Ecstatica is a comparably hard and complex game. Only a few moments in the hero will become the prey of the monsters haunting Tirich and probably die over and over. This guide aims to provide some general tips that will increase the chances of survival.
For a detailed guide explaining how to finish the game please view the Ecstatica Walkthrough.
Basic Game Mechanics Edit
Below is a description of the basic game mechanics of Ecstatica that all sensible tactics are a direct result of. They can be learned easily from simply playing and observing the game but it may be helpful to know them in advance.
Movement Modes Edit
The hero has three different modes: Sneaking, Walking and Running, selected with the F-keys. The default mode is walking but it serves no purpose at all. It is neither stealthy nor quick. Sneaking may seem sensible at first but there are very few situations in the game where it has any purpose and even then it is not mandatory or even recommended. The running mode is obviously the fastest movement mode and the one that should be kept active at all times.
Combat Moves Edit
There are three basic combat moves in Ecstatica: an upper cut, a swing attack and a block. Both attacks seem to deal the same amount of damage but the swing attack covers a wider area and has longer range. The upper cut on the other hand is faster. The block obviously allows to avoid taking damage.
Unlike most action games from the 90's Ecstatica neither displays a health bar nor does it feature any healing items scattered around the game world. The hero's health is solely indicated by his body language and the speed of his movement and it automatically regenerates over time. The same is true for the enemies.
The World is Persistent Edit
There is a fixed amount of human characters and monsters inhabiting Tirich and its surroundings who will either remain in the same location or reappear in different locations over the course of the game. Their death is completely permanent, however, and a monster will remain dead for the remainder of the game. Killing a monster will also keep it from ambushing the player or initiating any other scripted sequences (excluding the game over sequences where certain monsters will appear even if they were killed earlier). Also human characters will stay dead if killed.
Also anything else in the game world is persistent and many changes permanent. Corpses will remain in the same spot for the rest of the game and items won't move unless the player picks them up and relocates them.
The World is Open Edit
Ecstatica entirely takes place in a single open world. Any spot can be revisited at any point in the game (with one exception where the location becomes available again towards the end of the game) and also throughout the game the player character is never really locked up in a certain location.
Saving and Loading Edit
Ecstatica allows to save the game at any point through the main menu opened by pressing the Escape key, even during cutscenes. Saving is completely unlimited and ten slots are available.
Survival Tactics Edit
Below is a list of some common tactics that should help the player keeping the hero alive.
Basic combat rules Edit
As mentioned above there are three basic melee combat actions: the upper cut, the swing and the block. All three moves are essential and it is important to learn which should be used depending on the enemy faced. The swing attack, covering a wider area and having larger range, is generally easier to use and is useful against comparably slow or immobile enemies who can thus often be hit from a relatively safe distance. It also allows to hit an enemy without fully adjusting the hero's orientaton. The upper cut, however, is a slightly faster attack and has to be used against enemies with a high attack frequency, it does require more precision, however. Also the block is essential since it allows avoiding taking damage more quickly and precisely than moving backwards and even when there is no room for maneuvering. It will even interrupt punches. Ultimately the key to defeating most enemies is to get into a certain rhythm depending on the exact enemy type. Using blocks and attacks repeatedly may allow to get into a loop where no damage is taken but the enemy keeps constantly losing health. Some enemies will start backing off after a while, however, and finishing them off may turn out to be hard as they will try to hit the hero as he is trying to get them into range again. The swing attack is generally easier to use in such situation and it is usually a good idea to try to get an enemy turn his back to a wall and get him cornered, which will make finishing him off much easier.
Get a weapon Edit
There are several weapons to be found in the game. It is highly recommended to get one as quickly as possible as they not only deal more damage than punches but also add a lot of range, making it much easier to hit enemies and fight them from a safe distance. Three weapons can be instantly obtained in the village right after starting the game: the dagger, the sword and the mace. The weapon most easily obtained is the sword which can be found at the blacksmith's shop at the far end of the village. The mace can be found at the tavern but going for it will release a wyvern.
Pick your battles Edit
While most action games force the player to kill enemies as soon as they are encountered, this is not the case in Ecstatica. There are no artificial barriers locking the player character in a fight and the world's open structure means that the player is free to escape a fight at any time and always has a direction to escape into, provided that he can outrun the monster that is after him. That is the case for most enemies in the game. But also keep in mind that some enemies are as fast or even faster than the hero, especially if he is wounded, and trying to escape may in fact be a deadly mistake. Learning to distinguish the monsters is a key to success in this respect. Feel free to evade fights which are not necessary but also know when the only right call is to keep hitting an enemy even if the hero is close to dying. Some enemies, most notably the Werewolf, often require a combination of the two. Hit him until he is wounded and backs off and then use this occasion to escape. Also identify the save spots of Tirich and its surroundings. There are areas that monsters will never follow you into and where you can recover. There are also several hiding spots in the Village like closets which allow to remain hidden in plain sight. The only downside of letting enemies live is that they may reappear soon.
Save often Edit
To some degree death is unavoidable in Ecstatica. Not only will most players die frequently during fights and after ambushes, there are also several unpredictable traps in the game which will kill the hero instantly.
Other Advice Edit
Below is a list of some suggestions which will help the player avoid getting stuck for a variety of reasons.
Avoid killing humans Edit
The game does allow to kill almost any character in the game and will not punish the player directly for doing so. Most of them aren't essential to beating the game. However, some characters are still highly useful, particularly as sources of information, and killing them may hinder the player's efforts to finish the game. It is recommended to keep them alive.
Watch where you put items Edit
As mentioned above, item locations are persistent. This means that it's possible to drop an item in a location where it will be hard (and in one case impossible) to recover. If you need to drop an item always try to do so in a location which is easy to remember or where the item is easy to spot.
Use different save slots Edit
Death is not the only reason why the game should be saved often. While the game is generally designed in a manner which makes dead ends improbable, they are still possible. Most of the dead ends can be easily avoided and are unlikely to occur but there are several situations that particularly careless players may get into. Especially in obviously uncommon situations a new slot should be used just in case.