Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Atlus proves that the PSP is not dead, with latest Grownlanser

Atlus is the latest to send me a review code for their recent PSP, but also playable on the Vita, real time strategy game, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time. The fourth chapter in the Growlanser franchise has been released for a while now in Japan and is considered to be the best chapter so far, and is now available here in the states. In Wayfarer of time, you play as a mercenary without a past that has a date with destiny, and destiny is one mad angel threatening to bring an end to all things. Not only is the action real time strategy, but also the story is heavily decision driven. Lets get to the point where we see if it is the portable time waster the we all so desperately look for.

I haven’t had this much fun with a strategy RPG since in was sucked in by Final Fantasy Tactics in which I have played through on three systems so far. So yeah, it’s got the goods. From the anime cut scenes to the story changing decisions and the large world, it has all of the basics in which you would need in any good JRPG. Now add strong gameplay, portability, and huge replay value to the mix and you get Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time. It is a toss up between the thought invoking decisions thrown at you through the story or the gameplay in regards to what I found the most enjoyable, because throughout the entire time playing I either wanted more battles to commence or thinking back on the last decision made and wondering what would happen if I answered the last question differently. I found myself often thinking back through a number of decisions wondering where I will be or would I have different party members in my next playthough.

All of Growlanser’s greatness wasn’t always there, unfortunately. During the first two to three hours, there is little fighting and a lot of tutorialing. I mean you get one or two battles that take less than a minute and then a long drawn out guide to what you are supposed to be doing, but most anyone that has played an RPG or with half a brain does not need so much reading. Camera or the lack there of could be a bit of a pain at times, as it is hard to see some doors and enemies throughout the game due to the camera’s placement and with unused buttons and the right joystick, there should have been some view control available. This may be a personal issue of disappointment and not to do with how the game plays, but why couldn’t this have been developed for the Vita. I mean I know why, the PSP has way more units in people’s hands than the Vita; at least it is playable on the Vita unlike other PSP titles out there.

Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is a great game, as after the first couple hours I was hooked. The decisions were impactful to the story, enough that I was continuously thinking about what my actions will be throughout my next playthrough. Like I said before, this is a strategy RPG done right and those seem to be fewer and farther between lately. The fact that it is for the PSP, playable on the Vita, and accessible almost anywhere you go means that you, if your anything like me, will be toting your Sony portable with you, ready to pick up and play at first available chance. Lastly, this game could have been absolutely stunning on the Vita, it is a shame that it was developed for the PSP, but I don’t blame Atlus, it was a safe bet.

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