To complete this achievement, you will need to enable two out of three of the Hard difficulty parameters (red icons) when first beginning a new game. While Cartographer and Battle-Hardened seem like the best choice at first glance, choosing Cartographer will likely make the game extremely frustrating by having no map. Navigating and locating items is already hard enough with a map. The battle system isn’t terribly hard once you get used to it and know how to optimize characters, especially on a second play through, so Permadeath is an easier choice.
A rough guide to how I did it is below. I was able to do it in 1/4th the time of my first play through and never came close to losing. Just remember that Mezey is the key to making things safe and easy regardless of your setup.
The short and to the point version:
Do this as a second play through after getting familiar with the battle system. Choose Battle-Hardened and Permadeath for difficulty settings. Make a Mage and equip the Bone Wand and Energy Orb items when you find them to easily stay alive. Use Mezey, buff his Vigor high ASAP, equip him with a shield and Hadur’s Set when found, and use Taunt all the time. Use his “Not Today” skill to heal everyone as needed and use Guard when he is low on energy to regenerate some. Watch as Mezey rarely takes more than a small amount of damage the entire game while you kill stuff quickly with spells.
The in-depth version:
You can choose a Mage for the quickest run or a Warrior for the safest. A Hunter is going to do much less damage than either until late game and die just as easily as a Mage. This is due to their need for high Agi in addition to moderate Int, Str, and Vigor to be useful attacking at close range and still stay alive.
If choosing a Mage, they will die some mid-game due to low health, but the other characters will be fine finishing the battles. Once you get the Bone Wand weapon and Energy Orb accessory, which will give 15% life steal and a permanent Energy Shield buff (absorbs some damage using energy instead of life), your Mage should heal up every spell cast and shrug off attacks as well as your other characters. Both items can be picked up before reaching Deep Copper Forest (can someone confirm where?), which is where you’ll need them the most against the “constantly attack your entire team” woodcutters.
If choosing a Warrior, focus on Vigor early on for the Life increase and then shift to Strength once you start finding items that require more and want to increase your damage output. Adding to Int some can be useful to increase your critical hits and energy, but Agility is largely useless due to the best Warrior armor negating the ability to evade attacks. Don’t bother with Taunt, let Mezey handle it. There’s not much else to being a Warrior in this game, just equip decent items as you find them and attack every turn. You shouldn’t die if you keep increasing your Vigor stat a point or two every few levels. Hitting 40 without equipment boosts is plenty though.
Mezey will be your best friend either way and is extremely hard to kill the entire game if properly setup. Bump his Vigor up early on, then add in a mix of Strength as needed to equip items you find. Starting mid-game, put some points into Wisdom for resists and more energy, but totally ignore Agility and Int. His armor usually negates Evasion and his Crit Chance will always be low. Equip a shield and Hadur’s Set when you get it. Use Taunt constantly and watch enemies entirely miss hitting him or him blocking most attacks. You can also use the “Not Today” skill to heal your party for 25% life as needed. When he is low on energy, use Guard to regenerate some. Water of Life is a good potion choice for him once you get it. Since he’s very hard to kill, being able to revive others to 100% life makes things easier.
For the most part, your other characters are just your preference. Pick the ones that do the most damage to speed things up, ones that provide some backup healing to be safer, or ones you find more interesting. The one exception that I recommend is using Csilla in the Gate to the Underworld area against the Busos. They are very annoying to fight and can continually skip your turns, but weak to her Charm skill. Once Charmed, the fights with them are much easier while they attack and counterattack each other for two rounds.