This was so much fun until Chapter 2. The difficulty scales immensely and the combat becomes so incredibly dragged out and tedious even on Story mode. It definitely does not make the game more of a VN as promised.
The introduction of elemental typing in Ch. 2 would have been fine if A) there was some kind of warning that this was coming and B) there was a warning that you'd accidentally heal enemies if you attacked them with a certain element. There's no real way to plan ahead, you never know what you're fighting next and at a certain point, your strongest gear gives you elemental passives whether you want them or not.
Also, understanding your party strength is extremely difficult. Enemies do an incredible amount of damage which is doubled if someone has an elemental weakness. Yes, you can vary your gear with different elements but as you're scrolling through your moves, if you get caught with a weakness, you take so much damage. Staying on one gear set slows down your damage output, making the fights take even longer than they already are. And unless you're hitting the enemies with their elemental weakness, your party does so little damage even with the best gear you can get at the gas station (upgraded) which is always a rank or two below the monsters you encounter. It's discouraging.
And then there's (maybe spoiler?) Gaius. This boss shifts his element so at least one person in your party is going to be healing him at any given time. Not that it matters because your damage output is so incredibly low. You're hitting him for 2 or 3 damage while he hits you for a whopping 90 - 180! His attack speed is fast, so there's no way to outheal him with Sam before someone is face down. Having to pause, use a healing item, unpause and repeat every few seconds is not ideal. In JRPGs, this usually means that the party is supposed to lose, that it's scripted. Here, it's not, and I cannot figure out how to just get it over so I can get back to the charming, funny and fun story. I am literally stuck and no other fight before this was this impossible.
I genuinely do not understand what went wrong here, if I'm missing something about gear and combat or if it really is poor scaling, but I feel as though the frequency of the battles, the difficulty and tediousness of them and the confusing gear system are actively working to keep me from just enjoying an awesome gay quest to defeat evil. I want to finish the game.