clonechild: twewy (Default)
[personal profile] clonechild
I've had this sitting in my Word files for months now, and honestly I'm probably not going to write any more on this so I thought I might as well post it. When this was written the game was still fresh in my mind.

I love this game! But. It's problematic. I love it in spite of its flaws, but it has a lot of those. EXCEPT FOR THE BATTLE SYSTEM which is awesome.

The story itself is nothing to write home about. In the beginning it's very solid, and they have a lot of interesting concepts, but then they don't do anything with them in favour of returning to the hallmark JRPG clichés of the power of friendship ohko-ing everything.

Just, you should know: if you buy this game expecting awesome ladies and subverted gender roles like in Vesperia, don't. Just don't. The Graces team very strongly believes that all ladies should be motivated by their love for a man. It doesn't matter if it drives them to good or to evil, as long as they are motivated by a man. You only think I'm kidding.

Funnily enough, this only drives my longing for fic that revolves around the characters breaking out of their expected scripts. I'd write it myself if I, you know, would actually write fic instead of losing interest after the outlining is complete.

This is definitely a game I love far more for its potential than I actually love the game itself.

In the game itself everything feels very small to me. The worldmap is tiny, cities are small and pretty much all the dungeons are short and with easy to solve puzzels. And even when the puzzles aren't solved in three seconds, they're not so much difficult as they're frustrating (Sandshroud Ruins) or rely mostly on trial and error (Ghardia Shaft, looking at you). Also, the dungeon design is boring and the music utterly forgettable. Golden Sun it is not.

The battle system! Graces does away with normal attacks: you're always using artes. You have A-artes and B-artes. A-artes are used by the X button and the analogue stick, and B-artes are used by the O button and the analogue stick (the naming is a carryover from the original WII-game and makes less sense now it's on the PS3). There is no TP, only Chain Capacity (CC). A character has a minimum and a maximum CC value. In battle they always start with their minimum value. CC gets used up by attacking, and will recharge when side-stepping, guarding, or just waiting. You can get your CC up higher by side-stepping or defending at the right times, or with certain traits dualized onto your equipment.

Your A-artes are lined in a tree: when you attack using A-artes you start with a 1 CC A-arte, then a 2 CC one, then 3 and then 4. You can combo a B-arte anywhere into an A-arte combo, and then combo on. For example: 1 CC A-arte – 2 CC A-arte – random B arte – 3 CC A-arte. For spells, chaining them into an A-arte chain will reduce the casting time by 15% for every A-arte you used.

You'll never have to worry about your amount of orange gels again. Also, you can make your sidesteps a part of your combo, which will also lenghten stagger duration on enemies. Free Run? Forget Free Run! We can sidestep! (There actually is Free Run in this game but nobody uses it.)

Then there's the Eleth gauge, which is Graces' version of the Overlimit gauge, except you have no control over it. The Eleth gauge's top half is blue, which is your party's half, and the lower half is red, which is the enemy's half. As soon as your half is full, you go into Eleth Rise, where you have unlimited CC, you can't get interrupted during attacks, and you can use Mystic Artes. If the enemy half is full, they go into Eleth Break, and get the same results.

The Eleth gauge empties completely when you press X on a save point.

In the Future Arc you get another gameplay mechanic which you can then take with you in a NG+: Accel Mode. It's like a personalized overlimit effect. Every character gets another gauge, and they can go into accel as soon as it's half filled. They also all get another mystic arte (Accel Finisher) that they can use only when activating accel from a full gauge. As soon as you use the accel finisher, accel mode ends for that character.

For the mages goes that when they start casting a spell and then activate accel, that spell will cast immediately. Incredibly useful.

Asbel will get a ball of purple flame flying around him during accel that will half-heartedly protect him from being attacked, and will help with his combo-ing (sometimes it will hinder you instead by accidentally knocking enemies away).
Cheria can stop time for a few seconds for all enemies on the field and it's awesome. IIRC, this doesn't work on the optional Rockgagong fight.
Hubert's accel will have arrows rain down on a part of the battle field which is great for racking up combos and locking enemies into place.
Sophie gets an incredible HP-regen and can dash through enemies.
Malik will start his accel mode off with a flurry of kicks. This is the worst and can actually miss enemies if they move at the right time, so he will just kick at nothing. Also, unlike the other mages, when he activates accel while casting, the spell will cast at the end of his accel mode instead.
Pascal's accel is awesome: it forms a glyph around her and inside that glyph allies only take damage as if they were guarding instead, and can't be interrupted. Of course, this means your allies should stay inside that glyph.
Richard's accel cuts down on his casting time. Regrettably he can still be interrupted, but it's still great.

The characters! I like all of them when I'm not playing the game, unless I start thinking about it. Asbel starts as this supremely bratty eleven year old who does things because his father tells him he can't (more on his father later). This blows up in his face with such impact that he pretty much runs away from home and doesn't speak to any of his family and friends for seven years. He grows up to be both severely idealistic and with negative self-worth, but also the somewhat annoying tendency to be selfless in that incredibly selfish way, where he blames himself for everything, also things that have nothing to do with him and goes around trying to sacrifice himself with no regard for other people's feelings. The game tells me repeatedly that Asbel is a shounen hero but he's not really. He's more of a Failure Knight. He firmly believes that he can protect people better if he grows stronger, and gets subtly proven wrong. But with this game I don't know if that actually was their point or if I'm just reading into that.

Sophie! Is adorable. I can't ship anyone with Sophie. I can't. They're all either her parents or her older siblings. I'm sort of bitter that a large part of fandom ships her with Richard, because that squicks me out and then I get annoyed at myself for my inability to ship and let ship.

Hubert is incredibly bitter for very good reasons and slowly learns to work around that without having to let his anger go.

Cheria is also bitter for very good reasons, but the game doesn't let her for long and shoves her headlong into the childhood friend romance trope, which I hate. Her character development stops early in the game, and then she exists mostly to be Asbel's love interest, which is terrible, because first of all, the romance subplot is terribly written; secondly, she and Asbel have no chemistry whatsoever and third, she's far more interesting when her dialogue is NOT all about Asbel. And, idk, there's nothing wrong with a girl liking to cook, but it's mostly set up in this Ideal Japanese Housewife way which makes it less about Cheria liking to cook and more about 'hey look isn't she ideal for Asbel?' UGH GAME STOP TELLING ME THEY MAKE A CUTE COUPLE. THEY DON'T. I hate the 'Girl Who Waited' trope, I hate the 'childhood romance' trope and I hate that Cheria falls into that trope where a girl has a crush on a guy and doesn't tell him and then gets angry when he doesn't get that she's in love with him. And it's sort of understandable when you get jealous about your crush paying attention to another girl when you're eleven, even if it's annoying. But it's far more annoying and severely less cute when you're eighteen.

IDK. It makes me less annoyed at Cheria and more at the writers.

MOVE ON CHERIA! Hook up with one of your admirers! But not Raymond.

Pascal! On the one hand, she livens things up. On the other, she exists pretty much only to be a plot device. But at least she's one of the few women in the game to not be motivated by her interest in getting into a man's pants! Sobsob. Pascal just reads to me as being written as someone on the autistic spectrum. She has her interests in engineering and video game science and is incredibly good at those, and everything outside of that can go hang. She has terrible social skills, can't read the atmosphere and blurts out pretty much whatever is in her head, and her interest in Sophie always comes off to me as Pascal maybe just wanting to lay her out on a dissecting table. Basically what I'm saying is Pascal is me except more outgoing.

Richard! Why wasn't he in my main party in the adult arc sobsob. His boots are fabulous. I want them. What can I say about Richard... His voice actor is the worst of the bunch (very good in battle, though). IDK I love Richard. Richard is flawless and also the best part of the F arc.

Malik is... IDK I love him too. Doesn't really contribute much to the plot, but he's not offensive, at least, and I like that he and Richard are both lying liars who lie and get Sophie to believe their outrageous stories.

So there's a lot of wank about asbel and hubert's parents and whether or not they were horrible. My stance is: they might have meant well, but if your children grow up thinking their father hates them and hating him in return then you have failed as a parent regardless of how good your intentions were. And in this case, Aston's intentions might have been good but he went about it in the worst way possible and everything could have been avoided if the entire family had just sat down around a table and talked to each other instead.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-07-14 10:52 pm (UTC)
cephy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cephy
I am having much the same reaction to Graces.... in that I find the gameplay completely engaging and fun but for the most part have no real interest in any of the characters. :P At least, not to the same adoring extent as I had for the cast of Vesperia, and before that Abyss. The Graces cast all seem more like caricatures than actual characters.

...admittedly, I haven't quite finished it yet. I still think I'm going to end up being left feeling like it had a lot of unfulfilled potential.


clonechild: twewy (Default)

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