quarta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2011

Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Review & Analysis

So I'm going to review and analyze the game, trying to point out relevant points about the design of the game.

Legend of Heroes is an JRPG(Japanese RPG) series, that has been growing lately in it's home country. So this one game(Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky, for the PSP) got a great translation from Xseed and got a small presence in the west. I'm around 20 hours in to the game, and I have a lot of thoughts about game design from playing it.

Check out the game trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpSyTj7m-wM


The battlesystem. Notice the bar in the right. Turn order with bonuses!
Fun, turn-based battle, with a feel of strategy. Nothing wrong with the battle system, really, a lot of things done right, battles aren't boring, but they also aren't "omg, this is the best battle system ever!". One great thing about the battlesystem is that it involves both time and space. You can move in the battlefield and you can also mess up a little with the turn order, but none of the two elements are predominant. I think that turn based systems in general can be improved a lot by including time elements, being able to change the turn order in creative ways. The space element is done well too, reminding me a little bit of Chrono Trigger, in the way that the techs affect a certain area of space. It's good, but not enough, you don't get enough freedom.  One thing it does well, though, is rewarding you when you do "the right thing". The game special turn bonuses that help you or the enemy, so messing with the turn order to get bonuses feels good. This is good, because the reward comes as you battle, not only in the end of the battle. It's a solid battle system with great concepts! I just think the player should have more freedom with time and space.

It features no random encounters, has an option to retry battles, all of those are good stuff, so take notes. Random encounters should really be removed, they rarely add anything good but a outdated old school feeling, in my opnion

Outside of battles you get a lot of quests, which are fun, but often involve running around. Some of the quests actually provided immersion for me, since I kinda felt "ok, I'm annoyed a little, but maybe it annoys the characters too", but I think it's more of a flaw, but nothing too bad. The quests are well done, for the most part.

The story develops really slowly. I'm 20 hours in and everything I've seen of the actual plot is... Well, very little. I can't really say all that much about it, then, maybe I'll say more when I finish up the game. Up until now the game is made up of small arcs that don't really affect each other too much. This is definitely a design flaw, but since everything is pretty well written and there is a lot to read, it feels good. To me, anyways.
About the setting, well, it has a medieval feeling with some technological elements. The world is pretty well fleshed out.

The game really shines here. The entire cast is interesting and they have a lot, and I do mean A LOT of dialog all the time, and it's really well written, like they really wanted to breath life in to the characters. They all interact pretty well with what happens in the game. They really hit a spot here, since everything feels pretty real. They are not my favorite characters ever, but they have a lot of quality, similar to the "Tales of" series. If you're making a story intense game, this is definitely something to aim for, even if your game is more plot oriented. And how do you do it? Quality dialog!

Lots of 2D goodness here. Everything is pretty simple, but the sprites are pretty. The world is 3D though. The character design is in anime style. It feels a little bit generic, but it does the job well.

Nothing too fancy. The music is good, never annoys me, but nothing too memorable. Does it's job.

So, this game doesn't really have a lot of flaws, except plot continuity. This game is definitely a reference for writing good dialog and for making an effective turn based system, especially the latter, since those are rare gems in the industry.

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