Ephemeral Fantasia - Staff Retroview  

The Waiting Game
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

50-250 hours


Rating definitions 

   A royal wedding is being planned in an island paradise. No expense is spared so naturally the famous musician Mouse is hired. When Mouse arrives he realizes that the island isn't such a paradise after all and decides to do something about it. Ephemeral Fantasia focuses only on the events that take place during a few days, but it is surprising expansive. The island paradise is home to hundreds of NPCs, shops, and treasures. The most notable aspect of the game is the fact that it progresses in real time. If the player fails to meet a person or complete an event by a designated time, they will miss it. While this could have been interesting, the implementation of the time system is poor. A large amount of time is usually spent blindly searching for clues to complete a series of events or simply waiting around for the next event.

   While waiting around, players may wish to spend their time hunting monsters and time demons. Time doesn't increase while in battle, but battles rely heavily on time. Each action characters or enemies make has a specific delay, and they will not be able to perform another action until a certain amount of time has passed. Some characters are faster than others and will be able to perform more actions in the same amount of time as a result. Time doesn't pause while inputting commands either, enemies are still able to attack, but will inflict less damage due to a defensive bonus gained while the time meter is full. Conversely, enemies inflict more damage to characters that have just selected an attack, but are still making preparations. As a result, timing becomes an important factor in determining the outcome of some battles.

   To further improve the battle system, each character has a small skill tree. Using a technique repeatedly can increase its level and possibly unlock another ability. Mouse can also gain special techniques based on those he fights alongside. The battle system itself is decent, but most of the fun is drained considerably due to an exceedingly high encounter rate. It is also quite easy to dispatch most enemies, so the timing elements rarely come into play except during a few boss fights.

Vast environments Vast environments

   While it's true that the majority of random battle are very easy, some boss fights can be rather challenging if the player forgets to time their attacks. The series of bosses near the end of the game is especially powerful in comparison. Despite the polarity in difficulty, the game is still rather easy overall, especially because characters are likely to become overleveled while searching for clues.

   While the story has a strong beginning and end, most of the time in between is spent blindly searching for what to do next. Ephemeral Fantasia can be a very long game if the player doesn't know what to do to advance the plot. If this is the case, it is possible to spend well over two hundred hours exploring the surprisingly large island and poorly designed dungeons. Since an experienced player could probably finish the game in about fifty hours, that means most people will spend over one hundred hours wandering rather aimlessly. Needless to say, this amount of time between story advancement ruins the flow. It isn't until the very end of the game that the story begins to rapidly improve. overall, the story is only average though.

Guitar playing Guitar playing

   Despite the scale of the island and length of the game, the Localization is still fairly average. It does have a few noticeable irregularities, especially during the middle of the game, but they don't hurt the game enough to be a real issue. Most of the menus are arranged well, aside from a few character-specific options that seem to have been placed without mention. The only real annoyance is the compass/clock that vanished every time the main menu is opened until the button is pressed again. This is especially annoying because the clock is a very important element of the game and opening the menu is a common occurrence.

   Despite its flaws, Ephemeral Fantasia is still somewhat original. Mouse can play a number of songs on the guitar at almost any time to hone his skills in order to impress people later. The time element and story development are also slightly original in their implementation.

   As would be expected from a game with a musician as a main character, the music is quite good. While none of the music are particularly amazing, there is still a wide selection of above average tracks. Despite the massive length of the game, only a few of the numerous tracks actually become repetitive. The sound effects, on the other hand, are fairly plain and only average as a result.

   While they aren't on the same level as the music, the graphics are still slightly above average. The camera also has a variety of different settings both in and out of battle. While nothing really stands out, each character and enemy model is fairly detailed. Enemy models are reused sometimes, but when they are they are tweaked slightly. It doesn't make a big difference in appearance, but a little extra effort goes a long way.

   Ephemeral Fantasia had a lot of potential with its vast world and impressive array of characters, but the finished product failed to measure up. It does have several good parts, but they are few and very far between due to the structure of the storyline's development. To make matters worse, it is plagued with poor implementation and dungeon design. While it does pick up considerably at the end, Ephemeral Fantasia is still below average.

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