Hello, and welcome to Impressions, where I will be your guide to fabulous world of games that you likely have heard of, but did not care enough about to read up on. Well, I am here to feed you those thoughts that you never wanted in the first place! We kick off this week with a favourite series of mine.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux
This 3DS game is a remaster of the first-person dungeon crawling RPG from the 3DS. Redux also adds a new dungeon and extra story to tie it into the game. A dead zone called the Schwarzwelt has appeared in the South Pole and is slowly increasing in size. The player is part of a strike team assembled to infiltrate the area and investigate why it exists. The end goal of the team is to prevent the expansion of the zone from taking over the earth. Entry into the Schwarzwelt proves to be tougher than anyone could have anticipated, and the various vehicles carrying the force members are separated.
Strange Journey allows the player to be accompanied by up to three demon allies. Combat is turn-based and features the familiar cast of characters from the SMT series. The player can talk with demons during combat to recruit them to their party, though each race has an alignment (good, neutral, evil) that affects their personality. The alignment also triggers extra attacks in combat when an ally with the same alignment hits an enemies weakness. The second screen of the 3DS is used to chart a map as the player moves around. As the story progresses new features of the demonica (a suit of powered armour the player wears) are unlocked giving new methods to explore old areas. Demons can be fused together outside of combat to form new demon that inherits the skills of their parents.
The SMT series (and it’s spin off, Persona) are firm favourites of mine, though I rarely complete any of the games. Strange Journey Redux is no exception here. This game is quite long and filled with demons who know instant-death magic. The fun for me here is creating new demons to counter the strengths and weaknesses of bosses that can be encountered throughout the game. Toward the end of the game there are essential skills that buff allies and debuff enemies that should be learnt by demons in the party, but it feels like this limits creativity in creating a party. Bosses require a dedicated team rather than one that can be taken through the whole game. I ended up putting this down near the end because I got fed up with needing to change my team so often.
This is the third iteration of the Siralim series and is currently available on iOS/Android and PC. Siralim 3 is a retro dungeon crawler on a top down map. There is not much story to this game other than to lead the player deeper into the dungeon and unlock new features of the home base. Bosses are encountered at specific floors and can require unique methods to kill them. Floors are randomly generated from one of the many tilesets that are each associated with one of the games gods. Completing floor quests and performing certain actions will grant the player favour with the gods and allows the player to purchase items from them.
The main feature of Siralim 3 is it’s monster taming and raising mechanics. Combat is turn-based and the player can forgo attacking to extract a core from an enemy. The core can be turned into the same creature under the players control back in their base. Each monster family has a special ability that will trigger during combat, so a lot of thought can go into building a party of six monsters. Players can find breeding combinations in the dungeon allowing them to create new species. The parents are retired when a new monster is created, but the offspring inherits stats from the parents allowing it to become stronger once it levels up.
I picked up Siralim 2 during one of the PSN sales last year. The Vita version looked perfect, but the game ran slowly on the hardware. The game is cross-buy with the PlayStation 4, so I restarted on the big screen. Shortly after I picked it up Siralim 3 was announced, though currently the game is only planned for hardware other than iOS/Android & PC. Siralim 3 does feature cloud saves now, so I am currently enjoying this on my phone when I have a few minutes spare, and when the PlayStation 4 version is released I can just transfer my save between the two.
Dragon Ball Fusions
This Dragon Ball RPG title features pretty much every character from the various animes and movies up until the Future Trunks saga of Dragon Ball Super. The player creates an original character who wishes on the dragon Balls to fight in the ultimate martial arts tournament with the strongest opponents. The wish takes them and every other character (including their past and future versions) to a world where people fight in teams of five to determine who is the strongest. The player quickly finds a team in young Trunks, Goten, and the child Goku.
Combat in Fusions is turn-based, though the system is similar to the Grandia series. Character portraits move along a bar until their turn comes up and they can act. Striking an opponent can mover them further from their action. Combat takes place in an area, so positioning is important. Any character knocked out of the arena takes extra damage and is reset to the bottom of the action timer. Each character has a rock-paper-scissors affinity type that makes them strong/weak against one of the other two. Players can initiate combat by flying into an opponent in the open world environment. They also have a chance to recruit characters they defeat in combat, collecting them like some sort of Pokemon clone.
Fights in Fusions can take some time to complete. This means that combat also reward a lot of experience and characters level up frequently. This does not stop combat from becoming dull and repetitive though. I think even fans of the series would find it difficult to get much enjoyment out of this game as collecting all the characters requires fighting each one of them. Progress through the story is gated by collecting coloured orbs from… yep, combat! I can see what they were aiming for with this game, but the developers just did not deliver anything fun.