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RPG Community |OT| Take the Epoch to a New Era

Beary

Member
May 23, 2018
27
So I beat my first game for the blitz: Dark Souls 3 + DLC. And I am not all that sure how I feel about it. It’s definitely a fun and well made game, but it didn’t capture me as much as the first one and maybe even the much maligned second one did. A big reason for that is, that I already played two of these games so I kind of know what to expect. Dark Souls 3 also invites comparisons to its predecessors by having a lot of allusions to the first, and to a lesser extent, the second game. The problem with that for me is, that it felt like a greatest hits record with some new instruments and remixes. So there are a lot of new things, but it still misses its own unique identity to me.

The world also didn’t feel as cohesive with a lot of the areas feeling more like videogame levels (which they of course are) than actual places. Which is fine, but I missed the feeling of exploring a civilization lost to time and slowly uncovering its secrets. I also think it has the worst hub of any Dark Souls.

But it’s also the most polished of the three games, the battles are fun, there are some beautiful vistas and some great boss fights. So overall it is a very good, but slightly forgettable game.
 

MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
Well, since ToCS 2 I've played Judgment and now Dragon Quest Builders 2. I imagine those have OTs on the main page but I don't really go there anymore. They are at least RPG-ish games though, so I think I'll post some thoughts here.

....

Judgment is kind of the inverse of what I expected. I heard a lot of praise of its narrative, e.g. it rivaled Yakuza 0, but little about how it played. As such, I expected it to play much like Yakuza but have a fresh narrative perspective. Instead, the narrative didn't feel particularly relevatory while the new gameplay designs and the execution of the scenario sequences made the main story play quite differently.

While the narrative is generally well put together and well produced, I don't think it even matches 0 in terms of polish even while it is clearly head and shoulders above Kiwami 1&2 in this regard. Moreover, a lot of the characters and plot movements seemed just almost there but not quite: I felt myself wanting just a little more to grab onto a lot. Finally, the story did not step that far from Yakuza's stomping grounds. This is evident from the get-go where, despite his former law career and current detective work, it turns out the main character is practically an adopted child of a Yakuza patriarch and a whole central component of the story involves this patriarch's family and his relation to them. The story doesn't lean too hard into the titular "judge eyes" or the legal profession. I was kind of hoping it would.

The gameplay was, however, refreshing and Tak didn't go about his business like Kiryu for the most part. The game actually called it out when he did go full Kiryu and storm a building, fighting a guantlet of fights. Most of the time he was instead snooping, tailing, chasing, etc. He actually went about his problems like a private eye, not Kiryu with a private-eye skin. There were also some minor gestures towards Ace Attorney-like segments, but ultimately the potential there felt wasted. I also think the private eye conceit goes quite well with Yakuza-style substories. It provides a nice context as to why you are doing them and what sort of shape they take on. The only obnoxious part of the gameplay, imo, were the gang threat alerts--like many such systems in Yakuza, alert activates way too frequently imo. Moreover, going around and fighting people in the street is where Judgment is exactly Yakuza. I think these events should have been toned down.

Overall, I think it is a good game and a solid framework for (hopefully) Judgment 2. I'd hope in a sequel they'd move the narrative further away from their usual grounds and that they'd continue to expand and dig more into differentiating gameplay features. Particularly I'd like to see more lawyer gameplay/narrative.

....

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is good.

It dives more into life simulation than the original and this continues over into free build. This is only really successful with the farming-cooking-eating-pooping cycle--which the game leads with--and the other simulation elements, namely mining and leading an army just sort of fall by the wayside after the story segment exploring them. Still, the farming is markedly more pleasing than it was in the original. This is reflected in the way the end-game free-build is balanced--whereas in the original you could build a holy hostel and mostly forget about food but you had to go to the cardinal islands to gather materials from time to time, here there does not seem to be a holy hostel and you need to keep eating (and you also keep needing poop, with which to teraform) but the islands unlock infinite supplies of all the core building materials.

In general, the game is much more streamlined. Pretty much always, the game will be taking away at least one core responsibility you had in the original--up to and including building! The largest victim to this is by far material gathering. There is much less wandering in general directions denuding the landscape of the materials you need and doing the quests you find on the way. Instead, your villagers are usually either giving you materials or building for you and when you wander off there is a solid destination in front of you. There are puzzles and optional quests along the side but these are further concrete objectives. You largely aren't nebulously exploring looking for "things, whatever might be there."

This continues into the free-build: Although it seems you unlock a terra icognita like island at the end--I'm not sure, I've never actually been to it--the Isle of Awakening has objectives and each visit begins with a guided segment where your villagers are building for you. This is a mixed bag. I like having the villagers be more lively, but it takes something out of starting your village and developing it on your own terms, imo. Nevertheless, as I got past the beginning of the process, I came to enjoy the Isle of Awakening more.

All in all, I wish Builders 2 had developed more lasting economies and simulations than just the farming cycle. I would also want a Builder 3 to take a course somewhere between Builders 1 and 2 wrt how guided and streamlined it was.
 

Eridani

Member
Oct 25, 2017
687
A question: How does Torment: Tides of Numenera compare to Planescape: Torment?
It compares very poorly. It also compares poorly to most other games.

Disclaimer: I very likely hate the game much more than most people. I've also only played about 20 hours of it so I have no idea if it gets better later (it does, slightly, supposedly). I also don't know if any of the patches fixed it but I find that unlikely.

I made a long post explaining why I don't like the game very much a while ago, so I'm just going to copy/paste it here:

1.) The RPG systems are among the worst I've seen in any game. Initially, they seem mostly fine: you get three major stats of the typical strength/dexterity/intelligence variety and a bunch of different skills that all belong one of those stats. However, the skills barely matter since they only provide a minor percentage buff/debuff to each skill check. This wouldn't be much of a problem if it wasn't for the effort mechanic: each character gets a pool of points for each stat (depending on his level in that stat) that can be spent to increase the success rate of each skill check. Additionally, there's an "Edge" stat for each of the three major stats that you can level up, which gives you free points for the effort mechanic. The problem with the edge stat is that it makes it incredibly obvious how you should build your party. Since you get 4 character, and can use each of them for any skill check the only thing that makes sense is to specialize each of them into a different stat. If you do that, you can pass pretty much every skill check with a 100% success rate, regardless of everything else.

This means that the RPG mechanics are completely pointless - you figure them out in about 5 minutes and then just completely ignore them. I honestly don't think anything would change if they were completely removed from the game. The main problem isn't that the mechanics are broken, it's that they are also so incredibly simple. With something like Arcanum, the broken mechanics are forgivable since the game genuinely tries to do some cool things with them. In Torment, they are just so incredibly simple that them also being so broken is just baffling.

2.) I really dislike the structure of the game, which is pretty much the following:
  • You open your map to locate the nearest person
  • You talk to that person, which usually takes an eternity as each NPC has a lot to say
  • You open your map, locate the nearest person, walk for about 10 seconds and trigger another really long conversation
  • Occasionally you get a quest which requires you to talk to a specific person (or, if you really want to, engage in the game's terrible combat, which I'll get to later)
It's honestly just kind of exhausting. There's nothing to break up the extremely long conversations except for 10 seconds of walking. There's not exploration, there's no interesting quests, there's just nothing really. It's just a constant barrage of walls of text broken up by nothing, and the text often isn't very interesting. This made me almost dread clicking on NPCs, since I knew doing so would, without exception, result in an incredibly long conversation that would only have a very small chance of being interesting.

Which is a real shame honestly, because the world of the game is really interesting and I'd love to explore it - apart from it's wonderful writing, this is where Planescape really delivered. But Torment just doesn't let you do that. And I very much do understand reading was meant to be the core of the game, but even in that aspect it's painfully repetitive since it's just one monotone conversation (often almost entirely filled with exposition) after another. It just doesn't make for very fun reading.

3.) And related to that, for a game that's 100% about the writing, the writing itself just didn't work for me. There's a lot of exposition describing the world of Numenera, but it's all delivered in a really wordy, monotone, almost encyclopedic tone which is consistent across every character. The NPCs genuinely don't come across as actual characters but more like Wikipedia entries. There's just no real personality to them. And the wall-of-text thing needs repeating. I mentioned before that every NPC has a lot to say, but that's not really true: every NPC does say a lot, but a lot of it is just boring descriptions with superfluous adjectives, or just stating things in a very long-winded way. The game even conveniently greys out most of such text so that you can avoid it if you want to, almost as if it knows it's really not worth reading.

I'm not against long-winded text on principle. If used sparingly it can be effective, but when every conversation is like that it just gets tiring. It almost feels like the game is hiding the good stuff behind pages and pages of text. It's also distinctly not how Planescape was written, and the companion Avellone wrote for Tides of Numenera is an incredibly effective reminder of that: his text is both much shorter and much more interesting than anything else in the game.

4.) The combat just isn't very good. There are two main problems:
  • The encounters don't have much care put into them (a concrete example is an empty field where your party is surrounded by about a dozen identical enemies - this just isn't very fun). This means it's tactically not very interesting.
  • They are mostly optional, which also means they are so much more trouble than resolving the situation with dialogue. After all, as mentioned above, you're guaranteed to succeed at every skill check anyway. Therefore, when combat is involved, you can almost always just pick a dialogue response to instantly win it. This also means it's poorly balanced: the encounter mentioned above had every one of the dozen enemies capable of instantly killing my characters, while resolving the situation with dialogue was a guaranteed success.
 

SofNascimento

Member
Oct 28, 2017
5,020
It compares very poorly. It also compares poorly to most other games.

Disclaimer: I very likely hate the game much more than most people. I've also only played about 20 hours of it so I have no idea if it gets better later (it does, slightly, supposedly). I also don't know if any of the patches fixed it but I find that unlikely.

I made a long post explaining why I don't like the game very much a while ago, so I'm just going to copy/paste it here:

1.) The RPG systems are among the worst I've seen in any game. Initially, they seem mostly fine: you get three major stats of the typical strength/dexterity/intelligence variety and a bunch of different skills that all belong one of those stats. However, the skills barely matter since they only provide a minor percentage buff/debuff to each skill check. This wouldn't be much of a problem if it wasn't for the effort mechanic: each character gets a pool of points for each stat (depending on his level in that stat) that can be spent to increase the success rate of each skill check. Additionally, there's an "Edge" stat for each of the three major stats that you can level up, which gives you free points for the effort mechanic. The problem with the edge stat is that it makes it incredibly obvious how you should build your party. Since you get 4 character, and can use each of them for any skill check the only thing that makes sense is to specialize each of them into a different stat. If you do that, you can pass pretty much every skill check with a 100% success rate, regardless of everything else.

This means that the RPG mechanics are completely pointless - you figure them out in about 5 minutes and then just completely ignore them. I honestly don't think anything would change if they were completely removed from the game. The main problem isn't that the mechanics are broken, it's that they are also so incredibly simple. With something like Arcanum, the broken mechanics are forgivable since the game genuinely tries to do some cool things with them. In Torment, they are just so incredibly simple that them also being so broken is just baffling.

2.) I really dislike the structure of the game, which is pretty much the following:
  • You open your map to locate the nearest person
  • You talk to that person, which usually takes an eternity as each NPC has a lot to say
  • You open your map, locate the nearest person, walk for about 10 seconds and trigger another really long conversation
  • Occasionally you get a quest which requires you to talk to a specific person (or, if you really want to, engage in the game's terrible combat, which I'll get to later)
It's honestly just kind of exhausting. There's nothing to break up the extremely long conversations except for 10 seconds of walking. There's not exploration, there's no interesting quests, there's just nothing really. It's just a constant barrage of walls of text broken up by nothing, and the text often isn't very interesting. This made me almost dread clicking on NPCs, since I knew doing so would, without exception, result in an incredibly long conversation that would only have a very small chance of being interesting.

Which is a real shame honestly, because the world of the game is really interesting and I'd love to explore it - apart from it's wonderful writing, this is where Planescape really delivered. But Torment just doesn't let you do that. And I very much do understand reading was meant to be the core of the game, but even in that aspect it's painfully repetitive since it's just one monotone conversation (often almost entirely filled with exposition) after another. It just doesn't make for very fun reading.

3.) And related to that, for a game that's 100% about the writing, the writing itself just didn't work for me. There's a lot of exposition describing the world of Numenera, but it's all delivered in a really wordy, monotone, almost encyclopedic tone which is consistent across every character. The NPCs genuinely don't come across as actual characters but more like Wikipedia entries. There's just no real personality to them. And the wall-of-text thing needs repeating. I mentioned before that every NPC has a lot to say, but that's not really true: every NPC does say a lot, but a lot of it is just boring descriptions with superfluous adjectives, or just stating things in a very long-winded way. The game even conveniently greys out most of such text so that you can avoid it if you want to, almost as if it knows it's really not worth reading.

I'm not against long-winded text on principle. If used sparingly it can be effective, but when every conversation is like that it just gets tiring. It almost feels like the game is hiding the good stuff behind pages and pages of text. It's also distinctly not how Planescape was written, and the companion Avellone wrote for Tides of Numenera is an incredibly effective reminder of that: his text is both much shorter and much more interesting than anything else in the game.

4.) The combat just isn't very good. There are two main problems:
  • The encounters don't have much care put into them (a concrete example is an empty field where your party is surrounded by about a dozen identical enemies - this just isn't very fun). This means it's tactically not very interesting.
  • They are mostly optional, which also means they are so much more trouble than resolving the situation with dialogue. After all, as mentioned above, you're guaranteed to succeed at every skill check anyway. Therefore, when combat is involved, you can almost always just pick a dialogue response to instantly win it. This also means it's poorly balanced: the encounter mentioned above had every one of the dozen enemies capable of instantly killing my characters, while resolving the situation with dialogue was a guaranteed success.
I see, gratitude.

But I would argue that a lot of that is true for Planescape as well, even if in a lesser manner. What makes it memorable are some key moments and conversations. I take Numenera lacks them then?
 

Eridani

Member
Oct 25, 2017
687
I see, gratitude.

But I would argue that a lot of that is true for Planescape as well, even if in a lesser manner. What makes it memorable are some key moments and conversations. I take Numenera lacks them then?
Well, I certainly can't remember much of what happened in the game. I did only play it for 20 hours or so but I can't remember a single memorable key moment, conversation or piece of text. The fact that so much of the writing is just long-winded exposition about the world means it's just not very interesting or memorable. Thinking about it, the conversation from the game I remember most is one that had a reference to some awful internet meme because I couldn't believe they had actually put something like that into the game.
 

Sceptile

Member
Oct 27, 2017
474
Completed my second game for the blitz: Legend of Grimrock! I was recommended it after completing Dungeon Master and enjoying it, but wanting a modern take. Well Grimrock is fantastic! The ranged combat is much smoother as you now automatically pick up arrows and projectiles by walking over them instead of having to manually do so for each and every fight. Items clearly stand out and keys even sparkle, no more grey-key-on-grey-floor nonsense! A minimap you can take notes on, with the option to disable it if you're a masochist! Spells don't force you to input the Konami Code every time you want to cast them! Dead People don't drop their inventory on the ground!

I did I like DM's level design and potion systems more. DM's labyrinth had a "fire escape" that could quickly take between floors that opened up once you found skeleton keys. Grimrock doesn't, which makes backtracking a major pain.

My only other complaint about Grimrock is that the game is too short for its skill system to really shine. If you don't grind (which is difficult as very few enemies and barely give any exp.) and fight every enemy you see, then you JUST BARELY have enough skill points to max out one tree and nothing else! This is problematic because classes have different auxiliary skill paths that are required to wear armor without a penalty.

Seeing that the game has a modding community on the Steam Workshop makes me happy. Someone even remade Dungeon Master in Grimrock haha.
 

Worldshaker

Member
Oct 28, 2017
884
Michigan
Anyone else here wish Ys went back to having just a single playable character? I'm not a huge fan of the party system Ys 7 introduced.I did love 8, but I can't help but feel like it would've been much more fun if I could just focus on Adol and swapping weapons around depending on the enemy over my party members.

I really love how Oath and Origin played, and I feel like the series is slowly moving away from what I love about them (which is ok), and my hype for 9 is at an all time low for the series.
 

MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
Well, one thing about 8 is you have the Dana segments--which played more like Ys 6 through Origin imo and were only on the post-Vita versions iirc. That is, I think Falcom is still aware of that gameplay style and trying to fold it in. So idk. Ys has definitely moved and it seems Ys 9 is moving again and there are other ways, in which I doubt Ys 9 will be like 6 through Origin but you might get some more platforming and ability/environment interactions.

Completed my second game for the blitz: Legend of Grimrock! I was recommended it after completing Dungeon Master and enjoying it, but wanting a modern take. Well Grimrock is fantastic! The ranged combat is much smoother as you now automatically pick up arrows and projectiles by walking over them instead of having to manually do so for each and every fight. Items clearly stand out and keys even sparkle, no more grey-key-on-grey-floor nonsense! A minimap you can take notes on, with the option to disable it if you're a masochist! Spells don't force you to input the Konami Code every time you want to cast them! Dead People don't drop their inventory on the ground!

I did I like DM's level design and potion systems more. DM's labyrinth had a "fire escape" that could quickly take between floors that opened up once you found skeleton keys. Grimrock doesn't, which makes backtracking a major pain.

My only other complaint about Grimrock is that the game is too short for its skill system to really shine. If you don't grind (which is difficult as very few enemies and barely give any exp.) and fight every enemy you see, then you JUST BARELY have enough skill points to max out one tree and nothing else! This is problematic because classes have different auxiliary skill paths that are required to wear armor without a penalty.

Seeing that the game has a modding community on the Steam Workshop makes me happy. Someone even remade Dungeon Master in Grimrock haha.
Congrats. Sounds interesting and like you had fun.
 

Thuddert

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,889
Netherlands
Finished the first game of this blitz, Dragon Quest V, and I loved it. The direction and scenarios was definitely a step up from previous games. Story is a bittersweet journey told over three generations. I like how the game is not afraid to show tragedy or love. The pace is also really tight, with the game never overstaying its welcome.

Monster recruiting was pretty great, although you can definitely get unlucky and not get the monsters you like. Also liked how they got names, I liked the defaults too much to even change them! They've been very useful to me in the second act and third act as well. Slime knight was definitely a mvp here, good boy.

Partychat was goo-d. They went all out again and having the kids join in later is just adorable. Spend many hours with it and made tons of screenshots. I even have a dedicated map just for DQ screens on my phone where I played it on.

While I look on this hero's journey, I think this might be one of my favorite ways of going through it. The main character is definitely a young hero capable of slaying foul beasts, but also having the charm to recruit monsters to his cause and make friends for life. He's not THE legendary hero tho, which makes him even more interesting.

The life he leads, all the hardships: growing up without a mom, having to deal with your dad dying in front of you, getting enslaved, seeing your wife and yourself get stoned, seeing this kid (not yours) grow up and getting kidnapped, seeing the mom you had die in front of you as well.
They're all countered with the good memories you make along the road and hope the hero has: traveling with his dad, knowing his mother is still alive, liberation, marriage, reclaiming his heritage, having kids, being reunited with his family and knowing he was loved by both parents that support him in death.

Spirit of the main character is pretty strong to survive his traumas and to turn it into a strength. The death of his dad was a very sad moment, taken from him far too soon. Yet even in death Pankraz was still with him. Became his guideline to seek out a life and to have a family. Granted that gets torn apart by Nimzo's forces, but ultimately they stick through. His son is also his hope, just like he was to Pankraz & Mada. I like how the daughter was the one that unfreezes the main character. While one is the hero of legends, it definitely doesn't feel that way. They both have equal characteristics of what it means to be a hero, even if they're not fully developed yet as characters (which makes sense as they're still kids). It's a destiny they share ultimately.

The whole journey felt genuine and wholesome. Getting to know all the facets of the hero's life and the people around him. How it ties back into the world and with Zenithia and Nadiria. I like how that is very much coupled in this game. It was a lot warmer than the one introduced in DQIV. Playing these two relatively close together definitely shows the impact it has in DQV.

If there's one bad thing I must name, then it's that the zenithian armor collection kinda falls off and plateaus pretty early on. Yeah, I love how my son can wield it, but the main character still outdamages him with a staff lol. You kinda question the necessity of having it all from a gameplay perspective. Luckily that's just a minor thing.

Final boss wasn't the hardest one in the franchise, but it was still a hefty battle of attrition. I had a good system in place after my first wipe. Thank you prayer ring, staff of salvation, sage stone and my tendency to hoard elixers. I think the best part of it all is, we beat it as a family and everyone had their role to play in it.

Ending with the victory tour and credits felt so deserved with everything that happened in the game. Definitely made me feel satisfied in playing it. Just an overall good feeling.

DQV managed to surprise me in quite a few ways. Both from a gameplay and narrative perspective. A lot of it blends together so well and it oozes charm.

Now to find the second blitz game to start. Might try multiple games and see which one(s) stick the most.
 

MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
Finished the first game of this blitz, Dragon Quest V, and I loved it. The direction and scenarios was definitely a step up from previous games. Story is a bittersweet journey told over three generations. I like how the game is not afraid to show tragedy or love. The pace is also really tight, with the game never overstaying its welcome.

Monster recruiting was pretty great, although you can definitely get unlucky and not get the monsters you like. Also liked how they got names, I liked the defaults too much to even change them! They've been very useful to me in the second act and third act as well. Slime knight was definitely a mvp here, good boy.

Partychat was goo-d. They went all out again and having the kids join in later is just adorable. Spend many hours with it and made tons of screenshots. I even have a dedicated map just for DQ screens on my phone where I played it on.

While I look on this hero's journey, I think this might be one of my favorite ways of going through it. The main character is definitely a young hero capable of slaying foul beasts, but also having the charm to recruit monsters to his cause and make friends for life. He's not THE legendary hero tho, which makes him even more interesting.

The life he leads, all the hardships: growing up without a mom, having to deal with your dad dying in front of you, getting enslaved, seeing your wife and yourself get stoned, seeing this kid (not yours) grow up and getting kidnapped, seeing the mom you had die in front of you as well.
They're all countered with the good memories you make along the road and hope the hero has: traveling with his dad, knowing his mother is still alive, liberation, marriage, reclaiming his heritage, having kids, being reunited with his family and knowing he was loved by both parents that support him in death.

Spirit of the main character is pretty strong to survive his traumas and to turn it into a strength. The death of his dad was a very sad moment, taken from him far too soon. Yet even in death Pankraz was still with him. Became his guideline to seek out a life and to have a family. Granted that gets torn apart by Nimzo's forces, but ultimately they stick through. His son is also his hope, just like he was to Pankraz & Mada. I like how the daughter was the one that unfreezes the main character. While one is the hero of legends, it definitely doesn't feel that way. They both have equal characteristics of what it means to be a hero, even if they're not fully developed yet as characters (which makes sense as they're still kids). It's a destiny they share ultimately.

The whole journey felt genuine and wholesome. Getting to know all the facets of the hero's life and the people around him. How it ties back into the world and with Zenithia and Nadiria. I like how that is very much coupled in this game. It was a lot warmer than the one introduced in DQIV. Playing these two relatively close together definitely shows the impact it has in DQV.

If there's one bad thing I must name, then it's that the zenithian armor collection kinda falls off and plateaus pretty early on. Yeah, I love how my son can wield it, but the main character still outdamages him with a staff lol. You kinda question the necessity of having it all from a gameplay perspective. Luckily that's just a minor thing.

Final boss wasn't the hardest one in the franchise, but it was still a hefty battle of attrition. I had a good system in place after my first wipe. Thank you prayer ring, staff of salvation, sage stone and my tendency to hoard elixers. I think the best part of it all is, we beat it as a family and everyone had their role to play in it.

Ending with the victory tour and credits felt so deserved with everything that happened in the game. Definitely made me feel satisfied in playing it. Just an overall good feeling.

DQV managed to surprise me in quite a few ways. Both from a gameplay and narrative perspective. A lot of it blends together so well and it oozes charm.

Now to find the second blitz game to start. Might try multiple games and see which one(s) stick the most.
Glad you enjoyed it Thud! It is definitely a special game.
 

Pellaidh

Member
Oct 26, 2017
918
Anyone else here wish Ys went back to having just a single playable character? I'm not a huge fan of the party system Ys 7 introduced.I did love 8, but I can't help but feel like it would've been much more fun if I could just focus on Adol and swapping weapons around depending on the enemy over my party members.

I really love how Oath and Origin played, and I feel like the series is slowly moving away from what I love about them (which is ok), and my hype for 9 is at an all time low for the series.

Ys Origin is one of my favorite games of all time, so I'd love if Falcom went back to some of its design decisions. But given the direction of both the Ys franchise and Falcom as a whole, I don't realistically see that happening.

Although to me, the 3-member parties aren't really that much of a problem. The combat being heavily reliant on timing dodges and parries is the biggest change to me, because it completely changes how the game plays.
 

Taborcarn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
668
I've been enjoying the Kingdom management in Pathfinder:Kingmaker more than I expected so far.


Mostly it's just go to the throne room, have a bunch of problems/opportunities pop up, and assign an advisor to take care of them but so far they are decently well written and due tie in to the day-to-day running of my little fledgling barony, so it's cool. Also I was happy to find out that I could still take my party members out into the field when they're assigned to solving tasks.


And the companions not in the active party still get XP, that's huge. I can still care about how they're specced, and take the proper team to solve a particular dungeon/mission with me instead of just the same people all the time. I like a lot of these people, so it's good to rotate them in and out


Only thing I'm not enjoying at the moment is the rest system. Having to rest 2-3 times after picking a travel destination on the map is annoying and cumbersome. And the fireside chats between the companions are cute, but no when they happen every time and are unskippable (really the only place in the game where you have to wait for the full voice line to finish before you can proceed). It's a good thing that there are a toooon of these interactions though, I haven't had a conversation repeat yet.
 

Niahak

Member
Oct 25, 2017
251
Only thing I'm not enjoying at the moment is the rest system. Having to rest 2-3 times after picking a travel destination on the map is annoying and cumbersome. And the fireside chats between the companions are cute, but no when they happen every time and are unskippable (really the only place in the game where you have to wait for the full voice line to finish before you can proceed). It's a good thing that there are a toooon of these interactions though, I haven't had a conversation repeat yet.
You can secretly hit the space button to skip these. Weird that clicking doesn't.

I'm also playing Pathfinder (I'm about 15 hours in - where I gave up, last time) and having a good time. My character build paralysis has finally let up and I'm just enjoying things more (my MC is probably the weakest member of the party, with Valerie & Ekun the most valuable).

The kingdom building stuff feels like it should be interesting, but it's not built in a way that makes it easy to prioritize things:
1. Problems and Opportunities should be split up; problems have to be addressed or a penalty is faced
2. When you're busy with something, you can't do any kingdom building; this means if you have an advisor on something with 4 days left, and you start a rank up (14 days), your advisor is idle for 10 days for no apparent reason. Seems like you should be able to either pause partway through personally resolving something (with no ability to exit the kingdom management screen) or queue up additional actions for your advisors to take once they finish what they're currently doing
3. Given how important the "ancient curse" quests are, even if it breaks immersion they should really put a "days left until next curse" somewhere in kingdom management so you don't start a 14 day thing 10 days before a curse hits and practically wreck your kingdom.

Also, surprised that the game actually seems more buggy than my experience playing a few weeks after release - crashing about once every 20-25 minutes of play.
 

Taborcarn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
668
Oh weird, I haven't run into any crashes at all yet...

3. Given how important the "ancient curse" quests are, even if it breaks immersion they should really put a "days left until next curse" somewhere in kingdom management so you don't start a 14 day thing 10 days before a curse hits and practically wreck your kingdom.

There is now... I just checked last night and clicked on the next curse jounal entry after finishing up the first one. The journal said something like "68 days until the next curse".

Also thanks about the dialogue skipping... I think I had tried pressing escape and enter to no effect, guess I hadn't tried spacebar.
 

Luminaire

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,998
We’re one month into RPG Blitz Season 3. How’s your progress going?

Between Shadowbringers and Fire Emblem, the entire month of July was written off for me. However, I expect to put some time into The Last Remnant this weekend. I’m stuck on the Bloody Alice side quest and I truly hate it. It’s an ugly spot of the game that requires a lot of luck and hoping the AI doesn’t charge the only units who can clear the field. Such a frustrating and tiresome battle. Part of me wants to skip it but we’ll see.

September is a bloodbath of releases so I’d like to knock out what I can on my list.
 

Thores

Member
Oct 25, 2017
451
We’re one month into RPG Blitz Season 3. How’s your progress going?
I've been making slow but steady progress on Final Fantasy IX and Cosmic Star Heroine.

In Final Fantasy IX, I think I'm at the beginning of Disc 3, and I'm getting close to being farther in the game than I've ever gotten. My girlfriend has been watching me play. It's her first time with FFIX and she's pretty into it. Her favorites are Freya and Vivi.

I'm still pretty early in Cosmic Star Heroine but I'm really enjoying the battle system. Whenever I get used to my current tool kit, I'll either get a new character, or one of my existing ones will learn a new ability that changes things up a lot. So even if the story and dialogue hasn't quite clicked with me, the gameplay has a lot of variety and hasn't gotten old yet.

I also started Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. A very oldschool SMT game. I want to play more, but I'll need to be in the right mindset when I get back to it.

My other two games, Suikoden and Vampyr, remain entirely untouched. Suikoden in particular has been on my list since the first Blitz, so I want to actually make progress with it by the end of September.
 

Thuddert

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,889
Netherlands
Well, I already mentioned finishing Dragon Quest V in my previous post.

Decided to play Suikoden and Tokyo Xanadu next. Hoping to finish these by September.
 

Barahir_mjh

Member
Feb 18, 2018
59
I've been playing Ultima Underworld and really enjoying it. In many ways this is one of the most important games ever made, first with its obvious influence on immersive sim/open world games. And from a technical perspective, it did an interconnected 3D world with (real) elevation a year before Doom, or months even before Wolfenstein for that matter, yet gets far less credit than those games.

How does it hold up? Quite well I think, and the first time I touched it was a few years ago. The combat isn't great (though the game isn't that combat-centric for a "dungeon crawler") and there are various UI niggles. But the dungeon is fun to explore and feels like a real place with lots of NPC cultures, and the backstory the game is hinting at seems pretty interesting. One great touch is the map - the game automaps the layout for you, but you fill in the details yourself with the built-in note taking. The writing is pretty sharp and often funny. The graphics still work pretty well, as the limitations of the engine fit with a game about a dark dungeon, and the MIDI music has a charm to it.

Did you play further? You're just about at the point when the map design gets really wild! I won't spoil what's coming up but it's a rather tense and creative sequence.

Your critique of the RNG and opaque mechanics is fair. However, on the good side capturing is a very interesting and innovative mechanic that gives the game a bit of a survivalist element - your primary source of items is what you can take from the enemy, not shops. Fatigue is also an interesting idea to encourage you to rotate your team and not rely on the same handful of characters, though I'm not sure how successful it is in practice.
 
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ara

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,803
I’ve already finished Zero and Ao no Kiseki and Trails of Cold Steel 2. Only Judgment left, but RGG Studio games require a certain mood, so I haven’t picked it up again yet.
 

ara

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,803
How are the currently available TLs for Zero and Ao?
Extremely bad or just NISA bad?
Zero’s is terrible, feels like a machine translation with a tiny handful of actually edited lines and a bunch of borderline gibberish ones.

Ao’s is much better and actually enjoyable from beginning to end. Far from great, but I’d say it felt like an early PS1 era translation.
 

Eridani

Member
Oct 25, 2017
687
I'm starting to realize that Yakuza 0 might not be the ideal blitz game. I'm really enjoying it, but between all the side-stories, the cabaret stuff, the pocket cars, and all the other minigames it's probably going to take me a while to actually finish. For how simple things like pocket cars/cabaret/real estate management are they are surprisingly addictive.

The release of Three Houses also got me hyped for some Fire Emblem, so I've started playing some FE: Conquest. I'm up to chapter 18 so far and I'm really enjoying the game. I am a little bit disappointed with the map design though. I've heard a lot of people really praise that aspect of the game so I was expecting the map design to really blow me away right from the start but that hasn't really been the case so far. There have only been two chapters that I found super good:
  • Chapter 11, which was a great defense mission. I really liked just how overwhelming it was, with a ton of units coming from every direction and pegasus knights messing stuff up. The fact that the water gets removed from the map in the final few turns was also really interesting since it leads to some really hectic last turns. Even then though, I felt a lot of the mission came down to figuring out where to put Camilla so that she tanks as many units as possible and I feel I only got through it because the AI did some seemingly dumb stuff on the last turn.
  • Chapter 12, which had a time limit and a different objective, plus some interesting enemy unit placement that made the map surprisingly tricky. Though I'm really not a fan of how there's a bunch of optional stuff at the very end of the map. It was a pretty difficult map for me so it simply made no sense to risk going for that.
Apart from that, other maps seemed like mostly standard FE stuff. Good standard FE stuff, but I was still expecting more maps to be like the two above. The game also really likes pulling off some pretty awful stuff, like spawning reinforcements right on top of you when you nearly finish the map (which often have pegasus knights for added awfulness), which can quickly snipe of someone if you aren't ready for them. Having this at a point when you basically already cleared the map just feels super cheap.

Also, I absolutely hated chapter 17. It's terrible and one of the worst SRPG maps I remember playing.
 

Thuddert

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,889
Netherlands
Eridani
Yeah, Conquest has a few maps that are great. I'm a bit further ahead, at chapter 20 where I left it last year.

I think it's more the contrast that Awakening and Birthright have generally weak map design, which makes Conquest look better by default. The most interesting maps in Birthright are the on par with the least interesting ones in Conquest. Haven't finished, but that was my impression so far.
 

ara

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,803
Just the critical path, or the parts that make Kiseki games great (talking to every NPC after every game event) too?
Latter. I did all the side quests and talked to plenty of NPCs throughout the game (though not everyone after every event - the game is MASSIVE) and most of it was about the same quality-wise as the critical path.
 

Iva Demilcol

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,261
Iwatodai Dorm
We’re one month into RPG Blitz Season 3. How’s your progress going?

Between Shadowbringers and Fire Emblem, the entire month of July was written off for me. However, I expect to put some time into The Last Remnant this weekend. I’m stuck on the Bloody Alice side quest and I truly hate it. It’s an ugly spot of the game that requires a lot of luck and hoping the AI doesn’t charge the only units who can clear the field. Such a frustrating and tiresome battle. Part of me wants to skip it but we’ll see.

September is a bloodbath of releases so I’d like to knock out what I can on my list.
Well, I beat my first Blitz game within the first week iirc: Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD and I loved it despite its bad reputation. Then a couple of days ago I beat Dragon Quest SNES version, which is a pretty short game. I've made some progress in Pokémon Ultra Moon as well but I've forced myself to stop from time to time since the last time I played a Pokémon game I ended up dropping it because it felt too samey to me at the time. It was probably my fault back then.

My original plan was to play Dragon Quarter after KH3D but my ps2 betrayed me and I need to get a new component cable to be able to play it. So, no progress so far on that game.

I should be able to beat two Blitz games this month: Mother 3 and Lagrange Point since both of them are short and sweet. if everything works well, I'll have the entire month of September to beat both Dragon Quarter and Pokémon Ultra Moon.

Unfortunately by the end of August and all September all developers decided to release their Switch games so it'll be difficult to not get distracted by the hot new games coming out one after another.
 

BlueOdin

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,277
We’re one month into RPG Blitz Season 3. How’s your progress going?
Not great. Only started Octopath so far but it didn’t quite grab me much. Wanted to start FFV for a while but then find something else to do. Currently playing Monster Boy on PC and loving it. Maybe will start Baldur's Gate after that.
 

Thuddert

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,889
Netherlands
Making some progress in Suikoden, just beat the zombiedragon (what a dick) and claimed the castle as a base. Time to recruit peeps.

Finished chapter 2 and the sidestory in Tokyo Xanadu eX+, I kinda like it. Would say its strength lies in keeping in touch with npcs and your companions. Not too keen about the gameplay. Like it's alright, but it's not Ys and more like Zwei with a cold steel identity crisis. Find the Elder Greeds to be kinda tough, while dungeons are a bit underwhelming. Orbal system seems slightly unnecessary and just busywork on top.

More egregious are certain choices in the English translation that I'll never get used to. Using " " for emphasis on every word is sloppy imo. The chuckles, chortles and giggles are cute if they're used sparsely but they seem like the standard here.

Does feel like it's growing on me, kinda fun to punch stuff with Sora and seeing interactions without the main self insert character around.
 

Eridani

Member
Oct 25, 2017
687
I finished Fire Emblem: Conquest on Hard/Classic.

This game is incredible. I know a lot of people consider it to be the worst Fire Emblem game, but I absolutely loved it and pretty much couldn't stop playing from start to finish. The game takes that awesome FE gameplay that I've always loved and couples it with some great map design which makes for an outstanding game. Some of the maps in the game are the best SRPG maps I remember playing and those that aren't usually still have interesting elements that make them fun to play, like aggressive enemies, challenging enemy placement or skill combinations that require some care to properly tackle. Granted, there are also some truly terrible maps, but those are a small minority.

While I really liked every game in the franchise, the last few I've played (Birthright, Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn) have all suffered from some fundamental problems, mainly the fact that some characters were incredibly overpowered and that the map design didn't do anything to discourage slow, defensive strategies where you just slowly lure and tank enemies with said overpowered characters. Conquest's map design helps with solving the latter issue and while the game still has overpowered units they all felt like they had some key weaknesses that stopped them from completely dominating everything (like Xander's low speed, for example). None of them can just constantly self-heal themselves either, which was a problem in a lot of past games, making such characters completely unstoppable. Well, they probably can if you abuse the skill system, but I'm too much of a casual player to bother with that. They even start falling off stat-wise in the lategame, to the point where enemies could easily kill them in a few hits in the later chapters, even when they were at lvl 25.

I didn't find the story to be as awful as people make it out to be. It's definitely bad, mostly because Corrin's plan and her actions make absolutely zero sense whatsoever. But while that's certainly dumb, I found it to be easy to ignore. Aside from that, it's mostly the standard FE thing of going from one battle to the next with the story loosely tying them together, which I never found particularly engaging in any FE game. I did really like the idea of fighting characters from Birthright though. I've played that game a couple of years ago and I still remember using most of the characters that you end up fighting here. They work really well as antagonists, both from a story perspective (because fuck Takumi) and from a gameplay perspective (because each of the Hoshido royals is quite distinct and also because fuck Takumi). They make for much better antagonists than the ones in other FE games.

The character writing also didn't seem much worse than other FE games, though it's been a while since I've played one so I might be misremembering. The translation does a good job of giving the characters distinct personalities and the support conversations seemed fine - certainly not as awful as I feared they would be. The over the top pandering with Camilla is way too much though. The fact that the game literally ends with the protagonist running face-first into her breasts (in a 1st person cutscene no less) is both awful and completely hilarious.

Even though I loved the game a lot I also think it's quite flawed in a lot of areas. The main issue I have is that turning FE into such a hardcore experience diminishes a lot of things I like about the franchise. One thing I've always loved is using whatever characters I personally liked even if they were terrible from a gameplay perspective and levelling them up while ignoring the more overpowered characters. Conquest was just way too hard for me to even consider doing that, so I just ended up giving most of the experience to the royals since I knew they would be good. In some maps, the only strategy that worked for me was relying on those characters to essentially solo the entire map while the rest of the party did very little. The map design is still good enough that this was still fun (there's often stuff that still requires some thought to overcome), but I was disappointed that I couldn't use most of my characters in a lot of maps. Then there's also a lot of smaller issues that stand out because of the hardcore nature of the game:
  • Everything in the game is way too slow. Units move slowly, attack animations are super slow (even when turned off), the cursor is sluggish, and even navigating the menus isn't as snappy as I'd like. This isn't much of an issue in other Fire Emblem games, but with the often brutal map design in Conquest I ended up retrying some of them a lot and having to suffer through the slow speed when you're just trying to get through the easy parts of a map feels terrible. Eventually, I figured out that playing this on an emulator lets you speed up the game so I just ended up playing it at 300% speed, which was a much better experience. Having to set the game to 3x speed to make it more fun should never be a thing.
  • The perma-death mechanic doesn't work with all the cheap shit this game pulls on you. Balancing the game around having to restart every time one of your units dies and them constantly spawning reinforcements that can easily snipe of one of your units feels terrible. Some maps are basically unfinishable without either looking up a guide or retrying them to see where the reinforcements will spawn. The casual mode is not a good solution because the game simply isn't balanced around it.
  • The fact that the game doesn't have a "restart map" button is baffling. I know you can just reset the game but that adds extra time and sucks if you forget to save right before starting the map.
  • I wish the game didn't lie about the hit percentages. It's frustrating not knowing the exact probability of your attacks hitting. It's also bizarre that they changed the calculations from the previous FE games and replaced them with an even weirder system.
  • I'm not a fan of all the complicated RPG mechanics (reclassing, base-building). They seem like they let you completely break the game if properly exploited.
  • Having to check every enemy whether they have a skill that will just instantly kill you feels a bit tedious. I wished the game marked units with stuff like counter/lunge the same way it does for units with hammers/wyrmslayers/bows because I died to those way too many times.
  • Not being able to see how much damage a skill will do makes tackling bosses tricky since they all tend to have powerful skills later on. Some in-game skill descriptions also suck which means you need to look them up online to see what they actually do (for example, "Deals half of foe's Str or Mag as bonus damage" with no indication that it depends on the equipped weapon).
The game is flawed and frustrating in places but the map design makes playing through the maps very fun, especially for the ones that are really good. The balance and difficulty also seemed just right for me with most maps being hard enough that careful planning was needed to beat them. The exception were some of the lategame maps, where enemies had super strong stats without there being much room for dealing with them strategically. Overall though, I completely loved the game.
 

Gevin

Member
Nov 2, 2017
1,185
Finished my 3rd game of the blitz: Final Fantasy XIII-2 and had a lot of fun.

I know probably not many people will share my view on this but I think SE nailed the combat system in FF13, it's fast paced and while it's not nearly a requirement for most of the fights, switching paradigms and developing a strategy ends up being pretty fun and satisfying. I would even go as far as saying grinding for materials was not nearly as boring as it could entirely because the combat being a joy to play. The monster recruiting was pretty cool, even though I didn't exploit those mechanics fully, you get more than enough to take on any challenge efficiently and it adds a bit of variety to the party.

Regarding the overall game structure, FF13-2 goes the opposite direction of 13, the game is open ended from basically the start and while it's true you eventually get forced into the story path (be it because the monsters in a new area are too strong or because progress is blocked cause you need some key items) it's refreshing to be able to have that much choice after the first chapters of 13.

The story is the weakest point, some times being nonsensical and disjointed. It has some cool moments but didn't really feel compelled to experience it at any point. Feels like most stuff is there to get rid of pretty much the entire 13 cast for various reasons and force you to use new characters. At least the background of Caius was cool (somebody explain to me why he's in the wrong though).

I spent around 35 hours (50 in game) to get 100% with all fragments (which involves all superbosses, filling the bestiary, casino stuff and completing each map). Since the game allows backtracking to any point in the story, there's nothing missable so I was free to complete the story and come back later to get the rest of the stuff, which is another very cool feature (no need to constantly check if I'm missing something).

Regarding the DLCs, all of them were very mediocre imo. One involves playing poker, the second adds a couple coliseum fights and the last one (important for story reasons) consists on repeating a fight until you manage to 5 rank it and then beating the next fight, and it is pretty tedious. Advice to upcoming players: just lose on purpose until you level up enough, no need to spend 25 minutes winning the fight when the rewards are the same and you won't get 5 stars either way.

Another negative point was the PC performance. Firstly I had to disable Cloud saves to stop crashes. Then the loading screens take too long (specially when you move from the time map to an actual area, I'm talking about 30-45 seconds). I could literally enter some areas with enough time to get up and get a snack while the game loaded.

These inconveniences aside, I had a blast playing the game and can recommend it if solely for the gameplay. Some people might get enjoyment out of figuring out the story and all the motivations but that's not for me (at least for this game).

I'm currently playing Tengai Makyou Zero as the next game, but I'm looking forward to complete the Lightning trilogy.
 
Oct 27, 2017
360
I finished a blitz game, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2. And now I'm sad, I have no more new Etrian Odyssey to look forward to. I've beaten the others.
 

Gio

Member
Oct 28, 2017
404
Manila
Finished my 1st blitz game last week: Final Fantasy VII. I've become seriously ill lately so it's been a slow start for me, but I'm a little better now and in the most silver of linings I find myself with 5 months of free time :D

This is arguably the most discussed and scrutinized RPG ever so I doubt I'll have anything novel to say but I just want to put my thoughts out into the world anyway. I played the PS1 release on Vita (occasionally transferring my save to the PS3 when I could still leave my room). Somewhat of a newbie to JRPGs since I did not actually play a lot of video games as a kid and I'm especially unfamiliar with the late-90's era of JRPGs. I didn't finish my first FF until last year, and VII is only the 4th main entry I've played (others being VI, X, and X-2 which I still need to finish). Next Blitz I'm tackling either Tactics or VIII, or possibly both.

There's nothing wrong with this game. Most inconveniences I encountered I chalked up to limitations of the time. For example places like Mt. Nibel sometimes feel tedious to navigate cause the walkable paths aren't well-defined. At the same time the pre-rendered backgrounds are incredible; they look so ethereal and the grainy aesthetic is so nostalgic. I'm not interested in picking on the overworld camera controls since they didn't bother me personally, but they could be better I guess. Overall FFVII is remarkably hassle free to control.

Final Fantasy combat satisfies me better than that of Dragon Quest or Persona. I think it's a combination of phat sound design, wildly inflated damage numbers, and the fact you can (usually) tweak exactly how much power you want to pack in your punches. VII's battles are snappy as hell, and the encounter rate is actually reasonable! I hardly ever had to grind in my playthrough either. It felt like all my battles in the game were scripted.

Ok I don't want this write-up to get too long so here's my general take: VII is the best FF so far. It's Square at the absolute zenith of their powers making all the right choices, and I'll be very surprised if I take to other games in the series like I did to this one.
 

Valkerion

Member
Oct 29, 2017
3,057
I finally did it guys... I beat the behemoth Persona 5. I did a longer write up here on my blog thingy https://valkrion.wordpress.com/2019/08/13/persona-5-review-dancing-all-night-for-100-hours/

In short though, LOVED IT. It was long, really long. I think a lot of the opening setup could be trimmed down since it did not feel like I was really let loose til around 15 or so hours in. But I really got into the distorted/apathetic society story line of it. Was happy the combat and persona fusion system was not made too overly complicated as well, made it easy to just keep going with confidence in my choices of persona.

Not sure what I'll play next. Had this game since release and chipped away at it every few months til now since I only played when I could really focus and get into it. Definitely think doing it this way kept me from burning out on it. Was pretty tempted to jump into that second play through at least for the first two areas or so since it had been so long lol. I marathon-ed it for 10 hours at the end though cause I just had to hit credits before the weekend was up.

phew! Might take a small JRPG break and finish like Shadow of the Colossus and other short games to refresh.
 

Asreia

Member
Jun 29, 2019
64
So besides the obvious stuff on the PS1 and PS2 (Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Shadow Hearts, Suikoden, Dragon Quest), what are some hidden gem rpgs on those systems that were one or two off series. I see stuff like Legend of Legaia and Thousand Arms, but no have no nostalgic any of them to know if they were good.

This is not intended to be a list request, I just interested in some mostly never talk about rpgs from those two. Even Shadow Hearts which is kinda obscure is on my radar on to get.
 

Knurek

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,295
Does anyone know what exactly has changed in the Arland DX games? Compared to Vita versions with all DLCs?
I have an option of playing them either on Vita or on GPD Win 2, so both versions are portable but would much rather play them using Vita's DPAD :)
 

Niahak

Member
Oct 25, 2017
251
So besides the obvious stuff on the PS1 and PS2 (Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Shadow Hearts, Suikoden, Dragon Quest), what are some hidden gem rpgs on those systems that were one or two off series. I see stuff like Legend of Legaia and Thousand Arms, but no have no nostalgic any of them to know if they were good.

This is not intended to be a list request, I just interested in some mostly never talk about rpgs from those two. Even Shadow Hearts which is kinda obscure is on my radar on to get.
This is more a "stuff I like but don't get to talk about much" rather than a list of obscure games, since I want to provide some detail on each of these...

Azure Dreams (PS1) comes up from time to time (IMO rarely enough to be worth mentioning) - one off roguelike with some town-sim elements (improving town, some villager romances) and monster finding/breeding. It's interesting and I like it a lot but I'm not sure it's good.

Baroque (PS2/Wii) is another decent Roguelike (real-time combat) - I liked it a lot even though I know it's not going to be everyone's bag. Lots of story twists. It is pretty tough and I would recommend playing on Easy if you're in it for the story.

MS Saga: A New Dawn (PS2) is a pretty good Gundam RPG. More by-the-books than you'd probably expect. It does have crazy difficulty spikes later but otherwise I had fun with it.

SMT: Digital Devil Saga (PS2) is a two-parter that I think I like better than straight SMT; it's still a bit light on story but doesn't have the demon catching/fusing aspects. Instead you have a static party that you skill up and select abilities from a pool. It might be less on the obscure side, but I think it's overshadowed by its SMT/Persona peers when it's something between them.

Saiyuki: Journey West (PS1) is a good tactical RPG based on Journey to the West. Aesthetically it's really relaxing but it can be a pretty tricky game from time to time.

Vandal Hearts (PS1) is another good tactical RPG, mechanically it's not super interesting but it's serviceable and has a decent plot. It hits a kind of sweet spot where things get interesting but not out of hand. It has a sequel with weird mechanics and a weird aesthetic, but a much more mature plot... it's probably near impossible to find compared to this one.
 

Gevin

Member
Nov 2, 2017
1,185
Finished my 4th game of the blitz, Tengai Makyou Zero. A translation patch is needed (or knowing japanese of course) and luckily one has been released a couple of years ago.

Long story short, it's great, and I think if it came out in the west at its time with a translation and proper marketing it would've been recognized as one of the greatest games of the SNES. Tengai Makyou is a series with quite a few games on it (I believe most of them are not translated), but you don't need to have played any previous one to enjoy this game.

The general gameplay is pretty normal by JRPG standards, you have a 3-member party and can swap the 3rd member for another one at will in the second half of the game. There's an overhead map with towns and of course, random battles (with a pretty high frequency, it gets a bit annoying at some points). The difficulty is a bit unbalanced in general, I felt like the first few "chapters" were hard while at the end you get really overpowered because of some items you get and the game gets extremely easy, to the point I removed a few of those in order to feel like I was actually being challenged.

The story of the game is kinda cliche (you are the chosen one and the only one who can defeat the ancient evil that has come back to the world) but nonetheless it holds a few surprises and interesting twists. There's a certain interaction in the later part of the game that was surprising and I felt moved by it. The premise is that you have to travel through 6 kingdoms and rescue the god of each kingdom that's been sealed by the evil forces. There is a pretty good amount of optional stuff on each kingdom if you stray away from the main path, in fact you can finish the game without most of the magic/techniques if you don't take the time to explore.

A very particular thing about the game is that it uses a real time clock via a special chip in the system or something like that. This influences certain events in the game, most importantly certain shops availability (and prices) and where some characters appear. For example, you learn magic through interacting with hermits, one of them likes to talk with a fellow hermit during "work hours" and you won't get him to teach you during that time, you have to find him after those hours in another place and only then he'll help. There're also some festivals on certain dates (one per month). I didn't get the chance to experience myself but saw some footage and it looks cool.

As another side-effect of the use of this chip, the graphics are really gorgeous. I usually don't pay attention to graphics on games but I was surprised by how well it looked and some of the animations the game was capable of rendering.

The only (minor) thing I can complain about besides the uneven difficulty is a section in one of the last kingdoms where the game switches genre to a fighting game and it felt awful. The controls are awkward and poorly explained, and it feels unfair at some points. Didn't really see a point to it besides just throwing an odd ball at the player.

Finally, some screenshots:





 
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Luminaire

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,998
Does anyone know what exactly has changed in the Arland DX games? Compared to Vita versions with all DLCs?
I have an option of playing them either on Vita or on GPD Win 2, so both versions are portable but would much rather play them using Vita's DPAD :)
Content wise, they’re largely the same. DX versions have better performance however, especially compared to Vita. Additionally, the fourth Arland game is not on vita. Nothing carries over from the original trilogy but it’s nice to have everything in one spot.
 

Sceptile

Member
Oct 27, 2017
474
Finished game number 3: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. I liked the story and characters, and the ability to rewind turns makes the game far more forgiving towards mistakes and RNG mishaps, though the map design was very repetitive what with all the flat layouts. I miss the weapon triangle as well.

The final boss took me a while. I had to make good use of dread fighters and a rescue spell to snipe out the supporting units all while taking care to not aggro
Duma
until I've cleared the way.
 

MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
I don't really go to the front page much anymore and haven't been in the game's OT, so I'll just post my Fire Emblem Three Houses impressions here. I've played all four routes now. Yes, I have no-lifed the game during my vacation this year, finishing my first route, which I'd been working on for a couple weeks just at the start and then playing through the further routes these past two weeks.

I should pause here and note that this was a game I had doubts I'd even finish one route for going in. Although having this free-time right as I got to a second route and also just wanting to bury myself for a while and not think about things partly explain why I played multiple routes, these reasons do just that--partially explain: the game got its claws into me in a way I had severe doubts, coming from 3DS FE, it would. I think this is an important bit of context for the following.

I also pause to note that my play order was Black Eagles, Blue Lions, Church, then Golden Deer. Play order is obviously relevant experientially and I'm going to assume this finds its way into my impressions at the end of the day. Nevertheless, I do not think this is greatly important. Every route can be a first route, to be clear, and no route should, therefore, feel incomplete in its own movement. Personally, I think this holds even if routes are progress-locked: the metric is internal. Yes, routes can contribute to a synergistic meta-narrative and they can inform interpretation of each-other, but, nevertheless, a route is not narratively sound unless it fulfills itself.

I'm going to use spoiler tags for my impressions. All of these tags have spoilers for the entire game, not just the route in the spoiler title, where one appears. Routes are in spoiler titles for organizational purposes.

Fire Emblem Three Houses is a game that at first exudes depth. It opens in a monastery rife with mystery: the church itself is dubious, the students are clearly harboring secrets their own, the missions and supports give you a taste of a promising world beyond the walls, there’s the hand of a lurking conspiracy in the events at the monastery, and the main character is a mystery to him/herself.

It makes for a very unique Fire Emblem experience: elements of Fire Emblem become very apparent, if strangely re-arranged, but I found myself thinking about such things as Shin Megami Tensei II, Bloodborne, Heldensagen vom Kosmosinseln, The Name of the Rose, and themes in Chinese-style court histories, particularly Japanese history but my mind naturally went to some Sageuk, but also vague allusions to Roman antiquity juxtaposed against emerging Germanic medieval society. All of these thoughts are a reach, a tangent, etc.--some quite a large reach--but the point is the introduction to the game is magical and really captured my imagination. I find myself particularly glad I started with the Black Eagles, which I feel really leaned into this atmosphere but I read of much the same experience from people who started elsewhere.

This depth is, to a large extent, ultimately an illusion: the second act of each of the routes is sorely lacking in content that deepens the player’s understanding of the world and fleshes out the important actors making the story move from the sidelines. Each route avoids world-building chapters and instead opts for more-or-less hyper efficient routes towards the end-game. You don’t get to see in any detail the politics, people, and stories of any land—even where the lore establishes their importance.To be clear, I'm not talking in terms of “answers,” but in terms of the allure of “more” and “a deep well from whence the answers come.” The game does give “answers,” albeit piecemeal and largely in exposition dumps near the end of routes and often requiring multi-route synthesis, but it doesn’t often give more to flesh out its world when you are actually out and about within it.

My takeaway is every route would have benefited greatly from being a standalone Fire Emblem and having the chapter space and development resources to dig in to the world in the way a traditional, single route Fire Emblem could do at its most detailed, e.g. Path of Radiance. This isn't a shocking conclusion. It is something you can predict from the outside. Indeed I was very worried, because of the monastery school setting, that the world would lack depth along these exact lines. I was not expecting the monastery setting or the world it suggested to be so enchanting.

I do think, however, the extent, to which it is an issue here is notable, particularly as pertains to the Empire and the Alliance--and there are even two "Imperial" routes! The game would really have benefited from a shorter, shared act 1 and longer, more idiosyncratic act 2s. That isn't to say I expect it to have fully become like a related series of full-fledged campaigns but it really ought to have been closer than it was. Paralogues help around the edges but they do not fill in nearly enough to solve the problem.

As such, at its best, Three Houses' narrative continues to shine in act 2 where it continues to display the unique perspectives and stories of some of the best lords in Fire Emblem history. Blue Lions is the standout of the game in this regard with the core of its act 2 narrative being Dimitri's personal demons. Claude doesn't have the story of Dimitri but he provides a wonderful guide and outsider in-world perspective that contextualizes everything. Honestly, I can't overstate this: despite the overwhelming similarity between the Church and Golden Deer routes in terms of "answers" and levels (although Golden Deer goes further than the Church), Claude alone made playing through Golden Deer after the Church very worthwhile.

At its worst, Three Houses' narrative steadfastly looks away from its lords. This is the case with both the Black Eagles and the Church routes, albeit for different reasons: unlike with Dimitri, the game looks away from Edelgard's darkness and instead has you serve as a hands-off caretaker who blunts the edges of her violent cause while the Church route does not even have Rhea present for examination until the finale.

Three Houses ultimately disappoints in terms of maps. This much should already be suspected from what I have been saying about the second act narratives: there are not a lot of maps unique to any one route. The game funnels the story through the same locations repeatedly but it also uses several maps for a multitude of locations, mostly between paralogues and the main chapters. It also doesn't have many flavors of maps, generally just more or less frenetic "charge and kill the enemy commanders." It largely lacks defensive siege levels, for example. It hardly uses fog of war. The reactivity to your strategies is nice but the novelty wears off as you repeat maps.

That said, there are some good levels and it takes a while for the fatigue to set in, at which point I found my mind turning more to "how come they don't have any levels like this?" As to "takes a while," I mean this only really happened to me starting with my third route--Black Eagles and Blue Lions are distinct enough. Similarities piled up, however, as I started exploring Blue Lions, Golden Deer, and the Church routes.

I think the class system needs some work if they keep this sort of system. Gender lockouts are particularly annoying. Armor/Riding/Flying are such a resource drain. Axes dominate the infantry classes too heavily. Etc. But, I think it was a fun system generally and would enjoy further iteration on it.
 

MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
Most of my thoughts about this route are on its narrative. I want to note first, however, that I really liked this army. It was weird; not my Fire Emblem norm. It was oddly narrow at the tip and wide at the back. It was defense starved and resistance strong, but there were many standout individual pieces, e.g. Edelgard as the tip of the spear and Hubert as the base. This feeling was exacerbated by distrust in Caspar and an under-performing Ferdinand as well as this being my first go at the maps and the game systems, although they aren't that deep or unusual for Fire Emblem. I was very dubious of the army and its personalities, but they won me over and then some.

As I said, I'm very glad I started with this route. Its first act is the perfect whirlwind of distrust and lurking menace from all sides. The main character's relation to the Church of Seiros is very Shin Megami Tensei II--he/she is brought in as an outsider, he/she is employed as a knight serving the church, he/she is oddly favored as a sort of messiah, and yet, in encountering the world, he/she comes to doubt the wisdom of the church, its motives, and the world it has created just as the church's interest in him/her reaches a fevered pitch. Simultaneously, there is a conspiracy against the church that is also doing heinous things and it becomes increasingly clear that Edelgard--your pupil--is caught up in that conspiracy and really wants to bring you in on it. She's charismatic, has an intensely troubled past--both for witnessing her father's powerlessness and what happened to her in light of that powerlessness--, and has turned all of this darkness inwards, viewing herself as the ultimate product of the world's sin and as, through the power of that sin, salvation--an ironic messiah on a terrible, bloody path with the burden of her might being to make right the world at a terrible price. Yet, no matter how at odds with them, she remains allies to the faction that both created her and now, much like the church, you witness engaged in monstrous deeds--including killing your father.

The second act expends with this complexity. After matters come to a head and you fight Edelgard, choosing to spare her turns you into her cheerleader. Edelgard and Hubert keep telling you they will explain the nature of their dubious alliance but they never do in any detail. The only time anything further happens in that regard, it is in the form of a minor rebellion, which is subsequently rebuked and then the story arc is dropped save for a line in the credits. Edelgard is not straight about this rebellion with you. It is not clear from the rebellion whether she is just, in the end, the pawn of her uncle or if she truly can come out the better from this Faustian bargain.

Similarly, instead of exploring a) the imperial politics and nobles so formative to her character or b), relating to above, the nature and purpose of her creation, the route avoids these subjects. That is, it fails to build on any of the dramatic underpinnings of her character. Instead, it gives you a series of pep talks and waifu content--Edelgard shrieked at a rat! (how cute!) Edelgard is secretly painting her teacher and doesn't want him/her to know! (how cute!) and ends with a power of friendship ending.

Notably, it also isn't the best route at questioning the system the church has put in place and its out-of-touch and stifling rulership. Golden Deer--a route where you are aligned with the church and where the dialogue options are frequently pro-Rhea--does a much better job at this, just from having things told from the perspective of Claude who actually talks about these things. Watching Seteth in action in the Church route is also more informative. Here you are just going off a) what you saw in act 1 and b) the fact that Rhea is a crazy dragon. It isn't particularly compelling and it doesn't build the world.

I've seen this route explained away as a "healing route" or "an answers" route. It emphatically is not an answers route--all of the answers are in act 1. This is shared by the church route, which, although not answering much more than Golden Deer does provide further answers. If any route is the "answers" route between the branches, its the Church route.

It is also not a "healing route" except in a very basic way: you can use Edelgard actually and she wins. Admittedly, after playing other routes I do kind of want to do exactly that: I really like her as a character and as a unit. Nevertheless, if "portrays in a more favorable light" as healing means simply not examining a character at all, not questioning their actions or alliances, and not coming to terms with who they are and how they got that way, it is completely vapid. It is also a betrayal of Black Eagles act 1, which was not completely vapid. (To be clear, this isn't about answers--it is about character study, which, yes, would come along with some answers. Saving answers is not a legitimate excuse for not exploring a character.)

Furthermore, I've come to also see Blue Lions as a healing route for Dimitri. Seeing him in the Church and Golden Deer routes where his madness did not abate is heart-wrenching. Unlike Black Eagles, however, Blue Lions actually looks squarely at this madness--that is it actually involves getting to the bottom of him rather than looking away. That's exactly what makes it great. The same could and should have been done with Edelgard. Honestly, that is my biggest disappoint with this game. I was expecting it to fumble Edelgard--look at how horribly Fates did Nohr--but I really wanted it not to. Then act 1 was fantastic. I also really liked her as a character. She comes across as a Shin Megami Tensei character mixed with Reinhard mixed with a prim, untouchable anime student body president. Then act 2 pulled way back from her and ended unfinished. I kept waiting for it to get real again. Then I played the rest of the game and witnessed it succeeding where Black Eagles failed. I see no reason to afford it a handicap.

This army is very solid defensively and focuses on physical attack. Its magic isn't weak, but it isn't the basis of the army. Resistance is a weakness. It is a very typical Fire Emblem army--for these reasons and given the particular make-up of its units. It is also great. No one in this army failed to turn out in my playthrough. Ingrid was perhaps my favorite--she was insane and could evasion tank her way to slaughtering bosses and artillery fundamentally simplifying and cutting levels short. This was particular useful because she was strong where the army was weak--against magic. But really, I loved them all a lot. Felix is a magic-wielding swordmaster god. Dimitri is an all around physical attack god. Mercedes gets fortify with her ridiculous range. I found Dedue a particularly useful--impenetrable really--incarnation of the armor knight, not often the most useful class especially in games, such as this, that don't have many siege maps and tend to focus on charging around to swaying circumstances. My Sylvain turned out much better than my Ferdinand(s). Etc. It also felt oddly fresh to return to this sort of army.

I had picked up playing Black Eagles that so many of the initial quests seemed to touch on the Kingdom and the actual characters in the Blue Lions army. Playing through with the Blue Lions brought this home: it very much felt like the "default" route. This was brought home by the second act where Dimitri had lost his kingdom to betrayal at home and a looming imperial threat--he was the Marth of the game.

Yet, he is quite the unique Marth. In the first act, it is apparent, most so with Felix, that he is distant with his old friends and associates and that there is a lurking darkness and sadness in him revolving around his father's death and the genocide of the Duscur. This tragedy affects the entire cast in a variety of ways and they have to deal with it as well as their longstanding relations. Nevertheless, Dimitri is the crux. When Edelgard, his childhood love and stepsister, turns out to be the Flame Emperor, aligned with those he believes are responsible for the murder of his father and his entourage, Dimitri snaps, becomes the "boar" Felix claims he is. When Edelgard proceeds to inveigle his courtiers and turn his country against him, leading to his false imprisonment and barely escaped execution, he is cemented as the boar, seeking one thing: Edelgard's death to propitiate the dead.This lust for revenge guides the first, ill-starred invasion of the Empire and almost brings his cause to its demise before Dimitri is pulled back from the brink and begins, again, to care about the living--and himself. Then he embarks on Marth's quest, first taking back his kingdom and then overthrowing Edelgard.

I also like that it fleshed out Edelgard some more, (for me) picking up and expanding on things she had obliquely hinted at or suggested by strange dialogue in Black Eagles (e.g. her first love was a Kingdom noble, Dimitri calling her El as she killed him in BE coupled with Dimitri's account of their friendship in BL or her having brown hair when she knew Dimitri, i.e. it was before the blood magic).

Blue Lions does not answer much about the church. Rhea is just conveniently disempowered with no explanation of who or what she is and what she has done. Nor does it ultimately answer as to Duscur or Edelgard's involvement therein. It strongly suggests she wasn't involved but those behind her were. It doesn't answer who those behind her were and leaves them lurking. Ideally, it would have reached firmer answers on Duscur in particular--that is the closest to Dimitri's story. Nevertheless, it completes that story, which is its main thrust.
 
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MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
This was a strange route. It has various draws and at times it fulfills them but largely it is wasted potential as it hews so closely to the Golden Deer script instead of having its own unique path that actually explores its subject matter in a way most beneficial to said subject matter. Definitely the route to skip, if you skip any in my opinion.

The answers here are just one step removed from those present in Golden Deer. You learn hardly anything further about the nature of your creation. The last level provides some insight into how Rhea gave her blood to create an army to extend her power but that doesn't add too much to what you already knew about Jeralt or about the church peddling crests and relics and information thereabout for power.

Moreover, the answers all come at the end: Rhea disappears just like she does in Blue Lions and Golden Deer. It is a sorely missed opportunity to have her as a lord. It means all the development is backloaded into finale exposition dumps. It also means this is a lordless route and, frankly, Seteth and Flayn cannot hold down the fort. They are not characters of nearly the caliber of Edelgard, Dimitri, Claude, or Rhea. Their perspective is incredibly thin in comparison. Mostly Seteth just comes across as an out-of-touch, overly conservative force that really just cares about the church not so much Fodlan or humanity. And he gets Dimitri killed and then benefits from Dimitri's efforts without batting an eye.

Also, the way it dealt with the Agarthans was woefully incomplete in comparison to their treatment in Golden Deer. For all I knew they could have been space aliens fighting dragons for millenia--indeed that's how they came across. The contours of their struggle were intensely vague.

One last thing about Golden Deer versus the Church: it is patently obvious that the characters and story the route was designed around were those of Golden Deer. Everything fits together better in the Golden Deer Route. Most obviously sneaking into Fort Merceus. This is true except for the cutscene where you kill Edelgard, which was clearly designed around the route where she had been your pupil.

I was also hoping it would be a route where you spent more time in the Empire and got to know it and Edelgard from another perspective. I thought it would be war in the Empire by imperials against imperials and they'd mine that as well as the Empire's connection to the church. You don't really. The most I can say is Ferdinand feels more at home on this route and that isn't flattering. Edelgard is interesting. Other than the reunion cutscene and her death she is largely absent from the route despite her having been your lord. Those are the emotional highpoints of the route but there's little narrative connecting them. One thing I will say, however, is it has my favorite Edelgard fight: this is in part because of this context but also because she put up a fight for me unlike in the other routes. I think that the level was balanced for Golden Deer, which had an extra level before it.

I was not looking forward to this route, either generally or in the context by which I came to it. Claude did not seem my type from the way he was advertised and then all the queer-baiting controversy. So I was going to start with either Dimitri or Edelgard. My sister chose Dimitri and I really wanted to see the game do Nohr right--people had intimated that Edelgard was in some way villainous although I was unsure I'd come to that conclusion myself. As to context, the church route was my trough with the game. I really really did not like siding with Rhea over Edelgard and the lack of reward in the route actually doing interesting things had put a damper on my enthusiasm for the game. Golden Deer was intimated to me to have the same maps by-and-large. I knew those maps hardly dealt with the alliance. I did not believe in the magic of Claude to save me.

I was a fool. Claude is great.

Claude is asking the questions about the church and the status quo, which Edelgard guardedly knows the answers to or fears the answers to (in the case of the main character and the goddess) and which Dimitri largely isn't asking. Claude presents Fodlan from a unique in-world outsider perspective that cuts through a lot of the bullshit for the sake of real-world outsiders (the player) and also puts Fodlan in perspective. Claude is also just a relatively well put together and circumspect lord, which, while the source of their greatness is that they aren't, is refreshing after Edelgard and Dimitri.

I particularly liked the focus on Fodlan as a hermit continent. This really put a point (for me) to all the stories about the Gautier, the Fradalius, and the Gonderil fighting barbarians on the periphery using holy weapons. It really put a point (for me) on the genocidal nature of Fearghus's revenge. The game had been making this point through Cyril, Shamir, and Petra but Claude gives it the voice of a lord and Cyril and Shamir are particularly well integrated into the Golden Deer support network.

Moreover, Claude simultaneously doubts the church, openly imagines Fodlan without Rhea and the Church, particularly with regards to the hermit kingdom stuff, but also with regards to relics and crests, and thinks Edelgard's path is overly violent and destructive. He harbored similar ambitions and maybe he just benefits from not having acted first but it seems pretty clear he'd have tried to go about it all with less bloodshed and less absolutism.

Claude also gets the most complete vision of what is going on in Fodlan: he learns who the Agarthans are--humans from some civilization pre-an initial Sothis driven apocalypse who tried to get revenge through Nemesis and now again through Edelgard. I was really put off by the lack of human connection and parallels between Nemesis and Edelgard in the church route. Golden Deer makes it clear just what the source of the blood magic that manifested the crest of flames in Edelgard was. It makes tangible that Edelgard is the Avatar of Nemesis and the main character that of Sothis--that they are competing messiah, one for twisted men, one for twisted dragon gods. I really enjoyed this parallel so it was nice with it finally being made explicit. (It should have been made explicit in a route about your relationship to Edelgard....)

The Golden Deer army is also great. Archers are gods in this game. Bow knights are like holy/dark knights save with only expansions of benefits and no losses. Flying units are great and Claude, Hilda, and Cyril make an excellent wyvern core. Rafael went from being a weak link to a god at some point, I do not know when. Lysithea was always a goddess (as was Marianne) though and I had one that was magic RNG-screwed some!

It is a strange army. It is rather jack of all trades. People have odd growths that immediately suggest multiple routes to take them through but also which provide for a general versatility. Lorenz, for example, was very slow for me. But, unlike Ferdinand, he had good defense and resistance, particularly the latter, and his strangely strong magic suggested dark knight, which he excelled at. It was generally this sort of army: it was so all around good there was generally an upside somewhere and this upside only got more exaggerated with time.
 
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MoonFrog

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,743
Fire Emblem Three Houses is a hugely ambitious game. This in itself is heartening, coming from a series that killed its ambition trying to make itself palatable. It is also a game with lots of promising ideas and a fresh, strange new arrangement of Fire Emblem tropes including a suite of among the most compelling lords and crazy dragons in the series history. It is also a game that cannot complete its vision. It bit off more than it could ever chew and it clearly suffers for it and more than it clearly needed to suffer for it. It exists in this halfway space and that can cut either way.

It is much like Fates in this regard: as Eridani has just been discussing in here Conquest is a joy to play. It is not a joy to read. On the one hand, it came across as a recommittment to trying to make a strong SRPG and to continue to push what FE could be in that regard. On the other, it came across as narratively bankrupt and fumbled one of best choices for a new and fresh narrative that Intelligent Systems had made in a while, namely putting you on the side of the "evil empire" and having to deal with that from within--both your hero and country. Conquest was thusly a game in halfway space, simultaneously derided and lauded.

Three Houses occupies two halfway spaces, one with regard to narrative and another with regard to gameplay. As my lead-in paragraph suggests, it is the former which colors my opinion of Three Houses more. Moreover, although Three Houses frustrates me in several ways as explored above, it leaves me optimistic. I did not come in optimistic, as I said above. I tend to associate it more with its aspirations rather than its failings. I do so because there is a lot of good material despite much of it being loose, unfinished, improperly unaccompanied, and just delivered poorly.

As regards gameplay, I think Three Houses does some interesting things but not so interesting as, say, Conquest did. This is particularly the case with the map/objective design, compounded by copious reuse. Notably, this becomes more of an issue the more you play. Most people aren't going to get through one route let alone all four routes. I only really started feeling it after two routes. I imagine some people do earlier, some later.

Ultimately, going forward, I hope IntSys and whatever partners they choose bite off less than they did here but still aspire to more than perhaps they can accomplish. I also hope that, even in, say, a solitary route setting they don't shy away from unconventional and more colorful lords and situations.
 
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Gio

Member
Oct 28, 2017
404
Manila
Finally evicted one of the perennial residents of my backlog, Chrono Trigger. I'd gotten far–
Magus had just joined the party
–about a decade ago but I guess I lost interest or life got in the way. Lately I'd been growing more and more excited to revisit it as my pool of RPG experience has grown. I was also somewhat trepidatious; I feared the magic from my first playthrough would be gone and that it just wouldn't be as fun the second time around. Now that I'm finished with the game, I'm relieved to say it's still great. Still a landmark of video game storytelling. Still one of the best soundtracks ever composed. Still chock-full of neat ideas that are somehow still not ubiquitous in modern games. Finishing Chrono Trigger is meaningful to me as a personal milestone as I gradually take on more challenging material down the line.

Notes:
  • Mitsuda wrote arguably his life's work on his first try. That will never not be incredible to me. I'm also glad it didn't become literally his life's only work.
  • I'm probably playing Chrono Cross next blitz. And then Radiant Historia after that. I'm hoping these two expand on the potential time shenanigans; CT didn't touch on the rules of time travel at all and while that can be good I think there were missed storytelling opportunities there.
  • I got the Beyond Time ending and even though I didn't particularly care for anyone I still found myself getting verklempt. The sprites in this game convey some very strong emotions.
 

Taborcarn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
668
Fire Emblem Three Houses is a hugely ambitious game. This in itself is heartening, coming from a series that killed its ambition trying to make itself palatable. It is also a game with lots of promising ideas and a fresh, strange new arrangement of Fire Emblem tropes including a suite of among the most compelling lords and crazy dragons in the series history. It is also a game that cannot complete its vision. It bit off more than it could ever chew and it clearly suffers for it and more than it clearly needed to suffer for it. It exists in this halfway space and that can cut either way.

It is much like Fates in this regard: as Eridani has just been discussing in here Conquest is a joy to play. It is not a joy to read. On the one hand, it came across as a recommittment to trying to make a strong SRPG and to continue to push what FE could be in that regard. On the other, it came across as narratively bankrupt and fumbled one of best choices for a new and fresh narrative that Intelligent Systems had made in a while, namely putting you on the side of the "evil empire" and having to deal with that from within--both your hero and country. Conquest was thusly a game in halfway space, simultaneously derided and lauded.

Three Houses occupies two halfway spaces, one with regard to narrative and another with regard to gameplay. As my lead-in paragraph suggests, it is the former which colors my opinion of Three Houses more. Moreover, although Three Houses frustrates me in several ways as explored above, it leaves me optimistic. I did not come in optimistic, as I said above. I tend to associate it more with its aspirations rather than its failings. I do so because there is a lot of good material despite much of it being loose, unfinished, improperly unaccompanied, and just delivered poorly.

As regards gameplay, I think Three Houses does some interesting things but not so interesting as, say, Conquest did. This is particularly the case with the map/objective design, compounded by copious reuse. Notably, this becomes more of an issue the more you play. Most people aren't going to get through one route let alone all four routes. I only really started feeling it after two routes. I imagine some people do earlier, some later.

Ultimately, going forward, I hope IntSys and whatever partners they choose bite off less than they did here but still aspire to more than perhaps they can accomplish. I also hope that, even in, say, a solitary route setting they don't shy away from unconventional and more colorful lords and situations.

Great write-ups Moon! Thanks for sharing.