Thursday 24 November 2016

First Impressions: A Story of the End: Revere (Played on PC, also on Mac)

Next to the commonly 3D and realistic animation of modern JRPGs, I can't help but feel nostalgic when playing A Story of the End - Revere. Whether it’s the sprite style characters walking around the map, emotive music or extended dialogues, Revere is very accessible to the average JRPG player. But Revere doesn’t just show more of what we already know about JRPGs, rather it adds its own unique story and battle mechanics to the mix. The intriguing story of a soldier on his quest for redemption in a unique world filled with creatures peaked my interest during its demo, even if it's missing some polish to make the experience as smooth as possible.
Revere is centred around the main protagonist Troy, a Lumerian soldier who is coming to terms with the fact the Empire he works for isn’t what he thought it was and follows his journey to break away from them and do what's right. He wakes up in one of the villages he was sent to purge, being looked after by a human-like rabbit creature, known as a soul beast, named Farrah and a seemingly cold villager and archer named Roland. The serious themes of war and beasts being accepted into human society has humour and banter sprinkled throughout, which nicely breaks up the heavy tone of Revere’s story. However, these interesting themes and funny quips are sometimes let down by unusual grammar and switches from extremely casual speech to overly polite fantasy language that distracted me from feeling fully immersed in Revere’s story. I found myself pausing on some lines just because they seemed slightly off and while it didn't necessarily ruin the experience, it was a little distracting.

The 45 minute demo spends it time showing off its quests and characters, along with a look at the battle system that will be familiar to most JRPG players. Revere features a predominately turn-based battle system and quests in the demo, with weapon upgrading and crafting said to be in the final game. The demo’s main story is progressed by completing the quests on the city notice board, a simple enough system to understand although I found myself lost on one of the three quests available. Since Revere doesn't give many hints or tutorials and the NPCs are busy making funny jokes about being NPCs (my favourite being “I stand next to signs. Please don't judge me.”), these quests mostly left me to my own devices with mixed results. On one hand it made me explore the city and see most of the pretty maps and stores (which are ‘currently closed’ in the demo), and I was able to chance upon two of the quest items I needed. On the other hand I found myself running around for longer than I would've liked to, only to find I'd just gotten unlucky and hadn't randomly encountered the enemy where I was supposed to. While Revere features adjustable encounter rates, not being told where I was to encounter the foe meant running around slightly frustrated for 10 minutes.
The battle system also doesn't have much explanation, although for the most part it doesn't need it since it will be very familiar to most JRPG players. No skills are available to use in the demo, so it's a case of mostly hitting the Attack button and watching common RPG enemies such as Treants and Wolves fall. What adds a new layer to the turn-based is the Overclock system, a system that allows you to execute multiple attacks in one turn by delaying your next one. The Overclock mechanic allows you to take out all enemies in one turn, a powerful attack that seems a bit much on the weak enemies displayed in the demo but could be useful in tough boss battles in the final game. I haven't encountered a system like this before so I found it quite interesting and it'll be fun to see what it's really capable of in the full game.
The main character is part Celestial being according to Revere’s descriptions, which is revealed after an emotional lead up to a boss battle. I found this final boss battle a tad confusing; one minute I was hitting the Attack button hoping for the best, the next the cool-looking Celestial being appears and I'm expected to understand I need to switch to clicking the enemy as fast as possible. Revere’s ‘Read Me’ file included in the download does explain this, but I definitely feel like it would be more immersive as an instruction within the actual game. In saying that, the more active mechanic is a nice way to break up the turn-based system and adds a much needed other layer to battles.
While I didn't have the most seamless time with Revere's demo, the premise and the final story moments reminded me that it has a world I'd like to know more about. The story of the Lumerians and Soul Beasts is given a good foundation in the demo and even with some unusual grammar, the story moments in the demo show the potentially emotional journey that the story could go on. A Story of the End: Revere has a good amount of potential that is suppressed by some language errors and a lack of user-friendliness but I hope that Revere spends more time making sure the quality is on par with other JRPGs. It has the potential to be a complex story in a visually pleasing world with an interesting dynamic and I hope that shines through even more in the final product.

You can try A Story of the End: Revere's demo for free on Steam, for download at or Game Jolt.
The full version is scheduled for release in Fall 2017.

Post upload note!: I downloaded Revere from about two weeks ago to check it out and play it for this post. Since that time, the game has been updated on Steam with some extra tutorials and some of the English errors I mentioned have been fixed. I encourage anyone who's going to download Revere to play the current version to get the best experience possible!

Will you try Revere? And if you already have, what did you think of it?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Notes: In the interest of transparency, information about this game was sent to me for consideration, but I can promise this post is 100% honest and written without bias.
Also, digital games are regularly updated and changed. My opinions about this game are based on the condition of the game at the time I received it and may not cover any future important changes to it.

Thursday 17 November 2016

JRPG Appreciation Post: World of Final Fantasy's Mirages

World of Final Fantasy features an interesting new concept for Final Fantasy games in the form of monster capture. While World of Final Fantasy’s gameplay is closer to more traditional Final Fantasy games, Imprisming monsters (known in World of Final Fantasy as Mirages) and using them in battle by making a stack is a very new mechanic to the Final Fantasy world. The best part of this is the Monster Stacking isn’t just visual: monsters are helpful in many ways in World of Final Fantasy and collecting a variety monsters and abilities makes the monster hunt a highly useful new mechanic. Being able to use both friendly and enemy monsters in battles serves as a fun new concept for past Final Fantasy fans and a great way to introduce the famous Behemoths, Tonberries and Moogles to those new to Final Fantasy.

Monster Capture may be a new concept to Final Fantasy, but the series isn’t a total stranger to having monsters in your party. After all, most Final Fantasy games include a Summom mechanic that involves summoning powerful but friendly creatures that are fairly well-known in the Final Fantasy community, such as Ifrit, Shiva and Bahamut. These monsters are pretty awesome, but there are many other famous monster friends and foes on the other side of the battlefield that have only served the purpose of getting beaten up so far. Whether you want to summon the epic Ifrit, an adorable and friendly Moogle or a big, enemy Behemoth in your party, all of these Final Fantasy creatures are available to be used in battle in World of Final Fantasy. Having these different types of creatures usable together is an interesting take of Final Fantasy’s creatures and although putting a Chocobo and a Behemoth in the same stack may seem strange, it’s a cool new way to use some of my favourite Final Fantasy creatures.
If collecting Mirages wasn’t cool enough, putting them in Stacks is even better. The main characters of World of Final Fantasy, the hilarious Lann and the cool older sister Reynn, are divided into a Left and Right stack in battle and each stack is comprised of a Small, Medium and Large Mirage that literally stack on top of each other to combine stats. Aside from combining stats (and looking hilarious), mirage stacking also ‘stacks’ skills. If all your mirages have Fire, they will combine to make the much more powerful Firaga. Lann and Reynn also gain a very AP cheap skill called ‘Channel Element’ with whatever element the stack is overall that makes hitting an enemy’s weakness very easy. A great part about this is also that a Mirage’s size doesn't matter when it comes to skill stacking; tiny Flan’s skill or a giant Behemoth’s stats have an equal increase, making both just as useful as one another for once.
Speaking of skills, Mirages are useful on and off the battlefield thanks to their skills. In World of Final Fantasy, certain areas are blocked off due to gaps, icy peaks or big rocks and are only accessible by using a Mirage with the right skill to get past, comparably to in Pokemon where you need a character with a certain skill to another area. I've used my Black Nakk many times to burn down big vines down to get treasure and I've used my Mythril Giant to knock down big rocks that block paths. I like how these path-blockers encourage me to carry a variety of Mirages to help me find bonus items to help me on my journey and it feels like a great reward when I've unlocked the right skill to help me find treasure or something cool.
Mirages can also be transfigured into bigger or alternative mirage forms by unlocking nodes on World of Final Fantasy's skill tree system called a Mirage Board. If you've enjoyed the evolution aspect of other monster collection games such as Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (which I loved), the Transfiguration aspect is probably something you'll like. Since I also love skill trees, I have a lot of fun using my SP points on each monster’s Mirage Board to unlock bigger versions of my Mirages, such as making my way through the S-sized Chocochick’s Mirage Board to unlock an M-sized Chocobo. The best part is that unlocking a Mirage Board keeps the smaller Mirage’s Board too, meaning you have two sets of skills to play with to make a really strong Mirage.
Stacking monsters together may look silly, but all the different things that can be done with Mirages are really fun to play with and make an enjoyably complex battle system. Use of abilities on the field and stat stacking in battle are cool ideas that give a use to all Mirages and gives monster collecting real purpose. Although stacking will be new to Final Fantasy players, as a Final Fantasy fan I think it’s a great way to refresh the familiar battle system and is a nice way to add depth while making it accessible to those who have used monster hunting systems in other games. I'm looking forward to finding even bigger Mirages throughout my World of Final Fantasy journey and so far definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting!

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What's your favourite Final Fantasy Mirage or Monster? If you could use any Final Fantasy creature to get around, which would you use?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Thursday 10 November 2016

SPICY!: Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God Review (PS Vita)

When a JRPG promises curry, magic and dungeon crawling, it's hard to know whether to expect a light appetizer or a full course meal, game content-wise. So imagine my great surprise when this humorous and charming yet punishing JRPG managed to frequently amuse me with it's silly humour all while challenging me in its tough roguelike dungeons. With plenty of banter and a whole lot of silliness mixed with dungeons ready to challenge even the best dungeon crawlers, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God is a charismatic, engaging change from the serious side of JRPGs that balances humour and good gameplay admirably.
Sorcery Saga’s story is based around Pupuru, a sweet and spunky student of a Magic Academy who just so happens to love curry. She’s not an A-grade student, but thanks to some luck she gets to go on a quest for her school, where she finds Kuu, a funny creature that eats pretty much everything, and an ancient curry recipe. When she fails her quest and finds herself suspended from school, she decides to spend her time helping her friend’s curry store by promising to make the Legendary Magic Curry. Pupuru’s journey is not a serious one; it's a colourful tale populated by quirky characters, including a love sick prince, an unintentionally creepy wizard and a group of young wannabe heroes named Udon, Panna and Naan. Despite repeating a lot of the same jokes and letting banter go on a little too long, the humourous script is very well-written and really creates a lively feel throughout the entire 30 hour long story. I found myself genuinely laughing out loud on multiple occasions and because the dialogue is so engaging, long dialogues are easy to overlook as the script really keeps things amusing.

Heavily contrasting the lighthearted story are the punishing Roguelike dungeons that are the core gameplay of Sorcery Saga. If you’re like me and had never played a Roguelike before, it differs from regular dungeon crawlers because your character always starts at Level 1 in each dungeon, no matter how much you grinded in the previous one and if you get a game over, you have the extra tax of losing most of your items to deal with. This means being smart about planning how you’ll make your way through the dungeon rather than leveling as high as you can to overpower enemies. You can hoard and enhance equipment to make your dungeon crawl easier, which is important since it seems Sorcery Saga wants to make things as hard as possible. There are traps to look out for, Monster Houses where you get suddenly surrounded and items with seemingly intentionally vague descriptions that mean you only know what they do when you try them, and sometimes that means Game Over. Even your helpful pet Kuu can be hit or miss, as his AI means he will either jump in front of you and protect you from an enemy or run in another direction just for fun.
Despite Sorcery Saga’s harsh nature, I actually found myself enjoying the challenge after a rocky learning curve that lasted a few chapters. Winning a dungeon is very much about choosing which risks to take, such as grinding on a floor and risking dungeon collapse or considering the chances of your final hit defeating an enemy when their next hit could kill you. It's about using stat boosts, such as the Curry On Demand mechanic where combining three ingredients creates one of many energising curries, at the time it will benefit you most to smartly get to the final floor safely. While some Game Overs may feel rather harsh, such as trying a new scroll only to have it put your own health to zero on the 11th floor, victories feel well earned and like you faced a true test of strength and strategy in the randomly generated dungeons.

If you're having a hard time dungeon crawling, players can take a break by watching extra moments with the cast in the library. Since Sorcery Saga’s dungeons can be an intense and sometimes long experience, watching fun, extra banter with Pupuru and friends is a nice way to break up the experience. These dialogues aren't essential to the main story and tend to ramble on a little, but are a nice addition for those wanting more time with Pupuru and friends, or for those who like unlocking items going for the platinum trophy. There are also rewards given for collecting items and fulfilling certain requirements such as clearing a dungeon 15+ times, along with a huge bonus dungeon towards the end of the story for completionists and while I don't feel mentally strong enough to go through these at the moment, I appreciate having a reason to go back to Sorcery Saga if I want to.
Sorcery Saga’s randomised Roguelike dungeons and fun characters are its best strength and create a charming environment to get totally destroyed in, one dungeon at a time. The great script made me weirdly invested in its quirky characters and the grueling roguelike dungeons were an interesting new way to dungeon crawl, albeit if I met a lot of Game Over screens before understanding how to win sometimes against the odds given. For dungeon crawling fans looking for something light in story but challenging where it counts, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God left a satisfying taste in my mouth and was a great challenge to enjoy next to a fun narrative.

Score: 8/10
This surprisingly challenging Roguelike dungeon crawler partnered with its fun, lighthearted story really amused me in its 30 hour long campaign. While it sometimes punished me a little harshly, winning a dungeon has never felt so rewarding and I've found myself missing it now that it's done.

You can pick up Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God for PS Vita at!
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What do you think of Sorcery Saga? What's your favourite Roguelike JRPG?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Thursday 3 November 2016

5 Times JRPGs Kicked My Ass

As much as I love video games, I don’t claim to be the best at gaming. While I can pick up most mechanics, my varying degree of skill with some games has made me no stranger to the Game Over screen and I've had to hit the Retry button in some of my most played games (such as my complete inability to complete the Omega Ruins in Final Fantasy X). Recently I’ve been playing the Roguelike JRPG Sorcery Saga: The Curse of the Great Curry God, a fun but tough dungeon crawler that has found me sent back to its town without my items on multiple occasions with a small bit of my dungeon confidence eaten away. This made me think back to some of the many fails I’ve had while playing JRPGs and while these are only a small selection, these are some of the biggest fails I’ve had while playing or more accurately, times I’ve had my ass kicked while playing JRPGs.

Note: I’ve kept spoilers to a minimum by mostly not mentioning boss names and story circumstances, but there are some minor spoilers about significant boss battles in this article. Proceed with caution!

Final Fantasy X’s Final Boss
If there’s one thing Final Fantasy is good at, it’s bosses with multiple forms or stages. I’m not referring to the final boss battle that you pretty much automatically win, I’m talking about the true final boss of Final Fantasy X, the one with more than one stage and an overdrive gauge that can quickly wipe out any unprepared party. There are a bunch of bosses like this in Final Fantasy X but when I played the HD Remaster a couple of years ago, I was reminded of that feeling of total horror when you think you've won the boss battle, but oh no, let's put multiple status ailments on all your characters, shatter a couple for good measure and knock some out because I'm definitely out of Phoenix Downs. It was horrible, but the satisfaction I got after grinding a little more, taking advance of any possible status vulnerabilities, winning and crying like a baby to the ending was definitely worth the struggle.

Persona 3 FES’s Final Boss
Persona 3’s boss battle is one of the absolute harshest boss battles I have ever experienced. If Final Fantasy X was bad for bosses with multiple forms, Persona 3’s boss is just plain unreasonable. When I played Persona 3 this year, I assumed that it would be harder than the previous bosses I’d faced, all of which had been difficult but not impossible, but the absolute uphill struggle I faced was definitely beyond my expectations. The final boss really ramps up the difficulty, with over 10 different forms to fight and without a proper strategy, any party will be quickly annihilated. I can’t even begin to tell you how many online guides I read and Youtube videos I watched just to check if winning was a possibility and to work out how to defeat that thing with what I had. I must have tried it over 20 times and definitely saw a lot of Game Over screens, which are just a little more crushing when you're almost at the end of the game. It took a lot of persistence and a little grinding, but eventually I did it. I hope to never face a boss that slays me that hard again.

Final Fantasy IX’s Plant Brain
I think I had a lot of luck when I versed Final Fantasy IX’s Plant Brain for the first time, because I had no problem beating it. However something happened - either my Vita ran out of power or I turned it off without saving - and somehow, I lost my save, meaning I had to do the boss battle again. Fine, I said. Piece of cake, right? Wrong.

Older JRPGs are different to the standard beginning of a modern JRPG. They don’t try to make you feel like a god in the first few battles so that you keep playing. They’re not scared to kick you around and knock out a majority of your party, which is exactly what happened to me. I wasn’t expecting to use any healing items because it was one of the first boss fights in the game and I repeatedly kept getting knocked down and finding myself at the Game Over screen thinking I was a better gamer than this. Going from winning on my first try to absolutely struggling was kind of a shock, but I accepted it was going to be a tough battle, put my pride aside and healed my party. It did however let me understand that Final Fantasy IX was going to be a little more challenging than other Final Fantasy’s I played, so it served as a good introduction for what was ahead.

Sorcery Saga: the Curse of the Great Curry God’s Chapter 4 Dungeon
Ah, my week long dilemma. Every dungeon in Sorcery Saga is a little punishing, but with the amount of potential enemies that can surround you, surprisingly strong bosses and devastating traps in the 25 floors of this fourth dungeon, Sorcery Saga is definitely working against me in my quest to win this dungeon. Since Sorcery Saga is a Roguelike JRPG, I’m also starting fresh each dungeon run so if I lose, my next run is even tougher because I may not have my best sword anymore. And even if I go in with the best equipment in the world, there’s potential for it to get cursed or eaten by an enemy or Kuu (your friendly dungeon pet) if he's super hungry. It seems like I need a lucky run and to use Kuu and the area as perfectly as possible. For now, my dungeon crawling confidence is waning, but I will not give up!

(Fun fact: before this article went up, I won the dungeon through excessive grinding on each floor and risking dungeon collapse. Yay! Currently slowly going through the last dungeon so I don't you know...die.)

I’ve spoken mostly about getting my ass kicked in battle in this article, but there are plenty of ways JRPGs can make things hard for the player, such as the simultaneously heartwarming and patience-testing Legend of Inaba trophy from Persona 4 Golden. Social Links are an enjoyable part of Persona 4 Golden, but to max them all out in one playthrough requires thorough planning and execution, something I failed at multiple times. This trophy pretty much took me three playthroughs, and with a playthrough of Persona 4 Golden being over 100 hours on average, I don’t need to tell you it was hard work. I had to make sure I said the right things to each character or else I may not be able to fully get them to the next Social Link rank in the next interaction, which would cost more time. Memorising what days characters were available, on top of keeping the dungeon crawling part of the game afloat was a true challenge, but at least it was a fulfilling one as it's probably the most immersed I've felt in a story. Persona 4’s well-written characters thankfully made this worth it and I’m forever happy about the 300+ hours I spent with Persona 4 Golden, even if it was tough.

Some JRPGs might be ruthless difficulty-wise, but I never think it’s a bad thing. It’s the persistent battling and desire to beat challenges that make completing a JRPG so rewarding, like I truly worked for the experience I gained. I honestly think sometimes the persistence I’ve had encouraged in JRPGs has also become apart of my everyday life, as I look to be challenged in real life situations and in a weird way I enjoy the struggling challenges presented to me in JRPGs as working them out feels truly satisfying. Knowing that all the challenges in JRPGs are conquerable keeps me going and I’m looking forward to whatever the next JRPG struggle I face is, even if it's a temporary kick to my confidence as a player. In the end, it's worth it.

Have you had a memorable JRPG ass-kicking? What was your biggest JRPG challenge?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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