|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sting||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 24, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
March 2, 2010 - Although the traditional RPG format is not as popular as it once was, this classic genre has found new life on portable gaming systems. With retro titles like Final Fantasy I and II finding new life on the PSP and Apple touch platforms and the Dragon Quest series going handheld-exclusive, there's been no better time to be a traditional RPG fan. However, even though established franchises are finding the handheld platform a bastion for successful rereleases, new IPs are not garnering the same response. A great example of this is last year's Crimson Gem Saga. Though this title was applauded for its back-to-basics attitude and old-school approach to the RPG formula, this title largely went unnoticed last year.
However, despite some setbacks, the onslaught of RPGs on portable platforms keeps on coming, and in only a few months we will have yet another new IP to check out. Hexyz Force is a lot like Crimson Gem Saga, and it will have an old-school approach to the gameplay. With nary an active element in sight, this title will feature the same back to basics attitude and will feature a 100% turn-based system. However, if you are expecting a hard tactics approach similar to what you might find in an old Final Fantasy title, you'll be even more surprised by Hexyz Force. The developers of the game promise "stress-free" battles, which sounds like the game will have a very forgiving difficulty level. I'm not entirely sure if this is a good move, as most portable RPGs boast complex tactics and challenging difficulty levels. Still, it will be interesting to see the response to this toned-down RPG, and if it proves successful, we could see a whole new sub-genre start appearing.
Despite the toned down difficulty, the game's battle system will still feature a very standard party-based approach. Each battle will begin by placing three main characters on a grid. This grid will determine hit accuracy as well as defense. As you might expect, this system will emphasize ranged characters used in the rear, and characters specializing in melee attacks placed at the front for maximum efficiency. Once the characters are placed, the game will adhere to a strict turn-based system that will emphasize methodical planning over accuracy and speed. The more battles the character fights in, the more special techniques and "force points" they will earn. Gaining these points will open up new attacks and allow your characters to continue on a linear leveling path.
In addition to touting the relaxed difficulty level of the game, it looks like the creators of Hexyz Force are also excited about its narrative-driven storyline. The story features a classic light-versus-dark, end-of-the-world scenario. Apparently the goddess of the light and the lord of the dark have reached a breaking point in their eternal conflict, and the fate of the world rests upon the end of this conflict. The twist here is that you can choose whether to follow the light or dark path early in the game. Each faction will have a leader, and depending on which leader you choose, the events of the game will change, as well as the circumstances of the ultimate battle.
The premise of the story sounds very simple, but with a campaign designed to last about 50 hours, there are sure to be many twists and turns to the story to keep it interesting. Though it must be said that at this early juncture, the story does sound a lot like the original Final Fantasy, but I get the feeling that the similarities may be intentional - designed to lure in fans of the older series. Again, this seems like a gamble that may not pay off when the game is released, as it could pique interest in the title or turn off older gamers completely.
The only thing that looks like it will separate this title from an old RPG is the visuals. With high quality anime-style cutscenes, and some highly-detailed battle animations, Hexyz Force does have the look of a modern game. Early trailer footage shows high quality 3D models engaging in battle, and some pretty interesting enemy design. Unlike other RPGs destined for portable release, Hexyz force does not use pixel-based sprites in its overworld, and instead uses the same fully formed character models that you see in battle.
Although I really love traditional RPGs, I have to say I am a little nervous about Hexyz Force. While incorporating some old elements into a new game certainly has proven to be a winning formula in the past, I can't say that I am entirely convinced that incorporating all the old elements of past RPGs will prove to be as successful. Still, we won't have to wait too long to check this one out, as it is due for release exclusively on the PSP this May.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor