Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection
Rating: T for Teen
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Sting Entertainment, Idea Factory
Console(s): Available Now for the PlayStation Portable, PS Vita Compatible
Description: The sixth game in the Generation of Chaos strategy RPG series, the game takes place in the dark, barren world of Hades, revolving around a boy named Claude, and his sister named Yuri, who is cursed with a butterfly tattoo, leading Claude to vow to travel the world in order to find a way to break the curse.
I’ve tried my hand at the Generation of Chaos series before. For my money, they are serviceable games that do a great job engaging the player but fall just a bit short of being truly memorable games. Still, I had fun with previous incarnations of the series, so it was with no trepidation that I jumped into the latest game in the series, Pandora’s Reflection.
The core gameplay of GoC games is back and a bit more refined. It seems easier to command and utilize party members than it had in previous games. Mainly due to the fact that now you control a smaller party of allies instead of a huge army as in previous games. Also, some people may be finicky about the timed button commands that allow for extra damage, but I feel that they add to what would normally be a bland and uninspired battle sequence. More so, the second attacks that you can engage in should your allies be in proximity to your opponent really help drive the battle on and shape it more in your favor.
That may be a moot point, however, as the difficulty of the game seems much more balanced this time around. In previous game, I screamed my head off at not being able to pass a certain chapter. This time around, it seems that while I am still challenged, and occasionally lose a fight or two, I am not punishing myself for not getting the strategy right. There seems to be a lot more give and take this time around, and that is a good thing if the series wants to attract more players. As it is, the strategy RPG genre is a niche one – anything that may be more inviting to newer players is a welcome choice.
The balanced difficulty is a blessing when you also consider that the game is played somewhat in real-time instead of the turned-based faire most RPG players are accustomed to. While you still have elements like leveling up and grinding to attain certain items, the gameplay is more akin to that of Zelda or Kingdom Hearts games. This adds another level of appeal to the game to newer players, though if that didn’t attract them in previous installments, I don’t see how it will appeal to them now.
Story wise is where the game suffers a bit more than in other aspects of the game. While the characters of Claude and Yuri are certainly interesting, you have seen their archetypes time and time again in other RPG games. As it is with the story: boy destined to save the world though unsure of his abilities, girl key to the salvation, friends who come and go but remain loyal, yada yada yada… we’ve seen the story hundreds of times already. If the gameplay wasn’t as good as it is the story would have driven me to steer clear of playing the game. Thankfully, you can skip past a good majority of the script and story by pressing advancing buttons that move you past the mundane annoyance. Still, as much of a stickler for a good story as I am, you know this will factor into my final analysis of the game.
The only other issue I have with GoC: PR is that it looks dated. This doesn’t look like a modern PSP offering, this looks like something I expected to see when the PSP was first released. Also, when played on a Vita (thank you for Vita compatibility, by the way), the dated graphics really show their age. I don’t mind so much normally, but when you have a bland story, other aspects of the game really need to stand out, and in this game, they do not. I would have thought the years between GoC game releases they would have stepped up their game in the visuals department.
I know it sounds like the last two paragraphs are really trashing the game, but I just wanted to highlight what I saw as flaws in a great game that should have been addressed because I really am digging this game. I am having a blast playing it on the go, so much so that I played it the entire trip during a recent trip to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. The game had the potential to be a solid A grade title. But because of some oversights in some aspects of the game, I really have to give the game a B- as my final grade. There are enough good points in Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection to make it a great, must-play game – but there could have been a little more done to make it top tier title.