Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review #114: Hexyz Force

 'tis been a long time, eh!
 For today's entry, I present you with Hexyz Force, a RPG for the PSP by STING, developers of quirky games like Knights in the Nightmare and Yggdra Union. Presently, Hexyz Force is a rather expensive PSP game to get, but is it worth it?

 Set in the world of Berge, players are granted the choice between following Levant's search for the Stigald fragments or Cecilia's quest to protect various Monoliths. While both characters go through the same dungeons, fight many of the same bosses and don't get any exclusive dungeon, both stories are radically different. Each character gets a different supporting cast, with different personalities, even the themes each story deals with are different. Cecilia's definitely the most lighthearted one, but Levant's gets darker themes, such as racism and treason. While the last two chapters are pretty much the same between both characters, heck, both parties merge together so that you can choose between all eight(And maybe an extra ninth...) characters, depending on which character the player decides to follow will leave a noticeably different impression on the story.
 Hexyz Force is a decidedly linear JRPG, while there are more than a couple optional sidequests, they are few in quantity, and since the game uses the, sadly, all-to-common list-based world-map, you always know where to go, and while backtracking is a possibility, you cannot go to new places unless you are told to, getting lost is never a problem. Furthermore, the game keeps a Log on the main menu, so that you can access the last conversation that characters had in a cut-scene, so you can just look in there, pretty handy. The game doesn't make use of shops, instead, you make your own equipment. As you travel through dungeons, defeat enemies or search towns for goodies, you'll come across materials that you can then fuse into equipment. Fusion is a very simple matter, you just go into the Fusion menu and search on the list for anything you can make, double tap X and you get a shiny new equipment piece.

 Combat is fairly interesting. While at the end of the day it matters little, you can position a three-man party on a 3x3 grid, the closer you are to the enemies the more damage you'll deal and receive, it never amounts to much as the game isn't particularly hard. Then comes the matters regarding equipment, Weapons and Items(Healing items, damaging items, etc) must be equipped on a character before engaging an enemy. Each character has four different slots for weapons and items. Weapons come in two varieties, Ragnafacts and , well, normal weapons. Weapons and Items behave the same way, each one has a set amount of abilities and a set amount of durability. Each ability consumes a different amount of Durability, and when the durability reaches 0, it breaks. Durability can't be repaired. Ragnafacts on the other hand consume RP, consider it mana, and as long as the character has mana, you can use its skills. Ragnafacts never break, and unlike other weapons, you can level them up with Force Points. RP never becomes a problem, the game completely restores your HP and RP every time a character levels up, and the game usually has HP/RP restoring fountains before bosses, and after leveling up their Resonance a bit, their basic skills end up consuming 0 RP. Lastly, there's a gauge that rises as you take or deal damage, and can be used to unleash powerful Burst attacks, think of them as Limit Breaks unique to each character.
 Force Points are the major currency in the game. You can earn it by killing enemies or by converting items into FP. And you can then spend it in leveling up your Ragnafacts, heal the party(HP only), or on certain objects in the overworld that react to FP. The game also has a very handy feature, holding R will fast forward any dialogue, cut-scene dialogues included, and tapping R in-battle, will make everything go twice as fast, making grinding, assuming that you really need to, a non-issue. Skipping also becomes a necessity in Levant's story, as there is a very nasty bug that will make the game freeze during a mandatory conversation unless you skip it(You can then read it in the logs, so no worries). Annoyingly so, freezing seems to be a rather common occurrence in the game, when tackling the optional bosses, do not hold the R button as the screen transitions into battle, or the game will most likely freeze. Fairly annoying. On a more positive note, both Levant and Cecilia get 3 endings each, so that's something.

 The game employs fairly cute and simple, but surprisingly detailed, character models. While, on a technical level, it's not very impressive, it does look very good, and it's a very colorful game. Environments are nothing out of the norm for the genre, but they get the job done, and while there are more enemy palette swaps than I would've liked, most major bosses look fairly menacing. There are also a few anime cut-scenes that play every now and then, and they look pretty decent. Music is quite good, you won't be humming the tunes any time soon, but it does have some enjoyable songs. There's not a whole lot of voice acting, only during anime cut-scenes and a couple of lines before major boss battles or after battling, but what little there is, it's quite decent.

 All in all, Hexyz Force is a neat little JRPG. It does nothing out of the ordinary, but what it does, it does fairly well, it's a shame about the freezing glitches.
 7.5 out of 10.

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