Some of you may recall a little-known title released last year for the PSP called, Generation of Chaos. When we reviewed this hidden gem last year there were a few issues with the interface and the limited help options, but overall, it was a solid experience for Sony’s portable device. Now more than a year later, the chaps at Idea Factory have decided to return to the franchise Aedis Eclipse: Generation of Chaos, but the real question is did they remedy the problems found in it’s predecessor or simply recycle the same formula.
The basic premise of Aedis Eclipse is your typical RPG fare. The mystical order of light (read the good guys) is faced with fighting off the hordes of darkness (yes, the bad guys) who want to cast an eternal darkness upon the world. While the plot isn’t going to receive any nominations for originality, it does set a nice backdrop to the overall conflict.
The biggest difference with Aedis Eclipse though, is that the world is actually divided into three realms that the player can tackle in any order they choose. While they obviously progress in difficulty, it is nice to be able to choose which one you want to start out in. Each section of the world is divided into factions at conflict with each other such as the Divine World; an island in the sky with demons and angels fighting it out for supremacy.
While the story is passable, everyone knows that an RPG lives and dies based on its combat system. Just like the previous incarnation, Aedis Eclipse uses the traditional grid-based mechanic that forces the player to utilize three main battle tactics. The first, of course, is using your environment to your advantage. Throughout each battle, you and your troops will have to face environmental hazards such as awkward terrain, one way streets, and even special blocks that can affect the physical attributes of your party.
There are of course plenty of ways around this, such as simply forming the land to fit your strategy and even setting up base camps to increase your number of troops. There are plenty of neutral positions on the map, but they are not always the best route when aiming for victory. This small addition goes a long way in forcing the player to think strategically as opposed to offensively.
The other two main elements go hand in hand; battle preparation and strategy. While it may seem slow-paced and wasteful to spend a turn prepping for an attack, as opposed to simply churning out the damage, it is actually more beneficial and crucial in later battles. Knowing when to strike and when to hold back are the keys to victory, and if you stray from this you are bound to see a game over screen more often than not.
There are many options when preparing for battle. For instance, you can partner your captain with another to create a tag team or simply bulk up your soldiers by purchasing items at the local shops. You can also switch classes, creating better all-around fighters; all of these options create a game that rewards players for patience and preparation.
Unfortunately, with all of this depth and customization comes a price. The same issues that plagued the first game are still here and create a confusing experience for anyone who didn’t play the original. The menu system is still convoluted and at times, extremely hard to read due to the entirely too small text. If that wasn’t enough, reading any of the help or tutorial sections will really only give you a general idea of what each function does, or it may confuse you even more than you already are. My point is that this game is almost too deep for its own good, and players are more likely to become frustrated early on and miss out on the amazing things it has to offer.
The combat system also suffers from some minor bumps and bruises. For the most part, the AI is spotty at best. They seem to attack randomly and sometimes not at all, even when confronted with an enemy directly in front of them. This can lead to frustration seeing as most of the game consists of these battles. It also doesn’t help matters that the only interaction you have within each battle is with the captain. Most of my time in the game was actually spent thumbing through different FAQs while letting my AI battle on its own, which will still garner enough victories to get by.
This is disappointing because there is so much here to enjoy, yet you have to work hard to enjoy it. Providing more interaction with the battles and improving the AI would do wonders for the overall experience here, but unfortunately there is still plenty of work to be done here.
What have been improved over the original though, are the visuals. Cleaner sprites and vastly improved textures, have created a world that is much more pleasing to the eyes. Forests now look like forests and the palette has been well expanded to eliminate the repeating environments that plagued the first game. The sound will suffice with the English voice action ranging from alright to despicable, but you do have the option to switch over to the far superior Japanese dialogue and enjoy the game with subtitles.
When all is said and done, Aedis Eclipse is another solid strategy RPG that simply packs too much for its own good. If you enjoyed the first game, then there is certainly plenty of new content here to appease your appetite. If you are new to the genre, this is certainly not a good starting point. However, if you take the time to learn all of the nuances of the game it is truly rewarding for the price and portability Aedis Eclipse delivers; if you can manage to understand what it is trying to deliver that is.