Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a title that blends elements of both Fire Emblem and Persona into a combat system that is simple to pick up but tough to master. The game does a good job of introducing new elements slowly, but a time will come when all of those elements need to work together and an added bit of guidance would be appreciated. This guide is that added bit of guidance, written from the perspective of an experienced player with about forty hours invested into the game. I’ve learned many of these tips the hard way, and my primary reason for sharing them here is so that you don’t have to!
To begin, let’s talk about the topics covered in the guide. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is interesting in that mechanically, you’ll be doing different things during the first and second halves of the game. The first half of the game is primarily about recruiting new characters to your team and discovering their niche. The second half of the game finds you with a full party that, having mastered their basic abilities, you can then develop into more specialized roles based on your choices. You as the player have a lot more control over how the characters develop and, consequently, more choices to make. This guide is focused on those challenges which may face players in the earlier parts of the game: understanding the combat system and maximizing the effectiveness of each character as you begin to build them up for the later parts of the game.
COMBAT BASICS: ELEMENTAL WEAKNESSES
You ever play Pokemon? Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a game where you’ll be facing a variety of monsters with one or more elemental weaknesses, and learning to take advantage of those weaknesses is the core of making the combat system work. Hitting an enemy’s weakness is a necessary tool because it allows your other characters to pull off what is called a session. This mechanic is so significant that it features in the title of the game, and it is the core of what makes Tokyo Mirage Sessions shine from a combat perspective. We’ll talk more about sessions in a bit – for now, let’s focus on the elements and how they work.
There are twelve elements in the game: Sword, Lance, Axe, Bow, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Force, Mind, Body, and Almighty. You mind find see me colloquially refer to “force” as wind, “mind” as light, and “body” as dark – they ultimately have elements of both. Almighty is unique in that it does not have any strengths but instead deals neutral damage to any enemy, and it can ignore certain types of barriers. Almighty damage is very rare. Most attacks will fall into the eleven other categories, and which ones will be most effective varies from enemy to enemy. Luckily, there are some tools you can use in order to know which of your own attacks will be most effective.
If you’ve played Fire Emblem then many tricks will already be ingrained into you. However, for those non-FE veterans, these will be new tools to memorize. The three primary weapon types – sword, lance, axe – exist in a triangle. Swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. If the enemy is wielding a lance, an axe attack will be effective against them. If they have a sword, a lance attack will be effective. Note that this applies to your characters as well. Enemies who fly with wings will be weak against bow attacks and wind attacks. These are great tools for finding at least one weakness on many enemies, but what about enemies with no wings and no clear weapon? If there’s an obvious display of a magical element, consider using the opposite element against the target. Fire and ice, lightning and force, and mind and body are opposites.
Now there will most certainly be times when there is no clear weakness that you can identify for an enemy. What can you do in these situations? One of the best tools in your belt for quickly testing enemy weaknesses is the Special Performance. Special Performances use a different stat than your normal skills, and they start a session regardless of whether or not they hit the enemy’s weak point. This is valuable because sessions are the best way to quickly work through the list of attack types to find a weakness. As characters string different types of attacks into a session, you’ll learn whether or not those attacks are effective so you can trigger another session with the proper weakness on your next turn.
AN UNDERUTILIZED TOOL: CONSUMABLE ITEMS
If you’re coming into Tokyo Mirage Sessions from a background of playing other JRPGs, you may be bringing with you a bias against consumables as a useful combat resource. I certainly did! In most games I prefer the natural abilities of my characters in combat and I tend to immediately sell any item whose purpose could be replaced with a spell, whether healing or attacking. But items are a key resource in Tokyo Mirage Sessions that are ideal for covering missing elements in your team as well as allowing you to preserve important skill slots. Let’s talk about the helpful applications of items in a few different contexts.
Offense is the area where I least rely on consumables in other games. If my attack isn’t a sword or a magic spell, is it really an attack? But bringing that perspective to Tokyo Mirage Sessions would be to ignore a truly useful tool. Each consumable weapon, just like your attack skills, has an elemental affinity, and just like your attack skills a consumable weapon that hits an enemy weak point will trigger a session. This allows characters to use these items in order to hit weak points that they normally cannot. Itsuki, for example, will never have a lance skill in his arsenal. So for enemies weak against lances, using a javelin item will allow him to still hit a weak point and start a session, letting his allies jump in to deal additional damage. You can also use consumable items to safely test for weaknesses on enemies you haven’t learned yet, saving your EP for when you know that the attack will be effective.
Healing consumables were more obviously useful to me, particularly those which covered skills that I didn’t have present on my team yet. Being able to pull off a group heal, however mild, when none of my party members had group healing was a tool that jumped out immediately as being helpful. What I would encourage you to think about with healing consumables is how they influence your skill choices. When an item that fully restores the HP of a single character is commonly available at a relatively low price, is there value in spending one of your limited skill slots on a healing spell? For me, I’ve been moving away from having single-target healing abilities on my characters, using those skill slots to either give me more elemental attacks to bring to bear or for group healing abilities (which are much harder to receive in item form). My strongest recommendation regarding healing consumables? Do not waste skill slots on spells which heal status conditions. Status restoring items are very easy to find in large quantities and spending an entire skill slot on a spell you may only use a couple times in a chapter is not the optimal use of your character’s abilities.
Consumables can also be used for status buff abilities like increasing the party’s attack or defense. Personally I tend not to use skills like this very often unless I have a lull in the battle where a character cannot hit an enemy weak point, but that doesn’t mean these abilities don’t have value. I learned the impact of stat buffs and debuffs when a powerful enemy used them against me to control the battle. Not being able to take out frustrating side opponents because my attack was lower put me at a serious disadvantage, and there is no worse feeling than a long session ending prematurely because someone (freakin’ Tsubasa) won’t hit their attacks while their accuracy is dropped. Having items to counteract these strategies or to get ahead of them by buffing yourself first can be a valuable strategy against boss enemies, so I do recommend keeping these sorts of items on hand too.
CHARACTER MANAGEMENT: BUILDING YOUR SKILLS
As you play through the first few chapters of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, you’ll be joined by a number of interesting characters who each bring different skillsets to the table. Mastering the basics of character building that apply to any of these characters will be valuable in maximizing your experience with Tokyo Mirage Sessions.
When a new character joins your team, using that character is going to be important for a few reasons. They’ll be starting out with overall fewer skills than the rest of your team as well as a lower stage rank. You’ll want to build up those abilities by having them in the party so they can catch up to the team. Now while in many instances these new characters will seem weaker than the rest of your party, this is balanced by the fact that new characters are often the best suited to the new areas you are dealing with in the dungeon after you receive them. If an archer joins your ranks, you can bet that many of the enemies in the upcoming area will be flyers vulnerable to bows. This makes it easier to get in practice with your new character and build their skills.
Early in the game, your characters will have lots of open skill slots and you’ll be able to accept everything that comes along. A time will come, though, when you run out of spots and you have to start deciding what kinds of skills to prioritize. Some replacements will feel obvious – a medium damage lightning attack will generally take the place of a light damage lightning attack, for example. In general, I recommend prioritizing abilities that will give you new opportunities to create sessions. If a skill you can add is a new element that the character doesn’t have in their repertoire yet, I highly recommend adding it. This may also take the form of attacks like Horseslayer or Armorslayer that session off of enemies of a certain type. The more ways that a character has to start a session so the rest of the team can jump in on the action, the more effective they are going to be in combat.
Of course, that just addresses how to build command skills. There are also session skills to worry about. Session skills have two elements – the kind of attack that activates the skill, and the kind of attack that the character executes against the target. Most characters will have two elements they can use when a session is activated; using Itsuki as an example, he can continue a session with either a sword attack or a lightning attack. They’ll have a wider variety of abilities that trigger their session skills, and this is where you want to be careful. Your instinct may be to have as many different triggers as possible, but this can lead to issues when your characters don’t have a variety of options during a session. For example, let’s say Touma can session off of an ice attack, but only with a fire attack. It’s pretty common for enemies who are weak to ice to be resistant to or even immune to fire. If the enemy totally blocks damage from fire attacks, the session will end prematurely and prevent other characters from jumping in. You want Touma to be able to follow up on ice attacks with lances and fire both so you avoid these types of situations. For this reason, the most effective strategy for a given character will be to choose three session triggers for them, and to be able to follow each of those triggers both with their weapon session and their element session. This will reduce the likelihood that you end up in situations where a particular character’s actions are ending your sessions prematurely.
These are all basic techniques that will help you to get the most out of Tokyo Mirage Sessions and its combat system. If you have any specific questions about the game that were not answered in this guide, feel free to leave them in the comments below and if I know the answer, I’ll do my best to lend a helping hand! Note that if you’re having trouble with savage enemies, I already have a post addressing that.