I know there are all sorts of walkthroughs already, so this is my disgustingly lengthy offering. The goal of this one is to earn every achievement possible in a single game without a re-spec. Not a bit of this is new information; it's merely a consolidation of what's already out there and helpful hints I've been given. It's not the best build or the greatest strategies, but it works. Hopefully, this will prove helpful, and if not, at least I had fun writing it.
I'm using the well-known Bio speed build with the excellent defensive abilities and infamous Withdrawal combo. As I mentioned, it's possible to have everything you need when you need it without once needing to re-spec your character. I'm sure this is the same for Psychological and Hydraulic builds as well, but I'll leave those to others for now.
First and foremost: When starting your game I suggest turning off the autosave option. Some enemies drop choice pieces of equipment and you may want to "cheat" and quit/reload after a fight to get them.
Attribute point distribution is simple; put every single point into Speed, the rest will take care of themselves. If you do choose to break the "no re-spec" rule, do it after the first fight and put the 19 extra attribute points into Vitality. It's not necessary, but will make the first two zones significantly easier.
Here we go.
ZONE 1: NEW ALCATRAZ - The Iron Prison
The only thing worth buying at the shop is the Metal Mask. In the early game, focus on items with good Strength and Vitality bonuses, as your Speed won't really come into play for a good while yet. In the majority of encounters you'll be playing defense while your teammates deal the damage, so hit points will be important for making you less of a target.
The encounters and your level when you reach them:
1: (Level 1) - Prison Guard
2: (Level 1) - Prison Guard (2)
3: (Level 2) - Brutal Convict, Agile Convict
4: (Level 3) - Brutal Convict, Cunning Convict, Agile Convict
5: (Level 4) - Doctor Leath, Prison Guard (2)
6: (Level 4) - Twisted Experiment
7: (Level 5) - The Warden
8: (Level 5) - Doctor Hedger, Frankie
9: (Level 6) - ZCPI Elite
10: (Level 6) - Felicity
Your first five abilities should be all four levels of Integrity and one level of Vicious Strike. After that, the progression goes as follows:
Level 2 - Break 1
Level 3 - Disrupt 1
Level 4 - Adrenaline 1
Level 5 - Anesthetic 1
Level 6 - Disrupt 2
The first tricky encounter is the Twisted Experiment, so load your action bar with two Adrenaline and at least one Disrupt. Get rid of poisoning as soon as it happens, and save a Disrupt for his Shadow Blend buff. Next up is the Warden, and after leveling you should have picked Anesthetic, so equip it twice also. Then it's just a matter of making sure the Warden never runs out of Anesthetic and Veradux never runs out of Adrenaline, and he'll go down easy enough that you may want to quit and reload to get the Persecution weapon.
The next two encounters (and many after this) will use much the same strategy: Anesthetic on the enemy, Adrenaline on Veradux, and Disrupt to drain the enemy's focus and kill any buffs. Save a Break for when he's Enraged, and that irritating ZPCI Elite will drop like a rock.
And now, Felicity: her weakness is Disrupt. For the first half of the fight she loves to cast Black Metal - an effect that makes healing virtually impossible - so going toe-to-toe with her is playing without a net. Equip Disrupt four times on your action bar and cast it every turn so she is constantly at zero focus. Veradux will be able to chip away at her while easily keeping up with any healing. Once she says "Don't start what you can't finish, boys" she stops casting Black Metal and you can go on the offensive. If she gets the upper hand, just drop back into repeated Disrupts until you've caught up again (you can, in fact, win the entire fight this way). Have patience and your reward will be...
ACHIEVEMENT! The Tape
ZONE 2: OBERURSEL - The Frozen Village
The item store is stocked with goodies you can't afford and are too low a level to use, so you can safely ignore it.
1: (Level 7) - Frost Zombie
2: Mock fight / Cut scene
3: (Level 8) - Frost Terror, Frost Zombie (2)
4: (Level 8) - Knight
5: (Level 9) - Knight, Priest
6: (Level 9) - Frost Lord
7: (Level 9) - Knight, Priest, Mage
8: (Level 10) - Knight, Mage (2)
9: (Level 10) - Cult Leader
10: (Level 11) - Baron Brixius
11: Cut scene
12: (Level 11) - ZPCI Elite, Armored Hound (2)
13: (Level 11) - Captain Hunt, ZPCI Sniper, ZPCI Medic
Level 7 - Slash 1
Level 8 - Corrosion 1
Level 9 - Endurance 1
Level 10 - Crystallize 1
Level 11 - Crystallize 2
The early battles are "just kill them" types. The first worth noting is the Knight and the Priest, since you'll be encountering them again. Priests stun themselves when out of focus, so Disrupt them down to nothing and do it again when the Re-Focusing effect is about to end.
In the Knight/Priest/Mage encounter, use this method to keep the Priest out of the fight while you kill him. Then go to work on the Knight saving the Mage for last. The Mage goes into an Energy Phase when close to death which fully heals him and doubles his damage, so it helps if you try to avoid him until you've already dealt with the other two and can gang up on him like a true sportsman.
The Knight/Mage/Mage battle will be the longest and most difficult so far. Fortunately, you are now level 10 and have the most useful tool in the Biological repertoire - Crystallize. You might as well pick a regular spot on your action bar, because very rarely will you be going into battle without it. Equip two of it, two Adrenaline, and a Break, and choose equipment that gives Roald a higher speed than you.
At the start of the fight, set Veradux to Defensive or Phalanx and cast Crystallize on the bottom Mage (your teammates tend to go for the upper one in the event of equal hit points). The overall pattern is Crystallize Mage #1, Adrenaline on Veradux, Crystallize Mage #1, Leading Strike Mage #2, Break Mage #2, then start over and Crystallize Mage #1 again. At the moment you want to be immobilizing the one that is not being dealt any damage. This puts him out of the fight while you chip away at the other and Veradux is able to keep up with the healing. The tricky part is the Mages' Energy Phase that undoes all your fine work, so this is where Roald's speed comes into play. When one Mage gets down to around 600hp, set Roald to Relentless and switch the target of your Crystallize pattern to the weaker one. The Mage will stand up, Roald will (hopefully) damage him, and you Crystallize him again before he gets a chance to act. Sometimes your teammates get a will of their own, so you might have to switch targets once or twice. When one Mage dies, keep using the same pattern on the second one, and after that the Knight should be no trouble at all.
The good news is Baron Brixius is the easiest fight in the game for a Biological. His main weapon is the infamous Tick Tock, but it requires focus and regaining it through his Deep Burning effect costs him a lot of health. So equip Disrupt four times, leave the rest of your action bar empty, and watch him tear himself apart. This fight is so simple you may wish to reload it until he drops the Unholy Runeblade. You can't use it quite yet but it will carry you clear through to the Mayor.
With your new second level of Crystallize, the ZPCI Elite and his hounds are also fairly easy. Keep a Break ready, Crystallize one of the Hounds while you kill the other, then Crystallize the ZCPI Elite while you kill the remaining hound. Note that this is the only place to get the X5C8-1 headwear if you want the full suit.
Captain Hunt and crew look tougher than they are. Equip two Crystallize, two Disrupt, Break, Adrenaline, and some damage dealing ability. The ZPCI Medic only heals himself and Hunt, so the Sniper is your first target. Keep Hunt Crystallized while you pound through the Sniper's shield, saving your Disrupts for his Lock And Load effect - even if you don't dispel them, there's not much he can do without focus. Once the Sniper is pushing up daisies, turn on the Medic who won't last long since his shield will probably be gone by now. Then you're free to deal with the Captain using whatever tactics you like. There's no way to stop him casting his Desperate Shield when he gets low on health, but the fight is already yours.
ZONE 3: IVORY LINE - The Train
The item shop has something immediately usable this time; the Light Mace and Ancient Shield are an excellent combination for Veradux, though you may want to save your scratch for the Lavastone Barrier later on. For a toxic build, the Poisoned Knife and Acidic Edge are weapons to use for the rest of the game, but alas won't do much good here.
1: (Level 12) - Spectre
2: (Level 12) - ZPCI Elite (2)
3: (Level 12) - Spectre (2)
4: (Level 13) - Phantom, Antagonist, Beast
5: (Level 13) - The Hobo
6: (Level 13) - The Real Hobo
7: (Level 14) - The Host
8: (Level 14) - Spectre (3)
9: (Level 14) - Clemons The Deceiver
Level 12 - Envenom 1
Level 13 - Infect 1
Level 14 - Withdrawal 1
After the Priests and Mages, the next two zones are a breath of fresh air. There's not much here that requires special tactics, although you should bring a lot of Adrenaline along when battling the first Hobo.
Pointless trivia for fashion enthusiasts: There exists a full Hobo suit, but it doesn't seem possible to acquire all of it in one game. Also, the Host doesn't appear to have a full suit, but his White Top Hat completes the Flower Zombie outfit from Zone 4.
Now for Clemons the Deceiver: To get the Black Magic achievement, you have to ditch your teammates and go it alone. Equip two Crystallize, two Disrupt, Withdrawal, Break, Leading Strike, and an attack ability (I suggest either Slash or Infect as Destroy is too spendy). There are three stages to this fight; first where he casts the Unknown Condition on you, which is Subversion; the second where he casts Collapse, a nasty damage-over-time effect; and the third where his true form is revealed, which is the same as the second stage except he's tougher. With a lot of patience you could defeat him with just Crystallize and Break, but there is a faster way.
Start by Crystallizing and Disrupting him until he has no focus left. Then you can begin hacking away, but under no circumstances use Withdrawal yet. The Unknown Condition actually makes for a great healing buff; when you find yourself getting low on health, cast Disrupt. Clemons has his own Leading Strike ability, so he'll attack and heal you for 500-600 points.
After taking around 4000-5000 damage, Clemons will switch tactics to Collapse and Shadow State, so now you can use your Withdrawal freely. It doesn't do much damage yet, but it shoots your regeneration into the stratosphere; more than enough to battle the Collapse effect. Disrupt his buffs, Crystallize him if you need a breather, and use Withdrawal whenever it's available. When he takes his True Form, don't change tactics. He'll hit a little harder, but nothing your Withdrawal-boosted regeneration can't overcome, and he suffers twice as much damage. Once you've gotten to this point, the Deceiver is not long for this world.
ACHIEVEMENT! Black Magic
ZONE 4: LABYRINTH - Tunnel of Illusions
The first thing to do is recruit your teammates again and they have a nasty tendency to switch positions, which means I often don't realize I've set Roald to Phalanx and Veradux to Relentless.
Once again the shop is full of stuff you can't use yet, but you'll probably want to come back later for the Lavastone Barrier which is a beautiful thing for anyone with a free hand. The Ember Rifle is tantalizing, but by the time you've reached the required level you'll likely have found something better.
1: (Level 15) - Tunnel Beast
2: (Level 15) - Vivian Vixen
3: (Level 15) - Gregor
4: (Level 16) - Shunny
5: (Level 16) - The Magical Monkey
6: (Level 16) - Mokoshotar
7: (Level 17) - Bunny
8: (Level 17) - Flower Zombie
9: (Level 17) - The Hydra
10: Cut scene
Level 15 - Withdrawal 2
Level 16 - Withdrawal 3
Level 17 - Withdrawal 4
Now you're moving (slightly) out of the pure defensive role. Shadow Blend and Toxicant Form are tempting; each level of Shadow Blend is a two-turn 60-70% bonus to Withdrawal, Vicious Strike, and Slash not counting the increased chance of critical hits, and Toxicant Form gives both a damage and regeneration boost. The problem is you'll be spending a lot of time sneaking attacks in between defensive abilities and usually won't have the time to transform. I prefer to max out Withdrawal as it's both a strong burst weapon and a healing booster.
Many of the encounters in this zone are gimmick fights. To kill Vivian Vixen quickly, keep her Crystallized until her high defense human form counts down to nothing, then set everyone to Relentless and unload your strongest attacks when she stands up. Chances are good you'll kill her in the first turn before she can take on her fox form. Gregor casts an annoying healing buff called Roach Vitality, so equip Disrupt four times and keep him either unconscious or at zero focus while your teammates attack him. To make the Bunny much less dangerous, Crystallize him between Holy Hand Grenade explosions.
The Pacifist achievement isn't difficult so much as time consuming as you have to rely on your teammates to do all the damage. Damage-over-time works too, but your capabilities with that are negligible. Equip two Crystallize, two Adrenaline, and four Disrupt. Keep one of the Fire Claws Crystallized and Veradux full of Adrenaline while your teammates kill the other one. Then Crystallize the Hydra while they take out the remaining Claw. For the Hydra itself, Disrupt is almost as good as Break - cast it every turn and he will rarely get an attack in, instead spending all his time regaining focus while your teammates pound away. Once again patience is a virtue, and if luck is on your side the Hydra will drop Emerald Death.
The final encounter is a cut scene with tunnel workers. Keep the gear they give you, as it will prove invaluable in several of the difficult battles to come. Visiting the item shop now that you can use what they're selling can also make your unlife a lot easier.
ZONE 5: HEW - The Dystopia
1: (Level 18) - Riot Police
2: (Level 18) - Riot Police, Blood Hound
3: (Level 18) - Secret Police (2)
4: (Level 19) - Police Colonel
5: Cut scene
6: (Level 19) - Care Taker, Blood Hound (2)
7: (Level 19) - Android Guard, Riot Police (2)
8: (Level 20) - Specialist, Android Guard (2)
9: Cut Scene
10: (Level 20) - City Council
11: (Level 21) - Secret Police, Android Guard, Specialist
12: (Level 21) - Specialist, Blood Hounds (2)
13: (Level 21) - Secret Police, Android Guard (2)
14: (Level 21) - The Mayor
Level 18 - Crystallize 3
Level 19 - Toxicant Form 1
Level 20 - Sharp Senses 1
Level 21 - Shadow Blend 1
It's actually optional how to progress once you have the third level of Crystallize. Toxicant Form and Shadow Blend are the abilities that give you devastating burst power, but you'll still be playing such heavy defense that your chances to use them will be few.
You can't use anything in the item shop yet. In fact the minimum level requirement of any item in this zone is 21 and the best equipment is 22 or 23, meaning nobody but Felicity can use it until you've already beaten the Mayor. Programmers are mean sometimes. Fortunately, the first few encounters aren't terribly difficult. As a rule, equip the Mining Helmets and anything else you have that boosts physical defense and/or Vitality if you're about to face Hounds.
The Police Colonel can be tricky. Crystallize him when his Guns Blazing effect is active (he turns orange) and save your strongest attacks for when he's Reloading (blue). You have to be a little careful because both effects can come up at the same time and his color won't change to clue you in. You don't want him able to move when Guns Blazing is active unless you're positive you can kill him with one shot.
Following this encounter, you get access to Felicity. With any other build I favor her over Roald as she has better defensive abilities and is able to deliver devastating critical hits. The problem is keeping her alive at this point without neutering her skills. For now I tend to stick with Roald since he can take more punches before he needs bailing out. But both have their strong points, and you can always switch teammates for a specific encounter.
The Care Taker and the Blood Hounds are the point where things start getting seriously hard. Crystallize one hound while you kill the other, then take down the Care Taker and the remaining hound won't be too much trouble without his buffs. If the dogs insist on chewing you up even with the Mining Helmets, a trip back to the Zone 4 item shop for the Lavastone Barrier should do the trick.
The Android Guards make like the earlier Priests and stun themselves when out of focus; a few well-placed Disrupts will put them out of the fight.
The battle with the City Council is a tough one. Not only do they have annoying shields, when one dies the other enters a State Of Emergency that turns him into an instant death machine. So deal with them the same way you did the Mages in Zone 2. Get Roald's speed higher than yours, Crystallize one of them and pound on the other, keeping Veradux full of Adrenaline. When you beat through his shield, switch targets and kill the other one. Now it's a matter of stun locking the remaining Council member with Roald sneaking in attacks between Breaks and Crystallizes.
In the next fight, the Specialist casts the ugliest de-buffs and the Android Guard hits the hardest. Crystallize the Specialist, Disrupt the Android until he goes into his Re-Focusing coma, and take out the Secret Police. Then kill the Android and you can gang up on the Specialist.
The Specialist and Blood Hounds is a hard fight. You'll have to suck up one of the Hound's attacks as you kill the Specialist, because if someone gets low on health and hit with the Black Metal effect, you can write them off. It's very unlikely you would be able to survive both Hounds attacking at once. Expect to reload this one a few times, but thankfully the next battle versus Androids and Secret Police is much easier. Stick to the established strategies and you'll wipe the floor with them.
At only level 21, the Mayor requires some luck. One Crystallize and a Break should suffice, and load up on Disrupt as your main duty will be keeping an eye on the Guardian Cannon's focus. Once it hits 30-40 it will unleash devastating attacks that can kill you in a single blast. This is a point where having lower hit points than the rest of your party can help, as a Withdrawal will have you regenerating like a madman while you keep the Cannon's focus down and your teammates chip away at it. The Mayor doesn't do much direct damage until he's Enraged, but he can still cast a pile of nasty effects, the worst being Team Sacrifice which immobilizes you for eight turns, although it does give you a 300% health boost. When the Guardian Cannon is destroyed with your whole party still alive, the fight is essentially won unless you get unlucky. When the Mayor throws a particularly ugly effect on someone, Crystallize and Break him until it expires, and if all else fails you can always fall back on the stun lock and eventually he'll drop. And by all means, feel free to give yourself a high five.
Whew. Now you're free to wander around, re-fight bosses, train, and gather equipment. If the Mayor didn't drop Death Sentence, go back and get it as it will be your weapon for the rest of the game and is also excellent for Felicity. The Hydra is easy pickings by now, so going after Emerald Death could also be worth the time, although it's a bit of a rare drop. Get everyone to level 30 before tackling Zone 6.
Ability progression from here is:
The remaining three levels of Shadow Blend
One level of Savagery
All three levels of Agile Exposure
This gives you everything you need to earn the rest of the achievements without a single re-spec.
ZONE 6: IL SANCTUS - The Supreme Court
1: Metal Warden
2: Time Bomb
To get the Jail Break achievement you have to defeat the Metal Warden with only one other team member. This is the easiest achievement so far and it doesn't matter who you bring with you as you now have the notorious Withdrawal combo.
The abilities to use in order:
Depending on your equipment, you should have Strength and Speed in the 350-400 range. Toxicant Form grants a 40% damage boost, Agile Exposure 100%, and Shadow Blend quintuples your speed. Going in the order above results in a 25,000-point Withdrawal hit, and the Crystallize leaves him helpless while you set it up. You almost have to feel sorry for the guy. If you're an overkill sort of person, you can insert Corrosion into the mix after Crystallize for another 20% bonus, but most of the enemies after this are ones that you don't want to give that extra turn to act.
ACHIEVEMENT! Jail Break
If you haven't turned off the autosave option, do it now as bad luck can cost you the Doomsday achievement. Take Roald and give him the Platinum Baton you got from the Metal Warden and whatever else you have that grants the highest Strength boost. I like to take Felicity for this one, but Veradux works well too. To defeat the Time Bomb use the Withdrawal combo just as in the last battle. Inserting Corrosion helps quite a bit. In between Withdrawals, use Agile Exposure to keep the 100% damage bonus active.
To get the next achievement you have to fight Nostalgia alone. Use items that grant you the greatest Speed bonus, and equip the following abilities:
When under 30,000 health, Nostalgia casts the Earth Titan effect that renders him virtually immune to damage. The Withdrawal combo will only do 1200-1500 damage when this is active, so you want to do as much damage to him as you can before he casts it. First use Shadow Blend, then hit him with Agile Exposure, Vicious Strike, and Break. This should knock him down to close to 30,000 health but not quite below it. You'll take a lot of damage during this time, but you're about to regenerate it all back. Now Crystallize him and start the combo. The Agile Exposure will bounce off the Crystallize, but the 100% damage bonus will still take effect, and the Withdrawal will hit for around 25,000. He'll cast Earth Titan at this point, so it'll be a slog from here, but he should only have about 5,000 health left. Crystallize him again, wait for it to wear off, use Break, Crystallize a second time, and restart the combo. Repeat. He'll heal himself for 500-750 health each time, about half the damage Withdrawal will deal. Keep it up and you'll overcome.
ACHIEVEMENT! Old Ghosts
I don't even have to say how to kill the Judge. Withdrawal might not kill her in one shot, but it will come close enough that a Leading Strike or two will finish her off. There's virtually no way to lose this battle.
ZONE 7: SHO'TUL SHELF - The Divided Cliff
1: Doctor Klima
2: North Guardian, South Guardian
4: Versu the Corruptor
The suits in the shop are essentially custom crafted for your teammates. Have at them if you so desire, but what you've picked up from Zone 6 should carry you through just fine.
In homage to Sonny 1, Doctor Klima can only be defeated with Subversion. Fortunately, he runs on a strict pattern that makes this encounter quite simple; he will heal himself on the third turn and every fifth turn afterward. All you need is Crystallize, Break, Subversion, and maybe some Adrenaline should you get poisoned. You should also take Felicity instead of Roald, because if he stuns the Doctor at the wrong time it throws the pattern off.
Attack him twice, and on the third turn cast Subversion. He'll heal/damage himself. Cast Crystallize, wait for it to wear off, use Break, and cast Subversion again. Keep up this pattern and he'll kill himself on the fourth Subversion or so. Your reward is the best gear for Veradux.
The Withdrawal combo will take care of the North and South Guardians, you just have to be a little careful because when one dies the other starts laying waste to everything in sight. The North Guardian is the healer, so use the combo on him while you keep the South Guardian Crystallized. It won't kill him, but it will knock him down a long way. Now switch targets and when the combo is ready to go again, use it on the South Guardian. The idea is to get both of them near death before killing the North one so other doesn't have time to destroy your party. It's still very possible at least one your teammates will die, so try to have higher hit points than anyone else to make yourself the least likely target.
For Yosuke, equip Veradux with the Blast Shield you got in Zone 6, and yourself and your other teammate with the suits the Guardians dropped. Equip the combo elements and one Disrupt. Throw the Disrupt at him first, as his attacks scale with his focus. Then Crystallize him and use the combo. It will likely kill him the first time, but if it doesn't his lowered focus and the Guardian suits will prevent him from killing any of your party.
With this build, Versu the Corruptor is a little anticlimactic. You don't even really have to kill the orbs; it's quite possible to take out Versu first.
ACHIEVEMENT! Over The Ashes
Well, that's it, and I hope this monstrosity proves useful. I'd like to offer my deepest thanks to everyone involved for creating such a fantastic game that's eaten up so much of my life. My girlfriend hates you.