So forgive the late post, but after finding so few reviews on this game (and none posted here on DToid), I figured after picking this up last week, I'd put in my two cents on how the game has turned out. Well, to be honest, it does deserve the under-the-radar treatment it received until launch.
Which, in many cases, is a disappointing statement to write. For all the things that ImageEpoch does right with SoD, there are just as many things it does wrong that make the $35 price a pretty tough sell. However, if you can look past them, you'll find a fun, interesting title that is at least worth a post on your GameFly list.
Kyrie is a young man with the power to destroy the world. Morte is a young woman who wants to end the world, and wants Kyrie to to do it for her. As a part of the World Annihilation Front, that is her job...to make the world come to an end. Such a world is divided between the oppressed humans, and the bipedial Ferals, or beastmen, who hold rule over society and the state of the planet. As Kyrie willingly gets into the Front's movement, more characters join him and Morte in their endeavor, each with their own personal reasons.
The story fails to contain any decent heavy-handed twists or turns (save for a couple 'I didn't see that coming,' types), but somehow manages to keep you entertained with campy voice-acting jobs that are forgivable, and match with each character's personality. Kyrie stands out as a dorky-yet-badass kind of character, and one of the few in the game with an honorable conscience, while the other characters develop quite well as the game goes on. Personal favorite is Taupy, a stuffed animal-sized one-eye bear that knows martial arts.
The evolving battle system is the game's real sell, and one of the few reasons I'm having so much fun. Each character has a powerful Blow attack, and more accurate Flurry moves that dole out multiple hits with one press; and fights are represented with three characters. Hits are the meat behind the system. As with any battle-based genre, more hits equal more damage.You have the ability to alternate between Blows and Flurries to rack up hits, and enough will give the the ability to perform a character's special attack. However this is all based on BP, or Battle Points that are given during a fight. You have a set amount to start with when a fight begins, but doing certain things such as floating an enemy or giving a standing K.O., will net you more BP to prolong your character's turn. You can even perform specialized moves meant for damaging foes that have been knocked a certain way.
At the end of each battle, CP is gained to customize the multiple attacks and skills the WAF members learn throughout the game. As fitting with the "evolving" moniker, as attacks reach a certain level, they can be chained to other attacks within their titles, so they can be performed automatically. This may sound like a bad sell, but this actually makes it easier to rack up enough hits to make your specials.
In other words, it's fun to grind for once.
I should mention that as the story goes on, your party will increases in number, causing you to keep members in reserve due to the three character system. Members in reserve will gain half the XP the other achieve after each fight.
Graphically, while the game is far from the best on the DS, it still looks good...sorta. The 3D imaging of the towns and overland area pop with their respective themes, but there's nothing to make you give a second look. The homes of some of the bosses are worth gawking at for the different elements, however.
The battle sprites give off the strongest feeling of an "unfinished" aura the game has about it. Some characters work, others don't in this case, as certain members of your party stutter and skip when they attack. This, unfortunately, sucks because some of the attacks look pretty badass. It's as if the animation team left out a few frames in the final work...that is if you can call this "final."
A storyline that works if you don't take it too seriously, an ever-evolving battle system that is quite fun to play around with, and graphics that fall squarely under the "meh" category...this game has "cult-classic" status written all over it. As much as I enjoy an RPG that isn't number XVILLVIIXIXIII, there isn't enough spit-and-polish to fully recommend this game to anyone at its current price tag. While fighting is fun, enemies (especially bosses), tend to make way too many moves in one turn, which will piss some folks off when they're doing battle with stronger bad guys. The battle system itself is very slow going at first, as CP gained is pretty scarce.
But if the diehard RPG gamers interested in a fresh idea on a handheld, and can stomach a group of hiccups along the way, Sands of Destruction has the battle system to keep you interested. Just wait for a price drop.
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