<UPDATED 1/23/2014 - I got a bit passionate in my original review. In fairness to Hanako's hard work, I've made some updates to be more objective and offer better context.>
As someone who loves both deep strategy games and the cutesy anime aesthetic, I was super excited after seeing the trailer for LLTQ. This game has SO much potential to be great, and for the first few hours it was.
-Love the art and music
-The process of fiddling with your skills and moods and such is initially pretty fun
-I love the flavor text that accompanies all your class activities. It's really immersive going through the "process" of learning skills in that level of detail.
-Skill checks allow for lots of "little victories" that feel good, and the game makes it clear when you benefit from having the right skill. Elodie gets to have a lot of cool moments if you picked certain skills "correctly".
-It's difficult to figure out what "mood" I need to be in to get the right bonuses for the skills I want. UI could've been a lot better in this respect.
-Despite the wonderful buffet of choices offered in the UI, the game's strategy is actually very shallow. Most of these choices only affect optional story events and have no tangible impact on whether or not you win. Depending on your dialogue choices, it's possible to win with only 2 of the game's 42 skills leveled up.
-Because of the lack of meaningful skill choices, players who are interested in working out different strategies to win may quickly find themselves bored.
-The entire sequence of events happens on a fixed timeline, and unless you opt in to certain risks (whose rewards only affect your epilogue, and not your goal of surviving), you won't see much variation between playthroughs.
Did I mention a huge number of the skills are useless? What's that? You leveled up Horse Riding? Too bad, there's only one (optional) event in the entire game where it does anything. There's actually a discussion thread on the LLTQ community where people are debating which skill is the most useless, and there are many strong candidates to choose from...
As a strategy enthusiast, I'm disappointed with how this game turned out. The trailer makes it sound like there are numerous paths to victory, but that's based mainly on narrative choices and has little to do with your skills. I geeked out like crazy when I first saw the skill list, thinking of all the different ways I could play and the hours I could spend delving into strategy. Securing victory through trade, warfare, treachery, magic... But most of the skills are only useful for unlocking fluffy side story events. If you're a completionist who's really into tracking down all those little events and collecting the achievements, it'll probably work for you, but sadly it did not work for me.
It's a shame. There's so much I liked about this game. Hanako is quite talented and clearly put a lot of work into the game's strategy elements. I feel like if they'd spent a bit more time fleshing out those choices and making them meaningful, it would have been a hit for me. Maybe next time? =/
Posted: December 16th, 2013