White Knight Chronicles: Origins is a Monster Hunter adjacant RPG by Sony released for the PSP in 2011 that acts as a prequel to the first game in the series. It let's the player create a character that survives an attack on their home city and joins a mercenary group in order to figure out the machinations of the war that rages through the land.
This game manages to achieve something incredible. I think the plot is so bad and forgettable that the more I think about it, the less it stays on my mind. That takes another level of crapness.
After getting comatosed thanks to a giant knight (probably one of the titular ones), your PC wakes up in the base of the Mobile Corps, a mercenary group situated on a train. It's a decent enough setup, but things just fall apart from there.
It's just so awfully boring, none of the characters stand out at all. Your PC is effectively mute, so they offer nothing too. As you go on, it's just an avalanche of weird names and lackluster clichés. I'd be fine with that sort of thing if the game had some soul and decent presentation to its name.
But no, it's just a slog from beginning to end, with no redeeming qualites. You fail, Origins!
I say that this game is somewhat close to Monster Hunter, but that has more to do with the general setup moreso than actual combat. What is clear is that they chased the same niche. The game is built for multiplayer dungeon crawling, making the lone experience non-optimal.
The flow of the game is simple. You pick a quest, choose party members and go. Then you get one of three objectives: Explore the map, kill a certain amount of enemies or fight a boss. That's it, that's all you do! You do these things in other games as well, but here, it feels so artificial. I think that comes down to the small quest descriptions that fail at giving you a story reason for hunting slimes or mapping out an area. The bosses at least try to be relevant.
It's a bit mean to pick on a PSP game, but I don't care. This game is ugly as hell, the Optimus armour especially. Not to mention that the framerate is crap and that there are like half a dozen of levels that get recycled constantly. I'll admit that the train base is a bit homely, but it's far from enough.
So not only are the dungeons recycled, but their designs are somehow even worse than the Chalice Dungeons in Bloodborne. And those are randomized!
It's just a series of near-identical square areas connected via loading screens. I don't think I can even call this level design. And just to top it off, the map is zoomed in to your location, which means that you can't tell the difference between unvisited areas and visited ones just outside of the map.
Oh boy, here we go. Combat in this game is something else. And by something else, I mean an irradiated trashfire!
This game is technically an action RPG, only barely. All actions except for blocking are used with the X button and you have to select what to do in a menu. This makes it a real bother to change what you're doing. Thankfully, you don't have to switch that much, since this game is insultingly easy.
Your regular attack sucks, as it can only do single strikes, no combos. But as you use it, you build up points that can then be used on skills. The way you unlock new ones is pretty cool, as you need to recruit new party members and do quests for them. Too bad the characters are garbage and that you only need starting skills to win.
Stocking up on one decent skill and a healing spell is all you need. And since there isn't a way to dodge, all you can do is facetank and heal when needed. And even if you die, you get two (!) free revives per quest. It's such a mindless experience. Fights just devolve into thoughtless buttonmashing, with no concern for positioning or elements needed.
The one somewhat interesting thing about Origins is the transformations. As you use skills and magic, you fill a meter that lets your party go all Kamen Rider. It's a fun concept (with two pieces of nice accompanying Folk music), but it's poorly implemented.
First of all, the meter scales with your current quest, meaning that it's always filled at the end of a quest. And there isn't any downside, nor restriction to it once you trigger it, meaning that it quickly becomes mundane. And it's mostly a stat booster, aside from some super spells. Not really that much of an addition.
The crafting system is a bit weird and unnecessary. The dungeons are filled with random loot that you can slap onto a weapon in order to change its stats in a minimal fashion. Annoyingly enough, these items must be picked up individually, slowing down the pace more than is needed.
There's also an item fusion system, but neither system feels at all worthwhile. Just buying the newest equipment with your big pile of quest money is all you need. Nothing quite like worthless central systems, eh!?