Last Rebellion is the latest Japanese role-playing game from Nippon Ichi Software, which was released in Japan earlier this year and is set to be released in North America at the end of this month. It's a unique turn-based RPG where you have interchangeable main characters, as well as an interesting tactical battle system that involves stamping and spellcasting. However, the watercolor visuals stand out the most because several well-known manga artists have contributed to the game's design. We had an opportunity to play some of Last Rebellion and were intrigued by the strategic elements in the gameplay.
The story is set in a world where two gods are at odds with each other and select humans have been recruited to try to bring back the balance. It's difficult to go into more detail without giving away too much, but you'll get the idea early on in the game. You play as a smart-mouthed young man named Nine, who is a master swordsman and the adopted son of the current king of Lorvin. He's also known as a blade who hunts the undead. The other main character in the story is Aisha, a gifted sealer whose power is used to ensure that the undead defeated by a blade remain dead. Due to an incident very early on in the game--which we won't spoil for you--Nine and Aisha are joined as one. This means they share the same hit points, magic points, and chain points. They still have their own individual talents, and you can swap them around in battle, but you can only play as one character at a time.
This isn't like any other strategy turn-based RPG where you take turns attacking until the creatures die. Enemies are seen onscreen, and in Last Rebellion, you need to stamp the body parts of your opponents with your blade before you can cast stamp magic on them to dispose of them. Each individual monster that you face will come with a list of body parts that you can assign Nine or Aisha to attack in any order. Nine is a better swordsman and will deal more damage, so it makes sense to have him stamp the body part, then Aisha to cast the stamp magic. There is a correct order to attack, which will yield bonus experience points at the end of the battle and determine how many turns the stamp will last on the enemy before you have to stamp again. As you're attacking, you'll see numbers and the words "bingo" and "combo" appear. The numbers indicate how many turns the stamp will last; bingo lets you know that you got the right order, therefore, the stamp will last longer; and combo appears when you get three or more bingos. Chain points, which are limited, are used each time you attack a body part, so plan accordingly. Casting magic only costs one CP, and magic will hit all the areas that have been stamped by the sword. It's a careful balance between guessing the order of attack and then casting magic to deal the rest of the damage. Once enemies die, you'll need Aisha to seal them to finish them off completely, otherwise after a few turns, they will get up again and with more power.
This may seem confusing at first and possibly a little tedious, but it's relatively easy to figure out. Then, it's about conserving and spending your CPs wisely. Aisha and Nine can be swapped at will, and each will regenerate points when wandering around on the map. For example, you'll regenerate HPs while Aisha's out and MP if Nine is out. There don't seem to be any inns or places to rest, so you'll just have to swap back and forth in a safe area to wait to heal, which can be a bit of a chore. CPs are a little harder to replenish because you only get a few of them after each turn, but there are CPs stations out in the field that you can draw from by striking with your sword.
From what we've played, it seems like you'll have a hub area known as the Vamino Room, and you'll jump into mirrors to access different areas of the world. Conversations are presented with character portraits, but the artwork is quite impressive, and during loading times, you'll see illustrations from several artists that have contributed to the game. Nine's disrespectful attitude makes it difficult to be sympathetic toward him, but we're curious to see how he plans to reach his end goals. Look for Last Rebellion when it is released for the PlayStation 3 on February 23.