A tyrannical nation is invading a smaller, less militarized country in order to eliminate its citizens. You are a hero trying to save that country, by reaching out to potential allies and fighting the good fight on the frontline. By battling monsters and enemy soldiers, the hero grows stronger with each skirmish, gaining more and more confidence along the way. But the war is still ongoing and the longer it drags on, more innocents will be exposed to the pain and suffering that accompanies it.
So why am I currently sitting in a hot spring trying to woo over my female companions? Isn’t there a bloody war going on? Shouldn’t we be helping people? Geez, we must have a lot of spare time on our hands. No wonder the war has lasted this long.
Developed by Compile Heart out of Japan, Agarest: Generations of War is a strategy-RPG that follows five generations of male protagonists as they seek to bring peace to the world. Each hero is confronted with a new quest that in some way causes chaos, and he goes on a journey to gather companions and solve the problem at hand. Very traditional fantasy tropes and clichés are present throughout the story, yet it is not so much of a detriment as it is an expectation. If you were looking for an innovative and original story, please continue your search for another game that will satisfy your definitions.
Yet what Agarest lacks in terms of story it makes up for in how it is structured. Put simply, as you play through the game you have to romance and win over the hearts of at least one of your female companions in each generation. Whomever you choose in each generation affects both how the next protagonist will look like and what kind of character archetype they operate under. Romance a rogue in the first generation and the protagonist in the second generation will wear a red suit of armor and wield daggers in battle. And since Agarest contains multiple fantasy races, including multiple kinds of elves, your children will inherit characteristics of those races should you choose one of them for marriage.
It is a great, albeit limited feature that helps Agarest stand out from other RPG’s currently on the market. But one of the main difficulties that I encountered when reviewing the game stems from the dating sim elements that are incorporated into the story. Agarest contains content, especially during the romance scenes, that could be classified as erotic. Now in practice, the most erotic content that can be found within the game is a shot of cleavage or female characters wearing skimpy outfits that have no practical use. It’s most definitely not a game that could be rated PG, yet it’s not even close to being called a porn game.
So what’s the problem with that? If the content is not pornographic, why do you need to worry? Because by not tilting to one extreme or the other, Agarest ends up feeling like it’s trying to have the best of both worlds. It wants to be edgy, but also wants to be tame in order to obtain a larger audience. This means that the more adult scenes ended up feeling extremely childish, and makes them laughable in their attempts to be mature.
Beyond the romantic elements within the game, Agarest is from top to bottom your classic strategy RPG. You move around the world map via nodes that connect towns and fields together, and you enter battles either through random encounters in dungeons or entering battle nodes that are found on the map. Battles themselves are based around chaining together attacks between allies in order to create special combo attacks that deal more damage or to simply use as many attacks as possible to eliminate an enemy quickly. It’s functional combat that encourages experimentation and repetition in order to hone your skills. More often than not, however, I found myself rushing through battles in order to experience more of what the story has to offer.
Unfortunately, the story happens to move at an extremely slow pace. Whenever I encountered a story node in the first act for example, I received anywhere from one to five minutes of talking before being forced to spend 15 minutes in battles in order to reach the next cut scene. If the story didn’t move like a sloth, I would be far more inclined to enjoy the battles which make up the core of the game.
Another detriment to the battle system is the incredibly lackluster terrain in which you fight on. Every map is on a flat grid with no height or terrain advantages to speak of, meaning everyone fights on the same flat plain no matter what. And while the background may change from say a forest to a mountain every so often, it doesn’t help the fact that it remains remarkably boring. The characters and their sprites themselves are far more detailed, and they remain a constant positive at every point in the game.
Agarest: Generations of War has an interesting central concept that never manages to create anything special with the tools it has available. While the dating sim portions of the game do succeed, even if they are overly awkward, the slow pace of the storyline combined with a lack of clear innovation does more harm than good. But, if you want to play an RPG that will last you an extremely long time, and are unconcerned with its pace, then you could do far worse than this.
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