Battles are initiated by walking into enemies. If you attack them with and stun them before you walk into them you can gain an advantage. Some enemies require multiple hits in the original version. Enemies may gain an advantage against you if they run into you from behind. Battles are turn based from a side view perspective.
During each party member's turn you can pick one of the following commands:
- Attack with your weapon.
- Use a skill.
- Switch turn panels.
- Use an item.
- Guard / Defend
- Defend to lessen damage taken by enemy attacks.
- Escape from battle.
- Mana Burst
- Use the mana burst gauge to unleash special moves.
The turn order is displayed on the top screen for the original version and on the bottom screen for Perfect Chronology. You can use the change command to swap the current character's turn with other party members or enemies. The character will then be in a red state, known as Baroque in the original version and Vulnerable in Perfect Chronology. They are more prone to critical hits and status ailments, but the state goes away after the character performs an action. By grouping multiple character turns together, you can create powerful combos.
If you attack the same enemy on consecutive turns, you will start a combo. Each additional hit increases the combo level that is displayed the top right corner of the screen. Party members deal higher damage one after another. Alternating between physical and magic attacks adds a bonus level.
Enemies stand on a 3 × 3 grid. Larger enemies take up more than one square. Their location on the grid determines the physical damage they deal and receive. The closer they are to the party, the greater the damage. Their location does not affect magic attacks. Some skills can move enemies around on the grid and can even knock them into the same location of another enemy. If you continue to chain attacks after doing so, you will deal damage to each enemy. Once the combo is broken, the enemies will move back to their own squares.
Enemies and allies can have weaknesses that affect the damage they receive from certain elements and their susceptibility to ailments. In the original version, you can only reveal weaknesses by using the Weakness Scan skill. In Perfect Chronology, more detailed information can be viewed by pressing . There are four levels of resistance for each element and ailment.
- More damage from element or more susceptible to ailment
- Less damage element or less susceptible to ailment
- Immune to element or ailment
- Gradually lose HP
- Gradually lose MP
- Cannot use skills and sometimes cannot act
- Cannot use items / damage self when attacking
- Cannot act / will awaken after taking damage
- Cannot act / game over if all allies are Stone at the same time
In addition to ailments, there are other status changes that enemies and allies can have. In Perfect Chronology, they can be viewed on the same screen as the resistances. Press or to toggle through them. If a party member's HP reaches 0, they are knocked out. If all party members are knocked out or turned to stone, then it's game over.
Increase / Decrease
- ATK Boost
- Increase ATK
- MAG Boost
- Increase MAG
- DEF Boost
- Increase DEF
- MDF Boost
- Increase MDF
- SPD Boost
- Increase SPD
- Mana Gauge Rate Boost
- Increase rate of Mana gauge rise
- Combo Level Boost
- Add 2 to final combo level of all attacks
- ATK Down
- Decrease ATK
- MAG Down
- Decrease MAG
- DEF Down
- Decrease DEF
- MDF Down
- Decrease MDF
- SPD Down
- Decrease SPD
- HP Regen
- Gradually recover HP
- MP Regen
- Gradually recover MP
- Power Zone
- Increase ATK while on this square
- Guard Zone
- Reduce damage taken while on this square
- Negate Phys
- Nullify all physical damage while on this square
- Negate Magic
- Nullify all magic damage while on this square
- Mana Barrier
- Nullify magic damage 4 times
In Perfect Chronology, reserve party members can perform support skills to assist in battle. Support skills are skills that can randomly trigger at the start of battle, start of combo, end of combo, or start of ally turn. All characters except for Stocke can learn up to four support skills from leveling up and two more from purchasing at the Vault of Time. Any attacks from support skills add to the combo level. All support skills cost 0 MP.
Once all enemies are defeated or turned to stone, you gain gold, experience, and items. Reserve party members also receive experience. Bonus gold and experience are earned from the highest combo during the battle.