My strange RPG-fest continues through my foot healings with this title. I’ve spent the most time with this game than the others I have played and it was more-or-less enjoyable. I have some qualms about the mechanics of the game such as character development (leveling up) and combat. Choice, like many of these systems, amounts to an illusion, for on normal, things are really easy and you can get through battle just mashing buttons. Switching to hard forced the use of strategy and I found myself becoming more engrossed in the combat and being mindful of my enemies and what effective combos to use against them. It made things more enjoyable, but I still left leveling up to auto. I still didn’t give a shit and the game could have easily handled the standard you-get-this-crap each time you level, rather than the point buy unlocking system. I really dislike them. They usually only amount to anything late game and by that point, you’ve mostly got everything unlocked anyway, so why even bother? I can understand if it is one of those systems where it is impossible to unlock everything when you hit level cap and I respect those systems more as the choices should matter more. These are the same systems where you can easily eff yourself over late-game when you realise you messed up. If there’s no way to respec, well, that really sucks if you can’t pull a win from your mistakes.
I liked the setting and story well enough. There’s a lot of background chatter and special cut-scenes (they call them skits in the game) that make everything feel more real and immersive than the usual light-plotted one that only give you story when you complete story quests with side-quests just being these orbital wastes of time to make the game seem longer. Things were interconnected nicely enough and the personalities of your party and their growth throughout the game were done fairly well. As another positive, it had good english voice-acting. Well, except for Milla. I’m still on the fence with her inconsistent Data-like responses to everything. It sounds like she tries to do the unemotional responses, but then you have ones where she is emotional and it just confuses me. It’s probably bad acting.
NG+ isn’t really necessary, however. Jude’s story gives you the most complete experience with Milla’s just filling in what happens when the party is split, so aside from the moments where you’re killing time and must hunt down your party to talk to them, the only other stuff are a little bit in the beginning regarding the research centre, being captured and taken to Fort Gondala, a little bit when Milla is healing up in Laronde, after the events with Gilland where you’re dumped near Kanbalar and reunite at the temple, and then a huge chunk after dealing with the lance and Exodus. The extra little scenes aren’t worthwhile at all, and the Fort Gondala imprisonment and what went on with her in the spirit world before the Maxwell fight could have easily been incorporated into Jude’s quest. Easily. There’s just not enough to justify a second character’s quest, and since you can choose which character you want to run around with within the game, what does it matter? I choose Elize as my leader because she’s just too adorable.
Another point, is if you earned enough grade to gain the XP boosts, you can just sail through the story within a day, or so, so this has even less of an appeal for me. Why did I bother? At the end of the game, it just nets you one additional anime scene following the credits that shows you Milla and you get her spirit clothes and hairstyle plus an arte for her and Jude. For the extra twelvish hours it took to run through the campaign for a second time, it wasn’t worth it. It really wasn’t.
The bonus dungeon I found rather disappointing. it’s not really a new dungeon, but reused areas. You travel through areas you’ve been before, each “room” being somewhere you’ve been before. After so many of them, you get to a shop, save, and exit room where you can restock on everything but items, save, and exit the dungeon if you need to. After you’ve passed through so many of these, you reach the colloseum where you fight the big bad boss. Beating him unlocks the full power of the devil arms, which grow in strength with the foes you kill. You can keep farming that dungeon for high valued resources to upgrade your shops and level grind if you really, really want to. Each time you defeat the boss, the amount of areas you have to traverse increases. It’s also kinda lame that you’re essentially fighting versions of your own party. Not very unique or interesting. It was a challenge on hard and it was the most challenging fight in the entire game. I did notice each time I defeated him, he seemed to be more powerful.
Overall, I enjoyed the game. The story is what wins it for me over everything else, as well as the setting. The action-based beat-em-up combat made it feel less grindy and I enjoyed planning out combos. Being able to change artes and equipment on-the-fly during battle really helps.
So, what now? Well, I’m going to kill the Golden Knight once more for old times sake and move on to another adventure.