Sometimes I feel I am the only person around that remembers the days when RPGs where simple and straight forward, when half of the experience wasn’t simply trying to figure out the mechanics of the game. Clearly I am not the only one pining for those days as Hexyz Force is pretty much exactly what I fondly remember. Hexyz worries more about how a handheld RPG should be played instead of trying to reinvent the genre.
Hexyz is very straight forward; the player encounters enemies, hits them and they die, then characters level up and get stronger. It doesn’t ever really get much deeper than that, although it has been long enough since a solid handheld game did that that the basics almost feel refreshing. There are some minor tweaks in the way that the game plays, such as leveling up weapons to make them more powerful and to learn new skills, but nothing that really feels like they haven’t been seen before.
During its best moments, Hexyz seems as if it was sealed in a time chamber at the end of the PS1’s life span and left there for 10 years to be opened and ported to the PSP. During its worst moments, though, it feels generic and forgettable. In the past, before every title became about slightly more complicated battle systems than the last, the only thing that separated one RPG from another was plot – something that Hexyz has almost none of. The story is something about keeping the world in balance between destruction and creation. It is really nothing that hasn’t been done to death before, with the choice to play the game from one of two character perspectives.
What Hexyz Force does manage to nail is the way it was designed around the portable system. At any point in the game the player can pause it and check what is going on in the plot, good for those of us that don’t always play our portable systems every day or manage to forget what we were doing the last time it was played. The one other thing that really seems to stand out is that the battles and dialog can be fast forwarded. This makes dying at a boss less punishing when they there is a dialog before it, and while it does make random battles fly by (although the negative effect of making them feel a little too slow and showy in the first place is a result).
The only other noteworthy thing that Hexyz does is almost no load time. There is still small amount scattered throughout the game, but almost all of it seems to only be there because the game was programmed to show a load screen when a battle started. This is, of course, after a rather sizeable install to the PSP memory card but it make enough of a difference that one I have to wonder what took companies so long to do this.
The game has voice acting, an OK sound track, and anime cut-scenes – none of which will have anyone proclaiming that this game changes everything (or even remembering it after this year). Instead of being a massive bonus for the game it all ends up feeling like something on a check-list to obscurity. None of the content is bad, but that doesn’t mean that any of it is anything even close to memorable.
Hexyz Force is priced to move at 30 dollars, which for a brand new RPG for the PSP is a steal. The game has two different story modes that can be played through, supposedly each clocking in at over 20 hours. Although the game is enjoyable in chunks I don’t really see anyone playing through it a second time. The game almost seems designed around the fact of players losing interest for another game, and then to wander back after a period of time. Hexyz doesn’t do anything at all wrong, but it misses the mark pretty clearly on doing almost anything very well.
Not As Good As: A game with a world map you can walk around on
Also Try: Any Persona Game
Wait For It: A digital sale
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