Being unfamiliar with any other game in this series, as well as modern JRPGs in general, I came into this game fresh. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. What bothers me the most about this game is how hollow it really is. I sunk about 100 hours into it (and still didn't finish; indeed, I had much more to go according to some guides, though I did reach the last hub), about 90 of which I felt was padding. This is because you need to be overleveled to be able to fight ANYTHING comfortably in this game. Maybe I'm a bad strategist, but it infuriates me that I cannot defeat a level 57 field boss with a level 62-63 party, optional though it may be. So how does the padding play out? SIDEQUESTS. There are about five different variations, spread out across almost 500 different quests. See how that might get old? And you practically have to do them too, since experience gained decreases exponentially for each level you have over a monster, and if you're fighting anything on your level, you'll probably die, boss or no. The only thing that makes this remotely bearable is an abundance of warp points which are almost always available from anywhere. The story is certainly not good enough to motivate me to continue. My issue with it is that for the majority of the game, your party's motivations are based on a character from the beginning we didn't have enough time to get invested in, making it very hard to care. It even resorts to flashing back to the same cutscene multiple times because it has no other moments to show. Worse yet, I didn't find the character in question compelling in any way, not to mention that they wasted tons of potential on a subplot in the fourth hub. Oh yes, and some of the characters reminded me quite a bit of Golden Sun. As for what the game got right other than the aforementioned warp points, I did enjoy the battle system, though I am unaware of how dated it may be. The battle music was nice too, even if none of the other tunes were memorable. And the environments looked detailed and gorgeous. The character models certainly didn't though. The British dub is pretty good as well. Other than the menus and inventory system giving me nightmarish Mass Effect 1 flashbacks, there's not much else to say. Definitely give this one a rent first. You might just thank me.
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