August 5, 2018

Shining Resonance Refrain Quick Review

Posted in video games tagged , at 2:24 pm by riulyn

Good stuff

  • Lots of character interactions. Got a good feeling for all of the playable characters and not just with the main character, but also with each other
  • Always motivation to move forward in the plot (unlike some other Shining games…)
  • All playable characters have a unique feel and all can be effective in battle

Bad stuff

  • AI of party members is horrendous. They don’t block for major attacks and can easily get themselves wiped out. Healing AI is the only AI that seems to work right.
  • Boss battles get too easy at the end if you compensate for bad AI
  • It takes forever to level up characters. Very easy for characters to fall behind in levels if you don’t use them. My final levels were in the high 50s for my main party and only 30-ish for the two characters I used the least (used them just for affinity for dates and unlocking endings)
  • Why is there only one actual town in this game?

Recommendation – Best Shining game I’ve played so far. Characters feel well-rounded, the plot isn’t just an excuse to have characters but rather actually drives forward, and combat has its tricks and isn’t too easy. The character interactions are more fun than the main plot. It’s not like the story never gets serious, but it doesn’t try to be too dark or too serious or mind-blowing. It’s about having fun and fulfilling expectations. So if you weren’t interested in the game based on the promo materials, I don’t think there’s a pleasant surprise and that you should change your mind. If you are interested, it’s worth a playthrough. I did it immediately on Refrain and recommend that mode – sure, some stuff is out of order but nothing is confusing.

I’m just so happy that there’s a Shining game that actually lived up to its promise. Of course it’d been awesome if it had exceeded them, but meeting expectations is a good start. Finally!

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Valkyria Chronicles 3 Quick Review

Posted in video games tagged , at 2:11 pm by riulyn

Good stuff

  • likeable characters + side chapters to help make each of them memorable
  • job class system is good
  • combat is solid
  • no shortage of customization

Bad stuff

  • maps weren’t that interesting most of the time
  • some chapters felt padded
  • missions felt kind of disconnected and plot really only takes off halfway through
  • no apparent reason to do the Riela & Imca split stuff

Overall recommendation – Test out the first few chapters. If the combat seems to your liking, go further. It’s a long game and there are a lot of battles, so if you can’t take the battle system, you won’t be going far.

Other thoughts: There’s more of a purpose and a maturity to this game compared to Valkyria Chronicles 2, but brings the good parts of Valkyria Chronicles 2 such as the expanded number of job classes and cameos from previous games. However it brought some of the bad from Valkyria Chronicles 2 mainly maps that get reused without interesting new objectives (lots of maps that they expect you to S-rank in 4-5 turns) and a story that isn’t quite streamline. I wouldn’t recommend this game as a first Valkyria Chronicles game – definitely think the first Valkyria Chronicles is the best one I’ve played. I’m looking forward to Valkyria Chronicles 4 though!

July 30, 2018

What I’m almost finishing now – Shining Resonance Refrain

Posted in video games tagged , at 7:12 am by riulyn

I put about 40 hours in 8 days into this game and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few things

  1. The battle system is very solid. Every character is interesting to play as. Unfortunately boss battles were more interesting at the beginning than they are currently, where it is more of a grind than strategic.
  2. Lots and lots of optional character interactions. Interactions between party members that make me think of modern Atelier games. It’s not just late night chats and walks around town.
  3. A consistent motivation and plot the entire time. My standards were pretty low because I’d made assumptions before about these modern Shining games, and this one was coming in highly recommended as a fun romp and I was worried about how people defined their fun. Thankfully people were right about this one for me.

I think most people who focus on the plot and don’t randomly level characters they don’t use and don’t randomly decide to do dungeons or quest runs would be done with the game by now, but I’m relatively close to the end. I think it’ll be another 10 hours for me since I do keep wanting to do some character optional stuff. I haven’t decided whose ending I’m going for or whose ending I’m closest to getting? I’m not sure how much choosing there is? I guess I’ll find out soon.

Oh, I did just go straight into Refrain mode on my first playthrough. I think it’s perfectly fine and not confusing (I feel like I read somewhere online that it was?) and it’s been fun to have interactions with characters that aren’t supposed to be in my party.

July 8, 2018

More Valkyria Chronicles 3 Thoughts

Posted in video games tagged , , at 9:11 am by riulyn

I’ve made it to Chapter 11 of Valkyria Chronicles 3 and I’m not sure when this game will end, but I’ve already put in close to 50 hours… It’s a meaty experience because there are a lot of optional battles, including optional ones for every character in the squad inside of their side stories.

Probably my biggest complaint is that the plot is suddenly getting quite interesting, and it didn’t need to take this long to get here. Cameos of previous characters have been shoved left and right, and I wonder if that really needed to happen. It was cute at first, but when I started realizing the game was going to keep going, I was like “do I really need another battle so a cameo can be forced in?”

It’s been hard to track the when and why of stuff of the beginning part of the game, but now everything makes sense to me. So I’m going to blame the writing a bit for this. I’m sure there was also some of this back and forth going on with Valkyria Chronicles 1, but I felt like I had a better idea what was going on generally within the country and the warscape during that game than I have here. I’m doing missions and the warlines are changing, and maybe if I spent time reading the newspapers in the camp menu I’d know better, but I feel like I didn’t have to go out of my way to figure stuff out in VC1?

The reason things are better now are because our “side adventures” have a clear reason for happening, at least in my eyes. I’m excited to see what will come of it.

As for the other stuff in this game, it’s pretty solid. Easy mode is easier than it was in VC2 I feel. I’ve never felt in danger of really losing any battles; I have only lost when I’ve been too aggressive and ditch my home base before making sure no enemies are around. The AI has gotten smarter in the last few missions, so they aren’t dumb forever, but I think they are purposefully dumb in easy mode so I can beat it 😀 The classes are the same from VC2 and you can switch people to different classes, which is good. I haven’t switched too many people around, but Alfonse as a shocktrooper now is pretty powerful. I don’t really use the engineers or the armored techs, especially the latter in the late game since I have the swords-people (I forget their job class name) and also I haven’t run into tank mines yet. My sniper has been kicking major ass, but shocktroopers are the most useful in this game for me. There’s a good number of squad people to use, which is nice when I want 5 shocktroopers out or even 5 lancers out. I still have a few people left to recruit too (either not far enough in the story or missing some other trigger).

In pretty much every way I like VC3 more than VC2. Story-wise, I like VC1 better still. Side character-wise, VC3 wins. Gameplay-wise, VC3 wins. But to recommend it (at least at this point) to others? I’d say it’s still best if you’ve played both VC1 and VC2 before this, though it’s okay on its own. I also don’t think you’ll need to play this one or VC2 before VC4. I guess I’ll find out in a few months 😀

June 29, 2018

Persona Q Quick Review/Thoughts

Posted in video games tagged , , at 1:13 pm by riulyn

TLDR Solid effort. Play more for the gameplay than the story, because story takes a while to get going. Don’t play this game if you don’t like Etrian Odyssey-type dungeon crawling. Lots of skits – still feel it was a mixed bag but everything is better at the end. More thoughts bulleted below.

  • Game is longer than a normal Etrian Odyssey game because of the dialogue
  • Dungeon design is pretty great. But it can take a long time to get through a floor. Sometimes I felt like I was never making progress. Avoiding some of those FOEs could be really tricky. Puzzles seemed harder than those I remembered in Etrian Odyssey 1 Untold (the only EO game I’ve played)
  • Boss balance is a bit whack. Main character isn’t invincible-ish anymore, but thankfully it’s not game over when he dies, because he died a lot in my playthrough
  • Too exhausted to consider playing as the P4 cast, but I can already tell that there will be some different moments. However, lots of cross P3-P4 talk that probably would be the same in a replay, and I’m not sure I want to go through those dungeons again
  • It isn’t hard to get low level characters up to speed, but it still felt better to just go with a set party and level them up. Secondary personas help you pick your faves and cover some of their weaknesses
  • Rei & Zen are too good as a combo. They are strong and their SP skills don’t take much and do lots of damage
  • Found HP using skills more useful than SP using skills, though SP using skills for healing was necessary due to limited bag space. This was maybe because I never got a support skills to heal SP during battle (I don’t know if any exist)
  • Limited bag space sucks, but is normal for this game’s genre
  • Plot takes too long to get kinda cool (stated above), but it did touch me.
  • Fuuka & Rise best cross P3/P4 duo 😀

I think that’s all I want to say for now. At first I thought “Is this really how the game is going to do interactions?” and was wondering why the game was enjoyed by a good number of the fandom. Later I’m like “Finally taking advantage of the potential from this type of cross-over”. The writers’ humor/style and mine don’t always mesh, I suppose. Everything’s all cute in the end, at least.

June 3, 2018

What I’m playing now – Guided Fate Paradox, Persona Q, Valkyria Chronicles 3

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 8:43 pm by riulyn

I’m taking a Kiseki break. I’m not sure how short it will be, because I’m tempted to start Sen no Kiseki Kai (Trails of Cold Steel on PS4). There’s almost a calming, easy rhythm to the Cold Steel games, especially if I stick to the easier difficulties (aka Normal). Maybe I should force myself to play it on hard, since I’ll be importing Sen3 data when I do start.

Anyway, for now it is time to knock some stuff off my backlog. Though I didn’t acquire Persona Q until this year, it was mentally on my backlog. I will talk about that the most, since I don’t have a ton to say on Guided Fate Paradox besides I restarted it from the beginning and it’s been smooth sailing into Chapter 3. I definitely learned from my experience playing ZHP. I know Chapter 4 is a bit of a difficulty spike, but I definitely have a strategy to get past it (the grindy way if it comes to that). The story is still as wacky fun as I remembered.

Persona Q is not quite what I hoped it to be.

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June 1, 2018

Sen no Kiseki III Quick Review

Posted in video games tagged , , at 7:27 am by riulyn

TLDR Don’t play this game if you didn’t play and enjoy Sen no Kiseki I and Sen no Kiseki II (Trails of Cold Steel 1 + Trails of Cold Steel 2). It’s more of the same (quite like Sen no Kiseki I) except the ending is more abrupt.

The game took me ~130 hours to beat, so probably about 100-110 hours if it were in English. Caveat – I was talking to basically every NPC I could at the beginning all the way through Chapter 3. This strategy is not recommended.

I do recommend playing the Sora no Kiseki trilogy (the 3rd is particularly relevant I think) and Crossbell duology (Zero and Ao are both relevant) before the entire Sen no Kiseki series, but especially before III if you want to enjoy the others without the biggest spoilers explained. However, you don’t have to play the other series before this game in order to understand it at a basic level. The most important knowledge is explained in-game.

Alright, quick review part.

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May 12, 2018

More Sen no Kiseki III thoughts

Posted in video games tagged , at 9:41 am by riulyn

I just started Chapter 4. I’m like 90 hours in. There is a lot of text, and I have talked to a lot more people than I did in the previous Kiseki games. I wonder if localization is held up a bit because of the amount of text.

Since I’m going to talk about the new characters now, the rest is read more. SPOILERS though no major plot ones for beyond like Chapter 1, I think.

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April 30, 2018

What I’m playing right now – Sen no Kiseki III

Posted in video games tagged , , at 7:35 am by riulyn

I zoomed through Cold Steel 2 and have moved on to Cold Steel 3/Sen 3. I basically played it all weekend.

Almost all the reasons I like the game go into spoiler territory but one thing I do like that isn’t a plot spoiler is a battle system change! A new feature has been added to battles – the ability to issue orders using break points. Also the system for breaking enemies, which is important too for winning some boss battles. I struggled a bit with the first major boss until I understood those systems. In general normal difficulty is harder so far than the equivalent point in the previous games. But not too hard; just have to do a little more thinking.

Since the rest of the reasons I like the game are almost all plot reasons, I have to highly advise that you don’t just jump into this game. It is super text-heavy at the beginning and you really won’t care a bit unless you have played the previous Cold Steel games. I think it’s too late to recommend playing Zero and Ao before Sen 3 if you’ve already played Sen 1 & 2. So far all the relevant Zero & Ao stuff has been explained, though I have been told that later on Sen 3 might be confusing without knowing Zero and Ao. However since Zero & Ao overlap with Sen 1 & 2, you won’t be getting the full enjoyment of Zero & Ao that you’d get with fresh eyes. Also there are major Trails in the Sky series spoilers too. Basically this was a series meant to be played start to finish if you wanted to see it the way the directors envisioned you seeing it. Of course I don’t think knowing what happens will make the games less enjoyable. Actually I think it improved my experience of Trails in the Sky FC playing it the second time because I knew there was a payoff…eventually. Sen 3 starts slow enough that I wonder if others were turned off a bit by that if they weren’t living up all the references to previous games. Then again I don’t know anyone who has played Sen 3 without playing Sen 1 & 2 at least.

I think overall the setup for the game is okay? Yes, some things seem to be convenient for gameplay/plot reasons, but it’s not like the series hasn’t relied on convenient facts/plot fillers before. The biggest selling point of these games is the characters and the world-building, and those are still strong so far in this game. Liking all the new characters so far, and Rean is still growing on me which is good. I’m probably going to play a lot of this game very quickly; stupidly I also have a job that I am returning to but I enjoyed my vacation and I will enjoy my games!

April 8, 2018

What I’ve been playing – Trails of Cold Steel 2/Sen no Kiseki 2

Posted in video games tagged , at 5:15 am by riulyn

Sometimes it’s nice to be behind in an epic series, because you don’t have to wait!

And thus I have rolled straight from Cold Steel 1 into Cold Steel 2. The goal is to pick up Sen 3 in Japan (which I leave for very soon) and roll straight into Sen 3 after Cold Steel 2 is finished. Which shouldn’t be too long because I’m already 50 hours into Cold Steel 2. Which means I have anywhere between 10 and 50 hours left? I guess you never know for sure in a Kiseki game.

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