Monday, November 2, 2015

DEMO-lition: Stella Glow

Sorry I'm so late this week. I just started playing Trails in the Sky and it's surprising how easy it is to start playing it and then forget how long you've been playing it, especially when you are trying to find a good place to stop. ANYWAY, This week I'm doing another DEMO-lition where I give a run down on a Demo I've played recently on an upcoming game and share my thoughts on the game and the Demo itself. This week I'm tackling Stella Glow, the last game made by Image Epoch, for those who don't know a little back story. Image Epoch was a smaller RPG developer that started in 2005 and is most well known for games like Luminous Arc, a SRPG with a plot revolving around witches, and Arc Rise Fantasia, an interesting RPG for the Wii with a unique battle system that probably needed a bit more tweaking.

Stella Glow was to be the project that marked Image Epoch's 10th Anniversary. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out too well for the company. Image Epoch's CEO Ryoei Mikage went missing around April and rumors of Image Epoch's poor state started to circulate. Image Epoch finally declared Bankruptcy in May and now the company is no more. Fortunately, Stella Glow was able to be completed either before the Bankruptcy or after through the efforts of Stella Glow's Publisher SEGA, and thanks to Atlus we in the west are going to see this game for the 3DS in another two weeks, but how is the game? Well let's check out the Demo.

If nothing else the game is sure pretty.
The Demo seems to run through the first few story events and battles of the game. As the game starts we are introduced to the game's protagonist Alto, a youth with no memories beyond 3 years ago when he was found by his current foster family, the mother Rosa and her daughter Lisette. We also learn that this world once worshiped a goddess who lived on the moon and after punishing humans for their lack of faith, humanity now no longer has the ability to sing. Eventually Alto meets a young woman who is apparently singing and later finds out that she is actually a witch named Hilda and the next day Hilda comes to their town and turns everything and every ONE into crystal save for Alto and Lisette. With everyone gone, Alto and Lisette try to fight Hilda but ultimately fail, that is until Lisette does a magical girl transformation and becomes a Witch herself. It's at this point that the army rolls in, Hilda and her comrade Dante (NO not that Dante) retreat, and Alto and Lisette are taken captive by the army. And then the Demo ends.

Storywise it's not a bad way to start a game. Yes it is a bit cliche with a hero suffering from Amnesia and his idealic home town being destroyed by the villains, but given Image Epoch's track record this is about in line with what they usually do, and it's not a bad way to open a game. It's cliche for a reason, it's because it works and with RPGs that have simple, iconic storylines being few and far between these days, something this old school is a nice change of pace. Also, the game does have some pretty art and the characters are not bad themselves.

The game isn't in Japanese I swear.
The battle system should feel familiar to anyone who has played SRPGs before, in particular Luminous Arc. Unlike games such as Fire Emblem where the player moves all of his units at once then the enemy does the same (what I like to call a Phase Based battle system), in Stella Glow all characters are placed in a Turn Order based on their Speed and how many actions they took during their turn (Which I call Conditional Turn Based, like Final Fantasy Tactics, Devil Survivor, or once again Luminous Arc). Here doing nothing is the shortest time until your next turn while Moving or Attacking is next shortest and both Moving and Attacking (which can be done in either order) takes the longest. In the Demo, you will play through the first five or so battles of the game which unfortunately means you only get to play with two characters, Alto and Lisette, but it is enough to get a taste of the battle system, which is fairly free of overly complicated mechanics. The most complex it gets is passive skills each character can have, like Alto starts out with the ability to counter any hit within his attack range. The one unique aspect to the game that I got a small sampling of is the "Tuning" system. At the point where Lisette turns into a witch, Alto enters her soul and after a map where there is no enemies (I just had to get to Lisette at the end of a hallway) I had a talking section where I had a series of responses to choose from. Several of them had Lisette glow after the choice making me think that was the correct response. I'm still not clear as to the purpose of this sequence but it seems like I'm going to be doing this a lot throughout the game, and most likely need to do it in order for my Witches to power up in some way.

See Fire Emblem, THESE guys have feet!
In the end, the Stella Glow Demo clocked in at just over an hour, which is enough time to give a decent sampling of the game. It would have been neat to have a map from later in the game where you had more characters and enemies to fight, thus giving a more fleshed out experience of what the game is going to be like, but as is the Demo did get me more interested in the game. Looking at images and reading snippets here and there made this game sound like Luminous Arc somehow merged with Ar Tonelico, and after playing the demo that assessment is even more accurate. And given who I am, this kind of game is right up my alley. The full game is available November 17, and there is a special edition version with soundtrack and even a cloth poster.

Until Next Time.


No comments:

Post a Comment