Top critical review
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Pretty, yet questionable
on December 26, 2012
I was ready for another rpg, a genre that for some reason has stagnated over the last 4-5 with very few traditional rpgs (jrpgs at least) and with more "action oriented" combat (FFXIII, etc.) to appease a wider audience and the result is games that are mediocre and sometimes just plain bad.
With that being said, I got the game in 2012 because I was tired of replaying old rpgs that I had and mostly because EVERYONE said it was throwback game that reminded people of rpgs on the SNES and PS1. So I got the game with high expectations and got something that made me feel similar to Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (1/5) in that I liked the concept better than the execution. However, that being said the game does some things to its credit.
-The art in is game is fantastic! The developers realized that 3D models on a DS are awful (Nostlagia,Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, etc.) and decided to go with a dynamic moving picture style similar to Golden Sun but improves on that art style in every way. Most of the main characters tend to have bland models but there are few that really stand out and the character design in the dialogue scenes is beautiful. The graphics look great from battles to dungeons to towns with few changes in quality.
-Different story lines in one game. They help to change up different "what if" scenarios. However, it is unfortunate that there are only 2 real timelines with a bunch of game overs. A wasted opportunity in my opinion.
-The story showed a lot of promise when starting especially when you are given the time traveling mechanic early in the game but that's where the game begins to show its true self because only the main character can travel through time. The story goes that an ancient civilization left two books to protect a dying world; the White Chronicle and the Black Chronicle. So there are only 2 people in the whole game that can time travel and you control one of them, with the other being evil. Since you can only control one person going through time it further disconnects you from the rest of party (since time travel is kept amiss from them), which is a staple feature in most rpgs, leaving party interaction strictly business oriented or forced because the plot says so. The story was kind of cool at first but then it got tedious, especially when a character knew something was up with the main character the whole time (knew who he was and his fate) and didn't go anywhere with it except to tell the player. If this happened once or twice I wouldn't bother mentioning but it is implied throughout the whole game leaving the plot twist very obvious, boring, and archaic. It doesn't hold up and its been done before in a better fashion.
-The world is more like a series of areas with little to no over world, making the exploration/treasure hunting quite limited but this is fixed with various abilities you get to find invisible objects, cause explosions, become invisible and move stuff. Sadly these are used more as obstacles than puzzle solving, making these mechanics feel tacked on rather than apart of the game play. You can also do a sword swing in towns and areas to clear paths and get preemptive strikes for battles. A cool idea but again not used enough other than to gain a quick start on battles.
-The time traveling, like I mentioned before is more tedious than rewarding. It promises to better than chrono trigger in that YOU can actually make different timelines! Cool right? but sadly there are only 2 real timelines to choose from which is a shame because you have so many opportunities with this mechanic to make it feel less restrictive than Chrono trigger. Rather than travel to a different time period you travel to different parts in the game's story but can only travel to crucial decisions that result in either progressive the story or getting a game over, again wasted opportunity. This mechanic was fun at least but became tedious as I found out it was more trial and error rather than my choice.
-The music was great at first and it was quite memorable......mostly because they use the same 5 songs throughout the game with slight remixes. It really saddens me that this was a prime selling point and people loved it! I liked it but they were overused too quickly in similar story situations.
-The combat........ ugh this made me sad but I'll give you a rundown. It's a traditional turn based system with 2 unique features: an enemy grid system and an attack order that you can switch to make combos. These features make the combat seem cool and fresh until you find out its quite limited. The enemies are on a 3x3 grid where the closer they are to you the more damage they do. The enemies up front of the grid can wipe your party in one turn if not careful but they have ways to help you out which is mostly the push/pull system. This allows you to move most enemy to the back of the grid (push) or the front of it (pull), which is a very good concept and it makes it better that you push/pull enemies into each other making them occupy the same space to combo them. This makes for good puzzle gameplay especially combined with the attack order system. This order system is simply determined by a character speed they get a certain number of chances to attack before the enemy does. What makes this stand out is that you can manipulate this order to set up effective attacking combos. However, if you have a character use this ability they will take more damage until they attack in that order. This makes this battles different in that it shoves the risk vs reward in your face. So why is this bad? Well mainly because its the only way to win. Enemies do A LOT of damage to you so want to combo them up as much as possible to kill them at the same time. Get used to this because you will need to do over and over and over again to win with it being nearly impossible to win by not doing it since there can be as many as 8 enemies in a battle. Then there is the magic which is so overpowered that you will mainly using that and the push/pull mechanic which is sad because there are very few attacking spells because most are support magic. Magic is used for attacking, trap setting to push enemies into, and of course healing/stat boosting. Magic spells mostly look the same but do the most damage while the physical attacks can by stylish but most of them are similar looking to each other as well. The combat is essentially change the order enough times with 2 characters while the other one heals/supports until you have enough for a combo then use push/pull enough times to stack everyone on one square and hit them with magic interweaving it with physical attacks to raise the hit counter faster to do more damage. That is how the whole game is played. You cannot use other ways because you won't do enough damage and you will die. Its a cool idea but when you have a menu of 20+ skills to use and only 2-3 per character are ever used it really makes the game boring.
I could go on about the combat but I have said enough to get the idea.
A mixed bag; mostly because it shows a lot of innovation and promise but really trips up when giving the player "choices" especially in combat.