REVIEW: Summon Night 5

Monday, February 29th, 2016

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I’ve read a few reports about bugs in this game, and while I can’t confirm them on my end, I did run into a rather big bug during the opening section of the game. If after the first choice you wait until your Cross appears on the screen and press Square to open the log screen, you will cause the game to lock up. While it’s not horrible as it’s in the early part of the game and kind of an obscure thing to do, it’s not acceptable. The game will hopefully be patched soon to address this and some other issues I’ve seen on message boards, but as of the time of this review that has not been the case. Speaking of our Cross though, let’s delve into the story so I can explain a rather odd choice made in terms of game design.

Summon Night 5 | Arca and Folth

Our two main characters. I chose Arca for my playthrough.

The story of Summon Night 5 is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand it very much tries to feel like a self-contained story. The problem is that is takes place in a world where there’s a very large amount of backstory and lore, which isn’t explained but keeps getting mentioned. While I don’t feel like the story ended up being confusing, it certainly left me with a lot of unanswered questions. Also one note I need to bring up in regards to localization is that there seems to be some pop cultural references that were thrown in. Some of them fit, while others had me scratch my head. It’s not loaded with them, but your mileage may vary on whether this bothers you. Continuing with the story though, upon beginning a new game you’ll be asked to select either a male (Folth) or a female (Arca) main character. I chose Arca for my playthrough.

Summon Night 5 | 3720 to 1

Because Star Wars is a thing? I don’t mind references, but they kind of have to make sense.

After this the story will open in your character’s childhood and after a few events you’ll end up in trouble and be saved by a mysterious light. You’ll then be asked to give said light an item. This is actually a very critical choice, and as the player you have no way of knowing it. What you give the light determines your partner or “Cross” for the rest of the game. This really bothers me because the choices don’t actually give good hints as to what you’re going to end up with. I chose the kerchief and got Pariet. Pariet, as much as I love her, starts as a glass cannon. She cannot take a punch to the face and one of the early missions has a condition where if any character is defeated you lose. Guess who every enemy on the map went after? Thankfully, I was able to put the bonus points from my level ups into Pariet’s defense and by end game she was my strongest tank (after a class change mind you.) Really, this should have been done in another fashion that spelled out what the results were a little better. How am I supposed to know what class archetype will result from giving a someone a scarf, bandana, hairpin, or handkerchief? Anyway back to the plot.

Summon Night 5 | Cross Selection

How am I supposed to know this picks my partner for the rest of the game?! I just liked the kerchief!

Once you’ve met your Cross the game will skip ahead several years to where your character will join Eucross and become a Eucross Summoner. Upon being called into your boss’ office you’ll meet Yeng-hua, a Silvalier Knight on a classified mission whom you’ll be assisting. Yeng-hua isn’t allowed to disclose said mission however. This means she’ll be tagging along with you as you perform your daily patrols and duties. It doesn’t take long however for strange things to begin happening and soon you’ll find a gang known as the Crimson Chain which seems to have connections to everything going on, but of course that’s not even close to the whole story. The theme of Summon Night 5’s story seems to be that people from different backgrounds and creeds can not only live peacefully together, but strive together for the common good. Savorle, the city the game takes place in, is basically a melting pot of several different cultures and worlds and this also reflects in the cast.

Summon Night 5 | The Theme of Summon Night 5

That pretty much is the theme of Summon Night 5 in a nutshell. People from different backgrounds learning to cooperate and get along.

The characters of Summon Night 5 are a very diverse bunch. While the overall plot feels like we’re missing something, the character development is actually fully developed. Arca herself is a very optimistic and idealistic heroine. Yeng-hua is very serious, logical, and loyal to her mission above all, but of course over time will learn to adapt to things. Cyda and her Cross, Flootier, make a very interesting pair. Cyda at first glance appears to be a young girl who likes to use her child-like appearance to charm others. Flootier is a fiend who looks like the strong seductress. In fact, you could argue that many of the cast fall into various tropes. However, they’re tropes done well and there’s a lot more depth that you’ll discover as you go on. Especially during the “Night Conversation” portions.

Summon Night 5 | Night Coversation

It’s ok Arca, Yeng-hua will eventually warm up to you. It’s just going to take a lot more of these conversations.

Night Conversations take place at the end of each chapter and are the way you raise affection with a particular character. It’s basically a one-on-one scene with the main character and a character of your choice that usually ties into the events that just transpired. These scenes are important for getting the various character endings. Fair warning however, unlike some games where you can shoot for multiple character endings, this isn’t a game where that’s possible. Pick a character and stick to them for that playthrough. The good news is that each of these conversations are recorded in the gallery after seeing them so you can go back and view them again. Also each ending is recorded as well. Each character (save one that’s obtained late game) has a “friendship” and a “lovers” ending. I went for Yeng-hua’s ending during my playthrough and was successful in getting the “lovers” ending. Despite the name, the two really seemed to have more of a deep friendship than anything else, but it was satisfying. I can’t vouch for the other endings (there’s 14 total from what I’ve been able to gather), but there’s plenty of replay value there if you’re looking for it. So at the end of the day what are my thoughts on Summon Night 5.

Summon Night 5

Hey it’s not all bad! I really do try and be constructive during these reviews.

Summon Night 5 is very much a mix of good and bad. I can see the growing pains Felistella was going through in developing this after taking the series over from Flight-Plan. There’s a lot of really neat ideas at work and technically, for a PSP game, it’s actually pretty impressive. Length-wise, the game took me about 40 hours to complete, but I can see more hardcore SRPG players clearing the main campaign faster. The problem comes from the fact it’s a PSP game from 2013 being released in 2015. When you compare it to other SRPG’s on the Vita (Disgaea and Hyperdevotion Noire) and 3DS (Fire Emblem Awakening and Project X Zone 2, which actually has Aty from both this game and Summon Night 3 in it) it’s not exactly worth the $30.99 price tag. However, if price isn’t a major concern, then give it shot. Despite the grinding I still enjoyed my time with these characters and the struggle they endure, even if the backstory of the world wasn’t explained as well as it should have been. It’s a good attempt at introducing the main series to the West, but I’m going to hope we see a more robust localization for Summon Night 6, with dual audio and less random pop cultural references.

Summon Night 5 | Warriors Reference

Ok, this one was kind of funny, but definitely less cultural references next time guys. That’ll do it for this review, hope you all enjoyed it!

Review Score

About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.

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