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A quick note about Open Palm/Closed Fist points - unlike in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, your character's shifting between good or evil doesn't affect a whole lot in Jade Empire. You'll find that some gems and combat styles are OP/CF only, but gems of similar quality are fairly common and combat styles are overly abundant. We will try to list any major OP/CF moments, but you may not see every single possibility mentioned in the walkthrough. As a general rule, choose the friendly dialogue choices, show some generosity, and help any innocent NPCs in trouble to earn Open Palm points. For Closed Fist points, follow a path of selfishness, bring harm to innocents, and be devious and/or confrontational whenever possible.
Jade Empire shares many similarities with BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - the interface, a light/dark continuum where the player's actions affect their position on it, and the interaction within the game world. However, the important distinctions are that Jade Empire is almost entirely an action-oriented RPG with real-time combat, features no real player inventory (and instead gives you the ability to upgrade your character with gems and techniques with different stats), and finally takes away the ability to control your followers.
Followers have two options in Jade Empire. One is to assign them to combat, in which they deal almost insignificant damage but will divert some attackers from focusing on you (until they are knocked out, anyway). Secondly, each follower has a support ability where they'll contribute to your effectiveness in some way but remain completely out of the battle, unable to do damage or be harmed. For example, putting Dawn Star in support mode will cause your Chi to regenerate during every battle. Depending on your fighting style, you'll most likely find that putting your followers in support mode is more beneficial to your survival throughout the entire game.
As you play through the game, it's probably easiest to choose whether you're going to lead a righteous (Open Palm) or sadistic (Closed Fist) character in general, and then maintain that consistency so that any powerful gems or styles come to you sooner. The game tries its best to give merit to both points of view, however your position on the OP/CF continuum boils down to what we normally consider to be good (selfless, helpful) and evil (selfish, hurtful) acts.
Since the game is fairly combat-heavy, here's a little about how it works. There are four categories of moves in the game: fast attacks, power attacks, area attacks, and blocks. With all of the styles that you gain, you will be able to perform these four categories of attacks, whether it be magic, martial arts (non-weapon), weapon, or transformation styles.
Each of the categories can counter at least one other category. For example, Fast Attacks will interrupt Power Attacks. Power Attacks are the only thing that can get through a Block, but they are fairly slow to initiate. Area Attacks will stun anyone not blocking and Blocks will block Fast Attacks and Area Attacks.
Fast attacks are done with the A or Mouse1 button, depending on which system you're playing the gameon. You can get rid of the vast majority of enemies by simply fast attacking continuously until they're defeated or use their block (which will show up as a yellow/orange shield). Once they block, immediately perform a power attack (X or Mouse2 button) or jump behind them and fast attack them from the other side. When fighting many enemies, try using an Area Attack when surrounded: A + X or Mouse1 + Mouse2. Other than that, if you are separated from an enemy and out of reach of your fast attack, jump over them using the directional pad toward them and the B-button simultaneously (or double tap the arrows keys on the PC version). Once you've closed in, use your fast attack. Finally, when entering a difficult battle, you may want to try Focus Mode with the Y button or "F" key. Focus Mode slows the movements and attacks of all combatants except your own. Think of it as "bullet time" without the detriment of your own character moving slowly. The mode continually drains your Focus, but can give you a huge advantage if you make the most of it while it lasts.
A note on upgrading your combat styles. Focus on upgrading the weapon style of your choice (staff or sword) and martial arts technique (such as Thousand Cuts) all the way. Bring them up together. When you gain new swords or staves, the upgrades you've spent will still apply to the new weapon. When you get the Chi recovery style Spirit Thief later in the game, focus on increasing its speed only to the maximum 25% and keep it hotkeyed. Also focus on upgrading the damage of at least one (and no more than two) transformation styles, such as Horse Demon or Jade Golem. I found magic styles to be a bit underpowered in this game (in terms of their speed to defeat an enemy) and chose to instead focus on my martial arts or weapon styles for taking out most every enemy. If you're playing the PC version of the game, then you have access to what are arguably the most powerful styles available - Iron Palm and Viper. Viper is probably the better of the two, as it poisons your enemies and easily has the fastest Power Attack of all the styles in the game. If you're going with a Closed Fist character, make sure you pick up all of the Viper doctrines to unlock it.
With regard to experience and items (gems/techniques), here's some advice. Read every scrollstand and bookstand that you come across for easy experience, and make sure to search every container (bones, chests, casks, urns, vases, etc.) that you come across. During the first half of the game, you'll most likely acquire the Gem of the Frail Scholar, which gives a 100% bonus to experience from scrollstands/bookstands. Make sure to keep this gem and equip it before every scrollstand for an easy and simple experience boost. You'll find that many containers are trapped, but luckily your character will avoid a good percentage of them with his or her Focus. The traps you fail to avoid won't really cause that much damage either, so I wouldn't advise equipping any "avoid traps" or "avoid trap damage" gems. Instead, the best gems to equip usually give you additions to all three stats (Body, Mind, and Spirit).
In addition to Body/Mind/Spirit gems, you'll find gems with bonuses to Charm/Intuition/Intimidation. These can be useful for specific encounters with NPCs giving quests, but in general I did not use them and had very little trouble influencing any NPC using my strongest ability (which is an average of your Body/Mind/Spirit stats). However, keep at least three of your most powerful Charm/Intuition/Intimidation gems just in case. You'll be selling off many gems and will not likely be buying many by the end of the game as the ones you find are usually better.
That about sums it up. On with the walkthrough!