Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

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Gameplay – 8/10

+ Felt pretty straight forward for the most part, but bosses were fun besides Orjugan who I didn’t know how to fight properly, and even then I fought it incorrectly probably just by deflecting it’s missiles lmao.
= Additional sword techniques like the charge fire slash or the tornado comboes were nice, but it kinda felt like they weren’t really necessary to actually use most of the time.
+ Solid YS gameplay, but not enough skill expression imo for the system which is a little unfortunate, but still fun.
– Some stuff feels a little stat-checky based on your equipment/levels, I wish this game wouldn’t let you do 0 damage and let you do 1 or something.

Visuals – 6/10

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+ Environments were nice.
= I feel like otherwise, there wasn’t a whole lot to look at.

Story – 5/10

+ Again, not a whole lot to talk about here, though it is nice to see the continuation of Adol’s story.
+ A short, simple story to round off the gameplay. Geis was an interesting character at the very least.

Content – 6/10

+ A couple of optional bosses and sidequests here and there. Dungeons had hidden passages and hidden stuff to see, some of it pretty hard to find.
= Game content wasn’t very long though itself, my Steam clocked in around 10-11 hours.

Music – 9.5/10

+ I really love Ys 6’s OST though. It’s a good mixture of faat paced energetic music, and good adventuring music.
+ The first song you hear on the island is Gratitude for Nature’s Blessings, and it’s just such a relaxing song.
+ Quatera Woods is the perfect exploration music as well, to me. It’s one of my favorite field themes in any game.
+ Other personal favorites from this soundtrack would include Mighty Obstacle, Ultramarine Deep, The Ruined City ‘Kishgal’, and of course Ernst.

Extra Notes

34.5/50

Silverae Notes

– Ernst fight was definitely the highlight of this game imo. For someone who comes in only near the end of the game, he sure knew how to make an entrance.
– Dash jumping was neat but it really was annoying to do platformer puzzles that you’d have to repeat if you fell off, not to mention the amount of hidden stuff locked behind dash jumping in-between like 4 pillars. Not really sure how one is supposed to figure that out without a guide.
– I didn’t play the PS2 version of this game, but I wanted to give a shoutout to Konami’s team for adding Alma’s Trials, I’ve always really loved this song and wanted to play Ys VI cause of it.

Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III

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Gameplay – 9/10

+ Brave Order system was really fun, albeit probably a little broken. Gave more usage to the BP the first two Cold Steel games introduced though, so you had to meter manage a little more instead of just mashing burst/rush.
+ Break system was neat, although using burst to rush break was a little broken. Still, it wouldn’t be Trails without seeing how broken you can make your party! Bosses should have recovered a lot faster, but other than that, the battle system felt really great compared to previous Cold Steel entries.
= Some of the monster fights felt like they dragged on due to high HP bars that you couldn’t get through without breaking them, and as a result I stopped doing every monster encounter.

Visuals – 8.5/10

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+ Animation quality went up a huge amount since CS1 and 2, I’m proud to see Falcom working hard on touching stuff up.
+ The environments were pretty nice, honestly I loved a lot of it, but they could do a little more with their fields.
+ Some S-Crafts were really nice to watch–like Gaius’ Howling Heavens.

Story – 10/10

+ This game was fucking insane lmao. The amount of setup it had was pretty ridiculous, and the buildup from CS2 finally paid off considering how much filler it felt like CS2 had.
+ All the new characters they added were really lovely and the returning characters from the past series were treated quite well.
+ Seeing Rean as an instructor and seeing him not struggle in fights was such a good feeling after the first two games, he’s really grown up.
+ The way they finally tie all the arcs together is some huge fanservice, but all the characters feel like they’re there for a purpose.

Content – 10/10

+ This game had so much in it actually, from the main story to sidequests to just collection stuff. I also found that the content in the game didn’t drag on at all like how I feel sometimes with longer games, and that most of the content added to the game universe in some way.

Music – 9.5/10

+ Falcom JDK does it again, although I don’t think this is their strongest OST, it’s still a Falcom OST.
+ Singa is definitely not up to par with the other two composers, but I’m not that nitpicky. His work on Beyond the Journey, Step Ahead, Cheap Trap, Brilliant Escape.
+ Sonoda seemed to do a lot of field themes, personal favorites are Briefing Time, Power or Technique, Hamel -Remains-, The Caged Crossbell, Raquel, the Amusement Town.
+ Unisuga’s a god. Anything this guy makes is literally amazing. Favorites include Einhel Keep, Brave Steel, Start Line, Endless Possibilities, Saint-Arkh, the Old Capital, Lift-off!, Erosion of Madness, Ordis, the Azure Port Town, Spiral of Erebos.
+ Brave Steel might be my favorite regular battle theme in the series. It’s definitely up there with Determination of Fight.
+ I usually don’t stay on title screens very long anymore, but Start Line was so good it kept me there.
+ Every time Power or Technique came on I’d get pretty hyped ngl. I’m happy they got a chance to work with saxophones on stuff like the Raquel theme as well.
+ The chase scenes with Brilliant Escape were so funny, but also fun to watch.

Extra Notes

= Quartz usage was minimal, I didn’t have to craft a single quartz the entire game. I guess it’s for people who don’t do sidequests or don’t hunt all the treasure like me though.
+ The game was quite optimized, it was really nice to enter an encounter and have it instantly swap to a battle screen.

47/50

Silverae Notes

– Having Machias, Juna, and Sara in the same party was hilarious for accel chains. Sara’s Brave Order wasn’t balanced for sure.
– It’s crazy how important the Hundred Days War and the Hamel incident still are even this late into the series, it really makes me wonder how they had all of this setup since the start. Also it’s a huge treat to us Sky fans.
– I had a huuuuuuge smile on my face when Blue Destination started playing.
– Randy’s a bro.
– Visiting Hamel was a crazy throwback with the Hamel theme playing.. I tripped out crazy hard having Agate in the party too.
– The cuts to black fucking ended me, so I can’t believe they did it to me twice.. Kondo pls.
– I ended up liking the new Class VII more than I thought. I thought going in that I’d like Kurt, Musse, and Altina the most, but Juna and Ash grew on me so much. I hope Kurt gets to punch Cedric in the face though.
– Voice work on this game was splendid.
– The fade to black with shudder sound during CH4 gave me a heart attack honestly, it was so well done.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

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Gameplay – 8/10

The opening cutscene is super cool imo.

+ Had a lot of fun with this entry in battle sequences.
+ Anyone can learn any skill tree, allows for a lot of flexibility. I especially liked how Void options were just party nulls but you can only apply one at a time.
+ Lots of strategies for fights, and you can’t cheese your way to an early power charge or good attack all the time.
– I enjoy 4 press turn sequences more than 3, but only a minor nitpick.
– Lategame ailments were pretty bad in this game.

Visuals – 8/10

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+ Cutscene fluidity was actually super cool in this game. The opening cutscene was one of my favorite parts of the game actually.
+ Standard SMT fare locales and demon designs.
+ Battle animations are fast so even if you get into a lot of encounters the game speeds by pretty quickly.

Story – 8/10

+ The story had an interesting premise for sure, but it was pretty barebones as well.
+ The characters were quite interesting and had their own motivations.
= Fighting each faction is pretty standard RPG fare.
– A lot of setup and unanswered questions so the story feels unfinished until DDS2.

Content – 7.5/10

+ Game was the perfect length to me, had enough content and ended before it’d get boring.
+ Skill progression was neat and tidy.
– Some sidequests and bosses were a little annoying or felt a little uninspired.

Music – 7.5/10

+ Meguro at it again with another quite good OST. Track list is a bit on the smaller spectrum though.
= Dungeon themes were pretty standard, but battle themes were great.
+ Standouts in this OST to me were Muladhara, Hunting, Hunting – Comrades.
+ I love Hunting so much that for being the games only standard battle theme it never got old. It’s so mellow for a battle theme it makes me feel right at home.

Extra Notes

39/50

Silverae Notes

– I really hate how status effects are balanced in this game. I’d sometimes just get stunned on purpose and not cure it because it was better to be stunned than to have any other status ailment.
– I liked Gale and Cielo the most for characters. I found it interesting how Gale wasn’t part of the “main” group that was in the alternate universe.
– Favorite dungeon was the castle with the story about the Evil and Good Prince. It felt so strange for a SMT game but it set the tone for that area very well with Heat and Serph’s dynamic at that point.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

Ys I & II Chronicles

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Gameplay – 5/10

+ YS1 Bump system was quite fun. Dark Fact was a challenging boss and every run of it is different.
– YS1 felt a little level gated with how much damage you gain per level and the HP you get.
– YS2 magic was overwhelmingly strong and broke the game for sure, as soon as you get the homing upgrades there’s not much of a point to fighting things normally.

Visuals – 4/10

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+ Environments looked pretty nice.
– A lot of the samey areas or areas that felt similar.
= Not many animations as you basically just run into things.

Story – 3/10

= The books of YS and their descendants were an interesting concept at least.
+ Reah and Feena being recurring and seeing the faces from YS1 in YS2 again was cool.
– Nothing really interesting about it though.

Content – 5/10

– Very short games.
+ Some neat sidequests that are hidden here and there or items you can get.
= Low level caps mean you can’t grind yourself out of an undesirable situation. Some fights can remain hard if you aren’t prepared.

Music – 8/10

+ Not Falcom’s best work, but definitely has some good tracks. Bless JDK.
+ Notable tracks include First Step Towards Wars, Tower of the Shadow of Death, Dreaming, Tender People.

Extra Notes

= Some funny stuff in this game, like sleeping in other girl’s beds or sizing them up. Adol is quite the guy, even way back.

25/50

Silverae Notes

– I actually wanted to play this entry eventually especially because of the Zanmai version of First Step Towards Wars.

Ys I & II Chronicles

Tales of the Abyss

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Gameplay – 7.5/10

+ This game is considered the blueprint for future Tales of games, sporting free run and the HP/TP system. AI isn’t too challenging with free run though, and the game does just have better artes for certain characters (Void Tempest, Rending Thrust, etc).
+ Boss battles were fun, especially the six God Generals, All 6 characters were pretty fun to play at times as well.
– Higher difficulties can be statchecky at times, see Unknown mode Liger Queen.

Visuals – 5/10

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– Bad framerate makes things look choppy.
+ Some artes/FOFs are pretty cool looking, but overall leave a lot to be expired. Jade’s spells are a highlight.
– Models and animations outside of battle seem choppy or slow.
+ General art assets are fine.

Story – 9.5/10

+ I really enjoyed all the characters in this game, they all have their own motivations for what they do, including the antagonists.
+ Sidequests bolster the amount of lore and backstory between characters like Tear and Legretta, or even minor characters.
+ The world is pretty well built, Auldrant has some really neat lore behind it.
+ I really think life being bound to prophecy and religion was an interesting concept and it was executed well in this game. It was really interesting how the characters fell into the prophecy and the decisions they took regarding their own destinies.

Content – 8/10

= There is always a lot to do in the story, although it doesn’t always feel fulfilling.
+ A lot of sidequests that are meaningful. Jewel of Gardios, Cecile/Frings, and various costumes are nice to have. I like how every playable character has their own artes sidequest line as well.
– Lots of backtracking.

Music – 4/10

= Standard Motoi Sakuraba fare of music. Some really boring music like the Baticul sewers but some pretty good music at times. Motoo Fujiwara’s contributions to the game are very enjoyable though.
+ Standouts include mirrors, finish the promise, abyss.

Extra Notes

+ FOF circles were the gimmick in this game, they actually make the game way more enjoyable in combat. (+1)
+ Multiplayer was good in this game, the camera zooms out further the more players you have. Doing the Arena Team Exhibition Battle with my sister was really a highlight of my younger years. (+1)

36/50

Silverae Notes

– Loading times are pretty bad.
– I love this game despite the lower score, I played it a ton with my sister and I have a lot of nostalgia for this game, but replaying it kinda let me see it’s flaws as well. It’s really fun to play with someone.
– Sunlight Chamber on Guy is super fun.
– I like Jade, Guy, and Tear a lot.

Tales of the Abyss

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ~ Torna: The Golden Country

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Gameplay – 10/10

+ Felt like a step up from the original Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Battle System.
+ Swapping Blades and Drivers with unique switch arts as well as freestyle blade combos was nice, even though it kept the extra depth with special blade combos.
+ I already loved the base game’s battle system, but it felt a lot nicer to be able to play as different characters in battle.

Visuals – 10/10

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+ Honestly felt like the graphics improved from the base game, and that they mastered the system.
+ Cutscenes were still great as ever, a particular favorite of mine (spoilers).
+ Landscapes and level design were nice as usual from the Monolith team, and combat specials felt smooth and nice to look at.

Story – 5/10 (8/10 if you’ve played Xenoblade Chronicles 2)

– I feel like the story left us still with a lot of questions, especially if the base game has been played.
+ Some things were done well, such as the explaining of the Tornan Titan and how Lora meets Addam amongst other things.
– They could have used some more time developing characters with Hugo and Aegeaon coming to mind specifically.

Content – 4/10

+- A lot of sidequests to do, this is good because it adds gameplay and exploration, however they pad the story content with mandatory sidequests. This has good plot connotations because of the fact that Addam is seen as a hero though, however.
– A lot of the game would be better if the story was just a little longer.
+ Camping and crafts were a nice touch.

Music – 10/10

+ This is impossible not to give a 10/10, considering I had this theme on loop for like 3 weeks straight.
+ I would give it a 10 just for that theme, but here are some more. Gormott, The Acting God, The Kingdom of Torna (Day),
+ Mitsuda, Kenji Hiramatsu, ACE+, and Kiyota do it again. The use of different instruments for arrangements from the base game is super nice. The Kingdom of Torna is super relaxing.

Extra Notes

+ All in all, I think Nintendo and Monolith Soft did a great job with this expansion DLC, it felt really fruitful to play and I enjoyed it a lot.

39/50

Silverae Notes

– I can’t believe they did almost the full combat tutorial in one battle.
– I really enjoyed Minoth, Haze, Hugo, Jin, and Addam in this DLC.
– The themes in this game carry over to the base game really well, and I felt terrible for Jin. Jin is such a good boy. I ship Jin and Lora for sure.
– I wish we could have seen where Lora resonates with Haze, since Haze seems to be a special blade. And maybe a bit of Hugo and Addam’s interactions in the past, but I just wanted to see more since I love Xenoblade Chronicles 2 so much.
– Gort was really creepy.

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Protect this hecking good boy, please.

 

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ~ Torna: The Golden Country

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

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Gameplay – 8/10

+ Grid-based strategy elements were pretty good, crack systems and buffs are better utilized than in Devil Survivor 1.
+ Good amount of characters to build teams you like, but there isn’t much of an incentive to need to use other characters.
+ Press turn system is implemented in a unique style, giving you extra battle turns if you hit weaknesses.
– Early game fights felt really grindy, especially with the fairy healing skills.

Visuals – 6/10

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+ 2D sprites and maps. Demon art by Kaneko is always nice to see.
+ Consistent artstyle between characters however with traits that separate them well. (ie. Fumi’s cheongsam, Jungo’s toque)
– Lack of interesting animations.
– Definitely more charming DS/3DS games out there.

Story – 7/10

+ Concepts and otherworldly concepts were interesting.
+ Characters were mostly well developed, especially when it comes to the Triangulum Arc.
+ The Triangulum Arc is what the the Septentrion Arc should have been, although it is better with the extra context as you feel more for the characters. I’d give the Septentrion Arc a 5, and then add 2 for the Triangulum.
– The story feels like it runs around in circles pretty often until the end.
– You either have an idea of what’s going on, but the characters don’t so you run around for a while.
= Characters can be permanently killed, which changes some events.

Content – 9/10

+ A lot of character events, since there are so many characters.
+ Playing both the Septentrion and Triangulum Arcs is an easy 80~ hours if you like grinding extra battles.
+ There are even sidequests within the game, and new game + bonuses.
+ There is a lot of voice acting, and it is basically all done very well. There’ll probably be voices you don’t like, but there’ll also be voices you will really enjoy as well.
= Multiple endings with a lot of rehashed content, good for replayability if you really like the systems.
– A lot of reused content, specifically in the last days of the Septentrion Arc.

Music – 9/10

+ Kenji Ito did a wonderful job with this game. The soundtrack grows on you the more you play it. I felt a little lukewarm about the music at the start, but I’ve come around to really enjoy some of it.
= There is a lot of forgettable music, though it does fit the scenes it is played in.
+ Favorites were Exploration, Septentrion, Battle of the Brave, Will of the Species, Providence.

Extra Notes

– Amount of extra battles, demon cracking could have been a bit simpler.
+ QOL is very nice in this game, things can be done really fast. (Auction, Fusing, Character setups, etc.)

39/50

Silverae Notes

– A lot of likable characters in this game. I liked Daichi, Io (Triangulum), Ronaldo, Yamato, Miyako, and Fumi.
– My favorite character is definitely Otome though, I prefer her more balanced distribution to Fumi’s while still being basically as strong magic-wise after a certain point.
– Lategame demons were kinda hard to get, especially without getting Fate 5 on a lot of characters, though it’s usually like this in SMT games.
– I’d like to see another Devil Survivor game.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker