5In a nutshell, this third AT game is mostly a step back from AT2. The character interactions are a little better, but the gameplay is much worse.
Starting right with the bad, the battle system in AT3 is very bare-bones. They went with a Star Ocean style battle system, but forgot to give your characters any interesting skills to make these battles fun. You will pretty much just be spamming the same attack over and over and over. To make matters worse, there are only three non-Reyvateil party members the entire game. In previous AT games, your Reyvateil(s) had a numbers of different songs (aka spells) to choose from. Here, you get one attack spell and that's it. The final nail in the coffin is that, like the previous games, the difficultly is still laughable. Your Reyvateil's attack is so strong that all non-bosses will die in one shot, and unlike AT2 you have to charge and use this in every battle past the halfway point as your melee attackers hit for 10 damage on enemies with 20000+ HP. The controversial gimmick in AT3 is the purge system. Basically you hold a button and shake the controller every so often and your Reyvateil will...strip. Doing so increases the song damage and special effects provided to the others. There is absolutely no sense whatsoever to this beyond blatant fanservice, seeing as AT1 and 2 took place in the same world and yet have never heard of this Reyvateil 'power-up method'. It's really just a huge step down from AT2s gameplay, and you really have to wonder if the game would have been better off as straight visual novel this time around.
The popular synthesis system is back, but unlike previous games the sole benefit to using it is for the banter while making it. As noted above, your non-Reyvateil party members are little more than distractions, so equipment upgrades have almost no impact on performance. Not that you need to get your upgrades this way, as enemies drop equipment and accessories like candy. Basically you will make everything once to see if it triggers a talk event afterwards, then never looks at the stuff again.
The game's saving grace is the Cosmosphere and character banter. The characters in AT3 have better chemistry than in previous games, so the relationships don't feel completely forced by the writers. The secondary characters get developed a bit more than previous titles as well. As other reviewers have said, this game flies past the semi-subtle innuendo in previous titles and goes right into openly discussing sexual fetishes. On one hand, it gets a little crude at times, but on the other hand it's somewhat refreshing to dispense with the *winkwinknudgenudge* dialogue for once. Combined with the purge cutscenes, that M rating is fully justified so be warned. There sadly aren't alternate costumes like in previous AT games, instead having (without spoiling any plot) a few different 'personas'. It's not quite as good, but I guess they couldn't justify having 9 different costumes per Reyvateil with the purge cutscenes. The overall story isn't amazing, but it provides a reasonable conclusion to the AT series.
All in all, there's not much to say here. For fans of the series the game's strengths are the same as previous titles, and the weaknesses...are sadly standard to AT as well. You won't be playing this for the gameplay. Players new to the series looking for a new jRPG should run away. This is a visual novel first, and a game second.
6/10 for AT fans
4/10 for anyone else… Full Review »
6I always liked Gust's Rpgs for many reasons: they tend to be "old-style" and their stories aren't that serious but yet are enjoyable, reminding me of fables...well this game can be a sort of half-way work. First of all the story starts off rather rushed and fast but tends to improve with time (sort of); the graphics are ok and I particularly liked the backgrounds even if they are 2d and the music is nothing to be reminded but it does it's job good enough. What are the problems then? First of all, the battle system...it feels kinda weak, thin and totally lacking: your main job is to attack the enemies by pressing just one button 3 times and then cast the spell that your Reyvateil for finishing them by using purging for powering up their spells: the end. That's it mostly, and you don't even need to parry: it's automatic (by standing still...). You can also defend your Reyvateil by pressing circle when an enemy attacks her, but that's it basically: it feels like they rushed this battle system and your main job is to just help your Reyvateil to cast better magic, as your attacks won't be as strong as hers later in the game. But to me the biggest flaw of this game is just one: the fan-service. I mentioned before you need to purge for powering up your spells...and you do that by stripping your Reyvateil: it feels very annoying and very unnecessary and even though they explain "why" they have to strip it grows tiresome with time, making you skip their "strip" in battle from the start. However I enjoyed the game and if the players can pass the "purging" and fan-service gimmicks (or enjoy, depends on the taste) I would really say this isn't a bad game and it's worth a check before getting it completely.… Full Review »
8Ar Tonelico Qoga is one of those games that will appeal to a select crowd. It is almost a traditional JRPG. This game likely will not appeal to gamers that are heavy into Western styled RPGs like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout 3 or Demons' Souls. Graphically Ar Tonelico Qoqa is beautiful. Not quite cell shaded, but somewhere past that. The characters are anime style, in keeping with Japanese tradition. At times it feels almost as if your characters are on the background rather than in the background. The colors are varied and bright. Combat is similar to the Tales of series of games. It's not turnbased, but action based. You can time your attacks with the Harmonic graph/bar causing the Reyvateil's Heart beat to increase, eventually allowing you to do a "Purge" move. Sort of like a special attack that's pretty powerful. Good for boss fights, not as useful in normal fights. You can also hit the X button for a magic attack done by the Reyvateil in your party. At the beginning of each fight your Reyvateil begins singing. The strength of the magic attack is based off the song percentage. There are no enemies on screen so fights are random, but there is a gauge on the lower right of your screen that is sort of an indicator of when a fight is approaching. It can happen regardless of color but the closer to red it gets the more likely an encounter will happen. When the gauge is empty there is no more combat in the area until you zone out and re-enter. The story line is interesting, but slow to pick up. Around 6 or 7 hours before it really picks up. You are able to "dive" into the cosmospheres of your Reyvateils' (call it mind diving) and help them to over come aspects of their personality and to perform stronger magic attacks. There is an option to change the English voice acting to Japanese voice acting. Overall I have been enjoying Ar Tonelico Qoga. I hope others give this gem a try. As I said to begin, it won't appeal to everyone, but it is a solid title once you get past the minor flaws.… Full Review »