There is something to be said about Breath of Death VII, although I'm not sure what it is. On the surface, Breath is nothing more than a mediocre parody game, offering little in humor and even less in story. The characters are just barely charming enough to carry the player through, and while the settings can be interesting enough, only the main character serves to be anything more than 1-dimensional. The story doesn't do the genre justice, and leaves a lot to be desired in writing. Story is often the sole reason one plays a typical RPG, and its always dissapointing when that falls through.
Whatever you do, don't buy this game expecting a wry and witty parody to challenge your beliefs of modern gaming. Buy it because it's a wonderful game.
I can't begin to state how much I love the battle system in this game. Taking cues from Earthbound and Dragon Quest, Breath of Death implements a 1st person turnbased combat system that looks wildly archaic, but fits with the time its emulating. Like the games that inspired it, the enemy sprites are sparsely detailed, and there isn't even a backgroud to speak of. Attacks are picked from a sad little wall of text from the right, and give the damage and whatever status effects it might cause. No attacks are animated, save for the enemies flickering when being attacked. I wish I could make this sound more appealing, but the retro flavor fits the battles perfectly, allowing the player to focus on the numbers. If the thought of number watching turns you off, please, feel free to avoid at all costs, but I personally loved it.
Calculating attacks and knowing when to heal your characters is crucial. There is a sacrifice for every choice you make, and the game implements an engaging combo system that can make or break the tougher battles in the game. Believe it or not, combat is extremely fast paced for an RPG, as with every turn, the enemy's attacks become stronger. This is a non-issue with the earlier battles, but becomes a deciding factor in mid to late-tier encounters, especially bosses. If your usual plans involve delicately whittling down health while keeping yours up, prepare to have your butt handed to you. Your offense is the best defense, and the streamlined item selection saves you any micromanaging you'd usually worry about in other games.
After every battle, your health is completely recovered at no cost, and depending on how quickly you dispatched the opponent, a small amount of mana will be restored. In battle, mana is essential for getting out of a tight spot, but there is only so much, so use it wisely. Like mana, potions can be found throughout the game, and serve as an instant heal in battle, but are worth stocking up for the later battles. And as a rule with any classic RPG, save often, as you can save anywhere, so be warned; you will die in this game. Just when you think you've leveled well past the normal encounters, the difficulty spikes, so don't be afraid to grind.
In fact, the game rewards grinding, as each area offers only a finite number of encounters. As an added bonus, you can initiate an encounter at any time on the menu, so you could get all the fights out of the way and then explore the new enviornment at your leisure. Of course, you could go the classic way and enjoy the occasional random encounter, but I found the freedom to choose a very considerate nod to the player.
Grinding also opens the lovely door of the level-up, which is handled ingeniously throughout. A tiered system takes place, with every level gained offering a choice. Sometimes its statistical, choosing health over magic, for example, but on occassion, moves can be chosen. This is where the game shines in replay value, as there are numerous branching paths that expand organically as you evolve your characters throughout. Some moves only offer minor decisions, such as faster combo boosts over more power, but whenever I was challenged with taking a strong area attack over a single devastating blow, I would struggle. The amount of options are staggering and can lead character development in wild directions, but even then, I never felt the game become unbalanced.
Replay value can also be found within this game, as there are multiple hidden dungeons and secret bosses that offer weapons and armor you can't find anywhere else in the game. That on top of the multiple difficulties and character customization, Breath of Death more than exceeds the measely 3$ dollar price tag. The game its bundled with is also considered rather good although I have yet to play it, so its hard for anyone to come away unsatisfied.
All in all, Breath of Death VII is worth your time no matter what you're looking for, as it welcomes both newcomers and veterans alike. Whether you're looking for a corny in-joke or an engaging combat system, this game is definitely worth giving a shot.
Thanks for reading!