February - 4/5
57 hours and done, after a monster 9-floor final dungeon. Some serious hack and slash action, with the same amount again (actually probably more) waiting in the post-game. In lieu of an impressions post I thought I'd do a plus and minus here. Minuses first:
- The tempo is a little uneven; animations occasionally take too long, casting in menus is stilted and friendly buffs appear one at a time.
- There's no backlog which makes some moves' outcomes a little confusing (and makes it hard to work out which new enemy just one-shotted your maid).
- There's no avoiding it - the artwork is completely unsuitable for outdoor play, in spite of it being a Vita title, and is enough for people to understandably be turned away from the game. I know it'd cost more, but if they wanted to go that extreme with the fanservice I would have really appreciated a content lock to tone things down and allow me to take it out and about.
- Fantastic audio. Great soundtrack (albeit low bitrate) and some high quality voice acting makes the game feel a lot more expensive than it undoubtedly is. The cast have a lot of character and the main character is surprisingly likeable.
- Much of the game is nice and fast. Movement's quick, loading is minimal - transitions into battle are instant which really makes a mimic a big surprise.
- Map design is OK but map variety is great. There's loads of map squares to fill in, including loads of optional/unlockable areas.
- The game balance gives a surprisingly good feeling of progression. Many's the time I've felt like my team's really settling in and then a new floor will make me have to re-evaluate some things. Lucky you can change classes without too much difficulty.
- The game advancement and battle systems are top drawer. Aquaplus, in spite of being more known as a VN studio, have put a lot of ideas into the mix - clearly they have plenty of fans of the genre on staff, helped out by RPG vets Sting. My favourite is the implementation of the Maid class; games have had supporter classes before but this is the first one I've genuinely enjoyed using, and definitely the first which has felt essential in a party. The berserker sub-classes are also a lot of fun as you desperately try to balance survivability with offence (while pumping skill points into your healer's resurrection skill...)
Overall, I'm really looking forward to the sequel in April. I've still got a foolish hope that there might be a clean version but I know that's not happening. As a result, I can't really recommend this to many people; it's definitely a case of looking it up and seeing if you would be comfortable with it.