I’m extremely conflicted with Enchanted Arms. On the one hand it’s reminded me what’s so great about RPGs and the level of satisfaction they bring when you’ve just made a good strategic move that’s paid off. But it’s also reminded me of some weird quirks with RPGs which means it’s not quite as great as it probably should be.
The game itself is based around the student Atsuma. As with many RPGs it has a fairly typical story based around saving the world while meeting up with new friends from different classes and cultures. There are however a few interesting twists and perhaps the most groundbreaking, is its gay character. While reading up on this game I’ve discovered that there’s quite a few people who were put off the game because of this. Personally I wasn’t bothered in the slightest and I don’t think it was even overplayed.
The voice acting isn’t too bad considering, and I thought the graphics were amazing. Looked really impressive on my 19″ widescreen tft.
The core of the Enchanted Arms experience is that of its battles. They are turn based like many RPGs but are slightly reminscient of a chessboard in nature. Anyone who’s played Vandal Hearts may find this familiar, with the characters being able to move square by square and thus be able to attack others depending on how far they are from each square.
However, unlike Vandal Hearts, it is a much smaller setting so in that respect is more like the Final Fantasy series.
The battle system offers a surprisingly deep experience. At first it looks fairly simplistic, but as battles become increasingly more difficult, the depth to the strategy becomes apparent. You quickly learn that opposing elements cause more damage to both you and your opponents so it is wise if, for instance, you are fighting an ice based enemy that you keep Atsuma on the back row with other characters in front of him to minimise the damage caused.
You’re able to use up to 4 characters in your party at any time, with around 155 playable characters available. The reason why this number is so high is because of the presence of golems. Golems are ancient creatures with limited skills (you can only improve their stats not their available skills, unlike with human characters) but can prove very useful in certain instances.
There are 4 human characters available, you are able to improve both their skills and their stats.
Skills are improved by purchasing items offering the skills and spending Skill points (or SP) to learn them. Stats are improved both by levelling up (in a traditional exp based way) and by buying skill gems which offer between 1200 and 8000 skill points to use in any way you wish, you can add skills, improve HP, EP (points used for attacks), direct attacking ability, ranged attacking ability, support ability and agility.
One potential problem with how this is conducted is if you have plenty of money you can forego levelling up the traditional way and just buy your skills and stats. This can make the game a lot easier.
Personally I found in early stages that the game was maybe a bit too simple. Achievements are unlocked as you progress through the game (with the exception of the last one, there is no way of not getting all the achievements), you’re able to save anywhere and you don’t even have to heal after a battle.
Yup that’s right. Finish a battle and all your characters are automatically at full health. All they lose are Vitality Points (VP), once VP hits 0 they start each battle with 1 hp and 1 ep so are effectively useless. However if you use refresh terminals (which are all over the place most of the time) their VP is restored.
No finishing a battle then healing up with potions and hoping you won’t run out of potions like in other RPGs!
The game also has some rather odd quirks that make you wonder what the developers were thinking. Things like you can only buy 9 of almost any item. Then again this does make it a bit more strategic in your use of potions, especially in the final moments of the game where you have to fight 7 (yes 7) bosses in a row with only 9 of each type of health potion available to your 4 member party for all 7 bosses!
The only minigames available are within the casino which you encounter around 20% into the game, and to be honest, it’s pretty rubbish in there. I only used it, combined with a guide for how to crack the system, to make a lot of money so that I could buy skills and skill gems.
Also I couldn’t help but wonder if the developers had got a bit before about 2/3 of the way through as they started making you backtrack to get places which did get a bit tedious.
However, despite all this. I did actually love it. It was worth the 35hrs or so I spent playing it and there were some extremely satisfying moments. Although none of the bosses were hugely difficult until around 75% of the way through the game, it still felt immensely satisfying defeating one.
I reckon it could take a player around 40hrs if they completed it fully. I played through the main story but there were a few sidequests that I missed out. I also spent a few hours merely playing in the casino, selling items bought in the casino in exchange for skill gems to improve my characters vastly for the final battles.
That was a rather strange thing, throughout the game I never had a problem beating bosses, then in the last 10% of the game suddenly it was impossible to beat a boss until I’d increased Atsuma’s HP from 2k to 7k which seemed a bit unbalanced!
I’m not entirely sure how much replayability this game has. The only thing I’ve not done is complete the side quests and as I don’t really gain anything from it, having completed the game now, I doubt I’ll bother. Guess it depends how much of a perfectionist you are. I would have loved to have seen an achievement for gaining all the golems available in the game. I only acquired around 35 when there’s 150 to gain. Seems a waste of a good opportunity for an achievement.
However, even though I doubt I’ll play it again, it was such an enjoyable experience that one time round that it was well worth my money. And for that I would recommend it to others.
It won’t convert anyone to the RPG genre, but if you like them anyway, you’ll love this and forgive it for its failings.