Atlus – Giving RPG Players What They Want

What would the avid JRPG gamer do without Atlus?  Most companies seem fit to just localize the biggest budget titles they can find.  Atlus on the other hand seems to be perfectly content bringing over solid, smaller titles that stay true to the core experience of the genre.  The perfect example of that is the soon to be released Hexyz Force.

The title might not entirely role off of the tongue, but the gameplay does seem engrossing enough.  The battle system is very traditional, good guys line up on one side and the bad guys on the other, which at this point with the genre seems almost refreshing.  Not to say that it is all just cut and dry, as there is an odd chaining system in place that continually stores damage until broken—a system that enemies later in the game seemingly can start to exploit against the player.

There is also a rather interesting system where the player can level up the items in their inventory, basically making a normal potion heal a little more or a sword do more damage.  The cool thing about this is that it seems to be the way that characters learn new skills.  This is all done through the party animal, which seems to some kind of weird flying/magic squirrel type thing.  This same process of making items stronger is also used to make new items as well, although it wasn’t fully explained in the demo.

One of the more impressive things about Hexyz Force is that the story is told in two halves, each from the point of view from one of the main characters.  The demo didn’t really say how much of the game from the two would be different, but it was stated that parts of the story would be told from the perspective of the character at the time.  The example that was used was that at one point when the two characters encounter each other they get into an argument, while playing from the male lead it skews slightly towards his party being in the right, and the other way around when playing as the female.  Not a huge difference, but a reward for people playing through the game for a second time.

That isn’t to mention the multiple ending of the game being enough of an award to play through the game again either.  The game seems to have three endings, all of them based on how the player went through the game.  They seem to do with the balance of the world the characters live in, as one side seems to lean more towards balance and the other destruction, although that part wasn’t made clear during the demo.  At the end of each game chapter a scale will appear and tell which way the balance of the game, and thus the ending, that the player is working towards.

One of the neat things that the game has going for it is a speed up/skip system.  This can be used to jump through chunks of dialog that characters are spitting out.  At first this seems to be counter intuitive as the entire point of playing a RPG is for the plot, but it really does make sense.  Instead of having to manually skip all of the text from a story sequence before a really difficult boss fight a player can simply hit a button and jump past it all, so at the very least some of the punishment of repeatedly dying is taken away.  Mix that with the super quick load times and it kind of makes the game hard to put down. Although if the game is put down it comes with a neat little log function that tells the player what exactly is happening in the game, making the game playable over long stretches of time – even if chunks of it have been forgotten.

Atlus is notorious for spoiling their fans, and Hexyz is no different.  The game will come out later this month at the 30 dollar price point, on both PSN and UMD.  For a game that boasts two 25 hour stories and almost PlayStation 2 level of graphics that seems like a pretty large gift.

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