[PS3 Review] Agarest: Generations of War Zero
Agarest: Generations of War Zero (also known as Record of Agarest War Zero in the US) is a Tactical-JRPG developed by Compile Heart and Red Entertainment, and a prequel to Agarest: Generations of War that was released a few years before.
The Agarest series is known for its particular tactical gameplay, but also for including a dating sim mechanic (called Soul Breed), in which the player must raise its affinity level with the women in the party in order to marry one of them! The resulting child inherits its parents statistics and continues the story a few years later on a new generation. This game features a lengthy 70+ hour campaign and spans two generations.
Agarest: Generations of War Zero Trailer
Long before Summerill and the gods of darkness were defeated in Record of Agarest War, another battle was fought across generations to save the world from evil. Record of Agarest War Zero takes you back to that ancient time…
The war between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, a conflict already many years old, has been fought to a stalemate. In the nation of Kraltarla, the forces of light hold back the evil hordes of darkness spilling from Findeste at the Scarred Mountains, but only just. In a desperate attempt to gain an advantage that could change the course of the war, the generals of the armies of light dispatch their loyal servant Sieghart, whom fate has seen fit to grant a strange and awesome power. Sieghart’s mission takes him across Kraltarla to gather the components for a magical tool that can free the imprisoned blacksmith of the gods, so that he might forge magical artifacts of great and terrible power for the forces of light.
Gameplay is separated into two phases: traveling and, of course, battles.
The map is actually a series of points with each one being either a battle, a town or an event. When a section is completed, the map unlocks a few steps ahead so you know where you are headed. Each red point is a battle, and luckily, most of the events (at the beginning of the game at least) are separated by two or three battles, so the next part of the story is never very far ahead!
Like you could guess in a Tactical-RPG, combat is the core of the gameplay. If youâ€™re new to TRPGs (like I was), there is a (too) short tutorial at the beginning of the game explaining the basics. I was kind of lost because said tutorials are only in the first few battles of the game and sadly not available afterwards. At least the first battles are easy.
As for the battle gameplay itself, a battle “round” is separated into two phases: Move and Action.
In the Move phase, each character must be placed in the battle grid in order to take advantage over the foes. Character placement must be done carefully because this is what will determine which actions are available in the Action phase. For instance, each party member has a few zones on the grid that allows other party members to link themselves together (pictured below).
In the Action phase, the linked characters can strike with a combination of their own abilities. This gives a strategic advantage, and mastering this ability quickly becomes mandatory. However, be warned that enemies can also link themselves, so you always need to act carefully.
Once a battle is won, experience and money are obtained. When a character levels up, you get a few upgrade points that can be assigned on his statistics (strength, agility, luck, etc…). This gives a lot of freedom on how to upgrade your party members!
Once in a while, you get a Vacation Day. In a Vacation Day, you can enforce your relationships with the other party members. Of course, this is also closely linked to the Soul Breed system, because in this short time span, youâ€™ll gain a LOT of affinity points (or lose a few if you’re unlucky) with women in the party.
Agarest: Generations of War Zero is a hard game. The battle difficulty curve is abrupt, and even still in the first few hours of the game, I would often end a battle with one or two party members KO’ed. I’m around half of the first generation and I’m wondering how harder the later bosses can be.
On the bright side, there is a lot of free DLC (available on the PlayStation Store) that gives HUGE stats boost: near-epic armor, a lot of level-up points, and in-game money. I heard some people say it “breaks” the gameplay, but I was more than happy to have these items in order to progress!
Graphics / Audio
Agarest: Generations of War Zero is a cute game, but one that does not use all the processing power available in the PlayStation 3: battles are on a fairly simple background (varies depending of the zone), and characters / enemies are 2D sprites. The few bosses, however, are rendered in 3D and their design is pretty cool. When in an event with party members chatting together, characters close-ups are nicely animated, and this is good because there are many events in the game!
As for the audio, this game is completely voiced in Japanese: there are no voice overs in English (the text translation in English, however, is well done). I don’t understand Japanese myself, but the voice acting seems to be good. For the audio soundtrack, most of the themes are good, but forgettable in the long run.
Agarest: Generations of War Zero is nonetheless a fun Tactical-RPG that will probably scare away the casual gamer with its difficulty level and the lack of voice overs in English. If you’re in the hardcore crowd, then you’re served with a game that has a lot to offer: challenging battles, the Soul Breed system, a lot of cut-scenes and a very long campaign (70+ hours) !
[review pros=”Fun battle system
Very long campaign
Free DLC as a startup boost if needed” cons=”Not for the casual gamer
English voice overs are not available” score=80]
You can purchase Agarest: Generations of War Zero from Amazon.com here or on the PSN.
Total amount of time played: 20 hours.
Game was not completed before writing this review.