Rogue Galaxy (PS2) – Review

Rogue Galaxy - CoverRogue Galaxy, developed by Level-5 (famous for Dark Cloud and Dragon Quest 8) and distributed by SCEA, has most of the usual trappings of a modern jRPG with both new features that try to expand beyond typical RPG elements as well as those that feel like some of Level-5’s past games. While the story is very engaging, there’s some significant problems with the pacing of the game with incredibly long, repeating dungeons, a rather annoying endgame, and some questionable decisions regarding combat make this an unfortunate disappointment, with a lot of work just to enjoy the details that do work well. Continue reading

Rogue Galaxy (PS2) – Mid-Game Thoughts (~20hr)

I’ve hit the point in Rogue Galaxy where I’ve gotten all the features of the game explained and/or unlocked, most which are pretty cool… however, the general structure of the game of the common gameplay and combat is starting to wear rather thin.

As mentioned, combat occurs in real time as you explore the level; when the undetectable random monster encounters occur, and you immediately switch to fighting mode, this is normally a plus since there’s no pause between exploring and combat.  However, the levels are very rectalinear, generally a number of long corridors with right turns even in natural settings (there are some levels that are much wider and open, but are still mostly linearly).  Add that there’s a lot of repeated textures and structural elements that make it hard, without the minimap, to determine where you are.

The combat also tends to get very repetitive.  Of all the foes, excluding bosses, there’s only maybe 6 different types of enemies, including those that require you to break their sheild in one of three possible ways.  Obviously, the monsters have different appearances, elemental resistances and weaknesses, and overall hit points, but…It’s basically not a huge amount of difference when you get in battle.

Maintaining your character is taking a lot of work; trying to keep track of your weapons and the “synthesis” feature to keep them up just takes time and while the game tries to show you the pertinent information  after each battle, but just the general organization of some of the inventory screens doesn’t make it easy.  The Revelations chart, which is also a great idea, takes just a notch too much work to keep up to date.  The concepts are nice, I think the UI handles badly for this.

It also feels like the overall story is going to be short, judging by where I am and how powerful my characters are.  I mean, I could get 40hrs out of the game, but compared to a 40hr Final Fantasy game or Tales of the Abyss which I just finished, I feel cheated on story.  There’s a balance that seems to be lacking here.

Rogue Galaxy (PS2) – Initial Impressions (Again)

So on my personal vow to not run multiple console RPGs at the same time to avoid losing the plot and the like, I’ve now restarted Rogue Galaxy after completing Tales of the Abyss.

I still like most of the basic character growth concept; the Revelations chart (allowing you to unlock new active and passive abilities by finding items to fit into the chart) definitely feels like something from Level5’s previous “Dark Cloud” games, and actually much of the game does feel like they build on the Dark Cloud 2 engine using Bird Studios (DBZ, Dragon Quest 8) skins.  The object synthesis approach is also good.

However, the game gets quickly difficult about the 3rd level (the prison on the large spaceport for those that might have played it).  You really have to manage your characters outside of battle, making sure to up their weapons and complete their Revelations whenever it is possible.  Despite practicing to block to avoid damage, I find I’m going through health items like they were cheap, which, relative to the game, they really aren’t, though they are plenty from chests and shops.  One benefit, however, is that while you progress in these rather large dungeons, the monsters all stay the same with the same amount of hit points and the like.  Thus, while you may have problems when you initially enter an area, you can get to a point where completing the battles (which happen as random encounters in real time as you explore) is much easier and you can spend a bit more time to make sure you’re finishing the battles without too much difficulty before leaving the level or facing a final boss, if there is one.

However, the game does use a lot of repetitive graphics in the various areas.  It does get dull after a while to look at.

Rogue Galaxy (PS2) – Initial Impressions

Oh, I didn’t even realize this was a Level 5 game (past achievements include both Dark Clouds and Dragon Quest 8) until I got home with it, and their past work definitely shows.

I haven’t unlocked all the mechanics yet, but there’s a definite Dark Cloud aspect where as you collect unique items, you can unlock new skills on a “Revelations” chart unique for each character, and this is definitely not linear.  The combat is real-time with a resonably new aspect that you can only fight or perform actions while you have points to do so (similar to the fatigue aspect of Star Ocean 3), though you can instantly recover by successfully blocking.

The approach to the art is instantly recognizable as the same cel-like approach from DQ8 (just not using Bird Studio art).  Story seems good so far, but it’s been only an hour or so into it.  But otherwise this is looking good as a starting point.