Posts Tagged ‘3.0’

Broken Age Act 1 Review

Broken Age Featured

Broken Age Boxart

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – Steam

Once upon a time, point and click adventure games were king. Then something happened – shooters became popular. With shooters, and many other genres, video games were pushed further, with more interactivity and better graphics. The point and click games of yore fought on, but fell out of favor with most people over the years. Then, Telltale Games made waves with The Walking Dead and the genre was cool again. Finally, innovative developer Double Fine ran a Kickstarter for a new adventure game and garnered an amazing 3.3 million bucks. It appeared adventure games were no longer dead.

Finally, the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter has borne fruit via Broken Age. However, only Act 1 is available right now, with the second act still being worked on. So what can be said about a game that was so tremendously anticipated by many? It likely won’t live up to your expectations. That doesn’t make it a bad game, of course! Well, let’s get into this review already.

Broken Age is split into two halves. One is the story of a young woman named Velouria (shortened to “Vella”) and a teenage boy named Shay. Players choose which story to begin with and jump right in. Although it is possible to swap between them at any time, it doesn’t seem to serve much purpose. It’s easiest to just play one story first and then go for the other, which is what I did. Vella’s part appears the longer, and much more interesting, half.

Broken Age Screenshot 1

Vella’s story starts as something called a Maiden Feast is about to start. It is quickly revealed that the town fears a  huge monster named Mog Chothra and that the only way to sate it is by offering up the best girls of the village. Unfortunately, Vella was chosen to take part. Unlike the others who all seek to be eaten, Vella recognizes the inherent wrongness of the situation and wants to fight back! Along her journey she meets many characters and solves a good deal of puzzles, although almost all of them could hardly be considered puzzles.

Shay has a completely different life. He lives by himself in a space station with only a sentient, overly-watchful computer and machines to interact with. For all intents and purposes, his world is a foil of Vela’s. Instead of the looming fear of death, he is protected completely from any and all danger. Shay’s life of repetitive nonsense is interrupted one day and finally his story starts to become interesting. Unfortunately, there are even less puzzles in this section and even less characters to meet.

One of the most exciting things about adventure games is the witty and intriguing characters you’ll come across while playing. Many point and click games fail in this respect, but since Tim Schafer was at the helm here, most expected something great. Somehow, Broken Age manages to not be that funny. The writing is good, but it doesn’t feel all that special in most cases. It seems like personalities are very subdued, when they exist at all. Thankfully, the voice acting is phenomenal which makes it so that listening to dialogue is never a chore.

Broken Age Screenshot 2

The most impressive aspect of the game is the visuals. Simply, this is one incredible-looking title. The art style makes everything seem like you’re watching a pretty picture book come to life. Animations are smooth, if sometimes repetitive, and help bring the experience to life. Locations have a great sense of design and fit with the themes of Vella and Shay’s stories. If I had to guess where a lot of the Kickstarter money went, I’d say it went into art.

As was hinted at earlier, though there are a lot of puzzles, most aren’t particularly difficult. Some players have lamented this point but it doesn’t seem bad to me. This is an adventure game being marketed to a massive audience – many of whom probably have never played a classic adventure game. Making puzzles as easy as possible keeps players moving and free of frustration. Just know that if your enjoyment of point and click games comes from intriguing puzzles that Broken Age will not scratch that itch.

All in all, Broken Age offers a meandering first half of an experience that becomes interesting right near the end. The story ends just as things start to get interesting and there’s no specific date for when we’ll get to play act 2. As gorgeous as the game is, there seems to be a distinct lack of personality. By that I mean the characters are mostly transparent task givers rather than true “characters” in the sense of being memorable. Perhaps we’ll see that change in the second half. Mostly, I just want to see how this story resolves itself. I’ve got my theories about what will happen, but we must all wait on Double Fine to see how everything turns out.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Wing Commander Review

Wing Commander Featured

Wing Commander Boxart

Developer:  Origin Systems
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Consoles – 3DO, PlayStation, Sega CD, SNES, PC – Amiga, Amiga CD32, DOS, GOG*

Wing Commander is a series that flourished in the 90s and helped bring about a whole new style for space sims to come. The first Wing Commander, released in 1990, was a revelation. The pixel graphics were crisp, the action was incredible, and the dynamic soundtrack kept excitement going. Over 20 years later, the game is still impressive.

You begin as the newest member on the TCS Tiger’s Claw. The crew of pilots are tasked with stopping the alien race Kilrathi’s plans of domination. Over the course of a dozen or so missions, you’ll have to fight against them time and time again. The meat of Wing Commander is dogfights, so you’d best be prepared.

The game is pretty tough. Battles are displayed from the cockpit, meaning less than half the screen actually shows what’s going on in space. However, the cockpit has multiple readouts that are necessary for skillful play. You can fly in any direction, speed up and break, launch targeted missiles, and order your partner about.  If you can’t shoot down the enemy then they’ll take you down. You always have a partner during missions but they can die too, or save your hide.  Whether you win or lose partners, the game continues. This is perhaps the strangest and most “modern” feature.

Wing Commander Screenshot

Shooting is difficult in part because of imperfect mouse control but also because of having to judge where bullets will land. After enough fights you get the hang of it, but sometimes it doesn’t seem correct. At least an audible cue sounds when a bullet collides with an enemy ship’s exterior.

The biggest letdown when playing Wing Commander is that there’s very little story to dig into. Although characters have been set up, they hardly bring anything noteworthy to the table. Instead, the focus is 90% on missions and battles. As entertaining as these are, the game is simply too short. Those who buy the GOG release gain access to the expansion packs The Secret Missions and The Secret Missions 2: Crusade which add more playtime via new missions.

Considering its age, Wing Commander is still an excellent introduction to the series. It offers an incredible amount of replay value (missions change based on your performance) and excellent fight sequences. Just don’t jump into the cockpit expecting a deep storyline. It seems that is only implemented later in the series.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Furmins Review

Furmins Featured

Furmins Logo

Developer: Housemarque
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platform: Mobile – iOS PSN – Vita

What the heck are furmins? Apparently, they’re weirdly adorable orb-shaped creatures that require your aid to get back to their nests. In the game, aptly titled Furmins, you do this by solving physics-based puzzles. It starts out easy, but gets tough pretty quick!

Every stage of the game requires the player to do at least one thing to help the furmins reach their goal. Levels are small (each fits squarely on the Vita screen) and may have interactive elements. For example, you might be required to activate a bumper when a furmin lands on it to shoot them into the air, arcing toward the goal. Other times, you’re required to use bounce plates and such to get them going in the right direction.

The concepts behind Furmins are very easy to understand so anyone should be able to start playing. However, their continued enjoyment may very well waver depending on their puzzle aptitude. Despite being a well-rounded player, I found some of the puzzles quite challenging. If this is the case for me, then what of those who enjoy easier physics games such as Angry Birds? That game has seen success by being immediately playable in short bursts. Here, you might be stuck messing with a plank to try and get the right bounce arc for a while. It lacks the “ease of play” spark.

Furmins Featured

Why is this an issue? Simply because those who don’t consider themselves fan of casual games will likely skip over Furmins. Of course, if they played they would find out that it offers a true challenge… but how many players really test out a game before discounting it entirely? In this age, the practice is slim.

At times, it feels that the game is too skewed toward difficulty. Each level grants up to three stars depending on whether you save all the furmins, get all the candy collectibles, and beat the par time. The first two are not too tough, but times are completely unforgiving. It really seems you would have to arrange the stage in the exact way they did to attain most of them. Why worry about stars? They’re needed to unlock later stage sets, as well as all bonus sets.

All in all, it seems Furmins is in an odd place. It presents itself as what many consider a casual game but offers real challenge to players. Touch screen and rear touch pad implementation is fair, although it is probably best to turn off the latter due to unintended triggering. If you’re looking for a quick play game on Vita that offers more challenge then most, Furmins might be right up your alley.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Blockland Review

Blockland Featured

Blockland Logo

Developer: Eric Hartman, Ben Garney
Publisher: Blockland LLC
Platform: PC – Amazon, Direct, Steam

Blockland is a game with a long history. Yet, many never even knew it existed until the recent Steam launch! The game first got up and running in 2004 when it was freeware. Around 2006, the developers received a call from Lego, but nothing ever came of it. In 2013, the finished game has finally graced Steam and to many it is being treated as a completely new title. No, it’s not a Minecraft or any other craft clone. For one, it came out long before it, and is quite a different experience regardless.

So what can you do in Blockland? A whole lot of stuff, as it turns out. The game is a tremendous sandbox that grants you a huge amount of blocks that can be used to build things. The blocks look a ton like Lego parts, which means if you’ve ever played with Legos you can grasp how building works here. Well, sort of. The controls for building are fairly difficult to wrap your head around at the start. Eventually, you learn about features such as Super Shift and other ways to expedite building, but until then it is a fairly painful experience. The included tutorial doesn’t explore advanced concepts at all, unfortunately.

Blockland Featured

I learned a fair amount by simply joining a newbie-specific server. The place was full of new players and had someone around to answer all sorts of questions. They also were willing to demonstrate, which was incredibly helpful. Building is just one aspect of the experience, though the wide variety of blocks leaves room for impressive structures.

Players can completely ignore building and instead play a variety of minigames. There are a handful to start with, such as racing, death match, and platforming. There is no offline mode though. You head to a specific server (such as kart racing) and join up with other players there. Unlike a lot of Steam indie multiplayer releases, Blockland has a lot of players online at once (200+), so you rarely have to fear being stuck alone. Many more gametypes are available, but require external add-ons.

Blockland Screenshot

The biggest hurdle with getting new players into this game will likely verge on add-ons. As there is no Steam Workshop support right now, it requires players to go to the official forums and download new stuff (minigames, maps, etc). They can utilize other outside programs such as Return to Blockland to streamline the process but many Steam users don’t wish to do extra work with any of their games.

There is no game in my mind that currently allows for the level of craftsmanship in building as Blockland does right now, thanks to its many block types. However, it isn’t acclimated toward beginner use. The community itself can be very helpful (as in the newbie server) or crass. Since you’ll spend most of your time with them, this is important. Thankfully you can turn off chat. Blockland is one unique multiplayer-focused experience that deserves more credit than Steam users are giving it.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Teslagrad Review

Teslagrad Featured

Teslagrad Boxart

Developer: Rain Games
Publisher: Rain Games
Platform: PC – Desura, GOG*, Steam

What is it about the puzzle platformer that continues to draw independent developers to the genre? In many respects, it doesn’t seem the easiest type of game to make. Instead, it seems one that (despite rampant saturation) is a genre full of new and exciting possibilities. Teslagrad is the latest puzzle platformer out that shows the greatest promise. Whether it lives up to expectations, however, is debatable.

Teslagrad is most certainly trying very hard. By simply starting up the game for the first time you’re greeted to a rainy night against gorgeous hand-drawn backdrops. Without any words, the story begins, as a young boy is forced to run far away from home in the stormy night. He comes upon the Tesla Tower and enters, wherein he will face a great many puzzling challenges.

Yes, Teslagrad is so named for Nikola Tesla. Why? Because the primary feature of most puzzles deals with electricity (and magnetism). You begin with nothing, but gain new items which allow you to interact with electrically charged platforms, charge items yourself, and the like. For some reason it was hard for me to get a firm grasp on electricity puzzles, though. It’s not as if I hate the genre. On the contrary, most of my free time is spent playing various puzzlers. So why these puzzles continued to feel more like guesswork than skill was an incredibly odd experience. It shouldn’t have to be said, but your own playthrough may very well feel different.

Teslagrad Screenshot

Metroidvania fans will be happy to know that Teslagrad also fits into that style. Tesla’s Tower is not a completely linear thing and you can charge into a variety of rooms whenever you want. If one puzzle seems too hard at the moment, go elsewhere. Maybe you’ll find a new item! Or, maybe you’ll stumble across one of the game’s five bosses. Considering how expansive the game feels, it was a bit of a letdown to see there were not more boss encounters. They are pretty neat battles, even if they rely very heavily on simple pattern recognition.

So we’ve got a game that is entirely ambitious, looks great, and has a huge non-linear castle to explore. Yet, something about it only ends up feeling slightly above average. Puzzles that required very precise jumps were incredibly annoying, especially when there were not checkpoints in the middle of them. Making a game mechanically tough can be done well, but it doesn’t feel like Teslagrad pulls that off. After all, it varies back and forth between easy and hard. Usually, if a game is hard it stays that way throughout, or slowly ramps up in difficulty.

There are definitely players out there that will love the intriguing experience that Teslagrad provides. If you think that’s you then go ahead and buy it! For me, I just couldn’t get over the feeling that the designers crammed all their expertise into creating something gorgeous and expansive but forgot the most important ingredient – heart.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Eryi’s Action Review

Eryi's Action Featured

Eryi's Action Boxart

Developer: Xtal Sword
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, GamersGate, Playism, Steam

I rarely get angry at video games. When people talk about wanting to throw their controllers across the room I just look on in abject terror. What about a video game could make you so mad that you want to damage $40+ peripherals? Last year I played Eryi’s Action for the first time and found it ridiculous, but purposefully so. Now that I’m revisiting it on the Steam launch, my feelings have changed slightly. My rage was stoked, but not so much to ignore the inherent funniness of the experience.

Eryi’s Action looks like a cute little platformer. The world is cartoony and brightly colored. Lead character Eryi seems quite pleased with her adventure, swaying her arms to and fro for an idle stance. Music plays like some sort of cheesy Super Mario Bros. ripoff that is just catchy enough to get stuck in your head. Then you step forward and – conk – a pan falls from the sky and KO’s Eryi. Wait, what?

Oh, so it’s that kind of game. This incredibly cruel tricking of the player begins and never lets up. Whenever anything looks safe you quickly realize it isn’t. Moments like this are common: Hey, look at that easy jump over a ledge! Suddenly a block appeared that made me fall right down into the pit?! Memorization of trap patterns is required. Levels aren’t that long, at least, but that didn’t stop me from retrying puzzles zillions of times over.

Eryi's Action Featured

There was a part early on that stumped me. I racked up 50 deaths in attempts and then realized something. For some reason, my Xbox 360 controller was not allowing Eryi to run at full speed. She was instead running at a slower pace, making a certain jump impossible. I had in fact been making this fiendish game even harder (as it turns out, running requires pressing a button instead of analog stick control)! From there, I lovingly admired Eryi’s “new” speed by using a keyboard. Of course, this was a short-lived moment as the obstacle suddenly leapt up and crashed down onto her head. Normally, my screaming is internal, but this time I let out a real sound – a laugh.

Had I gone insane? No, it was the result of Eryi’s Action being purposefully evil that was so amusing. My frustration would always get close to boiling over but then subside thanks to unexpected traps. Sometimes, the traps are absolutely hilarious. For example, after experiencing normal enemies until this point, the second chapter features a chicken that will actively jump up and carry you skyward if you try to stomp them. Why? Because it’s a game about messing with expectations!

If you think you can handle rigorous and continual game-based punishment then, by all means, pick up a copy. Those who would rather play a “fair” difficult platformer have a wealth of other choices. Eryi’s Action is not fair. It is a monstrous exercise in player-focused cruelty and I dig it.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Savant – Ascent Review

Savant - Ascent Featured

Savant - Ascent Boxart

Developer: D-Pad Studio
Publisher: D-Pad Studio
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Direct, GamersGate, Steam

Usually, when musical artists venture into the world of video games the results are, well, not so great. There are such “classics” as the Make My Video series on Sega CD featuring INXS, Kriss Kross, and Marky Mark. Then there are more modern but equally unusual titles such as 50 Cent’s shooters. Those who recognize SAVANT as a musician might fear the same fate for Savant – Ascent. Thankfully, his input didn’t create some ego-stroking game-based catastrophe.

Savant – Ascent is a 2D shooter with a bit of a twin stick vibe even though that’s not really the case. On each stage you control Savant and must shoot up enemies that come at him from all angles. However, stages are quite small. Instead of running around you simply dodge left, right, or jump. Shooting is controlled via mouse or a controller’s analog stick. Sometimes, baddies will explode and leave a CD piece behind. Collecting and completing the four CDs grants Savant upgrades.

Upgrades are incredibly useful and basically necessary to beat the game. Therefore, you’ll probably spend a lot of the first stage trying to collect them. Savant – Ascent is pretty fast paced so it won’t take long. The most useful upgrades for me were the first and third, as they allowed for an extra powerful shot and markers for incoming enemies respectively. One negative thing is that it can be hard to notice the enemy notifications and sometimes there are none if the game thinks you already see the approaching attack.

Savant - Ascent Featured

So basically, this is quite a tough experience. Even after obtaining all upgrades there’s still a degree of skill (or just plain persistence) required to win. But doing so doesn’t take very long at all. There are three quite cool stages and a cool two-part boss fight… And that’s all. Completing the story mode took under an hour and that’s coming from someone who is not particularly skillful with most games. Yes, there is a time trial and endless mode, and Savant – Ascent is based on scoring, but it’s still quite short. When you factor in the price – $1.99 – it seems far more sensible.

Although the game has fully launched on PC there are some issues that need addressing. For one, having an Xbox 360 controller plugged in at launch causes issues with keyboard and mouse control. All you have to do is unplug it if you wish to use them, but the simple error is unfortunate. There was also a time when I received a “fatal error” upon barely starting a level and had to quit the game entirely. Blemishes like these are far from game-breaking but will definitely turn some people from it before even playing.

Interestingly, D-Pad Studios have committed to providing more stages and music in the future at no extra cost. If this turns out to be true then it’ll be a great way to enhance the value. As it stands, the current music is a lot of fun even if you’re not a SAVANT fan. Similarly, the visuals are crisp although I have to wonder if the final boss design was wise. As it stands, Savant – Ascent is a brief, but entertaining little game. If it can be spruced up to fix a couple of errors and see new content then it will definitely be worth returning to.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Rune Classic Review

Rune Featured

Rune Boxart

Developer: Human Head Studios
Publisher: Human Head Studios
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

In 2000, Rune released on PCs. After a bit, the Halls of Valhalla expansion pack was released. From there, the game was repackaged as Rune Gold. The game was renamed and ported as Rune: Viking Warlord to PS2 in 2001. This still wasn’t the end of the road for Rune though! A “remake” of sorts came named Rune Classic, which included enemies from the PS2 game and reworked (and outright deleted) some original levels. Now that you’ve got the slightly convoluted history in your head, let’s talk about Rune Classic.

Rune Classic starts you off as a young, burly warrior named Ragnar. On the day of his initiation into the viking fold, enemies attack. Unfortunately for them, the enemies have Loki on their side and kill everyone almost instantly (except, of course, our pal Ragnar). Ragnar seeks revenge and that seems a very fitting setup for a game about vikings.

The gameplay also manages to capture what most would expect of a viking. Ragnar can wield a great deal of weapons that slash, bludgeon, and smack. Although the game is getting on in age, it still felt fluid and fast. Perhaps the only issue is a use key initially defined to Ctrl. Changing a few of the keybindings is definitely suggested for a more “modern” experience. In any case, there are a great deal of enemy types to destroy and it’s usually fun to do so!

Rune Featured

One way in which Rune Classic fails is that it isn’t particularly good at signboarding where to go next. Actually, this might be a bigger issue because of how dark some areas are. It is easy to lose your way and end up inadvertently backtracking, which is never fun. Then there’s the multiplayer which requires more effort than it should to get running. It seems like a fun way to play – if you have the tech savvy to work it out.

There are better action games to play these days, but when it comes to viking-themed titles there are far less to choose from. And some of the ones that do exist are poor, so Rune Classic is definitely a better choice. If you want to play but don’t want the “butchered” version, GOG downloads also come with Rune Gold. This isn’t the case with Steam. No matter which you choose, Rune is still a blast.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Truck Racer Review

Truck Racer Featured

Truck Racer Boxart

Developer: Big Ben Interactive
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam, PS3, Xbox 360

Truck racing in video games has a rather sordid past. Even though there have been multiple attempts at creating fun titles, they all end up falling under the horrible shadow of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. This well-known atrocity of a game has long since controlled the talk of truck racing games, but maybe recently released Truck Racer can show that it is possible to make a good game with tractor units.

In this game, you can engage in a ton of championships, simply practice on courses, or test out a timed trial mode or elimination race. In most ways, it’s like other standard racing games except for the fact that you’re racing really heavy trucks around the track. They feel like it too. Although you can get up to 90 mph pretty easily, turns are far tougher to execute carefully. Much of the early game is spent slowly making huge drifts into walls.

If you can’t quite get a hang of your ride, then head to the garage and get it spruced up. There are tons of upgrades available which can increase speed, traction, braking, paint job, and more for your preferred vehicle. However, in order to go on a spending spree the player must have acquired points by participating in championships. Even those who don’t get the coveted first three places will still receive points, just much less. Unlocking new championships also requires points so make sure to not spend them all on upgrades!

Truck Racer Featured

Races themselves are pretty exciting, in part because you’re stuck handling a massive machine on the fairly small track lanes. Ramming into other trucks to get by is satisfying, especially when parts start breaking off and littering the track. Players can utilize boost, which is increased as a player drifts or drives recklessly. The boost is integral to passing because these trucks can only go so fast otherwise.

As fun as it is to bang into other trucks there were also issues with this mechanic. On multiple occasions I found my truck stuck to the other one somehow, which caused precious seconds to be wasted waiting for the two vehicles to separate. Perhaps this is realistic but really destroys the otherwise fun arcade style that Truck Racer presents. It’s also unfortunate that, so near after its release, that there were no online games to be found. It seems the best course of action is to buy the game with a friend or two if you intend to have regular online matches. Other than these issues, there were a couple of occasions where the game also crashed on me.

Looking past the technical troubles, Truck Racer is still a lot of fun. It certainly looks fantastic, far better than any other truck-based racing games have before. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just some ridiculous game. Truck racing championships occur in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and likely other places as well. If you can’t get yourself to a real race, then Truck Racer serves as an almost suitable replacement.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Review

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland  Featured

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Boxart

Developer: Gust
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 3

Things were going fairly well for a teenager nicknamed Rorona. Sure, she was basically forced to work as an alchemist’s apprentice to pay off a debt, and her boss was a supreme creep, but it’s wasn’t that terrible! That is until the King decreed that her very shop was to be closed down – no townsfolk even care. This set of horrible circumstances are what awaits players as they play the introduction of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland.

As Rorona, it is the player’s task to do a series of assignments for the King to sway him into sparing the shop. These twelve tasks are assigned one at a time and each have a due date. The final one being after three in-game years. With this obvious goal in mind, Rorona must work hard to scavenge items, fight monsters, use alchemy recipes, and fulfill the many requests lobbed in her direction. You see, it’s not only the King that has tasks but also the townsfolk and even your friends. Yep, poor Rorona is in for a seriously busy three years.

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Screenshot 1

There is a very rigid overall structure to Atelier Rorona, which means players can only ever do so many things before time runs out. You can venture outside of town to collect items for recipes and fight enemies along the way. Or, you can scrounge up some money and buy them from shopkeepers. Of course, who you choose to help is also up in the air. If you want, it is possible to completely spurn the King’s requests and help townsfolk exclusively instead, or vice versa. Although it is worth trying to manage both, chances are you’ll still not get the “true” ending without consulting a guide (or being awesome at time management).

In some ways, the game is simplistic. Instead of having a variety of points to draw from in battle, there is only HP. Rorona’s health is utilized for everything. Whether you’re performing alchemy or using a special skill, HP is pulled from. Of course, being attacked also drains some. However, there is no way to die. At worst, losing a fight will send you back home to nurse your wounds for a few days until they heal. Of course, you don’t want this to happen because it wastes precious days. Aside from HP, time is your main currency and it’s always draining!

Using alchemy is a surprisingly simple task thanks to smart menu design. The menu will always pull you to a specific section of items when one is needed for a recipe. Various traits of each item are also displayed, although this can become complex as you learn harder recipes. Without the right traits, you may end up with a poorly alchemized product. Gathering items, however, is not as fantastic. You can only carry 60 at a time and transferring them between the storage box at home and back is a tedious exercise. There are no easy ways to grab a section of items which would have been incredibly useful.

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Screenshot 2

Visually, Atelier Rorona is still a beautiful game. If you can ignore the sometimes fanboy-focused attire the design is otherwise very pretty. The world is pastel colored and the cel-shading is still as lovely as ever. Some backgrounds look uninspired, but it’s easy to ignore them when being put at ease by the attractive animation paired with a great soundtrack. Then there are the still pieces of art which also look divine. They’re highly detailed, colorful, and far nicer than the standard anime fare. Unfortunately, some of the game’s crude humor makes it into these scenes which really detracts from the overall atmosphere.

Atelier Rorona is a game of surprises. It doesn’t seem like such a pretty game would require strategic play to complete with a good ending but it does. Sure, you can fritter away the years, but then be left with an unsatisfying conclusion. As good as it looks, there are still instances where the writing veers into trite innuendo which has already been provided in many other lesser JRPGs. Although it leaves me with mixed feelings, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland still managed to sink its hooks in. I’ll become a master alchemist yet!

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

About our rating system