfered in the Watchers' plans, the entire surface would have been razed to the ground by the Watchers, resulting in a level of death and destruction even Havan's rule as the Lord-God would not have matched.
Pardon My Klingon: Yacatec does this twice; Early in chapter 4, he calls Tehgonan a "Zin d'an"note t literally means "little brother" in Shra, but because si'shra use it to refer to ordinary shra, its slang use is a serious insult, at which point Dehl snaps, "Yacatec, please do not call him that." Later, after the camp is threatened to be washed away by magical rain, he snaps at Ques, flinging what is presumably a heinous insult at him in his native language.
Please Wake Up: In Interlude 4. Upon seeing that Father Sikohlon has killed all his brothers and gone insane, Dehl says "What happened to our brothers? Why aren't they moving?"
Poison Is Evil: Subverted; the Noxious element is generally regarded as evil or at least more shady than other elements, but both Noxious-elemental party members are perfectly nice people. One's sidequest even revolves around disproving this.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Partly because you end up having humans, fih'jik, shra, and fortians all in the same group, but also, pretty much all the optional party members are just random people off the streets, some of which have rather weird class names. While one can probably guess that "Spectrumancer" and "Whiteblade" are legitimate classes, what in the world is a "Flashcurve" or "Whitewind"?
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Qualstio and Dehl. Lampshaded by Qualstio with their support quote.
"A little cliché, don't ya think?"
The Reveal: The revelation of who the Big Bad is doesn't come until the cutscene before the Final Boss. And your jaw is guaranteed to drop when you find out that it's Havan.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Dehl goes on one in chapter 6. His temporary personality change makes some of his skill descriptions read almost like black comedy.
"The serene, peaceful nature of the knight manifests in enhanced inner traits."
Sacrificial Lamb: Metzino is either this or the above; though they only appear for one chapter and are killed off long before the Sacrificial Lions, they are only killed off at the very end of the chapter they appear in.
Save The World: Deconstructed. Dehl attempts this, but finds that he can't, as any accomplishment he does make will not last; only the people can truly save themselves. He also finds that the psychological stress is unbearable (especially combined with his other issues). See An Aesop, above.
Screw Destiny: A villainous example. After performing tests of character for years, Havan is casually brushed aside and told that he isn't The Chosen One after all. But he won't tolerate this, and murders all the Watchers in an attempt to get to Dehl.
Sound-Only Death: The screen abruptly fades to black right before Dehl kills Havan, who we only hear screaming. This is rather odd, considering that there was a graphic Family-Unfriendly Death not much earlier, plus the fact that the game has no reason to pretend it's still a happy-go-lucky family-friendly adventure story at that point.
Although, it could be a way of showing that the extremely dark tone of chapter 6 is finally over, and that the story is now going to return to a more lighthearted state.
Title Drop: The First and Second Reconstructions. Subverted in that they're only minor backstory events that are only briefly mentioned once each throughout the entire game (and you won't get any details unless you read Ques' glossary).
And then played straight in chapter 6:
"Everything we once knew and loved has vanished from this world. We are the only surviving chance for reconstruction."
To Be Lawful or Good: The player themselves must make this choice at the end of one quest — after you see a bunch of criminal shra run out of the city, you have the option of pointing the Nalian Officers in the right or wrong direction.
Took a Shortcut: There's one quest that involves trailblazing a previously-untraversed mountain pass. One of the obstacles you face is a camp of bandits. This is Lampshaded in the narration.
Treachery Cover Up: The fortian Councillords cleverly disguise what is effectively Metzino's execution as a seemingly fair duel against Pazzato.
It should be noted that if you are strong enough you can still cut with a sword even if it has dull edges, but the cut won't be nearly as deep, making it harder to land a lethal blow on somebody accidentally.
Wham Episode: "To Ascend", the final quest of chapter 3. Up until that point, the story reads like a fairly typical Heroic Fantasy adventure story, with a few hints of a greater, overarching plot and only a few very serious moments. You'll probably think that it'll maintain the fairly carefree, happy-go-lucky vibe the heroes have going on. Well, at least, until Metzinogets thrown off the Faithall Tower, you fight your first boss fight with a human character (who dies bloodily), and the entire mess ends in a giant Downer Ending revealing that the characters were Unwitting Pawns the whole chapter and their efforts were meaningless. It's also immediately followed by interlude 3, which is filled to the brim with Tear Jerker.
Even moreso, Interlude 4. By the Supreme One, interlude 4.
Also lampshaded; the "accept" option for the save prompt afterwards is "After all that? Hell yes."
Chapter 6 is also pretty shocking, though it comes quite late in the story.
"Third Watcher? You mean Donz? I thought he went down with you guys, Ma!"note The first time you play the game, you most likely won't remember the mention and brief appearance of Donz in the prologue.
What the Hell, Hero?: Dehl receives an indignant speech from Mahk after he kills (or at the very least, severely injures) two Nalian slavers in front of Xopi. He becomes an outcast of the Sikohlon family because of this.
You Monster!: Dehl's response to learning that Havan tortured Donz to death.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The game doesn't actually wrap everything up when the twist is pulled, but it looks like it's on a fast track towards doing so. However, just when it looks like you're about to have some climactic final boss fight and Save The World, Qualstio screams in horror as he finds that the Watchers have all been slaughtered. Also, you failed to stop Donz from activating the pillars, so civilization has been nearly wiped out. So, instead of going along with Fell's advice, the rest of the game revolves around stopping the Big Bad and trying to reconstruct civilization.
Big Creepy-Crawlies: Downplayed with the tchiitra, which are giant, dangerous bugs, but are never any larger than a human (and are usually a bit smaller than that). Played straighter with the tchiitra broodmother, who is much bigger.
Cat Folk: The fih'jik. The Encyclopedia even says that the word "cat" comes from the Fih'Jik word for "child".
Interestingly though, they carry very few of the typical Animal Stereotypes associated with cats — they are neither the Proud Warrior Race associated with predatory cats (they are actually physically frail when compared to the other three species), nor do they fit the "hyperactive, selfish hedonist" portrayal associated with domestic cats. Some of them do still like hunting, though.
Crapsaccharine World: The world looks innocuous enough at first, but the more you explore it, the more you realize just how messed up it is. Here's a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of reveals:
Chapter 1: Wadassia is practically the only country in the known world that can grow food, so the welfare of all other places is placed into one basket — a basket that hangs by a thread.
Chapter 2: A large portion of the populace is poverty-stricken, and forced to live in the slums of Nal. Also, the large lagoon in which the game takes place is the only habitable area in the world — everywhere else is just ocean as far as the eye can see. This will no doubt lead to painful population plateaus.
Chapter 3: The Fortian Councillords economically control the rest of the world through monopolization of magical artifacts, and kill anyone who is a threat to their stability.
Chapter 4: The Fantastic Racism against shra is so bad that their own kind sell each other into slavery to make ends meet.
Chapter 5: The fih'jik cling to their warlike religion, refusing to let those in Do'Ssha live in peace. Warfare is so frequent that their continent earned a nickname that basically means "bloody sands". The Knight Templar leader of Kir'Ssha even commits suicide because he knows it's the only way to stop the war...temporarily, at least.
Chapter 6: And none of that even matters, because Havan razed the entire world to the ground because you let him! Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!
Crystal Dragon Jesus: The fih'jik religion is very similar to the Christian one, though there's no Jesus figure and the god (or "Supreme One") in question is female. Subverted in that she seems to be either dead or sadistic.
The Empire: Kir'Ssha. It's an iron-fisted, totalitarian fascist regime that has religious intolerance as law, and its leaders and military openly plot to conquer the rest of the world and force them to worship the Supreme One. Pretty much their only redeeming trait is that, despite their intolerance of other religions, they treat shra as equals rather then second class citizens or slaves, just like Do'Ssha does.
Fantastic Racism: Everywhere except Do'Ssha and the Berylbrine Outpost, shra are slaves or servants, and are treated like dirt in Nal.
Feuding Families: The Pazzato and Metzino lines have been at this for quite a while.
God of Evil: Tezkhra certainly seems to be this; the encyclopedia describes him as a foul, wretched, poisonous creature that brought death everywhere he walked and gave birth to the si'shra, one of the most violent creatures in the world. However, this is subverted if you get the sixteenth character — Tezkhra himself. He turns out to actually be Shrouded in Myth and a perfectly nice guy. The Tezkhra figure that the si'shra worship was actually an evil creature that killed him and stole his name.
Good Republic, Evil Empire: Do'Ssha and Kir'Ssha. Both are traditionalist theocracies, but Do'Ssha is ruled by an elected council, while Kir'Ssha appears to be a military dictatorship. Do'Ssha isn't without its flaws, but it is, by far, the nicer of the two societies.
Half-Human Hybrid: I Miss the Sunrise reveals that the entire shra race are half-Lesser hybrids, as they were cloned from Tezkhra's DNA. Tezkhra himself is not a Half-Human Hybrid, but Rami altered his physiology so much that he can't be easily classified as either a Lesser or a lacertian, and this weirdness was passed on to his "children".
Humans Are Average: They're actually below average, in pure gameplay terms, since they tend to have the lowest regeneration rates in all three stats.
Humans Are Leaders: Due to lack of competition. Of the other sentient species in the setting, the shra have a tendency to follow whoever seems strongest, the Fortians don't care much about outside affairs, and the fih'jik are traditionalistic to a fault, leaving humans as the primary explorers and leaders.
It's also subverted, since The Hero is a shra. Could be Double Subverted, though, since he's an extreme subversion of most fantasy heroes and doesn't actually do much leading.
Last Name Basis: The fortians do this. The only time they're referred to by their first name is informally or by someone of higher rank. This extends to your party members; Sicious Qualstio and Halia Falitza are always referred to by their last names.
Medieval Stasis: As in most Medieval Stasis worlds, magic takes the place of science and technology for the most par except that not everyone can use it. On top of that, only Fortians have magical abilities potent enough to perform the really important spells and create the really important Magitek. This means that things are stacked in the favour of Fortians — everyone has no choice but to depend on them. When Metzino decides to make steam-powered technology (meaning that everyone can contribute to society equally), the fortian councillords are not happy.
One-Gender Race: Subverted; the shra seem to be this at first, but in chapter 4 we learn that the females are all forced to stay inside the Shra Capital.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted. The setting invokes this; virtually every character you meet finds an excuse to hate on shra. However, in the narrative itself, shra are given a rather sympathetic viewpoint — the main character is even one. Possibly a type of Deliberate Values Dissonance.
Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Averted with Fortians. They seem like they're this; they look almost exactly like humans, only more slender, with crazier hairstyles, and paler skin. However, Word of God says that they are humans, and the difference is purely cultural. Their magic affinity is simply due to the fact that they focus on it so exclusively.
Science Is Bad: The Fortian Councillords think so, anyway. The game's actual message seems to be an inversion of this trope.
In the ending, the slider jumps back to the idealistic end; all the characters come to terms with their Dark And Troubled Pasts (albiet not completely in some cases) and civilization is rebuilt. However, it doesn't dial all the way back; how can it, after everything the player has seen? This is demonstrated by Dehl having the realization that he cannot do everything and save everyone; sometimes, the only option is for the people to save themselves.
Snaketalk: According to the glossary, one in five shra have tongues too big to perfectly pronounce the human language, and speak like this. None of the Sikohlon seem to have this trait, interestingly. Kulkumatz does, though.
Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: The fortians are all over this. They're the closest thing the setting has to modern scientists, and they're the race with the greatest affinity for magic.
Actually Four Mooks: Played straight in normal Preexisting Encounters, but averted in unavoidable ones (usually). This includes boss battles; their flunkies will usually have visible sprites on the map before the battle (except for the bosses of chapter 1 and 2, whose flunkies come out of nowhere).
Advancing Wall of Doom: The Tatzylvurm has a powerful "Ceiling Drop" attack which starts out at the backmost row but increases its area of effect by one column every time it's used.
The Cryomancer has an attack that is nearly identical, though it also freezes the squares it affects.
Always Close: No matter how much time it takes you to climb the Faithall Tower, you will always arrive just in time to see Metzino getting killed.
Fero, sort of. He has the highest Agility stat in the game (plus a ton of Agility-boosting support combos) and his skills have very long range due to his weapon of choice. However, to compensate, his attack power is a bit lacking compared to other characters'.
Also, Kidra, though she doesn't have long-range attacks and focuses more on utility abilities.
Sirush, though his final passive ability makes him much less fragile (while also greatly increasing the speed aspect).
An enemy example: Slashlings. They have abysmal defenses, but a whopping Agility of fourty-two.
Stone Wall: Lani, oh so very much. Unfortunately, in this game, the best defense is a good offense, so her talents are not particularly useful.
Also, sadly, the sixteenth character, who is virtually unkillable, especially since his abilities do not consume any energy, but only has one offensive ability that isn't even modified by attack stats!
Sirush, sort of. Due to the way stat gains are handled, one can simply upgrade his defense, so that isn't a problem. However, all his skills consume very high amounts of health, and all of them are short-range, causing him to get attacked a lot as well.
Also Tehgonan, who has the potential to be extremely powerful if you're good at setting up elemental enchantments. However, all of his stats are pathetically low and his skills have high costs.
Moke. He's one of the most powerful and versatile attackers in the game, and though you'll likely make him suitable for soaking up Body (and, to a lesser extent, Mind) attacks, his defenses start out virtually nonexistent.
Lightning Bruiser: Rehm. Various other characters can become this with the help of passive abilities and character support, too (Dehl, for example, who is initially is quite slow).
Magikarp Power: Tehgonan. He starts off as a pathetic Squishy Wizard, with terrible stats and high-cost, gimmicky abilities. However, if you take the time to level up his "Geomancer" passive skill, he becomes incredibly powerful — those gimmicky abilities get increased chances of success, making them legitimately useful in combination with other party members' attacks. But best of all is his final skill, 'Geo God', which gives him incredible boosts to his Body and Soul stats, which are otherwise pathetically low. Suddenly, he stops being so squishy and his skills can be put to formidable use.
Spoony Bard: Falitza. Her abilities are extremely gimmicky and either costly, weak or prone to having detrimental effects for you. She does, however, have the only full-party Focus spell and an Enemy Scan ability.
Anatomy Of The Soul: Instead of just having HP and MP, characters have Body, Mind, and Soul gauges that all count as both. This is a major aspect of the gameplay.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Justified; according to Wadassian law, guilds are restricted to six armed combatants at any one time. This is violated a few times, though you still can't ever control more than six characters at once.
Zig zagged later, though. After Wadassia is reduced to ruins and Dehl, the only person who's really been enforcing the rule, has a Freak Out and turns into The Berserker... You are still restricted to six party members at a time. Bellisario's Maxim is pretty necessary here.
Bonus Boss: Three; "The Cryomancer" in Chapter 1, Captain Asarik in Chapter 4, and Tatzylvurm in Chapter 5.
Boss Banter: Chapter 5's boss. "You fools! You should never have allowed yourselves to come within my grasp!" Said just before executing That One Attack.
But Thou Must: At one point, a character asks you if you are serious about something. Your choices are: "Quite serious," "Dead serious," and "Serious as a heart attack."
Can't Drop The Hero: Averted. There's even one storyline quest where you can't use any shra at all, so you're actually required to drop him. There's also one sidequest where you can only use characters with high charisma (a qualifier that Dehl lacks without major support bonuses), and Falitza's recruitment quest, where you can only use casters (you don't need to kick Dehl out of your party, though).
Classic Cheat Code: At least three: Naming you guild after the numbers from LOST, the first digits of pi, or the first digits of Euler's number will give 50000 essence of every type and 5000 skill/mana points to every character when you start the game. Space Lizard says there might be more, though (he can't remember, and doesn't have access to the source code anymore).
Dehl: Forgive me, the ink must have smudged. What I mean to say, is... 'The Lost' will suffice.
Convection Schmonvection: In chapter 3, since you're on a volcano, there are numerous magma lakes and streams that even have bridges over them. You can go right up to the lava without harm. Averted in one quest, though, as you need someone alone and wearing heavy armour to cross a certain passage.
Crippling Overspecialization: Zargos is really good at inflicting Body damage...but that's the only type of damage he can inflict. Since everyone else except Tehgonan can damage at least two of the three life bars, he's not that great at working in conjunction with other characters. As such, most players will probably drop him from their party early on. His main speciality seems to be the addition of Rush to normal attacks, but he develops most of it after being likely considered underwhelming and dropped.
Damage-Increasing Debuff: If a side gets Rushed, they take more damage while also inflicting less. Poison also functions like this for Moke's Toxic Shock spell.
Difficult but Awesome: Ques, fittingly. He requires a bit of setup, and many of his skills have drawbacks that will cripple him if you use them improperly. However, if you know what you're doing, he can be very formidable.
Difficulty Levels: You can set them at the beginning of the game, though they aren't universal; they change specific things. Your characters can gain 150% essence and at the same time have monsters at 150% strength, for example.
Played entirely straight in Heaven, though; it seems like you're going to chase down Donz or whoever the main villain is and have some climatic final boss fight, but all you actually do is solve a long puzzle and then see a very shocking cutscene. (See Your Princess Is in Another Castle, above.)
Minor example, but still worth mentioning: Santes' passive "Bulwark" skill is one of the first she can learn, and it's one of the best passive skills in the game, as it makes her stronger, faster, and tougher at the same time.
Focusing on upgrading some attack abilities like Spirit Crush, Judgement or Perfect Frenzy early on allows you to One-Hit Kill most enemies in the first half of the game.
Really, your starting party is mostly this — with the exception of Zargos and Tehgonan, they're all well-rounded and quite powerful. Most characters that join later are gimmicky and difficult to use without a greater knowledge of the mechanics, making the starting party Boring, but Practical.
Easter Egg: If you manage to attain a rank higher than 17 before the end of chapter 3, Ques will lampshade how it's odd he's still around when his contract should have expired by that point.
Enemy Scan: Falitza's "Procure Status" skill. It's also a rather disproportionate gamble, as it has a high chance of failing and very high cost. However, it additionally gives some entertaining snippet from the thoughts of the enemy...
Extended Gameplay: Sort of; every chapter's storyline is pretty self-contained, so when a new chapter starts it can feel a bit like this. It's not much of a surprise, though, as there's tons of Interface Spoiler and the storyline itself doesn't make much attempt to hide that you'll be travelling somewhere else next chapter.
Game Over: Almost completely averted; losing a regular encounter will just lead to the character(s) in the party crawling back to the beginning of the area and licking their wounds until they recover. There are a few quests with greater consequences for failure, but the game doesn't end, the quest just restarts (to quote Ques: "Let's just pretend that never happened, shall we?"). The only way to get a true game over is to lose to a boss fight, and even then, only if you refuse to retry.
Curiously, this does not apply to the Final Boss; your party members will literally stand back up and keep fighting if everyone is defeated. The boss regenerates all their health, though. This is probably because the normal penalty for losing to a boss (loss of essence rewards) is meaningless against the final one.
Fortians, being the most logical and magic-oriented, have great mental stability, and therefore have the highest Mind values. However, it is that same focus on logic and suppression of emotion that causes the to have the lowest Soul values.
Fih'jik, being extremely pious and religious, have enough faith and confidence to have nearly unbreakable will and resolve, so they have the highest Soul values. However, they are Fragile Speedsters compared to the other species, meaning they have the lowest Body values.
Shra are stated to be extremely tough and have the ability to recover from wounds quickly, therefore they have the highest Body values. However, due to Fantastic Racism, they tend to be uneducated and savage, giving them the lowest Mind values.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: After you defeat him, chapter 3's boss is always shown lying in a pool of blood, as if he sustained bodily harm...even if you defeated him through Mind or Soul damage and didn't leave a scratch on him.
Interface Spoiler: You can tell how many available party members there are, and how many you don't have, just by looking at the roster. Also, if you check the "Achievements and Records" page, you can see how many quests will be in the chapter, and also the secondary area you'll be going to later.
It's also subverted. In the prologue, Taru and Vasra have passive abilities if you look at their status screens, but they're untrained and therefore unusable. This implies that they'll join the main roster later on, but the truth turns out to be...verydifferent.
Joke Character: Rehm Sikohlon is this in his recruitment quest; his stats are on basic level and he only has unusable "Twiddle Thumbs"-like joke abilities. Of course, he gets better.
Late Character Syndrome: The stat problems are averted; even characters who join in the final chapter are pretty useful, since the stat growth system allows them to catch up very quickly. However, due to each character being tactically unique, you'll most likely develop a general strategy with each character having an essential, individual role, so late characters like Yfus might have bad chances of becoming members of your active party.
In general, the higher your difficulty, the worse this will be, since the later characters are balanced for what your rank would be on a normal-difficulty run. If you've set everything to max, you'll probably have received all possible rank-up bonuses by the time you recruit the last three characters—meaning they won't gain any of the skill points they'd have gotten from being in your party when you ranked up.
Leaked Experience: The support system transfers essence and some skill points to the supporting character. Unfortunately, that means you'll still have to leave out four people if you get a full roster.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Averted, as both fighter-types and caster-types start with all their skills, and casters can actually afford to take a hit thanks to the game's health system. Casters are also generally better at exploiting elemental weaknesses and can attack from a distance, but fighters wither and die if anything with a Mind attack pokes them. (They are good at soaking Body attacks and exploiting armour weaknesses, though.) Rushing is generally more useful than Enchanting, however.
Multiple Life Bars: Every character has Body, Mind, and Soul points, all of which serve as Hit Points and mana at the same time. Any of these reaching zero KO's the character.
No Name Given: We are never told the real name of the Cryomancer.
Non-Elemental: Tezkhra's element is "Order", which is described as having no strengths or weaknesses. There's also Tatzylvurm and Chaos Havan, whose elements are "Chaos", also without strengths or weaknesses.
Non-Lethal K.O.: Played with - it's stated in-game that Soul and Mind damage are usually non-lethal, but Body damage usually is. This even comes into play in one quest.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Agility, definitely. The battle system just rewards quantity over quality too much; more turns means faster acceleration of the chain, more Tech Points, and more opportunities to trigger random-chance effects like debuffs.
Point of No Return: It's quite obvious when you do reach it though, as the game will tell you in a red warning box in capital letters. There is also a lesser version: when you leave Kir'Ssha, as you can never go back there again.
Power-Up Letdown: Santes' final passive ability grants her an automatic Empower buff at the start of battle. Which sounds pretty good...until you look at everyone else's rank V abilities. Such as one that increases all three' regeneration rates by the same amount. And increase that stat itself, so that they can be further'' increased by buffs, unlike Santes, who completely loses the bonus if she's hit with Wither.
Random Effect Spell: Falitza's "Press Fortune" ability. Whether or not it even causes a good or bad effect to occur is random. Its effects aren't too varied, though — just full-party buffs or debuffs.note It can be upgraded to have four new effects, though — increasing/decreasing the Rush meter, and advancing the skill chain by 8/breaking it.
Status Buff Dispel: Kidra's "Suggestive Taunts" ability does this to all enemies at higher levels (though it cannot remove Regrowth). This can also be accomplished just by smacking the character in question with the opposite debuff, however.
Squishy Wizard: Lots of 'em. Thankfully, you can just upgrade their defense until they suffer Scratch Damage from most Body attacks, and you most likely will do so, as there is not much else to do with the essence type of their Dump Stat. Subverted hugely by the fact they usually have stellar Mind or Soul stats. If you stab them they'll die, but they'll be able to easily shrug off that spell that just decimated your not-so-sturdy fighter.
Tech Points: Skill and mana points. Although, they're granted from actually using abilities rather than as a second type of Experience Points, making skill progression fueled by a similar principle as Stat Grinding.
Useless Useful Spell: Averted. Nothing is immune to any status effect, and all five can be quite effective. Feel free to spam Disable on bosses, which can turn them from That One Boss to ordinary Mooks with a large health pool.
There are a few specific skills that are too gimmicky or situational to have much use, though. Unfortunately, the sixteenth character's skillset is composed primarily of these, which is quite a letdown.
Useless Useful Stealth: Subverted; completing the prologue without killing anyone up to the boss fight nets you bonus points. (Then immediately Double Subverted, as those bonus points turn out to be worthless.)
Played straight in the sidequest "For the White", in which avoiding fights will grant the Optional Party Member you get afterwards additional essence and Tech Points.
Video Game Set Piece: The Final Boss doesn't exactly play by the rules. He himself cannot be defeated until all three of his Life Meters are depleted, and also, his attack deals a random type of damage instead of being set. In addition, one of his flunkies changes their elements randomly every turn, and actually has an attack that inverts the normal Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
Wake-Up Call Boss: Captian Yat is actually rather difficult, as you have only three party members, and one of them can be one-shotted by one of his attacks, which is also an area-of-effect spell. He also starts with the three regenerative buffs.
Art-Style Dissonance: One of the darkest chapters of the story, which tackles head-on issues of war, death, poverty, and religion, is set in the land of...the adorable cat people.
The art style in general looks somewhat cartoonish, with everything having outlines and less shading than standard RPG Maker XP sprites, making them look more like drawings. Though this is fitting for the more lighthearted sections of the game in the beginning, it is in stark contrast with the dark and serious mood the story takes later on.
Black Bead Eyes: Due to the art style, most characters have small pupils and appear to lack irises, which makes them look like this.
Call Back: In the Golden Ending, the last line of the game is very similar to Fell's "How far back must you stand before you can see 'everything'?", but with a new take on it as well.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Non-comedy example; a group of wealthy individuals who hold most of the power in the world due to having a monopoly on an extremely important resource that only they can provide, and who try to stifle any new ideas that could undermine that monopoly? Hm... (see Medieval Stasis, above)
Lemony Narrator: Sometimes. Occasionally the narration with throw in a joke or say something that gives it a bit of personality. One of the best examples is in a certain sidequest where you need to search a room for something, and the narration box says "You feel like you should take a look around. Don't ask why; you just do, okay?! It's not like you have anything better to do." (Humourously, the "decline" option is "I have better things to do.")
One of Us: The developer, Space Lizard, is a troper.
You would probably think that the Point of No Return would be right before the final boss. You would be wrong.
Skint joins the party, complete with fanfare...then requests a Mercy Kill right after.
Retirony: Right at the beginning of the game, Crewman Murphy comments on how it's his last day before retiring...right after having been issued a Red Shirt. Subverted when he just narrowly avoids death and goes out for a cup of coffee with his coworker.
Ship Tease: Lani interacts with Rehm an awful lot, and they appear to admire and respect each other. Weirdly, though, they don't have a support combination.
Possibly, chapter 2 counts as well: it ends with the man you've been trying to protect throughout the entire quest jumping off a cliff.
Technicolor Eyes: Or rather, Technicolor Sclerae. Most shra have yellow sclerae (though some have have bright blue or blue-green — Kulkumatz's and Cort's are also neon green, and the si'shra warden's are blood-red), and fih'jik can have anywhere from blue to bright green sclerae. (Curiously, though, Moke appears to have normal white sclerae.)
Sclerae Color Dissonance: You'll probably forget about the weird colors quickly — or not even notice them in the first place.
Theme Naming: Fih'jik names are all made up of two two-letter syllables. This is mentioned in the developer blog to be a Shout-Out to NES games.
The four Watchers — Fell, Nath, Kott, and Donz — all have four-letter names as well.
Space Lizard really likes four-letter names — except for their 'fathers', all the Sikohlon we see follow the same pattern.
With knowledge from I Miss the Sunrise, this may be an in-universe theme. The Sikohlon in I Miss the Sunrise specifically mention that they follow the same pattern, after all, making it appear that Mahk purposefully continued it.