|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gust||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NIS America||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 31, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
This game certainly puts stat management over storyline and action. And while graphically, this game is not at all impressive, it does feature some cool character designs. With the number of monster and character models and brightly-lit settings, this game definitely possesses a unique environment. When roaming, you can view the location of various enemies on the map. The map displays which enemies will be harder to defeat, and their status can change depending on the location and time of day. If they are native of that particular area, they can be tougher and travel in packs. At night, many monsters come alive and act much faster under the moonlight. You can slash at enemies if you surprise them to get the upper hand on them, but if they strike first, they can have the advantage on you.
The soundtrack, which was specifically made for this game, is another high-point as the music changes chapter-to-chapter and adds to each level's atmosphere. The voiceover work could have been improved, as the characters only talk when it is important to the action.
If you are a fan of past Gust RPGs like Atelier Iris and Ar tonelico, Mana Khemia may be something worth looking into. However, be forewarned that this game in no way features the same amount of freedom to roam and spend as much time as you please. Where Gust fails is in their ability to make this game appeal to a wide audience, even in the RPG market. Some RPG fanatics may enjoy the in-depth alchemy system, but the repetitive system of attending school and completing pre-ordained tutorials become very redundant. It is very hard to become deeply attached to this game.
CCC Freelance Writer