Luminous Arc 2 – the review

So I mentioned before that I only decided to buy this game because Atlus was running 61Qr4Wq0N6L._SS400_a holiday promo that offered a free art book and music CD with the game. The first game was easy enough and interesting enough to convince me to play the second game (I mean, I’d bought it, so why not). The second game is an improvement on the first and definitely worth a play for SRPG novices and fans.

Gameplay

It seems like SRPGs are SRPGs, there’s a grid, there’s some fighters, and you just have to position yourself right to get the best combos and hits off. There might be interesting conventions and whatnot (like in Disgaea which has got me hooked), but it’s pretty straightforward. LA2 is an improvement over LA1 in just about every aspect. First of all, the control scheme is improved and you can play it effortlessly without a stylus. What’s the big deal about this? Well, there were at least 1 time per battle in LA1, when the camera was situated in a way, usually in crowds, that i couldn’t get the characters to do what I wanted them to do using the stylus. So I’d have to waste a move by having to move a character away from the battle, just to create some breathing room.

They’ve also tweaked the leveling system, so you’re not leveling up so quickly. This makes the game slightly more challenging, and it also means you’re less likely to bother with leveling up your whole party, and instead you’ll focus on building up a core team.

The “Engage” system (which involves the infamous wedding dress scenes) is pretty neat in that Roland, the main character, has the ability to “engage” with other witches, and forms a bond by taking their unity ring, a kiss and a vow, and then gains the ability to assume some of the powers from the other witches (thus the scene with the wedding dresses). It’s integral to the gameplay, but having to sit through the wedding animation got annoying after a while.

Story

The gameplay is twice as long as it was in LA1, which allows them to develop the story better in LA2. Besides some character cameos from LA1, the story is completely new, and there’s little to no connection to LA1. It’s still a linear game, but the writing’s a bit snappier, and while the story’s not going to win any awards, it’s a considerable improvement over LA1’s story, with some nice twists built in. The characters again, are all very likeable (and there’ll be plenty of them), which makes it a pleasure to play through the game and its little intermissions.

Sound

The voice acting’s also much improved in LA2, without some of the hamminess (and flat out awfulness) of some of the voices in LA1. For the most part, I thought all the voices fit the characters well and were well performed.

The music’s pretty good, although I don’t think it’s particularly memorable. The problem is you can only fit so many songs on the DS cartridge and when a game is running 30+ hours, it’s a rare case when you don’t end up getting sick of a song. Needless to say, I haven’t bothered listening to the music CD that came with it.

The Art Book

The art book is fantastic really. I like the textured cover and the matte finish of the paper. Hardcover would’ve been nice of course, but failing that, I do like the quality. All the drawings pop, and are included with short designer commentary. Some early stage sketches are included, as well as drawings of the characters of LA1.

Final thoughts

LA1 was fun in a cheesy sort of way. LA2 is fun in a slightly more refined sort of way. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but the story and voice acting never get to the silliness level that LA1 dove into at times. Combined with the improved gameplay, and I’d say that there’s probably enough here to offer SRPG fans, whether you’re a newbie or pretty experienced.