You know, despite how much it went on about adventure this and adventure that, it didn’t give much of an adventure feel at all. When considering the context it can’t be helped but it’s still bothering.
To simply sum things up, story-wise it’s… weak to say the least. Well the setting is fine and the characters are good enough but… the antagonists are terrible. I’m not even sure what the hell they wanted to do with them towards the end. To make things worse, the ending was also one of those “we’ll solve things in the future for sure! Let’s start our new adventure!” end.
I like stories about adventure but the last thing this game had was adventure seeing as every other event took place near or inside the city and the random sidequests you do can’t really be called an adventure either. Setting considered, this couldn’t really be helped.
The story started off pretty fine but came crashing down towards the end as the main antagonists were introduced. The reason why the antagonists were, let’s be frank here, god damned annoying is because they went out of their way to show you every other thing the antagonist is currently doing. He’s laughing behind the shadows going on about his secret plan and how he still has a way to win. Yeah, that’s definitely something you need to tell the reader. I mean, what would we ever do if the story progressed without stopping here and there to inform us about what the antagonist is currently plotting? It doesn’t even help that the antagonists were awfully generic, though I felt a bit bad about what happened to Ikusa.
This makes any conflicts with them… relatively disappointing in one point since you already know that the antagonists have a secret card up their sleeves and at the same time irritating on another point since you end up watching as the main characters basically end up doing exactly what they wanted them to do here and there.
To make things worse, conflicts with the antagonists felt pretty damned dragged out. I couldn’t help but want to tell the main characters to just kill that extremely suspicious justice spouting student which appeared in front of them multiple times going on about how the victims deserved it. Meanwhile our characters are shocked when it’s revealed that he’s the culprit. To be fair however, it’s mainly painful because the antagonists are thrown at our faces at every chance to make sure we know who’s doing all of the evil acts and all we can really do is watch as our main characters slowly, slowly, unravel the mystery that we knew from the beginning.
To put things simply, reading a story like that is irritating. Just go and bloody solve things already. I’m fine with switching perspectives and showing us what’s happening on the other side but it’s unnecessary to reveal every other detail to us.
And then came the last bosses. Aside from being horribly generic, I’m pretty sure I had to fight them about 5 times over before they would die(?). I mean, really, just die. what was especially bad was the last scene where everything is heading towards the ending and suddenly he revives in a different form, engages in a battle, gets beaten up and then tries to escape only to be sealed up. What? What was that even for? Was there any purpose in it? I have no god damned clue.
Finally the ending felt pretty open for a sequel seeing as there were still various things to solve. It felt somewhat incomplete in that sense which wasn’t really a nice closure.
In terms of gameplay it was pretty fun. The bind system reminds me of devil of decline, though in that game the masters were basically useless bags of stats for most of the time. The gameplay is pretty smooth and doesn’t get dragged out battles like some other games of this genre. It’s a bit annoying to try and collect all chests on the map while fending off monsters but that’s just my personal choice of trying not to miss any chests.
The bind system is… It doesn’t quite feel like they considered the characters when designing the binds because there was an oddly large amount of magical binds when there was really only one or two characters that could properly use magic at all. It was particularly irritating at the last batch of binds and one after another the binds turned out to give magic bonuses. I have 4 physical users and 2 magical users but they’re spamming me with a bunch of B/A class magic users of all things. Second rate ones at that since my Liliam already had better binds. To be fair however, at the beginning there was a bit of a shortage of magic binds so I guess it might cancel each other out in the end. Outside of that though, the bind system was a pretty nice addition to the game as it allowed more customization to the characters.
A part I somewhat liked was the leveling system. Though from another view you can also say it’s not exactly a good thing. The leveling system essentially allowed you to level up very fast if you were behind in levels. If you were some, 5 or so levels behind you can practically level up every time you kill a monster. the results are relatively entertaining if you AoE kill a group of such monsters since the character level rockets. On the other hand, if you were 5 or so levels above the monster… you would receive practically zero exp.
In other words, while it’s extremely easy to catch up on levels… it’s also extremely hard to overlevel. In a certain sense this is good, it’s bothering when you overlevel and then kill the final boss in one hit. In another sense it’s bad because it somewhat gives a feel that the game is holding your hand from the start to end. The exp required to level doesn’t really change and it barely takes any effort to level. If anything it probably puts more focus on your binds since they give a variety of useful abilities. That said, I’m not even sure how you would go about grinding the binds. I never really paid attention nor tried so I can’t say there’s no way but it seems the exp binds receive is scaled by the exp you receive. This seems to prevent you from just grinding a map over and over to level binds.
The affection system was a bit frustrating to handle at certain points because if you don’t pay attention, the affection will overflow and you only have a limited number of moments to get affection (it’s not grindable). Not to mention when actually leveling up, you have to spend a day and sometimes two days. Finding the right moment for that was, again, a bit annoying at certain points.
Route-wise the affection system essentially covers everything involved for the heroine so, as far as I know, the actual story doesn’t change all that much. On the bright side, the events seem integrated pretty well in pastel, opposed to many other games which tried similar things but ended up with a disjointed story that was somewhat awkward to read.
Overall I would say it was a pretty decent game, I really wish the story wasn’t so irritating towards the end though. Especially since it started off with a fair bit of potential. It could definitely do with a FD or something along those lines seeing as there’s still story to be resolved and most importantly, most importantly, characters that deserve more screen time (read as hscenes). That said, I don’t mind more Zengyouji as well.
Too bad in the end we never got a proper adult Liliam scene ;_;