Gods rise and Gods fall, much like that of the Earth’s sun. When the forces of good plummet, the forces of malevolence begin to take reign. It is as clear as the different between night and day. A war of divinity took place at the birth of the universe with the virtuous only wishing to create a world in which positivity may prosper but their counterparts stood for death, destruction and an existence as bleak as the dystopian wastelands they envisioned.
It was a battle beyond human understanding. It was a battle that raged for what seemed like an infinity. It was a battle that good lost…and then the world we come to know was born. This is the setting of ‘Agarest: Generations Of War’, a game that I have been given the pleasure of reviewing thanks to British publishers Ghostlight who are known for the much beloved ‘Shin Megami Tensei’ many of which were distributed in Europe thanks to this fantastic company. ‘Agarest: Generations Of War’ is a tactical role-playing game based in a world set ablaze by constant war.
Players take control of a young fighter named Leonhardt who was once stood as a key part of the Gridamas army. After witnessing the almost-slaughter of a young elven girl who he vows to protect with his life, Leo is executed by a high-ranking soldier only to be brought back to life by a mysterious being who promises him power so long as he accepts that it, along with the responsibility to which it is bound, will be passed down through his family so that each generation after him may possess the power to save the land from the forces of evil.
It takes you many, many hours to find out but that condition is quite literal to the game. Eventually, through the game’s ‘dating simulator-style’ gameplay system, you come to marry a fellow fighter who has a child that will then take over the role of protagonist. The game spans a whopping five generations, each with a new child and protagonist fighting for, somewhat, the same things; peace, freedom, justice, ugh…you get the idea. It’s clear that ‘Agarest: Generations Of War’ doesn’t exactly feature a story that will blow people away. What it does have is an interesting generational plot line gimmick that I’ve yet to see done since ‘Fire Emblem: Awakening’. Since the game’s story plays out much like that of a visual novel, a great deal of focus is put on the different types of characters you meet, a great deal of which are female. Meeting a new character is a lot like putting money into a capsule machine; it’s a gamble and for some reason you never quite get the prize that you want.
They each have a particular character personality type that is quite generic to say the least, but with so many characters I actually don’t blame the developers too much for sticking to very shallow traits. It’s overall story is quite interesting if not fairly convoluted. At points in time you’re overwhelmed by smaller story arcs which don’t so much intersect as they do overlap. As a player, you’re quick to confusion as you try to figure out just what exactly it is that you’re doing. This isn’t a constant thing throughout the game but you’ll notice that the problem does arise every once in a while. The start of the game is slow and it takes you over five or six hours to find your feet, both gameplay and story-wise. This is somewhat of a normal problem for long JRPGs like this to have but I’ve played a fair few that do not fall victim to this, so I’m lead to believe that it is one that can be avoided.
Something I both liked and disliked was the gameplay mechanics of this game: While fairly easy to grasp, there are certain ‘advanced’ commands that take more than than skills to utilize. I’d actually say it is more like ‘luck’ that will get you over the line. Most of what ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ has to offer is your standard tactical RPG experience with a little extra spice here and there. A few of which I personally believed it could go without. The more straight-forward battling techniques do take a little getting used to but that’s just part of the fun of a JRPG of this kind. The overworld in ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ is actually set out in quite an interesting way. It is somewhat reminiscent of the old ‘Mario’ games where you’re placed on a large map and traverse the world by entering different markings some of which represent battles, others that represent towns or events. I actually found that quite ‘innovative’, for lack of a better term.
It was nice not having long journey sequences, instead being able to just go through a quick battle as substitute for actual travel. ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ did something I thought to be quite ‘ballsy’, excuse my ‘street lingo’. It combined three visual styles that actually worked in unison to make for an aesthetically pleasing game. During dialogue sequences, each of the individual visual aspects were hand-drawn in a typical Anime style which looked very nice. Lines were soft yet bold, colours were realistic yet imaginative and the overall design of each and every character both fitted their personality and was different enough for one to appreciate. Battles, on the other hand, featured a fusion of both sprite-based animation and simple 3D animation. One for the characters in battle, the other for the environment they fought in and, much like the hand-drawn visuals, it looked fantastic! I noticed something odd throughout the game; there where times where the sprite animation was fluid and well-done but other times it was clunky and seemed so dated. It was hard to grasp but it was apparent throughout.
Actually, the soundtrack was much like the visuals. Like the mixing of animation styles, the soundtrack mixed many genres but the majority of it was made up of fantasy-style tracks. It was sometimes odd but sometimes fitting for a change of genre to take place. Tasty guitar licks flooded the players’ ears during battle sequences and during most of the dialogue we were serenaded by more ancient instruments like harps and violins. What took me by surprise was the placement of new age musical sounds like the scratching of a record or ‘electro’ beats which, to me, sounded as if they’d be more at home in an 80s nightclub than a video game with a fantasy setting.
What I did like very much was the voice acting. It was released in the West with it’s original Japanese dub. I happen to love the language so I wasn’t at all phased by it. In fact, I really enjoyed it! The cast did an excellent job at portraying their respective characters and it, in turn, actually gave them a level of likability that their base personality traits couldn’t do alone. It would have been nice to have been able to hear some English voice actors but it in no way took away from the gaming experience. That’s just something I found myself thinking about.
I’d be lying if I said my whole ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ experience was pleasant. There where times where I had to put down the game because of frustration due to pacing. Pacing was actually something I had to do just to appreciate this game. I played an hour or so at a time so that I could fully immerse myself but I found that I was quickly jerked out of it simply because of lack of interest. ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ is very time consuming, to say the least.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say the game is TOO long but it does have some serious pacing issues. On the brighter side; it plays very well. Yes, it is true that the gameplay seems like it still needs a little work but what’s wrong with it is barely noticeable and with a bit of ignorance you can easily get passed them to allow yourself to enjoy the game. Hardcore players will find this game quite rewarding seeing as there’s so much to discover in the game but I can imagine that less ‘intense’ lovers of the genre will find ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ a hard one to digest and instead look to other titles to scratch their itch.
You can purchase ‘Agarest: Generations of War’ through Steam by Clicking Here