That is because it is! Slowly, with agonizing terror and mind numbing repetitiveness. This game has garnered quite a few RPG of the Year awards as well as the ire of those who never knew how tough games like this used to be in the old days. A passive MMO style setting, co-op or competitive for those rare resources and souls and yes, even the fact that you lose everything after you die and then lose it again permanently when you live makes for an experience that you will talk about for generations.
Story Introduction and Premise
A kingdom has been taken over by demoins, you are one of the countless souls that desires to take on this blight and thus, you end up dying like all the rest. As a soul, you are brought back to (semi) life to take on the demon hordes as well as the tortured souls that exist around the realms until you can reach your goal of freeing the kingdom from its demise. All the while, you are seeing other souls that have taken on the challenge as well!
Gameplay is more "mouse" driven than "button" driven (the shoulder buttons control all attacks and defensive moves instead of the standard array) and that is where some of the frustration arises. People who are not so used to this style of gaming will have a tough learning curve and trust me, when you die more and more, the curve gets worse and worse. Yes, you read that right, you get penalized by dying. Told you, this game wanted to kill you. Swinging weapons and deflecting them can take up the rare Stamina, which can leave you open for bigger attacks later on. Button mashing will doom you here, even though that is the mindset of most gamers these days. Have fun dying!
Camera view and control is interesting to say the least. The targeting feature is a little more annoying than anything, where it allows you to target one enemy but if you have more than one, you better hope your stamina holds out for the duration. Menus are standard fare, nothing too exceptional but nothing too boring either. Inventory is a little tedious at best, being stuck with a few items that you think will help but instead are nominal improvements. If you are an RPG hound like I am, don't look for the mega super ultra mega sword to break this game because it wants to break you.
The most intriguing of these features though is the messages that you can leave for others as well as the bloodstains on the ground where you can witness some poor souls last five seconds of existence. The messages can be helpful, some can be mischievious but mainly, they help add onto the dark and depressing atmosphere that makes you want to slit your wrists with your controller (trust me, I tried with this game... I am still living)
Graphics and Sound--Production Values
For a game that is a PS3, you are going to be seeing a lot of the PS2 modeling system here. Yes, this is a passive MMO and the core of this game is on a server but the limits of customizing as well as the awe inspiring graphics that you would expect from this platform don't really exist. Animations as well as voiceovers are lackluster but that is, again, reflective of the passive MMO setup.
Sounds are rich and impressive, however. The grunts and screams as you turn a corner just to stumble into an enemy makes for a terror filled day and the soundtrack is impressive (as I would expect from games that are mined by Atlus, they have some great tastes in music!).
All in all, I have to say that even though I hate this game with a passion, it has a special place in my heart to stir that type of emotion. While I wouldn't say that this is the greatest game ever, it is a surprise hit for the lagging PS3 and gives it a little personality. You would do yourself a favor by picking this up, just don't count on the collectors edition being available. Should have gotten on the ground floor on that one since it is now up to $200 (and yes, I have one sealed... Thank you).
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