The lights are on
This game is nearly perfect on so many levels. It is unique.It has a great story with great dynamic characters, and the graphic and art design for them and the environments are amazing! The soundtrack is put together by the main man who did our lovely Persona titles so you should know what to expect there. The puzzles are extremely difficult and there is alot of replay value in the game from both Babel(with the ever changing block layouts every time you play), and the Rapunzel arcade game. Also, Babel throws in some multi player challenges on top of everything. Finally, the control scheme is simple and the camera is cooperative and responsive. All of these elements put together make for a FANTASTIC game that you should not miss(if you can handle an extreme difficulty curve and also are into puzzle challenges).
As I mentioned before, the story is fantastic and dynamic. Based on the moral decisions Vincent constantly has to make, his thought process in the more panic filled moments will change. I have not started a 2nd playthrough to see how much the story may change based on completely different choices, but I am hoping to see subtle changes here and there throughout my 7 other playthroughs(making 8 total endings). I have heard people complain about needing to talk to the bar patrons and other sheep between levels, but it actually nice to be able to have ripple effects in your world if you decide to lend them an ear. Disregard them, and the bar could end up only having 1 person to talk to at night: the TV. The news on the TV reports on all the recent string of strange deaths and may end up mentioning some people whose names sound familiar. Vincent and his friends are terrific in their roles in the game. Their emotions and advice feel very akin to how most guy friend groups would if a guy was seriously down on his luck, and brought it on himself. Instead of being supportive, they ride and joke with him about his problems. The voice acting is terrific. I was worried about the english voice acting as most Japanese anime/video games that get dubbed end up doing a horrible job getting moved West. However, the voice work has been amazing. I have even noticed some Persona voice actors in the mix here and there!
The puzzles are downright harsh. I am not going to lie. I am playing on hard and have been trudging through, using no online walkthroughs, and I am only just now at Stage 6. Now I have seen Normal and Easy(not V. Easy yet). And the levels are all drawn out according to your difficulty. The blocks are different, the levels are shorter, and the puzzles are easier to solve with more solutions. The boss fights are also varying in difficulty as well. They do their power moves less often the easier it is and they move a bit slower. Now pretty much the ONLY complaint I ever hear from people about this game is this area. They praise EVERYTHING else about this game, but can't handle the puzzle aspect. Whether it is from a sheer lack of puzzling skill or a desire to do puzzle games, or just the difficulty curve is too high, I have advice for all of you: either get rid of the game, or quit complaining. For those of you who say puzzles aren't your thing, stop blaming the game and saying it is terrible just because you do not like puzzles. Some people do. That would be like saying Call of Duty or Oblivion are terrible because someone doesn't like FPS's or open world RPG's. Everyone is entitled to their genres. Just because you do not like a genre of a video game DOES NOT make it a bad game. It just means it is not for you.
Secondly, if the game is too hard, that again is not make the game poorly designed or bad. It just means it is hard and is not meant for you(if you aren't willing to power through it). And giving the game a bad rating or complaining about its difficulty being a faulty element of the game. Do you look back on games such as Contra or Battletoads(which are insanely hard nostalgia games) and say they are bad? No! We look back on them with fond memories and laugh over drinking games over how many controllers we broke and Game Over screens we saw. The gaming culture has become very babied with regards to difficulty over the generations and I, for one, enjoy a tribute to the classic days of old where you become very familiar with death. I hate playing Mario games now and earning 10 lives a level and never knowing what true "no more continue" death looks like. So in summary, if a game is hard, don't diss or hate on the game and give it bad reviews or recounts just cause you got your butt kicked more than you care to talk about.
The only reason I did not give this game a perfect score is because the controls are EXTREMELY picky. This game mostly requires the D-pad to play(especially on hard where precise control and direction are needed) and we all know how terrific the D-pad is on a 360 controller. I can not count the times where I pushed a block a wrong way or jumped the wrong direction and ended up having an unsolvable puzzle and needed to restart. Now on all difficulties other than hard, there is an undo button to fix all of these control quirks, but on hard it is an added layer of difficulty that probably should not be there. All in all though, this is really the only quirk or rough edge on this very smooth game. It is a very mature game with a mature story. If you are 12 or are otherwise offended by the story material, this again is not a game for you. This is very much a niche' title, but it is on the level with some of the classics of yesteryear and I recommend it to anyone who can stomach very easy for the story alone. Seriously, put down the gun and stop paying attention to your K:D ratio and enjoy a game with a solid story.
i 100% agree with you. GI's review was way to skewed on what the pros and cons were. You on the other hand give a solid reason and explanation to what was wrong with, while GI's reviewer basically praised everything up to the puzzles because they were to hard? repetitive? Boring? I think not. Your review is way more spot on than most of their reviews have ever been. Props to you buddy.
I don't know if I'm going to agree with Hawk or not, but your review does sound like it treats the game more fairly, and after reading it I think I'll consider at least renting it someday when I've got a PS3 or 360.
I admit that the lax difficulty is a tad sad to see these days, however making a game too challenging is problematic as it can cause even hardcore gamers to lose interest. The problem is balancing the difficulty the player will encounter with the player's desire to see what happens next, and unfortunately many games anymore, even the RPG's I enjoy, have started to become more focused on game play than story. The most challenging games I've played that are relatively recent releases are Persona 3 FES, Persona 4, and MS Saga: A New Dawn. Although choosing an easier/harder difficulty on those two Persona titles doesn't have a drastic impact on how difficult enemy fights are, just on how many 'reset' items you start with to help you avoid a major game over, which in my opinion is rather drastic as one wrong active persona in the early portions and you face game over anyhow.
And as for gamers getting to used to 'easy' games.........I defeated the final boss of Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica without using the Replakia boost, or even managing to get a second combo magic activated even, when most FAQ/Walkthroughs state that you can't defeat said boss without using Replakia. And my levels were only in the mid-80's, so it's not like I was over powered even. Although, the story in Ar Tonelico II is definitely worth the play, and even worth re-visiting a time or two, so I'm not that bothered by the lack of difficulty as the game was still good without a strong challenge.
I completely agree with your review the D-Pad often messes up and then I step on spikes.. :(, I also think GI should've gave it a better score.
i agree with you on this it deserves a higher rating