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Meanwhile, during the main game you are shorting yourself more powerful familiars because of what? A little extra bit of stats?
You aren't shorting yourself. And it you evolve them as soon as you can, they get crushed
I have not found this to be true at all.
Fighting Al-Khemi was troublesome because of it.
I thought you meant not maxing their levels means they will "get crushed". You don't have to max your familiars just to beat the game.
But you are right about not evolving them all at the same time. You'll want at least one or two capable familiars per character to make up the slack while you retrain your evolved familiar. My advice is don't evolve them unless you know you have time to fight random enemies and level up.
~Mirror, mirror, on my floor, am I the prettiest at the store?
The black keyhole shaped marks on the maps show the general locations of all the hidden chests, the stuff in them is more useful the earlier you get it. You get a spell later though that'll tell you exactly where they are .
Use fast attackers. Don't use any healing familiars (let Oliver do 100% of the healing). Put all the spellcasters on Oliver. Don't obsess over making the perfect party and then grind like crazy to catch your new guys up. Don't give your teammates anything with Psyche Up. Use steal on every boss.