What started with my infatuation with one niche JRPG publisher has now spread out, encompassing a wide variety of games coming out of the East. Even if I may not be too keen on a certain genre, I’m willing to bet I’ll love the artwork and music that these games provide. Aksys Games is another niche game publisher, bringing some interesting titles over to this side of the Pacific as of late. One of those titles is the strategy RPG Record of Agarest War. It will likely fly under most people’s radar, surprisingly, even with the above image. Even JRPG fans, perhaps, might not know too much about the title. I thought I’d preview it for those who are a little curious.
The game was developed as a collaboration between several smaller JRPG studios – Idea Factory (Spectral Force), Compile Heart (Cross Edge) and Red Entertainment (probably nothing you’ve heard of). These type of games typically don’t push the boundaries of any current generation system, falling back mostly on sprite-based visuals during actual gameplay, but they always have unique mechanics and are very… Japanese. There are those of us who like that, you know!
The general plot focuses on the age-old war between light and darkness, good and evil, whatever you want to call it. At the beginning of time, there happened to be a horrific war between the forces of good and evil, which ended in the destruction of Agarest. However, good prevailed and the Gods of Light took all the old bodies of the dead Gods of Darkness and made a new world. As you may have guessed, the Gods of Darkness begin to awaken once more, which puts the entire world in peril. At the beginning, you can choose the path of Light or the path of Darkness, which drives you through what is billed as an “epic story, spanning multiple generations”.
What is most interesting about Record of Agarest War is the story – not the plot overall, but how it is advanced and executed. Something you don’t see very often in any RPG is the passage of time, signified by coming and going generations. In this game, you play through three generations. Here’s how things work: Your main character hooks up with one of the female characters in the game and they make babies through something known as the “Soul Breed” system. Then you play another character which is the child of your main character. Eventually, they have kids of their own, and you continue the story with the third generation. Kind of interesting, no?
The future of the world will also be altered based on the actions you take, which is referred to as the “Link Gauge System”. So, be careful about how you speak to people and the decisions you make, they might come back to bite you on the ass! Another “system” in the game, which directly relates to the “Soul Breed” system I mentioned above, is your affection rating with the various lovely ladies. You can take a look at your standings with all of the game’s heroines to gauge how well they like you and, presumably, how likely they are to want to get in your pants.
The game’s battle screens look much like your typical SRPG, and it likely has gameplay to match, it also has a dating sim aspect which is an entire part of the game in itself. Perhaps we can think of this title as a cross between Persona 4 and Final Fantasy Tactics, that might give you a good idea of the variety in the gameplay. In battle, focus is given to positioning your fighters in such a way that you can pull off combo attacks that greatly damage an enemy or group of enemies. Your relationships with others have an effect on battle and these combo attacks, as well.
If you’re a fan of anime-style visuals you’ll also be pleasantly surprised by this title, as the game is filled with them and just exudes the fact that it is a JRPG. Fans of the genre in general will likely eat this up, and I probably won’t be any different. It is reported that Record of Agarest War has 100 hours of gameplay time in just the story alone, not including side/bonus missions and the like, so if you can get into it, you’ll be at it for quite some time. At least we know we’re getting our money’s worth, right?
The game releases on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 the week of April 27th, however only the Xbox 360 is getting a physical retail product – both in regular and “Really Naughty Limited Edition” varieties. The PS3 version will only be available in a 10GB download via the PSN. I hope you have plenty of room on your hard drive! You know you’re curious, right? As “interesting” as the video trailers for the game make it out to be, it can’t be that bad, considering it only has a “Teen” rating in the U.S. It is looking pretty good, so much so that I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Er, wait…