Top critical review
Decent JRPG with a great idea, less than stellar execution
on July 1, 2015
I am about 10 hours into the game so far, so I will update my review accordingly if my opinion changes as the game progresses.
First I will start with the good. This game uses a turn-based battle system where the enemies are positioned on a grid. The top screen shows a list of the upcoming attack order, and you can use the "change" option to re-order your own team in the lineup, but "changed" characters will be at a defensive weakness until they attack. You use your party's skills to manipulate the enemies around the grid, and if you pile up several enemies at once and continue to hit them, the combo counter increases. Combos not only kill enemies more efficiently, but you are rewarded with additional experience and money if you execute combos in battle. Overall its a pretty fun system that emphasizes planning and strategy, which I really enjoy. Additionally the game has a pretty intuitive, fast, and well thought-out menu system, which is always appreciated in this type of game. The "Story" tab in the menu even keeps a log of events, tasks, nodes, and dead ends you have uncovered, so you know what you still need to do. I have been making an effort to play this game with the volume turned up and the music so far is pleasant and appropriate, but with no especially memorable tracks.
Now comes the bad. What could be this game's most brilliant idea, could also be its weakest aspect. The time travel mechanic. It would be amazing if you could more precisely pinpoint certain times and locations to travel to, but you are limited to traveling between "nodes". Nodes are generally located during major plot events, with massive amounts of dialogue text and animation. Each time you travel to a node you have to sit through all that plot text AGAIN. Atlus even realized this and included a fast forward feature by holding X. I have sat there and held down the X button for literal minutes while waiting for all the dialogue to end so I can regain control of my character. This kills my desire to experiment with the time travel and see what happens. Also the game is EXTREMELY linear at this point. You can't explore any of the areas. If you so much as walk off the intended path, the character pauses and says something along the lines of "we still need to do X, maybe I shouldn't go this way".
As I stated at the beginning of this review, I am only about 10 hours into the game at this point, so I'm hoping the linearity eases off as I enter the midgame portion. If things improve, I'd be willing to give this game a 4 out of 5.