Can be very dull initially but it does pick up later. This game is an acquired taste in a manner of speaking.
Bowser05 wrote this review on .
Gameplay: The combat system in this game, is actually pretty darned cool. You don't level up your character (except for health and thirst and defense, but that is through acquired items), but instead you upgrade the weapons you use. Basically the game runs like this: You get into a multi-floored dungeon, as you run around you start to get thirsty, when your thirst meter runs down you start to lose health, unless you drink water at a pool or have water with you. No enemies pop up out of nowhere there are no random battles. You will see what you are up against and can do your best to avoid the fight if you must. When you do choose to fight, your weapon has two meters. One is ABS which is basically the weapon's experience points, and the other is the damage the weapon has taken, which if it falls to zero, then the weapon breaks and is either lost or in some special cases can be fixed. It is not as simple as just levelling up a weapon though, there are some twists. You can attach special items to raise the stats of the weapon (kind of like materia from FFVII) and if you upgrade the weapon with these items attached, then these items will dissappear but the stat change will upgrade with the weapon. Based on this, if you upgrade weapons with certain stats raised, you can actually 'evolve' that weapon into something else. There are the normal stats for the weapon (attack, speed, etc.) and then there are of course the elements which you can attribute to your weapon as well. The thing I liked about this is that it gives you a LOT of freedom of basically fighting the way you want to fight. It helps a lot that there are plenty of weapons for each of the 6 party members you get throughout the game. Onto the actual dungeons, which are very straight forward. You have to go through multiple floors in a dungeon (you have the option of leaving after you beat a floor and coming back to where you left off so you don't have to do the whole dungeon at once) and they are simple to get through, usually using a certain character to get past an obstacle then you get a key to be able to move onto the next floor. The trick is that each floor's set-up is randomly generated, so you won't necessarily get the same thing twice. The last gameplay element are the cities. You get items in the dungeon that correspond to its nearest city, and with these items you have to basically rebuild each city, however you see fit (the cities are all destroyed near the beginning, I won't say why though, don't want to spoil anything), which means EVEN MORE customization. There are two things though that prevent the Gameplay from getting a 10. First is the story. The story, although somewhat creative, is still way too basic until almost the last one-fifth of the game, and even then it isn't REALLY interesting until pretty much the last dungeon. Don't get me wrong the story is pretty good, but it just seems too underdeveloped and a little too unorganized at times. Secondly, which is actually a combination of two things, is the dullness factor. For the first half of the game, after you get over the fun of learning how to play, the game is very dull and is hard to sit through (at least it was for me), but after that it starts picking up and you really don't want to stop playing until you get to the end. The other thing is that sometimes the dungeons seem to be a little longer then they should be, making the last part of the dungeons a little boring, and the final dungeon was just WAY too long. I will say that all but maybe one of the six bosses are fun and creative. Other than that honestly speaking, this is actual a pretty solid RPG and tries something new, and does a pretty good job of it too.
Graphics: Well, honestly speaking the game itself doesn't look too bad. The character models are nice and the environments are detailed just right. The thing that takes away from this is that since you spend A LOT of time within each dungeon, you start to get tired of the recycled textures very fast. That isn't that big of a deal though, since each dungeon is different enough to avoid a Doom 3 type of deal. The big issue here is that although the cutscenes are good, I wish they were done in FMV. If that were done, with text even it doesn't have to be voice overs, that would have helped ease up on the other problems. But the cutscenes, which are few and unamazing in anything but storytelling, were just too plain really.
Sound: Honestly, the sound effects did not catch my attention at all. They were basic and for the most part weren't really great, but not horrible either. The thing that saves this is the music. The music just always fits the mood and is catchy enough so that while you spend that extra time in the dungeons (during those times when you are bored because the dungeon doesn't seem to end), your ears at least don't mind. This game most definately has appropriate music and is well composed.
Value: Ah yes, I have found that often RPGs don't usually give enough incentive to come back and play through again besides the story and fun factor (I mean play through again for extras, like Ninja Gaiden Black's diiferent difficulties which have different monster set-ups and such). I mean, it is almost guaranteed that without a guide, it is almost impossible to discover how to upgrade your weapons to the ultimate weapon for each character and also to find all of the upgrades for each character, but that is honestly the only reason to go through it again. The thing I DID like, which prevented this part from getting a horrible score, is that a crazy 100 floor dungeon is unlocked after you beat the game (like how Lunar Ruins is unlocked after you beat Final Fantasy IV Advance), which has a pretty challenging boss in it. Otherwise, the only reason you might ever come back and play this game (at least for me), would be to get refreshed with the story in order to be able to play Dark Cloud 2.
Now down to the verdict. Frankly speaking this is overall, a solid RPG. It has its flaws, but because of the combat and upgrade system, and the customization, this game really does shine. Flaws aside, if you are an RPG fan you will more likely than not enjoy this, and even if you are not, since all battles are realtime (I find most people I know who do not like RPGs mainly dislike the turn-based battle systems), this is worth checking out at least. What with the lowered price now, this game is definately worth a buy though.