RPGamer Preview: Orphen

The PS2 launch RPG you've heard the least about may very well end up making the most noise.

Shield spell in use

DVD-ROM format allows for lots of anime cutscenes

Inside of a chamber

Orphen takes advantage of the PS2 hardware to create awesome spell effects

Battle ghostly enemies

A variety of different environments

View Photo Gallery

Platform: Sony PlayStation 2
Developer: Shade
Publisher: Activision (North America)
Rated Teen for violent content.

On the surface, releasing Orphen : Scion of Sorcery (known as Sorcerous Stabber in Japan) as a North American PlayStation 2 launch title seems a bit of a gamble for Activision- after all, there's little about this title that would have the same name recognition in the U.S. as in Japan. Developed by Kadokawa Shoten (one of the biggest names in anime / manga; best-known in North America as partial developers of Lunar: SSSC) and ESP, Orphen is based on a series of manga / anime of the same name. But whether you're familiar with the anime series or not, Orphen is sure to attract RPG fans this October for its variety of gameplay and inspiring design.

In the game, you'll take on the role of Orphen, a 20-year-old dark sorcerer -- and a bit of a renegade in his own right. On his way out of the country, Orphen takes the wrong ship -- a mistake that proves to be not so disastrous when he runs into three new friends, all of whom will contribute throughout the game. They finally wind up at Chaos Island -- a huge place sporting a variety of different environments, ranging from dank caverns to lofty towers, and more.

Once you arrive at Chaos Island, you'll be allowed to choose between one of your new friends with whom to travel. There are three branching paths through the game depending on which one you choose. and these can be played in any order. Once all three are complete, you'll head to the fourth and final area to complete the game.

The game's storyline is conveyed both through in-engine cutscenes (as in Vagrant Story) and anime cutscenes. Some still shots of the anime cutscenes can be seen in our Orphen photo gallery; as can be expected, they look very good. Also, the game's DVD-ROM format allows for full voice acting throughout the game, rather than text-based dialogue.

is a third-person game, much like Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The camera will follow your character at all times. It can be rotated 360-degrees, but when entering combat the camera automatically switches to a fixed perspective. Outside of combat, the buttons on the controller allow you to jump, slash, use / interact with objects, and throw projectiles (which may be used to destroy obstacles and such). Once in combat, however, things are different.

All combat takes place in real-time. The buttons on the controller give you access to your spell and sword attacks, with the square button calling your defensive shield. Another button gives you access to your sword attacks; these can be manipulated for special attacks. The other buttons control your magic, each button corresponding to a different spell type. Only spells of that particular button's spell type can be mapped to that button. Leave the buttons alone during combat, and your spells will increase in power; charge them up for more powerful attacks.

Orphen: Scion of Sorcery
is scheduled for release on the PlayStation 2 on October 26.
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