Saturday, January 22, 2011
Review: Ikusa Megami Zero
After fierce battles between gods, two different worlds joined to become a new one. Celica was born there and to protect innocents, he battles against monsters as a paladin of Barouhart, god of storms.
With a clear sense of justice and great skill with the blade, some call him a Hero. However after he meets a wandering seeker of knowledge and is tasked with purifying an ancient evil artifact, he begins to question his beliefs as he is drawn and more into events involving ancient prophecies, ancient gods and demon gods.
This is the prequel to the Ikusa Megami Series and covers the events that led Celica to be known as a God Slayer.
~taken from vndb
Plot 8.5/10- This is only my second rpg/VN and I have to say it is the best choice I've made in a while for games to play. Celica's meeting with Satia and the series of events that follow, full of love, hate, idealism, religious zealotry and all the other follies of human existence make this a truly interesting story, even for people who haven't played the other games (which I haven't, yet). For those who want an epic fantasy rpg story done in eroge style... this is probably one of the best choices you could come across. Unlike most VNs, I can't say I liked this because of the protagonist... rather it was the characters around him and their reactions to him that made the story flow so well. The greatest weakness of the story though is the sheer emotional impact of the end of the first part of the game is so overwhelming that what happens in the rest of the game just can't match up, except from an intellectual point of view.
Visual 9/10- Really, the visual quality of this game is so self-evident I almost couldn't bring myself to rate it. If there is one part of this game's visual aspect I didn't like it was the way they made the battle system look, with your attacks hitting a card representing the enemies rather than directly striking the enemies themselves... however, as that is a personal aesthetic preference, I don't think it should effect the rating I give this.
Sound 9/10- The music in this game just screams 'jrpg!!!' to you the second you start it up... and that is a good thing. For those who are sick of rpgs where the music is overblown and doesn't engage your emotions with the scenes you are watching, this game is an excellent choice. In particular, certain of the combat and dark scene bgms are really striking and will probably remain in my memory years from now. The voices were all very well fitted to the characters, with no real irritating choices to grate on the ears, so I can recommend this on that count as well.
Gameplay 7/10- Similar to old favorites like Grandia, this game uses a skill system where you gain the next level of any individual type of skill by using skills from that type over and over again. However, because of the sheer length of time it can take to say... max out your basic weapon skill (to let you use the ultimate weapons) or Rita's Ice magic... this can be an incredibly tedious process. For those getting new characters, be certain to set their advancement paths to what you think they should be used for or it'll automatically try to turn them into pure attackers... which I didn't figure out until the game was two thirds over so I had a pure mage character who had ended up focused entirely on physical strength...lol The battle system itself is a relatively standard one where your attacks and skills require a certain amount of time to build up and be unleashed, then a cooldown time afterward before that character gets a turn again. Because of this, the game can easily be interpreted as trying to force you down a certain path from the start for each individual characters, as some skills and attacks have really, really long cooldown times. (Rita's spear skills, for all their attack power, have such a long cooldown that it almost isn't worth it to max them out).
Celica's advancement screen
Unlike the others, you direct how he gains levels by actually putting the points into specific parameters. In my case, I just leveled them equally as I went, which worked out really well in the end, as he became an all-around powerhouse.
Other characters' advancement screen
With the other characters, you simply set a general path for their parameters to grow, and they automatically grow that way as long as you don't change it. Circle inside a circle is intense focus, circle is average focus, triangle is less focus, and x is no focus.
Overall- 8.5/10- Overall, this is one of the best rpgs I've played in the last few years... which is ironic, considering how many big-name games I've played during that time. For those looking for an eroge/rpg combo to play, I highly recommend this to wash away some of the truly foul rpg experiences of the last few years.