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  1. Developer: Falcom Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS4 and PS Vita Release Date: September 12, 2017 ESRB: T for Teen Note: This review is based on the PS Vita version of the game For as many adventures as the crimson-haired Adol Christian has been on it is becoming less obvious as to what exactly constitutes as an Ys game nowadays. Classic prior entries such as Ys: Oath of Felgnana or Ys Seven are drastically different in their design philosophies, for example. The only safe assumption one can make about the Ys series nowadays is a fun action-RPG combat system and awesome music. In this simple regard, Falcom's newest entry in the flagship series -- Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana -- very much succeeds on that front, despite continuing to isolate itself from many of Adol's former adventures. In pure setup, Lacrimosa of Dana is absolutely faithful to Ys tradition. Adol starts his adventure on a boat... only for it to capsize and leave him stranded on the supposedly cursed location of Seiren Island. Where it quickly deviates, however, is that Adol is not alone during his adventurer this time around. I'm not just referring to eventual playable companions either, like Ys Seven or Ys Memories of Celceta have done years ago, but rescuing fellow shipwreck survivors quickly becomes the focal point of Adol's new debut. After a fairly slow introduction, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana gets into a groove of exploring the mysterious island and creating a safe haven for other survivors to gather the means to eventually escape the island. The more you explore, the more survivors you will likely uncover and eventually -- as a byproduct of doing both -- unlock more gameplay features in the central hub. For example, uncovering a blacksmith to help strengthen your weapons or a tailor to give your new accessories and outfits. At certain points players even have to defend the town from waves of monsters. It is an intriguing ebb and flow when it is done right that is not quite like any Ys title before it. Of course, many recent Ys stables are present and accounted for. The combat system is fast-paced and fun while retaining the three type of attack affinities of Slash, Strike, and Pierce to encourage swapping between allies on the fly in order to exploit enemy weaknesses (as introduced in Ys Seven). What is disappointing, however, is that combat feels considerably more easy, and generally less skillful, than most traditional Ys titles even on higher difficulties. While some bosses have neat tricks up their sleeve the less health they have you can pretty easily brute force most fights through the game's rather generous approach to healing items. It almost feels like overkill to have access to tools like a Bayonetta-styled dodge or a ''Flash Guard' that completely medicates damage, though I am sure it can be argued for the previous two games as well. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana clearly puts a bigger emphasis on exploration, town-building, and storytelling while combat is a means to an end while doing so. Very much like Ys VIII: Memories of Celceta there's a slight Metroid-ish approach to exploration as you gain new traversal skills, like double-jumping or the ability climbs vines, or by removing obstacles in environment based on the more survivors you find. It is neat, though; after a certain amount of time exploration feels more like an act of compulsion than genuine wonderment, like one would experience in likes of something like Xenoblade Chronicles, because of how little variability there actually is to the terrain. This is further devalued by stopgap moments like excessive storytelling scenes as well. Strangely enough, there is abnormally large emphasis on storytelling and it is not, well... particularly good. I am not sure why Falcom continues to put in long-winded stories into Ys games that also manage to be so totally underwhelming and forgettable as well. It is made worse by much of the awkward script where phrases like 'Evolution' and 'Energy' are treated like high level concepts among the cast. No, I get it: Dinosaurs. No, I get it: the ancient civilization had special powers. We don't need to be talking about this for half an hour. Less would certainly be more in the case of the storytelling for Lacrimosa of Dana, although ironically the PS4 version apparently adds even more cutscenes to it... As one may guess, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is not really a cohesive game. I'm not necessarily talking about the presentation either, which runs well enough on the portable despite noticeable slowdown. I simply mean there are a lot of concepts, ideas, and gameplay systems but none of them really excel enough to detract from what should be the series that is at its best when it has focused and fast-paced action-RPG gameplay. There is simply random feature creep for just the sake of it. Sure, you can do fetch-quests, catch fish, or keep hoping the main story will get better over time but... why? Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana explores a new direction for Falcom's beloved series. With its satisfying combat, and rewarding sense of exploration, it could have easily succeeded just on that front. And yet, it is bogged down at its attempt to add more with consistently dull storytelling that remains way too long-winded throughout as well other not fully-fleshed gameplay systems, like a certain town-defense mini game, that surface many unnecessary stopgaps to the game's sense of a exploratory flow. It is certainly fun to play but one can not help but feel it would have been better off if its goals of exploring Seiren Island were simply more focused. Pros + Fun, zippy combat system + Town-building and exploration aspects are neat + Amazing soundtrack Cons - Storytelling and cast are quite dull - Not a whole lot of variation in the actual environments - General difficulty feels more tuned for attrition than actual skill - Stopgap pacing that does not allow many of the gamelay systems to really shine on their own Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana plays with the series formula in a lot of ways and while it is not entirely successful in its execution, nor pacing, it still manages to be a fun action-RPG Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher.
  2. Developer: Nippon Ichi Software Publisher: NIS America Platforms: PS Vita, PS TV Release Date:February 24, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen Lumen and Umbra. Polarities such as these help illuminate the primary themes for Vita's newest puzzle-focused exclusive: htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. It is a creative concept brought to light by a designer behind the popular strategy-RPG series Disgaea and it attempts to make its deceptively dark presence known on the often overlooked Sony handheld hardware. Whether this chronicle actually deserves to be written upon anyone“s Vita system, however, is another story. The adventure has very little in the way of direct exposition. The young girl Mion wakes up in what seems like some sort of dark underground facility and shortly thereafter encounters two fireflies. These two fireflies: a green one referred to as Lumen; and also the purple firefly, Umbra, who presides in Mion's shadow; both attempt to help guide the strangely obedient Mion through these unknown depths. Both fireflies are the crux of its puzzle-focused gameplay with its light platformer elements in-between. Lumen very directly guides Mion where to go and is controlled via touchscreen in the foreground, while Umbra is controlled by the Vita's back touchpad, and moves about from shadow to shadow in the background. You control both separately depending on the circumstance to navigate the terrain in a mostly linear fashion. For example, you may use Lumen to direct Mion to climb ladders or push boxes/switches, while Umbra can trigger normally inaccessible objects from afar when moving between various shadows. Beyond light and dark comparisons, disparities is a recurring theme in almost every facet of the title, even down its aesthetic. The visuals will probably seem cute and innocent despite the bleak setting. Well, until you see Mion mangled by shadow monsters, sliced by saws, accidentally hit by boulders, incinerated by flames, or fall to her death. While the visuals do tend to cut out just before it gets into gory territory, the implied imagery in The Firefly Diary is definitely much more unsettling than it leads on to be from a first glance. Yet, it is for that reason that the presentation manages to be so distinct, because it balances two such different tones with one captivating 2D style. Even if, unfortunately for Mion, it feels like everything in the world is out to kill her, and it frankly shall—many times. If it wasn't obvious already, HtoL#NiQ is a very, very difficult game. No, really, I don“t think you fully understand. I had a PSN trophy congratulating me on dying one hundred times less than halfway through the main campaign. I dare not think about my total death count by the time I finished it. Of course, higher difficulty is not inherently bad, and the Vita is no stranger to challenging titles like Dokuro, or plenty of other ports like with 1001 Spikes. Problem is, HtoL#NiQ is not as good as either of those as a game and it is difficult for all of the wrong reasons, and this is made more obvious in regards to its cheap level-design and disjointed control scheme. Puzzles and platforming situations have brief bits of novelty with their occasional variety in theme but are quite frustrating in execution. It's not even that the puzzles themselves are tricky, they are either completely obvious or feel kind of random. But, what makes the gameplay go from middling to awful at times is the awkward, unwieldy controls and the incredibly strict trial-and-error design that just doesn't work with it. Difficult games tend to work when the controls are spot-on and there is skillful level-design around it, but this title has neither. On the most basic level, there is simply a jarring slowness/lack of responsiveness to moving Lumen around and having Mion (very slowly) follow behind to the gameplay that becomes increasingly more apparent over time, and will be the source of most player deaths. That, and inconsistent boss fights and the generally unfair feeling level design. Some of the most egregious examples of level design are probably two repeating segments that are almost guaranteed leave most players stuck. The first offensive portion is when you control only Lumen after being separated from Mion. However, Lumen cannot touch anything without dying during these segments, including walls. The already questionable responsiveness and the level's obnoxious automatic screen-scrolling is bad enough, but your own hand can easily obscure navigation in these segments as well if playing via touchscreen. The second is that for nearly an entire chapter later of the game, in which there are four of (five if we include "True End" content), the title completely reverses the controls (for no real rhyme or reason behind it) for what is an already difficult part. If it weren't for the somewhat frequent checkpoints these parts would be near unmanageable. Even if you were smart enough to choose one of the different control schemes (one centered around using the analog), and certain portions were less glaring, I don't think htoL#NiQ is compelling enough on its own as a game. As stated before, most puzzles don't feel smart or satisfying, they are just strict trial and error based that love to toss at least one unfair gimmick before reaching the next checkpoint. And, for whatever narrative intrigue that is hidden through out-of-the-way unlocks, or rather "memories", it is not really worth the hassle of repeating certain levels just to see the true ending when playing through them once is already too much. Honestly, there isn't a whole lot that is worthwhile in htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary aside from those starving to try something that looks different. Whatever interest it piques through its captivating presentation and dark setting it botches it nearly every step of the way with its incredibly poor control scheme and frustrating, unsatisfying level design. I can respect that Nippon Ichi wanted to try something beyond their over-the-top RPG comfort zone, and it feels like they were on the right track, but perhaps with more controlled guidance lighting htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary's way, it would've been much better for it. Pros: + Captivating setting that mixes both cute and disturbing + Light and dark fireflies lend themselves to interesting puzzle mechanics Cons: - Extremely clumsy, unwieldy controls for touchscreen in particular - Infuriating level design/bosses that generally feel cheap - Way too many hurdles required to unlock the "True End" - Mion moves and reacts really slow… Overall Score: 4.5 (out of 10) Below Average Whatever intrigue that is built up from htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary's captivating setting and visual style are completely lost due to its frustrating controls, cheap level design/bosses, and generally unsatisfying gameplay. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher.
  3. Developer: Gust Corporation Publisher: Tecmo Koei Platform: PlayStation 3 Release Date: March 5, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen For the past few years, the long-running Atelier franchise has been one of the very few series that I don't mind playing in annual doses. These strange RPG titles blend a focus on unconventional item-crafting with light-hearted character interactions, while also making very significant improvements with each PS3 release. As much as I enjoyed the previous PS3 games (well, minus Rorona), it was about time for Gust to break away from the Arland trilogy of games with a new setting and characters. Fortunately for me, Atelier Ayesha does just that by being a completely independent title and having a more approachable overall structure. The question is: Does it do enough to appeal to a wider audience as well as satiate fans of the most recent releases? Meet the young apothecary, Ayesha Altugle, who lives by herself crafting medicine after her grandfather and, more recently, sister passed away. Upon visiting her sister's grave, who was believed to be spirited away three years ago, Ayesha notices a silent phantom figure that resembled her sister, Nio, before it shortly disappears. An elderly alchemist who happened to nearby, Keithgriff, notices the strange occurrence and tells her that it was quite possibly no coincidence at all and her sister may very well still be alive. Ayesha fails to press too much information out of Keith, however, who only tells her vaguely that if she wants to possibly save her sister she must pursue alchemy and uncover the mystery behind special glowing flowers within three years time otherwise she will forever lose any chance of seeing Nio again. In contrast to the most recent PS3 Atelier games, which were usually overwhelming bubbly and energetic from the get-go, Atelier Ayesha starts with a surprisingly bleaker overall tone. In terms of setting, there are hints of constant decay across the region and the disappearance of Nio serve as lingering undertones throughout. Of course, the game doesn't get oppressively morbid by any means, and it is certainly more whimsical than most games with its character interactions alone, but it is an interesting, albeit subtle, tonal shift from the earlier games. Unfortunately, the storytelling itself isn't as intriguing as it is built up to be in the long run, and interesting aspects about the setting are not fully touched upon, possibly reserved for the upcoming Atelier Esha & Logy, but it does earn itself some endearing moments through its characters and interactions. As for the gameplay, the various events and character interactions Ayesha encounters meshes together to help structure the game. By gaining 'memories' they will open various benefits throughout the game, like stat increases, alchemy recipes exploration bonuses, and much more, and it serves as an interesting replacement for Atelier Meruru's kingdom development system. Ayesha can also chronicle these events in her diary through the use of 'memory points' to reap even more benefits. Memory points are generally gained through exploration, completing quests, synthesizing, and defeating monsters. In conjunction with storytelling and gameplay, this facet melds together rather cohesively, especially when working towards the many endings and narrative events. During Ayesha's journey she will also traverse across the region. Navigation is simple with a straightforward overworld map through the various locales, with time passing as Ayesha explores and travels to new areas. Contrary to the narrative, the game is also less pressing time-wise than previous Atelier games, due to its more ambiguous objectives and structure, which is probably rather welcoming for newcomers. In addition to expanding the narrative, traveling allows Ayesha to gather new items for synthesizing and to fight various monsters in a simple turn-based combat system. The combat system of Ayesha seems to utilize some familiar framework of the Arland trilogy, with support meters that build up through a battle: so party members can defend, follow-up attacks, status enhancing skills, and use devastating finishing moves during combat. New to Atelier Ayesha, however, is an extra layer of depth, with a positioning based system where allies can attack from behind, side, and, of course, the front of enemies. While it does sound like an improvement overall, I think it takes a couple steps back from the pace of Atelier Meruru. Battles and attack animations are quite noticeable slower (and less flashy) than Meruru's, and Ayesha herself feeling less useful in combat. Considering Atelier Ayesha's lack of difficulty and the relatively simple combat, the slower combat system feesl like one step forward, and two steps back, like much of the game in general. Through the use of Alchemy, or rather, the act of synthesizing, makes for an important aspect of the Atelier series and Atelier Ayesha isn't too different, in theory. Having said that, synthesizing is a bit more contrived and not as integral in this Atelier compared to the Arland trilogy. The quantity and quality of item forging isn't as important, that isn't necessarily a bad thing for newcomers who just want to meet the bare minimum for quests, but it is actually less intuitive than previous games for veteran synthesizers. Deeper nuances of crafting feel restricted until Ayesha raises her skills a fair bit and gains much better quality ingredients. A bigger problem is that, alchemy really feels like it is much less purposeful in general, since it mainly used for basic quest design for revenue, and its overall benefits feeling much more passive compared to what I found to be the much more actively rewarding Atelier Meruru. One of my bigger nitpicks is with the clumsy design for town based quests or 'delivery requests'. While the goal/task/log interface is intuitive for more story/character pertinent missions, or objectives in various other locations, the local quests or 'delivery requests' in towns are never marked. So the game pretty much expects you to remember what NPCs wanted what. I know I said alchemy doesn't feel as important, since it isn't exactly for anything beyond town requests, but it is the main means of obtaining specific items for the NPCs. Players will definitely want the funds from delivery requests since they are the game's most consistent source of revenue. Considering how there is quite a few delivery requests with deadlines and several towns, it seems like a needless annoyance to not have it noted when the general interface is done rather well. It's apparent that Atelier Ayesha isn't a very high budget title if you go by looks alone, with that in mind, I do appreciate the new shift in art direction. The prude in me appreciates the more conservatively dressed character designs who actually have pretty faithful character models to complement it. Though, almost to contrast, the environments are still very stark and bland throughout, with the few exceptions of the visual vibrancy with certain flowers motifs for presentation. On the audio front, Atelier Ayesha has an excellent musical score, and is almost in a different league comparison to the Arland trilogy, and it plays with a bunch of musical styles. The soundtrack is a real treat overall from whimsical waltz-like themes, toe-tapping worthy jazzy tracks, to the more stirring and foreboding choruses. Voice acting is also not bad, but has some drawbacks, primarily due to budget constraints. Compared to the Japanese release there is significantly less recorded voice acting overall, and the dub in general relegated to English-only with no Japanese alternative, which that alone incited some unfortunate internet controversy. Taken all into account, however, Atelier Ayesha does some seriously impressive stuff with the soundtrack, and even the English dub is decent too for the most part despite its constraints. Atelier Ayesha is both a pleasant diversion and also a disappointing departure from what the previous Arland trilogy established. While the change in tone, setting, characters, and presentation are most certainly welcome, I feel like it takes a noticeable step back as a game with a far less engaging and rewarding structure, especially in comparison to Atelier Meruru. It makes for a more approachable Atelier game, but not necessary the most entertaining. It's definitely a good game in its own right, but I can only hope that the upcoming Atelier Escha & Logy takes some cues from the Arland trilogy, while capitalizing and fully-expanding upon the things Atelier Ayesha tried to do different. Pros: + Likable characters and some endearing scenes + Pleasant new art direction + Plenty of things to do and is the most approachable PS3 game in the series + Excellent soundtrack and decent English voice acting Cons: - Battles are too slow considering their simplicity and game“s lack of difficulty - Narrative and setting are underutilized - Alchemy/Synthesizing is not very rewarding... for series built on it - Clumsy quest interface Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Atelier Ayesha is both charming for what it tries to do different as well as disappointing for what it doesn't do quite as well. While it isn't necessarily the most engaging game in the series, it is the most approachable PS3 title and it will hopefully serve as a solid foundation for the upcoming Atelier Escha & Logy. A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
  4. barrel

    Review: The Guided Fate Paradox

    Developer: Nippon Ichi Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS3 Release Date: November 5, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review As a big fan of turn-based Strategy-RPGs, one of my favorite things about gaming in 2013 is how the sub-genre has proven that there is an actual audience for it. Fire Emblem: Awakening hit roughly 400,000 units earlier this year, and companies like Nippon Ichi (or NIS) are able to craft a follow-up to their most highly-regarded SRPG, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, with the recent release of Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness. Heck, even other niche subgenres, like roguelikes, have had their time to shine this year with surprise hits like Rogue Legacy. Nippon Ichi made a bold attempt by trying to culminate the appeal of both of roguelikes and SRPGs with their newest IP: The Guided Fate Paradox. Should this curious new IP from Nippon Ichi be left in the shadow of the recent and more widely-adored older brother Disgaea D2, or does it deserve to, as the main protagonist would say: "Guide your fate to a revolution!" by playing it? The story of The Guided Fate Paradox focuses on Renya, a normal high school student who makes it quite apparent that he has terrible luck at winning lotteries of any sort. Despite this, at a local mall he is dragged aside by a cute girl who looks like an angel (and actually is) by the name of Lilliel to participate in the “lottery machine of destiny”. The prize? Becoming “God," of course, which Renya just so happens to win against all odds. Upon obtaining his new job title he is gently whisked to Celestia (the Nippon-Ichi equivalent of Heaven), and is immediately forced to deign in various work in Celestia. Even so, the grand prize of being “God” is anything but fun and games, as he must help fulfill the wishes of many believers at any cost through various taxing ordeals, otherwise he is threatened to be ”consumed“ for unknown reasons. Common for NIS stuff, the narrative definitely goes into strange tangents as Renya tries to guide believers' wishes throughout the story: like viewing the tale of Cinderella through a very different perspective to even helping a weakling zombie build up their self-esteem. All are but a few tasks that the newly apprised “God” will tackle throughout each narrative act. Contrary to the expected Nippon Ichi silliness, though, the narrative does blend its more serious storytelling in well too as it progresses, which I frankly haven“t seen since the likes of Soul Nomad & The World Eaters. Honestly, I usually feel like most NIS game stories tend to be obsessed with simply chasing the next over-the-top, fourth wall breaking joke, especially recent Disgaea stuff, and Guided Fate tones it down by having a more focused narrative. There is narrative intrigue that is built up throughout and it utilizes some surprisingly dark themes, but is also rather aware to not take itself too seriously with its frequent uses of humor. While I don“t think it quite hits the narrative strides of something like Soul Nomad does in the long-run, since it falls on some narrative tropes and feels rather bloated with exposition at times, but it“s still a refreshing change in tone from more recent Nippon-Ichi RPGs. Despite having quite a different setting and overall tone, the gameplay of The Guided Fate Paradox is very much a spiritual successor to Z.H.P: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman (yes, that is the real name) on the PSP, but it expands Z.H.P.'s gameplay structure quite a bit. Much like that game, the best way to describe The Guided Fate Paradox's gameplay is that of a roguelike with the mindset and strategic options of a turn-based SRPG. Admittedly, I'm generally not enamored by roguelikes nowadays, mainly because there often is no sense of persistence and a simple RNG (random number generator) formula can make whatever endeavors you attempted to achieve a waste of time or pretty much outright impossible. The Guided Fate Paradox fixes both of those personal complaints with its gameplay structure but also brings the improvisation that many roguelikes have with their gameplay. To train the fledgling deity, Renya is put to the test in the "Fate Revolution Circuit", a highly-advanced piece of machinery that streamlines the wish-granting procedure while also making him stronger in the process. By going through various procedurally generated dungeons and destroying aberrations (monsters), Renya works step by step to guide the believer's wish. While the dungeons themselves are randomly created, they all have a different theme for each narrative chapter: like one where Renya must traverse via a raft and manipulate water levels to move on, to even a scrolling stage that is being devoured by fog, which hurts the player but also strengthens monsters if they touch it, encouraging them to be mobile but also being aggressive when killing foes. If there is one thing I really respect about this game, it's how much it tries to change things up with its gameplay and mechanics: like boss encounters with unique strategies to creative battle scenarios. For example, one early game fight has Renya essentially participate in a large scale tower-defense battle: firing cannons to hit enemies from afar, knocking down ladders, or personally dealing with enemies, to push-back an onslaught of enemy forces. Did I mention this is just a one-time thing? Of course, Renya is anything but an invincible deity right from the get-go, and because of this he must get stronger through the use of the Fate Revolution Circuit. Also, in true roguelike fashion, Renya starts every dungeon at level one, and if he dies he loses all of the items he had on him as well as half of his money. Fret not though, like I mentioned, there is consistent progress here much like in Z.H.P, or a more recent and much more loose comparison, Rogue Legacy. Even though the consequences of dying are sort of brutal, no effort when dungeon-crawling is wasted because everything contributes to Renya getting stronger. Whether or not Renya successfully completes a dungeon, miserably dies, or wisely escapes uses an "Exit" item when overwhelmed, Renya gets an increase to his "total level" which raises all of his base stats based on how much progress he made. In addition, there is also the "Divinigram", which is also used to further compound Renya's, or any of the Angels who accompany him, stats as well as making them more resilient to status ailments, strengthening parts of their body (to directly correspond with making equipment more powerful), stronger against certain foes, and more. Both the "Divinigram" and the "Burst" mechanics play off each other in an integral way. As Renya, or his angel allies, continue to progress in dungeons, their equipment gets stronger the more often they use it, that is up until it "Bursts." The burst mechanic reverts equipment to its default stats, unless it is strengthened at the Blacksmith, so it takes longer to reach the "Burst" status, but you also receive a stat tile piece to place on the "Divinigram" based on the equipment type. The Divinigram is sort of like a much more deep/versatile version of FFX's Sphere grid, where you place down specific stat tiles, whether it be defense, attack, speed(/evasion), or hit (%), which you gain from Bursts, among a large board. To add an extra layer of depth, the player can manipulate "god energy" on the Divinigram which flows through the stat panels and can be used to boost individual attributes based on the "holy artifacts" on the the Divinigram. It sounds really complicated, but really, it just means you should actively use different pieces of equipment until they Burst to reap new panels to further increase Renya's or the angel's stats and, can/should, organize them in a certain way so they can get even stronger beyond that. Guided Fate also eases you into these mechanics gradually, so your brain doesn't explode learning how these nuances work, or leave you to fend for yourself, as with many other NIS RPGs. In general, It's a very rewarding system that makes room for a lot of customization and makes this game quite a bit more approachable than most other NIS properties, and is much less deliberately grindy as well because of it. If I have one real complaint towards The Guided Fate Paradox, it is probably in its replay value in comparison to other NIS properties. The title certainly has more to work towards than most RPGs in the long-run, with a few very challenging and time-consuming optional dungeons to take on and some neat Easter eggs for NIS fans to notice too, but unlike other NIS stuff it doesn't feel like you've barely scratched the surface after beating the main story. The narrative also has a pretty concrete (and admittedly, sort of underwhelming) singular ending, meaning there is no post-game (it does have new-game-plus where you maintain your progress, though), and it doesn't have divergent narrative paths as seen with titles like Soul Nomad. Even if I enjoyed the game a lot, and will continue to chip away at the optional content, it is a little disappointing considering how I wish there was a bit more incentive to go crazy with stat grinding late-game. As I work towards it, maybe I can hope for an eventual enhanced Vita port with more post-game content, like recent Disgaea ports, considering how the game was originally intended to be released on that system? To my surprise, the usual Tenpei Sato does not reprise his music compositional role in what seems like every NIS title; instead we get to see the work of a Japanese Gothic rock band by the name of Yosei Teikoku, which some anime fans may recognize their work when doing the first opening song for Mirai Nikki (or Future Diary). Personally, I was really caught off guard by the sheer variety and quality of the overall soundtrack, which really played on my expectations of what I“d expect it to be, even after being vaguely familiar with the band's previous work. Sure, there are some intense, J-Rock tracks for some specific battle themes but there is even more songs that very much atmospheric and complements game's heavenly, and at times hellish, setting. Another pleasant surprise I found was with the English dub of the game, which I found myself much preferring over the Japanese counterpart. Also, to my surprise, the dub was full of voice actors I didn't recognize, considering how I'm more well-versed than I should be with them. In general, the audio design is great in The Guided Fate Paradox, especially on the musical front. If you asked me recently about how I felt about Nippon Ichi games, I'd be hesitant to say I am a big fan their products, despite playing most of their localized properties and enjoying titles like Disgaea 4, Soul Nomad, and Z.H.P. If you asked me how I felt about the company after playing The Guided Fate Paradox, however, I would sing a very different and much more positive overall tune towards them. Guided Fate is a constantly rewarding, deep, challenging, and intriguing mix of both SRPG and roguelike elements on the PS3. Even in a year where fans of SRPGs were graced by the excellent Fire Emblem: Awakening, or that of roguelikes with Rogue Lagacy, The Guided Fate Paradox ascends above as not only my favorite NIS title, but also my personal favorite example of both SRPG and roguelike this year with its fantastic gameplay hybrid. Pros: + Intriguing narrative that blends humor and serious storytelling well + Varied dungeon design with some creative boss fights + Great soundtrack and solid English dub + Strategic and challenging gameplay that constantly encourages the player to change things up + Deep with RPG customization that is constantly rewarding Cons: - Story scenes are occasionally a bit bloated with exposition with some predictable plot points - Doesn“t quite have the replay value of other NIS SRPGs Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic The Guided Fate Paradox expertly blends both Strategy-RPG and roguelike into one very finely tuned algorithm that should more than satiate fans of either.
  5. barrel

    The Guided Fate Paradox

    From the album: The Guided Fate Paradox

    © http://adala-news

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    From the album: The Guided Fate Paradox

    © http://nisamerica.com/

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    From the album: The Guided Fate Paradox

    © http://nisamerica.com/

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    From the album: The Guided Fate Paradox

    © http://nisamerica.com/

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    From the album: The Guided Fate Paradox

    © http://nisamerica.com/

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    From the album: The Guided Fate Paradox

    © http://nisamerica.com/

  11. Kezins

    Best Disgaea D2 Trailer So Far

    It's in Japanese but it really shows the game off and has me excited! http://youtube.com/watch?v=WMEue8n6WkI
  12. NIS America made an announcement today detailing three games would be receiving the localization treatment this year. All things considered, some of the games aren't exactly ones fans may have expected, but it is great to see NISA tackling more titles. Of the three, just one seemed like a sure bet. As you might expect, this is Disgaea Dimension 2: A Brighter Darkness. This continuation of the Disgaea series sees lead character Laharl apparently turn into a woman. Next is Imageepoch's Time and Eternity. The RPG also has DLC episodic content which NIS has also confirmed they will localize. The Guided Fate Paradox is the final game announced so far which actually happens to be a spiritual successor to Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman. Unfortunately, none of the games have release dates yet but they are expected to come out in the Fall. Pricing info was also sporadic, but Time and Eternity has been pegged at $50 for either a retail or digital version. Perhaps the other two games will follow this example. Here are trailers for each: Are you excited for any of these new PS3 RPGs?
  13. Marcus Estrada

    Disgaea 1 and 2 Making Way to PSN

    If you have never played 2003's Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, then you're not alone. Although the game was quite loved, it initially squeaked by with a small print run. Eventually, it became less rare but it has been years since then. Similarly, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories in 2006 had a larger audience, but still skipped some SRPG radars. If you just never got around to finding a copy then NIS is set to make your day. They have announced that both the first and second games in the series are coming to PSN. Although both games have had ports to various systems such as PSP and DS, this may be a way some prefer to nab them. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness will be available on this Tuesday (tomorrow!). Then you'll be given a lone week to push through the game as Disgaea 2 will arrive the following week on the 22nd. Both PS2 Classics are priced at $10. Do you like the Disgaea series?
  14. Marcus Estrada

    NIS Enters Guinness Book of World Records

    When you think of Nippon Ichi Software (NIS), the first thing that comes to mind is probably strategy RPGs. Well, that and a horribly cute penguin mascot. NIS's determination to release as many games in one specific genre as possible are finally being recognized. Today it was announced that the company has been inducted into the Guinness Book of Wold Records. This award is for having released the most SRPG games from 2003 onward. This is an interesting distinction because other companies have bested them in total SRPGs released overall (such as Banpresto's Super Robot Wars series). Between 2003 and 2009 though NIS managed to pump out 14 SRPGs, which is pretty impressive. It is doubtful that the award will change any of their operations. NIS is currently working on their next SRPG, Disgaea Dimension 2, and afterward are probably set to develop another.
  15. Today NIS America made a handful of announcements to coincide with Tokyo Game Show. Via their official blog they announced two upcoming titles to be released in the US for 2013. These titles are Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and Generations of Chaos: Pandora's Reflection. The latest Hyperdimension Neptunia game is the third in the series and is still a PS3 exclusive. Instead of focusing on more modern eras of gaming, Victory takes players back to the world of Gamindustri in the 80s. There's no specific date set yet but right now it's pegged for a "Spring 2013" timeframe. To coincide with this, they will also launch a Neptunia iPhone App. It doesn't seem to actually help the game any but just let you take photos with the characters Neptune, Noire, and a few other things. The next title is Generation of Chaos: Pandora's Reflection. The game will be available only as a digital download for PSP but at least it has a tighter release date. Expect to see it on PSN this coming February. Fans of strategy RPGs should give this one a look even if they weren't aware of the last Generation of Chaos release on PSP back in 2006. NIS also announced that they will be bringing Persona 4 Golden to Europe in 2013. However, most of us will probably be picking that up with the US launch on November 20th. Are you looking forward to any of these games?
  16. Leah

    Atelier Meruru Limited Edition

    From the album: Leah's News Images

    © nis america