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Review: Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

Feb 12 // Laura Kate Dale
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (PS3, Vita [reviewed])Developer: Gust Co. LtdPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: March 11, 2014 (PS3) / January 19, 2016 (Vita)MSRP: $39.99 (Vita) Atelier Escha & Logy Plus as an RPG centers around two alchemists on a strict deadline to prevent the destruction of their world. Built around an in-game calendar, each mission you take on will require a certain number of your limited days to complete. Longer tasks might yield better rewards, but they carry the inherent risk of running out of time to complete larger objectives as they arise. Ranging from resource collection to battle-heavy dungeons, there's a decent variety of mission types to pick from. The most interesting aspect of this system ends up being how it impacts the party you take into missions and how willing you are to take chances as a player. If you're low on health or resources, you have to weigh the risks of pushing on and failing the mission against the multiple days it might use up to return to town, gather resources, and rest up. This risk management becomes a key part of gameplay, and kept me much more engaged in my performance than I expected. [embed]340946:62241:0[/embed] Giving the player the choice of two playable characters from the start, one male and one female, Escha & Logy's plot follows a very similar narrative structure to Tales of Xillia. While both protagonists work together, spend most of the plot together, and go on largely the same journey, some sections are altered depending on who you play as. The variations in plot are spread pretty far apart, but having the option to have a slightly different adventure on a second playthrough is appealing. Playing as Escha will give players a more alchemy focused, lighthearted view of events as they transpire, while playing as Logy is a more traditional, combat-heavy experience that will feel more familiar to RPG fans not versed in the Atelier's core alchemy mechanics. So, there is one big problem with getting invested in the story of Escha and Logy. While the main plot is well-written and engaging, the opening hours of you're adventure are cripplingly unrepresentative of the rest of the game. Excited for a grand, world-spanning adventure? Better be ready for several hours discussing financial outcomes of investments, business plans, government spending patterns, and uses for awarded stipends. Seriously, the opening hours play out like a Galactic Senate hearing in the Star Wars prequels. A fascinating story follows, but you're going to have to put a few tedious hours in to get to it. Bear that in mind. Where previous Atelier entries have done a poor job of explaining the mechanics behind alchemy and encouraged experimentation early on, Escha and Logy does a much better job of getting players to look at recipes and describing the ways in which they can be modified. While there's still a lot of experimentation in the system, that experimentation is acknowledged early on and not left as a big, daunting barrier that could halt late-game progression. The combat is fairly standard turn-based fighting, but the prep work put into alchemy before missions adds a nice amount of variety to the number of ways a fight can be tackled. Ultimately, Atelier Escha & Logy Plus is probably the best entry point this series has had. Sure, the first few hours are excruciating and I wouldn't blame anyone for not wanting to have to push through that, but the story of personal growth, trust, and ambition that lies behind it was well worth experiencing. The combat is a bit predictable to start, but once you get yourself stuck into the more accessible alchemy system, you'll never go into two fights with the same toolset available, which is refreshing. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Atelier Vita photo
A good entry for newbies
Atelier has always been one of those niche series of RPGs that gets harder to jump into with every entry. Featuring complex and often convoluted alchemy mechanics that have grown tough to break into over the years, the games ...

Freebie photo
Freebie

Sci-fi RPG Consortium free on GOG.com


Boldly go claim a copy
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
As a nice promotion for the ongoing Consortium: The Tower Kickstarter campaign, Interdimensional Games is giving away Consortium: The Master Edition on GOG.com for 48 hours. In his review of the player-choice-driven sci-fi ga...
FNaF World goes free photo
FNaF World goes free

Five Nights at Freddy's World updated and released for free


Remodeled overworld and more
Feb 11
// Jed Whitaker
Five Nights at Freddy's World (or FNaF World for short) has re-released for free following its removal from Steam after developer Scott Cawthon admitted it had been released too early. This updated version of the ro...
Sadame photo
Sadame

3DS action-RPG Sadame coming to the West


Oni hunter
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
This is my first time seeing Sadame, a top-down action-RPG from Mebius and Rising Star Games, and I'm on board. The basic premise: a samurai, ninja, monk, and rogue battle demons in Japan's Sengoku period, earning better equ...

Review: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

Feb 10 // Chris Carter
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (PS4 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Media VisionPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: February 2, 2016MSRP: $59.99 Cyber Sleuth stands tall as a cute, vibrant adventure full of interesting setpieces. For those of you who scared of hearing "Arurururu-mon" over and over like previous iterations, the tone is amusing without being too cutesy and annoying, and the option to turn off monster voices in battle helps (I'm sure people would love that for Pokemon). In other words, Media Vision found a good balance between the series' mature and childish elements. The developer has also gone full Internet again. In this edition, your avatar is at the epicenter of a cyber world, complete with Digimon battles and a personified world wide web. The setting is EDEN, a virtual consumer-oriented network run by Kamishiro Enterprises, that prides itself on shopping first and foremost, which the game has mild commentary on to boot. Over the years, viruses and hacking have started to run rampant as a fringe movement, however, and that's where said monsters come in. EDEN is beautiful, to put it bluntly. The blank skies are actually an endearing quality that help differentiate it from many other renditions of the Internet, and the upbeat soundtrack is reminiscent of the Persona series in all the best ways. Avatars also chat about real locations like Roppongi and Shinjuku, and it's generally fun to hang around the world even without a purpose, just like in the .hack games. This is partially because the world is believable. The team put a lot of work into building up its lore and foundation. [embed]340181:62208:0[/embed] Cyber Sleuth doesn't exactly look like a current-generation RPG (mostly because it was originally released on the Vita in Japan), but the brief anime cutscenes help breathe some life into it. As a note, the entire cast is comprised of Japanese voices, and the avatar (male or female, your choice) is mostly a silent partner, only speaking to him or herself. The rest of the characters probably talk half of the time. This halfheartedness spills over to the story somewhat, because while the universe itself is compelling, the "hacker" angle doesn't really go anywhere, and suffers from an overly long intro/tutorial section. The Persona comparisons don't stop at the presentation. The world map is also a menu, with larger hub worlds to explore after making a selection. It's deceptively large, because while it's not truly open world (or even open map like Final Fantasy games), you'll unlock so many areas over the course of your adventure that it will take quite a while to explore them all fully. Since you can save nearly anywhere (Cross-Save is also in), the segmented zones don't become anything more than a minor nuisance. The battle system is basically everything you've seen before from the past few decades of JRPGs. There's an easy-to-read timeline on the side showing turn order, and your 'mon can attack, use a skill, guard, or change out. Yes, random battles are in, which is either deliciously or inexcusably old-school, depending on your tastes. At this point in my life, I'm kind of at a middle-ground mindset. I still love JRPGs dearly, especially those with great world-building and infectious casts, but I can do without the random battles. At the very least, it would be nice to see enemies on-screen -- or, as several games have done lately (such as Bravely Default or the modern Final Fantasy re-releases), allow the option to eliminate them at will, though you can reduce the frequency at some point. As expected, 'mon can level up to gain new skills, and since each one can house up to 20, it can get very deep very quickly, especially when you consider that there's over 240 in all. Party members also follow you, which is a nice touch as you're wading through all of the random battles. Feeding, a DigiFarm meta-game, a lab that levels up non-active 'mons, and evolution are also in, so there's plenty to mess around with if you aren't feeling up to a dungeon crawl at any moment. Said dungeons, however, are mostly linear. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth plays it safe in a lot of ways, but for many of you out there, that's going to be perfectly fine. Just don't expect it to convert you if you're sworn off the formula. [This review is based on a retail version of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Digimon Story review photo
More Persona than Pokemon
For the past week or so, people have been asking me non-stop if we're going to review Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. I wasn't actually sure if Bandai Namco was going to send a copy (it sent everything else), so for the gam...

First gameplay video photo
First gameplay video

See just how much the gameplay has changed in Valkyria: Azure Revolution


Guess it really ISN'T a strategy game...
Feb 10
// Steven Hansen
It's been clear from the get-go that Valkyria: Azure Revolution is a spinoff from the Valkyria Chronicles series that graced the PS3 and PSP. It is much more anime-y, there are overwrought swords and melee combat, as well as...
Undertale toys photo
Undertale toys

Get your name in early for these Undertale figures


Dibs on the dog
Feb 09
// Nic Rowen
Look, I'm going to level with you, internet, I haven't actually played Undertale yet. You don't need to boo and hiss at me, I know I'm scum. I've wanted to play it since it came out, but after seeing these amazing Undertale f...
Tetsuya Mizuguchi photo
Tetsuya Mizuguchi

Rez, Lumines dev's puzzle RPG 18 coming west


For iOS and Android devices in Q2
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
If you're a fan of Testuya Mizuguchi's work (Rez, Lumines, Space Channel 5, Child of Eden) and enjoy smartphone games, well buddy, let me tell you, 2016 is looking like one hell of a year. In addition to a pair of new Lumines...
SQUARE ENIX photo
SQUARE ENIX

Here's your first look at Dragon Quest Heroes II


Just as pretty as the last one
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Square Enix has shared the first images of Dragon Quest Heroes II, and it doesn't look dramatically different from its predecessor. That isn't too surprising, considering its predecessor debuted just a year ago and looked per...
Baldur's Gate photo
Baldur's Gate

BioWare writer David Gaider moves to Beamdog


Back to Baldur's Gate
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
Long-time BioWare David Gaider (Baldur's Gate II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age) recently departed from the role-playing game studio in search of a "new challenge." As of this week, he has joined the Edmo...
SQUARE ENIX photo
SQUARE ENIX

Final Fantasy IX out now on mobile, PC soon


With optional random encounters
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Final Fantasy IX is now available on iOS App Store and Google Play for a whopping $17. Square Enix announced the PlayStation 1 classic was on its way to PC and mobile devices back in December. There's no w...
PS VITA photo
PS VITA

Shiren the Wanderer saunters westward on Vita


Arriving July 26 in North America
Feb 08
// Kyle MacGregor
The fifth entry in Spike Chunsoft's Shiren The Wanderer series is coming west this summer. Aksys Games announced the good news earlier today over at the PlayStation Blog, revealing plans to publish the Mystery Dungeon spin-of...
RPG photo
RPG

Return to PopoloCrois out in Europe next week


Australia and New Zealand too!
Feb 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, the role-playing game about shrinking down to microscopic size and fighting it out with tiny monsters corrupting the soil, is launching in Europe, Australia, and New Zealan...

The hardcore Destiny community forgets why we play

Feb 06 // Darren Nakamura
There are a lot of possible answers to that question, but the most common among the hardcore players is because they are not at the maximum light level, or don't have every piece of exotic gear. Basically, they're in it for the stuff. This isn't some mindblowing revelation. Bungie has employed specific knowledge of human psychology in order to hook people into the loop. It's a classic Skinner box through and through, and Bungie wants players to keep hitting that lever for the chance at getting a food pellet. This is even more apparent now that Bungie has shifted to its limited-time events. I read a sentiment about the Sparrow Racing League from late last year that paraphrases to "I play SRL because the loot drops are high and frequent." More recently, Iron Banner Rift has seen players manipulating the Mercy Rule to intentionally throw matches and get to the end-of-game rewards more quickly. The problem with this mindset is that it treats the game like work. As players, we should be saying "I want to engage with this content because it is entertaining," not "I want to get to the end of this content as quickly as possible because my number might go up." I played a decent bit of SRL when it was around because the racing was a nice change of pace to the usual shooting. I played the most recent Iron Banner because Rift is my strongest game type and I knew I'd enjoy the process. I run King's Fall because it's a great feeling coordinating six Guardians into a well-oiled machine. Heck, I will still run the old raids, Vault of Glass and Crota's End, despite that they drop useless rewards. I play Destiny for the intrinsic value. I play Destiny because it is entertaining. When you treat a game like it's a job, then the saltiness comes out. Farming materials for the exotic sword quest is a good example. If you view it as an item on a checklist and try to power through it as quickly as possible, you're in for a bad time. Sure, you can mainline material routes for four hours straight to get it, but it'll be a boring four hours. Instead, I would go on Patrol, grab a few materials, participate in public events, kill some Taken champions, and head back to orbit when I felt like doing something else. It probably took me twice as long over multiple days to finish farming, but that was eight hours of enjoying myself instead of four hours of hating the world. The economics here are clear: if you play only for the reward at the end, you rob yourself of the enjoyment throughout. I implore players: divorce yourself from the reptilian part of your brain that is so susceptible to Destiny's operant conditioning. If you ever find yourself playing because you feel you have to rather than because you want to, ask yourself, "Am I enjoying this?" If you find yourself more interested in the reward at the end than the content in which you use the reward, ask yourself, "Is this worth it?" If your answers to those questions are no, there's no shame in finding something else to do, inside the world of Destiny or outside of it. Never forget the reason we play in the first place: to have fun.
Destiny opinion photo
Forget chasing loot for once
I've been playing a lot of Destiny lately -- late to the party, I know -- and going deep into the rabbit hole almost requires players to frequent r/DestinyTheGame or some other similar community site. Without it, I'd never kn...

Capcom photo
Capcom

Breath of Fire III launches on PSN next week


'Never say never'
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
More than a decade after launching on PSP in Japan, Breath of Fire III will arrive on PlayStation Network in North America next Tuesday, February 9, according to the latest PlayStation Blogcast. Back in 2013, Capcom's th...
Final Fantasy photo
Final Fantasy

Square Enix might bring that Adventures of Mana Vita port to the West after all


Thanks to you
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Every time I've written about Adventures of Mana, the new Final Fantasy Adventure remake, just about every one of you have clamored for Square Enix to localize the PlayStation Vita version. In case you haven't been following ...
Fire Emblem Fates photo
Fire Emblem Fates

PSA: Fire Emblem Fates does not feature dual audio in the west


English only
Feb 06
// Chris Carter
I woke up today to tons of emails and PMs, asking one simple question -- does Fire Emblem Fates have dual audio? So I quickly hopped over to the Extras menu, and found that no, it does not. It's curious, as the option for Jap...
XSEED photo
XSEED

Return to PopoloCrois gets March 1 release date


At least in North America
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale launches on March 1 in North America. While XSEED will release the "farming-flavored" role-playing game in both physical and digital form across North America, Marvelou...
ATLUS photo
ATLUS

The Legend of Legacy is out now in Europe


Ribbit
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
The Legend of Legacy is now available across Europe, NIS America has announced. I wasn't too fond of the role-playing game when it launched in North America last fall, finding it to be a repetitive experience without muc...
Fire Emblem Fates photo
Robin, Ike, Marth, Lucina
I've been playing Fire Emblem Fates this week (Nintendo sent the Special Edition cart that has all three versions) for review, and I've had a chance to test out the amiibo feature. To my surprise some folks didn't even k...

Fire Emblem photo
Fire Emblem

See how Nintendo altered the Fire Emblem Fates 'petting' minigame


It's basically the same
Feb 05
// Chris Carter
Fire Emblem Fates has been getting a lot of flak for cutting its "skinship" petting minigame in the western localization, but now that the game is in the hands of a select few (I got my copy earlier this week), we can se...
The Witcher photo
The Witcher

Please sign this petition for Destructoid to send me to Witcher School


This needs to happen
Feb 04
// Zack Furniss
There's a real-life LARP Witcher School where you can learn how to fight with swords and bows, make potions, and combat humans dressed in monster suits. It's held at Castle Moszna in Poland, and this March 17-20, they'll be a...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Square Enix's Adventures of Mana is out now


For mobile worldwide, PS Vita in Japan
Feb 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Adventures of Mana, a remake of the Game Boy classic Final Fantasy Adventure -- the first entry in Square Enix's Mana series, is now available worldwide on iOS and Android for $14 / £10.50 / €14. Of course, there's also a PlayStation Vita version, but for some reason it's exclusive to Japan.
Odin Sphere photo
Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir hits Europe in June


Same as North America
Feb 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Vanillaware's Odin Sphere remake is coming to Europe this June, NIS America just announced. The PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita action RPG will be available both at retail and via the PlayStation Store with...
Zelda photo
Zelda

Nintendo confirms new Zelda: Twilight Princess HD details


Nice
Feb 04
// Chris Carter
In addition to the officially confirmed amiibo dungeon for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, Nintendo has shared a few new features for the game this morning. As well as inventory management, the GamePad can also be ...
Undertale Port photo
Undertale Port

Toby Fox is looking into a Wii U Undertale port


Would need help remaking the game
Feb 04
// Laura Kate Dale
Undertale, that bullet hell RPG meme fuel that the Internet loves or loves to hate, has so far only been available for PC gamers, but that has not stopped gamers from clamouring for information about possible ports. Talking o...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

New Dark Souls III gameplay comin' in hot!


And rollin' all over the place
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
April isn't that far off on the horizon, but it might as well be an eternity when you're eagerly awaiting a new game. For many, that game is Dark Souls III, a franchise that has the pedigree to make waiting unbearable. If a ...
JRPG photo
JRPG

Sega JRPG coming to Americas this summer


For Nintendo 3DS
Feb 03
// Kyle MacGregor
7th Dragon III Code: VFD is coming to the Americas this summer, Sega has announced. Despite being the fourth entry in the 7th Dragon series, Code: VFD will be the first to release in the West, as the 2009 Nintendo D...
Tales of Symphonia photo
Tales of Symphonia

There's already a fix for Tales of Symphonia's bad PC port


You can always count on Durante
Feb 02
// Jordan Devore
Tales of Symphonia released on Steam this week, and buyer beware -- you're in for a scare. Bandai Namco's PC version is based on the PS3 port of the PS2 port of the cherished 2003 GameCube title, and even by modest standards,...
Knights and Bikes photo
Knights and Bikes

Former Tearaway, Ratchet and Clank devs team up for action RPG Knights and Bikes


EarthBound sensibilities
Feb 02
// Darren Nakamura
I could write up a basic synopsis of Knights and Bikes right here, but honestly, readers will benefit most from just watching the video below. If you want to skip the obligatory "two dudes sitting in front of a camera talking...

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