Video Game: Unchained Blades
Legend tells of the Titans, colossal creature-shaped dungeons through which brave men and women must go through to be deemed worthy of approaching the goddess Clunea, with the promise of fulfillment of a single, heartfelt wish.
Three individuals test the legend: Fang, the arrogant Dragon Emperor who yearns for the greatest fight of his life; Tiana, a Phoenix Princess who simply yearns to be free of her royal burden; and Lucius, an enigmatic swordsman riddled with a terminal illness who yearns to see Clunea at all cost.
Unchained Blades ("UnchainBlades REXX" in the original Japanese version) is a dungeon crawling RPG released on the PlayStation Portable
and 3DS in Japan on 14 July 2011. The game was also localized by XSEED in North American with a digital only release on June 26, 2012 for the PSP, and on January 3, 2013 for 3DS.
A unique feature of the game is recruiting enemies sufficiently weak enough to be "unchained" — that is, being freed from their feral nature. This turns them into Monster Allies
("followers") that can be equipped to the main characters ("masters"). When equipped, these monsters enable certain skills to be used depending on the monster's characteristic "anima" (for example, to use Flame Strike you need to equip a monster that has Fire Anima) and at the same time function as meat shields for the masters, taking enemy attacks and sometimes completely deflecting them.
A sequel (with the name "EXXIV") is released for both formats once again on November 15, 2012. This time it focuses on the fallout of the usurpation of Clunea's position by a rogue god named Zodias, and focuses on a new trio of protagonists — Ryuga, the last of the Ouroboros dragons; Sofia, an amnesiac avatar of Clunea created immediately after her downfall; and Hilda, a tomboyish demon swordswoman who only wants to be "manly".
The game series provides examples of:
- The Ace: Fang calls himself the most powerful being in the world, barges in on Clunea with the intent to force her to tell him who is the strongest person in the world just so he can beat him and take the title officially. Being depowered doesn't change him much.
- Action Command: For a dungeon crawler, this game has quite a few instances of action commands.
- Unchaining: This is the most frequently seen application of this trope, where the player can capture monsters. In Rexx, this is achieved by pressing "X" when a shrinking ring is within an acceptable range. High-tier monsters require multiple tries. In Exxiv, monsters are captured by pressing "X" when a rotating line is safe from a series of blocks. High-tier monsters require strategically placing a series of moving blocks such that they don't block the intended unchaining spot.
- Judgment Battles: A minigame where your party pits their entire Follower army against a large group of monsters in a Zerg Rush battle. In Rexx there is a box in the middle of the screen, and arrows move from the left of the screen. Pressing the directional buttons corresponding to these arrows will improve your army's odds in the battle. In Exxiv players must hold Circle to charge Followers' attacks. In some occasions a monster from each side engages in Single Combat, where the player must mash X to win, resulting in a few enemy losses. At other times a Master will personally intervene; pressing the right button results in a successful attack.
- Action Girl: Tiana in Rexx and Diane in Exxiv. The two turn out to be related.
- Actor Allusion: If she had a different hair color and outfit, Silvie would be a dead ringer for Heather Hogan's probably best known role of Colette.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The shopkeepers do seem to open up to you, but they always have a reason not to give you a discount. No matter if you restore Huadli and Ilio's village or save the goddess from total madness, they will never reduce their prices.
- Aerith and Bob: Some of the follower's names when compared to the party members.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: You start Chapters 1 through 3 with a new lead. It's only at Chapters 4 and 5 that everyone starts getting together.
- Big Ball of Violence: Follower battles looks a lot like this.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: In Titan Tortuga there is a rarely encountered fairy type, Ariel, that is absurdly powerful. While most of your attacks would do anywhere from 60 to 100 damage to enemies in the area they'll do at best 1, 40 if magic, and while most enemies will hit for around 50 to 60 damage, this is swinging for 200 to 300, able to outright kill you at the point in the game you may first meet it. And it heals all of your enemies. Completely. Enjoy that 100 point hit to your charisma for needing to run away.
- God bless you if you encounter a Qilin unprepared.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Tiana's initial thoughts about Syvlie's wish, due to a poor choice of words.
- Brought Down to Badass
- In Rexx, this is what happens to Fang early on as punishment by Clunea for his insolence. Still that doesn't keep him from kicking much ass, though he still yearns for the days when he was curmbstomping foes with a swipe of his claws.
- In Exxiv, Clunea herself is sealed by Zodias, emerging at the last minute into the realm of the living as an amnesiac girl named Sofia. That doesn't stop her from being a fairly competent mage and healer.
- Calling Your Attacks: Burst attacks.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Fang and Ryuga could barely be more different.
- Common Character Classes: Each character has his/her own Skill Map corresponding to their roles in the party: Lightning Bruiser Fang only has Sword, Spear and Claw proficiency nodes and a couple of offensive magic skills, Squishy Wizard Silvie has skills that restore her MP whenever she kills monsters or gets hit, White Magician Girl Lapis has Heal as the first node in her Skill Map, and so on.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being of the Reaper Clan, Sylvie is the nicest and most motherly of the Tiana/Sylvie/Niko trio.
- Depending on the Artist: The game uses different artists for each character:
Sofia: Haruyuki Morisawa
- Disk One Nuke: Inverted. If the term refers to an instant-victory attack on one disk and then loses its usefulness on the next, then the first dungeon must consist of several (metaphorical) disks. At the end of the tutorial dungeon, you get the Kaiser Knuckles which can be used by Fang or Hector. In the tutorial dungeon, this weapon practically wipes out everything it touches. On the first floor of the next dungeon, Titan Darius, one attack from the Kaiser Knuckles reduces a monster's HP by about 1/3.
- A similar weapon is a powerful sword that Fang can use, which you can synthesize about halfway through Titan Darius. The fact that Fang can kill most monsters on the fourth floor with one strike makes it sad to see how he can't even reduce a monster on 6F to half health using the same sword. Still, this is the only weapon available to you at the time that can put a dent on the dungeon boss.
- Door To Before: There are a number of doors barred from the other side that can be opened for easier backtracking.
- Doomed Hometown: Huadli and Ilio's hometown was destroyed by a tornado, and they were the only survivors. They take the Holy Ordeals in order to wish Clunea to restore the village. Tiana feels bad for them that she allows the two to take the wish instead of her.
- Eldritch Abomination: Clunea the Destroyer.
- Elemental Punch: Fang has Flame Strike and its stronger variants, which is practically a fire-imbued sword slash. Later on, he gets other elemental attacks too, such as the electric-imbued body slam Plasma Dive. The latter is incredibly useful in the first dungeon, considering how most of the monsters there are fire-resistant.
- Expy: Owing to the collaborative nature of the games' character designs, some artistic similarities with characters from other anime, manga and video games are inevitable.
Ryuga is a silver-haired version of the protagonist from Devil Survivor
Sofia is drawn by the same artist who did Tiana. In her case, she looks like a sweeter version of Mian from Dream C Club
Mint is a blatant mix of Vocaloid's
Len Kagamine's blond hair and Miku Hatsune's twintails
Sieg nearly looks like a genderbent KOS-MOS from the Xenosaga
- Fiery Redhead: Tiana has the hair and the element for it.
- Fighter, Mage, Thief: Little thinner than most as all are proficient both in physical and magical combat. In Tiana's trio, Tiana's the fighter, Sylvie's the mage and Niko is the thief.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: Unchaining is used throughout chapter 1 as a solely gameplay-related mechanism to recruit monsters. Come chapter 2, you have to save Huadli the druid from descending into madness by Unchaining him.
- Genki Girl: Niko in Rexx, Mint in Exxiv.
- Gorgeous Gorgon: Lapis. People willingly turn themselves into stone just to take a peek at her face.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: Clunea doesn't like that people that come to her don't wish for anything and demand her to do what they want instead. This is the reason why Fang gets depowered in the first place.
- Then he does it again in their second meeting, further infuriating Clunea.
- Hot Goddess: Clunea.
- Hot Springs Episode: There's a hot spring in Titan Tortuga, mostly for the girls to enjoy and play "touch the boobie".
- Limit Break: They're called Bursts here, though most of them do more than just dealing huge amounts of damage. Some have restorative effects on the party, while some others inflict status ailments on the enemy party.
- Magic Knight: Pretty much all the characters. This game's pretty tough, so you can't rely on physical attacks to carry you through its monster-laden dungeons.
- Monster Allies: So useful that they even feature in the game's title. Oftentimes all you can do is pray that they like you enough to take (or better, deflect) a hit for you.
- Nintendo Hard: An interesting case where the difficulty of the game actually decreases as you play through it. The consensus is that the first chapter of the game, with an SNK Boss, is in fact the toughest.
- No Export for You: EXXIV won't see a western release due to low sales and lack of interest in the series.
- Not So Different: The Goddess Clunea can also be affected by Sanity Slippage, except her version is different than the rest: their greedy wishes slowly made her go insane during centuries until Fang and the others bring her to her senses.
- Overrated And Underleveled: Lucius really should be higher than Lv. 1 for a guy known as a master swordsman and called "Hell's Messenger". Maybe being sick all that time caused him to fall out of shape.
- Petting Zoo People: It's seen that all of the people that inhabit the world are part of prestigious clans. At the start, all of them are humans with their clans' respective features on their bodies such as Fang's dragon-looking clothes and Tiana's feathery looks. Once they reach a certain point, they all "fledge", turning into the trope.
- Those monsters in the Titans, for that matter, are said people who suffered through Sanity Slippage.
- Point Build System: The game employs the Skill Map which suspiciously resembles the Sphere Grid in FFX. Leveling up grants you 2SP, which can be used on the Skill Map to acquire a node for every SP (which in turn allows the adjacent nodes to be acquired). The nodes either involve an increase to a single stat (+1 STR, +1 INT, +1 VIT or +1 SPD), a boost to weapon proficiency, acquisition of a new skill, or unlocking a higher-level Burst.
- Point of No Return: A very, VERY unfortunate thing can happen to you in Titan Tortuga if you so casually decide to save your game in a flooded room with not enough steps to make it back to the stairs if you don't have a Sigil or Escape ready. This means you'll have to restart your game from the very beginning.
- Power Echoes: Clunea's voice.
- Power Trio: Tiana is the Ego, Sylvie the Superego, Niko the Id.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Clunea refuses his wish and then turns him into a puny human? Fang goes berserk for her blood!
- Random Number Goddess: To Unchain a monster, you'll have to put it in Unchainable status first, which occurs (with a relatively small chance) when the enemy is hit to half health or below. Why Goddess? We can only think that Clunea is the one screwing with your chances when you're trying to smack on the Heat Lion until the Unchain circle comes out.
- Rare Candy: The standard permanent-stat-boosting fruits are present here. There are also fruits that boost followers' stats permanently, though considering how followers have a level limit and eventually have to be released, these follower-boosting fruits don't come in handy until late game. There's also the Mazuba Candy, which instantly boosts a follower's mood.
- Sanity Slippage: People that wander around the Titans for too long become heavily affected by their strong wish. According to Sylvie, if anybody wanders a Titan for too long, their wish turns into desire, and then the desire turns into lust at which point the victim starts descending into madness that turns them into mindless monsters until somebody unchains them. To make a point, Niko is from the Spirit Fox clan. There's an enemy monster called Spirit Fox in Titan Slon.
- It happens to important characters, too. Namely, Huadli and Hector.
- Goddesses are not really above this either.
- Ship Tease: Fang and Tiana have quite a bit of Belligerent Sexual Tension. Between his Anti-Hero tendencies and she is a Tsundere and then he turns out to be the reason she wants to be a dragon. Diane in the sequel is their descendant.
- Significant Double Casting: Nana Mizuki voicing both Clunea and Sofia, signifying the latter being an avatar of the goddess created just before she was sealed away by Zodias at the beginning of Exxiv.
- Skinship Grope: Happens in the hot springs in Titan Tortuga, with Tiana groping Sylvie and Niko joining in.
- SNK Boss: The first boss of the game, Darius, is commonly considered to be the most difficult, even taking into account optional bosses. There are three main reasons for this:
- First, the boss has THREE stages. In all stages, the boss is able to move twice for every turn, and one attack from the guy can easily reduce your healer, Lapis, to below half health is she's not guarding, which is usually the case because she's busy healing other party members.
- Second, your restorative inventory is relatively limited as you cannot buy or make revival items yet. At the time of the boss fight, you have access to only ONE revival item that restores a K.O.'d character back to critical health, at which point the boss would just smack him/her down again. This means that most of the time, if a character loses all of their HP, they're out for the rest of the fight. This, combined with the fact that the fight's pretty dragged out, means Lapis has her work cut out.
- Third, half of your party's Burst attacks are useless in this battle. Fang's level 1 Burst, Magma Burst, deals fire damage, which means that the effect is halved. Mari's level 1 Burst, Screaming Chorus, deals zero damage and inflicts all enemies with Fear, which the boss is immune against.
- A Taste of Power: You start as Fang when he's a Lv. 99 dragon and can One-Hit Kill everything before being bumped down to a Lv. 1 humanoid fledgling.
- Tsundere: Tiana alternates between haughty and nice.
- Useless Useful Spell: Inverted. All status effect spells are extremely useful for traversing through dungeons, especially spells that hit the entire enemy party. Sometimes there are battles where you face multiple screens of enemies (10 to 15 monsters, each of which get one attack every turn. Chances are your healer will drop after about 4 attacks.) and the only way to get out of the battle alive is to have your support mage use a mass sleep spell and cutting down the enemies one by one before they can wake up. Played Straight with bosses though - they're still immune to most status effects. Some of the uses of the status effect-inducing spells involve:
- Bind: Disables the monster. Extremely useful when you want to Unchain a monster but don't want it to smack your party to death before you can Unchain it.
- Sleep: A disable with a much higher chance of success than Bind. Useful in fighting huge groups of monsters.
- Confuse: Causes the monster/character to attack randomly. There's still a chance the affected monster will attack your party, so this status effect is not so useful on mosnters, as compared to when it affects a party member, which disables him/her and at the same time leaves him/her defenseless. Guarding is crucial to survival in boss fights, so not being able to guard can sometimes spell certain death.
- Charm: Causes the monster to attack its allies. Also works as a disable.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: In Rexx, Titan Loewe.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Tiana, Sylvie and Niko all have variants.