Reasons to Capture
Capturing monsters has many benefits:
- A captured enemy can be used like any other party member.
- A captured monster can be combined with another monster, or traded for an item at the Monster's Guild.
- There are Titles available based on the number of times you combine monsters. These titles give you substantial rewards, like most other titles.
- Captured monsters stay with you through all generations and New Game+ playthroughs completely intact, without ever getting their levels or other characteristics reset (but only if you choose the same difficulty or lower). This is especially useful if you ever find yourself without certain party members you've been using diligently, avoiding a serious loss in party strength.
- Captured monsters usually come with a wider range of skill-equipping possibilities, as well as already having all 3 EX Skills.
- Captured monsters can also equip normal weapons, depending on the monster type: werewolf-types can equip knuckles, fairy-types can equip rods, imp-types can equip spears, skeleton soldier-types can equip swords, skeleton mage-types can equip scythes, etc.
- If you plan on keeping one monster forever, then you know that they will definitely be a worthwhile investment for your PP. The uses for captured monsters are explained in more detail below.
How to Capture
Capturing a monster requires the Capture skill. Capture is a darkness skill, which means you'll need a character with a darkness skill slot to use it. You may only capture a monster when its HP count is 5% of its maximum or lower. Certain enemies cannot be captured (e.g. bosses and human soldiers). It is impossible to capture a monster if it has already been killed (using Capture at the end of a chain of attacks that killed the enemy will not have any effect), but you can capture a monster and then overkill it.
To clarify, using the Capture skill when an enemy currently has between 1 HP and 5% of its maximum HP is the only way to have any chance of success. Even if this condition is met, Capture can still fail. Its success rate appears to be based on the character's LUK attribute and the presence of the "Hunter" and "Poaching" abilities.
Tips for Capturing
There are several ways to improve the success rate and overall efficiency of capturing enemies.
- Remember that the enemy's current HP must be between 1 and 5% (verified) of its maximum when Capture is used. If it is used at a greater enemy HP, the game gives you a message that the enemy must be weakened. If the enemy has already been defeated (HP 0), nothing will happen at all.
- The "Hunter" ability dramatically improves the chance of success. Zerva gets this ability very early in the game. With between 10 and 20 LUK, Zerva's success at capturing Second Generation enemies appears to be greater than 50%. Keep in mind this ability must first be activated by having at least 100 SP. Other Will Powers such as "Poaching" (some monsters get this ability) are always active but requires someone to be standing in the extended area of that character to get the bonus. If you do not prefer Zerva for whatever reason, Sherufanir also comes with the "Hunter" ability as well as "Discovery" and "Parry".
- LUK seems to increase the chance of success. ATK, MAG, and other statistics do not appear to have an effect.
- Capture leaves the enemy untouched if it does not succeed, so multiple Capture attempts can be done on the same enemy.
- An enemy can be Overkilled even if it has been captured. You may want to chain more attacks after Capture to obtain the overkill bonus from the monster you're capturing. However, if the Capture fails, you will have killed the enemy and won't get to try Capture on it again.
- You can only have 6 monsters captured at once. If you capture a seventh, you may choose any of the seven monsters to release while in battle.
- If you have 6 monsters in your active party then you cannot release any of them and will be forced to release any monsters captured instead.
- Merciful Strike is a good way to ensure that you don't kill the enemy you're trying to capture when lowering its HP. Merciful Strike does the normal damage of an 8 AP physical attack, but leaves the enemy with 1 HP if it otherwise would have killed it.
- Both Merciful Strike and Capture can be obtained with Skill Research at the Adventurer's Guild after buying the Essential Arts IV book for 75 TP.
- Capture has an AOE equal to the user's weapon, so it may be useful to use it with a Scythe, Gun, or Spear. You can attempt to capture multiple enemies at once using this method, but of course each enemy must be within the appropriate HP range to have any chance of success.
- Monsters will automatically return any items or skills they had equipped if you combine them or discard them.
Using Captured Monsters
Captured monsters can be used like any other party member. They increase their levels and possess equipment and skills. However, whether a captured monster is of any use to a party depends on the individual player's combat style and the specific monster's role and statistics. When captured, monsters do not retain their equipment or skills, and will sometimes even have different skill slots after capture.
Some captured monsters can only use monster weapons, obtained solely through trading in monsters for items(see below). But some monsters can use normal party weapons and not monster weapons! For example, werewolf types are capable of using Knuckles, not monster weapons. However, all monsters can use any armor and any accessory.
There are also caveats to note when using large-size monsters (which take up a 3x3 square space). While helpful for character linking in battle and while capable of attacking 3 enemies or more at once with (normally) single-target skills, large-size monsters can also block your own party characters from reaching monsters. Large-size monsters can also have trouble reaching enemy monsters themselves, depending on their positioning. More large-size monsters on a map (including large-size enemy monsters) leads to more trouble with proper positioning and strategic placement of characters. For example, you may not be able to reach a party member in time to resurrect him/her before the timer runs out!
Trading Captured Monsters
Captured monsters can be traded for items from the Monster's Guild. Normally, these items are either a monster weapon, another piece of equipment, or a precious metal item (such as bullion).
Monster weapons are the main trading item of interest for two reasons:
- Trading monsters is the only way to obtain monster weapons, and many captured monsters you use in your party can only equip monster weapons.
- Monster weapons, like any other weapon, can be converted into a new item after being enhanced to level 5.
Some monster weapons convert into otherwise unattainable items, such as active skills. Certain items, such as the various bullions, can be worthwhile trades simply for the gold a character gains in such a trade!
Two captured monsters can be combined to make a third, effectively destroying the original two monsters. The newly-created monster can be of a lower level, higher level, or the same level as the two component monsters. The created monster can even be of the same species as one of the component monsters!
A monster is created based on a system vaguely similar to the Shin Megami Tensei (Persona, Digital Devil Saga, etc.) demon-fusing systems; however, this system is much less complex. The specific statistics of a component monster don't affect the resulting monster's statistics. But unlike the SMT systems, there may not be an advantage to creating a higher level monster. For example, the monster could become the highest-level member of your party and thus reduce your post-battle bonus!
Another significant note is that some combinations of monsters can create more than one resultant monster. Repeatedly canceling and re-selecting the second component monster and looking at the preview icon is an easy way to determine if your combination can create something else. A second benefit to combining monsters, and possibly more important for some players, is that you can receive Titles based on the number of combinations you've done.
There is no difference between a monster that has been captured, and one that has been created. For example, capturing a level 30 Flame Dog will give you the same level 28 Flame Dog you would have gotten by combining a Werewolf and a Mandragora.