Idea Factory has its ups and downs, and this is definitely one of the ups. Similar to Fairy Fencer F, but more focused in scope, slightlyIdea Factory has its ups and downs, and this is definitely one of the ups. Similar to Fairy Fencer F, but more focused in scope, slightly shorter, better writing, and a more experimental combat system.
The setting is quite interesting and unique. There are divisions of witches, dragons, and humans, all who are against each other for various reasons. Witches are essentially going extinct due to their cursed nature. They gain their magical powers through dragons growing inside them. Eventually the dragons mature and eat their way through the witches (or the witches become the dragons - that's not too clear), ending the witches' short lives. Humans hunt witches due to them producing dragons. And dragons eat everything else.
You take control of a group of witches, including one unlikely recently-turned witch, and start the game primarily trying to stay alive and out of reach of humans and stronger dragons. As you progress through the story and meet other witches and humans, you learn more about the world, each character's history, and a possible way of ending the witches' curse.
While doing this, you're also basically managing the health of three younger-generation witches (around 10 years old). You must feed them just the right amount of dragon meat - too much or too little will cause them to turn into dragons, which leads to one of the less-optimal endings.
The game's writing quality is good. There's very few plot holes, characters don't make dumb decisions, cool stuff doesn't happen for the sake of cool stuff happening, and the characters don't overly-explain their actions, as the reasons for their actions are self-evident to the typical adult. And while limited in scope, the game's handling of themes such as racism (humans vs witches) and sacrifice for the greater good, are handled well. So if you're tired of the typical dumbed-down JRPG story, you might like this one.
Combat mechanics are good and unique. You fight on three different height levels, primarily against a wide variety of dragons, on a semi-grid layout. The grid only applies to enemies, and you can cast spells or do physical attacks in their 3D space. Depending on your attack type, you can target a single enemy, a specific grid size (such as 5x5) on one level, or a grid size on all levels.
I recently played Bard's Tale IV with its excellent strategic grid-based combat system and this game isn't as good in the strategy department. While the height-based combat is interesting, it doesn't really add much to the typical turn-based JRPG combat formula. Though while it doesn't innovate as much as I'd like, the combat here has no major downsides.
And then we we have character ability growth. This is done through devouring dragon enemies. As you do damage, the percentage that you're able to devour and kill them goes up. When devouring a new enemy, you get an individual sphere grid (like Final Fantasy X), and can spend points to unlock new skills and base stats. This works decently well, though there's not a shortage of grid-unlocking points, so it's very likely that all of your characters will be relatively the same (with the same grids unlocked) during most of the game.
Differentiation in your characters primarily comes through the limited number of spells they can equip and their weapons. Some characters naturally have high physical damage weapons, so you'll likely make them physical attackers. While you'll likely make everyone else magic users and equip their strongest spells. You can then equip characters in your back row with different elemental spells, so you can switch them in (at no turn cost) during battle to use those spells when needed.
Overall a good Idea Factory game that's above average for them in just about every aspect. Definitely for you if you liked Fairy Fencer F, or you like the Neptunia games, but wish they were less fanservicy and more mature.… Expand