What I'm Playing - No. 114
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
There’s minor Persona 5 Strikers post-game spoilers. If you want to remain completely in the dark on everything the post-game entails, skip that section.
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Persona 5 Strikers (PS4)
I played through the post-game content on my first save file, finishing that after several more hours. The post-game content ends with fighting the Reaper, a staple powerful enemy in the Persona series, so that was cool! Once I finished the post-game, I unlocked the option to start New Game+, and unlocked the Merciless difficulty. All your items, equipment, money, and levels carry over into New Game+, which makes Merciless difficulty actually possible because the enemies are strong on this difficulty! I died in the very first fight, just a few minutes into my Merciless New Game+ experience. You really need to be careful on Merciless!
I’m still in the first dungeon of my New Game+ playthrough. I’m probably not going to play through the whole game again, just until I get all the achievements. I don’t have many left, just need to finish the Persona compendium (I think I only have 1 Persona left to fuse!) and fully upgrade all the Bond skills…that one might take a while though.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar (PC)
I started this turn-based RPG based on a comic book this week, and it’s been pretty fun. Unlike a lot of RPGs, the focus here is predominantly on the gameplay. You’re thrown into the thick of things without much exposition at all, and through the first part of the game is easy in order to give you a chance to learn, there are very few in-game tutorials. Instead, if you’re confused about how something works, there’s an extensive in-game manual you can access from the pause menu. This approach is rather refreshing actually, since it allows you to figure things out on your own or check the manual rather than bombard you with tutorials that may be unnecessary.
Most of the gameplay takes place in the game’s dungeons. These are randomly generated to an extent, and consist of various pre-designed rooms glued together in a random arrangement. What’s nice is that the layout of the dungeon is only randomized when you first start it. After that, you can leave and come back and the map remains the same. Dungeons are mostly exploration and battling enemies, but the occasional light puzzle keeps things interesting. One last neat thing about the dungeon mechanics here is that you get a difficulty selection when first starting one, and the harder the challenge you choose the better the reward upon dungeon completion. You can change the dungeon’s difficulty after starting it, but this will reset the dungeon, randomizing it again and starting you from the beginning.
Enemies are always visible on the world map and in dungeons, so there are no random encounters, which is how I prefer my RPGs. The battle system in combat has some interesting mechanics that set it apart from other turn-based RPGs. The big one is Overcharge. Your characters’ Actions, which are their attacks that don’t cost MP and trigger instantly, generate Overcharge when used. This Overcharge acts as extra MP, allowing you to effectively cast spells or use Abilities for free after using an Action. Effective use of this can really help conserve your MP!
The skillsets each character has lend themselves to unique play styles too. You can have up to 3 characters in your party, but have 6 to choose from, so you’ll always have at least 3 on standby. Not all party members are available from the beginning though. You start with 3 members, and the others are unlocked 1 at a time as you advance through the story. My team might have been under-leveled, because every new member that joined was at least a few levels higher than the team I was currently using. This lead me to swap the newest character into my party once they joined. Unfortunately, characters who aren’t in the active party don’t gain any experience. This is how a lot of RPGs, especially older ones, work, but I don’t really care for that mechanic. In games like this, I always end up stuck with whatever party build I start using after all the characters are available, because the one’s I’m not using end up so under-leveled and weak, and I don’t want to grind to keep them competitive in battle.
Until recently, I didn’t really have any gripes about Battle Chasers. But the most recent dungeon has really been crushing my party. I don’t know if it’s because the party build I went with is just bad, or if we just need to grind for levels. Or maybe I need a different battle strategy. Maybe all of the above. I’ve died a bunch of times in this dungeon to the regular enemies in it. Luckily, when you die you don’t lose much. You have to pay a small gold fee, and you’re reset at the hub town, but otherwise there’s no penalty for dying. Unfortunately, I’ve died a few times to enemies on the world map on the way back to the dungeon. I really feel like I’m missing something, because the difficulty pacing just feels jarring all of a sudden. Prior to this, enemies were challenging at times, but I never felt horribly out of my depth until now.
Oh, and there’s also a fishing mini-game, because it wouldn’t be a JRPG without a fishing mini-game.
There’s a lot to like about Battle Chasers. Fun battle mechanics, dungeon crawling, comic book style cutscenes, and just cool art in general. I’m just not loving the recent difficulty spike, because it really came out of nowhere. Leveling up takes a while too, so I really don’t want to have to grind…