Review: While not the best JRPG around, “Antiquia Lost” may scratch your role-play itch

What it is:

A JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) from KEMCO

The game is out November 16th on Switch for $12.99.

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Fando-review-5.5

I grew up in the golden age of RPG’s.  My brother and I had an SNES and spent countless hours on games like Final Fantasy III, Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger, and Lunar.  Okay, that last one is a Sega game, sue me.

I have a huge passion, love, and respect for a good RPG.  As a novelist, I love nothing more than when a game can sweep me away in some grand, epic fantasy story.  And on top of that, I’m a Nintendo guy, and we all know that Nintendo has had a serious lack of any real RPG’s for too long now.

I was excited for this game.  It let me down.

Let me start with what I enjoyed about it: the story is halfway decent.  The character designs are cool — the best part of Breath of Fire was how unique each character was.  The more nonhuman characters, the more I dug it.  I like that each character has their own thing and changing the lead character while walking around the map will allow the player to do different things, like break rocks, etc (something else reminiscent of BoF). The fights are exactly what I wanted them to be, complete with magic spells and special physical attacks.  I quite like the speed bar at the bottom of the screen that shows whose turn is coming next.

Alright, now on to the other stuff.

First thing I noticed, the movement feels loose.  It seems like a weird thing to say, but it’s hard to control the character at times.  If you move toward a chest in a dungeon or a character in tow to talk to, its very easy to walk right past it.  It’s hard to then line back up with said target, as well.  Rather than walking, characters feel more like they are floating over the terrain.

Next, I’m really annoyed by this story-telling technique they decided to employ.  It feels like the game spends way too much time talking at you.  If you’ve spent any time with an RPG, you know they don’t tend to be the most action-heavy games to begin with.  This one just shoves so much narrative down your throat, stopping you in every room to dialogue (at least in one dungeon I can think of).  And if that wasn’t enough, after every major dialogue scene, you get this message:

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“On to the next part of the story…”

I mean, seriously?  Every time?  Why?!

Could you imagine having a conversation with someone like that?  You’re talking about your favorite sports team and then they suddenly say, “Now let’s talk about other things.”  So you talk about traffic or the weather for a minute, and then they say, “Now let’s talk about other things.”  So you tell them a story about your dog, and they tell you a story about their grandma’s cat, and then say, “Now let’s talk about other things.”  At some point, you’d want to smack them if you weren’t afraid of them.  What kind of lunatic does that?  I mean, bad writing.  Imagine reading a book, and at the end of every page, it says, “On to the next page….”

It’s a small thing, but if you pay attention in life, you realize its the small things that make and break an experience, especially a game.

My other complaint is the girl, Lunaria.  She has a cool skill where she eats gemstones that you find.  She doesn’t gain levels, but the gems grant buffs and stat boosts, so she doesn’t need to gain levels like the other characters.  This sounds great, but when she first joins the team, I had enough gems to feed her that she was quickly way too powerful.  To the point where fighting just became a weird, boring chore.  There was no skill in it, no challenge.  The first boss I fought, she killed it in one hit, took down over 5000 damage.  That’s insane!  And not in a good way.

In random fights, she will kill four enemies before anyone else in the party has a chance to attack…just because her attack and speed are so high.

I had a thought that the stats may go down after some time, and I left the Switch on overnight, but all of her stat boosts remained.  Now my game feels waaaaay too imbalanced to be any fun.  Cool concept for a character, but unfortunately bad execution.

KEMCO has a long history of making great RPG’s (and some other styles of games), and not everyone can hit it out of the park every time, so I’m just going to chalk this one up to not being my flavor.  Though I would love to see some other things to come from them in the future.

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Story:

Bine, a rough-around-the-edges adventurer befriends a strange and eccentric girl named Lunaria while questing in the woods.  As she is lost, he agrees to accompany her back to her mom, only to find the mom murdered by a demon.

A short while later, Lunaria, having found solace in the nearby town, decides to move on to a larger city to pursue her dreams, and Bine, of course, agrees once more to accompany her on her travels.  They enlist a cat-person named Jade to guide them through the wilderness to the city, and along the way, they meet Safira, another strange girl from a different tribe who was seeking Lunaria’s mom for her king.

Lunaria ends up being of the royal family…because why not?  And they all adventure together.  I didn’t get to a Big Bad…I kind of stopped caring about the game, which is a giant shame, because it certainly had potential.

I’m not above RPG stereotypes like lowly girls discovering they’re really princesses or rash adventurers becoming brave heroes, random initial tasks that kickstart the epic narrative…  All of that is well and good.  But here, the execution of events just doesn’t mesh well for me.

Art/Animation:

The art here is great.  I don’t need my RPG’s to be fully 3d, I like the over-world maps, and this takes the classic concepts and tweaks them with a modern flavor.  The sprite characters are fresh and crisp, not pixelized, and the character designs are excellent.  Like I said above, I like the nonhuman characters and praise a game that can humanize a monstrous figure.

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Why you should play it:

 Let’s face it, it’s been a hot minute since Nintendo has had a true RPG on one of their consoles, so if you’ve been starved for a half-decent story-driven, turn-based RPG, then you can get some mileage out of this.  Pick it up digitally in the eShop.

minion-review

Let us know what you think of Antiquia Lost in the comments section below!

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