Agarest is a shining example of JTRPG - Japanese Torture RPG
----(TL;DR? Now that I have done my playthrough, you can skip to the end of this review and find my summary, updates are left here to show how I got to those bullet points)
----Total playtime (so far): 50 hours.
- Time spent researching how to craft a skill/weapon on wikia: 15 hours.
- Time spent dealing with endless and often pointless battles: 15 hours.
- Time spent trying to keep characters on roughly the same level: 5 hours.
- Time spent navigating between shop/blacksmith/adventurer guild just to build an item: 5 hours.
- Time spent loading old save because blacksmith can randomly fail alchemy (this is a feature): 2 hours.
This left me with less than 10 hours of actual enjoyable gameplay, even less was spent on character development and plotline. Given the complexity of Agarest's various gameplay system, it's a real shame to find none of them produce the joy they intended.
So in the end, this is more like a piece of torture porn than anything else: Do it only if you are into this kind of stuff.
(unfortunately for me, 10+ years of JRPG experience has taught me the patience required to enjoy such sadistic gameplay, so expect update when I actually finish this damn game...)Update on 75 hours mark.
Finally done with 2nd generation (3 more to go), let me add some more comments:
1. Auto-battle is crucial yet miserable: there are many instances where you wish AI can take over the manual labor. But leaving it to its own devices, will consistently turn cakewalk battles into deadly struggles (no XP rewards for casualties).
2. Seriously, you need a true end guide: as with most role-playing, it might be tempting to play this game "your way". But Agarest couldn't care less about your preference, you will, because of the tight requirement for CG/event trigger, miss out on 50~80% of actual content.
3. Less than 10% players ever manage to get the achievement for completing 2nd generation (just completing it will grant you that achievement). I think this goes to show many reviewers have not given this game a long hard look before recommending...
4. Story-wise, Agarest is an ok game, there are moments that will redeem your manual labor (once again, use guide, or it may just be manual labor). Though I personally prefer more character development instead of "more new characters"...
My verdict still holds though: this is a game for the persistent fools, such as myself.Update on 110 hours mark.
With Gen 3 over, time for some personal thought:
1. Auto-battle is useless at this point. AI controlled team will pile on the same monster, over-overkilling it for no good reason, leaving the rest of enemies free to attack.
2. Avoid battles as much as possible, there is no fun in setting up the same combo routine every time.
3. Stop grinding for levels, under normal difficulty just a minimal walkthrough will give you enough experience, given you stick with the same 4/5 non-heroine members.
4. On the other hand, spend some quality time on crafting and researching, they bring in far more stats than leveling up. And save before handing your hard-earned materials to blacksmith's random algorithm.
5. Number of players managed to finish Gen 3? 3.5% of total players
6. Oh yes, there are unlockable CGs to fill my sored & empty heart, but the requirements are often strict and weird: this heroine has too high an affection for you, so you DON'T get to see her CG, what?
Unless you have 1000+ free hours at hand to experiment with its magical dialog tree and light/dark meter, your best bet is the True end guide: even though the guide will force you into picking choices you don't like (so that True end and CGs are unlockable...)
Alright, onwards to Gen 4.
-----Review summary (on 158 hours mark).
I have finally got to the true ending (on normal mode), it's time to reflect on my journey with Agarest.What I Like:
- The subtitle "Generations of War" is aptly named, this game does deliver a sense of longevity as player battles through continents.
- Vast number of well-designed characters.Unfortunately, these seemingly strong points result in larger flaws, both in terms of core mechanics and plot narrative:
- It should have been 30 hours, by spanning battles throughout 5 generations, only 1.7% of all players manage to got to an ending, less than half of them got to the true ending.
- Battles quickly became the main source of frustration, and in my opinion, not the good sort. Agarest follows the transitional "just one more boss" JPRG motto and by end of it, I was completely burnt out from grinding.
- When you have 5 Lead Actors and 15 Lead Actresses, lost of focus is unavoidable. Just as I got attached to a hero, another came along to replace him, in the end none of them really sticked with me.
- Agarest doesn't like players finding out their totally-awesome super-secret heroine events, unless you follow the perfect path to true ending, be prepared to miss out on a lot of them (I got only 49% after true end). Sadly number of unlockables != replay value.
- There are also minor issues preventing me from enjoying this game, such as combo system dependency on team formation, deep hierarchies on crafting system, subpar translation and that damn Blacksmith.
In the end, these drawbacks are bad enough to stop me from playing the next game in Agarest series (even though I have already bought it), at least not for now...
It's sad to see Agarest failed to deliver what it aimed to, and sadder for me still, to admit that metacritic scores (45/100) are probably well-deserved.All I can say at this point is: there are many games you can play for 150 hours instead of Agarest: Generations of War, and in hindsight, many of them might have been a better choice.