Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Last Rebellion (PS3) Review

Last Rebellion was an RPG released several years ago for the Playstation 3, and was largely overlooked by fans.  It has a very unique battle system that may warrant more RPG players taking a second look.  The game star two heroes, Nine and Aisha, who end up having to share a body.  Therefore, while you play as both, you can only use one at a time.  This extends to both field exploration and battle.

Moving around the field is fairly standard, you move around from place to place, finding treasures and encountering monster groups that also wander the map.  Thankfully each dungeon has a special teleport point so you can easily backtrack to one (you will have to at a certain point in the game, too).  There are also save points, but sometimes they are a bit too far apart for my liking.  If you touch one of the monsters walking around, you will begin combat, and in battle is where the game sets itself apart from the competition.

Each monster has multiple areas that you can target.  A physical attack to any part will 'stamp' it as well as do damage.  If you attack the pieces in the right order, you increase your combo, which in turn gives more experience at the end of the fight.  The correct order for each monster is different and hidden until you attack a part in the correct order to show it.  Each attack takes 1 CP, and you can target each body part once per turn.  However, you can do this for each enemy.  This means you can do a lot of attacks in one turn, provided you have the CP for it.  Each turn refills a portion of CP, and it carries over between battles.  The other two ways to fill your CP is by hitting the special items on the map, or by using a magic spell.  Managing your CP is a constant struggle until later in the game.

Magic behaves differently, however.  Instead of picking a target, each offensive spell cast will hit whatever is stamped.  The more stamps, the more spells cast.  Since it only takes 1 CP to cast a spell, the general idea is to stamp many parts, and cast to hit them all again for cheap.  Each monster is susceptible to a different element or type of spell (fire, light, axe, arrow, etc.), and this takes more experimentation than finding the correct attack order.  However, magic usually isn't as damaging as just physically hitting them, even if you exploit a weakness.  So, it's just better to keep attacking, especially later in the game when you have a lot of CP, and use MP for buffs and heals.  You could also use it on debuffs, but like many RPGs, those are worthless to cast on enemies.

That's not all, though.  Since the plot revolves around things being brought back to life, enemies won't stay dead when they run out of HP.  Instead, they lie on the ground and must be sealed by Aisha to actually disappear.  Sealing also restores some HP.  Nine can use a similar function to absorb MP, but it will shorten the time an enemy stays down.  Unfortunately, when they get up, they are fully recovered, which is a bit much.  It is rarely a problem, since they stay down a few turns and it's easy to just dedicate a turn to seal what you can if need be.  Thankfully you don't need to seal bosses.

Last Rebellion is far from the most balanced game.  Fighting a group of 4-5 enemies can easily destroy you in damage alone.  If you hit an enemy's red number, it can cause them to go berserk and do more damage, which can change the battle from a win to a loss.  Also, while status ailments are near useless to use, they are devastating to suffer.  There are many flavors, but two basic types: take damage or can't act.  I don't know why there are several types that only do one of two things, but that's what's here.  True, paralysis does let you cast magic, but it's probably not going to save you.  Ailments unfortunately affect both characters at once, which is why you can get quickly wrecked if you suffer the wrong one.  If the enemy moves first, you are probably toast unless you out level them significantly.

On the flip side, racking up the bonus from combos will allow you to quickly out level enemies, to the point where they give little to no experience.  I've had several battles where I gain 4 levels, making me almost too strong for the rest of the dungeon.  I like being able to power up so quickly, but when it makes the rest of the dungeon a chore, even if you can instantly seal weaker monsters, it's not very balanced.

There's also not too many enemy models in the game.  So to populate the areas, you fight some palette swaps.  That's fine, and I understand that.  However, many of the palette swaps in Last Rebellion don't change much.  Maybe the eye color is different, or the model is slightly bigger.  It's hard to tell them apart...which is made worse by the developers putting them both in the same area.  For example, you might fight a lizard enemy, and there are two more kinds of that same lizard in the same dungeon, one might be a little bigger, and the other maybe a slightly different color.  Someone needed to go over it again and either spread them out, or make the differences more pronouned.

Being an RPG, I thought the game would be longer.  Last Rebellion clocks in at under 20 hours, and can be even shorter if you follow a guide.  It did feel a little short, but story-wise, I don't think the game could have been much longer without being obviously drawn out.  There's also no post-game stuff to do, only some late game optional enemies.  Bonus points for some of them being Prinnies, but that can't overcome the fact that there is no real replay value in the game.

It's not very long and has its faults, but I enjoyed Last Rebellion.  The unique mechanics where a nice idea to add something unique to RPG battles, but weren't quite balanced properly.  A little more polishing (or a sequel) would do wonders for the title.  It also looks dated by today's standards.  Still, I'd recommend RPG fans try it out if you get a chance.

The Good:
Unique battle system of stamping monster parts and unleashing magic on each stamped part.  Two characters, one body.

The Bad:
It's not balanced.  Multiple, faster enemies will likely destroy you, and you can out level a dungeon in one or two good fights.

The SaHD:
If you can't move, how can the characters switch places?  Is it to waste time or lazy programming?

(Last Rebellion was purchased by reviewer)

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