Game: Ar Tonelico Qoga Knell of Ar Ciel
Genre: Role Playing Game
System: PlayStation 3
Review by: Denoch
There has been a recent drought in Japanese RPG’s being release here in North America, with the few that are released how can we tell if they are any good? Fear not my friends I have stumbled upon a rare gem that hasn’t gotten much buzz and will surely please fans of the genre, just be prepared to feel a little guilty playing it with people around. By the name of the title you cant tell that this is actually the third and final game in the trilogy, the first two titles were released on the PlayStation 2.
Story – Ar Tonelico takes places roughly three years after the previous game in the series, the setting is still in the country of Clusternia where it is ruled by Reyvateil. Clusternia is located in the third tower of Ar Ciel, in which it floats above the Sea of Death. The world is the same but with new protagonists and a brand new chapter that further expands the story of the floating towers and the inhabitable Sea below.
We start this adventure with a young man named Aoto living in a small town called Blue Halmet, his life only consists of working and taking naps throughout the day, all that changes when he sees a swordswoman in front of his house being attacked by the Clusternian Army. Aoto decides to help the woman and fend off the soldiers attacking her, when the defeated army retreats the swordswoman falls into the ground and changes appearance into a seventeen year old girl named Saki with no recollection of what just happened. The Clusternian army retreated but it is quickly gathering their strength to attacked the now defenseless Saki, with no time to waste Aoto suggests that they should leave town and promises to Saki that he will protect her no matter what the cost. They set on a quest to seek the lost memories of Saki, why she is able to transform in to several personas and find refuge away from the Clusternian Army.
Graphics- The presentation of the world and the people within it are mostly in real bright pink, purple and red colors, it has a real “girly” vibe to the whole game as far appearances go. The combat and the exploration is in 3D, something that is first in the series but the dialogue are done in 2D with subtitles and the occasional voice acting. When two or more people are talking you can see the image of the characters and the expression on of their faces will change according to the mood of the conversation. One of the things that I found surprising was the fact that some of the characters who look like men are actually women and vice versa but soon realize by the voice that it is not so, must be a cultural thing that us Americans are not used but not shocking. There are not that many cut scenes and most of them are done in ‘anime’ style, they will usually last about a minute or so.
Gameplay- I never though I would miss it but Ar Tonelico brings back the “random encounter” battles with a little added features of course, you will have a gauge in the bottom right hand corner that will have a bright blue and go from green, yellow, and finally red to indicate the upcoming battles, the gauge will also deplete till its gone, you will have to exit and re-enter the area to fill it once again. The combat is not turn based, it will require for you to move the main character with the analog stick and attack with the square button, upon unlocking special moves, the D pad will become accessible to perform special moves. The Reyvateil, girls that are able to perform song magic, similar to that of mages. The difference with Reyvateil and regular mages is that in order for them to sing they cannot be disturb therefore leaving them defenseless, on the upside if you are able to defend them well they can perform powerful magic that allows them to take off their clothes( yes perv they actually take their clothes off) depending on how much power they store up.
Dive – All the Reyvateil have Hyuma within their soul that can help them out in battle but need extraction by the main protagonist, in order to do so he needs to “dive” into their soul and help them with certain conflicting situations they might have. The stronger the bond Aoto has with the Reyvateils by either fighting along side, talking, giving them gifts, or diving into their souls, the stronger their magic will be and the more skin they will show.
Sound- I usually complain a lot when it comes to the English voice acting or subtitles and that is because sometimes the localization is not done right, that is not the case with Ar Tonelico. Not only is the translation better than most others, but the Japanese soundtrack has a great composition that I can enjoy listening without playing the game.
Platinum Road- I would rate the difficulty in obtaining the Platinum a 5 out of 10, sixty percent is story related but it would take you at LEAST 100 hours to actually get all the trophies. It is going to be time consuming by grinding levels and maxing out in XP, synthesizing items and actually playing that long to get the platinum.
Wishes or Changes: One of the major annoyances that I had with the game was the simple fact that I could not move the camera or zoom out in combat, it would only stay fixed on the Aoto no matter where I moved and it made difficult to protect the Reyvateil because I could not pan out the camera to check on them. Also this is not a problem at all but I wish I didn’t feel like such a pervert when playing this game , I mean it has girls taking layers of clothes while in combat but I guess that is why they call it guilty pleasure.
TQ bottom line- The bottom line is that Ar Tonelico is a fun JRPG for fans that welcome girls that take off their clothes in battle all for the sake of teamwork and peace throughout the world. You might feel like a 15 year while you play it so just make sure nobody is around to see you.
FINAL SCORE: 4.5 out of 5 Michelas!
Ar Tonelico Qoga Knell of Ar Ciel
Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $59.99 Available via Amazon Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel