Not Your Go-To RPG
Adventures to Go! really mixes things up. Dungeon-crawling RPG fanatics as well as strategy enthusiasts are targeted here, but it’s too shallow in respect to each of the individual genres it embraces. But on the other hand, it does try to offer something different even at the expense of alienating the very fans it’s targeting. I’m not sure this game really knows what it wants to be. And by the time you think you’ve got it figured, it’s over. While it’s interesting, there are some really annoying elements that keep it from being highly recommended.
Adventures to Go! is really light on story. If you’re an RPG fan that craves deep, involved, dynamic plots with lots of character development, then you’re going to hate this game unless you’re open for a trade off. The gameplay is a combination of RPG elements with turn-based and real-time strategy, including random battles and randomly-generated dungeons. You can even design your own dungeons in addition to determining the level of difficulty of your side quests.
Plenty of action is to be had but at the expense of repetition. In addition to repetition, there’s also one of my least favorite elements: trial and error. You will encounter plenty of puzzles but the clues become less frequent later in the game, resulting in guessing and experimenting. On the plus side, you won’t die, and going back through the dungeons doesn’t take half a lifetime. Ultimately, the game is accessible to virtually any style of player, regardless of skill level. It won’t take you long to get deep into the game, just don’t expect the game to get very deep.
Finn is the star of the game, but I loathe to call him the hero. He’s not a very likeable kid. He’s selfish, greedy, arrogant, and somewhat socially inept. Unfortunately, his friends aren’t much better. The story is not to be taken seriously – it’s actually quite funny, but the portrayal of Finn is such an accurate composite of kids that I know in real life that I can’t help but dislike him, but at the same time he is a resourceful little bastard. Not exactly down with the idea of heading out of town on a quest to seek his fame and fortune, Finn discoveres Adventures to Go!, a company that specializes in virtual adventure quests.
Each adventure is synthesized, not unlike training missions. But the rewards and risks are real, although you don’t have to worry about dying. Through these quests you’ll receive all kinds of loot as well as action points that are used to finance your battles (more on that later). Not only can you customize the kind of adventure you have by determining the location, types of monsters, and treasures, but you can also finance quests yourself. It’s basically gambling where you risk losing your money if you don’t complete the objective. Having customized and randomly generated dungeons is a godsend for this game simply because of the repetitive nature of the gameplay that exploits dungeon-crawling almost to a fault. But thankfully you’ll never encounter the exact same dungeon twice.
Breaking the gameplay down, there are two main components: dungeon-crawling and combat. The dungeon-crawling aspect encompasses the RPG elements such as character interaction, levelling-up, collecting and unlocking items, killing monsters, and ultimately making various decisions that require puzzle-solving and trial and error. Although I did mention killing monsters as belonging to the dungeon-crawling aspect of the game, a more involved form of combat that is essentially turn-based, requiring strategy rather than hack and slash skills. Although it may seem like a long list of gameplay elements, they all fit together somewhat naturally. The most unnatural aspect of the gameplay is figuring out how to get what you need to complete a quest, especially when clues are few and far between. This is where the trial and error rears its ugly head.
You have a choice of environments in which to conduct your adventure. Places such as plains, forests, caves, and badlands will yield different items. These treasures come in the form of currency, action points, new characters, new quests, spell shards, medals, and tickets. The tickets give you some of the biggest features such as boss battles, but you don’t know what they contain until you cash them in. During quests you’ll have to retrieve various items from these crawls; a process that will require you to try different combinations of monsters and locations. In the same way, spell shards are meant to be combined to create powerful spells to be used in battle. After a few hints, you’ll have to experiment with different shard combinations to see what spells work best for your character. Some classes such as the mage can carry up to eight into battle while a standard character can only take four.
Battles are randomly occurring, but each one becomes a big production complete with a grid-based battlefield and a turn-based combat style that requires the use of strategy as you deploy action points for each and every move. There are no freebies in combat, meaning that if you want to simply turn around, it will cost you action points. Action points are incredibly valuable, and you can save any leftover points for the next battle. Unlike regular RPGs, you will also retain your level after battle. The strategy is deepened as it requires you to think ahead. Maybe you’ll be better off playing it safe in a particular battle so you can have more action points at your disposal for the next battle. But since the battles are randomly generated, like the dungeons, it’s impossible to know what’s coming up, therefore the strategy lies in the actual conservation of your points in the battle at hand. Trying to secure your future really keeps you in the moment.
There’s a reason they call it grinding, as the repetitive nature of levelling-up is a real grind. Still, it’s essential to taking on more powerful opponents. In this way you can be fully prepared to take on any enemy as long as you do your homework, and we all know that can get boring. So in some cases you’ll just want to take on more of a challenge and skip the grind-fest. There are enough health pills to keep you alive should you decide to take some risks.
Adventures to Go! displays some great backgrounds, rich in color, texture, and detail. Character models are imaginative, fitting in perfectly with the stylized, cartoonish fantasy world. Still, you never really leave the town, a premise established by the storyline in which all adventures are virtual. Fortunately, Natsume didn’t skimp on all production values. Despite the isometric perspective, there are some great 3D graphics in some of the adventure sequences. The audio is seriously lacking. Not only are there no voiceovers, but there are only a handful of background tunes and sound effects. On the upside, these aural delights are used sparingly, so even though it sounds empty, it’s better than listening to the same music, dialogue, and sound effect over and over and over.
There’s not a lot of RPGs available for the PSP, and Adventures to Go! is not exactly maintaining the classic premise of the genre. It’s something new, although not fully realized. It’s still in the experimental stages. Most players won’t find any bang for their buck with this game. At full price, it’s just not a very good deal.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
Good backgrounds and character models for an RPG. Nice cartoon style. 3.3 Control
The blend of real-time and turn-based commands feels natural after a while. 2.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Very sparse production values in the audio departments. No voiceovers. 2.8 Play Value
The gameplay is repetitive, but the novelty of surprises will keep you going. Very little replay value. 2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.