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

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

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Gameplay – 7.5/10

+ This game has a pretty unique grid based battle system, and it’s pretty enjoyable.
+ Endgame combat has some really big highs, like 10 turns in a row with turn break and crazy damage multipliers from Rosch’s 7 hit/Gafka’s 9 hit combo. I had a lot of fun with this system, the highs are super high but the lows are pretty low too. Stacking enemies with positionals is pretty fun though.
+ Character usability is great in this game, every character has a niche they perform, and even Stocke doesn’t have the most amazing MC privilege like some MCs do, but he is still very strong.
– Party experience isn’t quite split evenly which always bothers me.
– It doesn’t teach you the system or what combos do very efficiently, and fighting mobs without AoE/speed/all positionals at the start of the game is kinda not good (Sand Fortress).

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Visuals – 7.5/10

+ Nice sprites all with distinct animations. It’s funny how Raynie and Marco use similar animations to regular mercs, but I guess they are regular mercs but a bit stronger. Stocke’s sword flashing and Eruca’s gun animations standout quite well.
= Pretty regular portrait art and map design.

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Story – 10/10

+ Honestly? I had such a good time with the writing and characters in this game. Time travel plots are really enjoyable to me if done well, and this wasn’t any exception.
+ The characters are all written very well and aren’t one dimensional and have their own lives apart from the MC, including NPCs. They all have their own reasons for doing the things they do, and I found that pretty refreshing.
+ There was always something interesting keeping me in the story, even if one timeline was boring at a time, the other one was interesting during that timespan, and the ending is easily one of the best I’ve seen to a JRPG.

Content – 9/10

– I’m a little iffy on the stuff they added in the Perfect Chronology version… especially the extra ending.. (Hugo? Protea? ????) but it is more content, I just don’t know if it’s actually good content.
+ The base game has a plethora of content, and some of the sidequests contribute to a true ending which is nice, they don’t feel just like fetch quests. Everything you do feels rewarding.
+ Each character has a sidequest that nets them more abilities which is nice, no character is valued over the other.

Music – 6/10

= A lot of music that is just befitting to the area that isn’t too memorable.
+ That being said, Shimomura did make some bangers this game, notably Mechanical Kingdom, Blue Radiance, The Edge of Green, and The Garden Where the Celestite Lies.

Extra Notes

+1 for that ending, jeez.

41/50

Silverae Notes

– Master Vainqueur has to be one of the worst optional boss fights I’ve ever played.. please don’t have optional bosses you do 1 damage to even at endgame.
– I find it interesting how they updated the portrait art from the original DS game..
– I didn’t actually learn combos increased combo damage significantly until the final chapter lmao.
– I wanted to fight Dias and Selvan so badly..
– Stocke, Rosch, and Raul are the boys. I love Rosch’s relationship dynamic with Sonja. I really appreciate Raul’s cynicism, he’s the sort of character I can really appreciate since it’s not easy to notice what you’re doing wrong is actually wrong in the moment and regress.
– Really enjoyed the atmosphere in this game, some games that include war don’t feel like there are actual battles taking place, but this game has good pacing.
– Funny how Raynie and Marco have the same VA as Io and Daichi from Devil Survivor 2, I got deja-vu right away since I came off of that.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

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

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

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Story – 10/10

+ The hook was really interesting, the initial premise of a person who only wants to find out about their past life and who they were.
+ Very coherent and easy to understand plot, considering the usage of otherworldly powers.
+ Every character including the minor ones add a lot of flavor to the game and are unique.
+ This game always leaves you wanting to know more, and the situation only develops instead of stagnating.

Visuals – 8/10

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+ Really enjoyable visual style, I think the pixelated models and animations actually showed a lot of depth and character, specifically for characters like Cabanela.
+ The portraits show a lot of expressions and are all well done.
– Some of the puzzles were confusing due to the visual and graphical style, notably one resorting to a wool cap but it wasn’t a huge deal.

Music – 8/10

+ The music really fit the game’s atmosphere at all times really well.
+ Masakazu Sugimori did a great job composing for the game, with specific tracks like The Beginning of the Night, The Last Desperate Struggle, and the Main Theme.

Presentation – 9/10

+ The gameplay matched with the storyline very well, and things were easy to interact with and kept the game going in a linear fashion where you still had to figure out what to do in what order.
+ Some of the puzzles were actually pretty tricky, I think I found the basement one the most challenging.
= This game had a bit of an experimental style where you don’t really get punished for anything, but in a way they were able to give more hints to players that were struggling.

Extra Notes

– Might add something here a bit later.

Final Score: 35/40

Silverae Notes

– Shu Takumi really is an impressive writer.
– I found it really hard to be patient in this game when people are dying around you and I felt like I wanted to blitz through puzzles but I guess that’s just my problem.
– I think the only thing I would have liked more clarification on was specific powers for characters or maybe why or how they got them, but that’s just me being nitpicky.
– The dynamic between Jowd and Cabanela was quite fun to see.
– Missile is the best doggo.
– Shoutout to my favorite person for finally getting me to play this :]

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective