It’s been a busy year for the folks at Experience Inc, with the release of Stranger of Sword City mere weeks ago, an announcement of another IP coming to X1 and now with the western release of one of their most ambitious projects to date, Ray Gigant.
Having played every localized title from Experience Inc to date, I’ve gotten a good understanding of what they’re all about, and Ray Gigant it turns out isn’t too much of a departure from the norm, except for one very significant detail.
Space Required: 1378MB
Voice Acting Selection: JPN Only
Played: 20~ hours
Whenever I begin a review of a DRPG, I tend to go over how the genre is generally more about the dungeon exploration and party customization than it is about telling a story.
However, in the case for Ray Gigant, the story and characters are presented with just as much importance, if not more than the dungeons/party composition.
Given Experience Inc’s track record, this wasn’t something I expected, and I must say that I found it a refreshing change of pace.
It reminds me of the “Etrian Untold” series, where the original Etrian games were re-envisioned as a more story/character focused experience, and I felt those titles benefited the shift of purpose.
As to the particulars of the story, it involves a world facing a major crisis from an earth shattering threat, and it’s up to a handful of individuals with special connections to an ancient power to save the world.
It’s a premise that’s been done before, but I found the world and its mysteries intriguing enough, and even though at the start I didn’t like the characters very much, they grew on me over time and I found myself liking most of them as I progressed through the chapters.
The story also revolves around multiple perspectives as well, which made sure that no one character overstayed their welcome.
As for the combat, it works off an “AP” system where every action is governed by a resource that is shared across multiple characters.
Each action, whether it be attack, heal or guard, took a set number of AP, and without it the party would be left defenseless.
Given each character was allowed multiple actions per turn, there was some strategy in balancing between attacking, guarding and waiting in order to charge up more AP.
Or perhaps, that would have been the case if the game wasn’t as easy as it was, with regular attack barrages getting the job done most of the time.
Once I used the skill system to materialize some high-end weapons, I was able to set up the party in such a way where one person would be doing all the attacking while the other two simply waited to charge AP.
It’s a strategy that was so effective that I found most battle encounters to be trivial once I figured out how the enemy weaknesses interacted with my weapon types.
There were also a number of huge boss encounters against colossal foes which towered above skyscrapers, but with the use of an ultimate attack which could be charged up ahead of time, they became quite easy to topple.
The shift in adversity was a bit jarring to say the least, as I just came away from finishing Stranger in Sword City with its brutal difficulty.
If it isn’t apparent already through the screenshots, Ray Gigant has a stylish visual style that impressed from the very beginning. However, even though the characters and enemies looked great, the dungeons did not fare so well, both visually and in their designs.
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the masterful dungeon layouts of the Etrian games to those developed by Experience Inc., but I feel they have come far enough in every other department that if they could start tuning their dungeons to be more interesting to explore, they would have the total package.
Despite the lackluster dungeon designs and rather pedestrian difficulty, the gorgeous art style and a greater emphasis on its story and characters makes Ray Gigant stand out amongst its peers.
Fun Tidbit – The ultimate attacks are done through a rhythm mini-game for some reason but since it’s not used too frequently in the scope of things, it didn’t bother me too much.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.