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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This ambitious and well-polished JRPG has just a bit of a hollow core
Though the name doesn't explicitly mention it, this is actually the third game in the Ar Tonelico series, with installments 1 and 2 on the PS2. A good deal of effort seems to have been taken to make this game accessible to all players, however, regardless of any experience with the first two. This is extremely welcomed in a genre usually loaded long-running jokes,...
Published on March 20, 2011 by D. A. Theisen

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dating sim where you carry a sword
Going into this i was looking for anohter rpg to occupy my time being a fan of anyhting with nis america on it i might have been suckered into this. The game overall isn't bad it has decent graphics enjoyable music and enjoyable character interaction. But the battle system is overall not very enjoyable maybe if you enjoy dance dance revolution and look forward to matching...
Published 14 months ago by brandon w.


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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This ambitious and well-polished JRPG has just a bit of a hollow core, March 20, 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
Though the name doesn't explicitly mention it, this is actually the third game in the Ar Tonelico series, with installments 1 and 2 on the PS2. A good deal of effort seems to have been taken to make this game accessible to all players, however, regardless of any experience with the first two. This is extremely welcomed in a genre usually loaded long-running jokes, recycled battle systems and the like. There are a handful of references and loose NPC associations to the past games, but I want to be clear up-front in saying that most anyone could walk in here fresh and not feel at all disadvantaged. If some topics, terms and story elements do still end up confusing, data in the game 'Encyclopedia' can get people up to speed.

Standing out most to a lot of RPG players (and particularly those of Gust titles) will be the graphic and audio presentations. Exploration areas are in a tastefully rendered 3D, as well as all character movements in live scenes and battles. Textures and backgrounds are very obviously reused, but for a low-budget game I was impressed to see that at no point did an area feel truly dead or dull from past exposure. The soundtrack, as the series was already renowned for, is again top-notch and outdoes itself. An outstanding balance between familiar melodies and dynamic battle music has been found, which greatly enhances the music-based nature of the game universe and "song magic" driving combat. All this is above any beyond what one would typically expect within the genre.

In the review title I say "well-polished" in that, though by the sort of standard you might expect to see a top-rate action game, gameplay and combat are innovative and there's obvious attention to detail everywhere you might look. Combat is different this time-- a real-time 3D adventure-style battle system similar to Final Fantasy XIII-- instead of the typical JRPG turn-based affair. You're offered an interesting battle arrangement, with one song magic caster (one of the game heroines) and a vanguard of up to 3 to charge ahead. Players must match their attacks with certain beat rhythms in the battle music (far easier than it might sound, with a polite learning curve) and attack power varies on different notes. No two battles are every quite the same as a result, and that alone is an accomplishment.

The story concerned me for some time as being extremely shallow with excruciatingly boring characters, but after 20 or so hours in a very impressive depth comes to life, with honest-to-god unexpected plot twists, and a much higher level of development. A lot of this progression involves a series standard, the "Dive" system, which are essentially a series of short interactive narratives the protagonist goes through in the mind of each heroine. Though powers are enhanced by going deeper, there's an honest motivation just a simple desire to see what happens next. As it adds up to several hours of development with each characters, it's more than most games will hand you toward getting to know your comrades. Though not totally 100% required, even those finding it tedious should dig in a little, if only to gain some abilities like enhanced healing in combat.

Of course, not all is well and good in Ar Ciel. However much I dislike offering what looks like a rate-down on just one hinging point, that it is awkward aspects of combat makes it unavoidable. As mentioned, the "diving" above is not forced upon you, but neglecting will mean immense battle challenges later on. Each of the Ar Tonelico games have dealt with magic strength differently, but the process here is founded on an extremely convoluted and 'hardcore fan-friendly' game universe concept that female characters' magic exponentially becomes more powerful as they expose more skin... noting how they can "absorb more energy", but it's pretty obvious what the actual motivation is. To really power through, it does become progressively more necessary to 'strip' the heroines in battle.

Up to 4 tiers of magic can be summoned, but for better or worse each and every battle the players is forced to watch one of 4 personae of the heroines undress herself slowly and trigger it via a very awkward system of a button press + a shake of the controller (triggering its motion sensor). Getting the trigger can be extremely frustrating, painful, and sometimes battle-ending. It's a novel concept, but really something that needs a menu option to turn off. The end result is that, despite the catchy music and pattern variety to help, there's no truly "easy" way to get through combat, and for a bit of a asinine boon it becomes very easy to defeat all foes via casting with the built-up energy from undressing, making the other benefits to the party it gives such as healing or attack enhancements completely moot. A long gaming session may well give you a sore wrist, or at very least won't let you settle in and relax entirely.

Again, I hate basing so much negativity on that point, but if even I as a well-versed player of games in this series and genre overall find it a bit too far outside-the-box and as adding unnecessary levels of difficulty and pain, I'd venture to say that the majority of other players might get even more annoyed than I was. Usually a big problem like this would feel less tedious over time, but as battle becomes longer this becomes necessary multiple times each fight, it made the problem worse. By no means should this be taken as a huge flag against a purchase, but something of a warning at the very least.

In the end, you'll get 40+ hours of continuous plot evolution without any real need for 'EXP grinding' or backtracking. A limit on the number of random encounters in any one particular dungeon offers a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel for players just trying to get on with it. Normal difficulty set should suffice for most, though 'Easy' and 'Hard' are available to swap to at absolutely any time. Plot twists, plot branching, and multiple endings may well have you coming back for more, giving the game great replay value. With 8 different endings (5 of which take different directions), the game is even kind enough to allow players to begin with cleared "New Game+" data at specific points in the story where the more important decisions are made. At last, no more repeated 20-40 hour runs of replay for one measly scene!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Song to the People, March 24, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
With Ar tonelico Qoga, Gust delivers the exciting conclusion to the Ar tonelico saga that began with Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia and continued in Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica. While this series may not be as familiar to gamers as popular franchises like Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts, Ar tonelico Qoga is a wonderful gem that should not be missed by JRPG fans.

The first question that is probably on everyone's mind is whether or not it is required to play first two games before Diving (yes, pun intended...more on that later) into Qoga. In general, you shouldn't be too lost if you haven't played the other games, though certain events may have less of an effect on you -- in particular, several of the characters from previous games return in this title and there are occasionally references to previous events. It might be fair to compare this to watching the Lord of the Rings films without having read "The Hobbit" -- a few things here and there may feel less significant, but in general you should still find it to be enjoyable. Even so, the game includes an Encyclopedia that will allow players to brush up on the history and lore of the world if they so choose to.

The story is quite well crafted, though it may take a little while to get going. At first, the story simply feels like a classic setup: boy meets girl, boy protects girl, boy fights against evil empire. However, as the story goes along, the lines between good and evil become somewhat blurry -- villains and heroes both may not be what they always seem. Add to that an amazing cast of playable characters and some great character development and you get a story that is well worth your time.

One of the key things that has always set the series apart from other RPGs is the Cosmosphere system -- a system that allows the protagonist to "Dive" into the subconsciousness of the the main heroines -- in this case, Saki and Finnel. This part of the game behaves more like a visual novel, where our hero Aoto must help Saki and Finnel struggle through their inner struggles and fears. This helps to add a great deal of depth to the characters. Furthermore, helping them through their problems aids the game in fleshing out the characters, making them feel more like real people with real problems.

In the past, the series has used 2D sprites and turn-based gameplay, but with the jump to PS3 comes 3D graphics and real time combat. I found the 3D graphics to be pleasant, though nowhere near the quality of titles like Final Fantasy XIII or Eternal Sonata. Fortunately, during most dialogues, you'll actually be looking at character portraits rather than their 3D models, and these are quite exceptional -- this is comparable to the excellent Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. The combat system has switched to be more like Star Ocean or the Tales series in that you now control a single character and move around in real time while the AI controls party members. However, instead of simply hacking away at enemies, the main focus is typically to protect your party's current Reyvateil (read: spell-caster) while she charges up her magic. As such, the most important thing is protect, rather than concentrate solely on attacking.

Which brings me to how the Reyvateil charges up her attacks. See, to charge up her magic, she purges (read: strips her clothes) during combat to increase the damage output. This may or may not matter a great deal to you -- I admittedly felt a little awkward at first, but after a while simply got used to it. Ar tonelico as a series has always had some innuendo in it, so if this sort of thing offends you, then perhaps Qoga might not be the thing for you. I would like to mention however that while this game has gotten a lot of attention for this single feature, there are games on the market that are far more explicit than this -- ATQ may show a bit more skin than most JRPGs, but there's no full nudity in the game, despite what some may have you believe. Compared to a lot of M rated games and R rated movies, it's actually pretty tame. (Also, please forgive me for this rant, you wouldn't believe how many reviews I've read that focus ONLY on this single aspect and ignore the rest of the game, which I consider to be an incredibly unprofessional way to review).

Another feature I'd like to draw attention to is the music and voice acting. I personally enjoyed the English voice acting, but I tend to be pretty accepting; fortunately, the original Japanese voices are available for those who prefer that. The quality of music for the game is absolutely fantastic, the vocals in particular are breath-taking and incredibly good -- although anyone who knows the series probably guessed that. For those who aren't so familiar, let me describe it in this sense -- the music is worthy of standing against Nobuo Uematsu and Shoji Meguro's best works. As you delve into the game, it will become apparent that music and songs are an integral part of the story, and the quality of the music reflects this. I HIGHLY recommend this music.

Which in turn directly ties into the bonuses you get if you order early enough. The first printing of the game comes in a large box with one disc of the game's music and a hardcover art book AT NO ADDITIONAL COST. Sadly it is only a subset of the game's full music, so if you get as addicted as me, prepare to start importing music from Japan. Still, as a free bonus, I can't complain.

Overall, I'd rank this as one of my favorite games on the PS3, a niche title that may sadly go unnoticed in a year where it competes with giants like Dragon Age, Portal, and Uncharted. If you're a JRPG fan, this is well worth picking up. Just don't wait too long -- niche games like this end up becoming rare within a year or two and you may end up paying more than its current price if you're not careful.

Final Score: 10/10
Summary: Hidden gem in PS3 library; strengths are story, characters and music.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST rpg's ive played in awhile, March 17, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
I'm a RPGer, and there has been a serious drought in good quality RPGs lately. Ar Tonelico Qoga has been a welcome game. The Music is awesome, the intro is well done, the gameplay is fun and story is cool. I personally like the voice acting for both audio selections. I highly recommend if your a lover of both anime and RPGs to pick up this awesome game
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gust does it again, August 1, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
If you enjoyed the Ar Tonelico series, you're sure to enjoy this one. Granted that there are a few bugs, luckily no game breaking bug this time around, but this is still a solid game.

Gameplay:4/5
The fighting mechanism used this time around is a semi free action hack and slash, very similar to the Tales series, though less responsive. Fighting can be frustrating because of the overall clunky-ness of the controls, and extremely time consuming unless you choose to skip all battle scene CG, which I recommend against since it's absolutely ridiculous. Everything else is the exact same as all the other Ar tonelico games out there. Cosmospheres still work like they do, but now instead of costumes, it's alternate personae. Overall, the game is not hard, even with the weird controls.

Story:4/5
Expect the same old story from the previous games, which can be a good or a bad thing. If you liked the storyline in the previous games, this does not sell short, in fact I enjoyed it just as much, if not more than the previous two. But if it's a new innovative story you're looking for, then you're not exactly going to find it here. Another thing people may not like about this game, is that the story does sort of depend on you playing the previous two games to fully understand. In fact one of the usable characters is a usable character from Ar tonelico 2 (No spoilers), and they do not explain a lot of terms they use at all. Although it doesn't detract from the story overall, it's still like being on the outside looking in on inside joke.

Music:5/5
Same great music, with awesome new hymns. "EXEC_EP=NOVA/." will be stuck in your head before the day is through (most ridiculous song there is).

Replayability: 5/5
Like all Gust games, there are a bunch of different endings, and I do recommend you see them all. Of course that's completely up to you. But you can easily log 100 hours into this game without really feeling bored from it. Note that 2 of the characters you get cannot be had at the same time (Getting one, means you can't have the other), so it's fun to at least play it twice to see both characters.

Overall, this is a very solid game, and I do recommend it to all people who enjoy JRPGs, even if you haven't played the first two. You might not get some of the terms, but you'll understand the story just fine (to enough of an extent), and maybe it'll prompt you to play the first two games.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every last penny, July 23, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
Holy cow.

I have actually been avoiding my PS3, playing PC games since I had given up on a real RPG (not the FF Franchise) appearing for this console. I saw this on PSN Japan last year and liked the music so much I picked up the Limited Edition soundtrack when I was in Japan last year because the tracks are all of my favorite fantasy/ethnic singers. But then, I saw they changed the name from Ar Tonelico III to Ar Toneligo Quoga (? to quote one word a character says?) bought the english and my life was forever changed.

I could not put the game down. I am on vacation right now and literally, I could not stop playing I was having so much fun. The excessive amounts of Loli suggestive themes are offset by game's acknowledgement of the mature content. You can also turn off the "purge" sequences so you don't have to be visually blasted by people stripping as part of the power up ritual as you blaze through the game.

Lots of content. You can play the game straight through and just do the mini stories of the singing girls (Reyvateils) to get your base requirements, or you can go all out and delve completely into their minds and unlock even more characters and endings. You can even switch the language back to Japanese (the English acting actually is pretty spot on but I find the original Japanese just as enchanting) You can get so many endings (Bad ending, Normal for several, True for several) that you will not be able to play the game just one time and feel that your life is absolutely complete.

If you've been looking for the next big RPG game that has character development, don't mind pot jokes about mature subjects, detailed storyline and not just a grinding time sink, Quoga is definitely your game
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dating sim where you carry a sword, April 28, 2013
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This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
Going into this i was looking for anohter rpg to occupy my time being a fan of anyhting with nis america on it i might have been suckered into this. The game overall isn't bad it has decent graphics enjoyable music and enjoyable character interaction. But the battle system is overall not very enjoyable maybe if you enjoy dance dance revolution and look forward to matching your button presses with certain parts of the screen prompts you could enjoy the battles more then i did. All in all its a nice distraction with a decent story.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE DIVING INTO THEM!, March 19, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
Sorry my title sounds kinda perverted, LOL. This game is a must have for any JRPG game, and I'll explain the diving part. Diving into a chick is "coming in her," to make her stronger. I wish the chicks had better bodies though, but that's just cause im a pervy sanin. I'm not gunna go into long reviews of the story, just dive and don't look back is what i like to say.

Gameplay A+
Storyline A
Characters A-
Sound A
Combat A

"LET'S ALL DIVE TOGETHER"
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2.0 out of 5 stars Its battle system is subpar to Starocean and Tales of ..., June 29, 2014
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This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
Its battle system is subpar to Starocean and Tales of series'. This was very disappointing... at least the story is interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great RPG, May 15, 2014
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This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
Just what i expect, there are certainly things i liked more in the 2 previous games, like cosplay or the gameplay, but that dont make this game nothing less, Good Gameplay, Good scenary, and a Great Music, if you already played the 2 previous games, this make this game a must buy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great Game!, July 25, 2013
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This review is from: Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (Video Game)
I gave it this rateing due to these facts:

2 Stars for it being my favorite Genre (RPG), 1 Star for the Music, 1 Star for game play, and the final for the story line.

All-in-all I would recomend this game for those who like interactive story lines and gameplay with building you own weapons and armor and such.
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Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel
Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel by TechnoMarine (PlayStation 3)
$39.99 $27.29
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