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Good battle system and ok story but not worth $69.99. I'd recommend getting it on sale but not at full price. A lot of RPG's reuse assets but this game does it so blatantly and so early it seems like they were on quite a budget with this. You run around the same areas and encounter reskins of enemies as early as 2-3 hours into the game. The pacing is very slot and new mechanics are introduced at a snails pace holding back the best part of the game (the combat). If you like grinding this is the game for you.
I will preface this by saying I'm not a stranger to JRPGs. Tri-Ace is behind this one and I am a Star Ocean fan so I was excited to give it a try. The game art looked colorful as well and that piqued my interest.
Characters and Story - It's a lot of metaphysical stuff involving life and death. Without throwing out major spoilers the story basically involves teenagers being ripped from their world and placed in another and the trials and tribulations that happen to them after that. I found the story, while not thrilling, to be the most interesting aspect of the game. The characters aren't anything to write home about although I found most of them interesting enough.
Exploration - There is an overall map where you can select destinations to travel to. Each destination has an overall quest to complete (such as fully explore the cave or get to the ground floor of the forest). When at a destination exploration in done on a 2D side-scrolling plane. While exploring you have the ability to jump (X button) and attack (circle button). There are mild platforming elements as you can jump over platforms, fall into holes etc. At first you will only be able to do a basic jump with other powers becoming available to you later. Enemies appear in your path and combat is initiated when you run into or attack them. By attacking them in the dungeon screen you can better set yourself up for combat.
Combat - This is the hurdle for me. The game will give you some very brief explanations of the basic mechanics and the general gist isn't hard to get. In combat each character is assigned a face button on the controller. When in the combat phase (one of two phases) you can press the buttons to "queue" character attacks. The limiting factor is "AP" or action points. Each attack a character uses takes action points and once you're out of those, the attack phase ends. In the defense phase enemies attack you and you have the chance to press the face buttons once again to tell your characters to guard, which just reduces the damage they take.
That's the combat in a nut-shell. Press the face buttons and actions are queued up and then carried out. The problem is the system seems so much deeper however the game doesn't make much effort to explain any of it. For my part, I played through many hours of the game just pressing the square button which just had the main character attacking multiple enemies with his sword. This doesn't seem "right" to me however the game doesn't let you know what "right" looks like and so far it has worked for me just fine.
The game mentions to you that enemies also have weaknesses which are represented by icons next to their health bar. Hitting an enemy's weakness with the proper attack gives you an increased chance at getting an item to drop from that creature (I think). The problem for me was the game never said what each weakness symbol meant so I never really knew what I should be attacking with, hence I always just pressed 'square, square, square, square, square' and attacked with Kanata (the main character) almost every time.
To explain it a little differently, imagine you and I just met and I am giving you the opportunity to drive a shiny new car. I tell you "Everything should be fine, the break and accelerator are there, the turn signal there, and the wheel moves like this." You say "OK, not too hard." I agree but also say "However! Be careful and watch the dashboard, there are many lights and they each mean something different." You of course would look at me and say "OK, but what do each of those lights mean?" To which I would say "Off you go! Have fun!" and walk away, you none the wiser as to what those lights really mean. This is what it's like playing this game. Stuff happens, and the lights are on, but you're never really sure if those lights are a sign of something good, bad or otherwise.
I tried searching through the help menu for more information but never really got any of the information I was looking for. Since I don't know if the way I am playing is right or wrong, I keep just trudging along pressing the square button to queue up the same attacks from the same character. So far it's been quite boring but the random insertion of character exposition has been just enough to keep me awake through the boredom.
Looking more into the game after the fact it appears this game plays very similarly to older games called Valkyrie Profile. I recall the names of those games but I never played them. If you happened to play and enjoy those games in the past though, it sounds like you'll enjoy this one too.
One thing I would like to mention that might help new players is to go through the menu options and select each one. The game will only display the initial tutorial screens for things when you select them (and the game will never instruct you to select them).
Overall, it's been a disappointing purchase for me (they can't all be winners though). I might be less bummed about the experience if I bought it for the current price (at the time I am writing this) of $20. I however paid the full $52 (after Amazon Prime discount) price tag. For $20 I would suggest giving it a try if you are into JRPGs. Go give some of the review content for the game on YouTube a look and see if any of it interests you. I would definitely not recommend the game for full retail price however.
With how much video games are capable of today, this game was a terrible disappointment. The plot came across as weak and the graphics and game mechanics left a lot to be desired. Not a game I intend to keep playing.
The stages are short...and pretty much look exactly the same...gameplay was awkward...graphics sub par...couldn't hold my interest and i am a hardcore RPG lover and give many games chances...this onw just fell flat on ita face...too boring.