Iconoclasts Review

Iconoclasts

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be reviewing a video game – it has been a while! In particular, I’ll be discussing a story-heavy Metroidvania style-game called Iconoclasts that was very kindly gifted to me. As usual, spoilers will remain at a minimum, but I’ll still talk a bit about the premise of the story. But before I do, I gotta say the game looks, sounds, plays, and feels quite good, especially coming from a game with a single developer, Joakim Sandberg. It’s also available on many platforms – Steam, the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Playstation Vita, so many gamers who are interested will be able to easily check it out!

Iconoclasts takes place in a world ruled by the One Concern, a religious organization that worships an enigmatic being referred to as ‘Him’ and steadfastly follows the orders of a woman called Mother, who is apparently his oracle. The One Concern has outlawed a large number of seemingly random things, one of which is being a mechanic. (Unless you work for them.) Our main character, Robin, is a young girl pursuing exactly that profession, completely unaffiliated with the One Concern. Her father, who was also a mechanic, recently died, leaving her largely on her own despite her older brother Elro living nearby. She is driven by nothing more than the desire to help others, though even the very people she helps seek to keep their distance from her, fearing divine judgment. As these things go, this naturally leads Robin to be swept up on a great adventure. She meets many fascinating characters along the way.

The subset of these characters who come to comprise our main cast are, aside from Robin, deeply flawed individuals whose lives have been spaced by their circumstances and the views borne of them. I found the cast of Iconoclasts to be overall quite compelling, though it should be noted that Robin herself is a silent protagonist and therefore doesn’t get as much explicit development as many of the others. Throughout my journey, I found myself wanting to learn more and more about several of these characters, which I certainly did, and it was quite an enjoyable experience.

The gameplay of Iconoclasts was overall solid in my eyes; some of the mechanics took a little bit of getting used to, but once I was acclimated with them, gameplay came naturally. Like in any Metroidvania game, there’s a lot of cool stuff hidden away, waiting to be unlocked as you attain more and more abilities. The boss fights were generally fun and fast-paced, although a couple of them were, in my opinion, needlessly complicated. Difficulty-wise, the game seemed just right for me on Standard mode, although there are some higher difficulties and a lower one for those whose tastes differ from mine.

Iconoclasts is quite dialogue-heavy, but I found the story to be very much worth all the reading I did. It sucked me in and kept me interested the whole way through! I found myself rooting for several of the characters despite their shortcomings. My only gripe was that the ending felt a bit anticlimactic to me – but, of course, I’m not gonna spoil it.

Overall, playing Iconoclasts was super fun, and I recommend the game to all Metroidvania fans with access to it! I score it 4.8/5. Definitely something I could see myself revisiting in the future!

Have you guys played Iconoclasts? If so, what did you think? If not, which other Metroidvanias (or games in general) are you fond of? Please let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading this review, and, until next time, I hope your lives have less than one concern!

…Get it?

…Sorry.

 

My Most Anticipated Releases of November 2018

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be covering my most anticipated releases in November 2018, even though we’re already a few days in and my first pick is, in fact, already available. Sorry for being a bit late! Anyway, let’s jump right in!

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward

Skyward is about a girl named Spensa coming from a world beleaguered by alien attacks. She desperately wants be a pilot and help defend her people. However, her father died long ago after being accused of desertion, which makes it exceedingly unlikely that she’ll be allowed to into the academy where she would train to fly. I don’t know much more about this book – even though it’s already out, I haven’t started reading it yet – and the story isn’t the sort I would naturally gravitate to, but I’ve enjoyed Sanderson’s work consistently enough in the past that I’m going to put my confidence in his writing and buy it anyway. Once I do read it, you guys are likely to see a review!

More RWBY Volume 6 and Sword Art Online Season 3 Episodes

This entry may be considered a bit of a cheat, since both of these shows premiered last month, but I really am super excited about them, and, based on what I’ve seen so far, they haven’t failed to deliver. I get access to a new episode of each every Saturday, which makes it my most anticipated day of the week! xD I don’t intend to go into any details because those of you who may be interested will have the best possible experience if you go in spoiler-free, but I highly recommend checking out both of these shows!

Sword Art Online Progress Volume 5 (Light Novel)

SAO progressive 5

I’ve been reading the Sword Art Online light novels for a while now, and I’ve mentioned some of them in the past, but I don’t think I’ve touched on the Progressive series here before. I have no intention of spoiling the previous volumes, but what I will say is that Progressive retells the story of SAO’s Aincrad Arc (the first one) on a floor-by-floor basis, without any huge time skips like the one in the original light novel and the anime. This is a great series to get into if you liked how SAO began, but felt the initial arc was way too rushed, ’cause this one follows Kirito and Asuna’s journey very closely! It also introduces a variety of interesting new characters and greatly expands on some who lingered in the background originally. Volume 5 releases on November 13th, and I can’t wait to read it!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Crimes of Grindelwald

As a huge fan of the Harry Potter series growing up, I’m incredibly hyped for the release of this movie! The Crimes of Grindelwald serves as a sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but the story this time seems to be heavily centered on the notorious and legendary Grindelwald and his assault on the wizarding world. Characters from the previous movie will show up, and there will be fresh takes on ones from the original Harry Potter series. (Like Dumbledore!) From what I hear, early audiences thought quite highly of the film. It officially releases on November 16th. Another likely topic for a future blog post!

Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

Pokemon Lets Go

Pokemon is another franchise I grew up with, and as such, I’m eager to try out the latest iteration of the series on the Nintendo Switch! From what I understand, these games retell the story of a trainer journeying through the Kanto region, but feature much better graphics than the originals and a number of other large changes. I’m not quite sure whether I’ll like some of them (For example, the Pokemon Go compatibility… I haven’t even played Pokemon Go!), but there’s only one way to find out! I’ll most likely be getting the Eevee version ’cause I’ve never had an Eevee as a starter before and, well… because I’m Evi! These games also release on November 16th, so I’m gonna have a lot to do next weekend!

What releases are you looking forward to this November? Are you interested in any of the things I covered? Is there something you’re excited for that I didn’t include? Please let me know in the comment below! Thanks for reading, and till next time, may your life be… fantastic!

My Most Anticipated Releases of October 2018

Hiyo, everyone! You guys probably don’t know this, but October is my favorite month of the year. I’m a total fan of the cooling not not-yet-too-cold weather, the falling leaves aesthetic and the festivities the month entails. So I figured I’d do something a bit different today and talk about the stuff I’m looking forward to releasing this month. I guess that’s a pretty straightforward topic, so let’s begin!

Mega Man 11

Mega Man 11

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Mega Man franchise, and the classic series is my favorite of all, so I’m ultra hyped to finally get another entry in it, releasing on October 2nd for a bunch of systems! For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Mega Man series is known for being a tough series of platformers where you run around shooting stuff with your Mega Buster and absorbing the abilities of your defeated enemies. I don’t know much about what’s to come in this game since I try to avoid spoilers, but I bet I’ll enjoy it! And let’s hope its soundtrack holds up against some of the older ones!

Sword Art Online Season 3 Premier

SAO3

Okay, I spoke about this one a couple of weeks ago, but I’m gonna briefly talk about it again. =p SAO Season 3, debuting on October 6th, covers this polarizing series’ longest and, in my partially informed opinion, best arc, the Alicization arc. In it, Kirito will be thrown into a virtual world inhabited by AIs so advanced they’re basically human, but in typical anime fare, the fate of this world hangs in the balance! The visuals and music for SAO3 already strike me as wonderful, and I’ve read the first halfish of the story in the light novels, so I know that stuff is good. Apparently, season 3 is gonna start with an hour long episode, and I am ultra hyped!

The World Ends With You: Final Remix

TWEWY

Ages ago, I played The World Ends With You, a lesser known title for the Nintendo DS and a complete masterpiece. On October 12th, the game is getting an enhanced re-release on the Nintendo Switch, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! The game takes place in Tokyo and features a vibrant cast of characters involved in something called the Reaper’s Game, which offers the dead a chance to return to life. The music is absolutely breathtaking and the combat system is quite unique for an RPG. If you have a Switch and are a fan of the genre, I can’t recommend checking out this game enough!

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi's mansion

We’ve got a little bit of a pattern here; Luigi’s Mansion is being re-released, this time on the Nintendo 3DS, on October 12th, the same day as The World Ends With You! The game has you follow Luigi around a haunted house and suck a colorful cast of ghosts into your vacuum Ghostbusters-style. I used to own the Gamecube version, but I don’t have it anymore, and I’d like to play again, so I plan to pick this up for the 3DS.

Horror Content

This last entry is kind of cheating, but that’s okay! ^.^; One of the best things about October is Halloween! I don’t actually dress up in costumes or anything, but I love watching and listening to creepy content – anything from Youtube videos to horror movies in the theaters. Since Halloween inspires people to make more of this content, it’s a huge boon for me! I can’t wait to see what pops up this year.

I also like candy.

Aaanyway, what’s your favorite time of the year? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this October? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, have an enchanting week!

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Review

Trails in the Sky FC

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m gonna review a delightful RPG called Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Before I get into the details, I’d like to mention that, despite what the above image says, the game is no longer only available on the PSP; you can get it on Steam, too. It’s also the beginning of its own story arc, so it’s a great place to jump into the series if you haven’t tried it before!

Our story begins when the protagonist, a little girl named Estelle Bright, welcomes her father, Cassius Bright, home after an extended absence. Cassius was gone on a mission – he is a member of the Bracer’s Guild, an organization that strives to help people with their requests, big or small, as long as they deem them worthy. But, this time, Cassius’ return is different, because he comes back with a mysterious boy around Estelle’s age named Joshua. Joshua’s past is completely unknown to Estelle, but Cassius seems to know something – enough to feel comfortable adopting Joshua as a son.

Years later, Estelle and Joshua are sixteen, and have finally been accepted into the Bracer’s Guild as Junior Bracers. Cassius has to leave on another of his missions, so he gives the easier set of his unfinished tasks to Estelle and Joshua. At first, they start small, but they quickly find themselves involved in matters of increasing importance. Then, it is revealed that the airship Cassius was on went missing. Estelle and Joshua set out to travel the kingdom of Liberl in search of their father and to earn the recommendations needed to become full-fledged Bracers. Unbeknownst to them, they will soon find themselves involved in matters that will shape the future of their country.

I don’t want to spoil the story any more than that! If you’re into jRPGs, I promise, this one is very much worth your while. Battles take place in small fields where the position of your characters matter, reminiscent of a strategy RPG, but aside from movement issues, the combat system felt more traditional to me. The characters are quite customizable thanks to magic-granting artifacts called orbments. Trails in the Sky has a pleasant anime aesthetic, and the music is quite good, often cheery or exciting.

The game shines most with regards to story, worldbuilding, and characters. I found myself always eager to see what was going to happen next, and quite invested in all the characters to join my party. Liberl’s orbment technology gives the world a slight steampunk vibe, though most characters wear clothing more typical of a fantasy RPG. There are plenty of mysteries to be solved and revelations to witness. Then there are the character interactions! I really enjoyed watching their relationships develop. I couldn’t help but feel close to them, especially to Estelle and Joshua!

The only large downside with the game, in my opinion, is that some sidequests and other important items are extremely easy to permanently miss. You’ll often need to go to exactly the right place within a very small timeframe to unlock hidden events. Therefore, if you’re a completionist, Trails in the Sky is best played with a guide.

That said, for the above reasons, I simply love this game, and can’t recommend it enough. Therefore, I rate it 4.9/5. I’m super excited to play the sequels!

Have you guys ever played a Legend of Heroes game? If so, which were you favorites? (Please don’t spoil me!) If not, what RPGs do you love most? I’m eager to hear your opinions in the comments below! I hope you all have a charming week!

Tales of Zestiria Review

ToZ

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will review a game I recently finished playing – Tales of Zestiria! Like Tales of Xillia 2, this game is part of the Tales series, which I adore. Also, for reference, I played on Steam using a controller. I’ll be covering the premise of the story but, as usual,¬† I’ll avoid significant spoilers. That said, let’s get right into it!

The story begins with two friends, Sorey and Mikleo, engaging in their usual hobby – the exploration of ruins. Sorey is a human, but Mikleo, along with the inhabitants of Elysia, the town where the two grew up, are seraphim, beings much like humans, but who wield elemental powers and are invisible and inaudible to most humans. Sorey, having grown up with them, is an exception.

During their exploration, the two boys discover something most unexpected – an unconscious girl. They rescue her and allow her some rest, but their adoptive grandfather, the chief of Elysia, says she cannot stay for long. So, once she’s healed up, (and after revealing she’s a princess; there will be a few cliches in the premise of this story) the girl, Alisha, departs – and a hellion (creatures corrupted by malevolence) attacks one of the citizens of Elysia. After defeating him, he escapes, and Sorey and Mikleo learn his true mark was Alisha. Concerned, they leave in secret to warn her.

That leads them to the city of Ladylake, capital of the Kingdom of Hyland, where an event is going on wherein people try to pull a blade from a pedestal (told ya) and the one who succeeds is named Shepherd. The Shepherd’s role is to protect humanity, cleanse malevolence (a corrupting substance that can turn humans, animals, and seraphim alike into monsters) and eventually face the Lord of Calamity, who generates overwhelming malevolence. Naturally, Sorey succeeds at extracting the sword and becomes Shepherd. A seraphim named Lailah, who has been watching the sword for some time, makes a pact with him as Prime Lord and informs him of his duties – and that he musn’t let them consume him. But Sorey is a kind-hearted boy who is always looking out for others, so that’s a bit difficult for him. Regardless, that is the beginning of his journey, and he picks up several companions along the way!

Like most Tales games, Zestiria does a good job of developing its major characters, and expands upon them through small, mostly-optional interactions called skits, where they discuss anything from major plot points to completely trifling matters, like the meals they eat when they rest at the inn. Speaking of the plot, like most Tales games, Zestiria has a strong one with several twists, though in my opinion, it doesn’t quite hold up to Tales of Symphonia. (One of my favorite games ever.) Even so, both the story and the characters made me want to see more and more. I especially liked Mikleo and Edna.

The combat system is also similar to other Tales games, where you fight enemies in open areas, controlling one character at a time with a focus on combos. Zestiria’s iconic combat feature is armatization, which allows a human and a seraphim character to fuse and unfuse during combat; when fused, they become especially powerful, with a unique moveset. Armatization made for quite fluid and interesting gameplay!

Another of Zestiria’s features that I was less fond of was the use of special traits to boost your equipment. As an idea, that’s sound, but the 5 x 10 grid of traits you had to work with to line up traits for bonuses seemed excessively large and cumbersome, and it made gear customization a bit of a hassle. In my opinion, it’s a symptom of the mechanics bloating that has characterized some of the more recent Tales games. Still, even when you don’t worry about lining up or stacking traits, you can hold your own on lower difficulty levels. (Like most Tales games, difficulty is flexible and can be changed frequently throughout your run.)

Zestiria’s music was strong, and its visuals were quite pleasing. Overall, though I do have a few small gripes with the game, it was still an overwhelmingly enjoyable one to play through. Therefore, I rate Tales of Zestiria 4.7/5.

Have you played any Tales games before? If so, which did you most enjoy? If not, what are your favorite RPGs? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Have a wonderful weekend! Buh-bye!

Tales of Xillia 2 Review

ToX2

Hiyo, everyone! Today I want to talk about a game I recently got to playing, and found myself spending hours on most days – Tales of Xillia 2, of course! It’s one of many games in the large “Tales of” series of which I have been a huge fan every since playing Tales of Symphonia, one of my favorite games ever. It’s also a direct sequel to the original Tales of Xillia, so in discussing the premise, I will have to touch on some spoilers from the first game. I’ll keep them to a minimum, though, as usual.

The story follows a man named Ludger Kresnik who, as of the beginning of the game, lives with his older brother, Julius, in an apartment in the world of Elympios. Having failed to pass the exam needed to work for the enormous Spirius Corporation alongside his brother, Ludger begins his new job working on a train. However, the train is quickly attacked by terrorists. Ludger meets with a strange little girl named Elle who seeks a mythical land, the renowned researcher Jude Mathis (who is one of the original Tale of Xillia’s protagonists) and Bisley Bakur, the CEO of Spirius Corporation. They advance through the train until they find the ultimate culprit – who appears to be Julius. He pulls Ludger into another dimension, where Ludger receives a powerful ability called Chromatus. Ludger defeats a version of Julius from that dimension; since alternate-Julius served as the dimension’s catalyst, the whole dimension is destroyed in the process and Julius returns to his world.

Ludger is greatly injured in the battle, but never to fear! The Spirius Corporation heals him, leaving him good as new – and with an enormous 20,000,000 Gald debt. However, having seen Ludger’s power, Bisley decides he ought to hire Ludger after all. The latter is tasked to enter even more alternate dimensions – called fractured dimensions – and destroy the catalysts within, thereby wiping out those dimensions in order to ensure the safety of the one he lives in.

Ludger’s journey then alternates between paying off his debt and destroying fractured dimensions. Along the way, he meets and joins up with several characters from the original Tales of Xillia, some of whom weren’t playable party members the first time around. They travel throughout the recently-joined worlds of Elympios and Rieze-Maxia, facing all sorts of foes along the way. I don’t want to spoil more than that, so if you like action RPGs, I suggest you play Tales of Xillia. (You gotta play them in order!)

The game does a good job of developing its characters; aside from Ludger, each playable party member has their own series of optional missions you can follow to learn more about them. Xillia 2 also touches on some surprisingly dark themes, such as what it means to obliterate another world and what people are willing to sacrifice to achieve  their goals.

As is usual for Tales games, Tales of Xillia 2 looks great and has a strong soundtrack, though I didn’t find a single track I really loved as I usually do in Tales games. The combat system is engaging and diverse – you can control 9 separate characters – but, to me, felt a little bit bloated with mechanics. Others may disagree, though! I had lots of fun despite that fact, so it’s all good!

Tales of Xillia 2 reuses many of the locations from the original Tales of Xillia, and it builds on characters starting where the original left off, so I strongly recommend you play the original first. Admittedly, Tales of Xillia 2 is a bit grindy. There’s certainly plenty of cool fights and powerful story moments to keep the player interested, but you may often find yourself retreading familiar ground, especially if you do all the sidequests.

My best recommendation is to play Tales of Xillia and continue on to Xillia 2 if you find you want to learn more about that world. I did, so I had a great time. I therefore rate Tales of Xillia 2 4.3/5.

Have you guys played any of the Tales games? If so, which are your favorites? If not, are there other RPGs you’re into! Please let me know in the comments below, and have an absolutely lovely week! Ciao~

Why I love Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age

Golden Sun 1

Hiyo again, everyone! Today I’ll be talking about two of my favorite video games growing up – games that, sadly, now seem largely forgotten. Golden Sun and its sequel/continuation, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, both for the GBA. These games form two halves of the same story, so I kind of view them more as a single game; playing either alone is much less satisfying than playing them both. Back when they were new to me, I went through them over and over. In fact, they were basically my gateway to fantasy-heavy jRPGs. As a result, the nostalgia factor for me is through the roof, so I’m gonna totally fangirl over them. xD

The series begins when a storm hits the village of Vale, which sits at the base of a mountain. During the storm, our main protagonist, Isaac, and his friends, Garet, Jenna, and Felix get separated, and Isaac encounters two malicious and mysterious strangers who you quickly come to realize were involved in the catastrophe. A giant boulder falls from Mt. Alpeh, killing Isaac’s father, both of Jenna’s parents, and Felix, who is her brother.

Three years pass, and Isaac is training under an old man named Kraden to use Psyenergy, a sort of magic close tied with the four traditional elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Isaac, Garet, and Jenna seek to test their abilities and ill-advisedly decide to breach the village shrine, Sol Sanctum, where they meet the same two strangers from before and more. The encounter leads them on an incredibly dangerous journey spanning their entire world.

I now know that sort of premise is pretty typical for a jRPG, but, still, Golden Sun stands out from the rest. It features a strong combat system, excellent music, and extremely extensive world-building. Exploration is meaningfully rewarded, which I love to see in an RPG; there are expansive optional areas to be found, adding depth to the world. On top of that, the characters are well developed and the plot is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing what will happen next. I should acknowledge that Golden Sun is extremely dialogue-heavy; it puts story at the forefront, which works wonderfully if that’s what you’re looking for but may deter those most interested in action.

I won’t spoil more of the story, since I recommend you experience it for yourself if you haven’t already, but to this day, Golden Sun remains one of my favorite jRPGs, up there with Tales of Symphonia. Golden Sun later received a DS sequel, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. I found that to be a solid game, but it fell short of the first two, and ever since, there has been no word of further sequels. It’s always sad to see something you loved growing up decline!

Since this is a “Why I love” post, it basically goes without saying that I rate Golden Sun 5/5. =p

Have any of you played any of the Golden Sun games? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear your nostalgic stories! If not, which jRPGs are among your favorites? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!