Welcome to the final update for #JRPGJuly! I am hoping you guys have been enjoying the staff's updates throughout the month. I would say it was a very successful month for all of the staff, as many people completed the games they selected or got pretty darn close. Let's see what everyone's final thoughts were.
Scott: So I cleared the "spaceman dungeon." Finally. Stupid keycards and stupid switches. I don't know what I can say to close out the month so here's a bunch of small ideas and hot takes that could turn into something else.
- Sojiro is best anime dad: he dresses like Jigen, gets ladies, and has access to large amounts of single-origin coffee beans.
- It is weird there are not arts or sports clubs in the game (because those guys aren't outcasts?). Not that there's a lack of confidants, but it's weird to have that much more 'free' time in a Persona title.
- Two beach episodes back-to-back?! what sort of shameless filler fanservice is this?
- So the music in this game is better than P4's. but the fight theme's chorus reminds me of 'You Won't See Me Coming' from Gankutsuo. Hey, Edmond Dantes is a public domain character, famous for being wrongfully imprisoned and going on an elaborate revenge spree of a corrupt and decadent society - he could have fit right in as a summon. Just sayin'.
- Virtually any choice in a social link dialogue will let you progress the link, but god have mercy on your soul if you pick the wrong one trying to head into a romance.
- The pacing: many of the missions leaves the player having sped through the dungeon crawling bits, leaving them withthe same twiddle your thumbs while every NPC in the know demands reassurance that we did it right. Oh well imma play videogames and make out with older ladies.
- The interrogation room framing device coming back as more pieces come together in the present is great, but the transition is frustratingly long, especially when new social links tend to happen close to new mission starts.
- So Mona and Haru can fulfill requests in Mementos on their own, but I can't delegate that to the full party while I hit on reporters. Lame.
- The DLC costumes are weird. 'You can dress up like badass comic heroes, or wear cutesy Santa outfits'. The decals for the Mona-mobile are rad, though.
- The fast travel options undermine the sense of being lost in the big city that the first hours of the game had.
- Justine and Caroline are also the names of characters from Frankenstein. Nifty.
- Not-Junpei needs to shut up when he's in public. Just straight up.
Robert Sinclair & Sarah McGarr
Robert: Well, despite thinking I should stop trying to push the grind too much, it seems I've stayed up all night and day playing Final Fantasy XIV again. I don't know what it is, but I started feeling some momentum building the more I played and gaining levels, doing beast quests, gathering stuff for crafting, it all was just coming together. I'm currently level fifty-two with my Dark Knight, I have over a million gil despite having less than 80,000 when I started this month. I have high quality gear all the way to level sixty, all it will take is one last push and I should finish strong.
The level 50 Dark Knight Quest was something very interesting to think on. Maybe it was just being awake at 5 a.m, but I could see where the story was going and it completely went there, but not before uttering something to the effect of "like in Ul'dah" and I'm sitting there thinking the exact same thing. After a chaotic boss battle, I learned a new ability and headed onward to Heavensward content for grinding. I really want to see where the Dark Knight quests go from here. Maybe that's what has sparked the feeling of momentum I was describing earlier?
I'm not really a leader of the Free Company or anything, but I'd like to welcome anyone playing on Leviathan to look us up if you're looking for an active FC group. We have insanely helpful and knowledgeable people and we're hoping to get some teams together to tackle content, both old and new. We're an easy-going lot and I'm sure pretty much anyone will fit right in.
I would like to take a moment to praise the Roegadyn ladies. After originally dismissing them based on the stock model's appearance, I must say when you play around with the options they can look pretty cool, very powerful, and with the right scars completely badass. It's a shame I don't have any reason to have another character. If I ever get around to another one though, no Au Ra for me. It's all Roegadyn ladies from here on out.
Sarah: Huzzah! I have achieved a soul crystal for Black Mage. I will continue killing things with fire. The Thaumaturge/Black Mage storyline is very interesting, and I can see some similarities with the Conjurer/White Mage storyline. Both seem to have that problem child that you must watch over and deal with. I'm wondering if that's the theme with all these job storylines. I would expect the number of players to start to drop off a bit already, but Leviathan is still full whenever I try to log in. Seems Stormblood is taking longer for people to play through than the last expansion. Even with the rise in people playing, it still takes a long time for me to get a party in Duty Finder. I'm assuming because I’m DPS and we're a dime a dozen. Still less stress playing DPS in a dungeon than a healer.
In other news, I have also achieved my chocobo license! I can now finally ride my new Syldra mount that came with the Stormblood Collector's Edition. I don't have to run everywhere now and wait for sprint to recast! In the words of Sloth from Fullmetal Alchemist: SUCH A PAIN.
I'm still behind the story level-wise. I have a level twenty-five story quest and I am level thirty now. Though, this does make it easier to get through all the trials since I must sync down. I remember when I was leveling white mage I'd always be the lowest level, and they were so very hard. Being five levels higher than the current questline has made things so much easier. Likely because all I must do is kill things with fire instead of trying to kill things with stones AND keep people alive.
Will I go back to my level fifty-eight White Mage on Sargatanas? Who knows. All I have left are Duty Finder quests, and I don't particularly like doing dungeons at that level with randoms. I've just had one too many bad experiences. However, I have had only good experiences with my Black Mage so far with DF on Leviathan.
As much as I like killing things with fire, I'll always be a White Mage at heart.
Pascal: Sad face. Thought I was going to be able to make it two games completed, with Dark Souls being the second after Final Fantasy XII. Funny thing though: Turns out Dark Souls doesn't really play ball and conform to preexisting calendar deadlines. Huh.
However, I've made it into the game's endgame section. After easily fifty or so solo tries at Ornstein and Smough, I finally bit the bullet, sacrificed some humanity, and summoned Solaire to help me through. It still took about three more tries to get everything just right, but - wonder of wonders! - the duo finally went down in a bloody heap. I'm not proud of bringing in a helping hand to get me through it; I like to pretend I'm a better player than that. But it was honestly either that or give up and quit. I like a challenge, but after this many deaths at the hands of a single boss, all sense of fun was starting to get left by the wayside.
Since walking out of that boss room victoriously, a string of other boxes have been ticked. A second trip to Darkroot Garden and a twenty-thousand soul purchase of the Crest of Artorias led to the vanquishing of the Great Grey Wolf Sif. A return to Undead Asylum gave me the Peculiar Doll and another boss kill in the form of Stray Demon. This, in turn, let me visit the Painted World of Ariamis, though I chose not to kill Crossbreed Priscilla.
Lordvessel in hand, I've now been making my way through getting the Lord Souls. So far, I've revisited New Londo (having a much easier time with it), and made my way through the Duke's Archives and Crystal Cave. Two down, two to go, before it's time to wrap this sucka up. Too bad it didn't quite happen in time for the end of #JRPGJULY. Oh well, #JRPGAUGUST it is then.
Sam: This week was a slow one for me gaming-wise. When I had free time to play games, I played Pyre (which is for review) and a ton of Overwatch because Doomfist dropped this week. This means I didn’t even touch Okage, so instead I am going to talk about the JRPG I did play: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia!
I’ve been playing Echoes on and off since it released, mainly just doing a map or two here and there. I only just hit Act 2, which I recognize isn’t very far. I appreciate that the game gives you a means to grind if you need it, though the addition of the dungeon-crawling is… awkward. Personally, I am not huge on it because when I sit down to play Fire Emblem, the last thing I want to be doing is a dungeon crawl. Even worse, the dungeons are so blandly designed that they aren’t even interesting to explore.
I am still happy with my progress throughout #JRPGJuly. It was great to finish Persona 5 and make large strides in Okage. I am hoping by the end of this year I’ll have both Okage and Fire Emblem Echoes knocked out of my backlog. We shall see!
Michael: Since I'm visiting family in the US right now, I haven't had much time to play games. In fact, my 3DS hasn't been powered up in an entire week. My copy of The Alliance Alive has been sitting at just before the apparent final boss since the layover in O'Hare Airport, but it definitely requires some extra grinding for me to get through.
Here's one thing to mention about the game: Orderite and Chaosium. These two rare elements can be found all over the place. Chaosium is limited but tradeable for all sorts of interesting stuff. Orderite has a few spots where it can be farmed, and is important because it can be used to buy retries or escapes if you're beaten in battle. The final boss has a special attack that attacks the player's Orderite supply directly, because of course it does.
Finally, my penguin dude has learned another awesome attack: Crazy Pinball. It's like Rocket Headbutt, but hits everything on the enemy side. Hopefully there are other fun attacks to learn while I prep for the final challenge.
Anna Marie Privitere
Anna Marie: Continuing my year of Vita titles, I turned to Ar nosurge Plus: Ode to an Unborn Star. Initially the game struck me as similar in feeling to an Atelier game – it led me through combat based on how many waves can be cleared, to picking up items in the wild, to crafting with them. Unfortunately, unlike an Atelier game the crafting has zero depth, and the story was confusing, as if I had been dropped into the middle of a story I didn’t quite understand. Turns out that there’s a previous visual novel, never localized, which leads into this one. After five hours, I took stock: did I like this game and its story enough to continue? Ultimately, the answer was no, so I moved on.
I decided to take a chance on another story-driven title, Trillion: God of Destruction. The game opens with a monster with one trillion HP arriving at the Underworld and chowing down on the Great Overlord Zeabolos. Oops! Zeabolos is shortly resurrected, in a weak shell of a body, and gets to work training the six female Overlords remaining in the Underworld in the hopes by their combined might they can destroy Trillion. The game is divided into training sections, where the player chooses which stats on the Overlord to improve, which is interwoven with ample story that is localized with ample humour.
These training sessions then lead to tackling Trillion. Each Overlord has up to three chances to do as much damage as they can to the massive monster trying to devour the Underworld, and though they will each fall in turn, they will impart upon the next Overlord a boon. Trillion does not heal, and these special last-ditch attacks against the giant monster include locking the abilities of a certain body part, or doing massive damage to Trillion, or placing a blessing on the next Overlord in line. The game is intended to be played multiple times, as abilities roll over from one playthrough to another. I’ve nearly completed training my final Overlord – will I defeat Trillion? It’s all up in the air right now!
Cassandra: I managed to complete Ever Oasis, and not a moment too soon. I thought about finishing all of the Seedling quests before I took on the final boss, but so many popped up, and one was taking me a long while to finish. It was given by Naama the Veil maker, and she required that I defeat a monster called an Octocrast. This thing could only be found in the Canyon Hieroglyph Labyrinth, and like everything else to do with these dungeons, it involved a lot of randomness. Talk about annoying. The final dungeon is actually surprisingly straightforward despite this game's love of puzzles. It was just a lot of walking and a fight against two previously-fought bosses before getting to the end boss. I suppose the lead-up to the final dungeon took a while (the penultimate dungeon was called the "Temple of Trials," after all) and there was plenty of fun and clever puzzles.
Ever Oasis is one of those games where you beat the final boss, but the post-game is set right before then. Thus, whatever changes to the world or characters occur in the end sequence don't apply. I can head to the last dungeon and beat it again whenever I want. There's a lot to do in the post-game, though I don't know for how long I'll be playing. I'll either finish just about everything, or get bored and move on to the next game.
If you haven't guessed it, I rather enjoyed Ever Oasis. It doesn't stand out in most areas, except for perhaps the puzzles in dungeons. It does nearly everything else competently and I only have a few complaints. It is a very charming game with a cute, vibrant art style and a neat, imaginative setting. I may have compared it to Fantasy Life a few times, but I feel that I enjoyed this game more. This is not a most favorite 3DS game of mine, but it's definitely a gem of the handheld, one that I imagine will be rather hidden amidst the Fire Emblems and Pokémon titles. I'm not sure if I specifically want a sequel to Ever Oasis, but I would love to see more from Grezzo and Koichi Ishii! Considering how story-driven the games were for my previous two #JRPGJuly playthroughs, this one was a nice change of pace.
Thank you so much for reading our updates throughout #JRPGJuly! We hope you enjoyed our thoughts and feelings. Until next year, take care!