Mediocrity is a word that is quite often used with games on handheld devices, particularly the RPGs that seem to perpetually flow onto the platforms. Recently, I had the opportunity to rekindle an older XSEED game called Brave Story: New Traveler for the PSP. Brave Story is much like any staple RPG. There are random battles, sprawling dungeons, talking animals, allusions to the present, and even a protagonist who transforms from pauper to hero. We have been dealing with these RPG attributes for such a long time that a game possessing them just seems natural.
Brave Story has occasional flashes of good within this archaic mold. At the same rate, the game has a tendency to smash down any of its genuinely unique experience with the same stuff we have been dealing with for years. Where does Brave Story stand on the handheld pedestal? While I can’t answer that, I may be able to tell you if this title is worth your time.
Brave Story: New Traveler (PlayStation Portable)
The dialogue, an additional weak point of Brave Story, is short and cheesy. The characters that you pick up on the journey are all cookie-cutter individuals. Yuno is a feisty cat-girl, constantly reinforcing her feistiness. The lizard thing is a brute that abandons his son for the journey with the protagonist. The knight is an egghead, always talking about valor, and the guild leader is the typical strong female character that talks a big show. Again, flesh this out and you might have a decent attempt at engaging people.
As usual, the game suffers from the town-to-dungeon doldrums. The towns are really nothing more than a guild, an item shop, and a weapon store. NPCs are rarely interactive, and when they are engaging, they put you on dumb tasks involving killing monsters to retrieve items. The guild, on the other hand, is somewhat conducive to a better experience. It can reward players for monsters killed, thus allowing them more money to buy weapons and armor. If there’s one thing the game really hits you with – it is a lack of resources. Towards the end of the game, the only real way to make decent money is to grind it out instead of selling collected items.
Brave Story is not a spectacularly long game, but it should keep people occupied. There are a few points in the game where it takes over an hour to get to a save point, so be prepared to be weary. If I were to call this game anything other than average, it would be silly. Brave Story is a decent title that barely extends itself past complete mediocrity. The redundancy of battle, lack of exploration, silly story, and exceptionally devoid characters lends to the genre itself. Although, catching chickens and the battle system can be somewhat fun or even occasionally immersing. The visuals are just typical for the PSP, and the cut-scenes are all in-engine for the most part. The soundtrack is minimal, which is great, because what little there is can become annoying quickly.
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