Natural Doctrine is a tactical JRPG from Kadokawa Games, the people behind games such as Kantai Collection and The Lunar RPG Series. Natural Doctrine is reminiscent of games like Dark Souls in terms of the incredible difficulty. The game goes beyond the point of being just challenging – in fact it gets to the point of being punishing, which could be good or bad depending on your preferences. Natural Doctrine is a game that will be loved by some and hated by many. This game is brutal.
The game follows the poorly named Geoff who is essentially every JRPG protagonist ever rolled into one and nothing more. The game has next to no story at all but what it does have focuses on the concept of natural selection. While it is an interesting idea the game rarely gives players any context for the situations they find themselves in. The story is simply weak at best and the characters are terrible at worst.
In terms of the gameplay, the combat system is interesting but grows very old very quick. It appears to have more strategy than there really is and at times the game is so hard that it doesn’t allow any form of strategy, even then the only strategy there is is really just positioning when linking attacks. The difficulty is really just crazy, in one occasion I found myself dying from one attack repeatedly to the point where I changed the difficulty to easy and still found myself dying repeatedly. I feel like the game really suffers because of this difficulty and I feel like this would only appeal to a small audience because of this.
The leveling system is fairly boring and I feel like you don’t get much to look forward to. I never found myself caring if I leveled up. The skill tree is very interesting because you can actually get rid of certain skills whenever you want and choose something else, which is rarely seen in a way that is that easy to do, but I still don’t see many interesting or fun skills so its just an extra part of the game that doesn’t really make it any better because its really just an essential part of any JRPG.
Aesthetically the game looks very dated and it really doesn’t look like it belongs on the PS4, it doesn’t even look up to the standards of a PS3 game which is very disappointing to say the least. In terms of the environments they look very bland and lifeless, they really could have used a lot more work.
The soundtrack isn’t bad but is rather forgettable. The game actually features an English dub that is very well produced and well acted proving to be one of the very few bright spots on a game full of dark ones.
Natural Doctrine is a game with a lot of potential but it seems Kadokawa Games were too focused on making an incredibly hard game and it caused a lot of the features to fall short which made the game ultimately sub par in nearly every aspect. Focusing too much on punishing gameplay took away from how good the game could have been, had it catered to more than just the hardcore audience. The game is definitive proof that a more difficult game does not always equal a more enjoyable game, this is one game best left for the masochists.
You can purchase ‘Natural Doctrine’ from NIS America by clicking here.