Ophilia managed to make her way through the initial set of Chapter 1 stories without running into any truly difficult situations. Although her offensive output was modest at best, Ophilia's healing abilities and use of friendly summoned allies made her a surprisingly tough customer to defeat. I resumed her travels by searching for a series of equipment upgrades while venturing to more of the towns out in the second ring. With Therion now in tow, Ophilia was able to Steal the Oasis Hat from the Impresario camped outside of Noblecourt for a major upgrade in the helmet slot. Then it was off to Victor's Hollow but not before stopping to pick up some help ahead of time:
Ophilia's Guide ability was limited at this point in time to NPCs with a star rating of 6 or less. However, one of the perks that can be picked up using Cyrus' Scrutinze ability is "Guide with Ease" which lets Ophilia bring along townspeople at one higher star level than normal. It only works in that particular town though and the four places where "Guide with Ease" can be acquired are Atlasdam, Saintsbridge, Goldshore, and Stonegard. As a result, these were the towns that I'd be focusing on when it came to Ophilia's recruitment efforts. This particular NPC was a Guard with the Pointed Shot ability, an attack that pincushioned all monsters on the screen with arrows. This Guard was extremely useful while making the short walk out to Victor's Hollow since most of the forest critters had a weakness to bows. Although the Guard would also break out a less useful melee attack much of the time, Ophilia had no trouble making her way to the second ring town in the Woodlands.
Victor's Hollow is another one of those towns that my characters always end up visiting at an early date since it has useful gear available. The big ticket item for Ophilia was the Robe of the Flame with its massive +317 elemental defense, the highest value in the entire game. Since elemental defense is the stat that increases the strength of healing abilities, this meant that her defensive spellcasting saw a major jump in power. The Robe of the Flame even had +56 to max SP which helped fuel Ophilia's spellcasting habit. Afterwards I sent Ophilia all the way out to Goldshore by way of passing through Stonegard, there to Purchase an upgraded weapon in the form of the Wizard's Rod:
This was a giant upgrade over the Mage's Staff with almost exactly 200 more points of elemental attack. Ophilia was leaping up from roughly 300 to 500 elemental attack, nearly doubling her offensive power. This town also held the Protective Bracelet with its +50 to physical and elemental defense which has also long been a staple of my solo games. For the other accessory slot I would normally add something that granted additional max HP, and indeed up to this point in time I had been running the pictured Empowering Bracelet for +500 HP. However, Ophilia had amassed enough job points to unlock the Revive skill, and while this was completely useless for a solo variant, as the seventh Cleric ability to be learned it also unlocked Ophilia's final support skill. Her class has a real doozy of a support skill in the form of Saving Grace:
This passive skill lets Ophilia "overheal" herself by going above her maximum health limit. This is a fantastic ability in a normal party and it's even better when running a solo character. There was no particular need for Ophilia to stack additional max HP since she could easily shoot herself far above the normal stopping point in battle, such as reaching the pictured 5500 health at a time when her max HP was less than half that amount. Now there are some limits to this support skill, such as the fact that it only works if Ophilia is below max health. If she heals herself with a full lifebar then absolutely nothing happens. Similarly, if she's above her max HP total (with that pictured green health) then she cannot heal herself at all; the overhealing only works when Ophilia has "white" health displayed. And it's also not the case that using a Refreshing Jam will instantly set Ophilia to 9999 max health since these items restore HP equal to your character's max health total. If Ophilia was sitting at 2000/2500 HP she would get +2500 HP back from a Refreshing Jam and find herself at 4500/2500 HP afterwards.
But even with these limitations in mind, Saving Grace is downright amazing and offsets the biggest weakness of the Cleric job in the form of its low HP growth. The Scholar job has excellent offensive output but gets held back by the terribly low health total on Cyrus. Although Ophilia has only marginally better HP growth, she gets to ignore this problem completely by overhealing well above her max HP total - sucks to be you, Cyrus! I captured an image showing Ophilia investing max boost points into the Heal More skill for that massive surge of healing. After some experimentation I found that this was an inefficient decision; Heal More has severely diminishing returns with additional boost points invested (each additional boost point only has a third of the value of the first non-boosted point) and it wasn't worth wasting BP in that fashion. An unboosted casting of Heal More worked just fine (4000/2000 HP was plenty and I didn't need to boost up to 5000/2000 HP), and of course there would always be the option of using Refreshing/Revitalizing Jams for even more healing recovery from items. Long story short, the use of this support skill would be a foundational cornerstone for the rest of Ophilia's journey.
Anyway, after traveling to several towns in the second ring to upgrade Ophilia's equipment, I also took the time to run the various optional side dungeons located along the way. Most of these areas lack boss fights and are useful to visit only because they're connected to the stat-boosting nuts in some fashion, either with side quest rewards or with hidden nuts in treasure chests. Amongst the bosses that were present, the Monarch butterfly in Twin Falls had a weakness to bows that the same Guard highlighted earlier was able to exploit. Heavenwing had nowhere near enough damage to get through the 5500 health of overhealing that Ophilia had set up using her passive. I had brought along another Guard NPC that was boosting Ophilia's defenses and it was kind of sad how the monster couldn't get through all of that health. The Throne Guardian in the Hollow Throne was a bit more interesting in the sense that it let me test out Ophilia's Reflective Veil skill. This functions like the Wall or Reflect skill from past Final Fantasy games, bouncing an incoming negative spell back at the caster. At max boost Ophilia could reflect four spells back at her attacker which would then deal reflected damage as pictured above. Between her overhealing, spell protection, and Summoned NPCs who would tank a good portion of incoming physical attacks, Ophilia was a surprisingly sturdy character. Most fights were handled in complete safety without her life ever falling into the danger zone.
With all of the various side areas out of the way, it was time to begin with the Chapter 2 stories:
Ophilia started in Goldshore where Vanessa Hysel is the boss at the end of the story sequence. Vanessa has low damage output and I figured that this would make her an easy opponent for Ophilia; with ample healing power on hand there was little chance that Ophilia would be threatened. I had recruited another 7 star NPC ahead of time using Ophilia's Guide ability, this time the "Old Man" that could be found in Saintsbridge, and this guy put on an explosive display by repeatedly using the dark element spell Tenebrae Operire. This is one of the Sorcerer's abilities that hits three separate times and it filled the whole screen with malevolent dark energy. I picked this NPC because Vanessa had a weakness to dark element, and although it was blocked out for most of the fight by her minions, 600 damage hitting three times consecutively against everything on screen was pretty powerful for this stage of the game. Ophilia herself had overhealed up to 5000 HP and I don't think she ever dropped below her official max HP total. I had expected this to be an easy fight and my assumptions held true.
I sent Ophilia to the town of Quarrycrest next in order to knock out both of the Chapter 2 stories located there. I opted to start with Cyrus' Chapter 2 story and the sewers underground the town were a fun place for Ophilia since just about everything was weak against light element. Her holy magic was getting that lovely 30% damage bonus and a max boosted Luminescence cleaned out each random encounter in one fell swoop. When it came to the boss at the end, Gideon and his two skeleton minions were also weak against light element. I was able to wipe the skeletons pretty quickly by casting Luminescence repeatedly whenever Ophilia didn't need to worry about overhealing herself. She brought along one of the 7 star Guards from Atlasdam who was also smacking the monsters with some multi-targeted damage to speed things along. This can be a dangerous battle with the skeleton minions inflicting terror and darkness statuses but fortunately Ophilia knocked them out quickly enough that it didn't become an issue. Holy magic triumphed over dark magic and Gideon went down to defeat.
The other Chapter 2 story in Quarrycrest belongs to Tressa and sends the party into Morlock?s Manse to stop the predations of a ruthless businessman. Random encounters generally don't cause too much of a problem in Octopath Traveler but I included a screenshot here to highlight some of the tactics that Ophilia was employing. My standard operating procedure was casting Luminescence at max boost to deal as much damage as possible to the monsters. This would usually kill everything on screen at this stage of the game or weaken them enough to be able to finish things with a few auto attacks. In the pictured battle above, Ophilia has two boost points saved up and is acting at the end of a turn. By using the Defend command, I could move her to the front of the turn order for the following turn and hit everything with a max boosted casting of Luminescence. If I waited for her turn in the normal order, those War Dog monsters will act first and almost certainly inflict terror status with their Horrible Claw move, locking out the chance to use boost points. Instead Ophilia wiped out the whole enemy mob with her next spellcast. Taking a small amount of time to pay attention to the turn order often sped up these battles significantly.
Omar was the boss waiting at the end of the mansion and he can be one of the toughest Chapter 2 bosses. Omar brings in two mercenary minions (which he'll re-summon if they're defeated) and buffs them up with additional physical attack and defense via his "Money and Morale Are High" ability. Solo characters are generally sitting around 2000-2500 max HP at this stage in the game and they can take a real pounding if Omar and his minions are smacking away at them while buffed. This wasn't much of an issue for Ophilia, however, as she could overheal herself into a completely safe zone on health and Summon one of her friends from town to tank some of those incoming attacks. I managed to capture this in an image above where the poor NPC took Omar's big chargeup attack right to the face. Better him than Ophilia, heh. The NPC in question this time was another one of the Guards from Atlasdam, this time bringing the "Defensive Posture" ability. Whenever the Guard broke out this move it would increase Ophilia's physical and elemental defense for the next 4 turns. She spent most of the battle with these buffs in effect and that cut down on the damage that Ophilia did take significantly. I don't believe that Omar ever managed to get through the initial overheal's HP and since he was also weak to light element that meant easy breaking power and a lot of extra damage. Another obstacle rather easily overcome.
I realized at this point that Ophilia had enough job points saved up to learn her eighth and final Divine skill in the Cleric job. (This was a case of me falling asleep at the wheel: the final skill only cost 5000 job points and I had over 11,000 of them saved up.) The Cleric's Divine skill is named Aelfric's Auspices and it's a very powerful if somewhat tricky skill to use:
Aelfric's Auspices causes the abilities of the target to be performed twice. Unfortunately it doesn't affect Divine skills but it does work on everything else and this can lead to some seriously abusive stuff when employed in a full party. For Ophilia's solo game, the options were a bit more limited while still having lots and lots of utility. She would get three additional turns to make use of the buff after casting the Divine skill (technically it lasted for four turns thanks to Ophilia's Persistence support skill but the first turn was lost in the casting) and that was enough time to cast several additional spells. This could be multiple casts of Holy Light/Luminescence for shield-breaking or raw damage, or Ophilia could apply extra stacks of Reflective Veil, or even get off a double heal in a real pinch. I had the most success casting Aelfric's Auspices with a completely full boost meter (all five points), then waiting a turn, then casting something with the maximum three points invested on the following turn. A double Holy Light against a broken target could do a lot of damage under those conditions. I think my favorite synergy was with the Reflective Veil spell, however: lined up correctly this meant 4 * 2 = 8 reflected spells. Ophilia could get through entire boss fights without using up eight reflected spells - and if it was needed, she could do the same thing again! The Cleric Divine skill opened up a lot of opportunities for creative ability usage that I hoped to leverage moving forward.
As for Rufus, the boss pictured above, he was even easier than the last few opponents that Ophilia had faced. The big threat in this fight comes from a stunning attack and Ophilia already had a Conscious Stone from Morlock?s Manse which blocked that particular status condition. Rufus only gets one action per turn and although he will summon his own minions halfway through the battle they aren't as dangerous as the footmen hired by Omar. I had brought the Old Man NPC from Saintsbridge for this battle once again and the old fellow's alternate lightning spell was wrecking havoc on Rufus. Even the melee staff attack from the Old Man was hitting a boss weakness when it popped up. Anyway, this was easy stuff and the lack of danger should be evident from the way in which I was using the boss fight to test out the capabilities of Aelfric's Auspices.
Ophilia's Divine skill could also be used offensively instead of defensively. In this battle against Orlick, I had taken the time to overheal Ophilia well above her nominal HP total and used an initial casting of Aelfric's Auspices to stack up a double shot of Reflective Veil for eight reflected spells. Once those protections were in place, however, there was no reason not to deal as much damage as possible. Her summoned Guard NPC (a different one from before despite the same name) had been using a "Thrash" spear attack to knock out Orlick's minions and the boss himself was weak against light element. Ophilia set things up here to land a double casting of Holy Light while Orlick was broken for 5000 * 2 = 10k damage overall. While she was never going to be a true offensive powerhouse as compared to some of the other classes, that was still more than respectable damage and helped to power through the remainder of this encounter.
I took the time to venture into the Quicksand Cave outside of Wellspring to pick up a Calming Stone which would block the terror status condition used in several of the Victor's Hollow boss fights. This is the only story sequence that doesn't contain an attached dungeon, only a series of bosses one after another, and I kept forgetting to quick travel back to some of the other towns to Guide another NPC. Each one had a limited number of uses and they would run out if I tried to do multiple boss fights with the same individual. Anyway, I equipped the Calming Stone for the final boss fight against Gustav only to have this pop up:
Whoops, I had forgotten that the Shield Wielder minions can pull out a stunning attack after they fall below 50% health and Ophilia didn't have any protection against unconsciousness. She had brought the Old Man NPC from Saintsbridge once again with his multitargeted spells and the two minions took enough damage to drop them below half HP where they could start using their only dangerous move. I'd like to say that I came up with a clever move to get around this problem but the truth is that Ophilia had enough health from her overhealing that she simply tanked through the rounds of being stunned. (If this hasn't worked, I could have tried the battle again and equipped a Conscious Stone accessory.) Once the minions were gone, it took quite a while to wear down Gustav's 40k health. He lacked any weaknesses for Ophilia to exploit and the charges on her summoned ally had run out by this point. That's not to say there was any danger though, not with Ophilia sitting above her max HP total of 2500 at all times and with the terror status from Gustav's Black Blade prevented. The fight just dragged out for some time as Ophilia hit for 2000 damage at a time with her Holy Light spells. Gustav would never, ever kill her and eventually this ended with the expected victory.
With most of the Chaper 2 stories completed at this point, I headed off to Saintsbridge so that I could experience Ophilia's own tale. I always take the time to watch through the story sequences for my solo character of the moment and it had been some time since I watched as opposed to skipped Ophilia's story. This is one of the least interesting of the main story chapters even if it does fit thematically with Ophilia's character. She arrives in Saintsbridge to a warm welcome (seriously, absolutely no one is upset about Ophilia's "grave sin" of undertaking the Kindling without permission! it's wild!) and the local archbishop lets Ophilia complete the kindling ritual in the Saintsbridge cathedral immediately. That was... unexpectedly easy. Then the plot moves on to the real focus of this chapter: the playground interactions of a group of children.
No, really, that's what the rest of this chapter is about, this group of kids and their relationships with one another. To summarize, the dark-haired kid Emil accidentally lost the brooch belonging to Derryl and the other children are being mean to him as a result. Of course there's more going on here; the brooch belonged to Derryl's recently deceased mother and he's taking his anger and sadness out on poor Emil. Ophilia tries to play peacemaker and spends some time getting Derryl to think about what he's really upset about. This line of dialogue is more or less the main theme of this story interlude. Now I understand what the writers were going for here, with Ophilia's interest in helping these kids being true to her gentle nature, and with Derryl's grief over his lost mother mirroring Ophilia's own history as an orphan. Thematically this all makes sense but sheesh is this ever a boring chapter! The stakes could not be lower, at least not until Emil runs off into the woods like a moron chasing after the lost brooch and Derryl races after him. Ophilia ends up having to go save these idiotic children from the dangers of the
Forbidden Forest Murkwood. (There are so many interesting things that the writers could have done with the whole concept of this unsanctioned Kindling quest and *THIS* was the story that they chose to tell instead? Still feels like a wasted opportunity to me.)
There's a boss to fight in the woods of course in the form of the Hrˇvitnir. This can be one of the tougher Chapter 2 opponents since the creature will buff its own physical attack while debuffing the party. I brought the same Guard NPC who carried the Defensive Posture stance and that ensured that Ophilia's physical and elemental defenses were empowered throughout the battle. In fact, the Guard was apparently in love with the Defensive Posture ability and kept using it over and over again, wasting much of the benefit since it couldn't last for longer than 9 turns. (One of the downsides to the summons is the fact that you can't control which of their actions they'll chose to use each turn.) I prepared a Reflective Veil shield but didn't expect the beast to use anything magical in nature and it never came into play. As for the physical attacks of the Hrˇvitnir, a good portion of them were absorbed by Ophilia's summoned ally and the ones that weren't bounced off her for 100-200 damage. That was less than scary given her overhealed HP total and powerful healing abilities. Once again this was another routine boss fight.
The only remaining Chapter 2 story was H'annit's tale located in Stonegard. I almost always leave this one for last since it's noticeably tougher than the other character stories, both in terms of the boss at the end as well as the random encounters on the path there. I even gave Ophilia an Articulate Stone to block silence status since so many of the monsters in the Spectrewood have silencing abilities. For the Lord of the Forest boss at the end, I kept that Articulate Stone equipped and added a Conscious Stone to prevent stunning. This time Ophilia had brought along a new Summon, a Cleric from Stonegard who Ophilia could only Guide thanks to "Guide with Ease" being present in the town. I hadn't looked at the Cleric's abilities ahead of time but he had an 8 star rating so they had to be good, right?
What the heck was this garbage?! As it turned out, the Cleric NPC had two abilities. The pictured Focused Spirit restored 50 SP to the whole party, less than useful for a solo character like Ophilia who could easily consume an Inspiriting Plum if she needed more SP. The Cleric's other ability was named Gentle Cradle and it recovered 1500 HP to the whole party. That would be pretty awesome for a non-variant game but it was terrible for Ophilia who had more than ample healing available. Argh, this was about the worst possible NPC to bring! That's what I deserved for not checking the actual abilities of this guy and looking only at his star rating. It was going to be up to Ophilia alone to handle this confrontation and fortunately she was more than up to the task. I used Aelfric's Auspices to put up eight blocked spells via Reflective Veil and was subsequently treated to this impressive screenshot:
That was the big chargeup attack from the boss hitting and bouncing off Ophilia's reflective barrier. This wasn't truly necessary since the spell would have inflicted roughly 400-500 damage and Ophilia could have easily healed that away but the image certainly looked cool. This was another battle that took a long time since the Lord of the Forest kept consuming its minions with the "Circle of Life" ability and healing back 5000 HP at a time. The Lord of the Forest also had a light element weakness in the first half of the fight only to drop it after falling below half health. Ophilia spent long minutes on end healing herself and casting Holy Light spells at the boss. This was a classic case of the monster regen issue from Diablo: the Lord of the Forest couldn't do enough damage to punch through Ophilia's healing so the boss was inevitably doomed to lose in time. The creature could have had 400,000 HP instead of 40,000 HP and the result would have been the same.
The end of H'aanit's story put a wrap on the Chapter 2 collection of tales. The high point from these dungeon sequences had been unlocking Ophilia's Saving Grace support ability along with her Divine skill and getting a chance to put them into action for the first time. I felt that Ophilia had become much stronger as a result of gaining these abilities. She wouldn't be unlocking anything else for the rest of the game, however, and further increases in power would have to come from levels, equipment, and the stat-boosting nuts. Would things start to get more challenging against her next set of opponents? It was on to the Chapter 3 stories.