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03/03/2020 20:32:51 •••

The Most Pointless Review I've Ever Written

...From the perspective of a review supposedly telling you whether or not something is worth your time and money, this is probably totally pointless. Mobile games are fast-moving things, with new content often being gone forever, and I don't know how useful this review will or won't be for the average customer. All I know is, this's been my game of choice for more than a year, and I reckon it deserves someone to sit down and write up some analysis.

So, from the top, I have to admit that I am not only a fan of the original source material, I am, just as my on-the-record review of Fate/stay night admits, a fan of weird Japanese things and world history and mythology. It was conceptually made for me, and I really like seeing interesting new takes on historical and mythological figures that range from shockingly accurate to interestingly off-beat.

That's one thing that really sticks out to me about this game, compared to the handful of other hero-collector gachas I've tried out: the cast and story. Not only are the characters interesting and entertaining, a few of them even surprisingly deep, the story is itself thrilling. Some parts, like those frantic raids when the final dungeon for the first part of the story that dropped, won't be quite the same now as they were when a new player picked them up, and some events are actually rather crucial to the ongoing narrative, but taken as a whole in linear order, they all create a vibrant world, a story of humanity on the brink.

And while the starting stories are... rough (with the Septim chapter in particular being the only story arc I outright disliked on first playthrough), by the time Okeanos starts the player is probably fairly invested in what happens to these people, on a micro and macro level. America and onwards, the storytelling starts to get stupid good.

The gameplay also gets surprisingly deep, especially as the game continues and more and more story chapters introduce interesting gimmicks or twists. In brief, each character has a "deck" of five cards, teams consist of six characters, three active and three as backup, and all active characters have their cards shuffled into the "deck." Each turn, the player draws five cards, picks three to put in a "hand." Buster cards do extra damage, Arts cards charge up meters to unleash super moves (which then represent cards that can be added to any hand), and Quick cards create chances for critical hits in later turns. Combining three cards from the same character unleashes a "Brave" chain, for a fourth attack, while combining three cards of the same type grans a special bonus. (Extra damage, free meter, and bonus stars, respectively.) And, distinct from the cards, every character has three "skills" which can unleash extra modifiers.

Early stories can be brute-forced with Buster cards, but the game actually rewards understanding its mechanics and how they interact with each other. But at the same time, emphasis is placed on making every character at least viable, and with a few minor exceptions from the earliest days of the game, that's mostly true. Notably, too, unlike many other games in its niche, every part of the game so far can be beaten entirely with low-rarity characters from the free point gacha, many of whom have rare and powerful niches. Shelling out cash might be something you have to do to get everyone you want, but not everything you *need*.

That said, if I had one criticism of the game, it's the paid gacha. Even by gacha standards, it's stingy as hell. We fans joke about it, but it really is quite scummy how hard it is to pull the most powerful characters out of the bag, occasional giveaways aside.

But, as the video game pundit Jim Sterling once said, it's often easier to forgive stuff like that when it happens "instead of" rather than "in addition to." And I can't help but look at the game and see all the other ways it could be trying to gig me for money. No premium tier subscription fee, no packs of upgrade materials, hell, there's not even any player-versus-player content to drive up the value of expensive and rare characters. So, even if I hate the gacha, I'd rather have one big wound than a bunch of moderate ones.

And that's where I am with this game. A stingy, grindy gacha sticking out of a fun, surprisingly deep game with an excellent story that hits notes triumphant, poignant, and hilarious, sometimes at the same time. I don't know if you'll like it, or even if you can have the experience I did, given the way mobile games with timed content work... only that I liked it a lot.

03/03/2020 00:00:00

You are totally not off the mark as even me have a love/hate feelings for this game

03/03/2020 00:00:00

You are totally not off the mark as even me have a love/hate feelings for this game

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