Welcome to the final chapter of my “The Five” series on combat systems. So far, we’ve talked about turn-based, action, and Strategy RPG combat systems. What happens, though, when the lines are blurred and a combat system can’t be defined in one of these three categories perfectly? What you get is one of the more interesting combat systems in RPG gaming so far. By combining elements of multiple systems, you get a more complex and fun battle experience. This week, we are going to end the series with five of the best hybrid combat systems in RPG gaming.
Hybrid Type: Turn-based/Reflexive
The Judgement Ring system for Shadow Hearts has always been a fun and somewhat annoying exercise in combat, but I have always found it interesting. Before performing any action, you are presented a Ring with a set of targets you must hit while the dial spins around the wheel. If you miss one, the ring stops, and you either get only what few attacks you landed, or your special skill or item does not get used. The need for the reflexes of an action RPG in a turn-based game really keeps you motivated and paying attention to what your doing. It’s also a great way to find out just how tired you are based on how well you’re hitting the rings.
Luckily, starting in Shadow Hearts: Covenant, you are able to manipulate the Judgement Rings. You can widen the success rates for attacks, and even widen the critical hit section of each attack. There are some accessories you can buy that can also speed up or slow the dial, or even double your damage, but make the ring zones invisible. If you can memorize the attack zones or even widen them enough that you’ll barely miss, then you are a force to be reckoned with.
Ar Tonelico 2
Hybrid Type: Turn-based/Action
In any Ar Tonelico game, the primary focus is to draw out a battle long enough, allowing your Reyvateil to boost her song magic. This installment of the game uses a round system. When your round starts, your vanguards can attack as much as they want for a short period of time, based on the command buttons you press. You can go as often as you can press buttons. Each type of attack corresponds to how the song magic will grow. Once the round is over, the enemy gets a turn to launch some attacks, and your goal is to protect your Reyvateils from damage. This mix of action and turn-based combat is fast-paced, and the final damage from the song magic just shows that your hard work pays off.
Resonance of Fate
Hybrid Type: Turn-Based/Action
This one is an excellent mix of action combat in a turn-based environment. Resonance of Fate allows you to do what is called an action run. You mark a start and finish point for where your character will run to. While running, you can jump in the air, charge your guns, and start shooting at them acrobatically. you can also set up a combo run, having all three of your party members run along a triangle path doing a lot of chain damage.
These actions spend bezels, and if you run out of them, it can lead to taking additional damage, and not being able to perform actions. Planning your actions carefully, and staying protected is the key to victory. You can gain more bezels throughout the game, allowing more actions. There is a high difficulty curve to this system, but if you can master it, it can be a lot of fun.
Baten Kaitos Origins
Hybrid Type: Turn-Based/Action
Baten Kaitos Origins uses a quick-fire Card-based combat system. During your turn, you are using up cards in your hand. They are replenished immediately, so that you may continue to attack. If you get the right cards in hand, you may perform stronger, higher level attacks, and bring about special attacks for extra damage.
With rounds and turns with your party of three, there is a very interesting sense of integration for combat. Already it uses deck building to customize your combat structure, so you are given a wide range of intrigue and engagement.
Hybrid Type: Turn-Based/Action/Strategy
Magna Carta, one of the least talked about RPGs for the PlayStaton 2, actually employs the biggest hybrid combat system I have encountered so far. Like a Strategy RPG, You are given a movement phase and an action phase. Movement is distance based, instead of grid-based, making movement much more fluid.
As for the action phase, an attack command uses a system similar to Shadow Hearts’ Judgment Ring System. You must hit three points on a spinning wheel to launch your attack. If you hit all three marks, your next attack will be a higher level and strength.
This system required thinking and quick reflexes to do well. It’s a mixture of all the things that make each singular combat system great, and it’s a well-made mix.