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    FAQ/Strategy Guide by Kletian999

    Version: 0.9 | Updated: 03/04/13 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Nine Dots Studio.  Brand Game guide.
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    Written by Kletian999.
    Version 0.90 2/28/2013
    Finished Arena tactics. Added some personal notes to the questlog.  Described
    4 Monsters types.
    Version 0.75 2/25/2013
    Minor Corrections based on Dev feedback in Power descriptions.
    Version 0.7 2/24/2013
    Getting this published in an incomplete state before something 
    distracts me from the work again.  Need to complete the Arena guide 
    and the detailed advice for each power quest.
    
    Contents:
    (ID1) Introduction
    (GU2) Guide to the Guide
    (BI3) Basic Information
    (BI3h) The Hero
    (BI3c) Controls
    (BI3b) Battle
    (BI3p) Powers and Combo Powers
    (AV4) Advice
    (AV4m) Combat Manuevers
    (AV4c) More on Combo Powers
    (AV4p) Advanced notes on Powers
    (AV4a) The Arena
    (SC5) Secrets
    (SC5g) Golden Switches
    (SC5a) Arena Tactics
    (SC5q) Quest Guide
    (AK6) Acknowledgements
    
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    (ID1) Introduction:
    What is Brand?  Brand is a game about exploration and customization.  
    Your character is presented a sword and told to improve it into a 
    sword "fit for a king."  Three craftsmen, a Blacksmith, a Chemist, and 
    a Mage will aid you, but only if you can complete their quests to get 
    parts essential to the upgrades they offer.  Each quest will add to or 
    improve one of 9 qualities in your sword, making it more visually 
    exciting and effective in dispatching monsters.  After 16 quests (15 
    after tutorial) you'll test your blade in the King's Arena.  Do well 
    enough and you can save/name your blade for rematches.
    The quests will take you to the three sprawling, 2D platforming, 
    Metroidvania-style stages.  You always start in the center and the 
    layout of the terrain and enemies is constant, re-spawning each visit 
    but staying dead until you leave.  A map accessible via the menu or 
    the Tab key helps guide you to a point; but your objective markers 
    become less clear as you search higher levels of powers to demand more 
    exploration. The enemies get significantly more dangerous as you get 
    closer to the edges.  There are certain doors opened by lever switches 
    that remain open on subsequent visits making deeper trips more 
    efficient.
    
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    (GU2) The Guide:
    
    Brand is a game that wants you to explore, so on one hand a guide is 
    potentially counterproductive to the game's theme.  On the other hand, 
    there's a lot of basic information the player should know that the 
    game has trouble telling you, and giving away its secrets in 
    moderation can help ease the somewhat steep learning curve the game 
    has.  Thus I've divided the information herein into tiers: Basic 
    information everyone should know, followed by advice from my play 
    experience to help develop player skill, ending with the "Secret" 
    information that those who want it can read.
    
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    (BI3) Basic information:
    
    (BI3h) The Hero:
    
    The young man tasked to create a legendary sword.  He has 20 HP 
    expressed as a graphical lifebar which is filled each time he leaves a 
    dungeon.  Should he run out life from a dungeon run that run is 
    treated like it never happened- switches, money, and objectives from 
    that particular trip are lost.  He can save his progress by escaping 
    the dungeons via Town portals.  Hero can create a portal literally 
    anywhere from a menu command but it requires being completely still 
    and unhurt for 5 seconds.
    
    (BI3c) Controls:
    
    Outside of the dungeons, everything is a point and click interface to 
    select your next quest and then enter the dungeons.  It's possible to 
    enter dungeons without having a quest for them; though I wouldn't 
    recommend it.  On the other hand there is a secret reward in each 
    dungeon outside of the quests' objectives.  Anywhere the Escape key 
    opens a menu to view the Tip sheet, the area map, and the currently 
    collected powers.
    
    In the Dungeon, the character moves in 2D space, using left and right 
    to walk/turn around, space to Jump, and down arrow to Guard.    
    
    Guarding immobilizes the player in a defensive stance.  Any attacks 
    registering "being faced" by the player will be Blocked.  If hit on 
    the top of your head by projectiles or from behind the Guard will do 
    nothing to help you, meaning you never want to guard with enemies 
    behind you.  Early on, blocking completely negates damage and 
    knockback from attacks.  However, stronger enemies will be capable of 
    performing "Block Breaking" attacks.  These attacks will still 
    register a hit when blocked, albeit doing 2 less damage than if 
    unblocked.  Block Breaking attacks are preceded with a white flash 
    giving you an extra second or so to try and avoid or prepare a 
    "Perfect Block".  Perfect Blocks are performed by initiating the guard 
    a fraction of a second before the attack hits.  It takes significant 
    practice to perform Perfect blocks and since enemies have 2-3 attacks 
    with different timing it adds to the trickiness, so there's no shame 
    in getting out of the way when possible.  Guarding cannot be started 
    in the air.
    
    Jumping in Brand is similar to most 2D platformers, you can influence 
    your direction left/right in midair and control the height of the jump 
    based on how long the button was pressed.  Strong and Dash attacks 
    used midair change the jump as well.  Air Dashing is often essential 
    for certain long jumps and threading into a low ceiling corrider.
    
    The player can perform three kinds of attacks. 
    
    Quick attacks deals 5 base damage and can be repeated fluidly, taking 
    the shape of wide slashes in front of you.  The damaging reach is 
    actually shorter than the length of the blade by almost half- enemies 
    have attacks with longer reach than this so you'll need to advance 
    instead of expecting them walk into the swings.  While swinging, you 
    cannot move while on the ground, however you can quick attack mid jump 
    and you retain the ability to maneuver your jump.
    
    Heavy attacks deal 15 base damage.  They take about same time at 2 
    quick attacks to execute but the animation has a lag preventing 
    movement, another attack, or guarding for a second after.  Its reach 
    matches the appearance of the blade, including the slight overheard 
    part of the swing.  Performing heavies mid jump stops your movement 
    suddenly and make you plummet straight down- while awesome looking 
    there's no extra damage based on Jumping from tall  heights.
    
    Dash attacks deals 10 base damage.  It has you turn invulnerable for 1 
    second and pass through damaging (at the start) up to 1 enemy while 
    moving 8 spaces forward (4 character body widths).  If the dash cannot 
    reach the other side of the enemy from terrain or distance ending 
    exactly where the target stands you can still damage the target in 
    front of where you stop.  The Dash length is 10 "units" or about 5 
    Hero body widths to start.  This move has a cooldown of 2 seconds from 
    the start, or more accurately 1 second after it finishes.  If Dash 
    animation/invincibility is cut short by hitting a wall, the cooldown 
    seems to be shorter as well.  
    
    (BI3b) Battle:
    The hero will find 4 families of creatures that stand between him and
    whatever goal he's pursuing.  
    
    Flies: These creatures hover in the air until they see you; they'll strive
    to hover just a little higher than Hero's height.  Generally, they have two 
    attacks: If you are right in their face they'll make a quick thrust, other-
    wise they'll wind up for a turn and lunge a great distance.  Fly strength
    increases from yellow brown, to red, to Grey, to Green or Black. Green flies
    are unique in they lunge 4 short times in a single attack; Black flies
    will rapidly return to their lunge start, which counts as attacking from
    the other side making them near impossible to block if you stand in their
    path. Certain Quest objectives like the Phasing Fly or the UltraPoison Fly
    have even more HP, damage, and move styles.  Block breaking attacks are 
    rare, generally limited to the quest mobs.
    
    Chewters: These fat froglike creatures generally sit around on small raised
    platforms or near ledges.  Their only form of attack is to shoot arcing
    balls of "Corruption" at you. If you are unlucky, their attack can hit the
    top/back of your head making their attack ignore your guards.  Like flies,
    they raise in power from Brown, Red, Grey, Green and Black.  Since they are
    not as animated in telegraphing their attack, listen for their gurgling 
    sound to start your guard/dash.  Greens will shoot 4 shots at once; Blacks
    shoot incredibly fast compared to lesser Chewters.  Grey and higher Chewters
    can block break, but the white flash gives you a lot of time to dash behind
    them, prepare to jump out of the way, or time your perfect block.
      
    Troglodytes: Humanoid spear wielders, wield generally slow moving their
    spears give them an advantage over most swords.  Will follow you to edges
    and yell at you if they see you, leaving them open for easy killing from
    saftey.  Can poke upwards if you are on a ledge above them.  The Green Trog
    is unusally slow walking but loves to block break, while the black makes
    incredibly fast strikes in a "combo" which you need to hold your block after
    the first hit.  Greys and higher can block break.
    
    Manticores: Giant Lionlike beasts with Scorpion Tails.  If close, they'll
    rake with their claws or impale you with their horn.  At a little farther,
    they'll stab with their tail.  Farther than a manticore body length, they
    spam darts from their tail.  They take a lot of practice and/or trickery
    to take down unscathed, but they'll often drop some HP.  Normal Manticores
    are fairly rare, but there are many even more terrible varieties created 
    for quests.
    
    There's a chance on kill for the enemy to dropa wisp of healing crosses 
    that'll pursue you- when it catches up with you (You can outrun it a bit to 
    delay the heal until after some damage), you'll recover 5 HP.  Generally 
    stronger enemies will drop heals more often.
    
    (BI3p) Powers:
    
    Each of the three NPCs offers three powers with 5 potential levels to 
    add to your sword.  Certain powers interact well with each other 
    creating synergies for highly effective blades.  In addition, 4 
    specific pairs of powers will generate a Combo Power.  More 
    information on Combos will be revealed in the more spoilery chapters, 
    but here's some essential information worth knowing at the start:
    1. Combo emerge the first time you enter a dungeon after getting the 
    second member of the pair.  A blurb of text will briefly attempt 
    to explain what each does.
    2. Combos have levels like Sword powers, the level of the combo is 
    equal to the weakest member of the power pair- this provides a 
    tradeoff against trying to get all powers on a single blade.
    3. Combo powers are completely unaffected by the Refine Power, nor 
    is Refine a member of any combo.
      
    Strengthen- increases the base damage of your strikes by 10%, 20%, 
    30%, 40%, 50%.
    Visually, this power "bulks" your sword, making the tip wider until 
    it's more like a three pointed mace.  While ineffective on Fire, 
    Demon, Poison, or Shadow blade attacks- it will increase the damage 
    dealt by Timebend Dash and Sundust critical; even with the other 
    attack powers as primary offense you'll still be making some melee 
    hits.  Getting at least 1 point of this will allow you to open Heavy 
    Switches, albeit there's only one switch in Necropolis this is useful 
    for outside of the Strengthen Questlines- so don't feel compelled if 
    you don't want it.
    
    Sharpen- increases range and enemy pass-through of Dash Attack.  Also 
    lowers Dash cooldown by 0.2 seconds per level (.1 seconds quicker 
    dashing, .1 less seconds dead time post dash).  
    Visually this causes the blade to leave a trail through the air when 
    you attack.  This is arguably a "defensive" power, as dashing through 
    is often a great tactic to deal with guard blocking monsters or 
    attacking flies without being countered.  Naturally it helps improve 
    Timebend's attack range and targets.  Be careful not to exceed your 
    enemy count because dashing between two enemies is a recipe for pain- 
    it's often safer to jump over an enemy and dash back to a safe area 
    than risk dashing into another enemy's spear.  Dashing is often needed 
    for some tricky jumps and longer dashes make those easier, but there's 
    only one room in the Castle area that can't be reached without an 
    upgrade, and it is part of the Final Sharpen Questline.
    
    Poison- your quick attacks cause a poison effect for 1 damage/sec for 
    3 damage, raising by 1 damage or 1 tick each level, ending at 3 damage 
    per tick for 5 ticks.   
    Visually this causes the blade to bubble green.  The poison effects 
    can stack on a target, so it's effectively adding 3-15+ damage to each 
    weak attack.  Though it has no effect on Dashes or Heavy strikes, it's 
    significantly better then Strengthen for those that prefer quick 
    attacks.  Greatly benefits the hit and run style of fighting since you 
    won't kill faster than a counterattack.
    
    Demon's Blood- Your sword lashes out tendrils while you block dealing 
    8-16 damage, reaching out 3-6 range units damaging foes but causing 
    you to "darken".  Visually your blade will be wrapped in black flowing 
    spikes, while hero will visibly get shadowed as Darkness goes up and 
    letting off smoke clouds as his Darkness disperses. Darkness will go 
    up 1 shade each second of blocking and down by 1 shade every 3 seconds 
    of not blocking.  When Darkness gets too high you receive 2 damage, 
    and your Darkness instantly resets to 0.  Your darkness capacity 
    starts at 5 shades and gradually increases with the level of the power 
    to 7.  The Tendrils can pass through enemies and walls with more reach 
    up, down, and outward than your average sword swing.
    
    Sundust- Your sword's basic hits will randomly lense-flare for a 
    critical hit.  Chance of occurrence is 10-18% and the damage bonus is 
    +100%-140% of base damage, so it stacks additively not 
    multiplicatively with Stengthen (Level 1 Sundust would add 10 damage 
    to a Dash attack 1 in 10 Dashes, and level 5 Strengthen would add 5 
    more damage all the time).  These sharp damage spikes are good for 
    one-shotting weaker creatures.  Two negatives of this power: Dash 
    attacks will lose the Sundust benefit if you have Timebend and 
    Firewaves or Shadowblades don't trigger the effect, only your own 
    sword.
    
    Firewave- Your Heavy attacks now shoot a firewave that does 5-9 Damage 
    passing through enemies for 8-24 range units.  The height of the 
    firewave can be increased by performing jump attacks, however the 
    firewave gets stopped by the first terrain it touches, even ceiling 
    decorations that characters can walk through, making it one of two 
    attacks that cannot go through walls.  It is the simplest way to get a 
    ranged attack; I found this essential for finishing level 3+ quests 
    for my first swords- after which I grew more proficient in fighting 
    and didn't need it if my design avoided it.  The wave is on top of
    you heavy swing, so it has value in close combat.  
    
    Timebend- Your Dash attack is replaced by the Timebend Dash to make it 
    more "offensive".  Instead of sliding forward while invincible, you 
    teleport to the endpoint and if there are targets, you pause 
    dramatically.  Enemies between the two points are stunned and struck 
    for many small hits by images of you.  If more enemies than your slash 
    allowance are in the bend, rather than stopping short, the enemies 
    closest to the endpoint are hit and the front enemies are ignored.  
    Timebend Dash's cooldown is twice as long as regular Dash, and you 
    aren't invincible during the pause making being attacked certain if 
    you aren't careful.  Try jumping over the target then Dash back 
    towards safety, or end the Dash in midair to help avoid being counter 
    attacked.   Like Dash, Timebend will stop your forward movement if 
    there's an obstacle in the path.  
    
    Shadowblade- Your Quick, (Beginning of) Dash and Strong attacks cause
    Shadow swords to strike behind you.  The Shadow Swords have a range longer
    than weak attacks and by raising the power's level grow stronger faster than
    using Strengthen, making exposing your back to the enemy and carefully 
    running away from attacks less dangerous than you'd think.  While a 
    heavy attack is 3 times as damaging as a Quick one, you only get two 
    backswords from Shadowblade with Heavy, meaning it's usually better to 
    quick attack with this power.  
    
    Refine- Multiplies potency of other powers by: 100, 115, 130, 145, 
    160%-  The act of using bounty from the monsters to buy better metal 
    to construct the blade with (completely hand-waving how the 
    improvements you put on the old metal switched to the new).  Visually 
    this takes the blade's color (when not glowing) from Rusty Grey, to 
    Bronze, to Silver Grey Metal, to Black Metal with Gold stripes, to Blue 
    with purple hilt, then finally blue Metal with Gold Red hilt.  You are 
    forced to get the first level of this in the tutorial which 
    technically doesn't do anything but allows the sword to receive other 
    powers, leaving you 15 points of customization.
    
    As Refine says, it benefits you nothing without other powers to 
    modify, so levels you take in this should be held off to the end of 
    the sword's life.  If you find yourself stuck raising other powers 
    however, raising refine is ultimately the easiest of all quests- as 
    long as you town portal, your money earned each trip is saved between 
    dungeon visits so you can always farm the safest monsters until 
    completion.  Should you need to unlock the yellow switches on each 
    map, a refine quest is the perfect opportunity to do this.
    For Each power, Refine affects the following:
    
    Strengthen- multiplies the damage bonus, so 1 level in both is 115% * 
    110%= 126.5% damage, making a Dash do 12.65 (rounded to 13) damage 
    instead of 11.
    
    Sharpen- multiplies the length boost, so level 5 sharpen (10 units/5 
    hero widths)*Level 5 Refine(1.6)=add 16 units to Dash's base length.
    
    Poison- multiplies the damage per tick (not duration), so 5 Refine 
    with level 5 poison would do 3*1.6= 4.8 (5) damage a tick.  Since the 
    numbers are small, there's potential for waste in rounding.  4 Refine 
    with Level 2 Poison wouldn't do more damage than level 2 poison alone.   
    
    Demonblood- multiplies the damage done by Tendrils, no effect on Range 
    or Dark Capacity. Level 2 Demons (10) with Level 5 Refine would do 16 
    damage each lash.  
    
    Sundust- multiplies the probability of crits (not damage bonus). So 5 
    
    Refine with level 1 Sundust would occur 10%*160%= 16% of the time.
    
    Fire- multiplies the flame damage (not range). Level 1 Fire (5) * 
    Level 5 Refine would do 8 damage.
    
    Timebend- multiplies the hit count only, so 5 Refine/5 Time bend 
    works out to 7 hits *160%= 11.2 (11) hits.
    
    Shadowblade- Multiplies the Shadow damage.  Level 1 Shadow (5)* Level 
    5 Refine would do 8 damage.
    
    Thus when "Refining" your sword, take note when the difference between 
    Rank 4 and Rank 5 will meet a threshold for the powers you have.  
    Values with decimals 5 or higher round up. 
    
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    (AV4) Advice:
    If you explored the game and the Basic info portion of the guide, and 
    you find yourself hungry for more, this section focuses on Techniques 
    to help dispatch monsters more effectively, as well as the hidden 
    facts of the combos you've probably stumbled upon.
    
    (AV4m) Combat Maneuvers: Tips for wielding your blade effectively.
    
    Ground combos- if you are fighting a target toe to toe, I advise 
    alternating 2-3 weak attacks and a block, saving your heavy attack to 
    finish them off.  Dashing through is a good response to a block 
    breaking attack.
    
    Dash Pressure: as mentioned earlier, the Dash attack can hurt a target 
    in front of you if you haven't hit your enemy target count yet.  Also, 
    while you can't walk for a few moments after a dash, you can still 
    fall.  Since enemies love to camp on the edge of a ledge and taunt 
    you, you'll be able to attack with impunity by jumping to their height 
    outside of their attack range, dashing so your lower body hits the 
    ledge (thus keeping you from landing on it) and falling away before 
    they counterattack. Getting Timebend on your sword removes the ability 
    to Dash Pressure.  To take it a step further see the next move:
    
    Right Angle Slash- after ending your midair dash attack, immediately 
    perform a heavy slash.  You plummet to safety faster, cause +150% more 
    damage than the Dash pressure alone, and make a cool 7 shape with your 
    blade trail.  This is also effective for taking out Fluffy Flies 
    without ever staying in their quick attack radius- if you plan to dash 
    through them make sure to hit backwards immediately before the heavy 
    slash.
    
    Minion Chivalry- no living creature can occupy the same space as 
    another, this means when you have a line of Trogs/Chewters on the same 
    floor with you, the ones in back must usually wait until you kill 
    their friend.  Some Trogs have a "reaching spear poke" that goes 
    around 1 Trog ahead of them that you'll want to watch out for.   Best 
    results is with Chewters or weak Trogs (that can't block break) in the 
    "front of the line" while using attacks like flamewave to kill the 
    ones in back at the same time.  Immediately try to Dash/Jump your way 
    to freedom if you are surrounded.
    
    Minion Buffoonery- Since no living creature can occupy another space; 
    there can be some bizarre interactions between other monsters and 
    Fluffy flies.  A Fly hovering near the ground can block a manitcore's 
    walking (though the mant will start spamming tail darts).  Flys can 
    also "push" monsters as they lunge- knocking enemies off ledges.  
    Sadly there is no fall damage to enemies.
    
    Astral Projection- When you get Timebend, the nature of the Dash 
    attack changes.  Rather than sliding along a straight line and 
    stopping when you hit something, it calculates whether the endpoint of 
    the Dash is clear space and draws the attack between the two points.  
    After the attack is created, it checks for obstructions in your path 
    and decides whether or not to teleport you to the end.  What this 
    means is that TimeDashing in a spot where a platform would fill your 
    end space will cancel the dash doing nothing; but Timedashing against 
    a wall or locked door with free flat land on the other side will 
    actually let your Timedash attack thru the wall while leaving you 
    stationary.  With high Sharpen this becomes the longest range attack 
    that goes through walls.  This is your apology for losing Dash 
    Pressure.
    
    Shadow walking- The shadow blade is a weird power, normally showing 
    your back to a target is suicidal.  However, the blade does have some 
    advantages that make it useful.  First being range, the Shadowblade 
    has longer range than even Trog spears.  Thus if you walk just out of 
    their reach you can make quick attacks while they try to catch up with 
    you.
    
    Manticore Wrangling-  Manticores are the toughest monsters in the 
    game.  Even the weakest is capable of breaking blocks with its horn attack,
    their tail out reaches your blade, and they'll spam darts if you are more than
    a body with or two out of tail range (high level darts are block breakers
    too).  If possible, try to attack through a wall.  If that's not possible,
    striking at them from below while they linger on an edge using the Right Angle
    Slash is probably the second safest.  If you are on a platform above it and
    you can get Ghostblades to hit it without being darted, good for you.  
    
    If you are stuck on a flat plain with it; do the following: 
    1. Get close enough  that it stops throwing darts at you, taking care
    to block the darts as you advance.  DO NOT try to dash into melee 
    range.  The Manticore will try to close the distance, then immediately
    attempt a horn, claw, or tail attack.  
    2. Perform a dash through the manticore to dodge the attack- 
    If you dash too soon it'll just turn around instead of comboing the 
    air you used to stand in.  
    3. Depending on what attack it made, and if you didn't dash too early,
    you can make 1-2 Quick attacks on its back, then run back just outside
    of tail attack range (Having the shadow blade power allows you to do 
    this without wasting time turning around).  4.  It'll once again try to
    close, you repeat the dash and backslashing.  If you Sharpen level is 
    low, you may want to make it chase you for two bounds instead of one to
    let the Dash recharge.
    
    (AV4c) More details on the Combo powers: 
    
    Explosion- Fire+Stengthen: A large explosion occurs on heavy swings, there's
    a hidden cooldown timer on when it happens.  It hits enemies for massive 
    damage in a large area near you and passing through walls. Gains strength 
    with each level= 30,37,45,55,70 damage.
    
    Light cut- Sundust+Sharpen: slash waves fly out of your weak attacks, 
    increasing their range.  This increases the reach of applying poison, 
    but is otherwise a disappointing power.  Even at full range you've 
    just caught up to the Shadow blade's reach, about 1 hero width farther 
    than heavy attacks (1, 1.5, 2, 2.5,3 unit range boost).
    
    Life Drain- Demon's Blood + Poison: Your Demon tendril attacks will 
    start accumulating yellow orbs around you, when you reach 4 orbs you 
    regain 1 HP and the orbs reset.  This is the only controlled healing 
    in the game.  At level 1 it takes 15 enemy hits to reach the heal 
    (thus more effective when hitting a group), but it improves to 8, 5, 
    4, 3 hits needed per hp as it levels.
    
    GhostBlades- Time Bend + Shadow Blade: Holding the weak attack button 
    causes an invisible circle to reach out from you.  Any enemies in this 
    circle are rapidly attacks by ghost blades.  While doing this you can't
    perform other attacks or blocks but can move and jump freely. The Radius of
    the circle is 6-10 units, omni-directional (including straight up and down)
    and will hit any number of targets in the circle, though the effect is 
    blocked if walls floor break your line of sight.  The damage starts at 
    1 damage per blade (second), but scales up to 5 per blade at the end.  
    That this power doesn't hamper your movement is a great benefit- 
    repeatedly jumping on/over Manticores with this going is thus a very 
    effective tactic. 
    
    (AV4p) Advanced notes on powers: Tips for swords using levels of each 
    power.
    
    Strengthen: 
    Used to make the explosion combo with, can significantly improve the 
    Timedash's damage or Sundust's Criticals.   Quests in the Necropolis 
    greatly benefit from being able to open heavy switches.  Any close fighting
    gets some benefit.  
    
    Sharpen: 
    Take care when leveling not to get your dash TOO long (high Refine and 
    Sharpen together will have you dashing past your screen radius).  1-2 
    levels is usually enough to consistently get through a manticore and 
    keep him swinging in the wrong direction.  The Light cut combo power 
    is fairly weak unless you are making a poison primary sword, and even then
    isn't fantastic.
    
    Poison: 
    Your focus with this blade will be hit and run quick attacks.  The 
    Lifedrain combo is excellent making "hit and block" another strategy.  
    Strengthen normally doesn't synergize well with Poison.  Any leftover 
    points can go to Light cut combo if you find the extra range useful, or you
    might do better getting a firewave or ghost blade for when melee is dangerous.
    
    Demonblood:
    Demonblood far out DPSes melee attacks and the added reach over ledges 
    or thru walls is gravy on top of that- thus use it whenever you have 
    brightness to spare.  Remember you can always run back to a safe area 
    to let the darkness out (or jump into the air repeatedly if you fell 
    down a hole).  Getting Lifedrain with at least 1 poison is an easy 
    bargain to help offset loosing life to incautious dark use.  Be very careful
    of blockbreaking enemies.
    
    Sundust:
    As discussed before, Light cut combo generally only helps a poison 
    build.  Sundust works best with Strengthen and Refine to create 
    incredibly lethal yet mundane Dash/Heavy attacks.  A point in Fire for 
    a bit of extra range utility isn't a bad idea. 
    
    Fire:
    Fire is simple as powers go, you Heavy attack, you shoot a wave, you 
    jump heavy you shoot a bigger wave.  Refine will get you the maximum 
    possible damage, Strengthen grants you the explosion combo, otherwise 
    there's not a lot of Synergy.  I should mention two downsides to 
    making a Firewave centric sword: constantly performing Heavy attacks 
    from range can get dry after a while, and manticores with their own 
    speedy range attack can keep you from using this effectively against 
    them.  Putting some points in the ghostblade combo can help when you 
    can't get a clear horizontal shot at the target. Long dashes from Sharpen
    can help you get range.
    
    Timebend:
    With its drawbacks, Timebend demands building a sword catered to it.  
    Regardless of path, high Sharpen will keep enemies from being left out 
    of the vortex, Refine and Strengthen combine to make the dash lethal. 
    The other tack is to take Shadowblade to help kill what survives 
    without turning around; or ignore dashing and use high level 
    Ghostblade- one of the best attacks in the game.
    
    Shadowblade:
    Ghostblade is weak at levels 1 and 2, but gets exponentially better 
    from there; so don't dabble in Timebend carelessly.  Too long a Dash 
    from Sharpen takes away the prime opportunity to use the back blades, 
    so be careful there as well.  Poison is a decent friend if you open 
    your attack with front attack then poke with shadows as you retreat.  
    
    (AV4a) The Arena:
    After getting your final upgrade from an NPC, you are immediately sent 
    into the Arena.  After passing the hall of contributor's statues, you 
    plummet down a long shaft to enter each room.  Early death will demand 
    you try again until you clear 3 rooms or just give up that save file.  
    Clearing 3 rooms earns your sword a rank of "Good enough", allowing 
    you to save the sword in the Armory (letting you repeat the Arena 
    later if you wish) while clearing the "Save slot" you were playing in 
    so that you'll start a new sword.  Completing all 10 rooms is similar 
    except that you get a different win graphic and your main menu 
    background is permanently changed to commemorate your success. 
    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (SC5) Secrets:
    The best information saved for last; spoilers ahead as this section. 
    It includes details learned over multiple playthroughs and dialogues 
    with Brand's Development Studio.
    
    (SC5g) The Golden Switches:
    I mentioned during Refine that there are Golden switches in each 
    dungeon that'd be worth hitting?  What's in it for you, you ask?  MORE 
    LIFE.  Yes, in each of the dungeons scattered over the map are the 
    golden switches.  Finding all 4-5 of them will unlock a special door 
    with Golden lights to mark your progress.  Behind this door is a Small 
    room with an orange crystal.  Picking up this Crystal increases your 
    Max life by 2.  This bonus will remain as long as you wield the sword 
    you found the gem with (presumably it was stuck into the hilt)- so it 
    helps in the Arena.  In future Playthroughs, you'll need to recollect 
    the gems but the Lifebar will have permanently grown "dark space" to 
    show where the gems will go.
    
    Castle: The Golden door is located at the top of the Central tower, 
    right near the Rainbow used in a Sundust quest.  There are 4 Switches 
    to find: The top of the Westmost tower; The east-most wall 
    at the bottom of the pit with a weak manticore and the Anvil used for 
    Heavy level 2.; The bottom center of the castle next to the army of 6 
    different Trogs; and the Southwest corner just SE of the room with 
    Maxwell's Demon Machines.  
    
    Mine: The Golden door is located at the bottom of the west most shaft, 
    guarded by a Green Manticore.  The 4 Switches are located: on the wall 
    far east of the start point; on the wall at the big staircase leading 
    down just Southwest of the start point; at the bottom of the Center 
    shaft; and at the bottom of the SW shaft near the Golden door.
    
    Necropolis: The Golden door (more like Ceiling) is located directly 
    above the starting point, but you must climb up the east or west walls 
    to reach it.  Getting there is tricky with 2 Grey Chewters hogging the 
    platform.  There are 5 switches: At the top of a short vertical 
    deadend just east of the entrance; in the Southwest corner of the map (the
    red zone) Reached by going West then Down from the start; in a vertical
    shaft 2 "floors" below the starting area (East from start, then down past 
    the heavy switch floor); in the cross shaped locked area west of the 
    heavy switch floor; and in the South East map corner at the end of the 
    "Crematorium".  You'll need to hit two blue switches below the heavy switch
    floor to open the entrance and final Crematorium doors.
    
    (SC5a) Arena Tactics: 
    1. Silver/Gold Trogs and flies.  You'll fall into a pincer attack of 
    trogs so quickly dash to one side once you've cleared the 
    ceiling.  Their HP is low and they can't blockbreak.
    2. Black, Radioactive (Greenish), and HyperPoison (Yellow) fly.  The
    Black flies are the most likely to hurt you so kill them first.  They'll be
    high in the air so you'll want to jump behind them to attack.  The other
    flies should be slow enough to keep behind and kill.
    3. Wide open room with Black/Ninja Trogs and Black Chewters.  As you fall
    hug a side and dash to get a chewter between you and the Trogs.
    4. Mummy room.  Battle the Mummy Chewter and Trog, and some grey 
    Chewters.  Like the first room, you'll need to react to avoid getting hurt
    on landing. There's two floors in this room, many holes in the upper floor
    but only one way to climb up.  Kill the lower chewters first or they'll make
    yourclimb painful.  
    5. Lightning Room. Lightning Flies, Trogs, Chewters, and Manticore. Once 
    again hug left side as manticore is on right) as you fall so you can dispatch
    the Chewter. Dash pressure the upper Trog, melee the right Chewter and Right
    Angle Slash the flies.  Once the lower Left Trog is dead, use the run
    dashthrough tactic on the manticore, be very careful of his crazy dart attack.
    6. Various Quest mobs.  This room lets you fall in safety but it leaves
    the combo area very contrained.  The Pure Trogs will generally avoid you
    so put the first between you and Hero Trog.  Lure Juliet Fly away from Romeo
    Chewter then focus Romeo down- switching sides when he flashes white.
    7. Triple Phasing Fly.  There's a lot of room to move among the tiny
    platforms, Right angle slashes will be time consuming but Safe.
    8. Twin Manticores.  Fall down the center and perform edge heavy attacks on the
    left blue manticore. Don't jump higher than you need to or you will be hit. 
    Kill the left albino by jumping in front of him, dashing through him and
    falling down the hole behind him.
    9. Grey normal mob room.  Dash right on entry then take your time.  
    10. The Golden Manticore.  This is the strongest, fastest 
    creature the developers have coded.  The room is wide open so 
    you'll have plenty of room to use dash through and run or Ghost 
    blade bouncing techniques.  Your victory over this creature will be 
    immortalized in new Title menu artwork.
    
    (SC5q) Quest Objectives: What follows is a description of the 
    objectives for each power quest.  On this version of the document, 
    I've ripped the description from the Design Document and added some 
    personal notes.
    Refine- Remember you can always escape with the money you've earned/switches
    pulled if you don't die.
    Level 1: Gather a bounty of 100 Gold.
    Level 2: Gather a bounty of 1000 Gold.
    Level 3: Gather a bounty of 2500 Gold.
    Level 4: Gather a bounty of 5000 Gold.
    Level 5: Gather a bounty of 9001 Gold.
    
    Strengthen
    Level 1: Gather 3 iron ores from large clusters of iron located in the 
    Alexandrite Mine.
    Level 2: Find the anvil in the old forge in the Steampunk Castle, east wall.
    Level 3: Eliminate the "metal trio" in the Necropolis Red Zone.
    Level 4: Eliminate the Metal Manticore in the Alexandrite Mine. Behind 
    Heavy Switch door below the entrance.
    Level 5: Gather the schematics in every dungeons; behind Heavy switch doors.
    
    Sharpen
    Level 1: Find the tools in the Steampunk Castle.
    Level 2: Reach the cart of whetstones in the Alexandrite Mine, just dash
    thru the manticore to get credit, then dash to safety.
    Level 3: Get the sharpest sword in the world from the statue in the 
    Necropolis.  Take the west path to the top level.
    Level 4: Kill the Albino Manticore in the Necropolis past the Heavy Switch
    door below the entrance.
    Level 5: Get the perfect diamond protected by ghosts in the Alexandrite Mine 
    and the perfect lense protected by a manticore in the Steampunk Castle.  The
    perfect diamond takes multiple heavy slashes to pickup.
    
    Poison Coating
    Level 1: Defeat the radioactive Fluffy Fly in the Alexandrite Mine top.
    Level 2: Get the Assassin's diary in the Steampunk Castle west side, go low
    to get past the locked doors.
    Level 3: Activate the incineration switches in the Necropolis. The 
    Creamation area door is locked by a switch found under the Heavy switch 
    floor up one of the narrow columns.
    Level 4: Gather 3 Uranium Ores in the Alexandrite Mine.  1 is in the left
    shaft, and 2 more in the center shaft.
    Level 5: Kill two of the three Poison Dart monsters. Poison Fly is near
    the Mine Golden Door.  Poison Chewter is behind the last Crematorium door
    and gold switch.  Poison Trog is somewhere in the Castle.
    
    Demon Blood Coating
    Level 1: Kill the Bloody Chewter in the Necropolis.
    Level 2: Collect the soullessness of a troglodyte ninja in the Alexandrite 
    Mine.  Be careful if he moves long enough to get speed he can go off ledges.
    Level 3: Expose the blade to the many Ominous machines in a specific room in 
    the Steampunk Castle.  Just fall into the pit at the west center wall past
    a Grey Manticore.
    Level 4: Gather 6 leaked ferrofluids in the Steampunk Castle.  Two are found
    in castle towers on each side.
    Level 5: Kill 4 pure-hearted troglodytes.
    
    Sun Dust Coating
    Level 1: Find the stash of Sun Dust somewhere in the Steampunk Castle.
    Level 2: Defeat the magnesium army in the Alexandrite Mine.
    Level 3: Find the double rainbow in the Steampunk Castle.  This is in the 
    top central tower by the golden door.
    Level 4: Gather the two refracting prism in the Necropolis.
    Level 5: Kill Romeo (Chewter) and Juliet (Fluffy Fly) in the Necropolis.
    
    Time Bend Spell
    Level 1: Find the runes of past, present and future in the Steampunk Castle.
    Level 2: Kill the ageless Chewter in the Necropolis.
    Level 3: Find 5 broken clocks in the Steampunk Castle.
    Level 4: Kill the Lightning Manticore in the Alexandrite Mine, bottom of 
    center mineshaft.
    Level 5: Hunt down the phasing fluffy fly in the Necropolis. Just below
    the Heavy Switch Floor.
    
    Fire Spell
    Level 1: Collect fire crystals found from a cluster in the Alexandrite mine.
    Level 2: Kill 4 latent monsters in the Steampunk Castle.
    Level 3: Kill the mummy troglodyte in the Necropolis.
    Level 4: Get the solar ruby from the planetarium in the Steampunk Castle. 
    It's protected by a timedoor in the upper right, so clear the enemies near
    it first. 
    Level 5: Collect two fire runes in every dungeon.
    
    Shadow Spell
    Level 1: Find the spell runes written on a wall somewhere in the Necropolis.
    Level 2: Gather the materials from 4 of the Ghost Lanterns in the Necropolis.
    Level 3: Find the Tome of the Exiled in the Alexandrite Mine.
    Level 4: Kill the Troglodyte that resembles the hero in the Steampunk Castle
    who's midway up the center tower.
    Level 5: Strike two of the shadow patterns hidden in the dungeons. Necropolis
    is found in  small locked room above the cross shaped area where a golden 
    switch is.
    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (AK6) Acknowledgements:
    Thanks to Guillaume Boucher-Vidal, not only for being the CEO of the 
    company that made Brand, but taking the time to answer email questions 
    in the wake of Brand's Greenlight submission.  Thanks to the rest of 
    Nine Dots Studios for their development efforts as well.
    
    Thanks to Steam for Greenlight, reminding me I owned the game and 
    giving me the impulse to explore it deeper and thus appreciate it 
    better.
    
    Comments, Corrections, etc. send private messages to my 
    www.Gamefaqs.com user, Kletian999.  I intend this guide for use by 
    www.Gamefaqs.com and Nine Dots Studio should they wish to help promote 
    their game with it.  Postings on sites not affiliated with these 
    organizations is against my will as the author, please notify me 
    should you encounter this guide on other sites.
    

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