Tag Archives: RPG

Harmony of Despair: Castlevania’s Red-Headed Stepchild

Speak to anyone who claims to be a fan of Konami’s Castlevania series and ask them what their favourite entry in the series is, and doubtless each one will give you a different answer.

Some will prefer the purity of the NES originals. Some will cite Symphony of the Night’s genre-defining nature. Some will extol the virtues of the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS titles. Some even have a soft spot for the 3D Nintendo 64 installments in the series.

One title you won’t hear a lot of people cite as their favourite Castlevania, however, is 2010’s Harmony of Despair, a digital-only game that originally released on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 platform — not typically a hotbed of Japanese games — and which subsequently came out on PlayStation 3 a year or so later, featuring a number of enhancements.

It’s a game that wasn’t received all that well on its original release, primarily because it deviated fairly dramatically from the Metroidvania format we’d come to expect from the series by this point. But although this game is far from your typical Castlevania of the erait remains worth a look, particularly as its age means you can now pick it up pretty damn cheap.

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From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal’s World Made of Words

I’m an RPG fan, and yet I typically find myself drawn to more linear experiences rather than open-world affairs.

Specifically, I often find that the richly-detailed worlds of titles like Skyrim leave me cold due to their lack of “personality”, for want of a better word — they may be beautiful to look at and packed with things to do, but there’s no emotional connection there.

I’d like to expand on this a little for this week’s READ.ME column, with particular regard to Aselia the Eternal, which we last looked at a couple of weeks ago.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Birds Suddenly Appear Every Time You Are Nier

Nier is possibly one of Square Enix’s most misunderstood games.

Released to a rather lukewarm critical response back in 2010, this Cavia-developed PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 action RPG, directed by Taro Yoko, is actually a fascinating game that is well worth your time and attention — so long as you have a bit of patience to deal with its idiosyncrasies.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal and the Balance of Story and Game

A few weeks ago, we spent this column discussing the reason why we play different types of game.

The answer is, of course, different for everyone, but in the case of visual novel fans, most people will cite “story” as their main motivation to continue — even if the actual “gameplay” side of the title is left significantly wanting in the eyes of some people.

Take the title My Girlfriend is the President, which we discussed a while back, for example — in that game, once you’ve chosen which of the game’s four “paths” you’re going to undertake, there are absolutely no decisions to make that have any impact on the way the story ends at all, and yet that does not stop it from being a hugely entertaining and satisfying experience.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Wii U Essentials: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

In contrast to The Wind Waker, which shook things up considerably in terms of both aesthetic and game structure, you’d be forgiven for thinking Twilight Princess was “just another Zelda game”.

It marks a return to the semi-realistic visuals of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, and is set firmly on dry land in the familiar land of Hyrule — albeit another, differently laid-out Hyrule to its predecessors on the grounds that it’s yet another era in the extremely convoluted Zelda timelines.

But get into the game a bit and you’ll discover something a little different to what we typically expect from a Zelda game: childish optimism replaced with melancholy; the usual feeling of light inevitably triumphing over darkness replaced by questions over whether everything really will turn out all right this time; and an air of slight cynicism that largely emanates from Link’s perpetual companion Midna, one of the most memorable characters the series has ever seen.

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Nights of Azure: Introduction and History

2015’s Nights of Azure — or Yoru no Nai Kuni to its Japanese audience — was something of a departure for veteran developer Gust.

Primarily known for unconventional turn-based role-playing games with heavy crafting components, a style of game best exemplified by the developer’s flagship Atelier series, Gust opted to step out of their comfort zone with Nights of Azure by making it an action RPG with elements of monster raising.

It turned out to be a highly successful experiment for the developer, and what appears to be the beginning of a new series for the company, since a sequel is on the way at the time of writing. Yet despite Nights of Azure’s relative freshness compared to Gust’s other output, the game never forgets its heritage, and is recognisably “Gust” in both style and tone.

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