Month two of the new year, and we’re still going strong!
Please note that all reviews in the Omnibus are being written as I finish the game in question, and thus the snippets of relevant discussion I might have about them between the writing of the review and publication of the Argent Omnibus may not be accounted for!
Illusion of Gaia
Illusion of Gaia is about a grade-school kid with special powers named Will who has to, under the edict of his father, gather six objects of power and become the ultimate life form to stop a comet from influencing the Earth’s biology and evolution.
Along the way, he traverses harsh environments and solves ancient temples’ puzzles with the help of his friends, he kills a man by way of Russian Roulette to take his setting-appropriate camel analogs, learns how to spindash, and plays a mystical melody to lethally immolate a legendary mercenary who is holding his love interest hostage.
After all of this, he ascends to the dark comet and annihilates the consciousness dwelling there with his newfound power, then he watches as Earth, and its geological biology, shift around and time corrects itself and the ending finds Will as a grade-school kid in a contemporary school.
Basically, what I’m saying is that by 1994, Quintet had already out-classed Shadow the Hedgehog’s edgy game status. Also, Kara, Will’s love interest, has a pet piglet named Hamlet for the sole purpose of a “to eat or not to eat” joke.
(Mechanically, it’s definitely a Soul Blazer sequel, but a lot more coherent and lenient.)
Hi, my name is Randall the Rando, and, as a party member in a standard RPG, you, the player character, are responsible for outfitting me! Thanks to the fact that this system is skinned as an MMO, though, this doesn’t make any sense from a flavor perspective! On top of that, you can only equip me by giving me equipment as a gift and hoping I equip it automatically, or diving through the Command menu, instead of the first-instinct Equipment menu, and manually telling me what to wear!
Also, I’m a magic user, with no way to defend myself physically, but you’ll have to tell me to use my magic spells every time we enter an encounter! Hope you like hitting the square button every time we open a portal!
By the way, I hope you have boundless stocks of antidotes and restoratives, because they cure paralysis and confusion respectively, and those are unavoidable status effects that can cause total-party wipes anywhere from the start of the mid-game allllll the way into the endgame!
Oh, and lest I forget, have fun with enemy encounters where two or more of the monsters can heal each other to full from the brink of death with no cooldown or limitations, and pseudo-bossfights where you have to just wail on enemies until they open up to your special power so you can remove their infinite-health cheat!
See you again in .hack//mutation next month!
Tales of the Abyss
Tales of the Abyss was the most glaring oversight in my 3D Tales knowledge, and I’d been meaning to play it ever since I got a PS2 in 2012, but I ended up hitting walls in it a couple of times and moved onto my other games. In the last month I’ve remedied this, and come out, 46 hours later, and ten minutes ago, with an understanding of why folks love the game.
In short, it’s a pretty solid game, though with some difficulty issues that can be combated with some grinding whenever the game gives you a save point that heals you for free. On top of that, my first playthrough was my typical barebones first run, because I’d been warned that most of the side-content was either strict in its timeframe or otherwise obnoxious, but I’ll probably have more to say about the game as a whole at a later date when I’ve had the time and patience to do a proper second run with a supplementary sidequest guide.
The story, which focuses heavily on the value of life and the weight of identity, came to bear its point upon me when I was in a bad place considering my own identity and whether my life had value. …the last week hasn’t been my best. I was spoiled on two of the major plot points long before they came to pass; one via the thread title of an LP going on a while ago on Something Awful some months ago, and one recently by a friend on Twitter discussing it seemingly apropos of nothing and assuming I had played the game (as I really should have). In both cases, I felt like I would’ve figured out prior to the reveal with the less-than-subtle context clues, so knowing them ahead of time wasn’t really detrimental to my enjoyment. The twist revealed in the aforementioned thread title is only about a quarter of the way through the plot, and it’s the central focus of the remaining 75% of the game, so I’m fine having known it.
The first third of the game is where the protagonist, Luke, is the most flippant, pompous ass of a main character, and his symbolic haircut at the end of that third is where he starts growing as a character instead of stagnating like the trope he began as. He seeks to take responsibility and make reparations for his destructive actions and re-earns the trust of his party members, and by the end of the game, he became a character I felt myself identifying with, through his struggle to determine his identity and worth as a living being in the face of the responsibilities that living brings with it.