Tags Posts tagged with "srpg"


They will die. A lot.


When a game gets touted “The Demon Souls of tactical RPGs”, one would expect a game wherein you will die over and over. For Kadokawa/NISA’s Natural Doctrine (stylized as NAtURAL DOCtRINE), that is the absolute truth. Though the frustrating difficulty is the only thing it shares with the games from the Souls series.

The world is made up of nations all competing control over a rare resource known as “pluton”. This rare material is essential for constructing important trinkets and also needed to cast magic. Producing pluton is not something humans can do as the raw ore that it is refined from is deadly to humans. This does not apply to goblins though, so a lucrative industry is born out of raiding pluton mines and murdering those poor goblins.


Neophyte warriors/love team Geoff and Vasily are recruited by rifle-wielding, potion-throwing Anka to initially accompany her for some mine raiding. Along with some friends they meet along the way they are thrust into a scenario more than what they bargained for. Natural Doctrine‘s story is relatively good so I won’t be going beyond that for the sake of spoilers. Don’t let the boring starting sequences turn you off as it really gets interesting later on.

Just like most games in the SRPG genre, the story is advanced by a series turn-based battles on a grid map. What makes ND unique is the grids are not just one character per square. One grid takes up a bigger area on the map and up to four regular sized characters (some units take up more than one slot) can be in the same grid at a time. Although the character’s movement is still based on a number of squares per turn, you are free to position them within the square. It’s sort of like a combination of the Valkyria Chronicles and Final Fantasy Tactics system. Smart positioning is a must. Your life will be easier if you learn how to utilize environmental covers and guard weaker party members. Make one mistake of leaving your mage open and the next thing you know he finds himself on the receiving end of a goblin boomstick barrage. Oh, and if that happens it’s GAME OVER for you as losing one party member fails the whole mission. Nice!

The mechanic that you will absolutely need to master is the Action Link. Every action/command that one of your units do on his/her turn has link conditions that if met, will enable other units to take a turn outside his/her usual turn. This essential tactic can turn the tide of the often overwhelming battles that you will face if executed correctly. Because turns are determined by unit speed, being able to kill the enemy next on the initiative queue (shown on the top of the screen) gets you an enormous battlefield advantage. If the circumstances permits, you can decimate all enemies without any of them getting an attack out.

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Of course the enemies have access to the same Action Link system as you and they usually outnumber you.., not to mention they are programmed to know everything there is to know about the system while you try to figure it out outside the very basic explanation in the tutorial. So there’s that.


Outfitting your characters is necessary to tackle the ever-increasing odds against you. Units prefer specific weapon types like swords/shields, guns, staves and bombs. Some characters can change weapon types mid-battle with no penalty and are more versatile. Accessories increase your stats and you can equip each unit two of them at a time. Equipment are gained in the battlefield via monster drops or by opening chests. There is no currency to spend or shops to use them on although you can farm dungeons multiple times to get more items from chests. Opening chests also give you an amount of pluton every time. The pluton is used by your magic-users to cast spells as a substitute for magic points. It seems very limiting but magic is very powerful in this game and can often be used to turn the tide in your favor when used tactically.

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Units learn skills using a straightforward skill tree specific for each character. A party member gains a skill point (Geoff gets two) every time he/she levels up. Spend points to activate either passive stat-boosting skills or an active skill that either adds a new command or enhances a an existing one. Consumable items are also gained through skills. For example, a skill gets a unit two potions for use in a mission and gets replenished for the next one. One awesome thing about the skill tree is that you are free to spend and unspend skill points as you see fit without restriction. This encourages experimentation and helps to find the right approach dealing with missions.

The visuals leave a lot to be desired. The anime art looks good but the 3D models and animation are not what you would expect especially if you are playing the PS4 version. The game is available on all three Sony platforms (PS3/PS4/Vita) and have cross-save functionality so I kinda understand that it needs to work within the weakest system’s specifications in order to have the same performance on all platforms. It’s still not an excuse considering it is a retail release. Muddy textures and clunky animations all over. Definitely needs more polish.


The music annoyed me the first few stages mostly because I was always dying and had to listen to the same grinding tracks over and over but it got better as the story furthered. Cutscenes are fully voiced. The english voice work is a notch above what you would expect from a NISA release but a welcome japanese voice option for the gamers who want it is included and can be toggled anytime.

Like I said, Natural Doctrine is available for all three Sony platforms but it is the first of its kind on the PlayStation 4. So if you are itching to play a really challenging strategy RPG on your next-gen system, many hours of gameplay awaits with your purchase. If you only have the PS3 and you think the frustrating difficulty will put you off, then there are many games in the same genre available to you from its vast last-gen library. The game is perfect on the PS Vita as it lends itself beautifully for on the go gaming.

There is a separate online multiplayer mode included that is unrelated with the single-player campaign. It is a deck building card game but since the game was not released yet at the time I was playing it, I was not able to find anyone to play with online. So I can’t really say anything about multiplayer.

For this review, I played the PS4 and PS Vita versions. I did not try on the PS3 but I’m sure it looks and plays almost the same.

Mission Accomplished (Pros):

  • Very deep battle system: The game rewards you for smart tactical planning but will rape your butt the moment you make a mistake.
  • Interesting story: Starts slow but really picks up fast. A nice change from the lackluster story other games in the genre are known for.
  • Skill tree experimentation: You are free to learn and unlearn skills as much as you want means getting as strategic as much you want.
  • Not bad voice acting: Character banter in and out of missions are enjoyable. Although Vasily might grate on you (like FFXIII’s Vanille)

Mission Failed (Cons):

  • No mid-mission save: You can be playing for half an hour and then die. Some missions have halfway checkpoints but they are still far in-between. Much frustration.
  • No currency or shops: I don’t know but I like my RPGs where I can buy stuff.
  • Mediocre graphics: Hey, I’m playing on the most powerful console in the world but what the hell is this? lol
  • Tutorial not in-depth enough: The enemies know all the quirks of the action link system from the beginning but you are just given the gist of it and will have to learn as you go. So they will enjoy murdering you a lot early in the game.

Mission Stalemate (Love it or Hate it):

  • Difficulty cranked up to 11: Even on easy mode the enemies seems to be cheating. And some enemies can wipe your entire party in one fell swoop. Still, everything can be countered with smart positioning and careful planning
  • Grinding for items and level: Some like to grind, some hate it. I don’t mind, though.




Publisher: NIS America

Available for: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita

Date: September 30, 2014

Thanks to NISA for providing us with the review copy.

Strategy Role Playing Game Natural Doctrine is set for a February 22nd release in Japan (a.k.a. Japanese PS4 launch). It’s from Kadokawa Games — favorite publisher of Suda 51 (Killer is Dead, Lollipop Chainsaw) — and Patapon director Atsushi Ii. The game will be available for all three active Sony consoles: The PS3, PS4 and the PS Vita.

Judging from what we’ve seen so far, Natural Doctrine will let go of the traditional grid-based SRPG in favor of a more free-flowing movement system. If this turns out to be something like Valkyria Chronicles, then me says absolutely DO WANT!

Here’s hoping for a western announcement soon!

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Gods! According to this bit of news, Fire Emblem: Awakening was going to be the last game in the franchise had they not sold over 250,000 copies. Nintendo said that they were going to pull the plug on the series because of the decline in sales in its past few releases. This prompted Intelligent Systems (developer of the Fire Emblem series) to throw everything they’ve got into creating a supreme Fire Emblem game, which we totally experienced in Fire Emblem: Awakening.


The game was said to have all the best features of all Fire Emblem games rolled into one – which resulted to having the marriage feature that led to spawns (omg Batman pls), among other things. Casual Mode has greatly helped in how the game was received positively by the public “considering how valuable time is to gamers, Casual Mode came about to avoid causing them to lose this time.  If we made them waste two hours playing because one of the characters fell in the field of battle, it would not be received well nowadays,” said Hitoshi Yamagami of Nintendo.


While I am new to the Fire Emblem series, I have played the game in its normal version where characters die permanently if they fall in the battlefield as I am a veteran of the strategy RPG genre, but I totally understand why the casual mode helped other players to ease in to the series. The game isn’t exactly a walk in the park, even for experienced players, so I am sure this helped in acquiring new fans. And who knows, they might be up for the challenge to play the normal mode after they have finished their casual trek to see what the fuss is all about. I am just glad that the franchise is not dead yet, and we might see a bigger and better game in Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem coming out for the Wii U (hopefully to also get localized; let us now offer virgin blood to Jack Frost for this to happen).

And oh, I reviewed the game a few months ago, if you are interested!

Source: Siliconera


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And because I am such a huge Level-5 fan, here’s another bit of Level-5 news update for all you peons.  They are coming up with another strategy RPG game (I can’t contain myself) in the Little Battlers franchise dubbed The Little Battlers Wars.

No gameplay information for the title has been disclosed as of the moment, but since Level-5 and SRPGs are pretty much golden tickets for me, you can be sure that I will be on to this DAY 1, YO.  The anime (where the game is based from) is set in 2055 where kids build LBXs (tiny robots) and battle them out in cardboard arenas, with pro leagues and all, which is all very Pokemon-esque and will definitely interest kids and bigger kids like me alike.

The game is now under development and slated for a Nintendo 3DS release, bidding farewell to its Sony nest for now.


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To start off, I am a first-time Fire Emblem player.  I have however played Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on the Wii for a few stages years ago before getting distracted by another game and never got to return to it again.  I consider myself a veteran of the strategy / turn-based RPG genre so I decided to play this game on Classic mode – also known as ‘the mode that the game should be played’.  If you are a first time Fire Emblem player or new to the strategy genre, I would recommend you to play the game on Casual mode to save you a lot of heartache and time.

Okay.  So, Fire Emblem: Awakening is marketed as “possibly the best game on the Nintendo 3DS right now,” and I would have to say that this may well be true.  You start off by creating your own avatar with the standard fare – choose male or female, edit face and voice.  Your avatar starts off as a character that the main protagonist, Prince Chrom and his crew encounters on their adventuring.  You however do not remember anything about your past except your name and that you make for a pretty damn good tactician.  You earn the trust of the party and they take you in the group.

The cut scenes are really good, as well as the voice acting.  This contributes a lot to the flow of the game as the most important parts of the story are rendered in hand-drawn animation which gives players a good feel of what’s happening.


My favorite aspect of the game—and I believe this is where it truly shines—is the support system.  When you pair two of your characters side by side and make them attack enemies, you can increase the chances of them teaming up in a turn to attack together.  I really don’t know how the math works, but eventually doing this will lead to a support chat that you can get access to at the end of a chapter.  You can then eavesdrop to their (usually funny) conversations until you build them up to higher support level (from C, B, A and S).  Getting an S rank on support will mean that you are pairing your characters to be married (and eventually have children, gasp).  So I would have to say that this game is plenty replayable if you want to ship characters to different partners.  My current favorite pairing in the game is Henry and Tharja; they’re hilarious.


What you also may want to know if you’re new to Fire Emblem is that equipment eventually breaks, except for special ones that do not have durability ratings on it.  This also adds a depth of challenge to the game as you will have to choose who gets the weapons that you pick up.  You’ll constantly be a dirty poor on the game and will have limited resources in buying equipment so you have to use them properly. There’s some Spotpass freebies now and then that gives new equipment (mostly weapons) that you can use to give your characters some attack boost.

Characters upon reaching level 20 can change into a number of other job classes.  You can either use a second seal which will have them change into a secondary class, or a master seal which will advance them to the highest job class of what they are now.  You can experiment on a different number of classes until you find the most suitable ones for your playing style and characters.

If you play on Classic, prepare to do a number of resets per chapter.  You should expect that in chapters, there would be surprise reinforcements (usually on freaking steed or pegasus) to raid your party and pick on the weakest in the group (like mages or healers).  If I had to change one thing in the game, it would have to be that the surprise reinforcements cannot arrive or attack during the start of the enemy’s turn.  However, if you play it right, you can say that this adds to the challenge of the game and will force you not to expose your glass cannons haphazardly.


For Streetpass fanatics, you can assemble a team of your own and send it out to 3DS users who have activated Streetpass on their system.  You can send out your avatar and have them brawl with other 3DS owners and eventually download them into their own game.  No support chats will be earned for avatars, but it’s a pretty good addtion to the game.  You can also team up with a fellow player in Streetpass and kill a bunch of AIs through Double Duels to get item rewards and renown points.  Renown points are used to buy more exclusive in-game goodies so it’s good to earn them.


Another thing is that there are constant downloadable content and map packs that are released in the game.  If you are having a hard time, you can pay to win to buy maps such as the Golden Gaffe to help you pocket more gold to gear your character.  If you’re under-leveled, you can buy the EXPonential Growth map which can help your characters kill some baddies for major EXP.  You can buy map packs at $6.00 or $2.50 individually.  This is accessed in the game’s ‘Outrealm’ map that will pop up eventually after a few chapters into the game.

All in all, I would have to say that Fire Emblem: Awakening is a game that is well worth its price tag: it has memorable characters, well-written dialogue (funny and witty especially in support chats), polished gameplay, and good mileage of replayability.  This is currently available locally at game stores like DataBlitz and iTech for PHP 1,750.00.