Review by lopp3
"Artistic and beautiful...but does the difficulty outweigh it?"
This game received a lot of hype shortly after its release. As it was published by Atlus, many people suspected it would soon outlive its own playability and end up stuffed on a back shelf somewhere. They may have been right, but this little gem is still a great addition to the arsenal of a gamer who enjoys the artistic side of video games, sitting alongside games like Shadow of the Colossus or Baten Kaitos Origins. But that's for another review. Anyway. The game is rendered in a beautiful storybook-esque style, accompanied by an intricate tale mimicked from the heroes and legends passed down through Norse mythology. The gameplay is an interesting mix of platformer and RPG, combining a system of leveling up with a real-time, no-rules combat system. But be prepared for some frustrating times. Even on normal, this game is certainly one of the most difficult I've yet played. The explanation of why is for later. On to things now.
To put it simply: this game is absolutely gorgeous. The worlds are detailed, but what really stands out is the beauty of the characters. Every tiny detail was filled out in the playable characters to make them meld seamlessly into the fantastic world of the ancient North. Princess Gwendolyn, leader of the Valkyries and daughter of Lord Odin, is a powerful, yet battle-ready girl clad in sturdy yet elegant armor. Cornelius, prince of his land turned into a "Pooka", or a rabbit-man, is small yet fierce. Mercedes, the Fairy Queen, has about her an aura of mysteriousness as would one of the forest. Oswald, the Shadow Knight, is dark and foreboding, though he harbors something kind beneath his frightening exterior. And lastly, Velvet, the Forest Witch, appears like a wandering sage, seeking knowledge in solitude. Beautiful.
The plot is something to be expected of Norse mythology: filled with drama and soap opera-style happenstances. An interesting twist to the story is playing it from the perspective of five different characters. Though it's likely to get repetitive after a while.
While there is nothing wrong with the gameplay itself, per se, the difficulty on this game is extreme. In order to properly convey it, I'll be required to give some good examples. So as to avoid revealing their names, and thus spoiling parts of the story, I will refer to them as Boss A and Boss B. To begin with Boss A. Boss A doesn't have any particularly devastating attacks, but that's not his problem. It takes so many hits to defeat him, you're bound to be hit quite a few times over the course of the battle. And taking hits is no small business. It only takes a few hits to wipe you out, so bosses like this one take the utmost care to defeat. Then there's Boss B. Her HP is relatively low, so she should be an easy boss, right? Incorrect. First off, Boss B attacks by firing about eight arrows in rapid succession. They're relatively easy to dodge, and they do little damage. So why is she hard again? Boss B has access to an unlimited army of reinforcements. Each unit of reinforcements consists of two ground soldiers, who are fast and attack quickly, and one fairy, who flies around and shoots arrows which are very small, powerful, and hard to spot against the dark background. Now then. Let's say you're trying to deal with the reinforcements. You're attacking them and doing alright, when suddenly Boss B decides to fire her arrows. The first one hits you. Being hit by any attack makes you stop moving for around half a second. Because you can't move, three or four more hit you as well. Thus, Boss B just took your HP down to half. And at the same time, the whole unit of reinforcements is attacking you. And if you kill them, she'll summon more. One last thing regarding the difficulty of this game: taking on more than one enemy at a time spells certain death. You're attacks aren't particularly quick compared to theirs, although you've got them beat on power. So taking on two or more enemies at once will result in you taking quite a few hits, thus draining your HP rapidly. So be prepared to restart whole levels quite often.
While the difficulty is almost too much, the beauty and just general enjoyability of this game outweigh it in most parts. But it is worth warning you to be prepared for some frustrating moments, such as the bosses described above. Once again, Atlus has catered to the gamer who wants something besides expensive looking graphics and aliens getting their heads blown up (I'm talking to you, Halo). They catered to the art movie-goer in all of us. Except instead of an art movie, they made an art game.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/10/07
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