Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia Aug 8, 2011 7:51:14 GMT -5
Post by Bytor on Aug 8, 2011 7:51:14 GMT -5
You like sprites? Then give this a really high score. Hate them, then it's entirely possible you may not even be able to give this game a decent chance. However, that's not all there is to this game, unfortunately it might be all many see. Let's look at the various aspects of the graphics. As mentioned the character animations are typical sprite and anime looking, and even if you do hate the style they are still extremely well done. Lyner, Misha, Jack, Krusche and company are not just drawn "cutesy" but are very individualistic and rendered very, very nicely to me. Now, I have seen better (Atelier Iris looks better for instance) but they still look better than many and represent the style wonderfully. The animations sequence also shine, and I mean really shine. They look awesome and add so very much to the game and personality of the characters, the only issue is that there are simply way too few, even twice as many would not have been too much if that gives you any indication as to how few there is, unfortunate. The love fest somewhat ends here though. While I found some of the backgrounds to look nice and feel they were designed well at other times I felt the backgrounds were simply recycled over and over and over again, of course part of that is because you will traverse the same areas time and time again, so I'll put an imaginary asterix beside this criticism.
This game reminded me of Mana Khemia a lot. However, as I found that particular soundtrack to be a tad underwhelming and actually most of the time quite unremarkable I found this one to be both quirky at times, sweeping at times and at all times it set the mood and feel of the game perfectly. This is simply put an awesome soundtrack! Unfortunately the voice acting while certain ly above average does not reach the heights and receive the acclaim I have given the music, especially Jack, I dunno, but for whatever reason he appeared to me to be the "grizzled veteran" and yet sounded like a 14 year old boy whose voice had just broke, thankfully, at least in this instance, the voice acting isn't very prevalent at all.
The game is basically a turn based RPG combined with a Sim game with a touch of item creation thrown in for good measure. Battles take place on a turn based system based on the agility of your characters but with a slight twist, your Reyvateil can act regardless of whose turn it is in battle. What happens is that once a battle starts you (should) have your Reyvateil start singing. Either a defensive song or an attack song. Then you will progress through your normal attacks with you and your oter two allies. While this is going on your Reyvateil's will continue to grow and grow in power. Once you will it's strong enough you can hit triangle and she will execute her attack causing massive damage assuming you have set up the attack pattern correctly and have weakened the enemy. This system does take a bit to get used to but once you do it is extremely easy to utilize and honestly barring possibly the last boss once you master it I seriously doubt you'll see a game over screen. Having said that I did find many of the battles to still be challenging and fun as they did require some thought and planning because of the various strengths and weaknesses of the enemies faced in battle. Overall a well designed and executed battle system I thought. The other aspect of the game is the Sim system. This is almost a misnomer however as instead of truly Simming you are more of a psychiatrist. What happens is you (and get ready for the sexual innuendos, lol) "dive" into Misha or Auricas cosmosphere and learn their various desires, fears and feelings. The game actually becomes a true graphic novel at this point, although other areas of the game are decided by questions the Reyvateils will ask you that is not important here. Here you are simply watching them come to grips with their feelings and as they develop and explore these feelings they learn stronger and stronger songs to use in battle, so it's a win win, lol. The game is loaded with the afore mentioned innuendos BTW so be prepared. Item creation, at least for me, definitely took a back seat. I never actually looked for items (except on one quest which is part of the main story) instead I simply used them as I found them and while it is hilarious to see how Misha and Aurica rename the various items created I didn't find it vital to the game. Weapon and armor customization is another story though. Many items found can be used to enhance and these are very important to your well being in battle, even though the battles aren't overly hard without this customization they could/would be at times. Exploration of various areas is not as much fun as it could be as I found traversing these areas to at times be a pain, although they do look good, it's all just looks, the areas you will explore while maze like at times are still on rails. Still overall there's really nothing remarkable about this gameplay style but what it does it does very, very competently and solidly.
-Story- 9.2/10 once a battle starts you (should) have your Reyvateil
You play as Lyner Barsett, a knight of Platina which is a city whic resides near the top of the tower of Ar tonelico. The world this tower occupies is extremely old and has been destroyed by major battles to the point that civilization now resides in and around this giant tower. Various factions inhabit the various stages of the tower, with Platina at the top, the Teru Tribe inhabiting Em Pheyna in the middle and the majority of the population living in the Wings of orus in the lower section of the tower. In this society there are guardians and the Reyvateils who are artificially created females who have the "Power of Song". I am not going to go into to much more detail except to say that a virus named Mir has awoken and escaped and is attempting to take over the tower. You and your band are equally attempting to stop her. Te story is not fleshed out as much as I'd like but the character development is done very nicely and because of the nature of the gameplay and the choices you make you will get to know the characters either very well or simply somewhat well. It's a nice addition to the story seeing how the various individuals choose to deal with various situations they face in their quest. Overall not a mind blowing story but also not one which bored me.
A really, really good game for 50% of the game, then it starts to get bogged down into an exploratory dungeon crawler with fight after fight after fight. The story is solid throughout but at the start of Phase 2 I definitely felt it started to lag and the ebb and flow of the game suffered tremendously. It's a shame, it's almost as if the developers said OK...we need to add 10 hours to the game...what to do what to do...I know, let's make the last level a maze in which you will traverse the same area a couple of times before you can leave and then we'll tack on the last boss battle. I swear I got to the end and didn't even know I was near the end, it's that sudden. Still, overall anyone who likes a traditional turn based RPG and doesn't mind some serious long graphic novel aspects of gameplay should certainly play this game.