Well, here we are for another JRPG. What’s more, it’s a sequel to a game that I already reviewed. For those who read that review, you might know what’s coming. For those who read my Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage (SIONR) posts, you’ll know what I thought of the ending of the original game. Let’s just say, I had problems with it. However, I could tell right from the ads that this game is not going to be like that, and damn if it didn’t deliver…kind of. In some ways, this game is SO much better than its predecessor. In other ways, it is SO much worse. It is a solid game, if you like this franchise, but buyer beware. I’ll get more into that soon.
First, the plot. You play an almost-silent protagonist named Ludger Kresnik. He is starting his new job at a train station as their cook, when he meets an old friend from the first game – Jude. Following a situation on a train, he meets a young and mysterious girl named Elle. Ludger becomes a kind of guardian for the girl, as the two begin to unravel a mystery of failing dimensions, which threatens their own. Like most JRPGs, the plot gets REALLY complicated.
Now, the best thing, and I do mean this, about this game is its story. It is better in every way than its predecessor. Seeing the old gang having grown older is really nice. Their bonds of friendship now don’t require a TON of awful dialogues about friendship. Now, like real people, it just is. They give each other shit, talk about serious thing and it feels so much more natural than the first game. Ludger becomes one of the gang pretty well too, which is weird, considering how you almost never hear him speak a word. That is something worth addressing – his silence can get REALLY creepy. You can choose his responses to things, but he never speaks them aloud, unless you unlock it in New Game + mode, which is really stupid. Still, the gang is tight, and the little kid is just so adorable. She reminds me of an actual little kid with some of her responses, and it is just too much fun.
There are a lot of rehashed areas in this game. However, this game doesn’t just feel like a copy-paste of the previous one. There are some new places, and little changes to older ones that give it a lot of flavor. The music is also mostly the same as well. At times, that can be nice. At others, it can be dull. However, some of the newer tunes really fit in.
However, there are two problems in this game primarily – the combat and the leveling-up system. While in most ways, combat in this game is a rehash of the previous entry, they added a TON of stuff that Ludger can do, and the complication becomes a total drag after a while, because it forces one to REALLY micro-manage battles. On higher difficulty, it is almost impossible to do well unless you have done the grind to get as high a level as possible. Easier said than done. For real, it’s good that I am in to this game for the story, because I turned the difficulty down, just so I wasn’t on some of the same boss fights for a million years.
The other problem is leveling up. Much like the battle system, they made it WAY more complicated than it needed to be. Instead of leveling up on a grid, like the previous game, they have you leveling up skills based on which stone that you have. You have to absorb elemental stones, and have those gradually level up certain things. What’s more – to change what you level up, you are CONSTANTLY having to change out stones. When you only have a couple that somebody isn’t already using, this can be such a pain in the ass. It’s micro-management hell in the worst way.
This is a game that is both very good for what it is, and a giant pain in the ass. However, as I see it, the story is worth all of that. It is engaging, the characters are loads of fun and it is fun to play. However, the problems with it are real and they are sometimes bad enough to be noticeable. With that in mind, I have come up with a final verdict for the game.
7 out of 10