Platform: PSP (PSN)
Release Date: July 16, 2013
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
Mystic Chronicles is an interesting little title. Originally released on the iOS under the title 'Fantasy Chronicles', this title was picked up by Natsume and completely re-translated before being ported to the PSP. While this was a game originally for mobile devices, the fact that Mystic Chronicles is a classic turn-based RPG made it easy to port to other platforms. With a major translation overhaul and a new audience to appeal to, will this RPG manage to impress in this relative onslaught of similar downloadable PSP games?
In Mystic Chronicles, you follow the story of Lux, a young man who seems to have a lot of bad luck, with all of his hometowns getting destroyed and all. However, it's not all bad for the red-eyed youth, as a Guardian Spirit comes to his aide, and together with the companions he meets, goes forth on a quest that eventually entangles them with the fate of the world.
This plot seems like the standard RPG fare, and it mostly is, but there are enough twists and nuances to keep you interested until the game's conclusion. Also, the characters you meet--old friends and new allies alike--are pretty likeable, and no one's lines really seem overly silly or out of place.
As for gameplay itself, battling is a standard turn-based RPG affair... but two features of Mystic Chronicles set to make the title stand out amongst the crowd: Guardian Beasts and bonds. First, Guardian Beasts are best thought of as extra party members that you cannot directly control. They have HP and stats just like the normal party members, but also have powerful skills to help you in battle. These skills depend on the Beast in question. For example, Lucius tends to have physical attacks, while Grace is pretty much a straight up healer Beast. As they're attacked, they can become enraged, and as such will release their special skill, which could range from a super powerful physical attack to a fulling healing spell. Guardian Beasts are a neat little addition, but you do have to be wary of how their AI is set, or else you could be setting yourself up for a world of pain.
As for bonds, whenever a party member is paired with a Guardian Beast or when two or more party members coordinate their attacks, they increase their bond level. When someone's bond level increases with someone else or with a Beast, they can do more damage with their attacks, or other neat effects. It seems to be a neat addition, but in reality bond levels between Beasts don't level up fast enough to make a difference, and bonds between party members require using pricey special moves, most of which you wouldn't want to use unless you're in a boss battle, if even then. Basically, bonds don't help as much as you would want them to.
Despite not being a standout of the RPG genre, Mystic Chronicles can be fairly enjoyable to play through... as long as you don't mind the grind. This title is pretty grind-y, where the introduction of a new area typically results in you having to do every quest before you're well enough off in order to move on. These quests are rather dull MMO-style affairs, challenging you to beat X number of enemies, get X number of items, or kill a super hard monster. Doing these quests gets you rare items and is your main source of income, but just as importantly makes you go out and grind. Levels do come pretty easily in this title, but the pitiful stat growth for everyone makes it so that a single level rarely makes a difference.
Because of that, you have to rely more on your equipment to survive difficult encounters. Thankfully, Mystic Chronicles has a great forging and tempering system to make sure you're prepared for the fights ahead. Out in dungeons you can gather resources (and a little later make some weird cat creatures help), and for the most part you can use these resources to temper your weapons and armor. Upgrading your equipment leading to branching paths you can take when making your equipment. You want your armor to give you defense against earth magic, or maybe heal you a little every turn? Well, you get to decide that.
When you visit new areas and explore dungeons, you can also find Training Books that'll allow you to make even more equipment. Of course, you can buy the new equipment, but it's incredibly expensive and is far more cost-effective to temper the equipment yourself. Forging and tempering also costs money, though, and for that reason that you'll have to grind through the guild quests in order to really make progress in the game.
If you're looking for a somewhat classic RPG experience on your PSP to enjoy, Mystic Chronicles isn't a bad bet. It's pretty enjoyable for the most part, even though the title really doesn't try anything new. The $14.99 price point might be a bit too high for the non-hardcore RPG crowd, but those who do take the dive will get a 20 hour or so adventure that will surely stay entertaining throughout.
+ Engaging story with good characters
+ Tempering and forging equipment is easy and rewarding
+ Enemy sprite work is amazingly well done
- Nothing really stands out in terms of gameplay
- The music is pretty boring (barring the normal battle theme)
- The grinding may turn gamers away
Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10)
Mystic Chronicles is a nice game for RPG fans looking for a solid albeit typical experience, but others may find the grinding too tedious to their liking.