At the minute my backlog is getting out of hand my favourite activity is either starting a new game I have no intention of finishing, telling myself one step at a time or browsing through old titles I might have missed out on. There usually is plenty.
Just recently I reattempted to give Mass Effect yet another try mainly because outer space travel themes are my weakness. I usually stop a little bit after I create my character. But because this time around I did not even make it to the battlefield, I think it’s high time to get comfortable with the fact that me and Mass Effect will never get along.
However, scrolling through the old-ish titles in the RPG section I came across Star Ocean: The Last Hope and took a second look. Outer space? Vibrant enviroments? The standard, as unrealistic as possible character design? YES please. I do not want to say it just yet but it does seem like it ticks all the boxes. So the question is; have you played The Last Hope (or any other title in the series) and what have you thought of it?
As you might know RPG is the genre I invest most time into and gush over the most on these pages. Seeing as we are already more than a half way into December I think it’s safe to begin the pre 2015 chats and discussions as to what we will be playing next so here’s a few titles I will be looking forward to try the most next year.
1. A brand new title in the SaGa series was announced a few days ago which instantly piqued my interest mainly due to the art direction, obviously, and the fact that I remeber being once fascinated by the SaGa Frontier images while scrolling through the old classics checking on what I have missed out on over the years. The game will be playable on the PS Vita.
2. Persona 5. That one’s a given eventhough the updates and news have been rather sparse ever since it has been announced. I will gladly accept anything to be honest and I’m pretty sure so will the rest of the community. Persona has become insanely popular for many reasons. Although the first two titles suffered in the gameplay department, I have always found it painful to digest in comparison to the plot, the 3rd and the 4th game managned to balance the battle system and the story incredibly well. I see them as the ultimate RPGs for grown-ups.
3. Suikoden I and II will be coming to PSN. I have been unsure whether to include these since they are basically repackaged old classics BUT having not played them/knowing very little about/seeing as they are both generally accepted as the must-plays in the genre I am willing to purchase and see if the series is worth it.
4. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD might be the one I am the most impatient to try. It has been around for years and I have been dreaming about it since the day it came out. Next year it will finally be playable for the western audience and in HD. Persona aside, I might be an even bigger addict in this instance so this list would not be complete without a Final Fantasy title.
RPG wise what do you look forward to in 2015?
I believe last time I spoke about this title was months ago when I was not too far into the game. I remember liking it but wishing it would have been more exciting … . Fast forward 4 months, and I have made a good chunk of progress but I swear it feels like the game is neverending. I don’t really have anything new to add but I still wanted to talk about it mainly because I feel like I should love it but I just cannot commit.
The game does almost everything right and when I try and make my mind up on what exactly it is that it’s lacking I struggle. The level design is stunning. Every town, dungeon or any other place has got its on distinctive style and feel to it. The environments, the architecture, even the smallest elements like the icons in the menu pages, are crafted with some serious dose of effort and attention to detail making exploration a dream come true. What is more, there is plenty of good reasons to replay the game since you are given countless side quests to complete, extra dungeons to explore plus two equally main protagonists what offeres two different paths you can take. The gameplay is dynamic, very dynamic in fact, the battles are frequent and the bosses especially in the later chapteres of the game are quite challenging.
For a title that is so well made and polished up in all of the above-mentioned aspects I would expect the story to be on a comparable level or just better than average. So it is rather unfortunante that this is the only element that would need some serious beefing up. Both the plot and the characters feel rather familiar and predictable, on the whole it’s just not that fascinating. I have got nothing against recycling old formulas for the most part as long as they offer something new along the way. Tales of Xillia sadly does not and for that reason it feels tedious to watch.
My point is I always expect something extra special in terms of storytelling and Tales of Xillia is painfully lacking in that department which is a shame because it’s pretty advanced and complex in the other aspects. The packaging is great but the content is not as shiny.
#1. Final Fantasy VIII  was my very first RPG experience and till today it still remains my most loved one. It’s probably best known for the love plot which in my opinion is only a tiny element of the bigger picture and not even my favorite. Initially, it impressed me with the story and scared me with the game play. Even though it did take me awhile to learn the battle & team development mechanics it was well worth it. The best thing about the junction system is that it allows you to customize your characters anyway you wish to, it’s very satisfying.
#2. SMT: Persona 3  while being completely different game play and story wise it is as good as the latter. Set in modern times it offers possibly the most addictive battle play I’ve ever come across and makes the grinding/dungeon exploration ridiculously enjoyable. That plus memorable characters paired with an exhilarating plot make the game feel fresh.
#3. Final Fantasy X  is probably the most accessible out of the bunch, well-paced and perhaps the most captivating. Plot wise it starts off lightly and evolves into something more serious. It’s journey oriented and what I like the most is that everyone you meet on your way has their own story to share and it’s always a good one. It’s an amazing classic I will always want to revisit and the fact that the HD re-launch is so near makes me very excited to play it again.
Aside from that, there is plenty of other titles deserving a mention. SMT: Persona 4 has got an enhanced game play but I still prefer the third installment a bit more. Ni no Kuni impressed me with the design and gorgeous visuals but not necessarily with the battle system sadly, still it’s an enjoyable game. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is one of my recent favorites. The story & the characters aren’t anything outstanding and the game play relies on a very traditional approach. Despite that though it’s got its charm and had grown on me eventually. Valkyria Chronices is a breath of fresh air when it comes to strategy. Demon’s Souls is an exceptional title, not so much for its insane difficulty level but for the overall atmosphere, lore, story, NPCs and the design.
And finally God Eater Burst and NieR, not entirely fully-fledged RPGs but both are incredible titles still not getting enough recognition for their quality.
After having played it for a good couple of hours I can safely say it has been a weird experience for me. I’m enjoying the gameplay mechanics a lot although initially I was a little sceptical about not having team members. The schemata concept works really well though and in way it reminds me of the grids from X-2. That and collecting different varieties of grabs, customizing them and crafting your own sets of schematas make the battles both exhilarating and addictive.
The online features and screenshot snapping & sharing add another fun element to the game.
One major aspect I am struggling to get used to is the clock. I’m not sure if I am playing it the wrong way or not but why put a time limit in a game when you have got dozens of quests you would like to take on and a vast amount of land you would probably like to explore? I do have a hard time trying to focus on one thing and appreciate what the game offers seeing the clock ticking. I guess it does make sense in the context of the story though …
Overall, I am liking it. Currently I’m doing my best to understand how the actual making yourself stronger works, because from what I have seen it won’t be a conventional grinding.