Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is the third Sword Art Online game to come out since the original inception of the anime many years ago. This came out after SA: O (Sword Art: Original), and after that, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization. Then finally, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet that takes place in its own separate universe. So let's go ahead and get jumping into the game.
I'll just save you some time here. It sucks.
I mean, I was going into this game thinking that the game was going to be an absolute shitshow because the entirety of the SAO franchise has about as much consistency as a paper airplane that wasn't folded right. As I said before, Sword Art Online takes place in an alternate universe that is nothing like the original two. As SA:O takes place in its own universe, and SAO: Hollow Realization takes place in the universe of ALO, Fatal Bullet takes place in a universe called Gun Gale Online, or GGO for short. Which, by itself, was actually the best arc for SAO. But it's still bad.
Okay, so I'll just save you some time here and sum up the story in a few sentences, as the game doesn't really have a strong story department: It's bad. There are consistency issues all throughout the game, and the inclusion of different story modes throws curve balls at you like Nolan Ryan threw strikes (that's a baseball reference, folks). And some of them don't even make sense. For example, about 3/4s of the way through the game, a new mode is introduced called Kirito Mode.
Because of course, we need to include our shining hero of the franchise just to make sure he gets his screen time.
The entire reason you have to do this Kirito Mode is because of a player within GGO's universe who is killing players. Even though PK'ing in the game (which was said multiple times) is completely okay. He goes by the name of Death Gun, the most edgiest name that would put Shadow the Hedgehog in his place. This moment, this plateau of action, unfortunately, only happens about once you're 2/3s of the way through the game. The rest of the time, you'll be going from Point A to Point B in between, learning all about your characters backstory and what brought them to GGO in the first place.
There's Kureha, Zeliska, Itsuki, and Bazalt Joe who are new players to GGO, then you have all the favorite characters from SAO: Kirito, Asuna, Silica, Sinon, Leafa, Agil, Klein, and Lisbeth. I'm sure I am missing a few but I don't care because the game doesn't give me a reason to care about these characters other than the fact that they were stuck into the game just to ensure they got their appropriate screen time.
Okay, so going back onto the plot: Death Gun actually ends up being two different people. Which, looking back on it now, was a cool concept, because ever since NerveGears were banned due to the events that happened in SAO, new technology was implemented to stop that. However, Death Gun was working in conjunction with another person in the real world to keep his visage, his image, of being a psychotic murderer, while the person in the real world did the dirty deed. This was a cool idea to me, but.......there was no resolution to anything.
You go into Kirito Mode, because you have to in order to find out who Death Gun really is, go into a championship, beat his lanky ass, and figure out that there was another person behind the scenes pulling the strings.
...And that's it. There's no proper resolution for the arc, unless you go back to playing your created character.
It feels as though the entirety of the plot was mashed together in a blender when they were trying to make a margarita, but instead they ended up making a smoothie with ice chunks still in it.
So to wrap it all up: Nah man. Just don't.
Also, you can date your sister in the game in Kirito mode. No, I wish I was making this shit up, but no, it's an actual thing. Which goes to prove that Reki Kawahara is nothing but a pervert. But we already knew that.
Alright, in the vein that the story sucks, the gameplay is actually the most redeeming and probably the most addicting part of the game. There are so many good gameplay features. But in the same sense, there are also some bad gameplay choices that don't make sense unless you actually look up a guide of what you are supposed to be doing. So let's get the negative out of the way first.
After the Death Gun arc, a new mechanic unlocks called "Affinity" between all of your party members. You have to raise this Affinity to near max with all the original GGO characters (Kureha, Itsuki, Zeliska, your Arfa-Sys Unit, and Bazalt Joe). However, the game does not tell you about this new gameplay mechanic change in any way or fashion. And if you don't do it, you won't get the true ending. That kind of pissed me off.
HOWEVER, the gameplay features of this quickly outclass the shit story the game presents. As I am a gameplay trumps story kind of person, I quickly fell in love with how much you can actually DO in this game: From creating your character, from changing your outfits, to minmaxing your weapons to making sure they are the best goddamn shredders in existence.
So let's start. There is an extensive weapons system in this game that allows you to customize and enhance your weapons, up to a certain point, making it essentially a minmaxer's paradise. For example, Handguns in this game have some of the best Critical stats but have shit stopping power. So to compensate, you would stack some Weapon/Physical Attack on them to make them slightly stronger. Up to a point. There's a hard cap on how much you can upgrade your weapon and its stats, but when you reach that point, you are already powerful enough that you can destroy bosses in mere seconds with your weapon. And there are many many weapons you can acquire in this game. Handguns to Full Auto ARs, Burst fire ARs, grenade launchers, and rocket launchers. You can even hold a fucking Gatling Gun. A GATLING GUN.
The world of SAO: Fatal Bullet is massive, with 4 different areas (5 if you count the DLC) where you can go to...kill monsters basically. My favorite Area was an Area called The Old South, because it literally is a callback to NieR Automata's City Ruins. There are Side Quests in this game as well, which augment and complement the world of SAO: Fatal Bullet as well. But these are basically kill X amount of Y quests, looking for Treasure Chests in the overworld or in dungeons, or PK'ing other players. Basically, there's lots to do actually in SAO: Fatal Bullet, which is why I enjoyed the game so much. There are so many different build combinations you can do for your characters that one playthrough isn't enough to justify the game. For example, you can be a DPS Sniper, a tank who uses a Shotgun with CC abilities, a debuffer, a Support with massive Strength, basically anything you can put your mind to, you can do it.
So for all the faults that the game has, it has an equally amount of good gameplay parts. However, I will say without the DLC, you can't get into all the dungeons in the game, which I don't personally agree with. If you're gonna lock content behind DLC, it should be free, or not be in the map in the first place. Because I'm trying to get into the Demon Cave without the DLC and it wouldn't let me, even though there was a Quest there which required me to go to the Demon Cave so I couldn't complete it.
So all in all, the gameplay isn't bad.
It's.....about what'd you'd expect from a port. It works. That's just about it. I could run it at 60 FPS with no problems. Although, in some certain situations my frame rate would lock itself to 30 for no reason. I don't know if it's a Steam or a port issue but that was a minor inconvenience to me at most.
What WAS actually an inconvenience for me is that sometimes, button inputs are locked, or don't register. Since I played the game with a KB+M (because that's how you play shooter games you ingrates) my Sprint Dashes would sometimes register twice when I only pressed it twice, or I could get stuck in a crouch position after Evading for some reason. So that was mildly irritating.
The art for the game is...well, we all know the writer of the game is a pervert. There's no dancing around that.
And yes, you can romance all the characters in the game. And you kind of have to in order to keep the game moving along.
So nothing really special here. It works sometimes when it feels like it. Other times it's a nearly flawless experience.
So like I said before, this game has lots of redeeming features when it comes to the replayability of the game. Especially when trying different builds, or different characters, or different weapons. There are near limitless combinations available at your disposal and they are all at your finger tips. However, the only downside to the replayability I will say is that NG+ is actually harder in terms of coping with the mechanics than it is on NG. Which is why I highly recommend against NG+. Instead, just make a new character and build them up again with a particular build you have in mind. It will save you a lot of headache that way.
But yeah, in terms of Replayability, there is A LOT to have.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
This is kind of a tough one to decide. If you are one of those people who prefers story in their game, I would say give this one a hard pass. And probably the whole SAO franchise in general a pass. If you don't care for a bad story but want a good game, then yes, I definitely would say get this game. HOWEVER, I would highly advise against getting this game on a sale for -50% on Steam, for a comfortable $20 instead of the full asking price of $40. This game is not even worth $20 in some regards but that's a whole other can of worms that I won't open.
Overall: 6.3/10. Just okay
Oh fucking man.
This was a joyride, a rollercoaster of emotions that had me biting my metaphorical fingernails until the very end of the presentation. No other game has had me as captivated as this game, and Square Enix did a miraculous job with this title. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
"Everything that lives is designed to end. We are trapped perpetually in a never-ending spiral of life and death. Is this a curse or some kind of punishment? I often think about the God that blessed us with this cryptic puzzle...
...And wonder if we'll ever have the chance to kill him."
NieR: Automata follows the story of two characters, androids who are fighting machines on the surface of Earth several thousands of years into the future. The story follows 2B, a combat model, and 9S, a Scanner model. Their target: a large massive machine that is classified as a Goliath-class Unit. Being led by several other relative Units, named YoRHa Units, 2B commences a strike on the Goliath class Unit, striking at its weakness.
Afterwards, you meet 9S and team up with him to scavenge the abandoned factory for the large Goliath class Unit. The true enemy is swarming all over: machine lifeforms. After quickly dispatching them, 2B and 9S make their way to the very top of the factory where they fight and seize the Goliath class Unit.
NieR: Automata actually has a really strong opening that gives you a sense of danger and loss immediately, which pulls you into the gameplay that much faster. It's executed very well, and from that, keeps you on a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. That, combined with storytelling from multiple fronts (we'll go into detail about that later in Replayability, as there is a lot to cover in that one). As you progress onward, you'll see that the machines start to form feelings of hatred, wanting to have families, conceptuality; almost akin to human emotion. With you, the player, as an android, you are sent to strike down these machines, but you wonder along the way...How did these machines start to develop feelings? Or should they even be allowed to develop feelings at all? Or to even understand what it means to have emotions and feelings?
As humanity was wiped out several thousands of years ago, the inhabitants were launched onto the moon and were forced to live there while the fighting between androids and machines continued on the surface of Earth. Remember that as we go along.
Yoko Taro blends so many references together in a congruent fashion. You'll soon discover as you play through 2B's "route" (again, refer to the Replayability section), the machines soon become deranged, wanting to fell others to become Gods in their own right. And the mastermind behind this large scale attack? Two machines named Adam and Eve. Yes, the very same names from the Biblical reference. Eventually, before long, you kill Adam in order to quell the machine uprising, which however, throws Eve into a maniacal state and going on a rampage.
And that's the end of Route A.
And yeah, that's what I thought, too. That's it? That's the whole story? But then the game tells you to play it through again to experience the game from someone else's point of view.
Now, you play through the game again as 9S. The very same character that made his first appearance helping out 2B. You play through the story again, but as you play through the game...you realize that machines want to become human, more and more, displaying emotions that machines shouldn't exhibit. 9S however often reports that "machines don't have feelings" and that "the things they say aren't supposed to make sense". You'll see more development coming from Adam and Eve as characters than you did when playing through 2B's route, which gives Eve his motive for...you know, being an asshole. You also discover as you wake up from a strenuous fight one day while repairing your system as 9S that there is a confidential Bunker notice. It is explained throughout the game that YoRHa was established in order to fight the machine threat on the surface of the Earth. A separate subfaction, known as the Council of Humanity, was created to lead YoRHa along the right path. However, in the records established, there is no such thing as a Council of Humanity. Meaning that once 9S has access to this knowledge, he begins to become aware that something heavy is going on with YoRHa and the Bunker in general.
I for one personally had a problem with the fact that if something is supposed to be that confidential, what is it doing sitting in 9S' memory banks but whatever.
You then kill Eve again, and unlock Route B.
And then...whew, the game takes you for a wild ride.
Route C, D, and E, are probably where you are going to get most of your "feels" from the game. Route C, D, and E lets you play as the rogue YoRHa Unit, "A2", a defective combat model who was originally in YoRHa, but left. Originally, when playing as either 2B or 9S, you run into A2 during the course of your travels, fight briefly, then she leaves with a very cryptic message. "Command was the one who betrayed you."
Now, Route C starts off with 2B and 9S acting as a guerrilla tactical Unit providing support to other squadrons throughout the city, who have gone on a rampage ever since Adam and Eve were destroyed. Their rampage, however, isn't caused by them dying, it's actually from being disconnected from the network, a vast port where machines reside. At least, in theory, it's never really explained that well in the game aside from Archives (refer to Gameplay section). After wiping all of them out, a group of machines comes in, and, to pretty much sum up about ten minutes of backstory, fucking wrecks your shit, infecting the YoRHa battalion and all the androids in the vicinity, leaving 2B with a viral infection that, you, as 9S, have to solve. However, it's not enough and 2B is ultimately left to the fate of becoming corrupted by the virus. She isolates herself by slowly walking her happy ass (refer to CTRL + F and then "pacebreakers") all the way to an abandoned commercial facility where she is ambushed by several corrupted YoRHa models.
And this is where you take control of the rogue YoRHa fighter A2. By fighting them off, you are alleviating 2B of the responsibility of being a badass main character and shoving all of that on A2. Oh yeah, also, you kill 2B in the meantime because she doesn't want the virus to contaminate any more androids. 9S, however, is in the distance, and notices A2 killing 2B, and now he swears revenge on all machines and A2 for killing 2B.
After 2B's death, a giant tower struts up from the ground, mechanical in origin, which is explained later on as an "ark that is used to transport the memories of humanity to space to preserve their knowledge". Now the game gives you options: To fight either as A2 or as 9S. Both of them lead to the same conclusion, it's up to personal preference on how you want to complete it: 9S first of A2 first.
On A2's path, you discover machines attacking other peaceful machines who have no desire to fight. A2 originally thought, same as 9S, that all machines need to be destroyed because they are the enemy, but she then quickly realizes and changes her stance when these peaceful machines want to help androids. A2 is a character that comes off as incredibly jagged, almost careless and only pursuing one goal, while 9S however deteriorates into a manic being bent on revenge on all machines and A2 for killing 2B. As 9S, your responsibility is to acquire "keys" which are needed to get inside the monstrous tower. As you do, a girl in red, called the Red-Girl Assassin in the game, calls out to 9S, stating "We cannot be killed. We are infinite, yet we are finite. We are the collective consciousness of all humanity. We are the embodiment of the perfect being."
As you play along, A2 and 9S eventually meet up, fight a large Goliath class enemy. The game rapidly switches back and forth between A2's and 9S' perspective in dealing with the huge threat, and eventually the two team up and destroy the Goliath together. I use the term "team up" loosely, because after the fight, 9S wants nothing more than revenge for what A2 did to 2B. And then, depending on who you choose, you get to see two different endings, with humanity's thoughts and logic being launched up into space.
As you play through 9S' route, you discover that there is no more humanity. Nothing at all. Not even the people on the moon are real; their collective thoughts are stored on a consciousness on the moon. 9S begins to question the meaning of their existence if there is nothing to protect, as androids were tasked with killing machines and protecting humanity as their only values. Which...becomes the focal point of the story as you play as 9S. What is the meaning of life if there isn't something to protect?
Yoko Taro does an excellent job blending so much together in a cohesive fashion, even if the first ten hours or so of the game felt like filler and then playing through Route B again made it all completely impactless and pointless. At the very, very end, though, once you struggle through the entire game, you start to understand and empathize for all the characters: machines because they want to feel as human as possible in a desolate, lonely world, 9S because there is nothing more to protect since his concept of revenge has been shattered, and A2 because she goes from being narcissistic and angry to caring about machines, and even 9S, to protect and preserve his memories.
Alright, let's get the negative out of the way first.
YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE CLUMSIEST DUMB SHITS EVER.
And what I mean by that is they trip over every single object that they can find, or they just run through bushes at 200 miles per hour and stop for no reason. Now, this is one of the biggest gripes I had in the game: Pacebreakers. I didn't care at all about the fact that when I'm trying to get from Point A to Point B that my character that I was controlling stops ALL of their momentum and trips over a bit of rock or sand or goes into a bush and stops all forward momentum. It's irritating. I want to play a game to get immersed into THE GAME. I don't want to have to be constantly watching my feet to jump over every spot of what might be considered a trip spot or a pacebreaker because that's not fun. I didn't want to have to walk at 2 miles per hour when I was controlling 2B when she was infected by the virus because it breaks the pace of the game and makes it much slower than it needs to be. I don't want to be able to lose all my forward momentum when coming off a Glide because that's also a pacebreaker.
The world of NieR: Automata isn't as big as I had imagined it to be. Considering we are in an age of JRPGs with notoriously big areas and cascading plains, mesmerizing forests, and big blankets of snow areas, it disappointed me that the world of NieR: Automata only consisted of a few largely inhabited zones, but nothing really more grand-scale beyond that. I would have liked to have just a slightly more tad bit of variety with the maps. The Desert Area, however, was easily my most favorite area, tied with the Forest area.
Alright, now that all the negative is out of the way, let's focus on all the things the game does well.
The game can be split up into three different types of areas: 1. 2D top-down Flight Unit sections that function similarly to games like Galactica or Space Invaders, 2. 2.5-D Flight Unit Sections that function similarly to twin-stick shooters by using the Left Stick to move and Right Stick to Aim and fire, and finally 3. The RPG aspect of the game, where you are running around killing badass machines that are the size of skyscrapers.
And in those RPG sections, you can get 2D environments like this (which I didn't really care for), and other 3D environments which are gorgeous as hell.
The amass of enemies you can fight are incredibly vast, ranging from bipedal enemies to large cylindrical enemies that shoot out of all sides, to enemies that crawl around 2D environments like snakes. And then you have chances to fight insanely huge Goliaths in flight Units, making combat exceptionally large-scale.
Each character that you play as in the game has their own skillset and moves that you can utilize. As 2B and A2, you have a second weapon which you can equip that you can use with Y to keep your attacks going, and as 9S, you can hack into enemies with the Y button and get into a 2D top down twin-stick shooter portion, where you have a certain limit of time to defeat all the enemies in order to hack the enemy, dealing a shit ton of damage to them.
Unfortunately, I didn't like these sections too much because I'm horrible at twin-stick shooters. Don't expect me to be playing Metroid or any other twin-stick game in the future from now on. And the bullet hell when unlocking Route E....uggh. Never again.
As for the actual RPG portion of the game, it's quite robust. There's a multitude of Side Quests you can do if you're ever bored out of your skull and want to kill some time. Given the size of some of these quests, some of them take literally like five minutes to do. I think the longest Side Quest was still Emil's Determination, and that only capped out at about thirty minutes give or take.
You have a weapon selection system, ranging from Short Swords (Katanas), Large Swords (giant ass Katanas), and Spears (duh). I found Spears to be rather fun to use, but also clunky in some regards when fighting as 9S, but as A2 and 2B, Spears were incredibly fun. Short Swords are all around balanced and Large Swords favor more damage and swing really really slowly. Duh.
The kick though is, each weapon comes with its own backstory that you can view in the weapon information tab of your Main Menu.
This adds a really flavorful portion to the game and making weapons have sentimental value, instead of them just being static icons with damage values and combo values. I really appreciated that little touch.
There's a skill system in the game where you can apply chips to your characters to augment their combat abilities. But to be honest, once you have all the required chips, all of the other ones seem pointless. This is your chip setup for about 99% of the game once you get these chips: Deadly Heal, Vengeance, Anti-Chain Damage, Overclock, and any of the Maximum HP, Short Range, or Long Range Attack Up chips. Deadly Heal makes it so that you heal a certain percentage of your total HP after defeating an enemy, and since the game is pretty much a horde mode game where enemies come at you by dozens, except during Boss Battles, Deadly Heal is pretty much an auto-include. Vengeance reflects all damage back to the attacker, so it's also an auto-include. Anti-Chain makes it so that when you are hit, you are invulnerable afterwards for a brief moment. Overclock is whenever you execute a perfect Dodge, time stops for a brief amount of time, making everything trivial in said horde mode game.
All of the other chips are pretty novelties you can collect, like EXP gain, Offensive Heal (where you recover HP when you deal damage), and Auto-Collect Items (Hey, Warframe fans, there's your universal vaccuum). You can also remove your OS Chip and get a bad ending. And the hilarious thing about the chip system is that it works with flight Unit sections as well, so each time you destroy a dinky little ship after taking essentially 2 hits, you recover 50% of your HP, completely trivializing the game.
Of course, however, this is all for a Normal Mode setup. On Hard Mode, enemies become much much tougher, and Lock-On is disabled, and in Nightmare mode, you die in one hit.
And yes, I'm ballsy enough to try and do a Nightmare Mode run.
There's also online functions in the game. For example, if you are connected to the Network, you will find the corpses of all your YoRHa buddies scattered all over the world. You can pick them up and get their goodies, which augment you with certain abilities for a time, depending on what they were wearing when they died. Or, you can alternatively repair them and they can become your ally for an extended period of time. Which is cool.
The combat is very fun paced and I thoroughly enjoyed the combat in some regards. The beginning of the game is much much more challenging than the end of the game because enemies scale with you. It reduces the need to grind basically and lets you gather chips you may need in order to completely roflstomp the game later on. Oh yeah, and you also get to fight a huge colossus later on in the game in a sort of 2D fighter fashion- MAN YOKO TARO IS A FUCKING GENIUS.
So the overall consensus: The game difficulty is just about right for what the game presents. Fast fluid combat is balanced by expertly dodging and tactfully taking out opponents as they come at you. Or if you have Deadly Heal just go apeshit and kill everything in sight. It nails down some portions of the game completely right, but misses in actually immersing people in the game and WHY they want to play a game: to be able to run around fast and not be distracted by clutter on the ground.
Compared to probably about 99% of the dumbass Steam populace that can't seem to get this game to work, I actually had zero problems with running the game.
I just wanted to get that out of the way. You all have seen my computer specs. It's a fucking rig. And yet, I'm happy to announce that I had zero problems running this game at 60 FPS. The only time where my game would hiccup is during the City Ruins because it's a high foliage area, but otherwise, I ran everything at max settings and had zero problems. So...git gud.
The quality of the game is probably THE BEST part of this game. The game is fucking beautiful, the script and deliverance of the lines in said script is amazing, the characters feel alive with intentions, and the best part is...
THERE ARE NO SPELLING ERRORS IN THE SCRIPT.
Compared to the last two games I've played, not seeing any errors in what the characters say versus what the game shows us as text is relieving.
Each zone you go to feels so alive and beautiful that words like "mesmerizing" and "beautiful" don't even begin to describe it. Especially in the Forest Zone where you see giant castles and giant waterfalls cascading the landscape. You can definitely tell work went into this one, compared to the two previous shitty games I've played that were probably released within two months after the first idea was conceptualized.
And here's the kicker.
If any of you have watched the first twenty minutes or so of the recently hosted Game Awards show on Twitch, you will have seen that NieR: Automata got the award for the best OST for ANY game out of the year. And rightfully so.
Regarding Voice Actors for the game, Kira Buckland completely nailed the part of 2B, Kyle McCarley fluctuating between a respectable Scanner Unit to a ravaging husk filled with revenge and yelling, screaming even, to get the full inflection of his emotions, and Cherami Leigh nailing A2 in it's most professional form.
This is the first time I will have ever given a game 10/10 for its quality. Everything it does about Quality, it does right.
Except for the people who can't get this game to work. But they should just git gud instead.
Alright, so, I mentioned before that Replayability was going to be the key of this playthrough. This game forces Replayability on you, and it blends in with the story exceptionally well. So while it's not a replayability versus story thing per se, there is absolutely a reason to go back over and play through the game again. You get a Chapter Select so you can easily go back and clean up any side quests you may have missed. On your first playthrough, you'll probably be playing just for the story, but on your second playthrough, you can go back and get any side quests you may have missed as 2B, plus a few extra on top of that. And on your third playthrough, you finish everything humanely possible.
You can pretty much get 90% of what you need done in a single playthrough. The other 10% you need a guide for, since there IS a missable achievement/ending that you can't get one way or the other. And filling out all of the Archives takes patience and time. My finally tally was getting all the endings except for that one missable ending (because I played through without a guide) and getting about 75% of all the achievements? Give or take.
But yeah, in terms of Replayability, there is A LOT to have.
But be warned if you're trying to 100% the game, the game will force you to delete all of your save data, so if you want to 100% everything, you have to do everything else first before you do that. Just a word of caution. You can go to the fextralife wiki and look up NieR: Automata if you ever need to confirm the location of something, or to get that side quest you need, or that one ending you need, before trying to clear your Save Data.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Overall: 8.5/10. Amazing.
While definitely not high enough to give a Game of the Year medal or anything like that, this was definitely one of the better games that I was waiting to get my hands on, but wanted it to go for a reasonable price because of all the intense negativity on Steam and not getting the game to work.
Also, yes 2B's ass is good. Become ass gods.
Emotions are a very fragile core of our very hearts, but they can also become the strongest weapons if wielded properly. To watch friendships blossom, to have true love and friendship come to life, to have people rely on you and you rely on other people...these are all emotions central to the human heart, and why friendship is such a critical aspect in our lives and why it should never be taken for granted. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
Emotions. They are the basis of a human heart. And Blue Reflection is a compelling story following three girls who help those in their school, Hoshinomiya High School, overcome their emotions and let them fight on. Because I want you all to experience the story the same way I did, sit down in your chair, your bed, or wherever you are currently at right now, close out of other distractions...and put this following song on repeat and listen closely.
Blue Reflection follows a girl named Hinako Shirai, a first-year student attending Hoshinomiya High School. When the game starts up, you see her in a very solemn and very lonely state. Hinako originally before was the famous star of a ballet school, almost at the top of her class, but due to an unfortunate injury concerning her knee during ballet class, she would never be able to dance again. After the accident, she switched schools and was made to live a "regular life", as a schoolgoer. She was put into the 1-A Regular Class of Hoshinomiya High School, which has a less strict curriculum than the Special Class, but more about that later.
Hinako shortly thereafter runs into another girl, Sanae Nishida, who originally was in the same grade as Hinako in their previous school, has also transferred to Hoshinomiya to work on her cooking. The two bump into each other in the hallway, and Sanae is simply ecstatic. However, this triggers a change in the atmosphere...a side effect of uncontrolled emotions called "rampancy".
Hinako becomes teleported to this strange world thereafter with lots of flowers around and a very calming and serene atmosphere. However, a strange entity on the other side of the riverbank, a Demon, as it is called in the game, attacks Hinako and forces her into the river. Hinako drifts downward to a nearby spot, crawls out, and is surprised. However then, she hears two voices in her head that allow her to give her the power to eliminate the Demon. The two girls, Yuzu, and Lime, give Hinako the power of the Reflector: the power to balance human emotions through kindness and understanding.
After completing the dungeon, Sanae returns to her normal state, still admiring Hinako, but in a much less over the top way. The next day, Yuzu and Lime appear as classmates of Hinako's, with the intention of collecting Fragments, a collective of human emotions, to bolster the Reflector's power. The game then becomes about the three girls, Hinako, Yuzu, and Lime, as they collect Fragments through the Reflector's power in order to defeat the most menacing of foes in the world: Sephirot.
Along the way, you'll find more girls around the high school, such as Sarasa Morikawa, who originally looked up to Hinako as a rival in ballet and aspired to be everything she was, Rin Sanada, a tennis ace with a perfect record, who is amazing at cooking and loves older men (personally, my favorite girl), Ako Ichinose, a news reporter/broadcaster who wants to make friends through videos and sharing her upbeat personality, Shihori Sugamoto, who is a pervert and we don't associate with her, Chihiro Inoue, a cute girl who uses her arts and crafts to charm and make friends with everyone, Fumio Taya, a musical prodigy who works tirelessly to become the best musician, Kei Nariyama, a high school basketball star with pizzazz in sports, Kaori Mitsui, a gamer girl who was originally on the track team, along with Rika Yoshimura, track star who wants to break out of the "normal" nomenclature, Yuri Saiki, a genius girl who is emotionless and the toughest nut to crack, and Mao Ninagawa, a famous actress with dual personalities. Each of these characters brings so much life to the game and makes each character shine as though they were really alive, and not just 2D models in a game.
Eventually, emotions within the real world start to become more complex. Things start blending together and human become harder to understand for Hinako as she tries to fight her way to save her friends' hearts. Fear can spill into sorrow, happiness can spill into anger, anger can spill into sorrow, and everything just...comes together so well. The story was so amazing from beginning to end, as we see Hinako fight for what she believes in: her friends, her compassion, and her sense of conviction in doing the right thing. There are many beautiful moments throughout the story that can occur in every day life, ranging from dealing with troubled teenagers spouting rumours about you over the Internet, dealing with a high-class versus low-class daughter who can't follow their dreams, splitting from the track and field team due to not having confidence, not having someone to look up to in your darkest hour, and so on.
Through the collection of many Fragments, Sephirot appear to attack the school, and as is your job as a Reflector, it is your duty to reflect them off. However, later on, you get the ability to kill them outright anyway, which kind of makes the first half of the game just plot armor for Hinako. Which is one of the things I kinda didn't like about the game, personally. I would have rather they built up the power to completely annihilate Sephirot in the first place rather than it fall victim to plot convenience, but that's just being very nitpicky of me.
Also, Sephirot look fucking cool.
As you fight and fight, you discover that the "dungeons" you can go to is actually the basis of the human conscience and emotion. Now, I'm gonna draw a parallel to Persona 5 for a second here, since this game has taken a lot of inspiration from that game. This game has a place called "The Common", the place you go to to find Fragments and fight Demons in order to increase your power. Persona 5 has a place called "Mementos", the place you go to to find Quests and fight Personas in order to increase your power. Seem familiar?
Yeah, this game is a lot like Persona 5 in a lot of ways, where emotion and friendships are your quick ways to victory. However, I will say one thing, though. The two games are completely worlds apart. If we were to compare the two games as pizzas, for example, Persona would be a sausage and pepperoni extra large pizza with stuffed crust and a side of cheesy garlic bread. Blue Reflection would be a nice Hawaiian pizza with a side of bread sticks. Simple, but MUCH more casual than Persona 5. Streamlined in such a fashion that makes it feel like you aren't stressed for time trying to do the things you love and balance it out with fighting Sephirot.
Now I'm hungry.
As you play along, you'll discover the secret of the two young girls, Yuzu and Lime, who they really are, and why they chose Hinako as the source of the Reflector's power. Turns out, Yuzu and Lime are already dead. In a freak experimental accident gone wrong (totally not senor plot convenience, right?), a previous Sephirot wanted to try and merge The Common and the human world together, but failed. Yuzu and Lime were the result of that experiment gone wrong. However, their souls remain in The Common, but their actual identities are masked and no one knows who they are unless they have specifically come into contact with Hinako first, and given a ring to show that they are friends. By the way, if I ever got a ring from being friends with a girl, I'd marry her.
Then, the Sephirot who wants to erase all human emotion and existence comes after you defeat all the previous Sephirot.
Humans can be so frail and fragile as their bonds with friends crumble apart. Friends go away, relationships and hearts can be broken, people can even die. But that doesn't mean we should give up and lie down. It's in the endurance of the human heart to always persevere, no matter what, and this game has no shame in telling you that. The final boss makes you realize your fear and regret, your sorrow and your anger, and your wish to persevere humanity's wishes, with the concept of "never forgetting the people who made us get here in the first place", even if they aren't really there.
The story is easily one of the best parts about the game. GUST has always made games with really really good storylines because they work. Even though it's overly cliche with the whole schoolgirl trope, it still works. Unlike "That game which shall not be named" that I did last time.
Oh boy, is there a lot to talk about in this one.
This game is very casual. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, because it follows a system that is very barebones, but still gets the job done. Unlike Persona 5, where you had to grind to Level Up in missions, in Blue Reflection, all your Level Ups are handed to you as you progress. Meaning, that there is no real way to grind, except by doing missions and getting "Growth Points". So, while it doesn't typically follow the usual RPG trope, it's still a good experience.
As you can see here, you can level up individual stats for Hinako, Yuzu, and Lime, and depending on how you level them up, they will get skills based on the different types of "trees" you invest in. There's ATK, which is obvious, DEF, which is obvious, SPT, which stands for Special Time, which effects how fast you go in combat (more on that later), and TEC, which does things you may not normally expect from typical RPGs, like Critical Strikes and Luck, and also getting skills that decrease enemy stats or increase your own. The fact that you can mold your characters to suit any role is actually really really fun, and offers a lot of replayability in how you want to build your characters. To start off with, though, Hinako is generally a Jack-Of-All-Trades good in every scenario character, Yuzu is a tank......which is really strange considering she's the smallest character in the game, and Lime, who is a glass cannon.
Every character can learn some sort of healing skill, technical skill, or attack skill that makes them completely not worthless, but not every character will be strong in every situation either. So in that regard, you have to balance your characters through certain trees and make certain that you are investing your points wisely.
Now, let's get into the real bulk of gameplay: Battles.
Battles are fought as Wait-Time ATB, for those RPG Maker nerds out there who know what I'm talking about. You have your timeline at the top which is incredibly easy to follow: Your turn on the left hand side, the enemies on the right hand side. When a target gets to the middle, they get to take their turn. Incredibly easy, straightforward, and to the point. And there are also attacks that help manipulate the timeline, for example "Bewitching Ivy" for Yuzu, which can knockback a foe on their timeline, and puts two "nodes" on the timeline that, when they get to their turn, knockback the same foe again. So there are lots of clever ways to manipulate the timeline to your advantage.
However, with it comes a little bit of a negative I have with the combat.
It's too easy. Along the way, you get a skill for Yuzu called "Grape Wave", which deals a shit ton of damage, knocks back foes, and has very little Wait Cooldown before you can take your turn again. Although it costs a lot of MP, you get all of it back anyway at the end of the fight, so all you have to do is spam "Grape Wave" for a majority of your fights, and....you win. And it's like that for a majority of the game after unlocking "Grape Wave", which might I add is a Story Skill, not a skill you get from unlocking and investing Points into trees. If "Grape Wave" were like that, I would have had a MUCH MUCH more fun time with the game, prioritizing strategy and actual thinking, rather than just spamming one single move over and over and over and over and winning constantly. That's not really fun. And because of that, a LOT of other skills during combat aren't really that usable, especially anything with "over time" in it's skill description.
There is difficulty select, but all it does is make the enemies more spongy, doubling their health. It doesn't change the attack values for the enemies or increase their loot drops or anything like that, which is really a bummer, because if that were the case, I could have flown through the game on Hard difficulty without even breaking a sweat.
Another reason why the combat is so easy. Do you see the Reflect 40% in the corner? That's a special mechanic called Ether Gauge. When it's at 30%, 60%, or 90%, you can use a special ability called Overdrive, which gives up a portion of Ether Gauge to give the turn character an extra action. If enemies didn't die to Grape Wave from Yuzu, the next step would be to use Overdrive on Hinako, use her Attack Up Skill, and then use an attack that hits all enemies and kill them that way. No matter what I did, it seemed like I was always striving for a challenge in combat when it really wasn't there. Even Sephirot fights are ridiculously easy if you know how to use Overdrive, Guard, and other commands at your disposal.
There's no Equipment, no money system, or anything of the sort. Everything is done by stats. Which is both kinda positive and negative. It makes it more casual, but it also makes a lot of the game straightforward and one-dimensional in terms of what you can do.
So while the combat isn't that great, there's a lot of variety with what you can do regarding skills. It's just a shame that Grape Wave is so ridiculously overpowered, especially in a game where you get all your HP/MP back at the end of the fight. If that didn't happen, combat DEFINITELY would have been a lot more challenging and more strategic.
However, onto some of the good things about the game.
Like Persona 5, at the end of the day, you can invite certain girls to hang out with you at various locations: The Tomb, The Convenience Store, The General Store (which is kind of the same thing, game. .-.), the Theatre, the Arcade, the Photo Booth, and the Bus Stop. Do this repeatedly, and you'll get special perks in combat when you fight against Sephirot.
As you develop Friendship Points with your friends, you can unlock some of their most powerful Fragments. And Fragments are easily the most awesome thing about this game, which is why I'm super frustrated why I didn't take a picture of it when I did my playthrough. Fragments are, in essence, upgrades to your already awesome abilities. For example, think back to Grape Wave being ridiculously overpowered. Now imagine it having a less Wait Cooldown time and always guaranteeing a critical hit with 20% more critical damage. Or a heal-all spell that charges up your Ether gauge and also gives everyone an Attack Up buff. Or my personal favorite, a spell that increases every party member's Attack and Critical Rating, but lowers their Speed, which is then counterbalanced by a ridiculous "target party member gets ATK+, DEF+, SPD+, LUK+". Yeah, there are a lot of crazy synergies you can pull of in this game to make your combat experience even sweeter. And that's definitely one of the high points of the game for me.
Grape Wave is still broken though.
And each character you are friends with comes with their own set of Fragments, and as you do their Dungeons, you can get some of their most powerful Fragments. Your best friends are definitely the ones that increase efficiency when over 20% Ether, "Changes the equipped Skill", and anything that gives an ATK+ buff, as those are your most powerful tools.
As you fight in The Common, you can obtain items from the monsters you defeat, which can then, in turn, be used to craft certain things. And while I couldn't get a screenshot of the crafting menu, the crafting menu is entirely complex, needing materials from three different, sometimes all four zones, and finding all the similar ways to get the items actually is the only real "farming" you have to do in this game, especially if you're going for 100%, like I am.
So yeah, while the combat is very bare bones, it's still experimental in some regards. Bottom line, I wish it would have been more challenging, but we can't always have everything great in life.
This is both the best and worst parts of this game, strangely. And I'll go into a few details why.
This game is fucking beautiful at 1080p.
I know the screenshots don't really do it justice but EVERYTHING LOOKS SO FUCKING GOOD AND IT'S LIKE HNNNGGGHHH I CAN'T TAKE ALL THIS BEAUTY. And it runs wonderfully in 60 FPS as well with no frame drops!
....And then there's cutscenes, which look ugly as hell with 480p definition and choppy texture, like it's run through a grain filter from something in the PS2 era. And they're locked to an ugly 30 FPS, which is one of, if not my biggest pet peeve in games. If you're gonna have a game, make it run at either 60 FPS all the time or 30 FPS all the time. Preferably the former. But don't have inconsistencies in your game that ruin the quality experience for viewers.
Maps are fucking beautiful and sometimes I just spent my time walking around the Sorrow Area (pictured below) and Happiness Area (pictured above) just taking screenshots because I had nothing better to do.
The music is easily the best soundtrack I've heard in years. And that is not an exaggeration. Every track in the game has a beautiful oscillating piano line that is absolutely heart-trembling and amazing. Every track in this game felt vibrant and colorful. The best word I can use to describe this game's soundtrack is....electric.
When you're fighting a Sephirot, the music absolutely makes you want to get your blood racing.
When you're out in school and the rain starts pouring down on you, there's somber music to go along with it.
When you're hanging out with one of your friends, it plays really calm music. Everything about the soundtrack is so incredible and easily one of the highs of the game.
Every track fits in with the game so well. Especially in the Fear Zone, which is easily the most unsettling track in the entire game, with off-beat and off-key piano strokes hidden behind a filter that screams uncomfortable.
...*sigh* And then camera angles like this can happen where you're stuck looking at the ground and not being able to take in the scenery of the game.
And yes, that's me with the maximum amount of tilt DOWN I can go.
And now for the negative, besides the gross looking cutscenes. The script looks like it was rushed and made in two days. There are spelling errors and grammar mistakes all over the place. It really ruins the immersion of the game when there are constant spelling mistakes. Mistakes that can easily be rectified by plugging your script into Microsoft Word, hell, even NotePad of all things! And the port on Steam is riddled with gross and quite often, frequent, crashes whenever a cutscene decides to play. I know TecmoKOEI aren't the best at making ports, given their ignorance to the DW series and Toukiden, but come on, this is ridiculous. I don't want to have to lose 45 minutes worth of progress in the game due to a random infuriating crash.
Quality is hit and miss, honestly. Depends on if you're a graphics freak like I am, but infuriating random crashes aren't tolerable. Everything else about it was good, though.
As stated before, there's a lot of different things to do regarding building your characters, and there's a New Game +, but unless you're going to 100% the game the first time, there's really no reason to go back for a second playthrough unless I really really loved the game as much as I did. So ultimately, that's not really the greatest of determiners for a game's replayability value, but honestly, there needs to be a reason to go back through the second time and cherish the game as much as the first time.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Absolutely yes. However, don't buy it on a whim like I did for the $59.99 price tag when it has glaring issues with the port development, such as lackluster cutscenes and random crashes. Wait until it goes on sale for about $40 before trying to consider this game. It's at least not as bad as NieR: Automata in terms of port development, but it still has glaring issues. Unlike NieR: Automata, there's no fixes for the crashes either. But if you want a casual RPG you want to breeze through while looking at cute girls, then this is absolutely your dream game. If you want to buy this thinking it might scratch your Persona fix, you'll be disappointed as those two games are worlds apart. It's still a very fun game in its own regard, and I highly recommend it.
Overall: 7.6/10. Great.
Now take the absolute best track in the entire game no questions asked.
Before I officially begin this review, I want to state the following: There are going to be a lot of references drawn to Tales of Zesty, since both the world of Berseria and Zesty are actually connected. That does not mean I automatically think one game is better than the other, or that I'm not treating the game fairly on the basis that it should be its own game, or some stupid shit you people come up with. Since the game is connected to a previous installment of the franchise, however, I WILL critique that based on how well it filled the plot holes left behind by Zesty.
Tales of Berseria is a wonderful masterpiece of a story combined with horrific and thrown-together combat that screams afterthought. Berseria should have been a Visual Novel instead of an actual Tales game, considering how unbalanced and cheesy the combat can be. More critique on that later. I know you all are just itching for me to review this game (and by review I mean absolutely destroy and shred it) so let's get into the bulk of things. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
"Why do birds fly"?
This is a motif that becomes apparent throughout the game as you play Velvet Crowe. Velvet is a...we'll say "farm girl" who lives with her younger brother, named Laphicet, and her father-in-law, Arthur. The game opens with a dramatic chase scene throughout a forest as Arthur, Laphicet, and Velvet all are running away from daemons. And yes, you couldn't come up with a more unoriginal name. Arthur and crew are then stopped by some daemons along the road. Arthur fights them off with his big heroic giant sword that's seen in every anime thus far and then takes his children to underneath a nearby tree, gives them both an apple, and, to save you ten minutes of pointless exposition, tells them to be safe. Arthur then proceeds onward, but Velvet, being the curious and feisty little shit she is, doesn't listen and trails Arthur. When she arrives to where Arthur is at, she sees her older sister, Celica, floating in air as a sort of sacrifice with two giant needles of light stuck through her body. Then Arthur turns towards Velvet.
And it WAS ALL A FUCKING DREAM.
Like, seriously, you couldn't put any less thought into the fucking story you lazy shitheads?
Anyways, time skip I think seven years later (I couldn't care less because opening with a dream sequence is probably the greatest sin in all of gaming history) where Velvet is now taking care of Laphicet in place of Velvet's older sister, Celica. Velvet completely loves Laphicet, would do anything for him in the world to see him safe and to keep him protected. The setting takes place in a farm village named Abala (If I remember correctly? Like I said I could care less) where everyone is hanging out enjoying their life and is in no way shape or form going to be turned into a monster's den of daemons somewhere in the near future-oops, spoilers.
Anyways, farm village girl Velvet is pretty cute.
After about an hour of doing pointless hunting that serves no actual purpose to the story, you come home, go to bed, and realize that it has become a "Scarlet Night". This phenomenon happens once every three years, where the moon glows bright red, and that some type of God or something that people worship demands sacrifice or something, I don't really fucking know. Velvet wakes up, realizes Laphicet is nowhere to be found, and, oh wouldn't you know it, the entire village has become a monster's den. I TOTALLY DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING.
Velvet runs through the village (You have to, you can't fight them, which is extreme bogus considering what happens in about five minutes or so), goes up to the cliff where the sacrifice is being held, which is the same spot where Celica was sacrificed, and Velvet sees Laphicet hanging in the air, same as Celica, with Arthur standing right below him. And then, SHUNK.
That was my best sword impression.
And then there's this.
Velvet then flies into a complete frenzy and tries to kill Arthur. However, Arthur, being the badass and antagonist that he is, is just no match for farm village girl Velvet. She lunges herself down into the sacrificial pit where Laphicet fell, attempting to protect him, but she gets swallowed up by a huge-ass dragon thing that looks like it came from the Seven Dragonballs. Really cool CG by the way. Anyways, Mr. Dragon man doesn't like that, spits out Velvet, and she comes back with a few extra hormones, her entire body taken over by Edginess, and a fucking badass left arm. She then proceeds to scream four thousand times as you try and fight off the daemons and ultimately Arthur, which, after wiping them all out, Velvet realizes were the other townsfolk, and flies into yet again a complete frenzy, lunging at Arthur. However, he sees past the bullshit and smacks her in the chest and down she tumbles into the bottomless pit.
Timeskip three years later.
You awaken in a prison island. How you got there is beyond me since on the world map Abala and Titania are in two completely different sections of the world map AND THAT REALLY FUCKING PISSES ME OFF WHY DO PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT CONSISTENCY-
You are greeted by someone. A malakhim. Malakhim are...let me simplify this so that it's easier to understand. They're Zesty's version of Seraphim. Pretty much.
After a tense fight and a pointless tutorial about how to dodge (I'VE BEEN PLAYING TALES GAMES FOR FIVE YEARS NOW, YOU DON'T THINK I'D KNOW HOW TO DODGE AT THIS POINT-), Velvet takes the malakhim under her control and the two escape through the prison island.
Oh, and, you start a prison riot in order to escape. That's pretty cool I guess.
During the course of the prison riot, you find a bunch of Exorcists, commanded by Oscar, who are pretty much this game's bad guys. They use Malakhim as tools and have suppressed their free will in order for them to inevitably do their bidding. After fighting Oscar, one of these said Malakhim is like "fuck you bitch" and turns into a dragon. It's explained later on as to why they change into Dragons, but keep this word in mind: Malevolence.
So you get to kill a Dragon. Woohoo.
During the fight, the Dragon is too powerful to tackle alone so you team up temporarily with Oscar to take him down. Then you eat the girl that was traveling with you or something so you can become stronger or something. And no, not in that way you filthy degenerates. Then you kill a dragon. Woohoo.
After that, Oscar runs away like a little bitch.
Oh yeah, I forgot you run into Rokurou in the course of escaping from the prison. Also along those lines, you find a witch named Magilou (UGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH) and a sailor named Dyle. You hijack a ship from the Titania Prison Island Docks and set sail. And then you get shipwrecked.
And after that you get to hear 40 hours of Velvet whining about "I don't care about anything as long as I get my revenge on Artorious (Arthur, a.k.a.)". Which goes back to a point I want to make: Revenge plots never work out. They always end with suffering and despair and ultimately, there's just a giant pitfall of sadness. With the way Velvet portrays herself in the game, where she doesn't care about anything other than getting revenge, it's honestly hard enough to care, as a player, about someone like that.
Eventually, you find Eizen (does that name sound familiar to you? It should, as he's a boss in Tales of Zesty) and he's a fucking badass.
Oh yeah, and you also meet a little kid I guess who's named Number Two but after about twelve hours of him being useless Velvet decides to call him Laphicet because FUCK ORIGINALITY AM I RIGHT? Oh yeah, and also Laphicet Version 2 has a giant crush on Velvet for whatever reason. How anyone can have a crush on someone who yells "DIE DIE DIE" is utterly beyond me.
Oh yeah, and there's also an Exorcist bitch you come across periodically in your travels named Eleanor who starts out as a nuisance and quite quickly becomes my favorite character in the entire game. Not just in her story and why she chose to travel with Velvet but because she fucking rocks in combat. Despite her being very dramatic and quite a nuisance in the early game, she gradually opens up to everyone and easily becomes one of my favorite characters.
Eventually, Velvet finds an answer to the million dollar question that everyone in the game seems to ask like every ten seconds. Why do birds fly?
REALLY? THAT'S YOUR RESPONSE YOU STUPID DUMB FARM VILLAGE GIRL? WAY TO MAKE MY 50 HOURS IN THE GAME COMPLETELY WORTHLESS!
As you can tell, I didn't really like the story of this game all that much. Not because of the way the story was handled (it could have been done a lot better in my opinion, starting with Velvet not being so much of a bitch, for one), not because of the characters, but because...everything you do just feels pointless. You run around for 40 hours before Velvet finally realizes her quest for revenge will never fully come to fruition, and at that point, the game just takes a dramatic spiral downwards because, yes, it IS all pointless.
Revenge is pointless. Don't make it the central core plot device of your game. Game Dev-ing 101 folks.
About halfway through the game, after doing a quest where you have to go through an underground water temple or some shit that triggered me because it reminded me of Zestiria's Water Temple, the village along the coast, Haria, turns into a den of monsters, similar to the beginning of the game. Once you escape from the town, you soon realize something. See, there's this "disease" that everyone refers to as daemonblight. The Abbey (the big bad guys) coined this term because when you contract daemonblight, you eventually lose your senses and turn into a daemon. This isn't the case, it's all a lie. There is no such thing as daemonblight. What actually triggers people turning into daemons is malevolence. And you'll see me use this term a lot, because it ties in with Tales of Zesty. The malevolence, ill intention, and hatred that we have in our human hearts is what makes us turn into daemons, not some crazy disease spreading around. In Zestiria, those afflicted with malevolence were called hellions. In Berseria, they're called daemons. It actually sets up Zestiria's plotline really nicely as now, it makes sense. Along with that, we learn that people have started calling Velvet the "Lord of Calamity". Sound familiar? That was the final boss in Zestiria. So in essence, Berseria sets up Zestiria's plot, seeming as how Velvet is technically the very first "Lord of Calamity".
Oh yeah, and Laphicet Version 2 at the end of Berseria becomes Maotelus. Maotelus, in Zestiria, is this fictional being that is designed to bring peace to the world by eating Hellions and Seraphim alike. How a little boy of 12 years of age grew to become one of the most notorious figures in Zestiria still boggles my mind, but you know. It's a game.
There's also Zaveid. <3
Anyways, I realized I may have went on a bit too long with the story, but don't worry, the gameplay portion will be really really short. Mainly because you'll read the first sentence and I will have wrapped up the entire sum of gameplay for Berseria. So don't worry. It at least had a somewhat better story than Zestiria, bottom line.
The gameplay sucks.
Yeah, you didn't think you would be hearing that coming from a Tales game, would you? The massive pioneers of putting great gameplay before anything else, right?
No, the gameplay actually sucks in this game.
Granted, it did SOME things right with the actual MECHANICS of the system, like how you're not stuck to a line anymore and can freely move around the battlefield. In a 3D environment. Not like Zestiria did it. Your arte skills are also no longer bound to which direction you push the analog stick, and instead, all four of your face buttons to a different attack. This makes combat a lot more fluid, intuitive, and feel actually wonderful to play.
...Until you get to the actual reason why the gameplay sucks.
At the start of each fight, you get 3 souls. They're the little blue diamonds in the corner of everyone's portrait. You can upgrade your souls as you fight by inflicting Power Hits, inflicting Stuns on an enemy, performing a Perfect Dodge and getting Souls that way, or just straight killing the guys. Out of all four of those options, only one of them is really a consistent means of upgrading your Souls. When you inflict a Power Hit on an enemy (using moves that hit an opponent's weakness), they take more damage. If you manage to hit all of the opponent's weaknesses, it starts a Chain. When an enemy is under a Chain, they're more susceptible to being Stunned. However, even if you manage to Stun an enemy, there's no guarantee you'll actually get a Soul for all of the hard work that you put in. It's completely random. Same with getting a Perfect Dodge. As you can see in the screenshot, I managed to Perfect Dodge and a Soul popped out. Yet, it's completely random on how these things work out.
So you might be asking why is this a bad thing, you might ask?
There are abilities you get throughout the game that take advantage of how many souls you have. By expending a Soul, you unlock a move that is more powerful than the rest of your moves (in the case of Velvet). But you can only use these moves if you have more than 2 Souls. Since you start off with 3, you can only use it once before you inflict a Stun, dodge perfectly, inflict a Chain attack, or beat the fucker to a pulp. Not only that, they are your primary source of healing. Remember that as I move along to this next section.
So you might be asking why is this a bad thing, you might ask?
There are some enemies in the game who like to start with a certain skill, called "X Break", where X is the most annoying status ailment you can think of given your particular situation. Not only do these incredibly powerful attacks have a wide area of effect and inflict Status Ailments, they Break your Guard if you try to Guard, AND reduce your Souls immediately. Tell me that's not a bogus idea to not only inflict Paralyze, but also reduce your ability to fight and heal for almost every single party member unless you happen to miraculously dodge at JUST the right time. Remember how I said before that Break Souls are your primary source of healing? Yeah, Healing Artes in this game are fucking useless. Oh, here, take this First Aid spell that heals you for 20 damage.
I don't think I need to explain any more than I already have.
Ultimately, the gameplay wears itself down to, if you can get all the enemies in a corner and wail on them with all of your best attacks, accumulate a shit ton of Souls, and spam RT as it is the most powerful attack at your disposal, you'll win and be fine. But take note that enemies can also Stun you just the same as you can to them, and when that happens...well remember this. If you get Stunned, not only do you lose a Soul but you take more damage as long as you are Stunned. And, as if by some miraculous exploitation of Artifical Intelligence, as soon as you are Stunned, ALL OF THE ENEMIES in the fight will run up to you and start hitting you immediately. And then you're dead.
That's not fun at all. That's unbalanced.
Granted it's unbalanced for both sides as you can get everyone into a corner and hit them like a punching bag, which is what this game's strategy is, but it's also unbalanced because enemies have these particularly powerful and unbalanced moves like "X Break" or Soul Burst (gives them additional Souls while you lose Souls) that you can't do anything about. It ruins the fun and adds artificial difficulty to a game with a broken ass gameplay system.
You know, looking back on it now, Tales of Zestiria's combat system was way more fun than Berseria's, even though you were locked to a linear battle system. You know why? BECAUSE IT WORKS. There weren't broken enemies who spammed X Breaks or Soul Bursts or did overly insane amounts of damage.
And this is all on Simple mode by the way. I got so fed up with combat that I just said fuck it and blazed through the fights because I absolutely hated the combat in this game. The first time I can say I was incredibly incredibly disappointed with a game's combat system.
You get Mystic Artes quite early in the game, actually, at about 8 hours in and like when you're Level 10. And I know that's what all of you came here for, right? To see Velvet's bright and shiny face light up when she does a Mystic Arte?
There are some other gameplay aspects I'll go into here but FIRST. Mystic Arte showcase.
DAMN IT, I DIDN'T TAKE ONE OF SPIRAL HAIL GDI-
Needless to say, Eizen's "Perfect Mayhem" and Eleanor's "Spiral Hail" are among the top two of my Mystic Artes in this game. Both of them are just so amazing and I have nearly fallen over out of my chair pretending to stab something as if I'm Eleanor. Oh, and punching the air is pretty fun, too.
Like in the previous game, you can upgrade your equipment. The amount of skills and battle prowess you get from upgrading your equipment can drastically change how fights work. For example, if you upgrade your equipment enough, you may get extra BG, which is needed to activate Mystic Artes, or gain extra Souls at the start of combat. However, the shortcoming of this is you have to go into the shop menu to disassemble items you don't want or don't need anymore. From those dismantled equipments you can get various materials used to upgrade equipment. However, if you've been grinding in a certain place for hours on end and you have about 100 pieces of equipment in each category, like I ended up having once, you have to spam the A Button in order just to get through all 100 pieces of torturous equipment. And by that point, your thumbs probably already hurt because you're mashing the buttons in combat just to have a chance. So, while it's a good system, it has quite a few shortcomings associated with it.
There's, umm...there's card games.
I'm gonna be honest, I spent almost zero time playing the minigames. They're just pointless. And they are extremely confusing to understand, especially Card Heroes, like pictured above.
But I guess if you wanna waste your time, go ahead.
So the main bulk of gameplay is basically get beat up, die a lot, get frustrated, stop playing the game for about a week, suck it up, do it again, miraculously do 100000 damage in a single hit because what the fuck Velvet is OP, and then fly through combat.
OH, BUT YOU DO GET A SKATEBOARD-I mean, A GEOBOARD THAT LOOKS LIKE A SKATEBOARD!
This game was rushed. It's painfully obvious and Namco Bandai didn't even bother to cover up that fact.
Take the following skit for example:
And yes, skits are back as usual.
But look at the following text. The voice actor for Eizen, however, ends up saying something completely different, something along the lines of "And what's wrong with having some dreams? It's a great opportunity you have. You all just don't get it."
And this just doesn't happen once. It happens A LOT. Like, it's like the script for the game and what the voice actors are saying are completely different. It's like Namco Bandai gave the script to the actors incomplete and just said "Ad-Lib the parts we didn't fill in because we're too lazy for that and it isn't our first priority."
Remember when annual games used to be good?
However, I can't say that the voice acting in the game was all that terrible. Most of you have probably seen this scene floating around on Youtube, but it perfectly showcases just how well Velvet's VA nailed the character in question.
Probably one of the best delivered scenes in the entire game in my opinion. But unfortunately, it doesn't overshadow all of the other problems regarding how rushed the game was regarding skits, scenes, and "lost in translations" the game got.
Yeah, yay, New Game +.
Why the fuck would I want to play through this garbage game again?
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
No. It's not good, honestly. If the combat were to be completely gutted from the game and the story to be the main drive and focal point, with a bit of better execution, I probably would have liked it more. I've played games with a good story with slightly less good gameplay (Nights of Azure), but this game's gameplay is just downright ridiculous. Stay away from this one.
Overall rating of the game: 4.5/10. Terrible.
Now take some music or some shit, I don't care.
WARNING: The following review contains sensitive material, including but not limited to, sexual innuendos, nudity, and tig biddies. If any of the following scenarios offends you or simply cannot stand these sorts of things, or if you are a lolSJW, please pass this review up. Otherwise, go straight ahead and look at your own discretion. You have been warned. This is in big bright red letters to tell you that you have been warned.
Valkyrie Drive -BHIKKHUNI- is the newest hack n' slash created by the wondrous and illustrious people who made the Senran Kagura series. I...use that term loosely. More like perverts. Replace people with perverts. Anyways, Valkyrie Drive breaks off from the traditional hack n' slash route that the previous games had and replaces it with a more fluid, engaging, and....perverted style of combat. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
I wish I could say something about the story except big tiddies.
Actually, the game is kind enough to let you know the entire plot of the story in the most boring way possible: tell, don't show.
So because all of these girls miraculously got infected with a virus that turns them into lethal weapons, they have been "sent" to various islands which were built in order to "cure" the disease. One of the islands, named Bhikkhuni, acts as both a typical high school environment coupled with a beach resort-esque feel, along with training grounds for combat.
The story opens with two girls. Yes, they're all girls in this game. The game follows Rinka and Ranka Kagurazaka, who have just arrived on Bhikkhuni and are being treated for their infection, which the inhabitants of Bhikkhuni call "V-Virus". The "V-Virus", in short, allows girls in their teens and twenties to tap into their potential and their feelings to create weaponry in combat. Or just use it as an excuse to get naked. Unfortunately, Rinka is a fucking clutz and loses the boarding passes after they arrive on Bhikkhuni, so now they must fight their way through local hoards of defensive robots in order to showcase their skill. After that, you'll get two more characters who join you: Mana Inagawa and Momo Kuruzyu. The former we like, the latter we hate.
After that, the director of the island, who also has big tiddies, comes to greet the four girls who are conversing.
It's here that the story kind of takes off, as the Director tells the girls that they have a special strain of the "V-Virus", known as the "VR-Virus". The director also then explains to the girls that there are other inhabitants on the island who have the same strain of virus as they do, and that there is no cure to the "VR-Virus". As of yet. However, one of the ways the director suggests of coping with the virus to fight other girls who host the same virus. So yes, we have a bunch of scantily-clad chicks fighting each other on a daily basis. Sounds like every boy's dream.
As the girls train, they come across the Four Pillar Gods, each representing a different integral part of a fighter. There's Kongo, who represents Strength, Gauzongo, who represents Technique, Dai-somethingorotherIcan'trememberallthesegoddamnnames, who represents Vitality, and then at the top of them all is...you know what, I'm just gonna call it Red Dragon because I can't be bothered to remember all these goddamn names. We're just calling them Stony Girl, Red Dragon Girl, White Tiger Girl, and then Green Dragon Girl at the very top.
And yes, they're all girls.
There are then three more other girls that make an appearance in the story. There's Viola (we hate her), Manpakumaru, who is a ravenous glutton and eats all of the food in sight (we hate her), and Koharu, which is the head of pretty much the "Student Council" on the island (we're iffy about her, she seems cool but she seems like too much of a badass to be goodie goodie two-shoes).
That pretty much, more or less, explains the plot of the story. Some of the girls have their own intentions as to their way of expelling the virus from their body, whether it be backstabbing their closest friends in order to be recognized in terms of power, or just rising quickly through the ranks of the society on the island.
Also, you'll never guess which one the older one is. Go ahead, I dare you.
So, story. .....Boobs.
Lots and lots of oppai.
This is where most of the magic happens.
As I said, Valkyrie Drive is a hack n' slash that follows the same formula as the previous games in the franchise, Senran Kagura. However, when I first got into fighting, I was actually surprised at how many different mechanics and options there are in combat. Different from Senran Kagura and the games before it, the combat feels much more fluid and much more "flashy" (that wasn't a double entendre I swear) than the previous two Senran Kagura games. You kill stuff with X and Y, and you can chain together various attacks and combos with those buttons. Nothing special really, right? Then we get into some more complex features of the game like Launcher attacks with B, dashing in combat by holding down A, and being able to chain together attacks in different fashions according to how you dash. Like for example, using a Piercer Attack (holding down B )and then Phantom dashing (Holding down A) and then using a Piercer Attack again will result in something called a Phantom Strike, which will increase your Attack temporarily. In the same manner if you Launch someone, Phantom Dash to them, and then press Y for what they call a Spike Attack, you'll do a Phantom Fall, which then increases your Movement Speed slightly temporarily. There's a lot of interesting mechanics in the game.
As I said before, combat is really really enjoyable and fun. Probably one of the best parts of the game so far. Each character that I have played as up until this point (except for Viola, Manpukumaru, and Koharu) all have their own individual quirks and combos and toolkits in combat that make them stand out from the other girls. Except for Ranka, who we all know is Yozakura. I mean, look at those goddamn fists.
The Lock-On mechanic is great. It tracks your opponent where you actually want to track your opponent, which is great in a fast-paced game like this. There's a lot of enemy variety in the game: you'll have annoying enemies that stay permanently floated up unless you Phantom Dash to them and Spike their flat asses out of the air. Then you have enemies who create defensive bubbles around themselves and other enemies that you first have to deal with if you want to stand a chance of doing damage. And all in all...it just feels so flashy and ridiculously sexy.
In this game, you take two girls with you into combat. One is called your Liberator, which does all the fighting, and the Extar, who provides backup benefits in essence and allows you to "Drive". By the way, I've been driving since I was 19 so I never took the tutorial on how to Drive. Big mistake actually, when I got my ass pummeled into the wall trying to beat an enemy character who used Drive. Anyways, Drive is an important mechanic because, not only does it boost your Liberator's combat prowess, it also makes your Extar strip clothing based on how high your Drive Gauge is with them. There's First Drive which is ehh, Second Drive where they tear their clothing, Third Drive where they strip to lingerie, and Final Drive where they are.....yep, completely naked.
In the interest of keeping this somewhat PG-13, I'm gonna go ahead and omit any kind of imagery that details that.
But Drive animations look cool and the end result is badass.
So as is a trademark in Senran Kagura games, the more girls fight, the more their clothing gets ripped off. The first stage is their clothing being torn, the second stage is being stripped down completely to lingerie, and then, if you finish your opponent off with a special move, called a Drive Burst, makes them completely naked. Their Liberator AND Extar.
So the following actually contains sensitive material just to show you how you can accomplish that. It's actually really quite funny but you've been warned.
Anyways, finishing this section up, because you know, we have to get ourselves cleaned up after all that fighting, ahem...
There's actual bosses. And there's actual strategy involving these bosses. Crazy, right? Definitely something you wouldn't expect from a hack n' slash game, since the principle is to break a certain button on your controller until you win. But there's actually a lot of depth and strategy concerning these boss battles where you can't just simply bum rush the enemy and expect to win. You have to whittle them down first, or activate a certain mechanic, or do a certain something before you can even attempt to engage them. It's really refreshing and a break from the monotony of "Mash X to win" kind of playstyle.
In the main menu of the game, you can interact with the different characters and give them hearts. You can also change their outfit in the Dressing Room and..."play" with them (No really, it's an actual thing I'm not lying). Depending on how many hearts you've gotten you can strip more clothing off from them until eventually they get to the point of being nude. But like I said, I've decided to omit that kind of imagery in the sense that I want to keep this review a little bit tasteful.
There's a shopkeeper where you can spend the money you acquire in battle, called Points, on various CG images, music, costumes, or....lingerie. Oh, and they brought back the lingerie lottery from the previous two games and made it SOOOOOO much better. The fact that it now isn't entirely luck-based and more based on "press the button in the middle of the bar" makes grinding for achievements in Valkyrie Drive so much less painful, especially when you want to get all the lingerie in the game.
Aside from that, big tiddies.
The gameplay portion, despite it following the formula of a typical hack n' slash game, brings some new forefront to the table and interesting mechanics to spice up combat and make it feel refreshing and not-so-tedious. I'm sure we're all tired of mashing the same button in order to win, so you want to mash those girls, right? RIGHT?
Oh, I'll tell you about Quality, alright.
Anyways, the art style is strictly incredibly familiar to me. It's the same artist who did all of the artwork for the fighters in Blade Arcus. I can't remember the name of the guy but that style of art is very very similar and I'm 99% sure it's the same guy. I'll go back and edit it later.
Which is refreshing because in Senran Kagura, everyone looked like a plastic doll with big tiddies on them. Now, characters actually have personality and feeling and I swear that also wasn't a double entendre. The art is nice. CGs are nice and colorful and they all really work well together.
The game also has one of the best opening songs I've heard in a game in like a millennia. And I'm not usually a fan of Japanese music, but this music is incredibly good.
The anime opening for the game is also one of the most orchestrated and beautiful pieces that you would expect from a game about big anime tiddies and girls fighting each other.
Character voices are all great and the VAs all match the particular personalities of all the girls. So far. Also, we still hate Manpukumaru because she sucks. And we still also hate Momo because edginess in 2017 LUL.
So overall, yes, I'd say the Quality hits the mark with flying colors.
In more ways than one.
I'm actually gonna skip Replayability in this review simply because I haven't beaten the game yet, so I can't accurately represent if the game has Replayability value or not. From a hack n' slash perspective, however, after you beat a stage with the opening pair, you can go back and play it again with characters that you want to play in case you want to grind EXP points for their particular stats, or just like seeing that particular girl strut her stuff.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
It has big anime tiddies.
Of course I would.
Best game 2017.
Ahh, I jest. it's not certainly the best but from the first couple of hours that I've played it's actually quite good. Everything about the game just feels so damn sexy and the graphics are actually quite a step up even from Senran Kagura, which already boasted pretty good graphics at the time. With this being a PS4 port, it's surprising they actually managed to keep the rigidity and sharpness of every single texture in the game. The game has polish, lots and lots of shiny oil-ahem, I mean polish, that makes the game incredibly good and worth considering, if you don't mind the constant tig biddies on your screen and aren't afraid of those sorts of things.
This is the first time I've actually done a review for one of these sorts of "questionable" games so let me know how I did.
Overall rating of the game: 8/10. A good game.
So if you're all wondering where I've been, I've actually not been working on my RPG Maker project. Or my fighting game project. Or actually any of that. I've been working working. Like, real life job.
See, as a part time job (which I'm trying to get as full time, but lol the place I work at sucks), I do manual labor and help people out in case they can't lift any heavy stuff. And I push carts. Which literally an 11 year old can do. But that's besides the point. Over the last two or so weeks, I was working constantly, nailing down at least 40 hours a week and coming home completely exhausted, and then restarting the process over in the morning. It has been a hellish two weeks but when you get paid 12.50 (plus an extra 2.50 on weekends), it really adds up to a surprising paycheck.
All of that money has been going towards a new computer. It's one that I built recently with the help of my Dad. And let me tell you...I have never been more overjoyed to run Bayonetta at 60 FPS when this laptop (that I am currently typing on now) can barely handle it at 1 FPS.
Here are the specs for the computer:
CPU: AMD RYZEN 5 1500X 4-Core 3.5 GHz (3.7 GHz Turbo) (so basically top of the line processor from AMD)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime X370-Pro (so basically the top of the line Motherboard that supports Ryzen)
Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB (Actually not terribly top of the line but still gets the job done)
RAM: G.SKILL FORTIS Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) (32 GB is way too much but 16 is the perfect amount)
Power Supply: EVGA 600 B1 100-B1-0600-KR (Probably not important because who cares)
Hard Disk Drive: WD Black 2TB Performance Desktop Hard Disk Drive
Tower Case: Fractal Design Define R5 Black Window Silent ATX Midtower Computer Case
Monitors: 2x AOC - 21.5" IPS LED HD Monitor - Black
Mouse and Keyboard: Some el cheapo Microsoft crap that was like $20
Headset: Logitech H390 USB Headset with Noise-Canceling Microphone - Black
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
And as part of the promotion with getting the Graphics Card, I also got the new Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which I've yet to play. Seems pretty exciting though.
All of this ran me close to $1500. The tower itself was almost $900, the two monitors were $129 each (they were on sale when I got them), the OS was $200, and then I had to fiddle around with cables for the monitors for a little bit, so that ran a bit extra. I'm also using a decent office chair that I got at Office Depot that was on sale for $70.
So if you want to steal my idea of a rig, there you go, you have all the parts needed to make a rig right here. If you take just the rig and the OS itself, it'll be close to $1,099, but I guarantee if you were to go into a store and try to buy the same thing, it would run close to $2,000. The reason is the case, most of the time. You never want to pay more than $60 for a tower case. And building it for yourself is much more efficient in terms of money and time than going out and buying a preset rig.
Oh, and the Graphics Card lights up whenever I play games. <3
I'm kind of at a loss as to what I should do for an In Depth Review next. I have a lot of different games on Steam that I have played but not actually finished that would be great to review. What would you guys be interested in seeing an In Depth review on? Please comment below and remember to vote in the straw poll to see your favorite game on here. I'll keep this up for about a week or so before I take the page down.
Nights of Azure combines beautiful storytelling with dungeoncrawling combat to bring you an astounding masterpiece. Or close to it. Maybe more on the spectrum of okay more so than masterpiece, but it definitely wasn't bad by any means. Though it did have some flaws that I will discuss. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
800 years ago, the First Saint of the world fought the Eternal Lord of Night. Though the Saint succeeded in defeating her foe, the Eternal Lord of Night's blood spilled over the world, which came to be known by man as Blue Blood. This Blue Blood turned men into horrible demons which ravaged the night. Thus, humans could not leave their homes after the night. Every one-hundred years, a Saint is selected to contain the Eternal Lord of Night's blood within them as a vessel. Jump forward 800 years, in the 17th Century, on a fictional island known as Ruswal, which sits north of current day Finland, where the presence of the Eternal Lord of Night's power is the strongest. We follow Arnice, a Knight in service of a mysterious organization called the Curia, which monitors Arnice as she becomes a Holy Knight and swears to protect the Saint she is tasked to protect. She doesn't know of who it is, until she docks and meets her friend, Lilysse, who took up the role of this current century's Saint. The two of them were friends long before the story starts, and Arnice now must protect her friend from the Eternal Lord of Night.
The story of Nights of Azure is the absolute best part of the game. As you progress through the game, you'll get to see Arnice's and Lilysse's friendship bloom into something more, or, depending on the choices you can make in the game, you can be a total douche to Lilysse. But also as you progress through the story, Lilysse learns that in order to stop the Eternal Lord of Night from completely covering this world in complete night, where demons can roam around freely, she must sacrifice herself, as tradition every 100 years. Arnice is opposed to this because it's her best friend and, entirely, is too selfish to let her go.
The plot ultimately comes down to the prospect: Do you let friendship sink in and save one person, while sacrificing the entire world, or let her sacrifice herself to save the world? By building up that relationship between Arnice and Lilysse, it forces the game to make that decision which, morally, has no right path. You give up one to save the other. There's no right choice. But along the way, the game forces you to feel for Lilysse's plight at being the Saint dedicated to restoring the balance of the world.
And the choices you make throughout the game dictate which path you can go. So unlike 99% of most games nowadays, your choices ACTUALLY MATTER. How about that?
You'll meet new characters along the way, including Lloyd, a traveling "merchant" that came to Ruswal in order to build a fortune, Professor Alucard, who ultimately is a douche and wants the world to die so he can accelerate his process and study demons more. This is one part of the game I didn't really like: Professor Alucard and Lloyd serve as comedic relief in between tense scenarios, but it....really doesn't work out that well. Professor Alucard's running jokes become old and Lloyd just ends up looking like a greedy scumbag more often than not.
Aside from the comedic relief, I really enjoyed Arnice and Lilysse's relationship. It's not really uncommon nowadays to see two girls liking each other, or saying "I love you" in traditional media, but it's always a refresher from the typical romance plots. And the audience knows Arnice and Lilysse are in love, the game even says so.
Even still, it's a story best experienced for yourself, so if you don't want to read ahead, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BELOW. THIS IS IN BIG BOLD LETTERS TO TELL YOU. THIS IS A DISCLAIMER AND YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Overall, the story was pretty solid, even if the random tidbits of comedic relief didn't really suit the game's dark and serious atmosphere.
Unfortunately, this is where most of the game is....lackluster.
Before I start, I will say, there are immense issues with controllers on the PC Version of this game, which is what I ended up playing on. I don't know if it was because I was using a PS4 controller, but the trigger buttons didn't work on my version, which included two necessary mechanics to having fun with the game, Transformation and Servan Deck Switch. Both of which I'll go over later, but there are glaring issues with mapping buttons to the triggers that don't necessarily work. And I've tried, believe me. I tried assigning my buttons hundreds of times, with no success. The game just will not map my trigger buttons to anything.
Nights of Azure in and of itself is basically...I'd say 50% Visual Novel, 50% Dungeoncrawler. And when I saw Dungeoncrawler, I mean CRAWLER. Near the end of the game, I had to do so many runs of the game just to try and level up so I could be on par with the final boss. It really got tedious and boring for a little bit while I did was try and hit things with my giant ass sword.
Anyways, the field screen is pretty basic. You have Arnice's HP and SP, which is used to do Special Attacks, and among other things, summon the servants that are listed in the bottom-right corner. Servans are a mechanic kind of like helpers in combat, and by pressing RB plus the button correlating to that Servan, you can Summon it. There are many different types of Servans you can obtain, from sword-wielding dinosaurs to golden statues of lions to metal bombers. I think there are a total of 30 different types of Servans you can get in the game, so there are definitely options. Servans themselves are half-demon apparitions that have come into contact with Blue Blood, and have rightfully turned into Demons, but retain the memories of when they were still human, so they cannot become fully demonized. They help Arnice in her fight by putting down fields of protection, paralyzing enemies, healing other party members and Arnice, and managing crowd control. Eventually, the party I settled on was an Alraune, a Servan who can heal the entire group, Wolf, which deals massive amounts of damage, Arachne, who can tank and crowd control, and Bisque, a mechanical doll that lays down a protective field around Arnice whenever she is knocked down, and can push enemies away with her special attack.
The Servan mechanic itself is pretty in-depth, which is one of the parts I like about the game. You can have a wide assortment of different Servans that basically change altogether how you engage foes, and tackle situations. Servans can also affect your Transformation, with a mechanic called Transformation Rites. It actually matters how your Servans are lined up in combat, because having one Servan in front of the other can completely change your Transformation. Right now, since Alraune is the leader of the Servan Group, I have special access to a Transformation called "Phantom Form". The leader always gets a 2x bonus to their Transformation Rites. But if I were to put Wolf as the leader, I would get another transformation differently called "Rabbit Form", so it actually matters how you set up your party.
By the way, Phantom Form is the best.
Although you don't get Transformation until about roughly 3 hours in, Phantom Form quickly becomes a necessity for combat, as level spikes and difficulty spikes will make your Servans die quickly, and if you don't have a dedicated healer, you'll be struggling to keep your Servan's health and SP up unless you have Phantom Form. Which is one thing I quite disliked about the game: it's difficulty spikes. There's a lot of difference between Level 4 and Level 5, and even more so to Level 6. So you always need to make sure you're up to date, by constantly grinding dungeons for Blue Blood dropped off of enemies.
How you get new Servans is through finding Fetishes in Dungeons. Yes, I said fetishes. You filthy people.
By expending the Blood you find in dungeons, you can materialize new Fetishes into Servans. However, one thing I also didn't like is you also need Blood to level up Arnice. So it becomes a point of...yep, you guessed it, going into dungeons and grinding for more Blood.
The rest of combat is...boring. And sometimes wonky in some of the ways it works. For example, Lock-On. The camera turns too slowly to face the target you are locked on to, which in some situations is incredibly bad. And also, you can't turn the camera while locked on because turning the camera makes you switch your locked on target. Which...is fundamentally a bad design when you're trying to constantly find your target because you locked onto something that moves around at 9,000 miles per hour.
Boss design looks cool. You can fight a giant circus-themed Carousel.
I wish I was kidding.
No, but really, I think the boss designs are some of the best parts of the game. You can fight a bunch of dragons, sure, but wouldn't you rather fight a giant circus themed Carousel who has a giant cannon in the middle of its chest?
And yes, bosses drop significantly more EXP (which is used to level up Servans) and Blood, so it's easily the fastest way to grind for Blood. But still not really an efficient way to do it. Which is sad, because the difficulty spikes are so bad and it takes so long to grind for levels that sometimes its not even worth it. As you can see, my Servans are two levels above where I am because the ratio of EXP that you get from enemies and the Blood you get for Leveling up Arnice is so much in favor of the Servans.
There is an equipment system in the game, however, it only lets you equip up to 4 items, and even then, you have to build up Arnice with Skill Points, which you can get from doing Daytime Activities.
One major thing I have about combat in the game, is you do absolutely no damage. Like, at all. You only do 20 damage per attack while your Servans can miraculously deal 200 damage in bursts. Against Level 7+ enemies, they just become literal sponges and laugh at you while you try to attack them. So unfortunately, in order to make any progress in the game in terms of how much damage you do, you have to get ATK boosting items, but most ATK boosting items come with a penalty or some other negative that make it not worth using. For example: Glass Blade. An item that gives you an enormous boost to ATK but the instant you get hit, you die. Like, who would ever use that? And it's not just that, another ATK boosting item can lower your HP and SP altogether. So, yes, there are some glaring problems with how much raw damage you can do without ultimately sacrificing something else entirely. Same for DEF.
There's also a Side Quest option available for those of you who want to waste your time. No really, they are a waste of time because the Side Quests in this game don't give anything meaningful or worthwhile. They're just literally a waste of time. Same with Side Scenarios, pictured above. These are literally only meant for progress in the game, and they do nothing beneficial for you overall. No EXP, no Blood, no Libra (the money in the game), no nothing. Not even affection for dear Lilysse. It's literally just a waste of time to try and do everything because there's no benefit to doing it.
So just stick to killing bosses. Like this guy here. Poor Spider is gonna crushed underneath his foot sooner or later.
So unfortunately, the gameplay isn't as great as the storyline. Which is a shame. I hear they are trying to rework and revamp some of the features in Nights of Azure 2. Hopefully, the first step is that you start to deal more damage and fix the lock-on mechanic so that you can freely rotate the camera while still being locked on to a singular target.
The mature theme of the game is ruined ultimately by tidbits of comedic relief that really don't belong in the game. The gameplay elements don't really work, blend together, or have a consistent theme. It honestly feels like the title was rushed to publish which happens with the majority of games nowadays. And actually, I think Nights of Azure was rushed, if I remember correctly. But still, it is a game by Koei TECMO, and being a longtime fan of their work, I really still enjoy the works that they have been putting out this year. Nioh, Atelier Sophie, Nights of Azure, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers are all games to count on their list. So while it sucks that this game couldn't be at its best, its still somewhat of a decent effort.
The game graphically is okay. It reminds me a bit of a Tales game, which is also probably why I enjoyed playing through the story so much. Just the way everyone's characters are modeled and how they behave during cutscenes really reminds me of the most recent Tales game (not Berseria, but Zestiria). There's plenty of stuff to look at, like Concept Arts, music which you can jam out to, and you can listen to the VAs from the characters ramble on in Japanese. Perfect dream for all you people who listen to Japanese out there.
Also, speaking of music, the OST from this game is AMAZING. There isn't a single song I disliked from the entire soundtrack. Which is really saying something. In fact, I'm listening to one of my favorite boss themes while I'm typing this review simply because I enjoy the track so much.
If you're ever having any doubts as to if you don't like the soundtrack or not, just listen to this piece for a few minutes, and get back to me.
Overall, fairly good execution of the game, but not wonderful or exhilarating. It's just.....good.
So, obviously, like I said before during the Story breakdown of the game, your choices actually dictate which path you go along. If you are in favor of saving Lilysse and make the correct choices, you can potentially go for the True Ending of the story. If you don't, you'll get the Neutral ending (which is the worst ending ever). And depending on the choices you make, some characters will appear in the story, and some won't even appear at all. I'm gonna try and work for the True Ending and see if it changes my outlook on the multiple choice path in the game to see if it even matters.
But yes, there is tons of replayability. As with most games nowadays, after completing the game, you can make a new Save file with all of your progress and continue from where you left off, but before you had beaten the final boss of the game. And there's still so much of the game I haven't even explored or caught onto yet. For example, there's a Transformation named "Nightmare Form" which I have no idea how to get. I'm also not even Level 10 yet, the game's maximum Level Cap. I only beat the game at Level 9. I still have two more Servans I have to find in the world. And I managed to cram all this within 24 hours of playtime (if I'm remembering my save time correctly.)
So yes. Lots of replayability.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Honestly, if you like story more than gameplay, go for it. But if you value gameplay over story, give this one a pass. I only stuck around because I like story more than gameplay. The gameplay drowns out the best parts of the story, and the gameplay proves only as a barrier to really enjoying the story.
There are some good parts in the game, but there are also some bad parts, and parts that I honestly really really really despise. But overall, it's good. Not great, not terrible. Just....good.
Overall rating of the game: 7.5/10. A good game. But ONLY for the story.
"God Eater: Resurrection" mimics the Monster Hunter formula, in essence, with slight variations and overall generally faster combat than it's brother Monster Hunter. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
No one knows where they came from. Only that they were born into the world because human evolution had progressed so far. They had one goal in mind: to devour the world and to start over. However, humanity would not surrender so easily. Humanity evolved further, using their technology to counteract the Arigami threat. Constant evolution from both sides has made the war a stalemate. With the inclusion of a new power from Dr. Paylor Sakaki, the tide of battle would soon change in humanity's favor.
Oracle power. This new substance was crafted into weaponry, in common assault rifles to swords and other intricate tools. In return, Aragami kept evolving, they kept destroying humanity by Devouring them and their Oracle power to strengthen their own. The bright minds of Dr. Paylor Sakaki, Johannes Von Shicksal, and Aisha Shicksal worked together in tandem to provide an ultimately new insight to Oracle Power, one that could help turn the tide in the war against Aragami. Aragami exist in this world only to Devour humanity. But what would happen if an Aragami Devoured another Aragami? This question is what prompted extensive research into manipulating Oracle power to create a deadly weapon that could defeat and counter Aragami once and for all.
A God Arc. And the one who took up the power to wield this massive weapon was deemed a God Eater.
This story was pulled straight from the anime rendition of God Eater. If you haven't watched it, I highly suggest you do so, as the next section will become incredibly spoiler-y. The plot above consists of the plot from the anime, so what of the game itself? After the incursion of Aragami, you play as an unnamed hero you create (we'll be calling them Alpha-One for the rest of the review). When Oracle Power was formed into God Arcs, a coalition of different heroes was established under Johannes' name, called Fenrir. Multiple branches of Fenrir expanded rapidly into other countries of the world to stop the Aragami threat. The story of God Eater: Resurrection takes place mostly in Fenrir Far East branch, a la Japan. Alpha-One joins Fenrir in order to ultimately stop the Aragami threat and to put an end to their wrath.
But things aren't always in black and white. During one of Alpha-One's exhibitions, the team finds a small human child, who they name Shio. They promptly bring her back to Fenrir Fast East Branch and care for her in secret. Dr. Paylor Sakaki, a man of respectable wisdom and experience, dubs Shio as a "half-human, half-Aragami". As they care for the young Shio, she begins to exhibit more and more natural actions and reactions that humans would do, paving the way in new research to better fight against Aragami.
All the while, Johannes von Shicksal is crafting a new world. One in which there will be no Aragami, no war, and no violence. He calls it the Exodus Project. When Director Johannes realized the Aragami were eviscerating the human population, he set out to make an alternate world. A paradise in which Aragami would not exist and would not ravage on Earth. He collects the power of fallen Aragami and feeds them into a machine-island called Aegis, which houses the Exodus Project. On the surface, it sounds fun, doesn't it? But it's all a front. A handful of Alpha One's team members, Sakuya Tachibana, and Alisa Illinichina Amiella, decide to investigate the Exodus Project,only to realize that it's just a bunch of spaceships. The entire goal of the Exodus Project was not to save humanity, but to launch them into space to save themselves from the Aragami threat. Alpha-One and team eventually fight Johannes, but the souls from Devoured Aragami have all amalgamated together into the Aegis, which secured the destruction of the world and all humanity and Aragami within it, so that all the happy people in space can make babies and repopulate Earth. Gross.
All in all, even with the anime plot coinciding with the game plot, it was actually a really good interpretation of the other (I don't know if anime came first or the game. Usually in these situations, it's game first then anime). The entire prospect of humanity continuously evolving to overcome barriers and obstacles is a neat plot point. If you have not watched the anime interpretation yet, I highly suggest you do. You can find all the episodes on Crunchyroll.
The bulk of the review is going to be in this section, mostly, as there is a lot of ground to cover and I have so many screenshots of all the different things you can do in the game.
So the basic premise is this: You go out on missions as Alpha-One and you kill Aragami. You then Devour them and grab their goodies that they drop. You use said goodies to help the R&D (Research and Development) team make new weapons, armors, and items that can help you against the Aragami threat. Rinse and repeat. Even though it sounded kind of cool...the gameplay just got a little bit same-y after a while. It was always kill this kill that, no variation in between. And although that's kind of the point of Monster Hunter games, they at least provide a little bit something different with Monster Hunter Stories as a fully-fledged RPG, and then Monster Hunter Generations coming in. But within God Eater: Resurrection itself, there wasn't too much terribly different in terms of gameplay. Smash this guy's face in, eat them with your God Arc, smash some more. It just felt repetitive after a while and it was the reason why I ended up taking such a long break from the game.
As Alpha-One, you maneuver around the Fenrir Far East Branch as a sort of little "hub world". Here, you can take missions, talk to other members of the Fenrir Fast Each Branch, and take a look at your equipment load-out for the next mission.
In the Equipment sub-menu, there is A LOT of variety you can do with your setup. Most Aragami will not be weak to everything, so it is in your best interest to take more than one weapon setup for combat. For example, taking a weapon that is Freeze element so that Aragami who are weak to Freeze are easily countered, and then taking a weapon that is Divine element for those who are weak to Divine. Each weapon will have a variety of effects associated with them as well. So for example, a Long Blade might swing slower but hit harder than a Short weapon. They also have their own effects, such as greater Stamina, HP, or Oracle Power (which fuels your ranged weapon).
You can also upgrade your weaponry so that it becomes stronger against Aragami. Upgrades will make your weapon stronger, but also upgrade its available skills. So for example, a Blade Wielder V now becomes a Blade Wielder X. Very intricate, and you can also fully customize your weaponry so that you can had more skills to your repertoire.
If you add a specific effect to a weapon, you can bring it to combat. You can have effects ranging from extra rewards when you win a fight, to having more straight up Strength, to having faster attack Speed. It mostly depends on what kind of character you want to build and how you want to do it. I went with a Paladin-esque character that relied on crowd control and taking the brunt of hits while everyone else deals damage. While also providing healing shots that raise Defense. The possibilities you could do as far as character customization go, are endless.
You can also dress up Alpha-One. I have beautiful clown tights on.
The basic premise of fighting is comprised of hitting the X Button for Light Attacks, Y for Strong Attacks, B to dash around (which costs Stamina), A for jumping, RB to switch between your God Arc forms (melee and ranged), LB to lock-on to the current target.
There are a lot of different enemies to combat in the world of God Eater. My personal favorite enemies are called Quadrigas, huge tank-like Aragami that shoot missiles and fuck you up. Borg Camlaans are also unique enemies: giant scorpions with large tails and metal shields that resemble knights.
The above picture is a Quadriga doing what it does best. Fucking us up.
Oh, I forgot to mention, before each fight, you can take which members of Fenrir's Far East Branch you want to take. So you can take party members that compliment your playstyle. You can have up to 3 other party members, including Alpha-One. My setup usually consisted of two ranged party members that just spammed shots, a tank, and then me as a crowd control setup. It was honestly quite good. And you can customize your party members any way you want, by having them have more HP, do more damage, have the ability to do Healing shots if they are a ranged character, and others.
Mostly, I liked the gameplay. It was boring at times and same-y, so I ended up taking a break from the game for a little while. Mostly, my complaints about the game are the slow loading screens from the game. Loading screens take a long time (like twenty seconds to almost a minute), and it was unbearable sometimes, because the loading screens also appear during some cutscenes. Another gripe that I had was the voice acting. It felt sluggish and forced at times, even though the majority of the script was alright. Other than that, the combat was mostly boring and loading screens were long.
Like I did in my Tales of Zestiria review, the same people who did the animated cutscenes during the game (of which there were only a couple, sadly) were made by UFOTable. Also, this game is very very bloody. But the anime is worse. The anime has Attack on Titan levels of blood. That's gross.
From an overall quality standpoint, it was alright.
After the credits roll when you defeat the final boss, you go about your daily life swinging at Aragami once again, and since the threat of Aragami has lowered, less big Aragami and smaller Aragami are more apparent. This is the part where I stopped, however, because after the credits roll, that's the end of the game. No matter what anyone says. So while there is a certain concept of going back and redoing what you were doing before, it still continues on the plot as normal. When I get more invested into the game, I will see where this route goes, but for now, the general consensus is, you roll the credits, the game stops.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Yes. If you like the Monster Hunter formula and want an anime change of pace, then this is the game for you. If you like the Monster Hunter games, then you would like this one, just the same. For $50 on Steam, you get God Eater: Resurrection, and God Eater 2: Rage Burst, two games in one. Which in my opinion, is a good deal, and look forward to a God Eater 2: Rage Burst review coming in just a few months.
Overall rating of the game: 7.3/10. A good game.
Now for the opening theme of the God Eater Anime to finish things off.
Yesterday night marked the closing of another one of my great Tales adventures. Normally, I don't do such over the top reviews for many games, but today things are going to be a bit different. Leaving behind my regular style of LP'ing and doing an old classic "write a review" for this game, Tales of Zestiria brings a breath of fresh air to a series that left me disappointed with it's last installment, Tales of Xillia. In this review, I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
Though Tales games have always had a great story, like Tales of Graces F (I still rank it's story much higher in the franchise), Tales of Zestiria's story didn't do it so well for me. It was very cliche'd with the concept of "I am the chosen one out to destroy X bad guy with no real reason other than he's a bad guy". Which to me came off as incredibly disappointing. Over time, you learn of the bad guy's intentions but it still feels forced on the cliche of "chosen one out to destroy hero". But the world story and the lore associated with it, and the message that it's trying to get across, is much better in terms of execution.
The land of Glenwood is currently under an Age of Chaos. An incredible force known as "malevolence" is spreading throughout the Glenwood continent, turning ordinary humans into monsters called "Hellions". The story opens with a young boy named Sorey (Soh-ray, not Sorri like I had first pronounced it) traveling and discovering ancient ruins. It is his calling and he is chasing it quite adamantly. Along with Sorey, however, is his "partner-in-crime" and seraph, Mikleo. We'll discuss seraphs later down the line. The two are studying the "Earthen Historia", which is a record of all of the events that transpired in the Continent of Glenwood ever since it's creation, dating back to even before the Age of Chaos. As they leave from the ruins, they find a young girl incapacitated near the exit, and Sorey's gentle heart helps him to discover that the young girl is named Alisha.
Now, the newly formed trio exit into the land of Elysia, where Sorey and Mikleo have spent their entire lives growing up, under the protection of their grandfather, Zenrus. This was the first time for me personally where I felt the world was really really beautiful, and it was made apparent as I was walking up to where Sorey and Mikleo lived. However, the peace is broken when Alisha is determined as a human outcast in a land full of seraphim. As such, Zenrus decides it would be best for her to leave. However, Sorey insists on going with her, because he wants to see the outside world and he wants to see and discover new ruins across the entire world.
As you play and discover the world of Tales of Zestiria, you'll find a record of all of the events that happened during the Age of Chaos, called Iris Gems. The function of these Iris gems creates backstory for the main antagonist, who is named Heldalf. Heldalf is, without spoiling anything, the source of all malevolence in the world, and it is up to "The Shepherd" to stop him. As Sorey is visiting the local town of Ladylake, where Alisha takes Sorey and Mikleo, an incident occurs in which the Royal Sanctuary is invaded by strange hellions. Sorey goes to take the ceremonial sword out from the shrine, and it is here where we meet the Fire Seraph, Lailah. Using her power to quell the hellions, Sorey takes the sword in his hand and decides to become the Shepherd in this time of chaos.
Throughout the world, you'll meet different kinds of seraphim. There's Edna, the earth seraph, and then Dezel, the Wind Seraph. All of them play an important part in the story. Then you'll also meet........Rose. Ugggghhhh.
While I actually enjoyed having Alisha in my party and having her fight alongside me, Rose is utterly annoying, and she's a bona-fide Mary Sue. She has the innate ability to talk to seraphim right from the get-go, a skill called attunement. She utterly replaces Alisha in the long run (I don't know if this is true or not. There seem to be screencaps on the Internet that you can have Alisha in your party before endgame, so I don't know if this is true or not), she has the ability to Armatize, a system we'll explain later, and is just....uggh. She's just uggh. I wasn't happy when my adorable, lovable princess got replaced by this cliche'd "can't be exposed to malevolence" goody-goody two shoes Mary Sue skank.
As you're going along and along in the world, discovering ruins and beating up monsters, you'll unlock more records of the Iris Gems, and ultimately, you'll see the stance on where Heldalf, the Lord of Calamity, stands. He proclaims a world of suffering and agony would be better than to feel the wrath of disappointment in failure. Which is a neat concept in this game that I didn't go back to before: we all generate a slight bit of malevolence. Even in real life. We're not all perfect human beings. We make choices that we regret in the end. But it's how we survive from those disappointments in failure that makes us stand up against the forces of malevolence ultimately taking over. So just remember, everyone, the next time you kick a puppy and don't apologize, you'll turn into a wolf hellion ten feet long with teeth the size of the Empire State building.
That's all I will explain of the plot for now. It really wasn't the strong suit in the game, despite how many different branching "paths" there were. The talk of malevolence, the Lord of Calamity, yadayada, it pretty much all goes back to one cliche'd storyline.
Whew. There's a LOT to cover in this section, so bear with me.
Tales gameplay is always their strong point in their games, and Zestiria is no different. It capitalizes on all of the things they've done well in the past and fixes all of the things that they've done wrong in the past. The pace feels a bit slower in comparison to Graces, but faster than Xillia. You can't just spam willy-nilly all of your best abilities and be done with the fight. Fights actually take strategy and time to complete. Let's first start off with the structure of combat.
Before, I said there were a couple of seraphim that join your party. They can form a pact to be your companion in battle. This is an interesting take on the approach of Tales games, because this essentially means you can only have 2 "actual" "party members" fighting. The rest are Seraphim who you can change on the fly to exploit the enemy's weaknesses.
Everything is conveniently handled between 2 human party members and 2 Seraphim party members, basically. One thing that Tales of Zestiria gets a strike against, however, is the default "move up to move towards your enemy, move down to move away". I hated the linear battle system from Xillia, and it's one of the reasons I detest the game. However, Zestiria remedies this situation with a new mechanic: Battle Actions.
The new Battle Action mechanic replaces the innate abilities that you get from previous installments, like Graces. There's really a lot of handy actions that you can do here. The "1-2-3" guarding system is replaced with it's own unique Battle Actions. Free Run can now be assigned to a Battle Action, so that now, you can free run with the Analog Stick as opposed to being stuck in a linear path, which doesn't make sense on a 3D battlefield. I have never understood why they had to go with that particular approach on this series of games.
Before, I talked about Armatization. Armatization is a unique mechanic where you can fuse your human and seraphim partner together to amass a ton of damage.
A new mechanic called BG (Blast Gauge) makes this possible. It stops the spamming of Mystic Artes in the previous installments and provides new mechanics to a fight. During a 1-hit, 2-hit, or 3-hit combo, you can hold the RT or R2 button to create a Partner Blast, which is a simultaneous attack with your seraphim partner that deals a lot of damage, a Blow Blast, which boosts your own parameters, or a Chain Blast, which allows you to keep attacking. it's a really interesting mechanic that they added in, and it balances fights a little bit more by letting them go a little bit slower.
There's a good amount of difficulty in Tales of Zestiria, unlike what other people have been saying all over the Internet. Granted, the trash mobs you fight are supposed to be easy, but the tense hellion fights and even some bosses are all surprisingly difficult, not like from Xillia, where I beat the game on Hard mode first try. Hell, I even had to take the difficulty down to Easy mode on the final boss fight because it was so aggravating and hard.
The Mystic Artes are as over the top as ever. I love Aqua Limit as my favorite Mystic Arte. I can't tell you how many times I've almost fallen over in my chair because I was punching the air so hard.
Another close favorite of mine is Flamberge. As you can clearly see.
Different from other Tales games is the weapon and armor equipment/skill system. Sometimes the highest boosting Defensive armor or those nicer pair of shoes won't always be the best thing to equip. You'd be losing out on some precious skills if that were the case. Now, you actually have to think about what kind of armor to bring into battle, as well as how your skills are going to balance with your other party members. There's over 40 different skills to choose from, and if you can successfully use 2 or more skills together on 2 or more pieces of equipment, you'll get a boost. Then, you can line up skills horizontally or vertically (the hardest to do in my opinion, but reap the best benefits) for even more bonuses.
Another new edition to the Tales of Zestiria universe is the "Lord of the Land" system. After each battle, if you have restored the blessing of that region through a particular side quest (or episodes, as the game calls them), you'll get a Grade for your battle. That grade goes towards the "Lord of the Land", who oversees multiple different types of services for that particular region. You can have enemies appear on your map, you can save a character from being killed altogether, and lots of other benefits.
Ultimately, Tales of Zestiria's gameplay does not fail to deliver. It hit the mark and improved from the spammy fast style combat from Graces F, and ramped up the difficulty from Xillia and Xillia 2. There's lots of different things to do in the gameplay department, and all of it comes together full circle to create a truly amazing experience.
Still trying to get that G-Union on at least one character....*grumble grumble*
However, the game isn't without it's faults. Mainly trying to battle in a corridor and the camera hits a wall....and then all you can see is just pure nothingness as you flounder about, trying to find your position and where you are at in regards to the battle. It can be really irritating sometimes.
Like all Tales games, it has it's fair share of anime cutscenes, of which there are quite a few, especially concerning Glaivend Basin. They were all drawn and made by the company UfoTable, who in my opinion gets a very high ranking from me.
Unlike the most recent Tales games, like Graces or Xillia, Zestiria is much more vulgar, down to earth, and even has a lot more blood and graphical violence.
The fact that it is more vulgar makes it more mature, reaching a broader audience than just someone who decides to censor themselves. That, in my opinion, makes it generally more approachable to someone like me, who likes a more mature type of background.
Regarding skits, there are quite a few skits in the world. There are about 100 skits total in the game, and it's up to you to find them all. They are all trademarked in Tales fashion, with a sort of VN style where you see all of the characters and the one talking is always brighter than the others.
Another thing that really bothered me with the skits was Rose's eyes weren't perfectly center all the time during skits, which was incredibly weird and awkward. Another reason why I hated Rose so much. The skits are all humorous at heart and serve to lighten the mood before a big battle, or to delve more into the lore and backstory of the characters, or even to start new Side Quests. Like I said before, there's at least 100 of them, if not more, so there's always going to be a skit out there that you'll miss.
From a quality and presentation standpoint, it's honestly really good. But then again, the anime cutscenes and skits have always been a staple in Tales games. The fact that there are more of them, however, is a step in the right direction.
When I finished the game, as with all modern games nowadays, they give you the option of New Game Plus. Which is cool, everyone does that. Yay. But, I still have this itch in the back of my head that says I can truly have Alisha in my party before finally defeating the Lord of Calamity. I don't know if this is truly possible, but there are a couple of choices that you can do in the beginning of the game that have a chance to swerve the outcome of your actions. I wish this was experimented with a little better, because aside from those very few choices you have to make, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of everything else. Which is a bit disappointing. So yes, there is replayability, and yes, there exists the possibility of having an entirely different party in future runs.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Absolutely. It's a masterpiece game while, not perfect, is very very good and exceeds the expectations of its predecessors. If you're a die-hard Tales fan like me who is looking for a change of pace and scenery, then this is for you. If you are starting off on a new adventure into the world of RPGs, this may not be the one for you, as the combat system and execution are all very confusing and deep at first. Hell, it even took me a while to get used to Tales of Zestiria's combat system after playing Graces F for so long. If you're looking to dish about $50 for this title, then absolutely get it, because it's definitely worth the $50. As opposed to $60 games nowadays that only run for 7 hours, this title gives you a lot more for your money and is probably much better.
Overall rating of the game: 8/10. A great game.
Now let's finish this review off with one of my favorite tracks of all time in the game:
A new mechanic has arrived with this version of the game: Auras. Auras are powerful Spells that only affect the user. They give special benefits and change the way battle mechanics behave. Some of the skills have been reworked into Auras (i.e. Graceful Form) and a few new ones have popped up. Remember, Auras still take up a slot, just like every other Skill.
This update now includes Ralsche, in both the Plains and the Desert. A lot more story has been added in as well, molding the future for the project. Remember, however, that both Ralsche and Ralsche Desert are both very large maps. If you are having troubles running the game, exit out of unnecessary programs that are using up CPU storage.
A few bugs concerning Rarindal Plains and Sarkash have been ironed out in this release.
As always, if you want to leave feedback, you may PM me or leave a post on this blog entry. See you next update~!
Things have changed for this version of the project this time around. In fact, there have been a lot of differences in the way characters behave, the combat system, and balancing characters to make sure that they aren't absurdly overpowered. The download also features 1 new area, Sarkash, the jungle land, filled with many new enemies to hunt and Side Quests to complete. This new update gives new life to the project.
Any and all feedback is appreciated. Remember, Sarkash is a big map. If you are experiencing slowdown when roaming around Sarkash, it's because of the fact that there are over 300 events on the map. Exit out of any unnecessary programs you aren't running in order to increase your CPU performance if you're having trouble in the Sarkash area.
To balance combat, we've gotten rid of the SP mechanic. The SP skills made the game unnecessarily "SP farmy", where you have to spam Attack and other skills in order to acquire SP to use other skills. Additionally, we've made Guarding serve an additional function: It will restore a slight amount of MP each time you Guard. This can be useful when one player is soaking up the hits, you can simply have them Guard and restore MP. We've also included a "Speed Fix" mechanic. To balance spellcasting, it now takes up a certain amount of time before you can cast the spell. For example, Mantra of Healing now introduces a -150 Speed Fix, meaning it won't go off immediately as opposed to other skills.
If you want a full complete version of all the new things Version 1.01 introduces to combat, you can check out this video here.
Hey, there. It's Arin again. So if you've wondered where I've been, I've been taking a bit of time off to work on some of the projects I have backed up. One of them was the multitude of RPG Maker projects that I had, my fighting game project (which is on hold right now) and finally, my card game project (also on hold). Since I have more free time now and I don't have any immediate obligations, I have decided to return to a favorite pastime of mine: Streaming!
WHAT WILL YOU STREAM?
I'm a variety streamer, so whatever I feel like. Since I need a beefier computer (and have been saving up for some time, but, ehh, car > computer), I'll do mostly RPG Maker games and a few other low-spec games. However, in the future, that will change once I have procured the necessary funds to start streaming. If you guys have any good games to share or want to submit your own, tell me! I'll be more than happy to oblige. I have a lot of games on the backburner that I'm willing to stream once I get a better system setup.
If there's something that I've already seen or played, chances are I probably won't be playing it. Playing everything blind makes the fun and thrill ten times better, and unfortunately, it's not the same experience when you've already seen what's going to happen.
WHAT TIME WILL YOU STREAM?
Depends. I usually (emphasis on usually) start streaming at around 7:00 PM CST (UTC -06:00). If you need help figuring out time, there's a nice little handy world time switcheroo thingy that lets you figure out what time that is. However, I work fast food as a job, and sometimes they'll place me on the evening schedule. If that's the case, I will tell everyone ahead of time that I won't stream for that day.
WHERE IS THE STREAM CHANNEL?
I will link everyone on the website when I am about to stream. Usually, I'll send out a link five minutes before I start streaming in order to get everyone settled in and opportune time to get things done beforehand.
That's all for now. If you guys have any comments, or want to throw a few suggestions my way, go ahead.
For those of you that were wondering where I've gone, don't worry I'm not dead. At least, not yet anyway.
I've been taking some time off to devote myself to the multiple projects I have. One of them being the RPG Maker game I'm doing. The other two, the fighting game and the card game, I've also been working on but I feel I've made a lot of significant progress with this one. So I'm going to be giving everyone the chance to grab the game and try it out for themselves.
Note that I'm not going to make a topic on this on the forums until I'm absolutely sure that I've received all of the necessary feedback needed to continue. So if you want to grab the game, cool, if not, well, why did you bother reading?
NOTE: This is only an experimental demo. The views reflected within may not necessarily be representative of the final product. For one thing, the main field map is still incomplete. Don't complain about it.
Long ago, in ancient times, there existed a continent with 4 different superpowers. These four nations were at peace with one another for countless centuries. The four nations prospered and even engaged in banquets and other celebrations for their resounding success. This peace lasted for several decades.
But it would not be long before the peace was shattered.
A new material in the world, Runeforge, was gifted with the solar blessing of the Gods and Goddesses. It was a virtually indestructible material, and it can be used for practically any purpose. It glowed bright blue with a dark purple shadow, and it's awe-inspiring aura captivated it's successors. Soon thereafter, the four nations turned on each other, starting wars over the last few bits of this new Runeforge Crystal. Several raiding parties by the nations would result in the downfall of the four nations, and a new threat would rise from the chaos.
Hi everyone, I'm Arin. But you probably knew that already. Today, I'm going to be demonstrating the new project that I'm working on. Aside from working on my RPG Maker project, I have a new project that has been taking up a vast majority of my time, and it's something you wouldn't expect someone like me to be working on.
It's a card game. Yes, that's right, an actual card game. But it does things differently from normal card games, in that it handles strategy and combat far differently than others. This card game project of mine has gone through several phases, but now it borders on the edge of completion. Alter White, the completely original card game, combines lane-based combat with depth and strategy in order to decimate your opponents. Games are quick and exciting, with intensity being played behind every card.
I don't know why I decided to do this. I felt like it was a cool idea. Or something.
Anyways, you may have heard rumors circulating around that I was creating another RPG Maker project. This is indeed true. The new project is called...wait for it, I actually have a cool image I can use for this one.
YEAH! HYPE MAN!
But yeah, it's called Broken Destiny. If you want a brief plot summary of what I have so far, the main character, Eris, decided a long while ago that she wanted to become a writer. She wanted to tell everyone about her adventures in the form of writing. However, her home town of Arfoile was raided by the Red Knight Empire, which left the town to burn and die. While escaping, Eris is unaware of an ambush set up by the Red Knight Militia, and is hit with an arrow which debilitates her and her fighting ability. She is then executed on the spot.
However, before her death, Eris hears the voices of the gods and goddesses in her head having a distant conversation. Time then stops, rewinds itself moments before Eris became aware of the ambush, and everything resets itself. Eris is dumbfounded by this change of events, but she now knows where the spot of the ambush is and evades it. This puts the soldiers who were chasing her in a stump, and she dispatches them easily. She then runs away from Arfoile and proceeds to join the neighboring Rarindal Empire.
In some of my earlier RPG Maker projects, you'll have noticed that maps are rather small, linear, and have pretty much no interactivity to them. I plan to rectify this by making maps as large as they can be, but also as detailed as can be. Pretty much akin to something like Final Fantasy's large-scale maps but have lots of enemies in them. Of course, this might sound different from the usual RPG Maker norm, but it's always interesting to try new things. Since the style I'm going for is more of a single-player MMO experience, similar to Xenoblade Chronicles (you're going to hear me preach about this game A LOT), maps are going to be very large, enemies are going to be a lot stronger and tankier, there will be world and field mini-bosses, and more importantly, the maps are going to be parallaxed.
Yes, you heard it, parallaxed. Something that I've actually never down before. But there's a first time for everything, isn't there? Note, that I don't plan on parallaxing EVERYTHING, only spots where there would be lots of trees. For example, I'm not gonna bother parallaxing a plainsy type of area when there are only going to be 2 or 3 trees. No, there are some areas like jungles and snow places that are going to have thousands upon thousands of trees parallaxed in with the actual tileset. As for how I'm going to do that, I don't know, since a 300x300 map in the editor is about 360,000 pixels altogether (guestimating here, but that sounds about right). I've only done a cheap method so far of mapping out everything in the editor, treeless, then taking a picture of that, opening it up in Photoshop, and adding trees that way. But that's going to be a problem with bigger maps.
The combat is also one of the things I'd like to talk about. Combat strays away from the traditional turn-based mechanic and incorporates ATB in a rather streamlined and easily accessible manner. From doing multiple playtests of the game's combat system, I can safely say that combat is one of the things I am very proud of to have working. Combat is very fast-paced and enjoyable; it has the perfect balance of choosing the action of one of your party members, them being able to execute it, then selecting the next one and executing it, and so on so that you'll never really have any down-time waiting for the ATB gauge to fill up. And that's one thing I've always disliked about how some developers handle their ATB in RPG Maker: they make it wait too long for some reason, so the fights drag on and on and on. In this sense, even though enemies are tougher and take more hits to take down, you're not wasting time waiting for the gauge to fill and you can focus on how exactly you want to plan out your attacks and strategies.
Here's a few videos explaining what I really mean when I say AT is streamlined and more focused.
Anyways, I think that's about all for now. I'll be using this blog as a means to keep everyone updated on the whereabouts of where my game stands in terms of completion, and when I'll be releasing alpha demos and whatnot. If you're interested, feel free to comment below. It means a lot~