Wow, what a game! As much my thirteen year old self would hate to hear this, I'm not the gamer that I used to be. Fifteen years later, now an adult with a full time job, I don't have the devotion for gaming as much as I used to have. This game though allowed me to relive my experience of those days where I would stay up to the early hours of the morning, not at all concerned with sleep or the work that I had to be at in a few hours time.
I had recently picked this up on a sale. As it looked intriguing and was 75% off, I figured that I would give it a go. Going from its Metacritic store, I figured that it would be a 'Meh' kind of game. How wrong was I. This was easily the most enjoyment I've gotten out of a game this year.
Enough rambling, on with the review.
This is an action-RPG with a very satisfying combat system. Within minutes of starting, you're quickly thrown into it. Although the game has a story, a fairly good one at that, you won't be clicking through endless amounts of dull dialogue before you get to the action.
It's great fun as you run from screen to screen cutting down the monsters that face you. Although there is no way to heal on demand, when I first started playing, I didn't find this to be very challenging even on the normal difficulty, but it was still very satisfying.
When I reached the game's first boss, I got my ♥♥♥♥ handed to me, several times over. Here I initially thought that the game wasn't balanced properly. After a character level and learning the boss's patterns, I was finally able to get pass it, barely.
This is where that game's core challenge comes from; boss battles. Difficult but I wouldn't call them unfair. Once you're able to defeat them, you're bound to be able to repeat it. The game doesn't factor in luck much. It's a very rewarding experience to get through them.
In terms of playtime, it took me a little under 14.5 hours. I'm a gamer who tries to I try to find everything I can so it could probably be finished a lot quicker. In fact, there's an achievement to finish it in five hours or less. Could be completed over a weekend, or two in my case. To me, the length was just right, not too long nor too short.
Once completed, a boss battle mode is unlocked, and the game has five difficulty levels so it has some replayability. There's a number of side quests as well, some of which I somehow had missed so I'll be replaying it.
The game has a great soundtrack. Normally I'm not one to even notice this unless it's really good which I'm pleased to state is the case here.
I found the story to be better then the average JRPG. This is helped greatly with the range of characters, none of which are nameless or a palette swap of another, which are great contrasts to each other. The weakest would be protagonist who doesn't utter a word, with only a narrator describing his actions.
It's worth mentioning that for those who buy this, take a look at the forums as someone was able to extract the voices, which are only found in the PSP version of the game, working on this version which greatly adds to the game's atmosphere. It would be good if they're included by default though. Hopefully they'll be patched in in future.
With all the praise, it's not without its flaws though. This may not apply to the easy difficulty levels but I did spend a bit of time grinding. While cutting down monsters is fun, much more then a turn based RPG, when your EXP bar is rising very slowly, it can become repetitive.
You're bound to die a number of times on bosses. Mostly while trying to figure out their patterns and then some more after that. At times, I needed to take a break from this as it was becoming frustrating. On the other hand though, once you do get through them, it's very gratifying.
It's flaws are minor compared to the overall enjoyment I got from it though. I highly recommend this game.