Genre: RPG, Strategy
Developer: Idea Factory, Preapp Partners
Publisher: Idea Factory International, Inc.
Release Date: Feb 1, 2019
Edited by KnightAvenger
I’ve always enjoyed JRPGs, but I’ve somehow managed never to come across the Agarest series until now. The concept of the series, as a whole, continues through several generations of a family, all working towards completing a duty. In Record of Agarest War Mariage, there is a quest to defeat the Archdemon, who has been sealed away. I’m playing the PC version, which, at the time of writing, was recently released. This is actually a remastered version of the original, which was released on the PSP approximately five years before.
The majority of the player’s time falls into two areas: the portions of the game where you are experiencing the story and the parts where you are fighting the battles. To go between these, you walk on lines on both the overworld map and dungeon maps. The game does not have environments which your character runs through. New branches appear on the maps as you go through them.
The story is told in a similar method to a visual novel. 2-D graphics of the characters will appear over a background and the text will appear in a bow below. The game is partially voiced. Some of the characters’ lines will be fully voiced, some only a small part will be voiced, and some will just be for the player to read. There are very limited choices involved in this portion of the game, only really geared towards increasing your affection level with certain characters and choosing whom to continue your family with.
As part of the story, you will get the occasional CG. It is worth pointing out that the Steam version has not been censored. While there is nothing directly explicit, there are some scenes which come close. For example, there is a CG with a maiden surrounded by a dozen bananas. It looks like something far more 18-rated.
The story, as a whole, is fairly standard for the genre, aside from the generations concept. There’s a serious aim of stopping the archdemon, with some comedic subplots, such as a group of pig-monsters who are trying to take over the world. There is plenty of fanservice, too.
The battles are fairly standard turn-based RPG battles, but you do have a good number of options to choose from. Each character has a default role of attacker, defender, healer or supporter and learns skills related to that. These roles can be changed, however, which lets you alter the skills learned and the balance of the party overall. In addition to the regular options of physical attacks, magic, and special skills, there are team attacks, which can only be used if the turn order is correct. Using these skills is another way to increase your affection levels with a character.
To increase your stats and learn new skills, you can go to the shrine in any town. Each character has a skill tree in which you can use items dropped from monsters to buy new skills. There are no level requirements on the skills, but higher skills will require items exclusively found in later areas. In my opinion, this system is one of the major downsides in this game. While the concept is interesting, it is incredibly easy to miss an item which only appears in one area, have no indication of where to find it and be blocked from unlocking new skills for that character. I, personally, went a few hours without any clue where to find the Static Plate, until I came across it by chance.
The other major downside is also related to the battle system – grinding. While people familiar with JRPGs may know to expect a certain amount of grinding, this game is probably the worst game I’ve come across for it. The difficulty spikes on bosses are insane and even playing tactically and using traps and status effects to your full advantage are not enough to fill the gap in strength. This even happens in easy mode. You end up grinding for levels, grinding for items to learn skills or improve equipment, grinding for money to buy items, and grinding for affection to proceed in the story. While it does help that you can skip attack animations and press buttons to manually trigger an enemy encounter, it is still far too much.
The graphics in this game leave me with mixed feelings. While it’s certainly an improvement on the original PSP, I feel like the models and background in the battle portions of the game could have been redone in much higher quality. I don’t have any issues with the 2-D characters and backgrounds in the story portions of the game, just the battle portions. The background soundtrack is limited, but fits well and is good to listen to in my opinion.
I did come across a few further issues with the game. One was near the end of the first hero’s story. It was not explained at all, but it is needed to raise affection to the maximum level, go back to a certain town, complete an event and then go to another certain town for another event. Until this point, any event could be done in any town and there was no reason to go to the place where this was triggered. This really was not thought out well.
For technical issues, I had some issues with changing between borderless, full screen, and windowed modes and putting the game into the background. If I did any of these aside from windowed mode, it started automatically skipping text. The first time I started the game, it did not play any videos, either. Crashes are a known issue with the game, but happily, I can report that the recent patch seems to have fixed it. I have not had a single crash since then.
Overall, I found Record of Agarest War Mariage to be a fun JRPG, with a lot of good ideas but poor implementation for many of them. I enjoyed going through the story sections, but the battles were a chore.
- Amusing moments in the story.
- Good voicing.
- Good concept.
- Grinding. So much grinding.
- Easy to miss items and become unable to progress the skill tree.
- Bad graphically in battles.
- Shows its PSP roots.
Eden gives Record of Agarest War Mariage a Drastik Moé Measure of 6.0 out of 10.0 (60)
For the price of $29.99 (USD) on Steam, I can only recommend Record of Agarest War Mariage to serious JRPG fans who don’t mind some serious grinding. It has good points, but the flaws are serious.