A sad reminder of what JRPGs have turned into.
The story.... the story is Ar Tonelico 1 gone full Japan. Seriously, I felt like I was playing Ar Tonelico 1 all over again. Let's start with the three Reyvateils(Basically, Songstresses), Finnel(The brunette) is a flanderized version of Mischa from AT 1, Saki is a flanderized version of Aurica, and the third Reyvateil looks exactly like the third Reyvateil from AT 1. Even their backgrounds are VEEEEEEERY similar, only more moe. There's also an Ayatane look-alike, because why not. It's hard to explain, but the way the story progresses also feels a whole lot ton like Ar Tonelico 1. Then we have the 'Vanguards', also known as the 'three other guys that form the party'. there's the main character, Aoto, who's your generic 'I WANT TO PROTECT X!!!!' anime hero with not a single drop of originality to him, there's Tatsumi, who's plot twist is given away 4 hours into the game, and then there's Gojo who barely gets any development, and what little development he gets, its during non-voiced cutscenes, because who cares about Gojo? As for the dialogue, it was laughable, I found myself laughing out loud at times, due to how cringy or stupid it all was. It's also filled to the brim with generic Anime situations, like the accidental boobgrab and what not. Not to mention the plot threads that are mentioned but kept.. dangling never to be addressed again, right Aoto? The cosmospheres are back, which are basically sidequests which delve deeper into a Reyvateil subconscious... which can be funny, but they are a way to simulate character development, except that at the end of the day, its just filler, the girls will behave like they've always behaved. They don't grow, they don't evolve, they stay as generic waifu stereotypes. Did I mention that this game goes full Japan? The girls get stronger as they get rid of their clothes. Yup. And instead of costumes, now the girls get 'personalities', which is a way to get even more generic waifu stereotypes into the game, the 'mature sexy lady', the 'sexy secretary', the 'sexy assassin', the 'sexy cat-like nekomimi girl', etc. Which, y'know, there's definitely an audience for these games, except that I'm not part of it. Now then, if you happen to like this type of game, there's about 8 different endings depending on when you finish the game, and a few choices you get to make throughout the game.
It doesn't stop there, the game feels fairly amateurish as a whole. When moving around dungeons, you'll notice a few hiccups. For instance, the jump button will have a hard time working when you are walking down a slope. Or running down stairs will have your character running on air for a few seconds. And try to aim a jump towards an object, it's not unusual to be able to stand on the side of an object. These aren't very annoying, since they have no negative, or positive, impact on the gameplay, but.... on battles, your attacks may not come out if you are too close to an ally. Y'see, when you press square, your character automatically runs towards the enemy before executing an attack, but if an ally is in the way, instead of running around him, your character will stop dead on his tracks in front of said ally. Fun. Once, my CPU ally stopped moving after I run onto him, and I had to move out of the way in order for him to remember how to move. This doesn't happen on Tales of games!
Did I mention that your vanguards have a hard time keeping the enemies away from the Reyvateils? That's because A) The camera is terrible, so it's easy for enemies to get to them while you can't see them. B) The AI is terrible, so you can't count on them, nor can you tweak their strategies. C) Your attacks have no knockback. If you, and the CPU, decide to gang up on an enemy you can stunlock him in place though, but if an enemy decides to ignore you and make a run for it, they are gonna get to the Reyvateil. Mind you, the circle button is an 'emergency attack' that will knock back the enemy, but it has a cooldown period. Still, the combat is so easy, that even if they get to the Reyvateil, you'll never be in danger of losing a battle. But I don't mind the combat being easy, I mind it being so limited and dull. The combat is not fun, there's no strategy, and there's no style, which turns combat into a chore. I found myself longing for Ar Tonelico's 1 combat, at least it had more substance to it.
I've admitted that Ar Tonelico 1 bored me at times. This is Ar Tonelico 1 all over again, times ten. It's even worse thanks to how dull the combat system is. How boring dungeons are. How stupid the story and its characters are. How creepy the premise is. Ar Tonelico Qoga is nothing more than a sad, sad reminder of what JRPGs have turned into. Breath of Fire IV, I'm sorry for calling you 'ordinary', compared to this, you were a shining diamond.
3.0 out of 10