Luminous Arc 1 – the review

luminous-arc So back in September or August or whatever, Atlus announced that they were included art books and audio CDs with pre-orders of Persona 4, Luminous Arc and Eternal Poison.

Man, what a fantastic idea.

I’d just gotten through Persona 3, which was a fantastic game, so I jumped on the opportunity to get the bonuses with P4. Then I thought, what the heck, why not just get them for Eternal Poison and Luminous Arc too (which I’ll post about at a later time, as the art books are really cool), even though I didn’t know anything about them. Besides, Atlus games apparently have good resale value on eBay, so I figured what the heck, I wouldn’t lose much if they sucked.

Anyway, back to my point. I never like playing a sequel without playing the original. Even if the stories are completely unrelated (which LA2 apparntly is). So I tracked down a copy of LA1 to play. I’d never played an SRPG before, so I was interested, even if the story sucked, which is one of the major factors for whether I decide to play a game or not.

Anyway it turns out SRPGs are really very similar to strategy games like Command and Conquer and Warcraft, so it was easy to pick up and get the swing of. And I ended up liking it a lot, because I didn’t have to be concerned with the things I disliked about strategy games, like resource management, or managing 50 different tanks and airplanes all over the map. Instead, you have your core team and you go as far as your customization and battle skills. It’s like a battle-focused, story-driven version of a strategy game. Anyway, onto the short review.

Gameplay

Like I mentioned, I’ve never played an SRPG before, so I don’t know what’s unique and what’s not. But based on my strategy game experiences, I didn’t think there was anything particularly inventive about the gameplay. Gameplay was straightforward and linear, so for a newbie, it’s easy to jump into and get involved in. While there’s “towns,” there’s really no exploration involved, as all you can do is shop, talk to your team, or advance the story. If you’re a fan of the linear style, you’ll dig it, as you’re never going to wonder what’s next. If you’re not, well, I guess you won’t.

Story

Nothing special here. Basically, you’re a knight who works for the church, and you’re supposed to go around ridding the world of witches, because they’re the “bad guys.” But then you learn otherwise, and it’s actually the church who’s the bad guy. I mean, it’s pretty cheesy stuff. The church being the bad guy isn’t really much of a twist. It’d be more of a twist if there was an RPG in which the church wasn’t the bad guy. But otherwise, you pick up team members, a.k.a, witches along the way. You have limited interaction with them, mainly through short skits you get after battles, eventually culminating in a CG screen if you score enough points with them. It’s not profound, but it’s amusing.

Sound

Keeping the Japanese language pop song for the opening was nice. Otherwise, I didn’t think the music particularly stood out. At the same time, it wasn’t bad. The voice acting was a nice addition, although it’s fairly random for when they decide to use it. Performance-wise, it ranges from bad to ok, but considering the cheesiness of the game, even the bad voice acting was fairly enjoyable

Final thoughts

It was fun to play through and addicting, even despite the so-so story. There’s something about the game style, where you just keeping wanting to get in that one next move and see how the battle unfolds. Like I mentioned, the story wouldn’t win any awards, but it was engaging for me to want to see what was next. For a veteran SRPG player, there’s probably not enough meat here to keep your attention. But if you’re new to the genre, or if you’re just looking for some brainless fun, I’d recommend it.