Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ~ Torna: The Golden Country

Image result for torna the golden country

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.

https://silverae.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/50f17-40791549_477255226118071_361292284171974729_n.jpg

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

My Favorite Games of 2017

exempt until I finish them: Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Tokyo Xanadu EX+, YS8

2017 was actually fantastic as a year in gaming, to tell you the truth I would definitely put all the games below within my top 35~ of all time at the moment, which is pretty high since I did an ordered list earlier where I had roughly 200~ just from my backlog listing and I’ve played more than that for sure over the span of the 16 years I’ve been playing video games or something.

goty

TIL I’m no good with GIMP and should stick to Photoshop as well, or something.

5) Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

I really enjoyed this entry in the FE series, I feel like it expanded on Valentia as a world a lot from the time I played Gaiden and really gave it the modern touch it needed to feel good playing. Gaiden as a game feels like a grind, and everything also feels slow and this game mostly touched that up other than certain map designs, which pleased me greatly.

But what really impressed me about this game was the levels of presentation and care that went into the world building. After playing Fates and Awakening, I kinda lost my faith in the future installments of the series due to the lack of depth the world and stories were given, (Fates continent still doesn’t have a name hello?) and while this may be a remake of an older game.. Gaiden itself had probably like 50 written lines in it and most of the story in that game was actually in a booklet the game comes with. Hidari’s artwork, along with the arranged music really sold me on this game’s excellence. Maybe IS still can have it in them, I’ll at least be picking up FESwitch whenever it comes out.

Heritors of Arcadia >>>> Lost in Thoughts All Alone btw (just my opinion haha)

 

4) Persona 5

It’s no surprise that a game this solid wouldn’t appear on my list. If I had to argue that video games are an artistic medium, one of the games I’d show you is probably this game. I have my own problems with this game personally, but the progress it made for future installments and gaming in general can’t be understated. The gameplay is still as amazing as ever when you get into it, and the artwork and music done by Soejima and Meguro are both sublime. A major bullet point about this game is it’s UI though, it felt really ahead of it’s time and it removes a lot of annoying menu scrolling that RPGs are pretty notorious for.

The core themes of this game are enticing, dungeons were upgraded from previous entries, and roaming around Japan feels really authentic as a Japanese person myself.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/C1l58WG96kI/maxresdefault.jpg

Hifumi is the best girl in this game btw, you guys can fight me.

3) The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd

This game may not have originally come out in 2017, although it only came out in English this year.

This game was the perfect end to my favorite JRPG trilogy in existence. While I might like it’s predecessor more for very specific reasons, I can’t deny the improvements that this game made on it’s actual gameplay (which I’m sure paved the way for the gameplay actually being very fun in future installments) considering the fact I believe the gameplay to be the notable weak point of the Sky Trilogy, with FC being a large offender.

I can never complain about Falcom JDK’s music, and this game kind of hit it out of the park. I think the most notable thing is how the story is segmented and separated however. If you get too much of fighting battles, there are doors you can open that provide optional storyline content for your side-characters with various rewards. I love in game freedom, and this wasn’t any different. These sidestories were very endearing, and the overarching main plot was also very good. Having played certain games further into the series, it really impresses me how the team at Falcom were able to put in plot points in this game and set them up way further down the line.

I don’t support these two at all, please don’t do me like this Falcom.

2) Nier: Automata

And along with Persona 5, this is the other game I would show if I had to make an argument for video games being a medium of art.

Yoko Taro’s genius writing literally had me thinking about the game, the setting, and it’s characters for about a month even after completing this game. It’s not something I can just describe to a person, and it’s much better to experience. The voice direction and the stories of 2B, 9S, A2, and Pascal were also spectacular, and I’m not sure I would have felt the same way if their performances weren’t extremely good. People tell me I’m not a very emotional person though, but this game definitely got a lot of that out of me, and quite frequently too.

The sandbox world in this game really does it for me too, it’s just about as concise as it needs to be and changes depending on what you’ve experienced in the story as well. Small worlds like this can really be bolstered by a good narrative, and it got me quite attached to the areas you roam around. To add onto that, Keiichi Okabe’s music built the game up and the game definitely has one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Platinum Game’s system for the game also works well, and I found it fun to transition during hacking segments and 3D roaming segments, although I can understand other people’s disdain about it.

What this game does really well though, is the fact that it constantly makes the player ask questions, but not only about the game or characters you’re playing. It’s a game that challenges what you believe about philosophical concepts, and basically anything relating to the human species that you could think of. This game is an experience I won’t ever forget, personally.

This song makes me wanna cry every time I hear it now, but I didn’t even care about it at the start of the game. ;_;

1) Xenoblade Chronicles 2

I didn’t really expect anything to top Nier: Automata, and my impressions of Xenoblade 2 weren’t amazing from the trailers they gave us. I had quite a bit to expect as well, since I really enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles as well and I wasn’t quite sure if Monolith were capable of making a game as good as that.

But y’know, the two games aren’t really comparable to me after all. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 just feels like a completely different game to me, with only a few similarities to the first game.

Games are a culmination of all mediums, and this game basically has everything. It has a long overarching plot akin to what you’d see in a movie or book, great art and visuals, and an immense variety of amazing music. When you think about a game though, the game play is always incredibly important, because it is what sets a game apart from other forms of entertainment. In that regard, Xenoblade 2 doesn’t disappoint and probably has one of my favorite battle systems in a video game ever due to the depth, but also simplicity of it once you get it all working together. It’s a system where you’re still learning the ropes of it even towards the end of the game, but also feels great to play when you piece all the parts of it together. Despite being finished with the game, I still want to play it more, which isn’t a feeling I get very often at all. Comparably, I thought the first Xenoblade’s battle system was also nothing special, but I don’t get that with this game at all.

My favorite part of this game though, is the world of Alrest. To me, the world of Mira from Xenoblade Chronicles X wasn’t built up quite as well as Alrest was, while the beings of Bionis and Mechonis from Xenoblade Chronicles weren’t as impressive to me as much as the titans were in this game.

I actually really enjoyed exploring the world and finding new areas to do sidequests, fight monsters, or just take in the sights. All the music while exploring didn’t disappoint either, and every time I played more I started to get really sad that I wouldn’t be able to experience this for the first time ever again. Those sorts of feelings are the ones you get only when you experience something really special though, so it kinda speaks to how I feel about this game. Here’s to hoping Monolith can build another world like this.

Shit, I wish I actually could live here or something. (For a dying world, this place is actually too nice..)

And that’s it for me this year! I’ll be editing some other lists and posting a couple more in a bit but this was the big one I had to make anyways. Here’s to a good 2018!

 

 

My Favorite Games of 2017

Shin Megami Tensei IV

Hello all, this’ll be my first review on this website and I’m hitting up none other than the notorious Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS!

Shin Megami Tensei IV is well, obviously the 4th installment of the Shin Megami Tensei series by Atlus! It’s a JRPG game that is turn based, and the series is notable for having darker themes than other games and also for being difficult at times! And of course, demons.

Shin_Megami_Tensei_IV

The box art is pretty beautiful, I must say. Tells you exactly what you’re about to get into, Walter on the left and Jonathan on the right, representing both demons and angels or chaos and law. Shin Megami Tensei is notorious for it’s alignment choices, so this here is quite a nod to that system.

Gameplay 8/10

This game uses the standard press turn system of a Shin Megami Tensei. Basically if you hit a weakness of an enemy you are fighting, you get an extra turn of action, and if you’re hit by an enemy who strikes your weakness, they get an extra turn of action. This can make some battles quite difficult, but to me I personally found this entry to be one of the easier mainline Shin Megami Tensei installments. This game has many demons for you to collect, fuse, and negotiate with to join your party! Sometimes you’ll even recruit guest characters to join you as well. Skills are used in battle alongside normal attacks and there are many skills to use. You can also easily pass on skills when you fuse two demons together to get a third one. Unfortunately, I feel that made the game a bit too easy since it’s very easy to get a good spread of demons this way unlike prior installments when you couldn’t just pass over everything you wanted to. There is some customization with your own character in terms of his equipment, apps (basically passive skills), and you can choose what stats to level up. In this sense you can gear to be a mage, fighter, jack of all trades character and other things. Negotiating is fun for a while, where you answer a demons questions and demands and try to sway them to join you, but after a while you get used to all the options and you won’t be using demons you negotiate, just ones you fuse since the ones you fuse are better with all the passover abilities.

When you aren’t in battle, you’re on the map. When I first got this game I was slightly confused by the point and click where you want to go, but as you descend into Naraku and Tokyo, you realize you walk on a map more similar to SMT3 and to go to other destinations there is a sort of world map. There are a lot of things you can look for in terms of the map like treasure, demons to fight or just characters to talk to. It’s pretty normal for a game in that you touch an enemy you fight it, and there’s not a whole lot of interaction there other than the fact that you can attack them to get extra damage off at the start of a fight or they can get the jump on you (and maybe wipe out your whole team in a round!). Overall the general experience is quite satisfying, especially when you get a boss killed in one round (bosses are generally hard in these series)!

Visuals 9/10
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The world of SMT is very vast, you begin in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, and you descent down through the depths of Naraku and finally into Tokyo itself. The game itself is very beautiful and the art style personally is one of my favorites in the SMT series. It renders itself nicely on the 3DS and the art for the demons is very well done. To be honest, after playing Nocturne I hoped they would continue with the 3D art style as with the new generation systems like the PS3 and up, you’d think that they could do amazing renders of the demons. But the 2D art is well done indeed. The real winner is the dark 3D overworld though, every area has it’s charm and creepiness to it, as the world itself is very dark indeed. The 3D cutscenes are very interesting as well, as they don’t really feel like cutscenes at all but rather moving pictures which give the game a lot of atmosphere.

Sound 8/10

Did you know that this installment is the first to be voice acted? Well, it is and it is done very well. The characters have a lot of life to them even though Shin Megami Tensei installments don’t focus on the characters too heavily, and it’s definitely thanks to these voice actors. The music by Ryota Koduka and Kenichi Tsuchiya, and arranged by Toshiki Konish is done very well. I thought it was interesting they didn’t use their very own Shoji Meguro, but they did very well indeed. There is a very interesting sound direction they created for this game, and it really shows. It’s pretty dark and there’s a tune that fits the atmosphere very well albeit they might not be good to hear. Though there are of course the blood pumping battle themes as well!

You hear this one when you boot up the game. And it’s crazy! It starts on a very low pitched note and it develops into one of the best themes I’ve ever listened to. As soon as I heard this I knew the game was gonna be crazy.

One of the main battle themes, listen to that bass go man…

Main overworld theme, and it does rock. The one thing I’d watch out for though is even though these are put in the game, 3DS speakers are normally not that good and the soundcard, and there is a LOT of bass in this OST so they don’t sound as good as they do here. But that’s a good taste of what to expect in the first place anyways!

Content 13/15

The content in this game is immense. The game follows an unnamed man (given name Flynn), on his journey to become a Samurai. He eventually becomes one and realizes that the goal of a Samurai is to defend the kingdom of Mikado obviously, but also to combat demons. Mikado is broken down to two classes, the “Casualries” and the “Luxurors“. The former are a peasant class, while the latter are nobles if you compare them to ourselves. You soon meet Jonathan, Isabeau, and Walter who are all also Samurai in training. All three of them have unique personalities that you may or may not agree with, and the choices down the line you make involving them and yourselves will affect the outcome of the story.

Stated above, there is a choice system that directly affects the storyline although it seems transparent in the way that it does. This is because the choice system is very well crafted, and that the answers aren’t as easy to look at as they seem. Some characters make it obvious which are the good or bad answers, but for the most part it is well crafted. By the time you reach the end, you realize how heavy the decisions you made impact the game, and it feels very fulfilling. Definitely good writing.

The game itself is quite long and there is a lot to do, and I was definitely pleased with it.

Extras (+2)

This game has a TON of quests for you to do, though in reality only some of them are extras. You need to do a lot of them for the neutral ending, so in the end they aren’t really extras if you gotta do them, hey? Lots of fetch quest type stuff too which is no good… I definitely liked the Nozomi subplot though! There are also quite a few areas you never need to go to in the main story arc that you can visit which is pretty cool.

Replayability (+1)

This game has some replayability, it makes you replay the game 4 times to get all 4 endings, but other than that there isn’t much else to do. More than one difficulty level and new game + also, but to beat the game 4 times to get different endings is very annoying. I’d only recommend to play it twice as there are path splits.

Pros
  • Great overall package of a JRPG (story, music, battles, graphics are all good)
  • Lots to do (demon negotiation, quests)
Cons
  • A bit nonlinear at times (confusing overhead map)
  • Some annoying fetch quests

Overall Score 41/45

closing

I really enjoyed this game and I’d recommend it to anyone, it was very well worth it! Definitely filled the gap of no SMT from Nocturne to IV very well!

“I’ll end it thus.”

ps. I liked Isabeau…

Shin Megami Tensei IV