By Steve Baltimore / February 15th, 2019
|Title||Record of Agarest War Mariage|
|Developer||Idea Factory, Preapp Partners|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||January 31st, 2019|
|Platform||PC via Steam|
Record of Agarest War is one of the few Idea Factory franchises I’ve not really gotten into over the years. I did buy all three games on the PlayStation 3, but I’ve never managed to get around to playing them. I was really surprised when Idea Factory International announced they would be localizing Record of Agarest War Mariage for a Steam release. This was a PSP entry in the series that changed up the formula from the normal grid based strategy to a straight up turn-based affair. I’m a big fan of turn-based RPGs, so I was pretty excited to check this out. Let’s see if this turns out to be one of those games you never knew you wanted till you got it.
The story follows Rain, the hero who was born to defeat the evil Archdemon. In the world of Agarest, heroes are born every generation for this quest. The mythos of Yiris, the Larva, also known as the Sacred Princess, who blessed the world, fell in love with a human and was punished by her creator. The Archdemon arrived, and Yiris’ lover vowed to destroy him with the with the infamous Ciel Blade, a sword of rainbow. The blade is now passed down each generation to the chosen one who is responsible to produce an heir that can end this nightmare once and for all.
While this story may seem pretty basic, the characters here really make it shine. The main reason for this is, you are getting closer to your maidens in each generation and these ladies have very distinct personalities. While some will write these off as anime tropes, since you have the quiet girl, the tsundere, wild girl and so on, I felt the writing here was done well enough that it was still very entertaining and fit the tone of the world very well. You would need to lighten things up if you were on a journey like this from time to time. I think most fans of Idea Factory’s other work and anime will be well pleased with the story here. I know I was thoroughly entertained during my 40 hours of gameplay, and I only got to see a couple of the many endings Record of Agarest War Mariage has to offer.
The graphics here are nothing to write home about, but they look very good for an upscaled PSP game. The character models and enemies aren’t really all that detailed, but they are good enough to get the job done. I thought the CG work in this was outstanding, especially the artwork used for the girls during the unification ceremonies. There’s a gallery mode so you can view the CG’s you’ve unlocked at any time, which I thought was a very nice touch.
The game’s soundtrack is pretty good. It has some nice battle times theme with a nice guitar rift or two to get you pumped for battle. There are some slow tracks for those tender moments with the maidens, and I really enjoyed the vocal tracks found here. Idea Factory has always had great vocal tracks in all their games, so this was no surprise. The game is fully voiced in Japanese and all of the voice actors did a great job giving these characters personality.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You move around the world map, which is a series of way points in a line. Along the way you will encounter monsters, dungeons, towns and more. Dungeon maps are done exactly the same way, but there are more branching paths in those. When you arrive at a town, you have your standard options to shop, stay at the inn, visit the shrine or take quests at the guild.
Staying at the inn will, of course, restore all your HP and MP. This is also where events will occur with the maidens to build their affection. These events will trigger when your affection level with each girl reaches a certain level. This level can be increased by doing team up attacks in combat or giving them their favorite items. These will be easy to spot when you get one since they are shaped like a heart. When you’ve really gotten to know the girls, you can begin the Unification Rituals with them. Here, you will touch the girls in various locations to grow even closer to their hearts. Upon completing these, the girls will gain some powerful new skills to use in combat, and shed a layer of clothing in the process.
The shrine will allow you to use items you have obtained in battle to upgrade each characters’ stats and abilities. This looks like a normal skill tree and tells you which items you will need to unlock each upgrade. If you don’t have enough of certain items, just check the monster list and it will let you know what each one drops and where to find them. You can also use materials from monster drops to craft items and armor in the shop. This can really help you out in some of the game’s tougher boss battles. Guild quests are pretty much what you would expect. Fetch X items, kill X monsters or complete certain tasks. You should check these often though, since they give out some sweet rewards.
Combat here is a simple turn-based affair. You have your standard attacks, skills and sacred arts at your disposal to slay all the enemies in your path. Character skills will be linked to whichever role you have assigned to them at the time. Defenders have skills that allow them to negate certain elemental damage and status aliments. They will also jump in front of other party members to block for them. Attackers get powerful attack magic and counter skills. Healers will get a bit of attack magic, but have some very powerful HP restoring powers that will really save your bacon. Finally, the support class can do buffs, debuffs on enemies and set traps on the field. Traps trigger when certain conditions on the field are met, and they can be offensive or defensive in nature. Using these properly can really turn the tide of battle in your favor.
The Sacred Art skills are powerful attacks that consume SA instead of MP like normal skills. Each character has a set of Light or Dark skills and a few unique moves just for them. These are unlocked in the shrine along the skill tree. Some of these skills will have the protagonist team up with the maiden to do a super powerful attack. This will consume SA from both maiden and protagonist, so use these wisely.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with Record of Agarest War Mariage. I love the cast of characters, the combat is fun and there is a lot of content here for a great price. This game is a great value at $29.99 or just a bit more if you want the Deluxe Edition content. I think it’s worth the extra bit just for the game’s soundtrack, personally. The multiple endings and the choice of the protagonist gender in the second generation certainly give this one a ton of replay value. I can’t wait till I have time to make another run at this one. There are some issues with difficulty spikes here and there, but honestly, with just a little grinding and getting the proper equipment, it’s not too bad. Fans of the Agarest franchise or other Idea Factory titles will find a lot to love here, or if you love turn-based RPGs with some light dating sim elements, this game is a must own title.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
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