By Josh Speer / September 26th, 2019
|Title||Luminous Avenger iX|
|Release Date||September 26th, 2019|
|Platform||PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||T for Teen – Blood, Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco|
I’ve been a fanboy on the Gunvolt bandwagon long before Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX. Not only did I play the first two games, but I also reviewed them both on the site. So in case there was any concern about my credibility talking about the series, let’s put that to rest. The initial question I had when I heard about Luminous Avenger iX was how far after the second game it took place. As I played, other significant questions came up, though there’s not much I can discuss for fear of spoilers. That said, I will do my best to touch upon those issues for other fans, as well as tackling the gameplay itself. While I’m still a fan of the Gunvolt series after Luminous Avenger iX, there’s also a few bumps in the road I need to address.
As I stated above, it’s unclear how long after Gunvolt 2’s events that Luminous Avenger iX takes place, but things have definitely taken on new urgency. Now, Adepts are completely in power, and go so far as to hunt down and execute un-powered humans, referred to as Minos. Whereas I used to think of the Azure Striker Gunvolt series as a nod to Mega Man, now I can’t help but notice the similarity to the X-Men. In a way it’s a reverse of that comic series, a world where the super powered rule over the weak with cruelty. At the head of this dynamic is the Sumeragi Institute for the Promotion of Human Evolution, which is a group that should sound familiar to fans of the games. It’s not clear how this came to be, nor where Gunvolt himself is, but Copen’s not about to sit back and watch this atrocity continue. While his primary goal is to find the source of something called the Butterfly Effect, he also elects to protect a group of young street urchin Minos. Despite his often caustic and emotionless exterior, I found this was consistent with his personality. After all, he himself is technically a Mino, and his hatred has always been against Adepts. The key difference between him and your average Mino is his technical genius, which let him build Lola to copy and utilize Septima powers through mechanical means.
Much like Inti did with previous series such as Mega Man Zero, each installment of the Gunvolt games has become slightly less hardcore and more welcoming to players of various experience levels. That is true in Luminous Avenger iX. An example of this is that the game has gotten rid of individual achievements. You still get graded after each level, so worry not if you’re a hardcore completionist. It’s just now you don’t have to worry about satisfying other arbitrary requests. Much like the last game, I found it somewhat easier to get a good score than in the original Gunvolt game, but not so easy I ever felt I wasn’t working for it. I got plenty of B’s, a few A’s and even one shining S+. The reason it’s still a challenge is that the gameplay is pretty similar to the most recent game, meaning that the bosses are still quite challenging.
In case you need a refresher course, the game keeps the trend of tagging and then blasting foes. For Copen, you tag foes by literally dashing into them. You have a small window of invincibility when you connect, so you’re encouraged to be aggressive, but don’t be so aggressive you accidentally wander into enemy fire. When you tag a foe, it uses up a Bullit, of which you have 3. Once you’re out of Bullits, your Prevasion turns off, meaning you can take damage again. So combat is a tight balance of dashing into foes, hitting them with homing rounds, avoiding getting hit and rinsing and repeating. One nice new change is if you reload your Bullits in mid-air, you’ll charge down to the ground with a crash capable of breaking objects. Though you’ll have to be careful using it, since if you don’t land on solid ground, it’s game over.
I’ve said previously how much I enjoy playing as Copen, and that’s still true. He’s fast, furious and frankly brutal. Coupled with Lola’s Septima EX weapons, he’s a veritable Swiss Army Knife of mayhem. Even then, playing him requires great reflexes and better strategy, especially against the bosses. One thing that’s changed from previous games is Copen can’t use credits to buy new active combat abilities. There is a Customize screen, where you can buy things like additional Bullits. You can also buy passive modifiers, such as Regenerator, which restores Copen’s health when he uses his SP Skill, or OD Guard Up, which halves damage when in Overdrive mode. If I sound a bit uncertain about these, it’s cause I didn’t purchase any of them during my playthrough. I like playing a game in as pure a form as possible, and for me that meant learning to master Copen without any extra helping hand. That said, if you’re the sort that likes to tinker, there’s a multitude of options for you to try out. If you’re feeling brave, you can also try out Lola’s new Darkness Trigger, which puts her in berserk mode, attacking with random EX skills until her meter depletes.
While the combat is most definitely one of the biggest draws in Luminous Avenger iX, it would be meaningless without exhilarating boss fights. This game assuredly carries on that tradition, as it does the pattern of having 7 main Adept bosses you confront. While I normally don’t cover these in detail, I feel I should touch upon all seven Falcons real quick. First let’s talk about Rebellio. He’s on death row for crimes he committed, and Sumeragi decides to offer him a deal – kill Copen and live. His Septima is Energy Wool, which lets him create crimson constructs out of thin air, such as mace balls, gatling guns and more. As for his appearance, he looks like nothing so much as a very angry Ram. Then there’s Crimm, a psychopath who loves explosions and considers himself an artist. His Detonation Septima lets him rain pure destruction wherever he desires, gesturing with crustacean limbs while protected by a circular shield. Then there’s Stella. She may look like a floozy and talk like a sailor, but she’s actually the president of an electronics manufacturer. Her Septima is Gravity, which not only gives her the power to alter your movement, but to also manifest dangerous buzzsaws and energy beams. Of all the Adepts in this game, her transformation is the most mechanical, making her look like a living blade.
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