Review by Mykas0
"I've got all the time of the world... Do you?"
If you're just looking for a game that allows you to spend some of your free time, stop reading this review right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to keep people away from this game, but it just isn't the kind of game you can pick up and have fun with. Instead, it follows a type of gameplay that was classical a few years ago, only to be forgotten in recent times.
Basically, you'll be controlling a guild of heroes, who have to explore a place found next to their town, and that's as far as the storyline goes. While this small city provides all the facilities that you may need in order to fully perform your work, the main adventure only starts when you first enter the dungeon.
At first, you just have to visit one of the buildings of your town, which is done by merely picking your option from a main screen. There, you'll be able to create your guild, making new characters by simply selecting their name, job class and appearance (pick one out of four possible ones). Initially, you just have seven job classes to pick yours from, but there are two secret ones to unlock later. Be aware that you create as many characters as you want, but you'll only be able to take five of them at each time, allowing to personalize your party as many times as you want, provided you go back to this town.
After accomplishing this first task you'll be able to instantly go to the dungeon, but you can also explore the rest of this town. Since the game presents a small explanation, via short messages, about each functionality at the first time you use them, you'll have an easy time getting in touch with the basics.
When you first enter the dungeon, you'll notice an odd problem: there's no map. A few seconds later, after confronting a soldier, you'll be introduced to this game's main feature, which comes in the form of a drawable map. That's right, instead of sticking to an available map, which would make it easy to figure out the layout of each level, you'll have to draw it yourself. They don't make you do it, but if you're not drawing the layout in the lower screen, it is possible that you get lost and miss many important items. Besides, it may take you a long time to reach the floor below, facing even more enemies and losing your precious health points.
Most enemies come in the form of random battles, with only the stronger ones appearing on the map, once you've seen them personally. While exploring the many floors of the dungeon you'll be facing tons of enemies, which tend to become stronger as you advance in the game. However, unlike what happens in most RPG titles, they become a lot stronger, perhaps managing to kill your characters with a single strike.
In order to bypass such issue, your characters will be needing a lot of level ups, more than you'd normally be required to have. Shortly after reaching the second floor of this adventure, you'll clearly notice that your characters will need five more levels if they want to stand a chance in battles against those powerful enemies, actions that you'll be repeating for several times, as you cross the many floors that the game has to offer.
Bearing in mind that level ups also grant you ability points, it is clear that characters' abilities play an important role in the game. As you can allocate those points by yourself, your free to manage the characters abilities as you may seem fit. Each job class has different abilities, which are used as a support to their main task. While some classes present you with either offensive or healing spells, others allow your character to use powerful offensive attacks. Also, there are abilities that merely increase one of your stats (generally, the one directly associated to your character, like strength for Knights and defense for Protectors) or imbue your characters with static bonus, such as attacking twice in a row or regenerating people's health after each battle.
As you may suppose, battles play an important role in the game, as they grant you the experience to improve your characters, along with generally unimportant items, which you can later sell to gain some money. While fighting your enemies, all characters have the same options, which allow them to strike physically, use items, utilize some of their abilities, run away or boost their attack for one turn, an option that only becomes after filling a certain bar. As you may suppose, battles are fought like in any other RPG, with each character striking once per turn, in an order that merely depends on their stats.
But not only of battles lives a player, and management also plays an important role here. As previously stated, killing monsters also gives you particular items, which may differ depending on the way you defeat them. Later, you can sell those items to earn some extra money, which is very important if you notice that no enemies drop coins. While weapons and items can be found in limited places of each floor, most powerful ones become available only on stores, after selling particular items of your stash, something that was already available, to some extent, in "Final Fantasy XII".
Finally, there are quests and missions for you to accomplish. Their main difference is that "missions" come as part of the storyline (if we can actually give it such name), while quests can be skipped and merely give you extra money and rare items.
Obviously inciting you to face many enemies and fully explore each floor of the dungeon, those very same features also lead to this game's biggest flaw, its predictability. If you try to play it for in sequences of several hours in a row, you'll eventually feel like there's nothing more to this game that roaming roams for several hours, defeating enemies as you gain extra levels. Unfortunately, that's exactly what you'll find in this game, and unlike other titles may attempt to copy, this predictability is actually intended by those who created it. This pseudo-flaw may be unappealing to some players, while others may like it. Ultimately, that's what picking up this game, or not, comes to: do you want to play a repetitive game for several hours or not?
Viewing it by another angle, the gameplay that origins such predictability grants this game a longer play time. It takes countless hours to complete, but you'll be performing the very same tasks over and over again, something that younger players may dislike.
In this game, both the graphics and its sound are nothing special. While monsters, static images and menus are well drawn, the overall environment of the dungeons isn't well drawn, sometimes making you explore a huge corridor just to verify the distance absence of anything important. If you think that PC games from more than 10 years ago did this very same task at a small cost, the lack of innovation is disappointing.
Its sound is also disappointing, as it feels just plain old. It provides stylish tunes and sound effects for a bit, but ultimately you'll find it boring, turning it off after a short time. There's a difference between old and classic, and this game makes it obvious.
Despite the score given to this game, it is a title that is only appealing to those who want an hardcore Dungeon RPG, where you'll have to spend hours fighting enemies and collecting items instead of following a storyline. If you're not that kind of player, stay away from it.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/21/07
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