And after a while, I finished the game (around 30ish hour mark), and while I imagine everyone has heard everything about this game, let's see how the latest spinoff in the main series fares.Story
After a lot of teasing, the game is actually set in the online game that is often referenced in the other chapters of the series. People expecting a parody of certain MMOs stereotypes are going to be disappointed, as the story makes fun of other tropes and touches only certain aspects of the MMO community.
It's interesting to note that despite being something Vert is obsessed with, the game is actually
The game doesn't really have a set "main character" - even if Vert has its own set of cutscenes, she's not the leading force of the story - relying more on the dynamics of the entire group and the relationship between them, something that was even present in Neptune U but didn't work due to the disjointed nature of the cutscenes.
The gist of the story is: the group beta tests the new version of Yon Megami Online, and stuff happens. There are actually two main storylines intertwined -
and both get resolved.
The game may lack the "grandiose" scope of VII, but it actually works in its favor, as the interaction between the cast supports the whole structure (since the game is rather poor, as I'll explain afterwards), unlike VII where the solo parts - and other odd choices - undermined the story as a whole.
There are a lot of sub-events, some missable but mostly happen in the town that serves as hub so it's hard to forget about them. The events vary from
and in general they're fun to watch.
As for the new characters, let's say their impact on the story varies - Bouquet has an important role, but Kiria and Kuronekohime are mostly present to let one of the two plots go forward.
Familiar faces from the franchise return in minor roles, with their own usual quirks, including
Compared to the other Tamsoft-developed game that I played - U, didnt' bother with Neptune + Blanc vs Zombies - the story is definitely better.Graphics and sound
The switch to the Unreal Engine was touted as a big step up for Compile Heart and a big step up it is - but we're not really there yet. The game runs with an unlocked framerate, varying from 60 to 30 fps, with some occasional slowdowns. Since neither the enviroments nor the characters are complex, this is somewhat baffling. Also I question the idea of creating "big" maps but with little content inside - the same issue, albeit less strong, was present also in Omega Quintet (another game that used big maps for its dungeons). The enemy variety is also disappointing low.
The special effects are nothing to write about and even the Kakusei Ogi (Awakening special moves) are really bland, save for a couple, like Vert's Quadra Elements. The bosses aren't really peculiar (mostly
For those interested, the game implements FXAA as a form of antialiasing as Tamsoft said that using Temporal AA didn't work well with their choice of modeling. The usual 2D animated portrait system isn't used here.
The music doesn't really stand out and it's fairly standard fantasy fare. As far the voices go, most of the cast is tried and tested at this point.
In general, from a technical standpoint the game is barely passable.Gameplay
And here where most of the issues of the game are. First of all, the AI is horrendous - something CH is trying to patch but at the moment the issue persists. Often the AI companions will get hit by attacks they could easily avoid or they won't use special attacks when needed (wasting special attacks on non-weakened bosses, for example). The AI presets don't really work well and worst of all they can't be changed on the fly - you need to enter the menu. Since most the bosses are, sadly, HP sponges that require Break to be actually damaged, the battles can last more than they're supposed to (
In general, while there are some characters that are exploitable (some have been fixed though), the game doesn't really promote the use of one character over another, letting the players form the party of preference - even though I have to add the skill distribution is not evenly matched between the characters.
Until the patch there wasn't a reliable way to revive party members, which was really absurd (reminds me of certain gameplay choices CH put in Mary Skelter). Setting up items for use is a chore. Customization is present - mostly in cosmetics than actual equipment though. The option to strengthen equipment is welcome though.
Aside the story, there are rank missions for the guild, but the optional ones aren't really enough to support the game as it is.
In short, while the game is *far better* than U, it's still below the minimum acceptable level.Conclusion
The game, taken as it is, is fun for the story, if you can bypass the shortcomings, which can be a problem for some. In any case, I'd strongly advise to avoid buying it at full price - it's not worth it.
If you're looking instead for a good action RPG with also a good story... well, you'd better go with Ys VIII instead.