Publisher: JAST USA
Release Date: Out now
Visual novels and dating sims seem to be getting more popular with excellent games popping up recently such as Katawa Shoujo and Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. Although Aselia the Eternal is a bit older, it still might be worth a look to fans just now getting into the genre and those who have been playing these types of games for a while. Not just because it’s a visual novel or dating sim, either. Aselia the Eternal brings many different elements to the table that makes it an incredibly unique game.
Let’s clarify something here. What do I mean by those different elements? Well, Aselia the Eternal is not just a visual novel where you’re able to romance girls of your choosing. It’s also an RPG—a strategy RPG, in fact! It’s this interesting combination that really makes the game worth looking into. We’ll dabble into the SRPG gameplay in a bit, though.
Aselia the Eternal’s story alone makes the game something that visual novel fans should check out. Basically, you are a Japanese high school student named Yuuto Takamine who lives alone with his little stepsister. Having seemingly made a previous “contract” to have his sister’s life saved when they were both young, they are both taken away to a mystical and distant land called Phantasmagoria. Kaori is held hostage and Yuuto most comply with his contract in order to free them both. He does so by taking up a very powerful sword and fighting alongside Spirits to protect Phantasmagoria from evil. It sounds extremely generic, but I promise you, explanations like this cannot do Aselia the Eternal’s story justice.
The story does have a slow beginning, though. It might be hard to trudge through, but once you’re summoned to Phantasmagoria, it gets tons better. Despite a sluggish start, you'll become completely engrossed once you're finally into the good part of the game's tale. You won't want to stop playing in order to find out what happens next. Sure, some moments may feel annoyingly clichéd and repetitive (especially with how much Yuuto whines about Kaori). But Aselia the Eternal’s story is just so unique, powerful, and emotional that such a problem is miniscule in comparison.
The characters do play a fantastic role in the story that Aselia the Eternal tells. They’ll grow on you quickly, especially your main girls like Aselia, Esperia, and Orpha. There’s no doubt you’ll come to appreciate Esperia due to her extreme politeness and niceness and come to adore Orpha due to her oh-so-sweet endearing nature and cuteness. The voice-acting in this game does a job well done when it comes to emphasizing the qualities of these characters. Voicing from those like Aselia feels so realistic and emotional, in spite of her quiet nature.
A little nitpick of mine that detracts my otherwise positive experience of Aselia the Eternal is the quality of artwork it presents. Sure, it’s originally an older game, but I’m not sure if that excuses some of the shoddy portraits some characters have (from what I’ve noticed, it’s more of a problem with the male characters than the female ones). On the contrary, the special scenes are gorgeous and I wish all the art had been drawn in this manner.
Enough of the story and characters though, right? I’m sure you’re particularly interested in the SRPG gameplay I mentioned earlier. I am going to make something known right off the bat, though, and that’s the fact that I have a hard time with SRPGs. I did very much enjoy Aselia the Eternal’s way of handling a strategic battle system, however, don’t get me wrong! It may be daunting and overwhelming when you finally get to your first battle stage (especially with how much you’ll need to make use of the multitude of menus), but by your second battle and onward, you’ll soon start to get the hang of things.
So how exactly does this battle system work? You’re going to have to pay special attention to who is in your squad (due to differences in movesets, of course) and what position your members are assigned (attacker, defender, and supporter). Once you enter battle, you have no control over anybody and simply sit back and watch (this is similar to Ogre Battle’s gameplay). As you progress through the game, more elements are thrown into the formula such as having to construct buildings and permanently losing certain squad members should you let them die (in this aspect, it’s also similar to Fire Emblem).
You’ll soon also need to be able to control four squads at a time. It’s a bit irritating having to slowly move one squad at a time across the map, though. And as much as I did like the SRPG gameplay and felt like it was an excellent portion of the game, I wish there was an “easy/casual” mode in Aselia the Eternal for those not interested in this aspect. Sometimes I just wanted to read through the story.
The game boasts that you’ll get a good 50+ hours of game time and it’s definitely not lying. That’s just with one playthrough garnering that many hours due to the SRPG aspect of the game, too. If you aim to get through all the routes and whatnot, you’ll probably be looking at investing a good couple of hundred hours into the game. It’s definitely a venture worth looking into if you’re a fan of both visual novels and SRPGs.
It’s wonderful seeing something from JAST USA that is for all-ages (for those not looking into getting something that has mature, adult content). Hopefully we do see more of this from them in the future. I’m also glad that they brought over Aselia the Eternal in particular, because it’s a gem of a visual novel and SRPG that you won’t forget.
+ Great and unique combination of visual novel and strategy RPG
+ SRPG gameplay has much depth to it that makes it fun to master
+ Engrossing, emotional story and loveable characters
- Battle system may be confusing and intimidating at first
- Subpar art quality for some character portraits
Overall: 8.5 (out of 10)
If you’re a fan of visual novels and/or SRPGs, give Aselia the Eternal a try and you’ll be promised an awesome package of a unique game.
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