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Video Game / Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity

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Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity is an obscure Play Station 2 Turn-Based Strategy Role-Playing Game published by Atlus and developed by "Pinegrow Studios" (formerly known as "Maxfive"). The game is a Spiritual Successor to Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth: They were developed by the same people, use many of the same gameplay conceits and share a similar Green Aesop plot. The developers learned from Hoshigami's poor reception and averted that game's rather suicidal Nintendo Hardness. Unfortunately, the result is almost Nintendo Easy... but hey, Tropes Are Not Bad, and the game has been lauded as a good "gateway episode" into Strategy RPGs for that very reason.

The world of "Solum" has been engulfed by a corrosive mist called "Miasma", which threatens to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. High Priestess Lumena, leader of the setting's Corrupt Church, has begun to preach that the Miasma is god's will and everyone should just lie down and wait to die. The Warlord Dignus has taken the opportunity to go Ax-Crazy and travel the world wreaking slaughter: anyone he meets who isn't willing to fight clearly deserves to die. And an alchemist, Viser, is trying to save the world using his inventions—though he keeps having to kill off benign wildlife called "Spirits" to do it. The Hero, Spero, is his apprentice, who believes that it should be possible to Take a Third Option (well, a fourth in this case) and save the world without causing any more harm. This takes more tangible form in the person of Linea, a "Shaman" who can commune with Spirits and claims that, if they can hunt down the "Gate of Eternity" and open it, more Spirits will come in and set everything right.

Gameplay allows the player to deploy up to six characters for battle. There is no Class and Level System in this game (well, technically there is, but it's so linear and non-interactive that it might as well not exist), but that's okay: the "Action Points" system, returning from Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth, makes up for it. Every action you could possibly commit takes up a certain amount of AP, and you can mix-and-match any way you want, as long as you've got enough AP remaining in your budget. This gives you enormous flexibility and depth in character disposition: Spero can burn off all his AP moving, or attack three times, or go a short distance and then attack a couple times, or even go a short distance, hit once and then retreat again. You can't overburn like you could in Hoshigami, so watch out: if Spero runs too far forward, he might not be able to do anything else once he gets there. Finally, you can also choose to burn extra AP at the end of a turn, so as to seed the character into the who-goes-next turn queue at an opportune moment.

The main gameplay gimmick was "Zone Effects" and their various uses. Each character would be surrounded by a configuration of yellow panels, which indicated their zone of influence, and could apply various effects to this zone; Spero's, for instance, increased all his allies' Dodge rates, while Dignus' inflicts various Status Effects on his enemies. If two (or more) characters had a foe within their zones, they could initiate a Combination Attack for extra damage; if those characters had plot significance with each other, they would throw an extra-special attack animation for even more extra damage. Unlike most gimmicks, the enemy can—and does—use this feature against you.

The game was re-released on the Play Station Network on September 5, 2013 for $9.99.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: You can level your characters up to lvl 99... which seems reasonable enough until you realize you don't need to be over 50 to finish the game. The point of 99 is to finish the optional Bonus Dungeon.
  • Ax-Crazy: Dignus; Croire; Viper, to a much greater extent
  • Awesome, but Impractical: A number of spells in the game really veer in this direction. Enemy Croire Archer has a Rain of Arrows mega-attack which can hit everyone in your party... But the attack drains one third of his MP. The attack only hits for about of you 25% HP (assuming your characters don't dodge it, which half of them will), and whose damage can be healed by much cheaper heal spells.
  • Death is Cheap: Played very straight. While there's no Revive spell, there is no permanent penalty whatsoever to losing a character in battle, besides a small drop in their LUCK stat. Keep in mind that this is a game by the team that made Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth, wherein every death was either a Permadeath or an immediate Game Over.
  • Death Ray: Golems have these.
  • Death Seeker: The apparent philosophy of the Aeque, who just want "a peaceful end". (The Nox, on the other hand, interpret the state of the world as "God is angry at humanity" and have become Omnicidal Maniacs.)
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Jade, Echidna and Viser for the good guys; in a rare works-for-the-bad-guys example, Croire to Dignus.
  • Doomed Hometown: Spero's hometown and Avis' home nation. You manage to prevent Linea's hometown from one of these.
  • Escort Mission: Any mission where Tia is a Guest-Star Party Member has an element of this: If she dies, she's gone. Fortunately, she's quite the fighter to begin with. Unfortunately, one of these missions has her as an enemy...
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Arrows can shoot around corners and through obstacles as long as the target is in range.
  • Item Crafting: The "Fusion" system allows access to a lot of things, including a large quantity of weapons and armor that aren't available any other way.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Spero even dual-wields them. Echidna uses them too.
  • Level Grind: made easy by training facilities, the "Catacomb of Trials", accessible from any town.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Getting Jade's ultimate weapon requires winning several hands of cards in a row at the Minigame Zone.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The battle with Viser and Nebula takes place on one of these.
  • Player Mooks: One each for all of the named characters you see here. While it's fun to collect them all, once you get your sixth named character after Battle 10, you'll basically never use them again.
  • Power Fist: Tia; Adara, to a lesser extent, whose combat animation is just smacking people with her metal arm.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: As was typical for SRPGs of The Noughties, 3D-rendered backgrounds were topped with 2D sprites. The sprites themselves were of superb quality, and reviews frequently mention them as a highlight.
  • Squishy Wizard: Averted; physical attacks are a perfectly respectable combat option for Adara, Prier and Lumena.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: The Aeque teach that everyone should just accept that the mist is going to consume everything. While previous attempts to save the world haven't gone very well, this results in Apathetic Citizens who not only won't help you at all, but will actively obstruct your every move.
  • The Stoic: Gallant is typically presented as unemotional and distant.
  • Stripperiffic: High Priestess Lumena's costume consists of an unbelted robe over... a one-piece swimsuit?
  • Un Sound Effect: Most characters have footstep sound effects when they walk. Lumena has this godawful * WHOMP-WHOMP-WHOMP!* noise.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Viper, the Ax-Crazy Large Ham. He has a Zone Effect around him that makes it impossible for you to attack him, and he can two-hit-KO your characters. The problem is that he's seen in only the fourth battle of the game, by which point you've only been playing for a couple of hours... and, in the days before Dark Souls, this kind of thing was frowned upon.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Spero. Keep in mind that a large-enough Team Attack can be a One-Hit Kill.
  • Whip of Dominance: Big Bad Nebula is a whip-wielding villainess who wears a Stripperiffic leather outfit and is a Misanthrope Supreme with a cruel and imposing personality, often demeaning and insulting everyone around her. She tells others to submit to her when she lashes at them with her whip, and her special attacks animation has her tightening the whip in an intimidating fashion.